CONTRIBUTED BY Garima Seth

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The alluring promises we read on youth-preserving products include age-defying, age-delaying and age-reversing properties, all of which are the sum of every woman’s dream: to stay forever young. So, do anti-aging creams actually work? There’s a veritable debate out in the market about the efficaciousness of anti-aging products.

The truth is that certain active ingredients used in anti-aging products have been shown to be safe and very effective. Perhaps the trick is to find the right ingredients that work best with you, experts say.

Starting with the basic one which you cannot afford to miss.

Sunscreen – Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30+ will prevent UV-induced skin damage and accelerated collagen/elastin degradation. Minimizing skin exposure to the sun does prevent UV-related skin aging.

Here are five commonly listed active ingredients, and the scientific evidence about whether they may play a role in decreasing signs of aging.

1. Antioxidants: Cell damage in our skin is often caused by oxidation, a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to a chain of reactions. Antioxidants are molecules which inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. It is claimed that the presence of antioxidants in anti-aging products helps with cell repair and regeneration. Substances with antioxidant properties include beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E.
Natural sources: Foods which provide antioxidants are fruits, vegetables, nuts and some meats. Green tea or vitamin E aim to halt the sun damage that threatens collagen production, thus preventing new wrinkles from forming.

2. Peptides: Research shows that as we age, the skin becomes thinner and loses fat, causing it to sag and develop fine lines. The body produces less collagen and elastin which ensure the skin maintains its smooth, plump and youthful appearance.Peptides help stimulate new cells growth and help in the healing of skin cells. They are proved to be good in moisturizing and hydrating skin, which can make lines less noticeable, encouraging the replacement of collagen, elastin, and other components that suffer during aging.
Natural sources: All dietary proteins contain peptides, but milk, eggs, grains and soybeans are among the richest sources.

3. Alpha-hydroxy acids: Alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic, glycolic and citric acids are commonly used because they work as an exfoliant, getting rid of dead skin cells, allowing new cells to grow. They allow the deeper layer of the skin to come to surface faster — which speeds up the cycle of skin turnover.
Natural sources: Lemons and grapefruit are the strongest sources of natural AHA’s in this list. Papaya, pineapple and tomato are great sources as well. Plain yogurt contains lactic acid which is a natural AHA.

4. Retinol: Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A and has been touted as a tried-and-true method for decreasing signs of aging. It works by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and boosts the thickness and elasticity of the skin.Retinol prevents the compounds that break down collagen from even forming and with continued use, retinol can spur new collagen production.
Natural sources: Calf and chicken liver, eggs, fish liver oils, dairy products, including whole milk, whole milk yogurt, whole milk cottage cheese, butter and other cheeses are fantastic sources of vitamin A

5. Hyaluronic acid: This is a vital natural substance and works to keep every aspect of skin stable, safeguarded and constantly renewed. It also has the stunning capacity to attract and hold vast amounts of moisture for skin. It soaks in moisture and plumps the tissue under a wrinkle.
Natural sources: Foods such as leafy greens, root vegetables and soy products contain high quantities of hyaluronic acid. However, homemade broths made from animal bones, skin and connective tissues are even better sources of this magic ingredient.

6. Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a plant compound and some have claimed that the compound could prevent or reverse chronic health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. There is also some slowdown of age-related decline but more research is necessary to back this up.
Natural sources: This ingredient is found in abundance in foods such as peanuts, pistachios, grapes, red and white wine, blueberries, cranberries, andeven cocoa and dark chocolate. The plants from which these foods come make resveratrol to fight fungal infection, ultraviolet radiation, stress, and injury.

7. Collagen: This ingredient plays an important role in how skin ages. It supports the structure which gives our skin a firm, young appearance. When levels remain plentiful, our skin looks young and fresh.
Natural sources: Fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acid. Red, dark green and orange vegetables, berries, soy, white tea and citreous fruits, garlic and oysters are excellent sources of collagen.

Almost all brands and range of anti-aging productsclaim to have these important and effective ingredients which will give us that young, fresh, vital and ever-green, age-defying look. But it is more than likely they won’t tell you how much of each ingredient is actually in the product. The concentration of active ingredients makes a huge difference in efficacy.

Ladies, just a word of caution: be wary of what the labels on anti-aging products promise you. While the label may be full of words that sound complex and scientific, you’re likely just buying some excellent copy editing. A healthy and balanced diet with adequate amounts of exercise and fitness work more magic to delay that process of aging than any range of products ever can!

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