Anti-wrinkle Creams

Thursday, 14 August 2008 | Tags:

We live in an image-obsessed era, with more people than ever spending money and time trying to erase the signs of aging. But is it even possible for a jar of cream to magically dissolve wrinkles? Many dermatologists say no, but there have been some important discoveries in ingredients in the last few years that might actually help reduce the signs of aging. We put some creams to the test to see if we can see a difference.

The Basics

  • With time and exposure to sun (the skin’s worst enemy), wind, rain and the environment, the skin begins to form wrinkles and change texture. The underlying collagen begins to break down. 

  • The foundation of the skin also becomes stiff and leathery with age. But that’s only part of the picture. Young skin also has more fat cells than older skin, which explains why older skin is more transparent. 

  • Also, with time the skin grows more than it has to to cover bones and muscles. This explains the sag that inevitably arrives as we grow old.

  • Wrinkle creams almost never live up to what they promise (e.g. to restore cells and support the skin.) But by protecting and replenishing your skin, you can stay younger-looking longer.

  • What’s important in a product are the ingredients to look for, and to avoid:

    • SPF (sun protection factor) is your skin’s best friend when it comes to fighting wrinkles. Look for a cream with at least a broad spectrum SPF 15.

    • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are known to slough off dead skin faster than it naturally occurs, but some dermatologists feel there isn’t enough in most products to make much of an impact.

    • Retinol is the technical name for vitamin A, and Retin A or Renova are a derivative of Retinol. Whether or not they work against wrinkles is still controversial and the only place to get it is your dermatologist’s office. Some doctors believe it’s good for the skin, as research shows vitamin A can turn off the switches that cause further degradation of the skin’s collagen and can improve the overlying structure of the skin. However, some people find vitamin A is too irritating to the skin.

    • Beware of petroleum-derived products (like mineral oil), which are made from non-renewable sources and offer little benefit in terms of skin care.

    • The addition of artificial colours and scents is not only unnecessary, but could be harmful. Many have been found to be carcinogenic.

  • The cost of a wrinkle cream product can range from a few to hundreds of dollars. Every expert we interviewed agreed, paying more does not mean you get a better product.When choosing a cream, consider your skin type. Since wrinkle creams usually also serve as moisturizers, you want the best one for your skin type:

    • Normal skin feels overall balanced in moisture and softness, with medium-sized pores.

    • Dry skin feels tight or flaky, and has the tendency to heighten the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin responds well to products with cocoa butter and glycerine.

    • Oily skin appears shiny in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and has larger pores that can trap dead skin cells and lead to blemishes. If you wipe a tissue across your face and can see a trace of oil, you have oily skin. Look for products with papaya or horsetail to help reduce excess oil.

    • Combination skin is the most common type and has zones with all of the above traits. Look for products with aloe vera or chamomile to help provide balance.

Other Considerations

  • Remember that your skin always changes and reacts differently to seasons, diet, stress, age, and the environment. Be gentle with your skin and choose products with SPF, drink lots of water, eat well, and reduce stress. Avoid smoking and prolonged periods in the sun.


We invited some friends of varying ages to help us test our wrinkle cream products.

We tested: .  
  • Vichy Reti-C: $33 for 30 mL
. .
  • Oil of Olay Age Defying Cream:$21 for 150 mL
. . Well.ca
  • Christian Dior Phenomen-A: $60 for 30 mL
. .
  • Almay Kinetin: $33 for 45 mL
. .
  • NeoStrata Anti-Wrinkle Cream: $25 for 50 mL
. . Well.ca
(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Blind Test

We gave each tester 2 samples. One they used on the right side of their faces (a product from the above list), and the other (a control product: Complex 15 Daily Face Cream: $9) they used on their left side, trying each for 8 weeks.

  • The testers who tried the Vichy and the NeoStrata found that they appeared less wrinkly on their right sides.

  • The other products felt good on the skin, but didn’t provide any noticeable wrinkle relief.


None of the products tested were the fountain of youth we were on the lookout for. So for now, we’ll slather on the sunscreen, moisturize, eat well, and take care of our skin, and wait to see if a miracle product really does come along.


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