The Future Perfect

What it is: Rough, red skin may be fine for new potatoes, but most women don't find it appealing on themselves. A nonprescription face cream, Cutanix Dramatic Relief, significantly reduces redness as well as inflammation and scaly, dry skin. It is especially helpful for people with rosacea and eczema, but it can also take the sting out of insect bites and help heal sunburn. Doctors have become increasingly aware of it and have been recommending the cream to their patients ever since Zoe Draelos, a dermatologist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, demonstrated its effectiveness in a study published in 2005.

How it works: The active ingredient in the product is quadrinone, an FDA-cleared natural food flavoring with a nutty scent that is sometimes added to cake mixes and glazes. It acts as a moisturizer to plump the skin and an anti-inflammatory to even its color, resulting in a more youthful appearance. "The redness in aging skin is actually inflammation, and this causes blood vessels to break and skin to become thinner and more fragile, leading to a prematurely aged look," explains Adam Gridley, vice president of BioForm Medical, Cutanix's manufacturer. The cream is most effective when applied twice daily, in the morning under sunscreen and before bed.

When available: Cutanix Dramatic Relief is sold online at cutanix.com for $39.95 per tube (a 30-day supply).

COLLAGEN BUILDER

What it is: Maintaining healthy skin doesn't necessarily require masses of products, but it does require an abundance of collagen--the network of fibers that supports the skin. The next frontier in skin care, Baumann says, is "harnessing the power of cytokines," growth factors in the skin that play a role in wound healing and the formation of collagen.

How it works: By stimulating collagen production and blood supply, face creams containing cytokines thicken and brighten the skin.

When available: Some skin-care products made with cytokines are already on the market--for instance, TNS by Skin Medica (available on the Web and through physicians) and Topix Citrix (sold on skinstore.com). New, more powerful versions are expected within the next two years and will probably be expensive, because extracting active cytokines from skin cells, Baumann says, is a lengthy and costly process. "But we may finally have a skin-care product that is worth the high price!"

Fat Removal and Skin Tightening

LIPO WITHOUT INCISIONS

What it is: Two similar competing systems in development, UltraShape and LipoSonix, eliminate small amounts of body fat at a time, allowing patients to lose up to an inch in one treatment and go right back to work. "I believe the future of body contouring will be noninvasive, and this is the first system to show promise," says Steven Teitelbaum, a plastic surgeon in Santa Monica, who conducted one of several studies on UltraShape.

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