5 Anti-Aging “Cures” That Don’t Actually Work

Natasha Burton
Photo: Dimitri Otis/Getty

Photo: Dimitri Otis/Getty

While we all know we can’t fight the aging process forever, that doesn’t stop us from trying. Luckily, there is a trove of anti-aging products designed to firm, tighten, and smooth, promising to help us keep that youthful glow.

But, according to board-certified facial plastic surgeon Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS, who’s made a living helping women combat the telltale signs of getting older, only a small fraction of these products actually make good on their claims of preserving youth. “Only Retin-A and alpha hydroxy acids can reverse and slow down some of the signs of aging,” he says. “They don’t do miracles, but they work.”  Want to stave off fine lines and wrinkles? Dr. Naderi says you should steer clear of these popular anti-aging “antidotes.”

Celebrity-Endorsed “Miracle” Cures
Beware of products that seem too good be true—especially anything that claims to have magical properties, Dr. Naderi says. “On any given weekend, we have all seen the long infomercials starring Cindy Crawford and her ‘magic melon’ cream. It’s a fine moisturizer and if you like it, use it, but don’t waste hard-earned dollars on this nonsense,” he advises. “Cindy doesn’t look the way she does because of whatever melon mojo she rubs on her face —it’s her genetics.”

Vitamin E and Coconut Oil
While products that include Vitamin E or coconut oil are great at moisturizing our skin, they won’t turn back the clock, despite various brands’ claims.

Stem Cells
This treatment seems to be the buzzword these days, but Dr. Naderi says that while there have been big advances in basic stem cell science, clinical research in the U.S. is still at a very infantile stage. His advice? If you see a doctor wanting to inject you with stem cells, or a product claiming you should rub them on your face, walk the other way and don’t look back for another 10 years or so.

Topical Collagen
“I have injected thousands of faces with collagen or hyaluronic acid fillers,” Naderi says. “However, the endless commercials for collagen facial creams claiming to take years off without surgery or injections are bogus—schlepping it on the skin is just a temporary illusion.” These substances, he explains, give a good smooth “feel” to the skin by covering wrinkles, but they don’t actually change the wrinkles at all. Instead of buying these products, he suggests eating well and avoiding tobacco and tanning, both of which destroy can our skin’s collagen.

Pricey, Brand-Name Creams
Famous creams like La Prairie, StriVectin, and Crème De La Mer are all good moisturizers, Naderi says, and some contain peptides that can give temporary improvements to fine lines. Unfortunately, none are going to transform your skin the way Tretinoin or  Retin-A can (and at a fraction of the cost, at that). “If money is no object then enjoy these brands, but if you want your dollars to count then use a cheaper drug store brand of moisturizer combined with a prescription of Retin-A,” he suggests.