There are a lot of skincare products out there these days—each one with prettier packaging, fancier ingredients and more promising claims than the next. The sheer volume of options can be overwhelming and, as anyone who has ever made an impulse Instagram buy at midnight knows, it is far too easy to get distracted by the shiny new thing.
The latest beauty buzz we’ve been hearing about is progeline cream, which is being touted as “an anti-aging cream that allegedly reduces fine lines, wrinkles, or other signs of aging,” shares David Petrillo, a cosmetic chemist and founder of Perfect Image Skincare. But it might not be as effective as it sounds.
More details, please. What exactly is progeline cream?
According to Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, who is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Modern Dermatology in Westport, Connecticut: “It is a cream containing progeline, which is a bio-engineered peptide that combines glycerin, water, dextran,and trifluoroacetyl tripeptide. The glycerin and water in the formula are thickened by dextran, which helps to deliver the trifluoroacetyl tripeptide 2 to deeper layers of the skin.”
“Progeline cream is a proprietary ingredient invented by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics that claims to plump the skin,” adds Dr. Corey L. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness dermatology in Birmingham, AL. “This engineered peptide is said to mimic the naturally occurring peptides in our skin.”
Got it, but what is a peptide?
“Peptides are short molecular chains of amino acids. They are often found in skincare products because of their ability to make collagen, which can repair damaged skin and reduce lines on the skin,” shares Petrillo.
The example that’s often given is that “you can think of peptides as building blocks for new collagen and elastin fibers.” Both are responsible for the elasticity and bounce of our skin. When their production slows down, the overall firmness, texture and radiance start to diminish as well, and lines become more noticeable.
Proponents of peptides say that using them can help boost collagen production, which in turn, addresses those aforementioned signs of aging. When you apply them topically, “peptides trick the skin into thinking there’s been an injury or wound, which then stimulates our collagen-boosting processes,” says Robinson.
What are the benefits of progeline cream?
“The company [who produces the ingredient] claims that progeline cream reduces synthesis of progerin, inhibits MMPs, contracts collagen and increases syndecan—all of which basically translates to decreased wrinkling, skin sagging and volume loss,” explains Hartman.
So, does progeline cream really work?
Our three experts are unanimously unconvinced. “There isn't much third-party data or clinical research to back the claims made by the company that produces progeline,” says Robinson.
Not only that, but “the few studies that have been conducted say that the cream does not work,” adds Petrillo. “Progeline is mostly comprised of water, glycerol, and dextran. If there is any peptide in the formula at all, it will be eliminated by your body. Though it is unlikely to harm you in small concentrations, there is no science to back up that this combination has anti-aging properties.”
Progeline or not, Hartman isn’t fully sold on peptides themselves either, stating that they don’t have a “huge role in [treating] skin aging” and the “effects in the lab are often more impactful than they are in real life.”
In sum: “Layering on a peptide serum with or without progeline, can, at best, provide hydration and smooth over fine lines (as can a regular moisturizer), but there just isn't enough research there to show long term benefit or corrective qualities for past damage,” says Robinson.
What are some other effective anti-aging ingredients?
“Retinols, antioxidants and growth factors have years of science backing their efficacy and results,” says Hartman. Both Petrillo and Robinson agree on the retinols and antioxidants.
Retinol, as you probably already know, is touted as “the gold standard of anti-aging” or, quite simply, it is currently the most studied ingredient in skincare. Originally formulated in the 1970s to combat acne, it has since become the go-to for reducing the appearance of fine lines, evening out skin tone, smoothing rough texture and brightening dark spots.
“When we age, the skin may become thinner and paler. Retinol thickens the skin over time and improves skin texture and tone,” says Petrillo. “Dark spots may also appear as we age because of overexposure to the sun. Retinol helps to fade them by speeding up skin cell turnover.”
Next in your line of defense are antioxidants. “An antioxidant serum will protect the skin from oxidative damage, as well as help repair past damage and hyperpigmentation,” explains Robinson. One such antioxidant that we love? Why that would be vitamin C, of course.
“Vitamin C is also a great ingredient that’s known to increase collagen production, which assists in tightening the skin, and firm, tight skin prevents it from sagging. Vitamin C also helps fade hyperpigmentation by delaying or preventing melanin production,” adds Petrillo.
Another pick from Petrillo? “Hyaluronic acid, which softens signs of aging by hydrating the skin. Fine lines are sometimes a result of dehydration. Hyaluronic acid prevents transepidermal water loss, meaning it has the unique capacity to hold water molecules on the surface of the skin. This results in improved skin hydration, which makes fine lines less visible.”
Last but not least, there’s sunscreen. “I recommend using a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ every single day,” says Robinson. “I prefer mineral formulations, which sit on the skin's surface to reflect UVA and UVB rays upon application.”
OK, ready to shop some of our expert’s anti-aging recommendations?
1. SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream
“This cream combines both retinol and glycolic acid and provides all of the effects of a potent retinol without the irritation,” says Hartman. (It’s a PureWow100 pick for that exact reason; plus, it’s extra hydrating thanks to niacinamide, ceramides, and fatty acids in the formula.)
2. ISDIN Melatonik Overnight Recovery Serum
Robinson likes this nighttime serum because it uses bakuchiol in place of retinol, which is a gentler alternative for those who can’t tolerate the vitamin A derivative. Not only does it help decrease fine lines, but it also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which can help brighten skin and calm inflammation.
3. Skinceuticals Silymarin CF
If you want to double up on antioxidant protection and acne prevention, Petrillo and Hartman recommend this serum. “The formula combines silymarin, vitamin C and ferulic acid for an antioxidant cocktail that also keeps oil in check. And it’s one of the few antioxidant serums available that includes beta hydroxy acids to help clear your pores,” explains Hartman.
4. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
“This product helps retain moisture and water on the skin, which helps keep the skin hydrated and reduces irritation to the skin,” says Petrillo. To use, apply a few drops over clean skin before your moisturizer.
5. Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
A popular pick among derms (including Robinson), this mineral sunscreen is packed with antioxidants that shield against pollution induced damage. It also has a hint of tint to it that delivers just enough coverage to even out your complexion for days you want to skip makeup.