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Freezeframe, a cream that has been described as a non-surgical alternative to Botox, has arrived in Boots, and apparently it already has a four-zero waiting list. The makers say the cream uses muscle-relaxing ingredients to make wrinkles disappear in five minutes and the effects last for almost eight hours.

I have lost count of the long line of 'scientific' ingredients that are touted as the Next Big Thing. Skincare companies christen ingredients with complex-sounding names and add a ™, as though that lends it authenticity. Add the words 'advanced', 'ultimate', 'active', or 'replenishing' and we're on our way to the till lost in a pipe dream about our fresh-looking visage.

These days I'm more sensible about anti-ageing. After a bout of adult acne, I've met with a number of dermatologists who have separated the fact from the fiction. And it boils down to this: if your face is deeply wrinkled, or your skin has sagged, no lotion or potion on the planet will fix it. Full stop.

Freezeframe users claim that the results are radical but they only last for eight hours. It's the Cinderella of skin creams, only there is no happy ever after. Imagine your skin sliding down your face over dinner. I should add that haemorrhoids cream has the same effect -- just ask anyone in the modelling world, where it has been a secret for decades . . .

Freezeframe is dubbed an alternative to Botox. Why not just get Botox? This cream costs approximately €60 for a month-supply. Botox costs from €300 and lasts six.

Indeed, one study reveals that women spend an average of €28,000 in their lifetimes on anti-ageing creams. For that money, would these women not be better served getting three or four facelifts and just using soap and water? By the same token, Freezeframe yields results, even if they are only temporary. There are other 'wonder' creams for sale that make utterly spurious claims.

Take the myriad of collagen creams on the market. Dr Blanca Sengerova, an Oxford University protein biochemist who works on the chemistry of large molecules, says: "It really frustrates me when I see adverts for anti-wrinkle creams containing collagen. Although collagen is structurally important for the integrity of our skin, the protein molecule is far too large to pass through the barrier posed by the skin."

Researchers at the University of London also recently debunked the anti-ageing benefits of resveratrol, which is the current ingredient du jour in a battery of expensive skincare creams. Lead researcher David Gems concluded that "there is a lot of stuff that doesn't work.

There are a lot of swindlers, a lot of ways of detaching you from your money. If you want to keep your skin good, use sunblock and moisturiser, stop smoking and keep your weight down." It really is that simple.

Granted, there are wonderful skincare creams on the market that add radiance, reduce pore size, banish dark circles and correct dark spots, dryness and redness, but none of them will remove wrinkles permanently.

There is, however, a cream that will work effectively on fine lines and stop more lines from appearing. In fact, it's the only product that is approved by the FDA for treating wrinkles: tretinoin, known as Retin-A.

"The only cream that is a proven anti-ageing cream is Retin-A, which is only available on prescription," explains dermatologist Dr Jane Mulrooney, who works alongside her sister, Kathryn, at The Clinic, Sandymount Green. "It's a fabulous cream but the downside is that it's quite irritating."

Dermatologist Dr Clare Cushen of Beacon Dermatology agrees: "Retin-A is brilliant for acne patients, sun-damaged patients and wrinkles. We recommend that you only use it twice, three times a week, max. It's a really good thing to be introducing to your skincare regime after the age of 30 and a very handy product to have in your arsenal."

If you want to really target wrinkles, forget about fancy skin creams and talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for Retin-A. If that is not possible, the second line of defence is creams that contain the antioxidant retinol. Retinol is less potent than the vitamin A derivative tretinoin, which means it is less effective at fighting ageing.



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"RoC has a retinol formulation but, to be honest, if you can buy it over the counter, it's probably not going to be strong enough," continues Cushen. Still, it will work a damn sight better than creams that don't contain it.

Lasers, peels and micro-needling are also effective. The premise of all of these processes is to stimulate the production of collagen. The Obaji Blue Peel at Derma Laser (dermaclinic.ie); Active FX at About Face (aboutface.ie) and Micro-Needling at Dundrum Medical Cosmetic Clinic (dundrumclinic.com) will make a real difference.

After that, it's all about what you put into your body. Eight glasses of water a day keeps skin plump, which in turn smoothes out wrinkles. Certain foods can actually increase collagen production. Two of the most popular ingredients in skincare creams -- hyaluronic acid and collagen -- can be taken as oral supplements. It is infinitely better to ingest than slather on.

Smokers should just use soap and water, such is the daily damage they are doing to their skin and it's ludicrous that those who don't wear an SPF every day would spend so much as a cent on any other face cream.

Finally, stress, anger and bitterness will eventually etch on the face. Anti-ageing is an inside job, so a cheery disposition makes a difference . . .


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