Do ‘Over The Counter’ Anti-Ageing Skin Creams Work?

Ever wondered if over the counter anti-ageing skin creams actually work? Mostly no.Winter is not good to our skin. The wind chaps. The dry air wicks. The combination blows us into the arms of the multi-million cosmeceutical industry, which awaits with pricey over-the-counter potions and serums promising to undo the season’s damage.

But these companies often promise much more than simple moisturizing. Their products can, according to their advertising, “help to boost oxygen microcirculation.” They can reset “the skin’s aging clock by converting resting stem cells.” They contain ingredients that can “turn on digestive enzymes that will only go after scars and wrinkles” or “help to promote collagen production.”

In short, they can utterly transform your old, dry, thinning, wrinkled skin. Tempting. But is it true? Yes and no. Mostly no, but really it’s hard to say. The creams do moisturize – even the cheapest ones will do that – and that does help make the skin appear more supple and healthy.

As for the other claims, few studies have been published in medical journals to show the products work as advertised or are safe to use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require companies to prove that cosmetic products are safe or effective. Efficacy is very vague in terms of over-the-counter products, Without any oversight, it is difficult tosay whether these do anything.

At the same time, the FDA has expressed concerns over some claims made by companies selling anti-aging creams. Marketers of cosmetics are generally are not allowed to state that their product alters the structure or function of the body or treats or prevents disease – to make a “drug claim.” These companies selling cream use science-y-ness to try and sell a product, it is used decoratively as marketing in a way that is meaningless.

Companies rarely publish studies showing their products are effective, though they generally look into the potential for skin irritation. Some companies cite scientific evidence that anti-aging ingredients work, but they decline to provide those studies or to show that the product contains enough of the substances to have an effect.

Without published studies on the creams themselves, it’s impossible to know whether the epidermal growth factor in them is effective. The usual difficulty with such products is whether or not the large protein molecules remain active in the formulation and, if they are active, whether they actually get delivered across intact skin, living tissue. Most skin creams are harmless. If you like a product, enjoy it, but realize your skin likely won’t be miraculously transformed.


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