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A variety of anti-aging products are advertised as solution to reverse [the perceived problem of] the appearance of aging. Many claims are made about these products, often showing "before vs. after" photographs and sometimes also flaunting testimonials (unverified anecdotes), but I've not encountered references for credible studies that back up the claims (even though the phrases "clinically proven" or "clinical trials" are sometimes used).

Here are a few examples (the third one is an anecdote/sales-pitch that recommends combining the first two products for best results; I also omitted tracking codes from all links to help maintain privacy):

  1. JUVENEU - Instant Wrinkle Reducer
    http://www.juveneu.com/ (this web site includes audio of a woman speaking)

    Juveneu's advanced formula, contains some of the most effective anti-aging ingredients such as Resveratrol, DMAE, Matryxil 3000 and an exclusive blend of peptides that are clinically proven to turn back the natural effects of the aging process at the cellular level, Producing Astounding Results.

  2. PureCollagenX.com | Anti-Aging Facial Serum
    http://www.purecollagenx.com/t2-can/

    [Heading: Collagen and Wrinkles]

    Collagen is a long, fibrous structural protein that is wound together in a tight helix. This helix is what gives collagen, and your skin, such great strength and elasticity. Numerous helixes bind together to form collagen fibers, which are woven together in our bodies like threads in fabric to form a framework for new cells to grow. Without these fibers, the skin just cannot hold its shape, making it look saggy and wrinkled.

  3. Don't Break the Bank: A Mom's Trick to a Wrinkle FREE Face
    http://www.dailyconsumeralerts.com/skin/

    ["Before (wrinkly face)" and "After (smooth face)" pictures are included on the web page.]

    Emily started to notice several changes within weeks. The picture on the left was taken around the third week after she started using Juveneu and Pure Collagen regularly. She used both Juveneu and Pure Collagen only once a day in the morning.

    Her wrinkles are smoothed out, her eye lines are gone and her skin glows. Her skin continues to get firmer and firmer. In addition to her renewed radiant skin, Emily experienced a significant increase in energy because of the added benefits of the antioxidant Argan Oil.

I'm suspicious about these claims because there don't appear to be references to credible scientific studies, and seemingly mysterious/peculiar/unusual phrases like "exclusive blend of peptides" and "tight helix" are used.

My question

Are the claims about how these products work accurate, and are these products effective for significantly reducing or eliminating wrinkles in human skin?

  • 3
    Since you posted this the products on the third site changed, but the wording remained the same "The picture on the left was taken around the third week after she started using PuraSilk and Kollagen Intensiv regularly. She used both PuraSilk and Kollagen Intensiv only once a day in the morning. Her wrinkles are smoothed out, her eye lines are gone and her skin glows. Her skin continues to get firmer and firmer. In addition to her renewed radiant skin, Emily experienced a significant increase in energy because of the added benefits of the antioxidant Polymoist-PS." – Sam I Am Nov 20 '11 at 22:37
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    @Sam I Am: +1 for discovering and reporting that important detail. The ads (presented as references) have not changed for me, so I wonder if the ads are selected based on geography, such as according to the user's IP address? This is very suspicious indeed, and in my strong opinion it completely discredits that third link. Well done, Sam I Am! – Randolf Richardson Nov 20 '11 at 23:00
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    Interesting! I am in the United States, you are in Canada. I went there with a UK proxy and I got a totally different page, with different pictures about a "Joyce" who is mum (British spelling), and the products are Perfect Radiance & RevitaDerm. – Sam I Am Nov 20 '11 at 23:21
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    @Sam I Am: Neat! So they're changing names too. I wonder if the choices of names are based on studies about name popularity? These types of discoveries make skepticism really fun! – Randolf Richardson Nov 20 '11 at 23:33
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    From Australia, we are back to Emily, but she has started using Joyce's Perfect Radiance & RevitaDerm. – Oddthinking Nov 21 '11 at 13:54
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The only effective anti-wrinkle product I'm aware of is Tretinoin, also known as Retinoic Acid, or Rentin-A. Creams containing Tretinoin are also acne treatments and have been around since the 1980s.

I do not know the details of the physiological mechanisms, but Tretinoin increases cellular turnover rate where applied. The effect is the same as constant exfoliation - a younger layer of skin cells is always seen. It also has the side effect of making the treated skin slightly thinner, and more prone to sun damage.

For your other treatments:

Resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins and red wine initially, was a "hot" anti-oxidant a few years back that showed some promise by nearly doubling the age of mice who ate large amounts of it. For humans, the bioavailability is quite low, as the molecule is quickly metabolized and very little sticks around the human body. I do not know what DMAE or Matryxil 3000 are - they sound like buzz terms. Resveratrol's mode of action can be found with this general study of several botanical antioxidants, but also note that the author of the study acknowledges that Resveratrol has not been studied with regards to photoaging.

I've searched for an article (any article) on collagen as a basis for topical cream and wrinkles, but I haven't found a scholarly source. Given that your body's Fibroblasts maintain your collagen by exuding the necessary extracellular components, simply adding "more collagen" to be absorbed and possibly digested won't do anything.

Your third option is basically a combination of the above two. An antioxidant and collagen thrown in. Neither have been proven as effective (if they're effective at all) as the Retinoid I linked above. The descriptions simply rely on a poor understanding of physiology. Yes, collagen definitely exists in the skin and breaks down as you age; that does not mean you can slather the stuff over your face and make it part of you. To the same token, yes; antioxidants might play a key role in overall health and the prevention of sun damage. However, that does not mean the antioxidants in the cream will fit into the body's ROS metabolism or be bioavailable enough to make an impact - assuming antioxidants actually do help, which I've yet to read conclusive evidence on.

As usual, it's proper to be very skeptical about unsupported health claims. Buzz words and mysterious compounds are the trade of snake oil salesmen.

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