Friday, 13 August 2010

Cheat Sheet - Anti-ageing


We're all so used to this phrase that we don't even question it. If a product says it is anti-ageing on the box then it must be - right?


If ever a phrase has been overused it is this one. There are few ingredients that are indeed anti-ageing.
Although to be fair some should be called 'ageing prevention' as they don't reverse signs of ageing - they just slow them down or prevent them from getting worse.

Before we get on to the ingredients a reminder from your friendly nag about the 3 worst things you can do for your skin.

Sun, Sugar and Smoking

Sun - get a little - not a lot. Be sensible.

Sugar - probably one of the best (and hardest) things you can do for yourself, your health and your skin is to cut out sugar.
In a nutshell - sugar destroys your collagen - think of collagen as scaffolding for your face. Every time you eat/drink sugar it is like taking a piece of the scaffolding away - saggy baggy and drawn. Enjoy that cola won't you. And I'm not preaching here - I struggle every day with leaving sugar alone!

Smoking - No need to go into detail. I could not possibly be more anti-smoking. I was once able to tell a client how she blew her smoke out of her mouth (straight up her face from her bottom lip) because of the condition of her skin in that area.
Smoking leaches the oxygen out of your face with every puff. Smokers have grey skin. Yes. Grey. If you smoke - get help and stop - as soon as you can.

So - digression over. The next time you pick up a product that claims to be anti-ageing what you need to look out for is one of these:
  • SPF      
    SPF is anti-ageing. Proven, undoubtedly, unequivocally. Although if you're younger you could argue that it belongs in the 'prevention' category. It doesn't fix what has been done. That is the job of:
  • Vitamin A   
    Vitamin A is the only other ingredient along with SPF that the FDA will legally let you claim to be anti-ageing in the USA. Vitamin A reverses the signs of ageing. Rebuilds collagen, repairs sun damage and is an all round good egg. There are varying degrees of vitamin A - if you have previously used a product with vitamin A in it and reacted badly - it may just be that you haven't found the right one for you yet.
  • Glycolic/Lactic/Salicylic Acids   
    Acids used in the right way can be beneficial to the skin - when applied as topical exfoliants they resurface the epidermis allowing better product penetration and in the case of some well formulated AHA's - help rebuild collagen.
    Glycolic and Lactic are better for a dryer skin - Salicylic for oily/combination. Don't go too strong straight away and don't go mad. Less is sometimes more. 
  • Vitamins C and E
    These two work well together as vitamin C is traditionally water-based (newer formulas include oil-based vitamin C) and vitamin E is oil based thus protecting both parts of the cell. Both are anti-oxidants and so in the 'prevention' category.
  • Niacinamide
    Newer than the others, this is vitamin B3 by another name. When used on the skin it has shown to stimulate the dermis and in turn increase the fatty content of the cells along with aiding in the retention of water. As it is shown to enhance barrier function of the epidermis it has had good results with acne sufferers by protectng against bacterial attack.

That's about it.

Other ingredients may be and are beneficial to the skin in other ways - but if anti-ageing is the aim - you need some of these in your product - not all at once - let's not give the epidermis a heart attack.

And what age to start using anti-ageing?

I'm 'nutshelling' again but here goes:

SPF - from birth - no brainer. But please don't cover your babies in SPF50 until they are white. They need SOME sun.

Vitamin A - 30+ depending on lifestyle - if you're a sun worshipper start earlier.

Glycolic/Lactic/Salicylic - again depends on lifestyle and skin type. If you have acne you can use Salicylic topically from a fairly early age. The other two can be introduced 25+.

Vitamins C and E - from the word go. As soon as you start your skincare routine choose something with these in. Good move.

Niacinamide - 25+ ish again depending on lifestyle and skin. Acne? Crack on.

