4 Research-Backed Anti-aging Skincare Ingredients
Laugh lines, age spots, full-on wrinkles . . . if you’re alive, then you’re aging, and if you’re aging, you’ll eventually start to notice these telltale signs. “Aging is, at least in part, the result of accumulating damage to proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids [DNA and RNA] that make up your cells,” says Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a holistic dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin (Avery, 2001). The results: Your skin gets thinner; collagen, the main protein that keeps skin taut, becomes less elastic, causing wrinkles; and exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays adds up, leading to brown spots and sagging skin.
Your first defense is to protect skin from environmental pollutants, including UV rays (wear your sunscreen) and cigarette smoke, and avoid collagen-attacking foods like trans fats and refined sugars. But what about damage already done? When used regularly for at least 30 days, these research-supported natural ingredients can help you save face.
Best for UV-damage correction, skin firming and brightening. Nearly 70,000 algae types exist, and many boast an array of beautifying benefits thanks to photoprotective and antioxidant qualities. Two of the most impressive: red algae and single-celled green chlorella.
The proof: Red algae’s anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and antioxidant properties ease irritation and fight free radicals when used topically. Green chlorella contains chlorella growth factor (CGF), rich in RNA, DNA, vitamins, and minerals. CGF increases cell renewal, helping to replace unhealthy skin cells with new fresh ones; it also curbs sun damage by counteracting UV-triggered collagen degradation while supporting and firming the dermis and epidermis.
Coenzyme Q10 (coQ10)
Best for wrinkle reduction, UV-damage correction. Also known as ubiquinone, this vitamin-like antioxidant substance is even more potent than vitamin E, a common ingredient in skincare products. As you age, your body produces less coQ10 and skin cells become less capable of repairing themselves; coQ10 in supplements or topical products improves skin cell function and protects cells from oxidative stress.
The proof: According to research, coQ10 can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by combating aging symptoms at the cellular level; it also smooths rough skin and reverses UV damage.
Best for skin brightening. This root, primarily grown in Greece, Turkey, and Asia, contains glabridin, a compound that Japanese scientists found to lighten skin by suppressing melanin formation.
The proof: Studies showed that a topical application of 0.5 percent glabridin inhibited UVB–induced pigmentation and redness. Other studies confirm that licorice reduces hyperpigmentation and brightens skin.
Plant Stem Cells
Best for wrinkle reduction, skin firming. One of natural beauty’s rising stars, plant stem cells are most commonly extracted from fruits such as apples and grapes. Because skin cells die frequently, replenishing them with plant stem cells is a leading way to prevent and reverse signs of aging.
The proof: New research supports plant stem cells’ ability to help the skin’s own stem cell production. They also assist with cell differentiation, a process that creates proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids that repair fine lines and maintains the skin’s firmness and elasticity, according to Jacknin.