Everything you need to know about your skin’s natural renewal process and how you can boost it – so you can have smoother and younger-looking skin.
Fend off fine lines
THE STORY OF WRINKLES
Where do crow’s feet, forehead furrows and laugh lines come from? The secret to preventing them is to know how they form. First up, the building blocks of healthy, youthful-looking skin are collagen, which gives skin firmness; elastin, responsible for elasticity and ‘bounce’; and glycosaminoglycans (also known as GAGs), which keep skin hydrated and plump.
From the age of 25, we start producing around one per cent less collagen per year; elastin production slows; and our skin thins and becomes more fragile. This is where ‘intrinsic’ ageing is inevitable but subtle. The real changes occurs as a result of extrinsic ageing, which is primarily the result of environmental and external damage. This might be a combination of lifestyle habits (too much alcohol, poor diet or cigarette smoking), UV damage and exposure to pollution. All of these factors cause a down regulation of collagen and elastin production within the dermis, and this resultsin sagging skin and wrinkles, along with brown spots, dryness and uneven skin tone.
What you can do
It’s all about prevention – and it’s never too late to start. Shield your skin daily with a good SPF 50+ sunscreen, add an antioxidant, such as vitamin C serum, to bolster protection from UV rays and free radicals, plus try the following tricks to power up your collagen stores:
1. reach for retinoids
Retinoids are vitamin A that include retinol and retinaldehyde (available over the counter) and trenitoin (a prescription medication). Scientifically proven to assist skin cell regulation, retinol is one of the most powerful topicals for preventing early signs of ageing, as well as helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and discolouration. Retinoids are perfect for assisting the skin’s natural renewal process, especially for sun damage. They promote collagen production, improve cellular turnover and also slow collagen degradation in the process.
2. Peptides on top
Many studies have found that peptides improve the appearance of photo-damage, so these are essential for your skincare regime. Peptides are composed of amino acids, which can imitate the building blocks that make up collagen and elastin. Some peptides have also been shown to stimulate collagen and elastin production, which is perfect when we are targeting fine lines in the skin.
3. Lasers have perfect focus
Laser therapy works by heating the cells that produce collagen (the fibroblasts), thereby speeding up production, and also heating the collagen to ‘shrink’ it and make it tighter. This kind of laser is called non-ablative, as there is no removal of skin surface. The perfect thing about non-ablative laser is that it works from the inside out. Most people need around three to six treatments to really start to notice a difference, but this does depend upon how many wrinkles you have and also how deep they are. Lasers are generally best suited to people with a fair to medium skin tone.
4. You are what you eat
Polyphenols in green tea, as well as Lutein – a carotenoid in leafy greens, broccoli and peas – can inhibit the natural enzymes that break down collagen. Phytonutrients in orange and yellow vegetables and fruits – think oranges, pumpkin, carrots and capsicums – help improve the skin brightness. Anti-oxidant fruits – raspberries, pomegranates, blueberries – contain a natural phenol called Ellagic acid. This antioxidant has been found to reduce collagen down regulation in animal studies, which is really promising.
STAYING SPOT FREE
PIGMENTATION is mainly caused by the sun. As UV rays hit your skin they switch on an enzyme called tyrosinase that lives in your pigment-producing cells. These cells (called melanocytes) kick into action, creating pigment which travels to the top layers of your skin. Once dark spots have taken up residence, they’re constantly replaced by new pigment (sort of likea stubborn conveyer belt of sun-spot delivery), which is why fading them is such a tricky task.
What you can do
There are a few effective ingredients and self-care management regimes that you can try to slow down your face’s pigment producing cells.
1. Use Vitamin C
Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin c, aka ascorbic acid, improves skin texture and tone, boosts collagen production, brightens the complexion, fades dark spots and helps fend off photo-ageing due to sun exposure. I recommend using this every morning to help reduce the effects of the sun, since vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant, but it also helps to brighten the skin, too,
2. Give Niacinamide a go
Also known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works to help visibily improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone and fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin B upregulates cell metabolism and renewal. The amazing thing is that at a low concentration of just 5%, the elasticity of the skin will improve, whilst there will also be a noticeable reduction in redness, irritation and pigmentation.
3. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
Pigmentation usually lies in the top layers of the skin, so a good exfoliating product or treatment can reduce the appearance of sun spots. You have two options: manual exfoliation, using a scrub or cleansing brush; or a chemical exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy-acids (also known as AHAs), such as glycolic or lactic acids, which gently dissolve the bonds that hold the dead skin cells together. Go easy on exfoliation, or you will suffer skin sensitivity as that outer layer needs time to replenish. – give yourself a gently exfoliation only once a week.
4. Wear sunscreen
SPF50 is essential. The cells that produce pigment are called melanocytes and become active as a result of exposure to the sun. So wearing SPF shields the skin, so that the melanocytes don’t fire up, and this is important even on overcast days. It is estimated that up to 80% of the damage to our skin that makes us look older is caused by UV exposure. Even if you don’t burn, the rays responsible for ageing cut straight through windows and clouds. The good news is it’s never too late to start protecting yourself.
5. Fight pigment with light
The easiest and most effective option for age spots is Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL. Light targets the pigmented spot (usually brown in colour) and destroys the pigment. The spot will usually become darker (this is expected) and then the spot will eventually slough off after about one week. The spot usually needs another few treatments to diminish further. Throughout treatment, SPF is a must to help the IPL target the pigmented spot, and also to reduce the chance of further pigment.
Why does skin sag?
Well gravity has a big part to play, but there are a number of other things going on too. Your facial skeleton becomes less bulky, the fat pads shift and change, and the skin itself becomes more stretchy with less recoil due to the loss of collagen. Sounds good, right?!
What you can do
The absolute best thing you can do feed your skin, and what I mean by that, is use amazing topical products that help to nourish your skin. But if you really want to up the ante, and tighten and tone, cosmetic injectable and certain dermal treatments can really make a difference.
1. Firm with fillers
To fill lost volume in your face – especially the dreaded nasolabial folds, or marionette mouth lines, a cosmetic injector (Dentist, Doctor or Nurse) can inject one of the many different types of hyaluronic acid (HA) filler on the market. Each filler has a number of properties that make it suitable for different layers and areas on the face, which in turn determines the expected longevity or life-span of the product. When we inject HA, our skin begins to look younger again because the amount of water naturally held in the skin increases. This means that the cells communicate better, carry nutrients to the skin surface better and also lose waste more efficiently. Just make sure that you go to a trusted cosmetic injector, as the results you achieve are very dependent upon the skill and abilities that they possess. A good indicator is to look at the injectors face and that of their staff. You want to be in experienced hands where you have an idea of what they consider a good result.
2. The heat is on
Non invasive treatments like radiofrequency and High Intensity focused Ultrasound (HIFU) use intense heat energy to induce contraction of the skin, tightening its overall appearance. Dr D’Anna says that ultrasound can penetrate deeper than radiofrequency, so technically will give a better result. Both treatments can become quite intense as the treatment progresses and a little uncomfortable, but well worth the result that they achieve. An alternative treatment optionis Venus Viva radiofrequency treatment. It provides a treatment that is similar to that of a fractional laser treatment, but also sends radiofrequency heat energy down into the skin, which means we get rid of surface blemishes and wrinkles with the fractionated part of the treatment, but we also tighten the skin deeper down, too.
Thanks for reading!