There are certain supplements which you can buy, ingredients and or substances which your body produces and others found in your food that have important anti-aging properties for your skin and hair. We’ve identified seven key anti-aging ingredients that will help you look better, for longer
Amino acids are compounds that combine to form proteins. Along with proteins, they are considered to be the building blocks of life. According to AminoStudies.org, amino acids help our body to break down food, grow, repair body tissue and perform a number of other body functions. Amino acids are classified as: essential amino acids (these cannot be made by our body, so we need to get them through food); non-essential amino acids (our body produces these, even if we don’t get them from our food); and conditional amino acids (these are usually not essential, except during times of illness and stress).
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: Creatine is considered to be one of the most important amino acids for skin, as it not only keeps skin functioning properly, but also plays an important role in the production of collagen. Creatine is formed from arginine (conditional amino acid) and carnitine. Creatine also ensures that the body stays hydrated. It surrounds the cells of the skin with a thin layer of water, which protects them from being damaged by heat, UV rays and other pollutants.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Methionine (an essential amino acid) plays a role in the health of your hair, helping to build stronger hair structures. Plus, research shows that methionine can assist in the reduction of hair loss. L-Lysine (also an essential amino acid) has been shown to positively affect the synthesis of collagen, which increases the strength of your hair. This is also believed to play a role in repairing the mechanisms of your hair, which can assist in the reduction of daily hair loss.
These are natural and man-made substances that help to protect your cells from free radicals, explains Paula Begoun, an internationally recognised consumer expert for the cosmetic industry, and author of bestsellers Don’t Go to the Cosmetic Counter without Me and The Original Beauty Bible. Sun, smoke and pollution all cause oxidative damage that in turn results in cell death. It is impossible to avoid free radicals completely, as the body produces them. By adding antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and vitamins to your diet, you can boost your body’s ability to fight infection, diseases and even premature aging. Some of the most powerful antioxidants are green tea, blueberries and grapeseed extract.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: Glutamine (which is also an essential amino acid) is an antioxidant, so it aids in combating the effects of aging on the skin. If you are not getting enough of this amino acid in your diet, your body tries to pull it from your muscles. This means reduced muscle mass and less elasticity in your skin, which in turn results in sagging, wrinkles and a dull appearance. Vitamins E and D are also beneficial for skin health, is well known for it’s anti-aging properties and will help to preserve the youthful look of skin.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Hair’s keratin-based structures are susceptible to oxidative damage, which can lead to split ends, broken hairs, rough cuticles, frizz, tangling, lack of lustre, and even loss of colour (both natural and artificial). The sun is the biggest culprit for oxidative damage, as the rays penetrate the hair shaft and deplete the natural stores of melanin, found in the hair cortex. This also alters the protein structures of both the hair cuticle and cortex. Chemical processes (in particular, bleaching and permanent dyeing) tend to deplete the natural melanin, therefore creating oxidative damage. Treatments such as relaxers, perms, keratin treatments and heat styling all contribute to the formation of free radicals, which in turn negatively affect the lipids and proteins in the cuticle. Environmental factors such as pollutants, tobacco smoke, certain substances in our water and radiation all add to this free-radical damage. The good news is that evidence indicates that antioxidants are found in formulations for rinse-off products, leave-in conditioners and styling agents. Also look for vitamins and vitamin precursors, such as vitamin E, C and beta carotene, as these have been found to have protective effects.
Scientifically speaking, hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan) is a glycosaminoglycan, a type of molecule composed partly of sugars, says Begoun. “Hyaluronic acid is a natural structural component of skin, and, in fact, is present in connective tissue throughout the human body.” Hyaluronic acid is found in the greatest concentrations in skin tissue (with almost 50% of the body’s hyaluronic acid found here), in both the deep underlying dermal tissue and the visible epidermal top layers. Begoun adds: “The true magic of this special anti-aging ingredient is its ability to retain moisture. In fact, one gram of of hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to six litres of water!”
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: As we age, so our skin loses moisture, which in turn affects its elasticity and pliability. Begoun explains that this doesn’t mean that all skin becomes dry with age; it simply means that your skin can lack the amount of moisture you had in your youth, due to sun damage and other environmental factors. “Without question, you can still have oily skin in your 60s (perhaps just not as oily as it was in your 20s).” Hyaluronic acid helps to improve the skin’s moisture content, while also strengthening the skin’s barrier, which results in a softer, smoother, plumper looking skin. “We know that just about everything, from sun damage and acne to sensitive skin and rosacea, can lead to a damaged barrier, so repairing the skin’s barrier with skin-identical ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, can go a long way towards fixing, or at least minimising, those issues, which means it’s helpful for all skin types. Its lightweight texture isn’t an issue for oily skin, and it’s gentle enough that it isn’t a problem for sensitive skin,” notes Begoun.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Hyaluronic acid hydrates deep within the hair fibre, due to its small molecular size. Plus, it acts like a sponge, and has the ability to retain moisture, build volume and even fill in rough or cracked parts of your hair shaft.
