At one time, even tried-and-trusted anti-agers like retinol and glycolic acid were considered brand-new breakthroughs. And while they still remain the gold standard in skin care, innovative formulas and technologies on the horizon are showing great promise for giving us smoother, brighter, and younger-looking skin. Want to be ahead of the trend? Start here.
When skin cells are healthy, they're a chatty bunch -- sending each other important messages that tell them how to do their job properly. But as we age, cellular chatter starts to slow and as a result, cell function decreases. "Now we're looking at new ways to intercept and enhance cellular and intercellular communication, so cells function better," says Jeanette Graf, M.D., a dermatologist in Great Neck, NY.
Try it now: Peptides have a big impact on cell communication, sending messages to cells, telling them to produce more collagen and elastin. Find them in Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Eye Cream & Lash Serum Duo Kit ($33; drugstore.com).
You've probably seen products that contain plant stem cell extracts, claiming to help you look younger, longer. And while it all sounds very sci-fi, Ron Robinson, a beauty chemist and founder of BeautyStat.com, says it's an important, emerging category in anti-aging. "We are seeing advances in plant stem cell technology that will provide new ways to extract antioxidants from plants in their purest, most stable form," Robinson says. This can yield antioxidants -- even more potent than we ones we already have -- to ward off premature skin aging, he explains.
Try it now: Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream ($55; sephora.com) contains raspberry stem cells.
Your skin is only as good as your diet: That's the theory behind foods, vitamins, and drinks designed to improve your complexion, says Doris Day, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. “It’s still an iffy area, but there is definitely some reality to it,” she says. Robinson adds that so-called “beauty drinks” have been around for a while, but now we’re seeing some clinical data to validate their claims.
Try it now: Beauty Nectar Collagen Drink ($40; ashieda.com) has studies to show that it improves hydration and reduces fine lines, according to Robinson.
Microdermabrasion treatments were a good skin game-changer. Using a spray of crystals and a vacuum to remove skin's outer layer, the pro treatment uncovers brighter, more even-toned skin. One caveat: It can be too aggressive for sensitive types, says Renee Rouleau, celebrity esthetician. Bio Brasion, what she calls the next generation of microderm, remedies that. "Bio Brasion is a crystal free, low-suction abrasion system that uses gentle vibration with customized levels of exfoliation," she says. The plastic (not diamond) tipped head is passed over the skin just three times to painlessly remove dead skin.
Try it now: Find a nearby spa that offers the treatment at bio-therapeutic.com.
“Companies look for new, novel active ingredients -- and nature is a great source,” Robinson says. But harvesting these ingredients isn’t always a green practice. The process can destroy wildlife and increase our carbon footprint, he explains. The fix: “Manufacturers are now using ingredients found in nature, but mass producing them in their labs,” he says. This eliminates the need to collect them from crops.
Try it now: Jillian Wright Smart Skin Solutions Mattefying Moisture Lotion ($75; jillianwrightskincare.com) uses green chemistry.
You know how good your skin looks after a 15-minute mask, so imagine how it could look after an eight-hour treatment. The newest skin masks are worn overnight, explains Debra Redmond, national beauty director at Nordstrom. They usually contain megamoisturizers and humectants such as hyaluronic acid, so you'll wake up with refreshed-looking, plumped up skin.
It's not just about your skin; hair can also exhibit signs of aging. Robinson says we can expect to see more products that help hair your strands look younger. "Many of these new products will contain skincare ingredients," he says. Some examples include damage repairing ceramides, smoothing peptides, and thickening ingredients such as collagen and niacinamide.
Try it now: Pantene Age-Defy Advanced Thickening Treatment ($19; target.com) contains niacinamide.
It's not a new material, but charcoal is suddenly smoking hot on the skincare scene -- popping up in many products, explains Molly Sloat, director of trend development at ULTA Beauty. "Activated charcoal performs like a magnet, pulling out the deepest impurities from your pores and refining your skin," she says. Cleaner pores appear smaller, so skin's surface looks smoother post-treatment.
Try it now: Earth Therapeutics Charcoal Exfoliating Purifying Towel ($6; ulta.com).
Retinol still ranks as a top wrinkle-smoother, but new formulations prove to be less irritating so they can be used on the delicate eye area. And even those with sensitive skin can use the potent anti-ager, explains Redmond.
Try it now: Philosophy Miracle Worker Anti-Aging Retinoid Eye Repair ($65; philosophy.com) includes the brand's HPr (high powered retinol) molecule that delivers the benefits of a typical retinoid (boosting collagen and increasing cell turnover) without the irritation.
DNA repair from a cream or serum sounds almost too good to be true, but top skin doctors say it is possible. "DNA repair technology continues to be on the forefront," says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. How does it work? Repair enzymes (usually from plants or marine ingredients) go to work on damage caused by free radicals, while helping cells ward off future damage.
Try it now: Neova DNA Total Repair ($99; neova.com) includes a liposome delivery system that transfers DNA repair enzymes to the molecular level, Jaliman says.