War on Wrinkles: Over-the-Counter Solutions

So what about the woman who wants to tackle wrinkles without fillers, dermabrasion, surgery and lasers? There is always the ‘natural’ approach of embracing a good skin care regimen. You won’t get overnight or dramatic results, but you might just be able to hang onto good skin quality a little longer. Proper skin care is a lifelong endeavor that starts with sun protection and continues with specific products that work for your skin type and needs.

“Home treatments can be very effective, less expensive and noninvasive if clients use the correct product on a routine basis,” says Cynthia Spiro, owner of Natural Beauty of Ladue. “As a nurse and an aesthetician, I perform a clinical assessment to identify problem areas. Afterward, I work with clients to formulate a treatment plan for their specific needs, including their schedule and budget.”

Spiro finds that topical multi-peptide collagen complex products and alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid products, used on a routine schedule, are the most effective wrinkle treatments available without a prescription. Manufacturers of topical multi-peptide products claim that the ingredients “support skin cell integrity, promote the formation of collagen and elastin, foster improved circulation and counter bacterial infections.”

Alpha-hydroxy acid products available over the counter may contain glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid or mandelic acid, the same substances often used in much higher concentrations by physicians for deep chemical peels. Salicylic acid is the beta-hydroxy acid used primarily as an exfoliant in topical products.

“I recommend that clients seek more aggressive medical treatment if topical products are not working and the expected results are not obtained,” Spiro says. “One example is my young clients who have acne. I work hand-in-hand with their dermatologist.”

Deborah Zorensky, owner of the Center for Mind, Body and Spirit, emphasizes the inside-out approach to healthy skin. “We all need a certain amount of fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids,” she says. To determine if your skin needs more dietary fat, Zorensky suggests checking the soles of your feet. “If the bottom of your foot is dry and cracked, you need more fat. A good, natural fish oil product can be very helpful.” Hydration and good nutrition are also important, says Zorensky, a registered dietitian. “Colorful foods have a lot of antioxidants, and I recommend buying organic or locally-grown produce,” she says.

Vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene are the most common antioxidants available in supplement form, and many cosmetics companies have added these ingredients to their products. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which have been linked to illness and the cellular breakdown of aging skin, Zorensky says. Because smoking produces free radicals, smoking cessation is another key component of healthy skin.

“Lymph drainage is also very important,” Zorensky adds. Lymph is the fluid found between cells that maintains the body’s fluid balance and removes bacteria. It’s movement can be stimulated through massage-like manipulation. “We have a facial that incorporates lymph drainage,” she says. “I recommend it every week or two.” A healthy, youthful glow that starts inside, she notes, might just be reflected on the outside.