The Pills That Can Make You Look Younger

Two new “youth” supplements are making tantalizing promises: fewer wrinkles and no grey hairs. Experts find out if it can possibly be true.

It sound like the stuff of science-fiction movies: the pill you can take to keep you looking young. But this is exactly what Dove’s new anti-wrinkle pill, Strength Within, promises. Some stock went on sale in September to a flurry of headlines (Anti-Wrinkle Pill Reduces Crow’s Feet By Up To 30%; First Anti-Wrinkle Pill To show Signs Of Success), and sold out online in four days. If it works, it could change the way we think about skincare.

We’ve long known that the right nutrients give us glowier skin and glossier hair, but the new boom in youth pills is fuelled by the fact that scientists can now pinpoint how plant extracts help slow down ageing. But even the researchers at Unilever, the beauty and food giant that owns Dove, weren’t expecting the results they got at their trials. “The biggest surprise was that the deeper the wrinkle, the more effective it was”, says Dr Dail Jenkins, one of the scientists on the research team.

So how does it work? Put simply, it contains plant extracts that boost genetic mechanisms in the skin. For example, soya isoflavones in the pill activate the body’s oestrogen receptors to produce collagen – the protein that keeps our skin young and unlined. “We lose 40 percent of our collagen between the ages of 35 and 55, due to the slowdown in oestrogen production as we get older”, says Dr Jenkins. And because the pill is absorbed into the bloodstream, unlike a cream applied to the surface, the active ingredients reach the very deepest levels of skin, leading to that headline-grabbing reduction in wrinkles (though note, you’ll have to take the pill religiously, three times a day, to see the effects).

Tests were carried out on women in their forties and fifties, the inference being that you’ll get the best results at those ages, although it’s known that our oestrogen production begins to tail off in our thirties. And, no, this isn’t the end of skin creams: you’ll still need a great potion to keep skin moisturized and protected on the surface.

Another pill that looks set to grab the headlines is the anti-grey hair supplement L’Oreal is developing the company’s hair lab has found that the lack of an enzyme called TRP-2 causes pigment-producing cells to die off as we age, leading to grey or white hair. The solution? A fruit extract in pill form that protects TRP-2 production. But don’t cancel your next root-retouch appointment just yet: the supplement has yet to be safety trialed, and won’t be available for at least four years. And even when it is, it’s worth remembering that going grey is a long, slow process, so this is unlikely to be an instant solution.

Beauty-Boosting Pills to Try

These are the supplement on everyone’s lips:

  • The Frenchwoman’s secret: Pharmacy brand Caudalie’s Vinexpert Supplement, includes youth-prolonging resveratrol, along with a slew of other skin-protecitng ingredients.
  • Backstage approved: Viviscal Maximum Strength. This is the one A-lister hairdressers talk about and contains marine protein extract – take two tablets daily for six months.
  • Doctor-tested: Murad Youth Builder Dietary Supplement, has convincing studies to back up its claim to reduce lines and wrinkles by 34 percent in five weeks.
  • For the pill-shy: Cosmetofruit Anti-Aging Defence Elixir, is a liquid supplement which ticks the superfruit box as it contains blueberry and blackberry extract.

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