Skin Deep

Can makeup help improve wrinkles?

Anti-aging is big business, so it’s no surprise to find products claiming to turn back visible signs of time in some unexpected places (anti-wrinkle chocolates, anyone?). Since most of us apply makeup to our faces on a daily basis, it does seem possible that a few extra ingredients could help our battle against aging, but it’s important to know the facts and read the fine print.

Which cosmetics can make a difference?

I believe that foundations and primers are the only cosmetics that could potentially have an anti-aging effect because you put a decent amount all over your face. With that said, I don’t think anti-aging blushes or eyeshadows are worth the money since you only apply a little bit on small areas. To combine coverage with effective anti-aging ingredients, I recommend trying a BB or CC cream, which are multitasking products that contain skincare ingredients plus makeup-like coverage to even out skin tone. They lean more toward skincare than cosmetics.

Which active ingredients should you look for?

You can find many cosmetics that claim to contain anti-aging ingredients. Hyaluronic acid and peptides are two examples of ingredients that purportedly minimize wrinkles, however their molecule size is too large to penetrate the skin, which makes them worthless. In my opinion, you’re better off with antioxidant-infused cosmetics. In the case of these free radical fighters, the more you can “feed” your skin, the better. Look for idebenone, vitamin E, green tea and argan oil.

Read ingredient lists

When you look at a list of ingredients, the ones that appear first make up a majority of a product. So if you see the anti-aging ingredient toward the end of the list, it’s unlikely that there’s enough of it in the product or cosmetic to make a difference in your skin.

Pay more attention to what you apply before makeup

If you follow an effective skincare regimen, there’s really no need to use cosmetics that claim to have anti-aging effects. Between the products you use morning and night, your skin should be covered. If you want a little extra boost, look for a primer with skincare ingredients (and this helps your makeup last longer as an added bonus). And perhaps my most important piece of advice: Don’t rely on your makeup as your sunscreen. Studies have shown that most women don’t apply enough foundation to get the SPF protection stated on the bottle. A separate sunscreen is perhaps the best anti-aging product of all!

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.

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