Anti-Aging Ingredients in Makeup: Are They Really Helping?

6 years ago

Can your make-up really help you fight the signs of aging?  Please allow me to be both cynical and straight forward with my answer and that answer is: no.  In my opinion make-up that claims to be anti-aging is simply nothing more than marketing hype.  The most effective anti-aging products you can use are not make-up products.  Looking for your anti-aging solution in a container of foundation will get you nowhere.  Having said that, make-up can certainly help enhance and even maintain the results you get from both topical anti-aging products (Retin-A for example) or office/spa treatments (such as chemical peels, laser resurfacing, etc.).

The most effective anti-aging ingredients work on many levels, but two things need to consistent in order for any anti-aging product to work:  you need to have the correct concentration of the effective ingredients and you need to use the product over an extended period of time (three months or more usually before you see real results).  This is the issue with almost all make-up that claims to be anti-aging – it doesn’t have the correct concentrations of anti-aging ingredients in the make-up in order to change your skin at all.

The one ingredient contained in some make-up that truly can be considered anti-aging is sunscreen.  If you see that your make-up has an actual spf rating then you can trust that the product is protecting you from sun exposure since a manufacturer cannot slap a spf rating on a protect without FDA consent.  But please remember – just because you use make-up with a spf rating does not mean that you can skip using your sunscreen or your moisturizer with sunscreen.  I have yet to met a person who uses enough foundation (mineral, liquid, etc.) to get effective sun protection.

So should you just skip buying make-up that claims to be fighting wrinkles?  If you like the make-up that claims to have anti-aging benefits then buy the make-up for that reason – that you like how to looks on your skin.  And it can’t hurt your skin by any means.  Using make-up with sunscreen and antioxidants in it will, of course, benefit your skin in the long run but that doesn’t mean that you should put away your Retin-A, moisturizer, antioxidant serum, and favorite sunscreen.

According to the article Makeup That Does More from Good Housekeeping, keep a few things in mind when looking at anti-aging make-up:

When makeup is loaded with proven wrinkle-reducing ingredients like retinol and peptides, it can be effective, says Patricia Farris, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. But to see an improvement over time, these ingredients must be present above certain concentrations. For vitamin C, it’s 5 to 10 percent, says Dr. Farris. For retinol, it’s at least 0.1 percent. Two products that have that 0.1 percent: GloMinerals GloCream Blush in Fig or Guava ($25 each, Beauty companies don’t often tell you these percentages, though you can hedge your bets by checking that active ingredients like vitamins and retinol are higher up on the ingredient list — and by choosing creamy formulas over powders. Retinol and vitamin E, for example, are oily materials. “They’re difficult to blend in powder at high levels because they make the particles stick together,” says Perry Romanowski, an independent cosmetics chemist. Instead, try a liquid such as L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift Line-Minimizing & Tone-Enhancing Makeup ($14.25, drugstores) with pro-retinol and SPF 17.

Also look closely at the claims. Few anti-aging cosmetics explicitly promise to eliminate wrinkles or sun damage, says Brandith Irwin, M.D., a Seattle dermatologist and author of The Surgery-Free Makeover. Instead, they “minimize the appearance of wrinkles” or “visibly reduce fine lines.” As for those studies showing a reduction in wrinkle depth, dermatologists often credit the moisture in makeup, not the anti-aging ingredients, for doing most of the heavy lifting. “The quickest way to make a wrinkle look better is to smear moisturizer on it,” Dr. Farris says. Skin is like a sponge, wrinkled and rough when dry, soft and smooth once you add water. Infusing it with hydrators is faster (and cheaper) than adding enough retinol or peptides to makeup to smooth skin long-term.

And don’t forget that it is perfectly legal for a manufacturer to claim that their make-up is anti-aging even if it only has a tiny amount of retinol or antioxidants or just contains sunscreen.  So remember to look at the actual ingredient list before purchasing a product if you are hoping to see real changes in your skin after using your make-up (and by that I mean your skin looks different after you remove your make-up not just while you are wearing the make-up).


The bottom line is this:  stick to skincare products with a proven track record in order to get real anti-aging results.  Buy your cosmetics based on how they feel and look on your skin and not based on marketing claims.


Sources and Further Reading:


For many more posts on skincare and makeup please visit my blog - Ask an Esthetician.

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