How it works: The light stimulates skin cells to produce healthy, new skin-plumping collagen and slow the breakdown of existing collagen. When study subjects were exposed to this light twice a week for eight weeks, they had a measurable improvement in fine lines and wrinkles. Research has found that a rest period between sessions is important for effectiveness.
When available: This medical-spa version was released in March 2006. According to some doctors, an at-home version is on the drawing board.
ULTRASONIC SKIN CARE
What it is: Ultrasound waves activate a cream containing tiny molecules of bovine collagen, driving them into the skin. The treatment, which is designed to fill wrinkles and add moisture, is called Javani Skin Rejuvenation.
How it works: The cream stimulates the growth of new collagen and decreases the kind of aged collagen that causes sagging and discoloration, says Jay Burns, assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who has no financial interest in Javani. Burns was skeptical at first because theoretically, protein molecules cannot cross the skin barrier. But now he and other doctors in his practice have seen evidence that the ones in Javani do penetrate. In addition to noticing visible improvements in patients' skin, he says, "we took a sample of the skin and looked at it through a microscope and saw changes in the collagen." More definitive testing is under way. He and his colleagues have found that the cream "is a phenomenal moisturizer. We're using the system to enhance everything we do on the face and hands, from chemical peels to laser treatments."
When available: Javani is for sale through dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and medi-spas.
What it is: Sun exposure, cigarette smoke, and stress can all deplete the skin of its elastin--and its resiliency. Until now, says Leslie Baumann, director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami, no product or procedure has been proven to replace this crucial component of healthy skin. But Relastin, a new eye cream, prompts elastin production, which in turn restores springiness to skin and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, according to studies Baumann has reviewed. In a snap test--which determines how long it takes the skin to bounce back after being pulled--undereye skin treated with Relastin recovered more quickly. Doctors have also seen some evidence that Relastin improves puffiness and dark circles and may even tighten hand and abdominal skin as well.
How it works: Ingredients in Relastin stimulate the function of a gene in the body that is responsible for making elastin, Baumann says. Studies found that the cream improves crepeyness around the eyes after two weeks.
When available: Relastin can be purchased online at relastin.com.