The Solution to Anti-Aging Skin Care

The anti-aging skin care field has boomed, with hundreds of new products being introduced to the market on what feels like almost on a daily basis. This has resulted in what we may call “skin care overload.” People have become overwhelmed and confused by the countless number of ingredients we are told are necessary for anti-aging. It has become impossible to access and apply even a fraction of these ingredients due to the cost and time involved. We feel compelled to buy multiple products every month and layer them on in order to do the most for our skin. But, as we fill our medicine cabinets with creams and serums, we are faced with the daily questions of which shall we use, which are safe and which actually work?

It has been long overdue that the various categories of anti-aging and the anti-aging ingredients themselves be ordered and categorized so that a comprehensive approach to anti-aging may be put into place. Firstly, there are many features to skin aging and people will show one or more features over time, but may differ in the features of skin aging that plague them. For example, some people develop sagging or laxity to the skin due to genetic factors, but may have little or no sun damage. Others may be covered with sun spots but have no sagging or wrinkling. The following is a validated classification scheme which allows for each clinical feature of skin aging to be assessed separately on a 4-point grading scale (mild, moderate, advanced, severe):

Classification of Skin Aging:
Laxity (Sagging)
Wrinkles
Redness
Brown discolorations
Solar elastosis (Yellowing)
Irregular texture
Abnormal growths (keratoses).1

This classification scheme of skin aging includes a severity scale as mentioned above (0=None, 1=Mild, 2=Moderate, 3=Advanced, and 4=Severe) which allows researchers or users to rank each individual person’s skin aging according to feature and severity. This scale was shown to be very useful in testing anti-aging treatments and has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.1 Older scales tended to lump different features together into broad categories, which became less useful as treatments became more specific in targeting various facets of skin aging; for example as anti-pigment or anti-redness or anti-wrinkle. With this current anti-aging scale, our anti-aging products may be quantitatively tested to determine which individual categories of skin aging they treat and how effective they are in each category. This also allows us to hone our anti-aging regimen to our needs and to compile or group the ingredients in each category that are most effective so as to cover all categories of anti-aging in a logical manner.

The next challenge was to classify the plethora of anti-aging ingredients on the market based on the features of skin aging that they targeted or treated. I then created a classification scheme of the categories of anti-aging targeted by the ingredients that have emerged over the past decade:
Anti-Wrinkle – DNA Defense – Barrier Fortification
Anti-Redness – Cellular Restore – Emollient/Moisturizer
Anti-Brown Discoloration – Damage Reversal – Pro-Skin Thickness
Anti-Oxidants – Aging Repair – Re-Texturize

With this classification scheme, we can appreciate why people have become so overwhelmed and why they have accumulated shopping bags full of skin creams in order to meet their needs! Nevertheless, as anti-aging ingredients have emerged targeting each of these categories, ideally one would want to incorporate the best ingredients of each category in a single daily regimen to optimally treat skin aging.

Part Four: Current and Future Anti-Aging Treatments

As previously noted, many anti-oxidants are essential nutrients. Natural anti-oxidants, like vitamin C and E, work synergistically. Anti-oxidants may be more effective if obtained from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists recommend eating 6 or more daily servings of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Everyone agrees the use of antioxidant supplements for anti-aging may be helpful, but there is no agreement on what the most effective supplement dosages should be.

Anti-aging medicine acknowledges that stress of all kinds causes aging but has not yet developed individualized treatment for this. There are countless sources of internal and external stress and individual stress levels vary greatly. One overlooked cause of internal stress is improper hydration. Water is essential in for the correct operation of many internal functions. Too little or too much water causes age producing stress. When one is old (80+) thirst perception declines and dehydration can easily set in. Other overlooked sources of stress are antioxidants themselves. High doses (or doses above certain yet unspecified amounts) of supplemental anti-oxidants are a known cause of stress.

To be helpful, antioxidant supplements must prevent other types of stress more than the stress they themselves create. Knowing the correct supplement dosages that can do this is an essential part of anti-aging treatment. A healthy young person in his twenties, who is properly nourished, will have less internal stress that an older individual in his sixties. For a young individual, lower amounts of antioxidants may be safer than higher amounts. A older person, whose many internal homeostatic mechanisms are less able to deal with internal stress, may benefit more from higher amounts of antioxidants. Theoretically an anti-oxidant based course of anti-ageing treatment will slow the rate at which cellular damage occurs. Cells will become “sick” more slowly. Over time, as fewer sick cells are replaced at a slower rate, the number of cells retaining longer telomere chains will be higher. You can then reasonably expect this to result in an increase in life expectancy. For now the recommended but imprecise approach to decrease the rate at which cellular damage occurs is to increase your per day intake of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables, to slightly increase your intake of antioxidants, and to take various vitamins and small amounts of anti-aging supplements on a daily basis. One study has shown taking a good multivitamin supplement is associated with longer telomere length.

Ideally anti-aging treatment should to be fine tuned for each individual. The key here would be to measure and minimize the cumulative effects of different kinds of stress on an individual basis. Easily measurable practical bio-markers for various types of stress do not yet exist or are not being used. When they are used it will be easy to customize individual antioxidant dosages so that everyone have “optimum” levels throughout their life. “Optimum” levels would maintain a safe reserve of protective antioxidants in the body.

Next I will briefly discuss the most popular nutrients associated with anti-aging. The most popular of the anti-oxidants, vitamins, and nutrients often associated with good health and anti-aging include: beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, various Flavonoids,Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, Co-enzyme Q10, Lycopene, Selenium.

There are dozens of supplements that are known to effectively treat specific symptoms of old age. A few of the better known supplements include: DMAE, Acetyl-l-carnitine, L-carnosine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, DHEA, L-arginine, and melatonin

Good food contains some of the anti-oxidants previously mentioned. A few other popular foods associated with anti-aging include: Green Tea, turmeric, and red wine.

All of the above have unique biological properties and, in my opinion, are “good” for you if taken in small or moderate amounts. Some (ex. vitamin C) may also be “good” for you in larger amounts. Various studies on each of these may conflict with each other. You need to carefully research each substance on your own but researchers have already found several nutrients to be associated with longer than average telomere lengths. These include: Green Tea, Omega-3, Vitamins A, C, D, and E.

Vitamin E has been associated with telomere lengthening anti-aging properties.