The "miracle ingredient" boasted about in many anti-wrinkle cream adverts may have been found by scientists.

There are a myriad of creams and moisturisers for those who want to slow the ageing process and now researchers at the University of Reading have found that a chemical used in many creams nearly doubles the amount of collagen skin produces.

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in humans that gives skin its elasticity.

The scientists said that due to the intense competition in the cosmetics industry it is "hard to find" evidence of effectiveness of cosmetics.

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But the peptide Matrixyl, which is present in many anti-wrinkle creams, can almost double the amount of collagen our body produces, if the concentration is high enough, according to the research.

Professor Ian Hamley, from the University's chemistry department, said: "Studies like this are very important for the consumer as cosmetic companies rarely publish their work so rivals can't copy their products."

The scientists' research, published in Molecular Pharmaceutics on Monday, showed that "products with Matrixyl will have skin-care benefits", he said.

Have you come across these beauty treatments?

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  • La Prairie Cellular Power Infusion

    This wonder serum provides a protective layer over the skin, which shields it from external stress and free radicals from the environment. It works by targeting the primary cause of ageing (the loss of cellular energy) and its potent ingredients rejuvenate the skin by working with its natural renewal cycle. The only snag is that you must use this consistently for 28 to 40 days but if you follow the instructions, it promises to restore the skin at any stage of the ageing process. Well worth the hassle we'd say.. <a href="http://www.cellularpowerinfusion.com/" target="_hplink">La Prairie Cellular Power Infusion</a>.

  • 111 SKIN

    This potent 'astro aqua physics' skin care range has taken five years to develop and is the result of 20 years of research. Developed in collaboration with space scientists, 111 SKIN combines Dr. Alexandrides' knowledge of accelerating the skin's healing process with the scientists' expertise in discovering ingredients that limit the effects of environmental damage on skin - whether in space, high altitude or urban conditions. <a href="http://www.111skin.com/index.html" target="_hplink">111 SKIN</a>.

  • Nutriganics 'Drops Of Youth'

    If your prefer your skincare regime to contain natural ingredients (and without all the science jargon), head to this miracle product - a plant-based serum that contains essential skin renewal stem cells that halt the first signs of ageing. <a href="http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/_en/_gb/catalog/product.aspx?ParentCatCode=C_SkinCare&CatCode=C_SkinCare_Serums&prdcode=89333m" target="_hplink">The Body Shop</a>.

  • Fake Bake Platinum Face

    When you can combine fake tanning and shaving off the years on your skin - what's not to love? Fake Bake's Platinum Face is the world's first anti-ageing tan and contains cell renewal PhytoCellTecTM Malus Domestica stem cells extracted from the rare Swiss apple, Uttwiler Spätlauber. <a href="http://www.fakebake.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Fake Bake</a>.

  • Freeze 24.7 Instant Wrinkle Treatment

    You can literally 'freeze time' with this cream that promises to provide the same results as Botox - without the use of needles or having your skin penetrated with muscle-relaxant. The revolutionary technology releases a natural topical muscle relaxer into the skin and works from the inside out to yield a smoother, plumper, even complexion...all within minutes. <a href="http://www.freeze247.com/" target="_hplink">Freeze 24.7</a>

  • Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum

    This viper-inspired serum had beauty junkies lining up to bag this age-dying wonder, as it contains a potent concoction of syn-ake; a neuropeptide chemical that mimics the effects of a snake's venom. Why would you want to pump this in your face? The venom instantly fills out fine lines and wrinkles and makes the face look fuller, that's why. <a href="http://www.rodial.co.uk/product/prescriptions-anti-ageing/glamoxy-snake-serum/256" target="_hplink">Rodial</a>.

  • Dove Spa Anti-Ageing Supplements

    Working with the mantra 'beauty is from within', Dove Spa has created a supplement that, after five years research, has been clinically proven to reduce the signs of ageing. Packed with Omega-3 fatty oils, Soy isoflavones, vitamin C, E and Lycopenes, these vitamins all help repair flagging collagen levels, keeping skin looking plump and youthful. <a href="http://www.dovespa.co.uk/Strength-Within-4-for-99-P474.aspx" target="_hplink">Dove Spa</a>.

  • Dr Sebagh Supreme Night Secret

    A clear example of intelligent beauty, this night cream 'tricks' the skin cell's nucleus into behaving like a young skin cell - all while you sleep. <a href="http://www.drsebagh.com/" target="_hplink">Dr Sebagh</a>.

  • Nanoblur

    You know a product is pretty special when it promises to make you look 10 years younger in less than one minute. What's better is that it doesn't have any mod-cons - the Nanoblur does exactly what it says on the tin. By this we mean that it literally blurs out fine lines, flaws and blemishes with a simple dab. One of these sell every 10 seconds in the UK, so we're guessing it works.. Nanoblur's technology was originally developed to help stars look better in high-definition motion picture. Are you ready for your close-up? <a href="Nanoblur's technology was originally developed to help stars look better in high-definition motion picture." target="_hplink">Nanoblur</a>.

  • Skeen+ Regenerating Anti-Ageing Night Fluid

    Originally created for men, this skincare range has expanded into the women's market - and thank goodness it did! Another intelligent form of skincare, Skeen contains salicylic acid which stimulates skin cell renewal and repairs damaged cells while you sleep. An added bonus is that it contains a decongestant, which purges the skin creating a glowing complexion when you wake up in the morning. Genius. <a href="http://uk.spacenk.com/SKEEN/Skeen,en_GB,sc.html" target="_hplink">Skeen</a>.

Collagen is also the most abundant protein in mammals and forms a "significant proportion" of our connective tissue, according to the researchers.

This means peptide-based treatments, like Matrixyl, could be made to treat wounds and enhance stem cell research, as well as be used in cosmetics.

"Collagen-based materials have immense potential in tissue engineering," said Prof Hamley.

The research was supported by a University studentship with some additional funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

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Lisa Haynes, the Press Association's beauty editor, warned consumers to "stand by for the Matrixyl frenzy" now that "the secret's out".

"Brands often keep magic ingredients like Matrixyl under wraps so that competitors don't try and replicate or better their products," she said.

"Anti-ageing creams frequently boast about being packed full of peptides, but aren't specific as to which one.

"Now the secret's out and there's some scientific evidence for its collagen-boosting properties, women will be rushing to find out if it's in their anti-ageing potion.

"It's likely that brands with products that do contain Matrixyl start shouting about it too if the 'miracle' peptide becomes the new buzz word in beauty.

"There was a stampede at Boots in 2007 for No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum after a BBC2 Horizon programme scientifically backed the lotion. Stand by for the Matrixyl face cream frenzy."

Find out more about anti-ageing products..