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As Seen on TV: BeautyGeeks on "Steven and Chris" to talk Anti-Aging Ingredients

Five anti-aging ingredients that really work
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Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados of CBCs "Steven and Chris"

Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados of CBCs "Steven and Chris"

I'm quite chuffed. CBC television's "Steven and Chris" show invited me on to talk about anti-aging ingredients! We taped the segment last Tuesday; the episode airs today at 2pm ET on CBC. If you're a Jann Arden fan, you'll want to catch the full episode; the wry and funny singer/songwriter was on before me. If you missed it, the show will be on CBC's "Steven and Chris" website video player page.

My segment with Chris was on Five Anti-Aging Ingredients that Work:

RECAP: The five anti-aging ingredients Chris and I discussed were retinol, glycolic acid, salicylic acid (not usually referred to as anti-aging, but for some it's part of the regimen), peptides and hyaluronic acid. There are many more anti-aging ingredients out there than just these five; these are simply trusted ingredients that are backed by clinical studies, and they've been on the market for several years now. We know they work.

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A (you may also have heard of Retin-A, a stronger form that you can only get via prescription from your dermatologist) that revolutionized anti-aging skincare. It's most often used in anti-wrinkle creams because it's effective at making wrinkles look less obvious. Retinol smooths skin and triggers collagen and elastin production, which slows as we age. As well, because it has a wee molecular size, it penetrates the skin deeply enough to encourage the production of stronger connective tissue between the cells underneath the skin's surface, which results in a firmer, more youthful face.

Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid or AHA, and can come from natural sources, such as sugar cane. It's great at smoothing the surface of the skin, getting rid of flaky bits and patches that prevent your face from absorbing your moisturizer properly.

The most interesting thing about glycolic acid is that it targets only dead skin. In fact, it goes after the bonds between dead cells and breaks them down so your skin can shed what it no longer needs. Basically, if you have layers of dead cells lazing around on your face, glycolic acid functions like a team of bouncers that gets in there and muscles them out to reveal newer skin cells.

Because glycolic acid helps improve the skin's self-exfoliation ability, it helps even out surface discoloration and texture, improves cell turnover, minimizes fine lines and helps prevent clogged pores. It's also helpful in keeping problem skin clear -- I've used a glycolic-acid toner for years to help prevent breakouts. Anti-aging and anti-acne -- yay.

Salicylic Acid
If anyone remembers talk-show host Johnny Carson, you may remember he once cracked that he'd found the secret to eternal youth: stick-on acne. Of course that's only funny if you don't or no longer struggle with breakouts.

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid most often used in anti-acne care rather than anti-aging, but I included it in this mix because like glycolic acid, it boosts skin's exfoliation process. It's in stuff for teens as well as in anti-blemish skincare aimed at adults. As well, it promotes a clear complexion, which makes for a youthful looking you.

Unlike glycolic acid, however, salicylic acid doesn't care whether it's getting rid of dead cells or live ones. (Don't worry, it's used in very small amounts.) Its lack of discrimination between living or dead cells isn't a bad thing -- it kills bacteria dead, which is what you want if your skin is prone to breakouts. Bacteria is acne food. Taking it away encourages acne to get. lost.

Retinol, AHAs (glycolic acid) and salicylic acid all work on a controlled wound-heal process -- they cause a tiny bit of irritation to trigger a healing response: new skin-cell production. Sounds terrible, but the word "controlled" is key -- you should NOT feel any irritation. I'll come back to that later.

Peptides are fragments of a natural skin signal that stimulates the production of collagen and elastin. If you get a cut or a scratch, the skin automatically sends out a natural peptide army to help fix the problem. Peptide anti-aging technology is about triggering that response without first wounding the skin. Basically it's about deploying the peptide army without a battle to fight. Without irritation to resolve, peptides simply turn their attention to stimulating collagen and elastin production anyway, as well as strengthening the connective tissue like retinol does. The result is stronger, thicker skin, which can better withstand external aging aggressors as well as retain moisture.

Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic (hi-la-ron-ic) acid is a molecule that holds 1000 times its weight in water. That's key to moisture in the skin, which already contains natural hyaluronic acid.

Cosmetic companies put hyaluronic acid in skincare to improve the skin's ability to retain moisture. It helps plump up the skin (the way water makes a dry sponge swell up), which reduces the appearance of skin's fine lines and wrinkles. The drier your complexion, the more it will benefit from this ingredient; skincare for dry and more mature skin tends to contain higher levels of hyaluronic acid.

1) If you have great, youthful-looking skin, just keep doing what you're doing. You don't need ingredients like retinol, peptides, glycolic acid and salicylic acid unless you want to "fix" something. And understand -- more is not more when it comes to these types of anti-aging skincare. Play it safe or you'll overstress your skin and cause more aging than you can repair.

2) In the past retinol, glycolic acid and salicylic acid products were considered a bit harsh for a lot of people, but companies like Neostrata, RoC and Dermaglow have found a way to make time-release formulas so you get just a tiny dose at a time rather than a big-ol' slap at the time of application.

3) If you're new to retinol and glycolic acid, it's a good idea to start slowly, once every other day, then once a day then twice a day. Talk to your pharmacist or dermatologist.

4) Your biggest anti-aging cream is SPF. When you use products that increase exfoliation, you make your skin more sensitive to the sun and the bad stuff that comes with unprotected exposure.

5) Look for big-name brands; they tend to contain effective levels of these ingredients in formulas that most people can use without irritation.

6) Don't combine your products unless you've consulted a dermatologist or want to look 40 years older in a matter of days. Sometimes best to use products from within the same line -- cleanser, serum, moisturizer etc -- because they're designed to work together without overstressing the skin, which can cause inflammation (inflammation is the skin's enemy because it can damage tissue).

Products shown on air:
Many skincare formulations contain more than one key active ingredient, of course, so these are organized in categories according to what the product promises rather than their ingredients.

Wrinkle Reducers
Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA (retinol and hyaluronic acid), $49
RoC Retin-Ox Wrinkle Correxion (retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid), $49
Neostrata Intense Daytime Wrinkle Repair SPF 15 (retinol and pentapeptide), $68.50

Skin Smoothers
Neostrata Oil Free Smoothing Lotion (glycolic acid), $36
Dermaglow Radiance Rx Glycolic 10% Gentle Peel Solution (glycolic acid)

St. Ives Naturally Clear Blemish & Blackhead Clearing Apricot Scrub (salicylic acid),
Noxzema Triple Clean Pads (salicylic acid), $6.99 for 90 pads
Burt's Bees Natural Anti-Blemish Solutions Pore Refining Scrub (natural salicylic acid), $14.99, available in February 2010.

Wrinkle Reducers and Firming serums
Olay Professional Pro-X Wrinkle Smoothing Cream (peptides), $55
MD Skincare Hydra-Pure Antioxidant Firming Serum (peptides and hyaluronic acid), $120
Elizabeth Arden Intervene Timefighting Radiance Serum (peptides and hyaluronic acid), $68

Lise Watier Hydra-Temps Eclat + (hyaluronic acid), $43
L'Oreal Paris Skin Genesis Oil Free Lotion (hyaluronic acid), $26.99

Most of these products are available at drugstores, except for MD Formulations, which is available at The Bay. Thanks so much to the show, particularly producer Angela E., and of course Chris H. "Steven and Chris" airs weekdays on CBC at 2pm ET. See Jann Arden here!