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.
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.
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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).
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."
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