How do I choose the best anti aging serum, cleanser, moisturizer and more?
In this article you will learn serious skin care lessons. The first lesson will be on the ingredients to avoid like the plague. Then we’ll go though good ingredients and where to look for them. Of course I will tell you how to choose the best anti aging serum-actually better yet I’ll teach you how to pick it yourself. If you read the last article you will know we add more serums to our anti aging skin care regimen as we age.
Skin care product safety basics:
For all skin care products, the general holistic rule is that if it can’t be eaten then it shouldn’t be applied on the skin. The chemicals contained in skin products get absorbed into the body. Once inside the body they get stored and build up over time to toxic levels, resulting in health issues as serious as cancer.
The Organic Consumers Association says, “In just twenty-six seconds after any exposure to chemicals on your skin or in your lungs, traces of these chemicals can be found in every organ of your body. When you put these chemicals on your skin, up to 6o percent will end up in your body and much of it will stay as residuals.” Studies have revealed that preservatives such as parabens found in skin care products and cosmetics have been found in breast cancer tissue samples.
Wow – right? And this is very science based. Quite frankly the only way to avoid all chemicals from absorption and damage is to use 2x daily effective detox sprays which bind to ‘everything’ and send it right out in your urine. This is what I do but I am also extremely careful about what I put in my mouth, I filter even shower water and I use “safe skin products”. This means that you don’t need to memorize a list but there are some “biggies to avoid” you should know. And if you find a company or two (which I have!) that is dedicated to making pure products and can prove it, that makes it easier.
Ingredients to watch out for:
Ingredients should be vitamins, minerals, or plant extracts. If you don’t understand what the ingredient is, most likely it is toxic. (Pretty much like when you are purchasing food!) Many preservatives and chemicals are very harmful to general health.
The two most common health-hazardous ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and propylene glycol:
SLS is found mainly in shampoos and soaps. SLS has a very dehydrating effect on the skin. It has a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein-denaturing properties. When combined with other chemicals, SLS can be transformed into nitrosamines, which are carcinogens.
Propylene glycol is found in deodorants and skin products. The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) warns against skin contact with propylene glycol because of possible brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. The Environmental Protection Agency considers propylene glycol so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles.
Besides watching out for toxic ingredients, you may also want to avoid fragrance, alcohol, and glycerin in skin care products. Fragrance is a major skin irritant. Many have found that over time, both glycerin and alcohol have led to dehydrated skin that constantly needs moisturizing.
How to find the best and safest anti aging serum and moisturizer
I picked the topic of best anti aging serum and moisturizer because in consumer surveys, those are the two most asked for products when women seek out the best anti aging skin care. If you are on a “skin care budget” then these are the two most important ingredients. So if you are just picking these two things and do not have excessively dry skin I would suggest the Lifeline ProPlus+ product duo as your main products.
And a gentle gentle soap you can use for face and body – the Moor Spa soap is incredibly gentle,smells heavenly and is only $6.00! It lasts forever. Warning-it is so delicious and natural smelling you will kick yourself if you don’t get one for the guests and one for the sink and the shower! (Why pay shipping 3x?)
The only two options for achieving flawless skin completely safely is by preparing homemade skin care products or buying 100 percent certified natural skin products, devoid of toxic preservatives as mentioned above from reputable companies.
There is an organization at www.ewg.org/skindeep which allows companies who make claims of purity to submit samples for analysis. One such company which is one of the only two companies I patronize but have no financial interest in is located in Vancouver, called Moor Spa.
“Moor Spa products are registered with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Website
Products are assessed on a scale of 0 to 10 based on the safety of each ingredient and the percentage of each ingredient contained in the product. A score of 0-3 is considered to be low hazard; 4-6 moderate hazard and 7-10 high hazard.
85% of Moor Spa products were assessed as low hazard and most of the remainder were in the lowest band for moderate hazard. The highest score was 5 for products containing natural exfoliants.
The overall rating is the best of any spa product line registered on the Skin Deep website.”
“Moor Spa’s comprehensive face, body, spa and wellness line is inspired directly by the healing powers of nature. Our products all contain the exclusive Austrian Moor, a nutrient rich plant/flower/herbal complex that enhances skin’s health and appearance.
SAFE, EFFECTIVE SKIN & BODY CARE SOLUTIONS
By combining the revitalizing, purifying Moor essence with plant derived cosmeceuticals, unadulterated herbal extracts and pure essential oils, Moor Spa delivers safe and effective solutions to meet your skin and body care needs.
