They make lofty promises of taking the years off your face, of reversing the clock and making your partner fall in love with you “all over again”. But be careful before reaching out to anti-ageing products. Dermatologists say that such products could actually end up harming your skin.
Notwithstanding the fact that many such creams, gels and other products are medically proved to yield good results, doctors say that they should still be taken under medical supervision because sometimes the results can be disastrous – and one may actually invite a host of harmful side effects in the bargain.
“The lure of anti-ageing creams lies in the fact that they are seemingly less complicated than a cosmetic surgery, a botox treatment or some other procedure in the ultimate run to regain a youthful look. It’s also less expensive,” said Shweta Mehra, a beauty consultant based in Delhi.
“But what people forget is that one’s skin is very specific to a person and you cannot expect the same results for everyone. While some creams do give visible results, there are also cases in which the skin texture of a person has changed over prolonged use of a particular product that didn’t suit her,” she added.
Explaining the science behind the work of anti-ageing products, Ranjan Upadhyay, consultant in the dermatology department of Max hospital, said: “As we age, the turnover of our skin cells reduces, and anti-ageing creams regulate this turnover.”
“So some products are medically proved to increase the glow of the skin and rejuvenate. For instance, lactic acid in a product can have some good effects. But it should not be more than two percent in the product composition. Then, peptide in mixed serums is good, and so is alpha hydroxy acid,” he added.
Some of the products that form a part of the composition of anti-ageing products, like hyaluronic acid, are used by dermatologists in procedures.
“Injecting hyaluronic acid has a collagen stimulating effect that helps in removing wrinkles. Some serums contain this. Similarly, vitamin C preparations improve pigmentation. There are others that are dermatologically tested to prove the rejuvenating effect,” R.K. Joshi, senior dermatologist at Apollo hospital, told us.
“Having said that, one should be careful before trying an anti-ageing product because there are many factors at play. For instance, your skin type – there is dry , oily, normal and combination skin, and the same product may not be suitable for all,” he added.
Your hormonal balance is another crucial factor.
“There are certain creams recommended for pre-menopausal women, when the hormonal balance is disturbed. The age bracket therefore is the late 30s to 40s. Also, if you have any endocrine problem, you may need certain creams. But please don’t blindly follow any advertisement that tells you to go for such products when you are nearing 30, or be guided by the brand or price of a product – if you are healthy, your body will take care of your skin’s needs,” Joshi further said.
Warning against ads that show western women and men, he further said that their skin texture is different from Indians’ and therefore similar results should not be expected.
“Ultimately, these creams contain chemicals and can even change the tissue texture. Further, if it doesn’t suit you, it may be carcinogenic in the long run,” Joshi said.
Harping on the fact that anti-ageing creams should be used under supervision, Upadhyay rolled out some more possible side effects: “Over-usage of such creams can cause acne, and a dependency can lead to rashes. The skin can also become thin, over a period, such that blood vessels can be seen”.
Cosmetic physician Rashmi Shetty further said it is best to leave it to an expert to recommend the right cream, because as per one’s need, this may be best used at day or night and some extra care may have to be taken.
“Applying the wrong product, or the right one in wrong quantity, can lead to reactions like dryness, rash and pigmentation. Putting on lots of cream does not mean faster results,” Shetty cautioned both women and men. Almost 30 percent of those who seek anti-ageing remedial measures are men.
“Sometimes some creams can also be photosensitive”, added Manoj Khanna, cosmetic and plastic surgeon in Kolkata, which means that they will react when exposed to the sun.
Offering some advice on skin care, Shetty said that inflammation is one of the causes of ageing; hence the skin should be kept soothed. “Wash your face with cold water and use calamine if it irritates or goes red. Also post sun-exposure care is important”.
“Ultimately, ageing is a biological process, and one should remember that all these products and procedures can only delay the process. But it is inevitable,” Upadhyay signed off.