- Cosmetic lotions that promise to hold
back the physical ravages of time are "ineffective", according
to a leading skin specialist.
- Many of the physical signs associated
with old age are down to inherited genes, sun exposure and smoking, according
to Professor Chris Griffiths of the University of Manchester.
- A fellow dermatologist, Dr Nicholas Lowe,
said that it was much more effective to apply sub block every day.
- Doctors and scientists are examining
the evidence at a conference run by the Royal Society of Medicine.
- Fancy packs
- Prof Griffiths dismisses many anti-ageing
remedies, saying they offer the buyer little more than expensive packaging.
- He agrees that sunscreens with a protection
factor of greater than 15 can prevent - and maybe even reverse - signs
of old age. But he stresses that the sunscreens must be used properly.
- He also says retinoic acid - available
only on prescription - will repair and smooth the skin and reduce wrinkles.
- Dr Lowe said a small number of cosmetic
creams had some effect in repairing damage to the skin, but it was more
important to take daily action to protect against the ageing effects of
the sun's ultraviolet rays.
- "The main message with creams is
that if they contain an efficient sunscreen and you use it every morning
then you are going to halt some of those ageing changes," he told
- "The skin has a certain ability
to repair itself when it is protected but these creams only have a modest
- While genetic factors played some part
in the overall ageing process, lifestyle had a much greater impact on appearance
- particularly the face, he said.
- "About 30% of facial ageing is genetic
and a lot of the rest of the percentage is repetitive sunlight, smoking
and other hazardous things we expose ourselves to," he said.
- Real psychological effect
- While some may dismiss excessive concern
with appearance and ageing as harmless vanity, psychologists point out
that looking old can cause serious mental distress.
- Surveys show that many of the people
who undergo plastic surgery to reverse appearance of ageing do so because
they fear they will lose their job if they look old.
- Consultant psychologist Dr Eileen Bradbury
said: "We are very fixed on the idea that youth is connected to not
just beauty but to being powerful, being strong, healthy, energetic, having
the best jobs and having the most money."
- About 35% of people aged 50 to 64 have
no job - a much higher rate than many other European countries.
- The government is so concerned that people
face discrimination because of their older appearance that it has launched
an Action on Age programme.
- It aims to persuade employers that discriminating
on the basis of age makes bad business sense.
- The Royal Society of Medicine conference
will hear that the cosmetics industry plays a vital role in putting health
messages across, and employs dedicated scientists who carry out cutting-edge
research on anti-ageing.