Our products are not 95% or 99% natural, they are 100% naturally derived. Moor Spa is designated as a ‘champion’ by the Environmental Working Group* (EWG) for its dedication to product safety.
NATURAL SOURCE GUARANTEE
Unlike many products which claim to be natural, Moor Spa is completely free of synthetic preservatives, parabens, sulfates, artificial colors and fragrances and petroleum-derived chemicals such as PEG, propylene glycol or mineral oil. The source of every ingredient that we use is listed in a 100% Natural Source Guarantee for each product.”
I am showing you an example of how to find a reputable company which lists all ingredients, declares them to be free of toxins and indeed made from natural sources. It is entirely up to you if you want to be this meticulous of course. But this company, as well as the company which manufactures the Lifeline ProPlus+ products were the only two that fit my total “bill of health” for you for the safest and best anti aging serum, moisturizers, cleansers, exfoliants, lotions, masks and scrubs.
The reason I gave you the quotes on Moor Spa is because, since it is carried only in spas, most of you are not familiar with that line of products. (I know the owner and he is permitting only me to sell his products online.) But if you are on this site, you likely are familiar with the Lifeline consumer products.
Picking the best anti aging serum for you
If you to pick only one – this is THE best anti aging serum – here’s the science-nerd alert here!
Stem cells, Cytokines, and Skin
Popular science these days is fascinated with stem cells. Note – to anyone who is freaking out – fetal tissue is NOT used. Stem cell science is indeed quite revealing about the natural process of healing from damage or disease, and you can read all about growing new organs and receiving stem cell injections with dramatic effects on recovery from trauma, heart attacks, spinal cord damage, and various organ failures.
And, while we are still many years away from approved therapies to repair such major insults, the evidence is accumulating and irrefutable. The effects are indeed “amazing”, even to a cold hard scientific mind.
There is one particular population of stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, that has a special role in healing when there is trauma or damage anywhere in the body.
Acting as a 911 system for repair and rejuvenation, these cells are “called up” from their natural niche (in bone marrow and perivascular spaces) and migrate to the place of damage where they then act as “first responders” by coordinating the rescue operation.
Only a few years ago we thought they did their primary work by differentiating into new cells (e.g. heart, liver, nerve) which is the one part of the special capability that defines a stem cell as different from other cells. We now know that this is actually a small part of the story. Their major healing effect is due to a set of chemicals they manufacture and secrete in repose to the injury. These natural chemicals are called cytokines. Acting as the local command and control operators, mesenchymal stem cells communicate with local cells in the damaged tissue to coordinate the steps of damage control, wound repair, and healing.
So, what do these stem cells have to do with aging? We start out life with an abundance of mesenchymal stem cells. As newborns, our healing abilities are quite remarkable. Major surgeries performed on babies still in the womb are dramatic and often lifesaving, but at the same time invasive, cutting and burning through fetal skin. And yet, babies who have had such surgeries often emerge at birth with little or no scarring. This observation has long fascinated those involved with the science of wound healing. With recent discoveries in stem cell science, we now have a plausible explanation.
Over our life span, the number of mesenchymal stem cells in our bodies declines dramatically. One might reasonably conclude that we have only 1/100th of the healing power of mesenchymal stem cells available to us at age 60 as we do at birth. This is perhaps an oversimplification, but serves as a vivid illustration of the relationship between stem cells and aging, and provides one plausible explanation of why healing capacity diminishes over our human lifespan.
That helps to explain the skin’s response to major damaging events, like surgery. But what about wrinkles and age spots and skin lesions, including even skin cancer? Well, it turns out that much of that is due to accumulated damage over a lifetime. Every day, cells in your skin are damaged, resulting thousands of microscopic wounds. Photo aging (damage from the sun’s radiation) tops the list, but there are many other damaging elements in the environment around us. Chemicals (including makeup), smoking, diet, even gravity – all of these things play a role.
Stem cytokines – warning – very scientific-you can skip if you want!
How exactly do mesenchymal stem cells, our body’s first responders, accomplish their job? How do they know when to respond, and where to go? What do they do when they get there? Where do they hang out when they are not needed? To better understand this, we need to dive a little deeper into the topic of stem cell cytokines.
What are Cytokines?
Specialized molecules that function as cellular “signals” or messengers.”
The medium for communication among stem cells and with surrounding cells is a group of chemicals known as cytokines. Cytokines are ubiquitous in the human body; indeed most cells make some. But mesenchymal stem cells are unique in the quantity and type they make, which alters depending on the circumstance, such as phase of healing. There are at least 500 different stem cell derived cytokines.
