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There are two types of people in this world—those who find a skincare routine that works for them and stick to it forever, and those who routinely experience beauty boredom and constantly look for the next best thing to try. If you identify with the latter group of people, then you might've come across progeline cream while on the hunt for something new to address all of your anti-aging concerns. But can this product actually address skin firmness and wrinkles? And what is progeline cream, anyway? We took both of these questions and many more to cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski of The Beauty Brains and skincare scientist Hannah Sivak, Ph.D., founder of Skin Actives Scientific. Ahead, the skin experts explain what progeline cream is made of, how progeline cream works (or doesn't), and if it provides any real benefits for the skin.
Keep scrolling to find out if this anti-aging product is one worth trying or if you should stick to your usual skincare routine.
Meet the Expert
What Is Progeline Cream?
Progeline is an ingredient by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics that's described as a biomimetic peptide derived from Elafin. More specifically, progeline is a trade name for the combination of ingredients including glycerin, water, dextran, and trifluoroacetyl-tripeptide-2. Breaking down these ingredients, glycerin is a humectant that pulls moisture into the top layer of the skin, and dextran is a polysaccharide used in artificial tears and acts as a thickener, Sivak explains. According to Romanowski, glycerin, dextran, and water work as moisturizers and carrier ingredients in the formula. And as for the last ingredient mentioned, Sivak explains that trifluoroacetyl-tripeptide-2 is a fluorinated peptide.
What Is a Peptide?
Before we get into all that progeline cream is (or isn't), it's important to note the role of peptides in skincare. A peptide is a chain of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, and can allegedly help stimulate collagen growth by tricking the skin into thinking it needs to produce more. But is that theory just a skincare myth, or are peptides in skincare effective for addressing visible signs of aging? Romanowski says under lab test conditions, you can see some promising effects, but in his opinion, that doesn't translate to actual products. "They show some potential, but I think most of the products which feature peptides work no better than good moisturizers," Romanowski explains. "For the most part, if you have a moisturizer with and without a peptide, I do not believe consumers will notice any difference. Moisturizers themselves are effective at addressing signs of aging. Peptides don't really add much more than a good story."
Benefits of Progeline Cream for Skin
If you search for information about progeline on the Lucas Meyer Cosmetics website, you’ll find a breakdown of the ingredient's mode of action: reduces progerin synthesis, inhibits MMPs and elastase, increases syndecan, and contracts collagen. For progeline’s properties, you’ll see that it’s said to reduce signs of aging (sagging and wrinkles), improve the jawline, and have a remodeling effect. Romanowski points out that while the manufacturer of the ingredient produces laboratory data, "I did not find any independent data to support the use of the product."
If you're looking for scientifically-proven benefits before trying a progeline cream, that may take some time still. "Reportedly, the peptide can help reduce signs of aging (wrinkles and sagging skin)," Romanowski explains. "They claim it does this by interacting with the skin biochemistry to reduce synthesis of progerin and inhibit enzymes, like elastase, which can break down skin structure proteins. Of course, if your cosmetic actually did these things, that would make it an illegal drug."
If you're now sufficiently confused about the difference between a cosmetic and a drug, here's how to differentiate the two. According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, cosmetics are "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance." As for drugs, those are defined by law as, "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" and "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals."
Side Effects of Progeline Cream
Other than potentially wasting money on a product that might not give you the anti-aging benefits you're looking for, is there any harm in trying a progeline cream? Romanowski argues that if these ingredients really did impact the body's biochemistry, you would be experimenting with an untested drug. "Without testing, you would have no way of knowing if it were safe to use on a daily basis," Romanowski says. "It could be completely harmless, or it could cause cancer. That is why testing is done on drug products. It is probably fine, but without testing, you can only guess." Sivak agrees and adds, "Dextran is inert. Water and glycerin are part of our daily lives. Fluorinated peptides are not, so you could say that people that sell progeline are experimenting on the people who buy these products."
Other Anti-Aging Ingredients to Try
Although the skin experts aren't convinced that progeline cream is the answer to all of your anti-aging prayers, you're not without options. But instead of potentially wasting time in the search for an under-the-radar miracle ingredient (not to mention a lot of money), go back to the basics. You might be a little surprised by Romanowski's top picks for anti-aging ingredients or products, which are, honestly, nothing extraordinary. Still, they work to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized to improve the appearance of dry, dull, wrinkly skin. As Romanowski explained earlier, moisturizers on their own are effective at addressing the signs of aging. Glycerin (the humectant that we explored earlier in the article), mineral oil (an emollient moisturizer that smoothes, softens, and seals moisture into the skin), petrolatum (an occlusive that locks everything in and creates a barrier on the skin), and of course, a sunscreen (to protect your skin from extrinsic aging) are Romanowski's four anti-aging favorites. And the best part? All three ingredients mentioned are fairly inexpensive, easy to find, and significantly impact skin moisturization.
According to Sivak, quercetin and fisetin are also two ingredients to seek out for their anti-aging benefits. As Sivak explains, both ingredients are senolytics, which selectively eliminate senescent cells (cells that accumulate in aged skin and potentially drive the functional deterioration that characterizes aging skin) and could treat and prevent various age-related diseases.