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Anti-Aging Makeup: Does It Work? Dermatologists Answer the Claims

anti-aging-50s-woman-polka-dotsIf you believe the commercials, anti-aging makeup is supposed to fill in wrinkles, tighten skin and make you look an amazing five, 10, 20 years younger!

And actually, some ingredients in these makeups are good for aging skin. But some of the claims about how far they go are a bit, well, misleading.

We asked six board-certified dermatologists to tells us whether some typical anti-aging makeup claims are true or false. Here are their verdicts.

 

makeup-woman-washing-faceQUESTION 1: Moisturizers are one of the key wrinkle fighters makeup companies mention. Do they really work?

CONSENSUS: Hydration can have subtle anti-aging effects.

DETAILS: "If one is dehydrated," says Dr. Memar, "wrinkles are more prominent." Dehydrated skin is simply not as plump as the hydrated version.

"The question is, are all moisturizers created equally?" says Dr. Goldberg. "In fact, most are." For emollients, which coat the skin to keep in moisture, Dr. Goldberg recommends "plant oils, mineral oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, petrolatum, cholesterol and a variety of animal oils."

Dr. Memar prefers humectants, another type of moisturizer, which draw water to the skin and keep it there. "The best known," he says, "are glycerin, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid."

 

makeup-jar-sweatQUESTION 2: If you use an anti-aging makeup, do you still have to use your other anti-aging products?

CONSENSUS: Yes.

DETAILS: "Using an anti-aging makeup does not take the place of anti-aging moisturizers or creams, just as regular makeup does not take the place of regular moisturizers and creams," says Dr. Fuller. "Typically, [they] enhance the regimen or potentially work symbiotically." The doctors also insist that you use sunscreen because the sun's ultraviolet light is a huge factor in skin's aging. Speaking of which ...

 

makeup-mineral-powder-brushQUESTION 3: What SPF should your makeup have? Will it last all day?

CONSENSUS: Look for an SPF of at least 15 to 30 (preferably 30), but don't count on it to protect you in harsh sun.

DETAILS: "One of the biggest fallacies we see as dermatologists is, ‘I wear sunscreen in my makeup, so I don't need one when I go outside,'" says Dr. Schlessinger. "Unfortunately, the all-in-one products are very poor in general and cause more burns because people go out and don't apply an effective sunscreen."

Our experts agree that for a day at the office, sunscreen in makeup is fine. But if you're going to be in the sun for very long, apply extra about 30 minutes before going out, and reapply every two hours. Keep in mind, Dr. Schlessinger notes, "Even the most effective sunscreens don't claim more than a two- or three-hour window of opportunity for them to work, so the makeups can't possibly perform better." Putting makeup with sunscreen on in the morning will do no good during that sunny after-work stroll.

 

makeup-powder-colorfulQUESTION 4: Some companies claim that the skin loses its brightness and color as you age (so their makeup uses light-reflecting elements or other methods to brighten your look). Is this true?

CONSENSUS: Yes.

DETAILS: "This is because the epidermis and dermis—first and second layers of the skin—thin over time with both aging and sun damage," explains Dr. Goldberg. "As light passes through these layers and is reflected back, it looks different in aging skin."

 

THE EXPERTS
(All board-certified dermatologists)

  • Peggy A. Fuller, M.D. Owner of Esthetics Center for Dermatology in Charlotte, N.C.
  • David J. Goldberg, M.D. Director of the Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York & New Jersey, clinical professor and director of laser research at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, co-vice-president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • Ellen S. Marmur, M.D. Chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
  • Omeed Memar, M.D., Ph.D. Medical director of the Academic Dermatology & Skin Cancer Institute of Chicago and clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University.
  • Joel Schlessinger, M.D., F.A.A.D. President of Advanced Skin Research Center in Omaha, Neb., and LovelySkin.com (skin-care products); president-elect of the American Society for Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Surgery; national director of research for exCel Cosmeceuticals (skin-care products containing amino acids from fruit); on advisory boards for various companies that make dermatology-related products.
  • Marcy Street, M.D. Founder of Doctor's Approach Dermatology & Laser Center in East Lansing, Mich., and her product line, Doctor's Approach Skin & Hair Care; holds a governor-appointed position on the Michigan Board of Medicine.

 

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Last updated and/or approved: June 2010. Original article appeared in fall 2006 former print magazine. Bio current as of May 2008. This article is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.

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