Some of the cytokines are inflammatory, some anti-inflammatory. Some are growth factors, some are inhibitors of growth (of the wrong type, thus having a putative role in cancer prevention.) Cytokines are also what the mesenchymal stem cells use to communicate with one another, and with other cells, like skin fibroblasts. Some are short distance (cells touching) and some are sent to other cells long distance. When all is said and done, it is the pattern of these cytokines that orchestrates healing (and rejuvenation.)
Until just a few years ago, stem cell scientists thought that mesenchymal stem cells worked their healing magic by migrating to the place of damage, and then attaching and differentiating into (becoming) cells needed to repair the damage, e.g. become heart muscle cells to replace those that died in an acute heart attack. We now know that this is a minor part of what they do.
Instead, they perform most of their magic by orchestrating other cells in the damaged tissue to repair the damage. Immune cells are called in to clean up debris. New heart cells from heart progenitor cells. Cytokines control inflammation, and can turn it on or off. Chemokines are a particular type of cytokine that act as traffic cops at the site of injury, and work by attracting other cells to migrate there, and then activate them to begin their work.
The language of stem cytokines.
There is a two-way communication between the damaged tissue and the rescue team of mesenchymal stem cells. Much of the research focuses on replicating this in the laboratory. Scientists attempt to understand the language of mesenchymal stem cells as they communicate with one another and with other cells, including keratinocytes and fibroblasts within skin. Cytokines can be grouped functionally, like letters in a word, which together convey a message. And while each word has a meaning, when you put them into a sentence you get finer shades of meaning.
There is both a vocabulary and a syntax of stem cytokines. Once the language is understood, it is possible to communicate with the stem cells in the laboratory. This “talking to cells” may sound like the stuff of science fiction. And while we won’t be teaching them English any time soon, the language metaphor is quite helpful. When we communicate with them, via cytokines, they communicate back, via cytokines.
Aging skin: health and esthetics.
What does all this have to do with aging skin, health, and esthetics? Aging skin reflects two things. One is the amount of time we have spent on the earth accumulating damage (our chronologic age), and the other is our diminishing ability to respond to damaged skin with our inborn, restorative system of healing (which reflects age, but also health.)
At any age, healthy skin is judged more aesthetically appealing than unhealthy skin. And because aging skin is more prone to look unhealthy, the logic gets tied together; healthy skin is seen as “younger”. This brings us back to the divergence between chronologic age and apparent age. Again, we cannot stop aging from occurring, but there are things that we can do to improve our skin health. We may not be younger, but we can certainly look younger.
How do we do that? We follow all of the advice in these articles first and foremost.
But wait …what about those mesenchymal stem cells and their cytokines? Now that we understand how their damage control work relates to skin health, is there something more we can do? You BET there is.
I am not discounting the effects of any ingredients that I will be going through next, but I am recommending that you add the Lifeline ProPlus+ day and night duo to serve as your serum and moisturizer – all in one!
Now is that the best anti aging serum for everyone?
As I said earlier, if you are on a strict skin care budget then this day serum is the pick along with it’s companion night serum. However if you read the last article and went through “your skin care regimen” you saw that I recommended two, and sometimes three what would be the best anti aging serum duo or trio for you. The other serums would depend on your skin’s needs and the ingredients in the other serums. Let’s now talk about ingredients to look for in other serums.
Antioxidants for Sun Damage and Wrinkles
Antioxidants are natural substances made up of vitamins and minerals which are found in most plants in varying amounts. They can counter “free radicals” that damage DNA. Damaged skin cells can speed up aging with wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under eyes, dull skin, and more.
The antioxidants most shown to repair damage and slow the aging process include:
Vitamin A, Vitamin C , CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10)Vitamin E ,Bioflavonoids and Polyphenols. A lot of attention has been given to Vitamin C serum lately and the science bears out that it does help! Most women benefit from a good Vitamin C-hyaluronic acid serum as one of “their serums.” Feurulic acid and Copper peptides containing serum (copper being better) have protective properties. Copper peptides help restore the moisture barrier on “overworked skin.”
And here are more ingredients which tend to be natural and plant based:
- Acai oil
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Green tea extract
- Salicylic acid
- Retinoic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- DMAE (not synthetic)
- Extracts of fruits and herbs
- Natural palmitoyl tri-peptide
A great inside and outside antioxidant for the skin
Alpha-lipoic acid is made by the body and is found in every cell. As an antioxidant, it attacks free radicals throughout the body — it can penetrate skin-cell membranes to destroy them. Alpha-lipoic acid is touted commercially as a substance that can diminish fine lines and wrinkles, diminish pores, and give skin a healthy glow. I give this orally to people as it DOES work from the inside out too!
