4 Anti-Aging Ingredients That Don’t Work

by Gio
4 antiaging ingredients that don't work

I still remember the day I saw my first crow’s feet.

I was in my bathroom, washing my face as usual. I glanced nonchalantly at the mirror and froze. What the heck were those fine lines around my eyes?!

Surely, they couldn’t have been wrinkles? I was still in my late 20s, way too early for even the tiniest of fine lines. Or so I thought. Because wrinkles don’t wait for an invitation before showing up on your face.

And so it started. My quest to destroy those pesky wrinkles and get my smooth skin back. It took me on some dark paths where I met witches and charlatans that sold me anti-aging potions that promised miracles but didn’t even make the tiniest dent in my wrinkles.

It wasn’t until science shone a light on my path that I really discovered the 5 anti-aging superstars that really deliver. But that’s a story for another time.

Today, I want to warn you about the anti-aging ingredients that DON’T work. The ones that claim to do wonders for your skin but they just make you poorer. The charlatans that sold them to you laugh all the way to the bank while you’re wondering if you’re using them wrong.

Those days are over. Before investing even one more cent in another anti-aging potion, check out this short guide on anti-aging ingredients that don’t work. It’ll save you both money and heartache.

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1. Collagen

What Is It?

The protein that keeps your skin firm. But, like all good things, it depletes with age. As that happens, skin sags.

Why Doesn’t It Work?

Collagen is too big to penetrate the skin. It sits comfortably on its surface, refusing to get in. And if it can’t get in, it can’t firm skin for you.

Collagen drinks don’t work, either. When you drink collagen, the acids in your stomach break it down, making it useless before it had the chance to firm anything. Bummer!

What To Do Instead

  1. Eat it: Muscle and body organs have plenty of collagen, so if you’re a meat eater, you’re all settled. If not, no worries. You don’t have to compromise your beliefs to avoid wrinkles. Your body can make collagen on its own. It just needs a helping hand from vitamin C. Munch on strawberries and oranges and you’ll be fine.
  2. Wear sunscreen: your natural collagen will deplete a lot more slowly if you do.
  3. Use retinol, vitamin C + copper peptides: these skincare superstars all help boost collagen production. Check out my fave collagen-boosting products here.

Related: 8 Ways To Rebuild Lost Collagen

2. Elastin

What is it?

The protein that keeps skin elastic. It helps it return to its original position when it’s pinched. But, like collagen, it depletes with age.

Why Doesn’t It Work?

Same as collagen. It’s too big to penetrate the skin. It stays on top and moisturizes it. That’s all.

What To Do Instead

  1. Eat smart: fruits rich in vitamin C, lean meats with amino acids and anything with omega 3 – such as nuts, salmon and avocado – make your body produce more elastin.
  2. Wear sunscreen: yes, again. UV rays destroy everything, including elastin.

3. Stem Cells

What Are They?

Mother cells with the potential to become any type of cell in that organism. They then reproduce and make more of those cells.

For example, apple stem cells can become branches, leaves, fruits… Human stem cells can become organs and, one day, be potentially used for transplants.

Why Don’t They Work?

Because there’s no way an apple stem cell can turn into human skin. And if they can’t do that, how can they rejuvenate skin? Plant stem cells are antioxidants. Nothing more than that.

But how about human stem cells? Those won’t work, either. Stem cells need to be alive to work their magic. Put them into a cream, they’ll die pretty quickly.

Maybe one day we’ll have the technology to make human stem cells work. For now, they’re pretty much useless.

What To Do Instead

Use an antioxidant rich serum: stem cells are just glorified antioxidants that cost an arm and a leg. By using a regular antioxidant serum, you’ll save quite a bit of money and stave wrinkles off too.

Related: What Are The Best Antioxidant Serums?

4. EGF

What Is It?

Short for epidermal growth factors. They’re hormones that stimulate cell growth, boost collagen production and thickness and help skin repair itself.

Why Don’t They Work?

Well, they sort of do. It’s their safety, or better lack of it, that got them on this list. 

Here’s the deal. EGF’s job is to help cells proliferate. So, if you have any pre-cancerous cells or cancerous lesions on your skin, EGF will make them multiply.

Let’s be clear. EGF do not cause cancer. At least, there’s no proof they do. But, they can help cancer, or pre-cancerous cells, spread. Problem is, we don’t always know we have pre-cancerous cells. If you do and you use it, you could end up in trouble.

A derm I spoke to last month said that’s why research on them has been quietly dropped (yet, you can still find products with EGF selling at Harrods for a small fortune!).

What To Do Instead

Use retinol: retinol and other forms of vitamin A can boost collagen production and thicken skin, too. If they don’t agree with your skin, they’ll just make it flake. I’ll take that over the risk of cancer any day.

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of anti-aging superstars that help you keep wrinkles off your face. Don’t waste your money on the duds that don’t work.



JD July 24, 2017 - 9:59 am

Thank you for this article. I’m now slowly overhauling my skin care, looking at what to take away and what to add, without overly complicating things. Every time I go to a shop or check online, I am tempted to try everything so as not to lose out on things that I may need. But I also know that I do not need everything on offer and not everything works, especially with the need for businesses (whether conventional products or organic/natural products) to make money, it’s easy for them to exaggerate (or even make up) the powers of certain ingredients to make more sales.

Now, I’m reading up as much as I could on ingredients, from a variety of science-based sources, and this site is included in my list of sources.

Gio July 28, 2017 - 4:39 pm

JD, I am honoured to be among your list of sources. šŸ™‚

I agree, there is a lot of misinformation on ingredients. Each company has its darling and claims it makes miracle. The key is to figure out what your skin type + concerns are and find the best ingredients to fix them. Let me know if you need any help with this.

Patricia Franklin November 18, 2017 - 11:36 pm

Hello, thank you for providing such a great information šŸ™‚ I enjoy reading throughout the article thanks again for your information šŸ™‚

Cat January 9, 2018 - 3:08 am

But… If retinol promotes cell turnover, wouldn’t that be the same issue that causes concern about EGF? Just wondering. I don’t really know anything about biochemistry of the skin.

Gio January 19, 2018 - 2:58 pm

Cat, cellular turnover is the skin’s natural exfoliating process. Retinol helps skin do this faster. EGF make cell proliferate. if these cells are good cells, they help your skin stay young. But if these cells are damaged, making them proliferate would do more damage than good.

Classy Sassy Skin Lover May 17, 2019 - 2:58 am

Ah freaking men. Love love your page. It is so the voice of rationale and reason in a social media filled world fueled by hype. Iā€™m a nurse and I love to have facts to send to friends who inquire as to why I recommend a particular product or not. Keep it coming!

Gio June 5, 2019 - 12:17 pm

Classy Sassy Skin Lover, that’s a huge compliment. Thank you so much!

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