An anti wrinkle skin care ingredient is one that helps reverse the aging process. Hence, these anti-aging ingredients are, in effect, anti wrinkle agents. Let’s face it (no pun intended), when people buy skin care products, the most common reasons are to help their skin to look clearer and younger. Anti wrinkle skin care and anti-aging also means preventing wrinkles from showing up in the first place.


Anti-Oxidants are Anti Wrinkle


anti wrinkle

Free Radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons.  This happens when oxygen interacts with certain molecules causing oxidation. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. The reactive oxygen will go around seeking another electron. In its search it causes chaos and damage.  It attacks the cells around it; cell proteins, membranes, the outside of the cell (cytoskeleton), the inside of the cell, even the cell’s DNA is at risk. Free radicals form in your skin in response to a multitude of environmental factors including UV rays, heat, cold, smoking, pollution, dust, dietary factors, and allergens to name a few. Antioxidants are anti wrinkle vitamins. They neutralize free radicals AND stimulate collagen production, repair cells and fade redness. Our skin makes its own antioxidants and tries desperately to keep up and clear away all the free radicals but commonly falls short of neutralizing them.

There are countless products available that contain antioxidants.  What is important to remember is certain ingredients are excellent antioxidants. These products are anti wrinkle and are of paramount importance in anti-aging skin care. Look for them in your skin care products and don’t just trust a label that says “anti-oxidant.” These ingredients prevent damage now resulting in more beautiful skin today … and tomorrow.

My Go-To Anti Wrinkle AntiOxidants

Vitamin A (Retinol) – A high power antioxidant and an anti-aging gem.

Vitamin C –  Vitamin C cream needs to be Lipid Soluble (vs. Water Soluble) so it can penetrate the skin to do its multitude of good deeds. First it rids our skin of free radicals, next it stimulates collagen (anti wrinkle), reduces skin discolorations, strengthens the skin’s barrier and reduces inflammation. It also helps the skin withstand UV exposure whether sunscreen is being used or not. Vitamin C breaks down on UV and air exposure so should come in a closed container such as a pump.

Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol) –  Found in our body’s membranes and tissues. The alcohol based Alpha tocopherol penetrates the skin best (vs. alpha-tocopherol-acetate). So make sure you read the label and get alcohol based Vitamin E. The attributes to Vitamin E are many. It boosts collagen to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, helps fade age spots and has been shown to decrease sunburn damage and dryness if used prior to UVB exposure. Offering antioxidant properties coupled with less swelling, redness, inflammation and wrinkles makes Vitamin E one of my favorites.

Green Tea – Green tea has polyphenols. The best anti wrinkle polyphenol is CATECHIN, which green tea has. Here is your antioxidant powerhouse. Through this it clears free radicals, prevents cell damage, repairs wrinkles and reduces inflammation.

Resveratrol – This antioxidant is found primarily in grapes, nuts, fruits and red wine. When resveratrol is applied to the skin it protects against damaging UVB rays. Similar to Green Tea, Resveratrol has polyphenols which are strong antioxidants.

Lycopene – Found primarily in red fruits and vegetables, this powerful antioxidant clears free radicals, promotes collagen production thereby reducing fine lines. Lycopene exerts strong anti wrinkle power.

Kojic Acid  Kojic acid is a powerful antioxidant as well as an inhibitor of melanin production. Hence, in addition to clearing free radicals, it helps fade age spots, freckles and melasma.

Anti Wrinkle effects of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids

Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids have become increasingly popular due to the many ways in which they help to improve our skin. Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids are used for anti-aging, reversal of sun damage and treatment of acne.  The primary difference in the uses of these two types of acids is related to their solubility (what they dissolve in). Alpha hydroxy acids are soluble in water (water soluble) while Beta Hydroxy acids are soluble in oil (lipid soluble). These differences dictate which one to choose to treat certain skin conditions.

Lactic Acid

Common Alpha Hydroxy Acids include Glycolic (from sugar cane), Lactic (from milk), Malic (from apples), Citric (from citrus fruit), and Tartaric (from grape wine). Glycolic acid is the smallest molecule and its small size allows for deeper skin penetration. Hence Glycolic Acid is the AHA used most widely.

AHAs work in several ways to improve the appearance of the skin. Their most important role is skin exfoliation. The term ‘exfoliation’ is defined as removal of the surface. The normal life span of skin cells is 2-4 weeks. Once the skin cells have died they are sloughed to the outer skin surface. The AHAs clear these dead cells from the underlying healthy living cells by basically removing the glue that is holding these dead skin cells to the epidermis (the upper skin layer). Removal of this dead skin layer helps the new, vibrant skin beneath grow and flourish.

Since AHAs (particularly Glycolic Acid) penetrate deeply, they also stimulate the growth of deeper supporting components of the skin (Collagen and Elastin). Glycolic, Lactic and Citric acids work particularly well at increasing collagen and skin thickness. Continued use of these AHAs will therefore help to ‘fill in’ wrinkles making the skin smooth and even. AHAs clearly play a role in reducing unwanted or uneven skin pigment as well.

With AHAs we have newer and more vibrant skin with a boost of the ‘architecture’ supporting it.

Salicylic Acid


Salicylic Acid is the primary Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) used in skin care. Salicylic Acid is a derivative of Aspirin giving it anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic Acid also brings anti-irritant, anti-redness, and anti-microbial properties. Unlike AHAs, BHAs are soluble in oil (lipid), resulting in deep penetration into the sebum-containing pore. Thus, BHAs clear sebum and dead skin cells built up inside the pore. This makes BHAs an excellent choice for use on oily skin or skin with blackheads or whiteheads (acne).  Deep penetration into the pore and clearing of sebum and dead skin cells is what it does best. BHAs seem to work best at lower concentrations (around 2%). Use of BHA has been shown to reduce wrinkles and pigment caused by sun damage if used for six months.


AHAs and BHAs both do a beautiful job of exfoliating the skin (clearing away dead skin cells). AHAs can be more irritating and it is best to start using them every other day initially, while BHAs are effective at lower concentrations and tend to be preferred by dermatologists as they are less irritating.

Both AHAs and BHAs, through clearing dead skin cells and increasing cell turnover, can improve the thickness of the skin, improve the skins barrier properties as well as stimulate growth of the supporting components of the skin (collagen and elastin). More collagen and elastin = less wrinkles.

Regardless, when using AHAs or BHAs you need to wear sun block. These acids, through lowering the skin PH, clearing away dead skin cells and removing protective oils, make you up to 50 % more likely to sunburn. Make sure to use a sun block to protect against both UVA and UVB when using products containing AHAs and BHAs.

Fighting wrinkles is going to take time and consistency in your skin care regimen. Remember, fighting wrinkles starts with prevention … then treatment if they occur. Your two big guns at fighting wrinkles as defined here are antioxidants and chemical exfoliation agents. I can not stress the importance enough of incorporating these anti wrinkle factors into your skin care regimen. As always consistency is key.

Author: Dean M. Tomasello, MD