5 Anti-Aging Products You Should Never Use

If you’re giving your mug some well-deserved face time by way of preventing premature wrinkles and enhancing your skin with a few anti-aging products here and there, then we applaud you. And this goes for guys too — your face is no place to pull the man card and pretend like you’re too tough for a skin-brightening serum or two.

But not all anti-aging treatments are created equally. There are some potentially problematic anti-aging ingredients and product combinations that may cause more harm than good. You may want to avoid these ingredients as you fight off crow’s feet.

1. Hydroxy acids

Woman applying moisturizer cream in front of mirror

When does it sound like a good idea to put acid on your face? | iStock.com

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, and beta hydroxy acids, or BHAs, are some of the more common ingredients in anti-aging creams and other products. These may be listed under a number of names, such as glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, or malic acid. These acids work like chemical peels, as dead skin cells are easier to remove when you use a hydroxy acid as an exfoliator. After dead skin cells are removed, the fresh cells reveal younger layers of skin, making the face appear brighter and revitalized. That’s a good thing, of course.

But, there is such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to hydroxy acids. The exfoliating effect, which works to increase the permeability of the skin, also strips the skin of its protective surface. As a result, your face may become dry and irritated. The stripping effect also compromises your skin’s outer layers from blocking the penetration of harmful UV rays. Not only will you be more susceptible to sunburn as a result, but you could also potentially increase your risk for melanoma.

You may want to consider anti-aging products with antioxidants instead. Antioxidants fight free radicals that break down cellular structure and cause the body and skin to age more quickly. Many antioxidants are vitamins that are naturally present in foods like fruits and vegetables. But it’s also common to see vitamin E and vitamin C added to topical serums and creams to fight the aging process while stimulating cell growth.

2. Parabens

putting on eye cream

Parabens are in a ton of skin care products. | iStock.com

Used as a preservative in many cosmetic products, parabens are actually several distinct chemicals with a similar molecular structure. Several are common in a wide array of cosmetic and personal care products including lotions and creams. You may see them listed as ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben. The health concerns surrounding these chemicals include endocrine disruption, cancer, and developmental and reproductive toxicity. They have also been found in biopsies from breast tumors. For this reason, they’re of special concern for women, especially those who are pregnant. But, all should exercise caution and try to avoid them when possible.

3. Retin-A with gritty exfoliants

young woman with clear complexion in the bathroom

Try something gentler to achieve glowing skin. | iStock.com

Retin-A is an ingredient that is loved by many dermatologists for its ability to help skin renew itself. The compound helps treat wrinkles and the discoloration that can cause skin to look less youthful and fresh. Like hydroxy acids, though, Retin-A has a tendency to dry out skin, causing some peeling to occur. And, while it may seem like common sense to remove that dry, flaky skin with an exfoliator, that is absolutely not what you should do. Retin-A makes skin highly sensitive, so rubbing any sort of gritty exfoliants against it will only make matters worse, New York-based dermatologist, David Colbert, M.D., tells Women’s Health. Try a gentler approach with a soft washcloth to buff away any dry, dead skin.

4. Retin-A with toner

man washing his face

The wrong toner can quickly dry out your skin. | iStock.com

You also don’t really want to use Retin-A with a toner, as this can seriously dry out your skin. Toner is a great product for balancing the skin; some toners even contain witch hazel, which is a solid treatment for acne-prone skin. However, since Retin-A can make the face drier and sensitive, toner will only exacerbate this effect, confirmed Colbert.

5. Salicylic acid with glycolic Acid

man looking at his complexion

Avoid skin products with multiple types of acid present. | iStock.com

Glycolic acid, like all hydroxy acids, is an exfoliator that removes dead skin without you having to scrub it away. Conversely, salicylic acid is an acne treatment that can be very effective for the use of treating skin imperfections. But if you are using them in combination (i.e. treating both acne and wrinkles with two different skincare products), they can lead to dry, red skin, according to Allure. Use a natural antioxidant-based formula for smoothing wrinkles and tightening skin. If you’re determined to use both of these products, try one in the morning and one in the evening.

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