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More Hope In A Jar? The Anti-Aging Skin Care Promise

WebMD investigates the newest crop of anti-aging skin care ingredients ― Do they work?

The coffee berry craze continued...

While experts are hopeful that these antioxidant properties may translate into anti-aging effects on the skin, we won't know for certain until the study is published sometime in the coming year. (At publication, WebMD was unable to confirm details of the study or its precise publication date.) Meanwhile, consumers may weigh in a lot sooner.

The first coffee berry product ― a skin cream called Revale ― has already hit the market with more from other companies on the way. And coffee berry won’t be alone on the shelf. A number of other new and unique antioxidant cocktails sit poised and ready to steal the thunder.

One is Estee Lauder's new “Future Perfect” line, boasting a “skin recharge cocktail” that offers the anti-aging protection of an antioxidant known as NDGA that occurs naturally in the body. Recent studies have shown that, when applied topically, it may act somewhat like estrogen, helping to prevent the loss of collagen in skin.

Clinique's Continuous Relief Antioxidant Moisturizer boasts eight antioxidants. At least one ― Eukarion-134 ― supposedly has the unique ability to recycle itself after each free-radical hit. This is significant because most other antioxidants lose their protective power after attacking and disabling a single free radical molecule. By recycling itself, this new antioxidant keeps on working, continuing to fight the damage that leads to aging, for a longer period on the surface of skin.

But are these and other antioxidant advances enough to guarantee anti-aging results?

Not all experts agree. According to Beer, “The degree to which any product works depends partly on the ability of the ingredient to get to the right place, which means it has to penetrate into the skin.” He believes that level of penetration is possible with the right combination of ingredients. And so, he says, some anti-aging effects are possible.

Narins, however, points out that without published clinical trials, it is impossible to know for certain. “With no FDA approval of these [ingredients], and no agency overseeing the claims, it's impossible to know if a product does what it says it does,” she says. “And my guess is that most don't.”

The tripeptide trifecta

Bearing a slightly more scientific pedigree are ingredients known as “peptides.” The frenzy actually began several years ago when the National Institutes of Health funded studies on wound healing. These studies showed that a chain of five peptides could instruct the body to ratchet up collagen production in response to wounding. More recently, smaller studies found that when applied topically, this same peptide chain seemed to respond to aging, collagen-deficient skin as if it were wounded and so encouraged collagen production.

While the level of activity is still under debate, the next generation of this technology ― known as tripeptides ― is already here.

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