There are a ton of products claiming to rid you of wrinkles, and it’s hard to tell just by name alone which ones work and which will just give you cancer (because if they give you cancer and take away your wrinkles that’s one thing — kidding! but seriously…). So here’s a list of some ingredients that actually make a difference and some that are total BS.
Collagen and elastin. The good news is these are in fact the very important proteins that are necessary for maintaining smooth, youthful skin. The bad news is slapping them on top of your skin isn’t going to do a GD thing. Your skin is made of several layers, and collagen and elastin are produced in the middle layer, where they’re assembled into fibers and woven into a complex, fabric-like structure that gives your skin firmness and stretch (think lycra jeans). Applying a cream with collagen to your skin is like taking thread, cutting it up into tiny tiny pieces, and then throwing those pieces onto fabric in the hopes that they will repair any holes. They won’t. Even worse, the collagen/elastin layer is protected by an outer layer of skin whose sole purpose is to prevent things from getting through it, so the tiny bits of collagen are just sitting on top of your skin, or chilling in your huge pores, until you wash them off later.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, ascorbate). Oh, vitamin C. You show such promise. While essential to collagen synthesis, slutty vitamin C will easily hook up with other molecules (“oxidize” in sci-speak), rendering her useless for collagen production. It’s OK, vitamin C, we all have a friend like you, and we still owe you one for all your hard work preventing scurvy and colds. Derivatives of vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate) can also be used to make collagen and are a little less, ahem, promiscuous. All of these compounds will turn slightly yellow when they have fully oxidized, so look for white or colorless creams (and be wary of tinted ones, because what are they hiding?), make sure to keep them sealed, buy small amounts, and use them up quick.