The basic thing to remember with anti-ageing is that our collagen production is linked directly to our ovaries.
When we are at our most fertile our skin is is usually at its height. As you near menopause and go through peri-menopause you will notice huge changes in your entire system, not just your skin. Hitting menopause has a direct link to your collagen, its a bit like someone takes away a little of the scaffolding that supports your facial structure with each passing year.

So start taking care of your skin when you get your periods - and step it up a notch when you get to 35+ (before if you go into early menopause or have a full hysterectomy).

And when you DO start using these products - all of them but especially the Vitamin A - DO NOT FORGET YOUR SPF.
During winter I get my SPF from my foundation, but I live in the northern hemisphere and work predominantly indoors. Once the sun is out its time for a dedicated SPF on top of your moisturiser and underneath your foundation. More of which here:

And if you DO smoke? Scrap all that advice and use all of the above - now.


  1. Interesting, thank you for posting, made me think about some things. You are right, it depends on a lifestyle a lot.

  2. I'm glad you've discussed this....I hear so much twaddle about anti ageing this and that and the first thing I ask, is whats it got in it? If I can't see vitamins and SpF, I just keep on walking You've put everything in such a clear format that I'll be waving a lot of people in the direction of this post.

  3. As always you have summarised the important key points in an easy to understand you do private consultations? Pretty please?

  4. Always Lady Always!!

    Will send you my questionnaire!

  5. Thankyou dearest will look forward to it +++

  6. Great post! I'm no fan of the pseudo-science twaddle that goes with products and know that nothing is going to turn back the clock. I'm so pleased I gave up smoking before I hit 30. I can see the results of the smoking but I know it could've been so much worse. Thanks for all of the clear and practical advice x

    1. congrats its result of strong will power.
      Herbal Products

  7. Reading your post last night encouraged me to stay away from Maltesers today :) Thank you!!

  8. Hello Mrs H,

    I only discovered your blog by chance yesterday and I have already read through you archives! I just wanted to say thank you - you have shared some really great information. I especially like your article on facial massage; I tried it last night, it did hurt but in a good way!

    That said. I am wondering what your thoughts are on the Doctor developed skincare brands such as Dr. Sebagh, Perricone MD and Revive.
    Is it really worth paying the extra £££ for the one or two ‘active’ ingredients these products contain? If one is already looking after their skin and trying to follow anti-aging recommendations?

    I ask because I am tempted to try a few things, but my friend recently had such a bad reaction to an eye cream (swollen puffy red blotches - look liked a little like
    cigarette burns) that I am holding off.

  9. Thanks Grace.

    Karen - sorry I didn't respond sooner! I think it depends on the range to be honest. If you're taking good care of your skin? Then no.
    If you have huge concerns in the areas that those doctors specialise in then maybe.. but otherwise - you don't need to spend £££ to get good results.

    Thank you for the comments!

    and happy you spelt 'anti-ageing' with a E :)
    i've just made myself a little 'moyen memo tecnique' (is that mnemonics in English?) on how to remember the important vitamins: it's ace --> A.C.E :)
    This business of only getting my spf in foundation agitates me a little. My foundation is usually crap (i am a dehydrated bunny from the looks of it) and by 2pm, I got flakes on my skin 'cause my foundation is the wrong type for me and doesn't last all day, so personally for me, I just feel better if I get it in my moisturiser. How is your foundation faring (or is that spelt fairing?) with flash photography if it contains spf? x


  11. Confused about this statement: "The basic thing to remember with anti-ageing is that our collagen production is linked directly to our ovaries.
    When you slow down production (peri-menopause) and stop making eggs altogether (menopause and post) you will notice a huge difference in your skin."

    Women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have. What do you mean by "stop making eggs...?" I understand that skin can and does change when menopause begins due to hormone changes. But really, scientifically, it has nothing to do with how many eggs we have left in our ovaries. Once they're gone, they're gone. Could you please clarify?

    1. Hi Tracey,

      Good point well made! Adjusting as we speak. Thank you for taking the time to comment rather than just thinking: 'Well SHE'S mental.'

