If you want smoother, younger looking skin but don’t want to have potentially dangerous and invasive cosmetic surgery, you’re in luck. There’s a growing natural anti-aging movement and a variety of techniques and treatments that are all natural and noninvasive. When combined with a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy and getting enough exercise and sleep) and a positive “you’re as young as you feel” attitude, they will help you look younger–and feel better about yourself.
Try these trusted anti-aging ingredients to renew skin:
Alpha and beta hydroxy acids, including glycolic and salicylic acids, are chemical exfoliants. They break the bonds between cells, which helps dead skin shed more easily – no scrubbing required. “I’m a huge fan of exfoliation because as you age, your skin doesn’t turn over as quickly, and getting rid of the dead cells is one of the best ways to make your skin look brighter,” says Kellett. Glycolic acid at professional-grade strengths can also boost collagen production.
Vitamin A and its many derivatives are favourites among dermatologists. “Anyone over 25 who has some fine lines should be on vitamin A or a retinoid,” says Kellett. Evening skin tone, reducing fine lines and normalizing cell turnover are some of the benefits that come with regular use. At prescription strength, they can also stimulate collagen renewal. “Over-the-counter creams are not as effective as prescription-grade products,” says Kellett. But she says that retinol-based cosmetics are still a great starting place, as they can brighten skin and improve its texture. Be aware that the aggressive nature of retinoids can cause irritation. It’s also even more important to wear sunscreen, as vitamin A makes skin photosensitive.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which are oxygen byproducts in the body that are caused by stress, pollution and aging. In addition to causing damage to tissue and DNA, free radicals can also break down collagen and elastin in the skin and speed up the aging process. Topically applied creams and lotions deliver antioxidant molecules directly to the skin, where they neutralize and scavenge free radicals. These molecules are derived from various sources: plant sources include black elderberry, witch hazel, chamomile, greet tea and grape seed extract. You can find these in beauty sections of department and other stores and spas. Ask your dermatologist as well. Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist in Toronto, developed an antioxidant booster serum that contains vitamin C, green tea and selenium that clients can add once or twice a day to their products before applying them. The product is available online at Kellett Skincare.com.
The advance guard
New technology is bringing these new ingredients to the forefront:
Chains of amino acids that mimic those that occur naturally in the skin are the latest anti-aging ingredients to cause a stir. With the ability to boost collagen production and strengthen the skin’s structure, they can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and repair sun damage. Peptide formulas provide a great alternative for people who can’t tolerate the more-aggressive glycolic or retinol formulas, says Toronto-based dermatologist Paul Cohen. “Plus, there’s no danger of photosensitivity from the sun,” he says.
Particles that are 1/100,000th of the diameter of a human hair allow ingredients to penetrate the skin. “It’s revolutionizing the industry by making ingredients like peptides more effective,” says Calvin Davies, president of the Canadian skincare company Dermaglow. While some groups are concerned over its safety, Davies isn’t as worried. “The skin is a natural barrier, and we’re not trying to penetrate more than the upper layers of the dermis,” he says. “There aren’t the same implications as with other technologies, such as pharmaceuticals which could affect the absorption of drugs into the bloodstream.”
How to deal with the other effects of aging
Irregular brown pigmentation of the skin can affect age evaluation by up to 20 years, according to a study conducted by P & G Beauty. So how to halt discolouration? Exfoliating with hydroxy acids can help slough off existing melanin from surface layers, giving skin a more uniform appearance. Another approach is to slow the creation of melanin. Hyroquinone, a bleaching agent available in both over-the-counter and prescription-strength products, prevents the triggering of excess pigment. The downside can be skin irritation, but there are kinder alternatives, including glucosamine (a protein complex), licorice and soy extracts.
“Every decade, you lose a couple of teaspoons of fat from your face–and it’s volume that keeps people looking younger,” says New York dermatologist Dr. David Colbert. The loss of fat and the skin’s supporting structure (which causes skin to sag) can be due to genetics rather than external factors you can control, says Kaminsky. It’s the hardest sign of aging to treat topically, but your best bet is to look for collagen-boosting ingredients that fortify your skin.
IT’S ALL IN THE APPLICATION
So how and when do you use the products in your skincare arsenal? “The skin absorbs in layers, so you should address different issues in different steps,” says Leanne McCliskie, Canada’s education manager for the International Dermal Institute. Make protection your daytime priority and leave the restorative and skin-sensitizing treatments for evening, when skin isn’t exposed to UV rays and pollution. Apply products with active ingredients (such as sunscreen) first, says dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett. “Apply sunblock and wait 20 minutes before reassessing your skin,” she adds. “Most sunblocks are rich, so you won’t need an additional moisturizer.
—From “Without A Wrinkle – Achieve Smoother, Younger-Looking Skin With Your Pick of Noninvasive, All-Natural, Worry-Free Techniques” by Ylva Van Buuren, Canadian Living Magazine, 2009.