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Getting the better of age

India is among the world's youngest countries but what a number of cosmetic companies seem to be betting on is its fear of growing old and wrinkly

Ranjita Ganesan  |  Mumbai 

assortments have widened to include topical creams that claim to prevent facial lines and folds. The commercials usually feature actresses from the 1990s with glinting skin or a middle-aged wife who successfully wins back her husband's attention. They promise to beat multiple signs of and give dramatic results. Some assert they can do this in as little as one week.

are part of the inevitable process of Dryness and patches are the first signs of skin deteriorating, says Mumbai-based cosmetologist at RA Skin Clinic, Dr Rashmi Shetty. The finer lines develop on the surface while deeper ones, like crow's feet or forehead furrows, have numerous folds. As one enters the late 30s or 40s, the skin loses its elasticity and thereafter the ability to go back to its original shape after repeated movement, resulting in folds and sagging.

"Everyone ages differently based on the level of stress, the amount of water you drink, how healthy the foods are that you eat, and your life choices like smoking or drinking a lot of alcohol," says Tisha Kapur Khurana, beauty expert at Bottega Di Lungavita. The Italian brand will be entering India with a line of anti-wrinkle products. Excess loss of weight in a short period of time also causes premature wrinkling. Men have thicker skin and muscles and typically age slower than women, says Dr Jamuna Pai, cosmetic physician, Blush clinic.

Skincare products that work on are completely based on science, says Satyaki Ghosh, director for the consumer product division at L'Oreal India, which apart from its namesake brand, also sells anti-wrinkle products under the Garnier, Lancôme and Kiehls names. Most creams contain active ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and peptides that plump up collagen, a protein responsible for maintaining strength and elasticity. "Their effectiveness depends on the concentration of the active ingredients and usage patterns," says Ghosh. Often, over-the-counter products have diluted ingredients. High concentrations of active ingredients have to be medically prescribed.

However, some beauty companies admit that cannot be fully reversed. Creams are not a permanent solution but consistent use could help in delaying ageing, says Khurana. "Constant hydration is key in slowing down aging," says Shetty. "But that can be achieved with regular applications of anything from home remedies like a banana and honey pack to the most sophisticated cream." It is best to start a skin regime early and keep it going.

Anti-wrinkle products come in variants such as day creams, night creams or serums. During the day, they should be worn under sun screen, suggest experts. Night creams are generally more effective because they can work in relatively undisturbed spells, according to dermatologists. Topical applications should be coupled with supplements like Vitamin D capsules which ensure internal hydration, says Shetty.

The lotions and serums are being touted as at-home alternatives to going under the needle. Apart from major brands like Olay, L'Oreal and Pond's, players with organic offerings such as Premier Dead Sea and Forest Essentials too are finding takers. "Unlike Botox and fillers, the results are less drastic so people can't immediately say you have done something," says Uri Yochelman, vice president for sales at Premier Dead Sea, which sells products from Rs 3,000 to a whopping Rs 32,500 per bottle. It claims to list Bollywood actors among its clients.

The market for anti-ageing products in India is about Rs 1,200-1,400 crore, according to Euromonitor International data released in 2012. It is nascent compared to the overall but is growing at a rate of 30 percent CAGR, says Swati Pal, director for marketing, Avon India. The direct-selling company, which launched a new anti-wrinkle formula in the country in September, says there is further potential for development as more customers are moving from curative anti-ageing solutions to preventive ones.

The claims of anti-ageing product makers sometimes border on being medical, which had recently prompted the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to instruct some cosmetic companies in the country to review their marketing material or apply for clearances before selling the products. "We need stricter regulation in India too,"observes Pai. It is best to consult a medical practitioner to ascertain whether a cream is suitable for one's skin type. Overstated claims - such as counteracting, retarding or controlling the age process - should be ignored, observes Shetty. "There is no magic that happens."

A holistic approach is a better way to delay ageing, recommends Pai. One of the examples she cites is of a 70-year-old whose unequal lip corners were lifted just with regular facial exercises. While offering patients the option of wrinkle-treating creams, Botox and filler injections, she stresses on the need for lifestyle changes including realistic diets, exercise and consistent hydration of skin. "We have been bestowed with longevity thanks to technology. Now, we should look at ways to add quality to life in the later years."

  • Face massage: The benefits are blood circulation which sends natural oxygen to the skin cells and makes it firm. It also tones muscle fibres and produces oil in the skin.
  • Face exercises: This also helps pump blood to the face so that more nutrients reach the skin cells.
  • Natural packs: Face masks that help to reduce dryness include apple, banana and honey as well as curd and turmeric.
  • Healthy diet: Fill your plate with various deep-colored fruits and vegetables, green vegetables, nuts and legumes. Wash it down with cups of green or white tea. These are rich in antioxidants that can help collagen production.
  • Botox: An injection containing a small dose of botulinum toxin can remove by paralysing the muscles of the face. The effects last for 5-6 months.
  • Fillers: Micro injections of gels like hyaluronic acid or collagen are administered to hydrate the skin from within.
  • Rhytidectomy: A facelift surgically eliminates wrinkles. Facial skin is cut and stretched tightly to give it a youthful, taut appearance.

First Published: Fri, October 04 2013. 21:45 IST