The Douglass Report September 2003

September 2003 PDF

Is that anti-wrinkle cream actually making you age faster?

The FDA tends to give an easy pass to skin creams, as if your skin weren't subject to the same rules as your internal organs. I've seen more than one of these creams marketed as "a natural way to rejuvenate the skin." Essentially, they're promising the fountain of youth in a $10 jar-no wonder they sell so well.

And it seems that if they contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), also known as fruit acids, they fly off the shelves even faster. Apparently, AHAs work by peeling off the outer layer of the skin to reveal the fresher skin beneath.

But how the cream manufacturers went from there to claiming that these products prevent wrinkling is a mystery. Especially since skin specialists are warning that anti-wrinkle creams may actually make the skin age more rapidly. Oh boy, another bonanza for the class-action lawyers, and if research verifies these claims, the skin cream companies deserve it.

Research suggests that people who use AHA products have greater sensitivity to the sun's ultraviolet rays. The "anti-wrinkle" creams appear to increase the number of cells that get damaged and to stimulate sun sensitivity that leads to reddening, blistering, and burning.

Jump the skin cream/sunscreen ship- before you sink with it!

So now the skin cream people are in the same boat as the sunscreen promoters and may be doing more harm than good. But if they're going down, they're at least determined to go together.

Professor Chris Griffiths, a skin specialist from the University of Manchester, recommends: "If you use [AHA skin creams], use a sunscreen of a sun protection factor of 15 or higher and that should be adequate." But wait a minute, Professor, sunscreens have their own problems-or at least they certainly aren't solving any, seeing as how skin cancer rates have increased since sunscreens hit the market.

So now are we facing wrinkled skin cancer?

Griffiths is calling for further studies. He said "the studies that have been done to date show some worrying data-but those studies have only been performed over the short term. So what is definitely needed are long term studies assessing the long term risk associated with using these creams on a daily basis as women would do under normal circumstances." Well, why didn't they do that before bulldozing their way to the market with these overpriced, useless, and now potentially dangerous creams?

Caroline Hogg, beauty editor of Woman magazine, said the products had been available for several years "without problems coming to light." Now there's a double entendre if I ever heard one.

Action to take:

The skin creams and sunscreens aren't the real enemies here-and neither is the sun (in fact, most people could stand to soak up some more rays). It's the companies claiming to have the answers to aging and/or skin cancer all wrapped up in a neat little package that you have to watch out for.

So, save all the money you'd spend on anti-wrinkle creams and sunscreens and go on a nice, relaxing vacation-preferably somewhere warm and sunny. RH


"Anti-wrinkle creams 'accelerate ageing,'" BBC News (, 8/8/00