My patients often ask me if there is anything they can do to get rid of those unsightly parentheses-like lines on the sides of their mouth, or those crinkly crow’s feet around their eyes. They want to know if I know of some magic wrinkle cream that will erase the lines that seem to have sprouted up after they turned 40!

Well, I know of several ingredients that work well to reduce, and/or prevent, wrinkles, which are present in many commercial wrinkle creams out there on the market. Some are reasonably priced and others unbelievably expensive!

So, let me share with you what ingredients to look for and I’ll let you decide how much money you want to spend to get them.

The Big Three plus Retinol

Wrinkles appear because of a decrease in 3 substances in your skin: Hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin. These decreases can happen with age, from nutritional deficiencies, and from environmental exposures and improper cleaning of your skin. Good quality wrinkle creams that you may want to purchase should contain at least 2 of these proven wrinkle fighters:

Hyaluronic acid: HA is something children have in abundance in their skin and is why their skin is so supple, smooth and wrinkle-free. HA keeps moisture in the skin, reduces pore size, and gives it that moist, plumped up look. Decreases in HA cause the skin to wrinkle.

Collagen and elastin: These are substances in the skin that form the tight-knit network of fibers that keeps your skin taut. When these two substances are decreased, fissures form from the fibers pulling away from each other and you see this as a wrinkle. Lack of Vitamin C and/or protein in the diet can cause decreases in collagen and elastin.

Retinol: Retinoic acid is the oxidized form of Vitamin A and appears in commercial products under names of Retinol, retinyl palmitate, or retinol peptide complex. There are also prescription strength retinoic acids that should be used under the supervision of a dermatologist. Retinol is said to increase cell life, hydrate the skin, firm the skin and greatly reduce the look of existing wrinkles and prevent new ones from forming.

Now, having told you what to look for in a good wrinkle cream, did you know that there are some natural things you can do to augment whatever commercial wrinkle cream you may use? In many cases, you can get rid of superficial lines and furrows just by adding the following tips to your skin care regimen.

Clean Skin Fights Wrinkles

Did you know that many lines and creases on your face can be erased, or greatly minimized, simply by deep cleaning/exfoliating your skin? That’s right. Your facial skin is exposed to environmental pollutants everyday. If you don’t adequately remove that gunk from your skin on a daily basis, it stays there, building up in the epidermis (top layer) of your skin day after day, making it appear more and more dull, grayish, dry/flaking, with furrows that will only deepen with time.

Now, you can buy some pretty expensive exfoliating skin washes, but all you really need is a little sugar and water, or sugar and olive oil if your skin tends to be dry. Sugar does some amazing things to skin. But if you eat too much sugar it can actually cause wrinkles by destroying collagen and elastin due to the high acid environment it creates in your body.

Sugar crystals cleanse and fine polish skin, reduce pore size, and remove that dull, gray surface of dead skin cells that makes you look older than you are. That’s not all though, it also has an antibacterial effect that helps wounds heal without leaving scars as it naturally stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid in your skin and helps “knit” superficial lines back together.

An easy recipe to remember is 2 cups sugar, brown or plain white, to about ½ cup water or olive oil, or enough to mix into a cohesive paste. Apply it to your face with a washcloth and briskly massage in a counter-clockwise fashion, going around your face several times. Don’t forget your neck! Rinse with cold water and watch the blush and shine come out on your skin! Let your skin air dry and then apply either your specific wrinkle preparation, or just a light moisturizer like aloe vera gel or a few drops of olive oil. Exfoliate 3-4 times a week to start with and then decrease to 2 times. However, you can use your natural aloe and olive oil moisturizers everyday or whenever your skin feels a little dry.

Dry Skin Creates Wrinkles

Next to dirty skin, dry skin helps create a lot of superficial wrinkles as well. Dry skin can be caused by lack of fat in the diet, lack of water, poor nutrition, too much sun/weather exposure, or hormonal shifts such as occur in pregnancy or menopause. Add the following to your diet to treat dry skin/superficial wrinkles and prevent others from forming:

Omega-3 fats – 1,000 mg a day.
Antioxidants – vitamin C 1-2,000 mg a day, Resveratrol, Green Tea, Rooibos tea, all these build collagen and elastin, which holds the close-knit fibers of skin together. Vitamin A (beta carotene) protects against sun damage. Selenium, a mineral seriously depleted from soils all over America, boosts elasticity in skin.
Water – drink ½ your weight in water every day, plus 8 oz extra for every cup of coffee or caffeinated (sugar-free, please) beverage you drink, as caffeine can dehydrate your skin. A simple test for lack of adequate water in your skin is to see if the skin “tents” when you pick skin up off the back of your hand. If the skin stays up in a little “tent” and doesn’t snap back, you need water!
Limit alcohol – can dry out the skin significantly as alcohol is a drying agent and “astringent”.
Olive oil – Greek, Italian and Egyptian cultures have used olive oil for centuries as a skin moisturizer. Dark, extra virgin olive oil is the preferred type but all olive oils work well. A modern update to this old skin staple is adding pure aloe vera gel as a “carrier”. Mix the two together and refrigerate. It makes a cool, soothing skin moisturizer that can be used all over your body.
Vitamin E – another antioxidant that helps skin maintain its structure. 400 mg a day.
Super Primrose Oil – helps fight dryness, especially that caused by hormonal changes, 1,000 mg a day.

What Else Fights Wrinkles?

Along with proper nutrition and skin cleaning regimen, in addition to your wrinkle cream of choice, the following will also help minimize and/or prevent wrinkles from forming:

Sleep - skin needs 6-8 hours of sleep per day to renew itself. Chronic lack of sleep shows up on your face first with sagging skin.
Limit sugar – as I mentioned before, too much sugar in your diet can wreak havoc with your skin and actually cause wrinkles. Sugar taken internally creates a high acid environment. That acid breaks down collagen and elastin fibers with the result being your skin sags and wrinkles, as it doesn’t have an adequate support matrix beneath it.
Limit alcohol – as stated earlier, alcohol has a drying effect on skin, but it also is metabolized as sugar in your body.
Exercise/fresh air – your skin is the largest organ of your body and needs exercise just like the rest of you. Exercise helps your skin get rid of toxic wastes through sweating and also helps your body take in oxygen.
Stop smoking – one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Smoking causes wrinkles, poor color and tone by robbing your body of Vitamin C, one of the most important vitamins for building collagen and elastin. Not to mention all the toxins in cigarette smoke that lodge right into your facial skin and make your skin dull, gray and dry, and make you look years older than you are.

So there you have my suggestions on how to battle wrinkles from the outside with commercial wrinkle creams containing HA, collagen, elastin, and retinyl palmitate. In addition, I’ve shown you how you can also battle wrinkles from the inside with nutrition, change in lifestyle habits and better skin care. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your skin looking youthful and wrinkle free, you just need to spend a little time keeping it, and your body, healthy!

Jay Brachfeld, M.D.

www.vitalmaxvitamins.com

Author's Bio: 

•BS Chemistry Massachusetts Institute of Technology
•MD State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine
•Dermatology Residency: Baylor College of Medicine
•Board Certified in Dermatology
•Member American Academy of Dermatology