Note that our platinum supreme serum is a very nice mix of Alpha-lipoic acid and DMAE as well as palmitoyl tripeptide (plant based) and besides using the AnteAgeMD® serum, this is one of my three, yes three. I’ll talk about DMAE and palmitoyl tripeptide next.
DMAE, Natural Palmitoyl tripeptide and fruit and herbal extracts
DMAE is another topical anti-inflammatory agent, so if you read any of the scientific stuff above you’ll recall skin aging is associated with skin inflammation. Natural palmitoyl tripeptide plumps up fine lines and is found in our plumping serum and that ingredient, the DMAE plus alpha lipoic acid is found in the platinum supreme serum mentioned above.
Green Tea Extract and Caffeine
Tea and coffee is loaded with nutrients called polyphenols, which have been shown to fight free radicals. Early studies have found the ingredients in tea can reduce sun damage and may protect skin from skin cancer when applied topically. Using green tea extract under sunscreen may yield a double dose of protection. Polyphenols in creams and lotions may also slow signs of aging and slightly reduce sagging skin. It does indeed seem to reduce wrinkles.
Acai berries are rich in antioxidants, more than those found in other berries. Cold-pressing acai berries extracts the oil, which may fight aging by healing sun damage and smoothing wrinkles. Antioxidant levels in acai oil remain high, even after it’s stored.
Though studies have yet to confirm the benefits of acai oil on the skin, it is being used in masks, creams, cleansers, exfoliating scrubs, body butters, and serums.
This seems to be all the rage, when combined with Vitamin C, and for good reason. Topical Vitamin C is pretty much a “must” for topical anti-oxidant efficacy. And hyaluronic acid is a no brainer but you need to know what you are doing when choosing a product. One thing that is puzzling to me is that we KNOW most forms of hyaluronic acid don’t easily penetrate the skin due to “long chain” particle size and insufficient concentration , yet no one seems to talk about this.
We do know that it stimulates collagen and that it is a prime physiologic ingredient of skin that we lose as we age. If you are going to buy a hyaluronic acid product I have found an easy fun trick to make even the best anti aging serum containing Vitamin C and short chain hyaluronic acid work even better.
You will get better penetration if you take a couple of minutes and use a “facial roller” to enhance skin penetration. These rollers (and you don’t need more than a .5 mm- a 1.5 mm roller will make marks and can’t be used daily as the .5 mm size can) are found for a very low price on Amazon. Yes, I do this-it’s a 90 second “thing” and besides the AnteAgeMD® serum, our renewal serum is the most popular anti aging serum.
And referring back to the last article, yes, this is the first layer. Put this on, roll for 90 seconds, wait 1 minute, then continue your regimen. Last article I said the Lifeline ProPlus+ serum was the first layer-that’s if you are only using one and are under 35-40. But the way you use this is to apply the renewal serum, roll, THEN apply the Lifeline ProPlus+ night serum….got it?
Alpha-hydroxy acid, Salicylic acid (2% max), and Retinoic acid
Although not considered serums, these ingredients are also not moisturizers and I would classify them as anti aging skin aids. Yes, they can be used for acne too so if you have adult acne, these would be great ingredients for you to incorporate into your skin care routine.
Retinoic acid is derived from vitamin A (though not the kind found naturally in carrots and other orange-red vegetables) creams. They require a prescription and work by gradually stimulating the formation of new collagen. For best results, dermatologists recommend creams with .025 or .05 percent tretinoin (another name for retinoic acid.)
Interestingly enough there are some studies which have been largely suppressed which suggest that long term use actually THINS the dermis-the layer of skin containing collagen and elastin. Due to these studies I recommend retinol products or a very light coat of Retina-A.
Alpha-hydroxy acid lotions can be used to lighten spots, shrink pores and diminish the look of fine lines which are not around the eyes. If you are using this, then I would suggest a salicylic acid cleanser to augment the process but which is gentle so you don’t “fry” your skin. They will do the same things and work in conjunction with each other. You can further lighten spots without any of the “frying” effect by using the Moor Spa radiance serum. In terms of “other serums” and how many layers, you will need to decide (and use the ingredients guide or just ask us!) what is the best anti aging serum or serums for you!
