"This is a huge industry," says Jonathan K. Wilkin, M.D., a medical
officer in the FDA's Division of Dermatologic and Dental Drug Products. "The way people try to move the clock
back is through the skin." Basically, he says, through various products and procedures, "they are addressing
the effects of gravity on the skin over time."
Aging Skin 101
An increased understanding of the structure and function of the skin is helping to drive the development of
products that reduce the visible signs of facial aging, according to the American Academy of Dermatology
With aging, all skin cells begin to produce excess amounts of free
radicals--unstable oxygen molecules that, under ideal circumstances, are removed by naturally occurring
antioxidants within the skin's cells. In aging skin cells, antioxidants are in short supply. The free
radicals generated are left unchecked and cause damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA. These free
radicals eventually break down a protein substance in connective tissue (collagen) and release chemicals that
cause inflammation in the skin. It is a combination of these cellular and molecular events that leads to skin
aging and the formation of wrinkles, the AAD says.