The Natural Way to Smooth Out Wrinkles

The newest batch of eco-friendly anti-aging skincare are as tough on fine lines as they are gentle on the planet. Meet the natural, worry-free guide to younger skin. By Ning Chao, REDBOOK.

Natural skin care has come a long way from its hemp-soap origins. These days, dermatologists say, eco-minded products are giving regular old wrinkle cream a run for its money. "Some natural anti-agers can actually do more for your skin because they contain extracts that tackle more than one sign of aging," says Jeannette Graf, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. The challenge is telling which products truly are earth-friendly, since a label may say it's "natural" when it actually contains harsh chemicals (there's no regulation by the FDA on the use of the word). "Check the ingredient list," says dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. "The more words you recognize, the more natural it usually is." For our guide to the real deals--and what they can do for you--read on.

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To fight lines and sagging...
You want to rev up your skin's collagen production, but the most popular chemical ingredient, retinoids (like Retin-A and Renova), can cause major redness and peeling in some patients. A good alternative, dermatologists say, is kinetin. "It's proven to stimulate collagen but won't cause irritation because it's a plant derivative," Graf says. Try Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase Wrinkle Repair Day & Night Cream, $25.09; walgreens.com. Graf also likes Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum, $55; amazon.com, with anogeissus, a plant extract that's been shown to reduce lines almost as well as prescription creams.

To treat discoloration...
Look for a vitamin C serum, especially now that the gold-standard bleaching agent, hydroquinone, is thought to have a possible link to cancer. "Vitamin C is great for brightening skin," Graf says. There are several forms of it used in skin care, some more effective than others, and it's sometimes hard to know which is in a product. Jasön Natural C-Effects Hyper-C Serum, $36.95; drugstore.com, has the most effective kind. Or try another natural pigment fader: Doctors give soy, kojic acid, and licorice (which is in Burt's Bees Radiance Serum, $18; amazon.com) top marks.

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To smooth away dullness...
Exfoliate naturally, but skip the oatmeal scrub: It can scratch up skin. Opt for a treatment that contains lactic acid (which comes from milk) or fruit acids; these gently dissolve dead skin to reveal a youthful glow. We like Kiss My Face Exfoliating Face Wash, $15; amazon.com. Or try Marmur's D.I.Y. recipe: Blend a cup of regular cottage cheese (low-fat won't cut it!) and a few slices of pineapple, apply the mix on your skin, and let it sit for 15 minutes.

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To quench dry skin...
A moisturizer with algae, which holds water in the skin, plumps up lines. It's usually found in thick creams such as Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer, $36; amazon.com. For something more lightweight, "apricot kernel oil is nourishing and sinks right in," Marmur says. She recommends Previse Care Defend Skin Type 6 Epidermis Plus Moisturizer, $48; previsecare.com.

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