Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center presents lecture on effectiveness of anti-aging creams

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 13, 2003 — There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of over-the-counter anti-aging skin care products, a University of Rhode Island professor says.

That’s one of the messages that URI Pharmacy Professor Norma Owens will deliver on Wednesday, Nov. 19 as part of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center’s Lunch and Learn lecture series at URI.

Titled, “The Mystique of Anti-Aging Creams: Do They Really Work?” the lecture will be held at noon in Room 110 of White Hall on URI’s Kingston Campus.

Owens, Rhode Island Hospital’s geriatric clinical pharmacy consultant, will discuss how the skin ages and the way different facial products — both over the counter and prescription — affect this process.

As the skin ages, its layers become thinner and there is a loss of subcutaneous fat. This causes the skin to appear dry, rough, and wrinkly. Though this process happens naturally, “sun exposure only increases the rate of aging in the skin,” Owens said. “Of course, gravity doesn’t help either!”

Concerning over-the-counter face care products, Owens says that, “with few exceptions, there is little evidence to support their effectiveness.”

Some of these products do help, at least nominally, to prevent the evidence of aging in the skin. Moisturizers, for example, “make a huge difference,” Owens said, as aging skin is less likely to retain moisture. Products that contain the antioxidant vitamins C and E also help to prevent breakdown occurring in the skin as the result of exposure to sun, cigarette smoke, pollution, etc.

So how do advertisers get away with claiming their products are “rejuvenating” or “clarifying”? What does it mean, then, when a product purports to “reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”?

“Look at the words advertisers use,” Owens said. “The language is subjective, vague and ambiguous. The claims they make are not at all measurable.”

For more information about the Lunch and Learn lectures, contact Sandy Leubner at 401-874-5332.

The RIGEC is a consortium of the University of Rhode Island Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy and Human Science and Services, Rhode Island College School of Social Work, Brown Medical School and Aging 2000. The center was established to improve knowledge and skills in geriatrics and gerontology among health care and human service providers to better serve the needs of a growing elderly population.