Four of our remaining wrinkle creams advertised sunscreen built in: L’Oreal, Neutrogena, Philosophy, and StriVectin. Retinoids degrade very quickly in the sunlight, losing their potency. More worryingly, the 2010 handbook of Cosmetic Dermatology Products and Procedures suggests that retinoids may release free radicals as they degrade — molecules that harm your skin rather than helping it. Because of this, the handbook concludes, “it is still recommended to avoid UV exposure when using topical retinoids” (312). Sunblock does slow retinoid degradation, according to a 2008 study, but the retinoids still degrade to some extent. Ultimately, this wasn’t a risk we felt comfortable taking. Until there’s been more extensive research on the topic, we’ve opted to skip all sunscreen-containing products.
As is the case with most of the body’s natural processes, collagen production naturally slows down a bit as we age. When collagen levels drop, the elasticity of our skin (and the other parts of our bodies that depend on this vital protein) soften and become more fragile. Decreased collagen levels can lead to everything from wrinkles and fine lines to increased bone fragility and de-pigmented hair color (that’s where those stubborn grays and, if we let them, eventual white hairs come from!).