Stop the clock!

Anti-ageing techniquesAgeing can be a progressive decline in mental and physical ability, accompanied by an increase in susceptibility to chronic disease.

Humankind has long sought ways to slow or retard the ageing process. Given the vast number of ageing baby boomers in our society, the relevance of anti-ageing medicine looms ever larger. Are the effects of ageing inevitable? Taken in the broadest and most positive light, anti-ageing medicine is an extension of preventative healthcare.

Anti-ageing medicine incorporates the realms of biochemistry, biology and physiology, and utilises elements from the fields of sports medicine, molecular genetics, nutrition and mind/ body medicine. Hormone levels begin to decrease by the mid-thirties, and hormone replacement therapy is a popular, though controversial, anti-ageing technique, specifically human growth hormone (HGH), DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, oestrogen and melatonin. Oxidative stress reduction is another technique: Natural metabolic processes as well as environmental toxins lead to the formation of free radicals, electrically unstable molecules that damage DNA and protein; antioxidant formulae are prescribed to combat free radicals, creating a healthier balance between free radical production and antioxidant defence. Other primary natural tools against ageing are rest, exercise and stress control techniques. Plastic surgery is the surgical arm of the field of anti-ageing medicine.

Powerful anti-ageing skin cream ingredients

Retinol, hydroquinone, sunscreen, antioxidants and alpha hydroxyl acids are five potent skin cream ingredients with anti-ageing benefits. These standout elements add real punch to creams and serums, but use them the wrong way and skin will stage a rebellion. Because skin is such a sensitive organ and everyone reacts differently, there are no guarantees that your skin will respond well to these ingredients.

Retinol aka ‘the cure-all’ is listed first because it is ‘among the best anti-ageing ingredients we have’, according to a clinical professor of dermatology at Yale. This vitamin-A derivative sweeps away dead cells, boosts collagen and elastin and pumps up circulation. Hydroquinone aka ‘the eraser’, the most effective tool for bleaching skin, fades hyperpigmentation (dark skin spots). Sunscreen aka ‘the preventer’ is a must for the prevention of photo-ageing. Sun damage is behind almost all of the signs of ageing skin such as wrinkles and age spots. Antioxidants aka ‘fixers,’ such as vitamin C, green tea, pomegranate, CoffeeBerry or idebenone can be layered on to help prevent wrinkles, spots and maybe even skin cancer. Their role is to save cells from environmental damage. Finally, alpha hydroxyl acids, aka ‘radiance makers’, such as glycolic acid, help to fade blotches and allow other anti ageing ingredients to penetrate faster and work more effectively.

Mintel reports that the US anti-ageing skincare market has experienced substantial growth in the past five years, as women continue to clamour for the next advancement to stave off the signs of ageing. While the desire to find the fountain of youth is a global concern, research found that American women lead the way in anti-ageing facial skincare usage when compared to their counterparts in Germany, France and the UK, while the West (US, UK, France) launched the most anti-ageing skincare products between 2009 and 2011 in comparison to Japan and China. In the US, 37 per cent of women have used anti-ageing creams and serums for the face, compared to  23 per cent of women in the UK , 24 per cent of the female population in France, 25 per cent in Germany and 26 per cent in Spain.

But it’s not all creams and serums in the anti-ageing fight, devices could become the weapon of choice in the battle against fine lines and wrinkles. While usage is modest (just 4 per cent of US women have used an anti-ageing device) 35 per cent of American women report that while they haven’t used an at-home anti-ageing device, they would be open to trying one. Furthermore, women seem more interested in at-home treatments than visiting a professional. Forty per cent of women in the US have used or would be interested in using an at-home treatment, compared to 32 per cent who have visited/ would visit a professional for non-invasive anti-ageing treatments. ‘Technology is ingrained in our everyday lives, from smartphones to constant connection through social networks,’ says Amy Ziegler, global personal care analyst. ‘Embracing technology in our beauty regimen seems like the next logical step.’

Meanwhile, product launch activity seems to be the greatest in the West. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, 46 per cent of total skincare product launches in the UK carried an anti ageing claim from 2009 to 2011. France and the US were only slightly higher, with 47 per cent of skincare launches touting the anti-ageing claim. China and Japan followed with much lower numbers 27 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. The US anti-ageing skincare market experienced decelerated growth between 2006 and estimated 2011, as the impact of the economy forced tight household budgets for many users, who found less disposable income for discretionary purchases in recent years. However, Mintel predicts that the market will turn around between 2011 and 2016, based on population growth of women aged 55+, who are the primary purchasers of anti-ageing products.


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