Can we delay skin ageing? If we set aside for a moment the question of why, the short answer is yes, of course we can. But can we do it just with skincare?
Is skincare actually able to fight ageing on its own?
The answer is still being debated, and many people, including doctors, think it impossible. The common idea is that skincare cannot penetrate into deeper skin layers, cannot interact with skin cells and simply is not as effective as laser, injections or surgery.
But is this really so?
Let’s debunk some of these myths.
Does skincare penetrate into the skin?
Yes. And not only does it penetrate into the skin, it can do so very fast. Sure, not just any skincare can go deep, but frankly we don’t want all of our cosmetic products to do that, it would make our lives difficult. So how do we know what penetrates and how?
First of all, size matters. Research has demonstrated that any substance with molecular mass of less than 500 Dalton can penetrate through the skin’s protective barrier into its deeper layers. This shouldn’t really be news, as many are likely to have used at some point anti-inflammatory or pain relieving creams for muscle and joint pain. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen and voltaren, have small molecular size and penetrate through the skin, fatty tissue and muscle to reach the surface of the joint and relieve the pain there.
Some cosmetic ingredients have similarly small molecular size, among them retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide (vitamin B3), panthenol, vitamin E, almost all peptides, caffeine and many others. Many plant extracts contain active molecules of very small size, for example centella asiatica is rich in asiatic acid, which is able to penetrate into capillaries and provide capillary strengthening and restorative effect. Moreover, beauty industry today employs numerous innovative technologies to increase the penetration of active ingredients, from delivery vehicles (liposomes, nanosomes, niosomes, microsponges, dendromeres, etc) and penetration enhancers (agents temporarily eliminating the skin’s natural protection) to various enhancers, substances which get to deeper layers themselves and create paths for other ingredients of a larger size (this is how many essential oils work, for example).
Can skincare interact with skin cells?
Yes, and we’re gradually gaining a better understanding of how various substances affect the cells. Some agents increase the “communicability” of the skin cells helping transfer necessary messages; many simply connect to the cell receptors and affect them directly; and some agents belong to the class of bioidentical substances, which the skin recognises as its own and reacts to similarly to substances produced by the body. This is the mechanics of action of niacinamide and vitamin C, for example — with age their amount in the skin cells decreases, but when applied to the skin they penetrate deep and are gratefully accepted by the skin cells without any resistance.
Can skincare be as effective as laser or surgery?
No. But the reverse is true as well: laser and surgery do not have the same effect as skincare. Cosmetics can compensate for the age-related deficit of some substances, slow down ageing and postpone the appearance of wrinkles. Skincare can directly affect some cell processes, help the cells metabolise oxygen like they used to at a young age or restore, at least partially, the synthesis of collagen or hyaluronic acid. Laser can eliminate pigmentation in the upper layers of the skin, and skincare can prevent the synthesis of excess pigment in the deeper skin layers. Injections can create a localised swelling filling a crease or a wrinkle, and skincare can postpone its appearance or help skin cells restore the syntheses of substances which can fill that wrinkle from the inside.
Aside from already familiar cosmetic ingredients, in recent years skincare has come to use ingredients normalising microbiome. Research has shown that the skin condition, including the way it changes with age, largely depends on the state of microbiome, billions of microorganisms living on the skin surface. As it turns out, the body outsources a lot of processes to them — moisturising for example is for the most part provided by microorganisms, rather than skin cells. With age microbiome comes to need some support as well, and skincare can provide it restoring its ability to moisturise, protect, fight free radicals and maintain the synthesis of necessary substances.
The latest discoveries in skincare are connected with the advancement of genetics, namely epigenetics. Apparently, some substances applied to the skin can activate dormant genes or put to sleep some excessively active ones. Some ingredients, such as teprenone, the cells of ephemer culture of wakame alga, and our old favourites coenzyme Q10, niacinamide and some others can prolong the active life of cells and restore the cells’ ability to synthesise substances which had been thought to decline irreversibly with age.
Obviously skincare can help fight ageing. It is most important to remember that the skin, as dermatologists put it, is unforgiving of negligence, lack of everyday attention and especially of damage. Even after many years the skin can avenge its pains — this is precisely what happens with UV effect, all sunburns received in life accumulate.
To keep the skin happy, give it care and protection every day, it only takes a few minutes in the morning and before bed. Of course the skin will appreciate a visit to an aesthetic professional at least once a month. Regular care is key to the skin’s health and naturally good look.
Need help choosing your routine care? Read our Guide to Meder Beauty Daily Care.