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Is it possible to fight wrinkles?

Americans, young and old, men and women, spend billions of dollars collectively each year on anti-aging products. If you’re one of them, are you wasting your money? Or are there effective products out there worth buying?

Melissa Babcock, M.D., a dermatologist at Piedmont, says there are some affordable products worth purchasing, but she points out the best strategy for fighting wrinkles begins with prevention.

1. First defense is sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen daily is key for wrinkle prevention, no matter your age.

“Some experts believe 75 percent of aging is a direct result of sun damage. Brown spots, irregular pigmentation and wrinkles are all linked to sun exposure, and they all make you look older,” Dr. Babcock says. “Sunscreen is really the first step to slowing the process of getting wrinkles.” 

The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the fibers (elastin) in the skin. You are exposed to these damaging rays every time you go outside — spring, summer, fall and winter. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag and stretch. Applying sunscreen year-round is key to protecting your skin.

One of Dr. Babcock’s favorite sunscreen brands is Neutrogena, which contains a stable combination of sunscreens known as Helioplex. Helioplex does not break down easily when the sun hits your skin. This sunscreen will last longer than the competition, she adds.

2. Second defense is retinol or tretinoin

Retinol and tretinoin are commonly used to treat acne, but they also minimize fine lines and pigmentation. They are both derivatives of vitamin A, which helps revitalize the skin and slow the signs of aging. In addition to prescription anti-agers from your dermatologist, Dr. Babcock says there are a number of over-the-counter retinols. She suggests Johnson & Johnson’s Roc brand as an affordable option.

3. Daily moisturizers may be overrated

While moisturizer enhances the look and feel of your skin upon application, its benefits are only temporary. Dr. Babcock believes too many people put emphasis on moisturizer when sunscreen and retinols are your best bet to help prevent and fight wrinkles.

4. A higher price doesn’t necessarily mean more effective

Cosmetic products are divided into two categories: mass market and prestige market. Mass market products are less expensive and are found in drugstores, grocery stores and other superstores. Prestige products are more expensive and are found in department and specialty stores.

“Just because it's more expensive does not mean it is better. Mass market lines produce very good products," says Dr. Babcock. She believes the higher prices of prestige market brands can be attributed to an increased level of advertising and more expensive packaging.

5. In-office anti-aging treatments

“There are also more involved, more expensive treatment options that can be done in a dermatology office, like chemical peels and laser treatments,” she says. Talk to your physician to learn more about these procedures.

The bottom line? You can protect your skin and combat signs of aging with a simple, affordable skin care regimen.

“We all want to look our best and that can be accomplished with simple products like sunscreen and retinols that won't break your budget," says Dr. Babcock.

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