Consumer favorite product #2: Picking the best anti aging moisturizer for you
Moisturizing is an essential finishing touch for great anti aging skin care. Often the night serum from the Lifeline ProPlus+ duo is enough- but this is all an “individual thing.” A good moisturizer can stop the dry skin cycle from spiraling into cracked, thick, flaky skin.
An effective moisturizer will have a combination of ingredients that:
- Replenish the skin’s natural ingredients that help maintain its structure
- Cut down on damage from free-radicals=has anti-oxidants-refer to the list in the serum section
- Help the cells function more normally
- Glycerol – Helps water and other moisturizer ingredients penetrate the skin to get where they are needed.
- Ceramides – Helps replenish the skin’s natural oils.
- Hydroxy Acids – Helps with exfoliation of dead skin cells.
- Niacinamide – Helps the skin produce more natural oils, and may also help reverse the signs of sun-damaged skin, like brown spots and blotchiness.
But first for the real purists here are the natural oils which can be used as moisturizers:
- Grape seed oil helps to protect the skin from premature aging. Studies have shown that the antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins from grape seeds are twenty times greater than vitamin E and fifty times greater than vitamin C. Grape seed oil is easily absorbed into the skin, instead of sitting on top of the skin as some inferior Vitamin C preparations do.
- Squalene is naturally present in skin but the amount drops rapidly after age twenty-five, leading to dry, aging skin. Squalene reduces free radical oxidative damage to the skin. It also stimulates the skin’s natural ability to regenerate, nourish, and hydrate tissue.
- Shark liver oil is considered the richest source, with smaller amounts found in olive oil. Both are quickly absorbed into the skin without leaving an oily residue.
- Rosehip seed oil prevents and reverses photo aging. Rosehip seed oil is high in essential unsaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic, linoleic, and linolenic. It is also high in vitamin A and retinoic acid, a natural constituent similar to tretinoin. In a two-year study, rosehip seed oil was applied to patients with scars, as well as to a group suffering from premature aging of the skin. The results were pretty darned remarkable. Continuous application of rosehip seed oil effectively reduced scars, wrinkles, and brown spots.
- Jojoba oil is a powerful moisturizer. It has a composition very similar to human skin oil (sebum). Applying jojoba oil balances oil production in the skin since it may trick the skin into thinking it is producing enough oil. Jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties. We’ll discuss space age skin de-inflammation in a bit.
- Borage seed oil contains a high percentage of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), a natural fatty acid that maintains healthy skin and repairs tissue damage. A study found borage seed oil was able to restore the softness and moisture of scaly, dry skin.
- Avocado oil is perfect for sensitive and dry skin since it is rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and E. It is possibly helpful for eczema and psoriasis. Avocado oil penetrates the skin easily.
- Sea buckthorn oil is rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, and carotenoids. It likely prevents premature skin aging.
Most of these ingredients are found in the Moor Spa products so just go shopping and see what you like!
How to Choose a Moisturizer – traditional style:
Not all skin is the same, and not all moisturizers are the same. Picking out the best moisturizer for your skin depends on what your skin needs. Consider the following skin conditions when choosing a moisturizer:
- Moisturizers for dry skin
- Moisturizers for oily skin
- Moisturizers for normal skin
- Moisturizers for acne-prone skin
- Moisturizers for red skin
- Moisturizers with sunscreen
- Moisturizers for eczema, atopic dermatitis, or sensitive skin
Moisturizer message take-away: Don’t settle for granny’s cold cream. Pick a moisturizer with good ingredients for your skin, and enjoy your healthier skin. Do review the ingredients or just read the “who it helps” when you are picking out a moisturizer.
What about other components of my anti aging skin care regimen?
Now you have a bit of knowledge about the good and bad ingredients. Hopefully you realize that the products you see on this website are the products my movie star patients, all patients, and I use on our faces and bodies. So, all you really need to do now is to assess what products you need.
2. You might like a toner
3. Everyone needs to exfoliate-a topic for the next article. I LOVE the Vitamin C mask as my personal pick. I have been using this since I was in my twenties so it is not limited to “mature” skin (which I don’t have!) by any means. But wow, you feel and look as if you have had a great microdermabrasion treatment if you use it right!
4. And we are here to answer questions. I typically answer on weekends too.
I hope you enjoyed this article and next, I’ll guide you through all of the latest, greatest Esthetic Dermatology and Plastic Surgery procedures. Last, I’ll take you from age 20-100 in terms of everything we have talked about from products to routine to nips and tucks and Botox, fillers and lasers!