conditionsAnti-Ageing. What Ages The Skin?


Free Radicals are parts of molecules (derived from the body’s use of oxygen) that occur naturally in the body. As a result of external and lifestyle factors, such as exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, pesticides, cigarette smoke, pollution or a poor diet, free radicals tend to react by searching for other chemical substances with which to bond.


As a result, they attack the collagen fibres, cellular membrane, lipid layer of the skin and most importantly the DNA, so that the quality of newly formed skin cells deteriorates. When free radicals damage a cell in the body, they cause inflammation and can rob the skin of its radiant and youthful appearance. They can also produce serious cell alterations when they divide, kick-starting the development of cancerous changes.


Inflammation is usually thought of as visible reddening, swelling or irritation of the skin, such as one would see with sun burn. However, the type of inflammation that contributes to the ageing process is actually internal, so is not always visible. When free radicals damage a cell, they cause what is known as sub-clinical inflammation. This can be triggered by external factors including smoking and exposure to the sun.

Recent partnerships between cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies are very encouraging. As they develop products that combat the effects of free radicals and inflammation more effectively, the public will ultimately benefit from stronger more effective products.



The A-Z of Topical Anti-Ageing Skincare Products

There is currently a vast choice of topical anti-ageing skincare products, in the form of creams, gels and serums, available on the market, but what’s in them and how do they work? They are likely to contain one or more of the following ingredients:


Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are exfoliators and moisturisers commonly found in many different concentrations in various skincare products. Alpha hydroxy is the name for a group of acids that are derived from foods, such as glycolic, lactic, and malic and tartaric acids, which remove the topmost layer of the skin for a rejuvenated appearance. AHAs are believed to play an important part in multi-antioxidant therapies, because they can help make other products work more effectively, while benefiting ageing skin, such as treating rough, dry or finely lined skin or age spots. Long term use of cosmeceutical AHAs also helps to stimulate collagen production and plump the skin.


Alpha Lipoic Acid is a natural, non-toxic antioxidant and can help fight free radicals, one of the key factors in the ageing process. It can be beneficial in improving the overall appearance of the skin; however, it can be effective when used to treat lines and wrinkles, under-eye bags and puffiness, enlarged pores, acne scars and dull skin.


Antioxidants are now a key ingredient in many effective skincare products. Commonly an effect of vitamins, such as A, C, and E, there are also other antioxidants, which occur naturally within the body. These include enzymes (substances that help two or more chemicals interact) such as coenzyme Q10 and some synthetic ones such as idebenone, which many consider are the most powerful to date.  


Ascorbic Acid is the chemical name for Vitamin C.



Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), also known as salicylic acid, has been used for many years as an exfoliating and peeling agent and can reduce inflammation, particularly in acne. BHA is believed to play an important part in multi-antioxidant therapies, because it can help make other products work more effectively, while benefiting ageing skin, such as treating rough, dry or finely lined skin or age spots.



Citric Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid. It is derived from citrus fruits and acts as an exfoliator. It is believed to stimulate the production of collagen.


Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) is an antioxidant and moisturiser, occurs naturally in the skin, and can accelerate cell repair. It provides mechanisms for the body to heal itself, so after prolonged use, can rejuvenate the skin as it is functioning better. It is generally well tolerated, unless the user has very sensitive skin.


Copper Peptides, originally recognised in aiding wound healing, are believed to improve the strength and oxygenation of the skin. Skin formulas containing copper peptides tend to be well suited to sensitive skin.



DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) stabilises the membrane of antioxidants and can also provide some protection from free radicals. DMAE boosts the effects of other antioxidants resulting in increased smoothness, brightness and reduction of lines. When combined with other amino acids, it can have a firming effect on the skin.



Glycolic Acid is the most widely used member of the alpha hydroxy acid family. It is a fruit acid and derived from sugarcane. When applied to the face, glycolic acid helps to stimulate collagen, exfoliate, (as in remove the dead cells of the skin), resulting in a smoother appearance.


Grapeseed Extract contains antioxidants known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) or procyanidins. It can be effective in protecting collagen in the skin.



Idebenone is considered to be a very powerful antioxidant and is believed to stimulate the production of collagen. It is effective in reducing wrinkles and improving the overall condition of the skin after prolonged use. 



Lactic Acid is classed as an alpha hydroxy acid derived from sour milk. It acts as an exfoliator, whilst retaining moisture in the skin.


L-ascorbic Acid is a form of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and has been proven to stimulate the making of collagen as well as reducing pigmentation.



Maleic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid. It is derived from apples and white grapes and is a natural exfoliant.



Polyhydroxy Acids are one of the mildest formulations due to their limitation in the way they penetrate the skin. They have a moisturising effect by softening thick or rough skin.



Retinyl Palmitate, although not as strong as Retin-A, may be tolerated better, and is most effective when combined with glycolic acid. It works by delivering vitamin A to the cells that require it for repairing damaged skin. It can be effective in reducing wrinkles, repairing sun damage and restoring a radiant complexion.



Salicylic Acid is considered to be a beta hydroxy acid and has been used for many years as an exfoliator and peeling agent. It is found in many cleansers, toners and creams for the treatment of dry skin and acne.



Tartaric Acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid that acts as an exfoliant and can smooth fine lines.


Tocotrienol ™ is a trade marked form of vitamin E that has been developed by Dr Nicholas Perricone. Although it possesses the properties of alpha tocopherol, (the vitamin E base of cosmetic formulations throughout the 1990s), it is claimed to be stronger and more effective at repairing skin damage and combating free radicals. Tocotrienols are also known as HPE.



Vitamin C is an antioxidant that stimulates collagen production, brightens skin by slightly bleaching it and acts as an anti-inflammatory. With prolonged use, as the collagen increases, the skin may appear more plump and firm, resulting in a more radiant appearance.


Vitamin C Ester is composed of L-ascorbic acid - basic vitamin C - joined with a fatty acid derived from palm oil, called palmitic acid. Vitamin C Ester is believed to offer maximum protection from free radicals. Skin conditions most likely to respond to treatment with Vitamin C Ester are fine lines and wrinkles on severely damaged skin, sagging skin due to loss of collagen, and sunburned, inflamed or irritated skin.


Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. It is more effective when combined with other active ingredients such as vitamin C