This is the term given for the entire vitamin A molecule, explains Begoun. It is a beneficial cell communicating ingredient and antioxidant. In skincare and beauty products, it is found in the form of retinol, retinyl palmitate and retinaldehyde. In prescription-only skincare products, it is in the form of retinoic acid or tretinoin.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: It is believed that, when applied to skin, it assists in creating better, healthier skin cells, and increases the number of skin-support substances, adds Begoun. “Retinol has been shown to increase the skin’s collagen production and glycosaminoglycan content, resulting in firmer skin with an improved texture and enhanced barrier function.” According to numerous published dermatology studies, retinol also functions as an antioxidant, and can interrupt the free-radical damage that results in the most obvious signs of aging. Plus, it promotes collagen production, fades discolouration from sun damage, and helps to build elastin. With retinol, you need to start slowly. Begoun suggests that you apply it every other day, or mix it in with your usual moisturiser to buffer against redness, flaking and irritation. This allows your skin to gradually acclimatize to this potent ingredient. You also need to be diligent with applying sun protection.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Retinyl palmitate provides free-radical protection, while nourishing your hair and scalp. It also adds a healthy sheen to your hair, in addition to body and suppleness. If your hair has been damaged through over processing, retinyl palmitate can help to improve texture.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: As CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria of cells, it can help to prevent the formation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are known to damage or destroy collagen and elastin, which in turn leads to saggy skin and the formation of wrinkles. CoQ10 also assists in the production of cellular energy. According to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, studies have found that C0Q10, combined with other antioxidants and minerals, can improve skin roughness and fine wrinkles.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: When used topically (such as through shampoo or a hair treatment), it is believed to enhance scalp circulation, and may even increase the rate at which hair grows. It also helps to restore shine and lustre to mature, fine or fragile hair. Plus, a 2009 study published by the Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Société Française de Cosmétologie in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that CoQ10 has anti-aging effects on your hair.
COQ10 According to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Co-enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that is found in almost every cell in the body. This substance helps to convert food into energy. As it is an antioxidant, it fights free radicals which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA and can even cause cell death. These free radicals also contribute to the aging process (in addition to a number of health concerns, including heart disease and cancer). CoQ10 is believed to aid in reducing, or even preventing, this damage and is considered an important ingredient and
Research out of Rockefeller University reveals that adult stem cells reside in most tissues in the body. These stem cells are remarkable, as they can survive long-term, and can regenerate both themselves and their resident tissues during normal wear and tear, and following injury. The researchers explain that they exist in two distinct states: a quiescent state, in which they are not making tissue, and an active state, in which they are making tissue. When activated, they produce shorter-lived progenitors that divide rapidly and then progress to terminally differentiate, to form their respective tissue cells. Plants also have stem cells, reports lead researcher David Schmid and his team in their research paper Plant Stem Cell Extract for Longevity of Skin and Hair. However, unlike humans, adult plants contain potent stem cells with the potential to regenerate a whole plant. These stems cells are being researched and developed into skin and hair products.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: The plant stem cells are, more often than not, obtained from rare Swiss apple trees. They are starting to be incorporated into anti-aging skin formulas, to repair DNA damage and protect against environmental aggressors.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Research reveals that, when incorporated into hair products, stem cells can assist in maintaining healthy follicle cells, to delay the effects of aging on hair and scalp. Again, apple stem cells (the most common variety used in haircare products) contain the right characteristics to aid in hair growth. They work at a cellular level to maintain cellular renewal, and apple stem cells are believed to stimulate the activity of dormant hair follicles.
Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in red grapes, has been found to have preventive and therapeutic effects, according to a 2011 paper, The Grape Antioxidant Resveratrol for Skin Disorders: Promise, Prospects and Challenges. Lead author Mary Ndiaye and her team reported that studies have shown protective effects of resveratrol against ultraviolet radiation, oxidative stress and cutaneous damages, including skin cancer. “Because many of the skin conditions stem from ultraviolet radiation and oxidative stress, this antioxidant appears to have promise and prospects against a wide range of cutaneous disorders, including skin aging.”
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR SKIN: Researchers have found that resveratrol as an ingredient can have an anti-aging and inflammatory effect. This extract protects against UV and free-radical damage, helping to improve skin tone, the appearance of wrinkles and skin discolouration.
HOW IT WORKS ON YOUR HAIR: Resveratrol plays a role in protecting hair from free-radical damage and stimulating cell regeneration. The antioxidant feeds new cells that are forming at the root, to keep the follicle strong. This in turn creates healthier hair. Resveratrol also helps to re-balance the pH of the scalp and reverse the damage caused by environmental aggressors, resulting in healthier, shinier and stronger hair.