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  • Writer's pictureDr. Leslie Baumann

Understanding Anti-Aging Ingredients

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Anti-aging products are some of the most popular topical treatment products requested by patients. There is now a growing number of options available, each able to target the specific needs of a patient’s Baumann Skin Type. Here, I’ve included a breakdown of four of my top anti-aging picks, how they work, and which patients could be a good candidate for each.


Next to sunscreen, retinol is one of the most frequently prescribed and effective anti-aging products. This vitamin A derivative works by stimulating collagen production and accelerating the cell turnover process. The result is a smoother, more even skin tone and texture with fewer visible signs of aging. 

However, let your patients know that retinol can take six months or more to show a noticeable improvement in the skin, so it is crucial that they stick with their regimen. Many patients give up on retinoids due to side effects such as dryness, flaking, and redness. To avoid this, instruct patients to slowly introduce retinol into their routine, starting with applications every third night for the first two weeks. 

If there is no irritation, patients can move to every other night for another two weeks. Then, work up to every night if there is still no irritation. Note that some patients with sensitive skin may never be able to tolerate retinol applications every night – that’s okay. They can stick with every other or every third night to minimize side effects and encourage compliance. 


Defensin is an example of a retinoid alternative that can be appropriate for some patients with sensitive skin who do not tolerate retinoids. Defensins are a type of peptide and have been shown to stimulate the LGR6+ stem cell. LGR6+ plays an important role in the wound healing process, producing new keratinocytes in the epidermis. Unlike retinoids, which prod existing fibroblasts to create more collagen, defensins activate stem cells to create new skin cells altogether.

There is currently one brand called DefenAge that uses a patented formula containing a stable protein called albumin to stabilize the peptide defensin and transport defensins more effectively. The addition of albumin also helps to increase the shelf life of the defensins in the serum. (Shelf life and stability are common problems with peptides). One 2018 study involving 45 female participants aged 40 to 75 found that the DefenAge three-step system significantly improved the overall appearance of skin, fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, uneven texture, and the thickness of the epidermis after 12 weeks.

Heparan Sulfate

Heparan sulfate is a naturally-occurring glycosaminoglycan and another retinoid alternative. It works by helping older sluggish skin cells “hear” messages from cytokines and growth factors more effectively. This helps existing cells continue producing important components such as collagen and hyaluronic acid. Additionally, as a glycosaminoglycan like hyaluronic acid, heparan sulfate has the ability to moisturize and plump the skin, further improving the appearance of lines and wrinkles. 

Products containing heparan sulfate are currently only available through physicians. The cosmeceutical brand Sente specializes in topical formulations using a patented heparan sulfate analogue to combat signs of aging.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an important topical ingredient for most skin types. It has been shown to increase collagen production, inhibit tyrosinase, accelerate wound healing, and act as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against free radical damage. 

There are a few caveats to consider when prescribing topical vitamin C, however. This ingredient is most effective in a pH of around 2.0, so it is best paired with a cleanser that will slightly lower the pH of the skin, which is typically around a 4.7 on the pH scale. Vitamin C is also very unstable when exposed to light and air, so it should be discarded and replaced after six months to ensure its efficacy.  

Patients with sensitive skin that is prone to stinging or burning are generally not good candidate for vitamin C, as it can sting or burn when applied to inflamed skin. Rosacea patients should avoid topical vitamin C. 

In Summary

Retinol, defensins, heparan sulfate, and vitamin C are four of the most important anti-aging treatments currently available. If you are considering selling skincare products in your practice, start by carrying these four anti-aging options to limit your inventory. Alternatively, you could utilize the Skin Type Solutions online store so you don’t have to worry about inventory at all. Feel free to contact us to learn more about how this system works.

Finally, stress the importance of healthy lifestyle habits to your patients when discussing skin aging. Properly wearing SPF on a daily basis, avoiding prolonged sun exposure, getting enough sleep and exercise, and following a healthy diet all have a profound impact on the skin’s health and appearance. 

©2019 Metabeauty, Inc. 


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