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The Science: Sirtuins (protein enzymes) may extend the life of skin cells. When scientists increased the amount of sirtuins in worms, their lifespan grew significantly. Boosting these levels in skin cells can work similarly. "The suspected mechanism is essentially turning off the clock," says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a dermatologist in Boston. "Instead of going into decline, the skin would remain in its prime."
The Goal: Keep skin looking fresh. By enhancing the way your cells function and prolonging their longevity, your skin can function more optimally, especially in fighting key factors that lead to those well-known signs of aging (lines, wrinkles, and uneven tone, to name a few).
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The Science: Cells communicate with one another through electric currents, says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami Beach. Enter a new category of anti-agers known as bioelectric lotions, which stimulate impulses that trigger cells in deeper layers of skin to produce collagen and elastin.
The Goal: Improve skin firmness. "There are many ingredients that can boost collagen production, but none until now that has successfully created more elastin, which keeps skin from sagging," says Dr. Baumann. "These products actually lead cells to make more elastic tissue."
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The Science: Ingredients derived from fruits and plants are going high tech. Companies are pairing earth-derived ingredients—like a new natural form of retinol or apple stem-cells—with other antioxidants, peptides, and extracts to create molecules that are more readily absorbed into the skin.
The Goal: Lessen fine lines without irritating side effects. Using these kinder, gentler ingredients in new and improved ways makes these recently developed products much more effective, says Diane Madfes, MD, a dermatologist in NYC.
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The Science: Certain wavelengths of light are beneficial in skincare. For example, to treat brown spots, you zap skin with green light; for firming, you use red, says Audrey Kunin, MD, a dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri. A laser treatment at the derm's office works by sending a colored beam deep into the skin to target troubled areas. Now some companies are creating lotions that mimic the effects of a laser treatment.
The Goal: Eliminate wrinkles—without a hefty price tag. While the in-office devices provide the best treatment for stimulating collagen and smoothing skin, at-home advances are providing budget-friendly ways to get similar results from a bottle.
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Get the Goods
The latest OTC skin-ovations can be pricey, but they're effective—and cost less than a doctor's visit.
Lumene Excellent Future Deep Repairing Serum
Contains apple stem-cell extracts and other natural ingredients to dramatically diminish lines.
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Garnier Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer
Uses a form of retinol that promises to be completely gentle on all skin types—no dryness, no irritation.
Available at drugstores, $15
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Avon Anew Ultimate Contouring Eye System
Restores youthfulness to undereyes—one of the first areas to show signs of aging.
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Estee Lauder Time Zone Night Anti-Line/Wrinkle Creme
Strengthen your skin's defenses against environmental aggressors like sun exposure and pollution.
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Aveeno Ageless Vitality Elasticity Recharging System
Plump up forehead wrinkles and frown lines around your mouth.
Available at drugstores, $39
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Neutrogena Clinical Facial Lifting Wrinkle Treatment System
A two-step regimen: Apply the gel-serum, then add the activating cream. The combo provides an all-around tightening effect.
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Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Corrector
Gets rid of lines and wrinkles, with results that rival a derm's.
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Dermadoctor Phytodynamic Therapy Sunlight-Activated Laser Lotion with SPF 30
Turns aging rays into anti-aging rays, with an added dose of sunscreen.
Originally published in the November 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.