Dermatologists say people with sensitive skin should try EGFs, a less drying alternative to retinol

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Dermatologists say people with sensitive skin should try EGFs, a less drying alternative to retinol
Valeria Blanc/Getty Images
  • Epidermal growth factors (EGF) can fight wrinkles and dry skin similarly to retinol.
  • Experts say EGFs can be an alternative to retinol for people with dry or sensitive skin.
  • EGFs work by telling old cells to produce more collagen, reducing the appearance of aging.

Anti-aging ingredients are some of the most important components people look for in their skincare products.

If you're looking to add anti-aging elements to your skincare routine are intimidated by Botox injections and get dried out by retinol, epidermal growth factors (EGFs) might be for you.

What are EGFs?

Typically found in high-end beauty products, EGFs were discovered in the 1950s by two Nobel-prize winning scientists as a way to speed up wound recovery and burns. It wasn't until the early 2000s that EGFs began making their way into skincare products, according to Allure.

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Growth factors act as signals for the body to produce specific components of skin, like collagen, melanin, and keratin, Coveteur reported.

The EGFs found in beauty products are made using stem cells, which can help rejuvenate older skin cells.

"Research has been substantial on growth factors when it comes to reducing lines and wrinkles," Kim Chang, a licensed medical aesthetician, told Baylor College of Medicine. "They also work by adding hydration and decreasing tactile roughness in the skin."

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Dr. Ioannis Liakas, medical director at Vie Aesthetics, told Refinery29 EGFs can also guard against the effects of pollution and sun damage, which both contribute to aging.

"I would say EGF is the ultimate ingredient for repair," Anna De La Cruz, an educational medical aesthetician, told Bustle.

Typically, EGFs can be found in hydrating products like serums, moisturizers, and creams.

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How do they compare to other anti-aging products like retinol?

Similar to retinol, products that contain EGFs help increase cell turnover to reduce skincare concerns like wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

However, for people with sensitive skin, daily retinols can increase dryness, inflammation, or generally irritate the skin. EGFs can be more gentle on the skin than retinols, according to Liakas.

"If your skin is too sensitive to tolerate retinoids, then growth factors can be a substitute to stimulate collagen, even tone, and decrease roughness with much less irritation," dermatologist Dr. Hadley King told Coveteur.

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But the benefits of EGFs do come as a cost, as they usually are only found in expensive, high-end beauty products.

While they aren't necessary for great skin, EGFs may be a helpful addition to an existing skincare routine.

"I see growth factor products as the icing on the cake if you're looking to maximize your skin-care regimen," dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu told Allure.

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