Effective Anti-Wrinkle Products

Effective Anti-Wrinkle Products
How Can You Keep Your Skin In Good Condition For As Long As Possible?

We all get old. As we get older get wrinkles. None of us want to look old, so we are open to suggestions for how to get rid of them. But we are all intelligent enough to realise that there is a limit to how much we can cheat the clock. So as someone who works on this kind of thing, what have I found that really works?

There are huge numbers of anti-wrinkle products on the market. The question this post answers is should you be tempted?

There isn’t really any mystery to producing and testing an anti-wrinkle cream. There are hundreds of thousands of papers in the scientific literature that explain in great detail how the skin works and what can be done to affect it. Hundreds of actives have been examined. If an active works it can be shown to work by measuring its effect on the wrinkles. But the anti-wrinkle claim is such a strong one that lots of companies are tempted to over-egg the custard.

There are some materials that work. If materials can be shown to work, the big cosmetic companies certainly have the money to be able to afford to test them. However, when you go to the chemist you won’t see much in the way of trial reports. Why is this? Well in my experience the sales professionals don’t think that the customers are looking for science. There is a feeling that consumers make purchases based on image and packaging. A proper scientific paper is hard to read and even harder to summarise for a general consumer. And even worse, although some things do have a beneficial effect the actual amount of improvement you are able to get is relatively modest. Yes you can find products that make you look better than you would look if you didn’t use them. But we are talking about slight reductions in wrinkles and some increases in elasticity. We aren’t talking about making 40 year old skin look as if it is 20 years old.


The best treatment for skin ageing is probably simply regular moisturising. The skin is moisturised from the tissue below. If water escapes from the surface of the skin quicker than it can be replenished then the skin will become drier. A tried and tested solution to this used for centuries is to place a layer of an oil of some kind over the top. The technical term for this is an occlusive layer. Find a product that is occlusive enough for your particular skin type and use it regularly. Apart from the very cheapest, nearly all moisturisers are going to be effective. If you have particularly dry skin there are a couple of ingredients that are generally very good. Mineral oil is very effective: it doesn’t penetrate the skin very much so it stays on the surface holding the moisture in longer than some more exotic and natural sounding oils.


Another remarkably effective material is lanolin. I know that some people have negative feelings about it and are under the impression that there is some issue with it. There is a story I could tell behind this, but for the moment I recommend that you look for products that contain lanolin. Very very few people are sensitive to lanolin. If you are one of them then that is a bit of bad luck, because you are missing out on one of the few magic ingredients of skin care.

Lanolin is produced by sheep and is their version of sebum. I would be fascinated to see a comparison between the composition of human sebum and lanolin. If anyone knows of one I would be enormously grateful to have the reference. Its principal function is to protect the sheep from the environment, and as sheep spend a lot of time in the open when it is raining it is just as well that it is very effective at this purpose. I have my own composition that I personally use on a bit of dry skin. It is basically almost neat lanolin with just a splash of refined coconut oil to make it the right consistency to apply. It would never work as a commercial product as it has no smell and feels a bit odd, but it works really well.

Another approach that seems to give good results is the use of water soluble polymers. These are things like cellulose derived from wood. They seem to work by simply forming a layer on the skin and contracting as they dry out. Which polymer works best is good question – but I will address that some other time.


Derivatives of Vitamin A are very potent. The best known is retinol.

Retinol has been shown to work in several studies. Most recently a paper published in the Archives of Dermatology makes this quite clear. This was a double blind study. Neither the people administering the cream nor the patients nor the clinical assessors knew which cream contained the active. Thirty six triallists were recruited with eighteen in each group. Not everyone completed the trial. Five withdrew because they found the product to be irritating. This is one of the drawbacks of retinol: it can be irritating.


From the high tech point of view, recently a class of peptides have been identified that have an effect comparable to that of retinol. These are very particular peptides: not all peptides will work. The two that I have seen data for are palmatoyl pentapeptide-3 and Acetyl Hexapeptide 3 (it is also known by another name but I don’t have it to hand at the moment.

The active ingredient in the Boots product that caused a huge stir in the UK early in 2007 (see Boots No 7 Protect and Repair Serum) is palmatoyl pentapeptide-3. This is used in other products as well, and I can’t see any particular reason why the Boots product should work any better or any worse than any of the other products containing it. I have written a review of the Boots Serum if you want to know more.