  12. What if I start using Vitamin A and Glycolic/Lactic-Acids with a really young age, speaking of 21? Is it bad? I thought prevention is key, not just by using SPF daily but also using all of the listet arguments above.

  13. Hi there,

    I'm trying to see how I can get in touch with you about sampling a product that I sell. And that is currently taking countries by storm. This is my page on fb.....

    Thank you for your time.


  14. Hi Caroline, I love, loove, looove your blog. I am trying to create my perfect anti aging skin care. What do you think about this cream:retinol-A Rejuvenator Wrinkle Cream Pump. Sound too suspicious to be true...

  15. Too late for anti-ageing for me... BUT have you got any skin care ranges that you could recommend to a 50+ year old who is new to the whole 'routine thing' of skin care [apart from splashing on cold water, patting on some moisturizer and a face pack every year or three.]
    I fancy getting some facial stuff in bit by bit, but although your comments are fun and accurate, to a newbie like me it's all a bit overwhelming.
    Where to start? :>)


  16. Too late for anti-ageing for me... BUT have you got any skin care ranges that you could recommend to a 50+ year old who is new to the whole 'routine thing' of skin care [apart from splashing on cold water, patting on some moisturizer and a face pack every year or three.]
    I fancy getting some facial stuff in bit by bit, but although your comments are fun and accurate, to a newbie like me it's all a bit overwhelming.
    Where to start? :>)


  17. Just discovered your blog & love it but at 47 am now a little confused as to what's best for me. I have always used decent skincare, don't smoke & from 30 ish rarely sunbathe & use daily SPF. However badly burned my skin on an old fashioned sun lamp at 16 & face blistered so now have very fine lines on cheeks when I smile ( which I hate). Through Neom I discovered that SLS was causing my dry cracked hands so no longer user chemical filled body & hair products. I have used for years MD Formulations glycol cleanser & day cream, sometimes their glycol lotion which has help keep skin clear and "normal" used to be oily spotty. Also Clinique eye cream which is really good But am thinking want to reduce chemicals! have discovered Natural Elements 10 yrs younger range, received sample the other day. All natural contains lots of oils etc, feels lovely etc. But am I going to be doing my skin any favours? Or would I be better with a "chemical" range. Hope this makes sense! Please Google Natural Elements if you can & feed back. :)

  18. Oh just to add I use bare minerals foundation (love their new ready foundation) recently switched to Liz Earl cleanse & polish, which again I like but having just read your Auralia post I'm now not sure it's as natural as I thought (whole reason for changing!). I am down as anonymous as I don't know how to comment as me, never commented on a blog before haha. Thanks Anne-Marie

  19. A good overview for anyone seeking good skincare actives!
    Combined with a good diet, you cant go far wrong.

  20. Please start a youtube channel!

  21. Has anyone heard of or used the Avalon Organics Skincare range? If so thumbs up or down?

  22. I started Retin-A and am using every other day. I am trying to find out if I can apply a moisturizer with or right after the Retin-A. So far what I have read everywhere it suggests that you wait 5-25 min after washing to apply Retin-A and then wait again 5-25 min to apply moisturizer over top. I don't like the dry feeling my skin gets while I wait.

    Also, wondering if I want to add an AHA or Glycolic acid, how often could I use that when using Retin-A? Thanks so much! Amy

  23. He Said She Said15 June 2013 at 19:00

    WAAAAHHHHHHHH!! Ok since I've found your blog I've slowly started to do a complete overhaul of my skincare but now I think I'm overdoing it! Please help!!!! I just have a question regarding the 'acids' in skincare! I am trying to move some of my products to the more natural side of things but wanting some anti aging properties in them. My aim is to get to the cleanse, cleanse, tone, tone, oil/treatment (serum), moisturiser nightly routine. I am placing an order of exfoliating pads that contain 1% Salycilic acid, which I intend on using as the first 'toner' step... and I'm told that a good alternative to retinol is Glycolic acid and I have found a night cream with 10% glycolic acid in it. I am currently weaning off a Neutrogena anti wrinkle serum during the day that has retinol in it and i'm just wondering if I am going to be over doing it and stripping my skin? I would really appreciate any help. Many thanks x

  24. Love your blog! I have been taking care of my skin since I turned 15, now whether it has been the right or wrong way is another question entirely. Nonetheless, I've been dedicated to following a routine of cleansing, toning, and moisturising for many years.

