Do Anti-Ageing Creams Really Work?

As a beauty therapist, I am often bemused by the smoke and mirrors of the beauty world, whether it’s ‘miracle’ anti-ageing potions or ageless celebs secretly bingeing on botox; my clients however are downright confused. So I have decided to share my insider secrets from my last fifteen years in the beauty industry. This blog is for anyone looking for independent advice, whether you need the name of a reputable surgeon or dermatologist or simply tailored skincare advice.

My own beauty quest started in 1992 when I was introduced to the anti-ageing power of UVA sunblock. This skin-saving tip came courtesy of a beauty therapist who lived opposite me in the Halls of Residence at Liverpool University; she was studying occupational therapy, whilst I was studying English Literature. I had no idea what happened to her, but she left a big impression. After university, I got sacked from a string of office jobs until my brother gently suggested retraining as a beauty therapist. Although the repeated sackings knocked my confidence and led to depression and anxiety, they also helped me discover the link between not just diet and anxiety levels, but also diet and skincare. Now I follow the GI diet as I strongly believe that what you put in your body is just as important (if not more so) than what you put on your face.

Here are my top anti-ageing tips:

My favourite anti-ageing ingredients.

First of all I make sure that clients are using the right anti-ageing cream for their skin type. Many assume that a mature skin must be dry; in fact a mature skin is simply drier than it used to be. For example, if you have a combination skin, then a rich anti-ageing cream will simply sit on the surface, unable to penetrate. Sometimes fine lines are the result of dehydration, so I often recommend that ladies use a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid before moving onto anti-ageing products. My favourite ingredients are retinoids (the gold standard – still the most proven of all the anti-ageing ingredients) which thicken the skin by stimulating collagen production; and AHAs which improve texture by breaking down the glue which sticks the dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. I have been using a prescription retinoid from a cosmetic dermatologist since I was 17: it has a medicinal smell and a fluorescent yellow colour, but I receive endless compliments on my skin. I also recommend diet and exercise to stimulate collagen production (see below), which is still the holy grail of anti-ageing medicine.

Swap your SPF moisturiser for a UVA sunblock.

Since the early 90’s I have watched the growing awareness of sun damage with increasing frustration: I would rename it ‘daylight damage’ because UVA ageing rays are present all year round. The high SPF in your moisturiser refers to UVB burning rays which are only responsible for about 10% of sun damage and no one burns in December. Most contain insufficient UVA protection (if any at all), and are not usually stabilised so any protection will last about half an hour or. So you might have some protection on your journey to work, but not when you pop out on your lunch break or come home from work. Be aware that even a stabilised UVA block will only protect you for a couple of hours.

Avoid pollution

Add pollution to the list – it damages your collagen just as much as the sun, stress and sugar (see below). Invest in a good quality antioxidant serum or UVA screen including antioxidants. Antioxidants are quite expensive if used in a concentration high enough to protect your skin, (this is why there are often insufficient levels in sunscreens), but prevention is far better than cure. They are notoriously difficult to stabilise (look for an airtight pump, metal tube or an opaque glass bottle) so increase your protection levels with antioxidant-rich fruit and veg. Organic is preferable if you can afford it, but locally sourced is more important; fruit and vegetables start to lose their vitamin content soon after they are picked, so those expensive organic goji berries that have travelled half way across the globe probably aren’t worth their price tag.

Swap low-fat diets for the Mediterranean diet

Low-fat diets starve your skin of the good fats needed to lubricate skin and hair and keep it supple. It is so important to enjoy your food or you will never stick to any diet; so many fail because continual calorie counting is soul destroying and unsustainable in the long-term. This is why I recommend the Mediterranean diet which is both healthy and enjoyable. Don’t be too thin: weight loss over thirty-five will result in gaunt cheeks which are incredibly ageing.

Swap aerobics for weight training

Don’t be afraid of the weight machines – you won’t bulk up. Weights will not only reshape your body but also stimulate collagen production.

Manage your stress levels

Stress is just as ageing as the sun and smoking. Walking to work helps calm me down, but find some cardio exercise you enjoy in order to raise your endorphins.

Avoid sugar

Lovely sugar makes your collagen go brittle (not good – think of collagen as the springs in a mattress). I cross the Mediterranean diet with the GI diet which manages your blood sugar levels. Remember that white foods turn into sugar as soon as you eat them so avoid white bread, white rice,white pasta. (The GI diet also doubles up as an anti-anxiety diet so its great for me – when you eat something sugary, you have a lovely high but then a crash a few hours later). GI is a healthy eating plan rather than a weight loss diet but I have found that it helps control cravings so therefore keeps my weight steady. I am a hard-core sugar addict however (my mum took me to the GP as a child because I would only eat jam sandwiches) so I also have hypnosis to control sugar cravings as well, which I highly recommend. Eat clean rather than processed food, which tends to be full of hidden sugars and salt (salt is bad for cellulite) .Get your sugar rush from fruit.

Eat and drink water

Drinking water is great for your general health, but unless you have the discipline to sip it during the day (I forget so just glug it down when I remember) you spend the whole day on the loo. The body can hold onto water that you eat much more easily – so eat lots of water rich fruit and veg like watermelon, grapes and cucumber. This is perfect for those who aren’t keen on drinking water.

Swap energy saving bulbs for LED bulbs

Energy saving bulbs emit UVA rays which destroy collagen.

Don’t sit next to a lamp or radiator!

The heat destroys your collagen so sit a couple of metres away.


2 thoughts on “Do Anti-Ageing Creams Really Work?

  1. I have just sat and read all your posts, such an interesting read! You write with such talent and intelligence,you know your stuff! Keep at it, it’s all looking great! x


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