Sun creams `help reverse skin's ageing'

ONLY TWO of the countless creams and lotions on the market that claim to combat ageing are any use, a skin expert said yesterday.

Despite the huge resources invested in researching the "fountain of youth", most anti-ageing remedies are little better than expensive moisturisers, Chris Griffiths, professor of dermatology at the University of Manchester, said.

The exceptions are sunscreens with a protection factor of over 15, which not only protect but help to reverse the damage caused by the sun, and creams containing retinoic acid, the treatment developed for acne, which has been shown to fill out a blotched and wrinkled skin.

Professor Griffiths told a conference on ageing and image in London yesterday that the most effective measures to prevent premature wrinkles were to give up smoking and cover up in the sun.

Natural or "intrinsic" ageing, determined by a person's genetic inheritance and chronological age, shows itself in a skin that is smooth, unblemished and only finely wrinkled. It is seen at its purest in people who spend their lives permanently and completely protected from the sun.

The effects of natural ageing, which vary from person to person, are aggravated by environmental effects - "extrinsic ageing" - including sun exposure (photo-ageing), smoking and, possibly, a high- fat diet.

These leave the skin with extra melanin, the pigment that turns it brown, and less collagen, the substance that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. By contrast, natural ageing reduces rather than increases the level of melanin and causes only a slight loss of collagen.

Professor Griffiths said: "In the skin, natural ageing doesn't manifest itself until you are really very old. Most of the problems to do with appearance are due to photo-ageing. So if you can avoid sun exposure you can keep your skin in pretty good shape."

Microscopic examination of the skin showed it had the capacity to repair itself after sun damage - provided it was not subjected to further assault from the sun. Using a high- factor sunscreen could therefore create circumstances in which the natural process of repair could begin."The message is that it is never too late to use a sunscreen," he said.

The discovery that retinoic acid could help to repair skin damage was made accidentally more than a decade ago. Middle-aged women using the cream to treat late onset acne found it also reduced their wrinkles. Studies have since shown it stimulates collagen production, which is severely reduced in sun-exposed skin, and blocks enzymes that break down collagen.

Retinoic acid is only available on prescription, although a number of anti-ageing creams contain retinol (vitamin A), which is broken down on the skin to retinoic acid, but in a much lower concentration.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown,

Review, page 4.

The Secrets Of Youth

t Choose your parents carefully - genes influence how rapidly you age

t Stay out of the sun, wear a hat or use a high-factor sunscreen

t Don't smoke

t Avoid animal fats and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (skin-damaging free radicals in the fats are mopped up by anti-oxidants in the fruit)

t Use a basic moisturiser

t Drink red wine (although unproven, its anti-oxidant properties may help to neutralise damaging free radicals)

t Use a cream containing retinoic acid (only available on prescription) or the less effective retinol (available over the counter).

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport