Can Creams Really Repair Skin From Within?

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There is a common myth that pervades every woman's psyche: The right skin-care cream (especially an expensive one) can have seemingly magical anti-aging effects. It can seep deep inside your skin, fill in wrinkles and plump your face from the inside out. Some believe, or maybe just hope, it can help turn you back into the 20-something version of yourself and can even work as good as injections—keeping you years away from an appointment with a plastic surgeon. But it turns out, all of that is really just a fantasy.

Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK have recently found that even the smallest nanoparticles found in skin-care creams are not capable of making the grand journey through the skin barrier. That means topical cosmetic creams are not able to deliver active ingredients deep inside the skin (where they are useful), like many companies might have you to believe. Which makes sense if you think about it because if a cream could accomplish the same goals as a medical procedure, or even like injections such as Botox or Juvéderm, they would be classified as drugs and not cosmetics.

The research, published in the Journal of Controlled Release, will definitely have implications for skin-care companies that design anti-aging creams with nanoparticles that are supposed to transport ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin. However, the findings will also calm safety concerns that potentially harmful nanoparticles, like the ones used in sunscreens, can be absorbed into the body when applied to the skin.

Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't use skin-care creams. You definitely should. After all they do act as a barrier to lock in moisture on your skin and to protect it. Plus, if you use a skin-care serum with active ingredients, the cream helps to seal it in. Just keep in mind, it's likely that only the top layer of skin will be affected.