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Is it really possible that your moisturizer causes fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin? Isn’t that pretty much the opposite of what you’ve been told moisturizer does for your skin? Anti-aging ingredients like retinoids and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids are true superstars and are common ingredients in moisturizers because they do work. However, they can also accelerate aging because they are so effective at increasing the rate of cell turnover. Keep reading to find out why faster cell turnover might be aging you rather than keeping you looking young and youthful.
Why Your Moisturizer Could be Aging You
It’s no secret that when it comes to aging, retinol products are the most widely used for anti-aging because they work and they are readily available both with or without a prescription. Dermatologists love retinol and recommend that it is used as part of your anti-aging routine. “When you use a topical retinoid, it removes the layer of dead skin cells on top of the epidermis that can make skin appear dull,” says Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in New York. The reason dermatologists like Wechsler suggest using retinoids is that they clear the way for new, healthy skin to appear.
However, it is exactly this function that can cause potential aging to your skin. While dead skin cells on the surface of your skin create a dull, older-looking appearance, they also act as a natural barrier against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which means that your skin has a very mild layer of sun protection on top of any sunscreen you are using. According to Wechsler, removing these dead skin cells exposes more vulnerable skin that can burn more easily, increasing the risk of sun damage which is the major cause of signs of aging.
There are other ingredients found in moisturizers that can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. These common ingredients are known as chemical exfoliants and work by essentially dissolving the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal new skin cells. Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, like retinoids, are incredibly beneficial to your skin and fight against the aging process, but they leave your top layer of skin thinner and more susceptible to sun damage.
How to Keep Your Moisturizer From Aging You
With the potential for more aging to occur from using moisturizer, you should probably just toss it aside, right? Wrong. Ingredients like retinoids and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids are crucial to an effective anti-aging routine, but you must be using a high-quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every single day on any areas of your skin (neck and chest included) that will be exposed to the sun. Wechsler advises her patients to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on top of their moisturizer, rather than using a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. A sunscreen applied on top of a moisturizer offers better protection because the SPF is not diluted by the moisturizer. To prevent aging from your moisturizer, all you need to do is be super diligent about using a sunscreen of at least 30 on top of your moisturizer. Wechsler succinctly states, “if the whole point is to use something that will make your skin look better and healthier, then the strongest anti-aging thing to do would be to use sunscreen. It’s pointless [to use these ingredients] and not wear sunscreen.
It is true that if you are not properly protecting your skin by using a sunscreen daily your moisturizer could do potential damage to your skin, but that doesn’t mean you need to toss the moisturizer. Sunscreen is always the top anti-aging product that dermatologists recommend and if you are using products that increase photosensitivity, sunscreens become even more important. Remember to apply SPF to your face (and neck and chest) daily before any sun exposure so that all the ingredients you use can work more effectively without fear of further skin damage.