Top 5 Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients

Sadly, there’s no single ingredient solution for all the signs of aging. However, there are highly effective anti-aging ingredients that target everything from uneven texture to loss of firmness when combined in a skincare regimen. Keli Koniver of Koniver Aesthetics explains why these are her favorites.


“The most essential product in any anti-aging regimen is a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning one that protects the skin from both UVB and UVA rays. Just as the letters describe: UVB rays burn and can cause skin cancer, and UVA rays contribute to collagen breakdown and accelerate skin aging. Your daily sunscreen should offer protection from both.

Broad-spectrum sunscreens are now available in such an array of different formulas from chemical to physical to combination products. Physical sunscreens act as an umbrella that sits on top of your skin to block the rays. Chemical sunscreens are ingredients that are absorbed into the skin to help deflect rays.

In days past, physical blocks were associated with a thick, heavy, sticky white cream/paste that left a pale cast on the skin. Meanwhile, chemical blocks were criticized for causing hormonal issues and damage to coral reefs. However, those days are over. Many of today’s new formulations are extremely cosmetically appealing with a feel, finish, and scent that is ideal for daily use. If you are serious about skincare and anti-aging, you must make a commitment to using sunscreen daily and reapplying often.”


“Retinoids, which are different types of vitamin A derivatives, are a critical anti-aging ingredient. At Koniver Aesthetics, we think of retinoids as ‘exercise for the skin.’ We know how important it is to exercise our bodies, and our skin is no exception. We believe anyone over the age of 25 should be on a retinoid. Retinoids are a wonder drug because they stimulate all three of our key skin cells. Essentially you have three fundamental types of skin cells: keratinocytes, melanocytes, and fibroblasts. Retinoids work on all three by encouraging cellular turnover.

Under the umbrella of retinoids, there are different types of vitamin A derivatives, and that’s where you’ll find both retinoic acid (i.e. Retin-A/Tretinoin) and retinol, which are the two most common. Retin-A is a prescription formula and the strongest available on the market. The advantage of retinoic acid is that it is the most bioavailable to the skin, meaning your skin does not have to do any converting to be able to use it. Retinoic acid has long been regarded as the holy grail in skincare (behind sunscreen, of course).

On the other hand, formulas you can buy at the drugstore generally contain retinol, which is also a vitamin A derivative but much milder and takes far longer to see any sort of noticeable change from it. That’s because products containing retinols have to be converted twice in the skin at a cellular level to become the strength of a retinoic acid. Each time a product has to covert, the product becomes more buffered and diluted. That’s great for preventing irritation, but not ideal for results—and especially not for the long haul. We generally view retinols as a reasonable place to start for those under age 25, or those with incredibly dry, sensitive skin. However, our favorite place to start new retinoid users is with a new product that sits right in between retinols and retinoic acid. It’s a retinaldehyde, which is essentially a hybrid of Retin-A and retinol and only has to convert once in the skin. It’s the best of both worlds as it’s very powerful and effective but also gentle. Our most popular retinaldehyde containing product is ObagiRetivance® Skin Rejuvenating Complex.

However, I tell folks that the key with any retinoid is consistency. At first, you will likely experience dry skin, peeling, or redness. And that’s expected—it’s a good thing. It’s showing us there is activity in the keratinocyte. This compromised skin barrier is not permanent and, over time, the skin will adjust. How long it takes to adjust varies by person, but there are things you can do to counteract the irritation such as layering it under or over a moisturizer. We also recommend people apply it every other night initially. We used to suggest every third night but we found that consistency was more important as people would forget if it was every third night. That’s why we now suggest formulas like retinaldehydes so patients can build up from there.”


“There are many antioxidants; however, the one I like best is vitamin C. Specifically L-ascorbicacid, which is the most potent and most bioavailable. It’s the very best you can use and protects you from everything in the environment that you can’t see: free radicals, environmental toxins, and pollution. It also ups the ante on your sunscreen—making it work harder for longer. And it calms down inflammation. In fact, one of the most gratifying changes is to put patients on medical-grade vitamin C like Obagi®. Their skin is brighter, and the texture is better, less fine lines and wrinkles. It’s really amazing.

Here’s the challenge with pure L-ascorbicacid: it is a volatile molecule and highly unstable. So I always tell folks, this is not a product you want to skimp on using. You have about four months from the time you open the bottle until it becomes oxidized, so use it lavishly. There are many other antioxidant products on the market that have a much longer shelf life, but they contain derivatives, not pure L-ascorbic acid, so it’s always a tradeoff. Do you want the most potent or one that will last longer? The good news is that today, there are such a multitude of options that you are bound to find one you love.”


“These are signal or messenger molecules that are the goldmine in terms of topically stimulating our skin to produce more collagen. Fibroblasts are our skin’s collagen-making factories, and when we reach our 30’s, they begin slowing down, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. The reason growth factors are considered such a powerful anti-aging ingredient is that they can send commands to our fibroblasts telling them to replicate, repair, and rejuvenate.

I’m often asked about where growth factors come from and if one type is better. There are two main types of growth factors: human-derived and plant-derived. The human-derived are the most potent, the most bioavailable, and the most recognized by your body. Why? Because we are humans, not plants.

NeoCutisBioSerumFirm has the highest concentration of human-derived growth factors on the market—it is not cheap by any stretch—but it’s been shown to deliver a statistically significant difference in just six days of use which is not an easy task for a topical skincare product. Another reason why it is leaps and bounds ahead right now is that it also contains peptides, smaller chains of amino acids that are especially important to use into your 40s and 50s where elasticity becomes a concern.”


“In our 30s, we are worried about the fine lines and wrinkles. When we hit our 40s and 50s, we begin to deal with an even more unwelcome side of aging: sagging skin.  Unfortunately, many ingredients—growth factors included—are too big to penetrate deep enough to make any meaningful change with elasticity. Growth factors work more on skin quality so they address collagen 1, collagen 3, and hyaluronicacid, but they do not do anything for collagen 7 or elastin. That is why we have peptides. Peptides are much smaller chains of amino acids that specifically work on elasticity and the laxity in the skin. The good news—if you are over 40 and want to address both skin quality concerns as well as firmness in the skin—is that you don’t have to pick and choose because there are products like NeoCutis Bio Serum Firm that combine growth factors and peptides into one bottle. Thus, we can save money and time.”

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