TAKE CARE: Use a product as directed on the label, and don’t think that if a little is good, then using more must be better. Picture: THINKSTOCK
TAKE CARE: Use a product as directed on the label, and don’t think that if a little is good, then using more must be better. Picture: THINKSTOCK

LIKE many women — and growing numbers of men — you may spend a small fortune every month on skin-treatment creams and so-called "anti-ageing products", to hold the effects of Old Father Time at bay.

You may also spend a lot of time wondering whether you are just wasting all the money you dish out on a regular basis.

A US dermatologist says there are ways to ensure that you do get value for money by getting better results from your products. And you don’t have to dent your bank account along the way.

"People often think that the more expensive a product is, the more effective it will be," says Dr Susan Taylor, a dermatologist and founding director of the Skin of Colour Centre at St Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in New York.

"That’s not always the case. People need to shop smart, since there are some very effective, affordable products in the skin-care aisles of their local (departmental) stores (and pharmacies)."

To get the most from age-fighting products, Taylor gives some recommendations:

1. Wear a sunscreen every day

The sun’s rays are shown to accelerate signs of ageing. Use a sunscreen or facial moisturiser that offers broad-spectrum protection and has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. Be sure to apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing.

Of course, it can seem difficult getting the level of protection you need, especially in the wake of recent reports that some local sunscreens bearing the Cancer Association of SA (Cansa) mark of approval are not "optimal" in terms of efficacy.

The association issued a release saying: "It is very important to understand that there is no such thing as a total sun-block or any form of safe tanning."

The release also quoted Cansa CEO Sue Janse Van Rensburg as saying: "As always, we urge the public to avoid the direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm, wear protective clothing and hats and to use sunscreen (SPF 30 to 50 preferable) generously applied at least every two to three hours."

The association’s health message "has not changed at all", Janse Van Rensburg says.

2. Don’t tan

Getting a tan from the sun or a tanning bed exposes you to harmful UV rays that can accelerate ageing, causing wrinkles, age spots, a blotchy complexion and even skin cancer.

3. Moisturise

Moisturising traps water in the skin, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and make your complexion look brighter and younger.

4. Test products

This applies even those labeled "hypoallergenic". To test, dab a small amount of the product on your inner forearm twice a day for four to five days. If you do not have a reaction, the product is likely to be safe to apply to your face.

5. Use the product as directed

Don’t assume that if a little is good, more must be better. Active ingredients can do more harm than good when too much is used. Applying more than directed can cause clogged pores, a blotchy complexion, or other unwanted symptoms.

6. Feel the effects

Stop using products that sting or burn unless prescribed by a dermatologist. Irritating the skin makes signs of ageing more noticeable. Some products prescribed by a dermatologist may cause stinging or burning. When under a dermatologist’s care, this can be safe and effective.

7. Don’t overdo things

Limit the number of products you buy and use. Using too many products on your skin, especially more than one anti-ageing product, tends to irritate the skin. This often makes signs of ageing more noticeable.

8. Be patient

"It’s very important that people allow time for a product to work. While a moisturiser can immediately plump up fine lines, most products take at least six weeks to work and sometimes can take three months," says Taylor. See a skin specialist, if after following these tips, you don’t get the results you desire, she says.

Newswise

  • Be patient. While a moisturiser can immediately plump up fine lines, most products take at least six weeks to work, and sometimes can take longer