    The brand that I have been faithful to most and that seems to keep my skin in a more natural and youthful state is the Chanel skincare brand. I'm 26 now and I know there are better skincare brands out there but I'm just afraid to shop around when it comes to skincare (I fear that playing around with different skincare brands may create a negative feedback to my already good skin).

    Long story short, I don't know if you've heard of the new Chanel resynchronizing skincare range for day, night and weekend. From the brief ingredient list that I have seen online it seems to contain the beneficial ingredients that many skincare experts swear by.

    I currently use the hydra beauty range in the Chanel skincare. This includes the cleanser, toner and gel cream moisturiser and was thinking to add some of the resynchronizing products to may skincare routine.

    What do you think of the range? Are they worth the splurge or not really in your opinion?

  25. Hello, can I use P50 (or any acid tone) with Retin-a? I am just starting on Retin-a and would also like to use P50. Also, would you be able to recommend a good moisturizer to use w Retin a? I am 43 and have some cystic acne. Please forgive me if the answers are already included in your post, I am reading through them now. Thank you kindly!

  26. Hello, can I use P50 (or any acid tone) with Retin-a? I am just starting on Retin-a and would also like to use P50. Also, would you be able to recommend a good moisturizer to use w Retin a? I am 43 and have some cystic acne. Please forgive me if the answers are already included in your post, I am reading through them now. Thank you kindly!

  27. Hey Caroline! I'm 18 and I'm using glycolic acid for my acne scarring. Is that bad for my skin? (I really tried to make it short to get an answer!!)

  28. Hey Caroline! I'm 18 and I'm using glycolic acid for my acne scarring. Is that bad for my skin? (I really tried to make it short to get an answer!!)

    1. Hey Athina (pretty name!), not Caroline but maybe I can answer.. It's good IN MODERATION. Keep it to once a week and at most use it twice a week and make sure you stay hydrated, get omega 3's etc from fish oil or flaxseed oil and use SPF, all of which will help your skin recover/protected. If your skin feels dull or dry, try rosehip oil (trilogy do a good one). Hope that helps and didn't sound patronising, it's just to get the most benefit from something it helps if you're doing all you can. I hope your acne is gone and your scars go too!! :) xx


  29. Thank you!!! This was exactly the information I needed! Thanks for the review.

    Anti aging clinic

  30. I appreciate how you clearly discussed the things needed for an anti-aging product. For me I always go for skin care products that has natural ingredients. And to add up, one must always check a certain product that would perfectly suit your skin type. Thanks and More Power!

  31. Hi Caroline,
    Do you do private consultations? Wanting to tear my mum to some higher end skin care and I have no idea what to get her.
    Any ideas?


  32. Hello there,
    I would like to ask what do You think about copper peptides when it comes to antiaging?

    1. Yes! A friend I know swears by them too but I'm not sure?

  33. Hi Caroline, I have just started using Retin A (tretinoin) and thought I'd ask for some advice on how to use it effectively. I'm aware it's an extremely potent product and do not want to do more harm to my skin than good. Any pointers would be appreciated. Thank you

  34. I actually have a similar query as So Ko. I have very good skin but it's become prone to hormonal breakouts on the jaw line and neck. I'm 39 and a smoker (yes, I know, you can hate me). I'm using a face wash with 1% glycolic acid! Clarins exfoliating toner and hada labo sha lotion. I use a vit c capsule over my face followed by Clarins lotus oil and then SPF. . In the night I repeat everything till hada labo and then follow with ANR and trilogy rosehip oil. Where can I fit Retino into this?

