Avon has a new skincare product on the market, Anew Genics Treatment Cream. It’s an anti-aging night moisturizer, and I thought — while we were discussing it — we could also talk about what makes a skincare product “anti-aging,” and clarify a few possibly confusing terms.
Why do we get wrinkles? There are two basic reasons. First, as we age, we lose volume (fat) in our faces. The underlying structure of the face shrinks, but the skin doesn’t shrink with it. If you lose a lot of weight, you may also have too much skin. Wrinkles that result from having too much skin can only be corrected surgically.
Second, as we age, our dermis thins (produces less collagen) and our skin loses its elasticity. Young skin, which has a thick dermis, is extremely elastic. You can see this in action by gently pinching the skin on the back of your hands. The younger you are, the more readily that skin will snap back into place. The older the skin, the more slowly it spreads back into place (there’s a lag). Loss of elasticity (which you might think of as skin not behaving the way it’s supposed to) is the second cause of wrinkles.
With skincare, as with any medicine, the important question is “what’s the active ingredient?” Genics’ active ingredient is glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA). AHAs do two things: (1) in the epidermis, they reduce cell cohesion. Dead cells fall off more easily, and skin cells are stimulated to reproduce. (2) In the dermis, AHAs promote the production of collagen, which increases skin’s elasticity.
Glycolic acid is the smallest AHA. The smaller the molecule, the more effectively it’s able to penetrate your skin. Random tidbit: Lactic acid is also an effective AHA, but it’s a larger molecule. These are the same ingredients that you’d find in a dermatologist’s chemical peel, but doctors are working with higher concentrations.
Are AHAs are the same as retinols? They produce similar effects, but they don’t work exactly the same way. AHAs work between cells, while retinols work within cells (they actually modulate cell behavior).
You might have also heard the term beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Beta hydroxy acid almost always refers to salicylic acid, which is most commonly used as an acne treatment. The mechanism is similar to an AHA. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (it breaks up the hard little buildup of keratin around the inflamed pore) and a bacteriocide.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Avon gave me the opportunity to try Anew Genics, and so far, I like it. The product doesn’t feel too heavy, and it’s a nice moisturizer (my usually dry cheeks feel pleasantly soft when I wake up in the morning). It does have a somewhat “older” floral scent. I think Avon considers 45-59 their target age range for this product, but I haven’t felt that it was an inappropriate choice for me (30 years old). Avon Genics is $38 for a 1.0 oz jar.