Painful quest for eternal youth

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The Independent Online
The search for eternal youth has taken many forms. Anti-ageing creams are only the latest in a long line of solutions offered by the cosmetic companies, writes Louise Jury.

The newest creams contain alpha hydroxy-acids (AHAs), also known as "fruit acids" because many of them came originally from natural produce such as fruit, sugar cane and milk. The cream loosens and sloughs away the dead top layer of the skin, making the skin look fresher and pinker. It can even remove surface wrinkles.

In the short-term, creams can work, speeding up the normal process of shedding dead skin. But in some women, the treatments, like any other cosmetic product, can prompt an allergic reaction. They also do not tackle the problem of deep wrinkles because deep wrinkles occur where the collagen which supports the skin has gone.

Ian White, consultant dermatologist at St John's Institute of Dermatology at St Thomas's Hospital, London, says AHAs are this year's fad following on from years where aloe vera or marine treatments were the fashion.

The only really effective anti-ageing treatment was a moisturiser containing sunscreen, because exposure to excessive sunlight was the most potent ageing force, he said.