Truth behind wrinkle cream

WHILE anti-ageing creams are so glamorised that only the fairest of celebrities are used to advertise them, the long-term effects are far from beautiful.

WHILE anti-ageing creams are so glamorised that only the fairest of celebrities are used to advertise them, the long-term effects are far from beautiful.

And just as only the most perfect make-up and lighting are used to shoot such commercials, the question that arises is: Do these celebrities - such as Jane Fonda and Andie MacDowell - really use the products they endorse?

They have more options, such as botox, and fatter wallets to pull their faces together should the effects take a nosedive. And that is, if they actually do use these creams.

Dermatologists are against the use of such miracle anti-wrinkle creams.

"The only thing that anyone can hope to achieve with such creams is a damaged liver, infertility and a skin that ages even more rapidly," says Delile Gama, a dermatologist in Parktown, Johannesburg.

"The majority of anti-ageing skin products are actually aimed at the effects of sun exposure, not how our body naturally ages."

She says that sun exposure, toxins in our bodies, insufficient water intake, lack of vitamin C and inadequate sleep contributes and worsens the skin's ageing process by up to 85percent.

She warns against the ingredients and the extent of the damage these products can inflict on our bodies - and not just our faces.

"The ingredients in these creams go straight through the skin layers to your blood-stream. Combining the ingredients of popular face creams could cause irreversible allergic reactions and in severe cases, death itself, especially for smokers."

Here are 10 ingredients to avoid in anti-ageing preparations:

l Propylene glycol is a strong irritant, a neurotoxin (toxic to the nervous system) and may cause kidney and liver damage. It might cause delayed allergic reactions, acne and contact dermatitis. It absorbs quickly and is a penetration enhancer.

l Diazolidinyl urea is a skin irritant and a potential cause of dermatitis. It is a formaldehyde releaser. Formaldehyde is a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer) as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

l Imidazolidinyl urea is a strong irritant. It causes contact dermatitis. It's also a formaldehyde releaser.

lPhenoxyethanol is a skin and eye irritant with a rose fragrance. It can cause contact dermatitis and is harmful if absorbed through the skin.

l DMDMhydantoin is another formaldehyde releaser. It may cause contact dermatitis and has caused cancer in experimental animals.

l Triethanolamine(TEA) is an irritant, a sensitiser and causes contact dermatitis. It might cause the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in products containing nitrogen compounds. It might also contain nitrosamine contaminants not listed on the label.

l Parabens (ethyl-, methyl-, butyl- and propylparaben) are endocrine disrupters. They disturb the hormonal balance in the body. They are absorbed through the skin and might irritate the skin. They have been found in breast cancer tumours but it is not known if they had a part in causing the tumours.

l PEG-n (4-200) is an eye and skin irritant and is hazardous on large areas of the body. It might be contaminated with dangerous levels of the carcinogen, 1,4-dioxane.

l HGH is human growth hormone. Some products may contain HGH or ingredients that stimulate the body to produce its own HGH. Ironically, the hormones don't slow the ageing process, they just hide the symptoms.

Animal studies have shown that animals that produce more growth hormone in old age have a shorter life span. Studies have also shown that HGH causes carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes. And it has not been adequately tested.

l Ultrasomes, keratinocyte growth factor and DNA enzyme complex are known bioengineered ingredients that are used in some anti-ageing products.

The biotech industry is required to identify ingredients that are bioengineered and they're not required to state on the label that a product contains bioengineered ingredients. The safety of bioengineered ingredients has not been adequately studied.

Look for products with safe ingredients such as aloe vera, essential oils, shea butter, grape seed oil, emu oil, antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, green tea and Co-Q10.

But remember, it's more than just skin care. Slowing the ageing process involves eating a healthy diet with lots of healthy anti-oxidant rich foods and enzymes, regular exercise, stress reduction and adequate rest. It is important to pay attention to your whole body, not just your skin.

l Additional information from