What Is the Most Important Anti-Aging Cream Ingredient?

Most anti-aging creams may work no better than typical moisturizers. The daily application of sunscreen is considered to be the single most important thing to maintaining youthful skin.

This is the first in a four-part series on so-called anti-aging skin products. Stay tuned for:
• Topical Retinoids to Reverse Skin Aging ( )
• The Benefits of Topical Niacinamide for Reversing Skin Aging ( )
• The Benefits of Topical Vitamin C for Reversing Skin Aging ( )

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-Michael Greger, MD FACLM

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Dave McKinnon

  • R M says:

    Tretinoin. or SPF

  • Pavol Horvath says:

    Retinoids? Let me guess: a carrot a tomato and a red bell pepper a day.

  • Cody says:

    Could it be that people who use sunscreen get more sunlight and oxygen? Maybe exercise also?

    • Smushface says:

      The causal relationship between sun exposure and skin photoaging has been clearly established science for decades, as have the protective effects of sunscreen (though most people fail to use enough sunscreen to get the labeled SPF — ~1/4 tsp for face and neck or a shot glass worth for the whole body — or to reapply it to maintain its protective film). Sunlight reflects off of surfaces on the planet (like the ground) and comes through windows — you don’t have to be active or outdoors to get exposure; you are also exposed to increased UV radiation at high altitudes, like on plane rides. People like pilots and truck drivers show increased photo aging and cancers on the parts of their skin that is routinely more exposed to sunlight, and there is a very famous photo of a career truck driver where the window facing side of his face looks decades older than the other side of his face. UV radiation damages skin and is the #1 thing to trigger signs of aging — eating right can improve your resistance to this damage by a few points, but no amount of diet and exercise can reverse what long term radiation damage does to your skin and its underlying structures. Any dermatologist or minimally competent skincare chemist will also tell you the number one thing you can do for your skin is the proper application and reapplication of sunscreen every day.

    • Cody says:

      @smushface3999  great points! I didn’t even think about pilots! I feel like we are missing something. Science always has me thinking that way though lol. Maybe it will be in the future episode 🤔

  • Barbara says:

    I’ve been an esthetician for a long time, so I have seen many faces. I always recommend vitamin c serum and/or hyaluronic acid with spf in the daytime and a retinol at night if tolerated. Otherwise a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid at night. The hyaluronic absolutely makes the skin look more plump and hydrated. I also take hyaluronic acid internally as per Dr Brad Stanfield’s information. Retinols make a big difference. They need to be used carefully and allow the skin to build a tolerance. Inflammation is what causes visible skin aging, thus protection from the sun and not using products that are too strong for one’s skin. A gentle routine is best. But really, eating a healthy diet, getting sleep, exercise and dealing positively with stress are all important for aging – of the whole body as well as the skin.

  • Tatiana Roslyakova says:


  • James Rempel says:


  • Alicia B says:

    At 25 I was fortunate to have a dermatologist tell me to protect my skin. At 61 I’m glad I listened.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on trans retinoic acid/Tretinoin given the ban in the EU.

    Thank you for all you do. 🙏🕉

  • Casey Planck says:

    I’ve used sunscreen daily since end of 2020/beginning of 2021 and I have been told I look younger than before. I love sunscreen. The brand “BLACK GIRL SUNSCREEN” is my favorite. I use the kids version because it’s the same as the adult one but cheaper.

  • Anthony Romano says:

    I would think eating a lot of water containing foods would moisturize your whole body.

  • Luigi Ibello says:

    Alla gentile attenzione del Dott Greger: potete fare un video preciso e approfondito su Melagrana e Chiodi di Garofano? Grazie molte

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