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Anti-Aging Skincare: Load on Vitamins!

Anti-aging skin care products - such as cosmetics, moisturizers and hair care products - are using vitamins to help us achieve healthier skin, too.

In fact, the number of skin care products containing vitamins has more than tripled since 1991. To choose skin care products sensibly we have to understand which vitamins have anti-aging properties.

Vitamin A, and its precursor beta-carotene, are found in yellow, orange, and green vegetables, egg yolks, liver, butter, and fish oils. It is one of a family of natural and synthetic related derivatives collectively known as retinoids - the primary prescription agent used for anti-aging purposes.

"The wide use of retinoids today in the reversal and prevention of photoaging was due to the research of a dermatologist who discovered that topical tretinoin improved wrinkling, brown spots, roughness and precancerous actinic keratoses," said Dr. Draelos.

Another vitamin that has become increasingly popular as an added ingredient in anti-aging skin care products is vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Found in vegetables and citrus fruits, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and is considered vital in wound healing because it aids in stabilizing collagen. When applied topically, vitamin C can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and may lessen the severity of sunburns.

A great anti-aging vitamin, Vitamin E, is found naturally in vegetables, oils, nuts, seeds, whole wheat flour, and some meats and dairy products. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that may have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. When applied topically, vitamin E has been thought to improve moisturization, softness and smoothness and also provide modest photoprotection.

"A great deal of research is being conducted to substantiate the claims of vitamin E," said Dr. Draelos. "In the future, we're likely to see vitamin E preparations redesigned to enhance penetration into the skin. Certainly, it is an important vitamin for the skin and is included as an ingredient in many skin care products for its healing properties."

One newer topical vitamin that shows promise as an over-the-counter ingredient to be explored in anti-aging products is niacinamide, a derivative of niacin - one component of the B vitamin complex.

"Niacinamide is one of the vitamins that I think we'll hear more and more about in the coming years. Already, topical 4% niacinamide has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of papular and pustular acne in a 4% gel, as well as the improvement of skin cancer and its anti-tumor characteristics," added Dr. Draelos.

Future research in the anti-aging effects of vitamins on the skin will emphasize the importance of careful formulation and clinical testing as the key to developing useful topical vitamin preparations for the skin.