  35. Hi Caroline, can I just say that I worship at your altar. I'm based in Bombay, ?India so humid climate and lots of air conditioning. I'm using a face wash with 1% glycolic acid followed by clearing exfoliating toner . Then hada labo light lotion, then vit c . Clarins lotus oil and lastly sof. In the night I do the same till the hada labo then follow with ANR topped off with trilogy rosehip oil. Twice a week I leaves a 12% glycolic cream overnight in my face and neck. Where can I fit retinol into this? And do I still need a face cream? My skin is combination and dehydrated. Very dehydrated. But sensitive and prone to clogged pores.
    Please do help me here. The derms in Bombay just prescribe so much crap I'm quite lost and end up spending the equivalent of a small flat at the Chanel, La Mer, Space NK, and Clinique counters and then just give away everything within a shiort while. Also, how can I get in touch for an appointment when I next plan my trip to
    London. I visit at least thrice a year for work.

  36. Hi! What's the best serum or moisturizer containing a decent amount of niacinamide?

    1. I'd love to know this too, I can only find Olay and I wanted to try it more for an acne treatment rather than anti-aging.

    2. Hello, Effaclar Duo + by La Roche Posay has niacinamide very near the top of the list of ingredients. It's not too expensive and seems to be doing my skin a world of good - in fact I bought it because when i saw niacinamide so high up, I remembered reading this post of Caroline's! Hope this helps.

  37. Hello! Very interesting topic. I suffer from rosacea and my derm told me to use redermic from la roche posay as an antiageing cream. However it gave me a rash and then I tries some other products with retinol in them and I had the same results. Itchy red skin. What would you suggest? Due to rosacea Inam pretty sceptical about trying products! Thank you!

  38. Hi Caroline,

    Love your blog and youtube channel.

    I'd like a little help please, I want to purchase a anti ageing cream and atm feelunique have a sale on so I really want to make the most of it.

    I've got combo skin, which is generally free of break outs, no real dark circles around the eyes, the odd lines now appearing, I'm 29 (tomorrow eeek!) I'm Asian and I had lots of expose to the beaming sun as I holidayed in Pakistan most summers growing up and never wore SPF, and I rarely wear it now, (I'm yet to find a non sticky one)

    I'd love it if you could recommend an anti ageing product to me, I love reading your blog, however I'm the type of person who wants someone to tell me, 'buy this'

    I'd really appreciate your help, ps I purchased Emma Hardie cleanser and Hydroluron on your recommendation and I love them both sooo much!
    Thank You

    Fozia xx

  39. hi caroline, i LOVE your blog and truly appreciate all of the knowledge i get from it :) i am in my late twenties, with dry/normal skin with some hormonal breakouts but otherwise acne free, and have started kicking my anti aging into high gear. i follow your routine to a "t" but am hoping i am not over exfoliating. i use kate somerville exfolikate 2x per week, tata harper regenerating cleaner 2x per week, clarsonic 1x per week, and ole henriksen's invigorating night treatment 2x per week. can you let me know if i'm on track or over exfoliating? thank you SO much!!

  40. Hi Caroline can you please advise what is the best product for Rosacea on my cheeks it is not bad YET! It started about a year or so it can get a few spots and looks like small broken veins I am right I think when I say it is Rosacea. I use Clinique cleansing balm to cleanse and apla h gold three times a week can you recommend anything for me thanks Gillian aged 53

  41. Hi Caroline! I'm 26 with dry skin and the occasional hormonal spot. When should I start with retinoids? Should I start now or wait until I'm on my 30s? I'm afraid of starting with retinoids too early! Thank you!

  42. Can you pretty please review this serum? I am thinking of buying this, came here for help. Please. I will wait. x

    Institut Esthederm E.V.E Essential Vital Elements Serum Source

    Thanks a lot

  43. Hi Caroline, I'm 26 I have all three glycolic acid, vitamin c and retinol and I don't know how to use all three of them


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