But if I have to draw a conclusion I would say that my judgement would be that the biggest single thing that helps is simply regularly moisturising with a cream that suits your skin. If you can find one with something extra that works for you that is a bonus.

guide to cosmetic ingredients for the perplexed 02


Reza K, Heh Shin R K, Schumacker WE, Soyun Cho, Hanft VN, Hamilton TA, King AL, Neal JD, Varani J, Fisher GJ, Voorhees JJ, Sewon K, Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin with Vitamin A (Retinol) – Arch Dermatol Vol 143 May 2007

9 thoughts on “Effective Anti-Wrinkle Products”

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  3. Hello Collin,
    Found your site browsing around, don’t really remember how but I’m glad I did. I am in my forties with two daughters, and have a severe aversion to BS. I need to know what’s going on our skin and why.I have come to the conclusion that the best regimen is prevention. Prevent blemishs by keeping skin clean and exfoliated( a good washcloth), prevent dryness and uv damage by keeping skin moisturized and using sunscreen. At this point I’ve made the decision to not use retinoids. I understand there is the evidence that they work, however I don’t think the margin of improvement is worth the side effects) for me.
    I have always loved lanolin. My daughters love coconut oil. I am wondering if you could be a little more specific on your mix. I’d love to try it. I already use it in my facial soap( homemade cold process- tallow, coconut oil, shea butter, peanut oil, castor oil). After cured melted down and combined with lanolin, grapeseed oil, glycerin and a bit of beeswax. At night I do use creme de la mer. While I’ve heard all the arguments against, overpriced, includes mineral oil( the anti mineral oil movement is ridiculous I know,but mineral oil is cheap, la mer is not). However it works better for me than any other thing I’ve tried and trust me I’ve tried lots. . In my mind I attribute this to the texture. It’s very thick and rich and warrants taking your time to massage it in. I look forward to it every night. So my thought is perhaps coconut oil, lanolin, mineral oil and some sort of antioxidant oil maybe cod liver or carrot would give me a similar consistency? In case you’re not familiar it’s a cream ,I think,water in oil with very little water. I love it. However I’d love to find a more affordable alternative as things are tight right now. Also once a week I use a cream at night very high in lactic acid Pond’s Rejuvaness. I noticed over twenty fiver years ago that my dads Lac-Hydrin cream did wonders for my skin. Of course it was the lactic acid.
    OK so yes this is a novella about my skin care which actually all boils down to a request of your coconut oil/lanolin formula. Is it oil or solid??
    Did you know Marilyn Monroe was a huge fan of straight lanolin as a face cream?

    PS Are you in Ireland?

  4. Hello Denise, thanks for your very thorough comment.

    My personal dry skin formulation is about 10% coconut oil in lanolin. I don’t actually weigh it out – the coconut oil just makes the lanolin a bit less sticky. I think olive oil would do the job just as well.

    I think La Mer is a very good cream. Here is my review of it http://colinsbeautypages.co.uk/creme-de-la-mer-review/

    If you have a look at paragraph 5 of this post you can read my logic on why you should carry on using it even though it is very expensive and strictly speaking terrible value for money.

    Thanks for reminding me about Lac-Hydrin. I must do a post on lactic acid soon.

    And no I am not in Ireland, but I did used to work for a company that had a manufacturing facility in Sligo, so I have visited quite a few times. It is beautiful country with lovely people.

  5. Tried the formula, liked my daughter used in on her very curly dry hair and really liked it. Thank you.
    I enjoyed your la mer review. Not the typical it’s a good not great moisturizer, nothing warrants price, it’s a prestige thing, similar creams for much less can be found. To them I say WHERE?!. Why are SO many women plunking down the cash after exclaiming I’ve tried so many others, none are the same, keep coming back,etc. Doubt it’s the “prestige” aspect, it’s a moisturizer for crying out loud. Not a handbag, not shoes, not even a lipstick to break out in the ladies.Sometimes the whole is greater than the some of it’s parts. And after breaking my use down I come out at about $30 a month only slightly more than Olay regenerist which is top selling drugstore cream here. So it makes sense to continue even if I feel a bit embarrassed and whatnot at paying that much.
    I’ve used it and Nivea and aside from a similar scent and water in oil base, no comparison. Seen a few blog trials and nivea never even comes close to la mer in performance.
    I agree with you I believe it’s something to do with the fermented kelp. That stuff even neat is awesome for skin and hair. I’d love to see a post on that. Really looking forward to the lactic acid one as well. Hand’s down my favorite skin care “active”.

  6. Hi Colin,I found your blog by looking for a review on Nanoblur,I read yours with interest and then moved on to this post…also very interesting.
    Have you tried Prevage by Elizabeth Arden? Its fab,I have written a review on my very new (and not very good blog) http://glamplusforty.blogspot.com/

    Prevage is a fab product,you may be interested in it?
    Best wishes LeonieB

  7. Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the
    little changes that make the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Colin,
    I’d love to know what your thoughts are about snail slime !! (Seda de Caracol). I’d never heard of it but it seems to be big overseas.
    Thanks for great articles. I use coconut oil as a cleanser, moisturiser and for cooking 😉 (cold pressed and organic just to make sure), so I will try adding Lanolin as well! Many thanks, Zoe.

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