Anti-Aging: The Pro’s Secrets
Forget a personal chef – if we won the lottery, we’d enlist a personal dermatologist to hover by our side so that we’d get the ultimate advice on how to treat our skin. We’d take our doctor shopping for sunscreen and wrinkle-reducing creams. And of course, we’d look to him or her for the whole truth and nothing but. Can we fix eye puffiness? Why is our face flaking today, when it wasn’t last week? Since we’re still waiting for that winning lottery ticket, we decided to go for the next best thing: we quizzed some of the world’s top dermatologists for their little-known anti-aging advice and discovered truly surprising tips that work for everyone. Jackpot.
The power of Antioxidants
These are the wonder ingredients said to protect skin cells from damage before it happens. They come with their own language (“free radicals”, “oxidative stress”). Here is how they can work for you.
• They’re extra-important for skin sinners. If you smoke or skip sunscreen, topical antioxidants should be a priority. Antioxidants’ greatest value is in preventing sin-cell damage, so have your dense barrier on day and night to fight off free radicals.
• Antioxidants come first. These ingredients work best on bare skin. Sunscreens or moisturizers should go on top, otherwise they’ll prevent the antioxidants from fully penetrating.
• They shut down sensitivity. Antioxidants have been shown to offset irritation, and they can help you tolerate anti-aging products with retinol and alpha hydroxyl acid.
• Not all antioxidants are the same.
• You can’t just count on pills. Many antioxidant supplements won’t make sin lok healthier. For example, there are two forms of vitamin E, and only one, gamma-tocopherol, has demonstrated value in pill form. It’s better to eat wholefoods, such as blueberries, and cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and cauliflower).
The power of Brighteners
Most of us focus on wrinkles, but uneven pigmentation is a real age giveaway. Here is the tips on how to treat skin-tone issues.
• Picking is a problem. It’s the top cause of dark spots, and it creates a deep injury that floods the lower layer of your skin with melanin – where it’s incredibly hard to get rid of.
• Reducing dark spots takes dedication. Over-the-counter pigmentation treatments do work, but they require patience. Apply them twice daily, and stick with them for six weeks to see the first signs of improvement – three months for a major difference. And lay off the harsh scrubs, which can worsen spots.
• Ingredients determine the degree of lightening. Steer clear of “lightening” products containing hydroquinone – an ingredient which has been banned in the EU since 2000 because of its patchy, uneven results. Treatments that “brighten” or “whiten” are different: these contain koijic acid, vitamin C and arbutin. They fade superficial pigmentation that can dull skin, and are safe to use all over the face.
• Sunscreen is key. If you don’t wear a broad-spectrum SPF30 sunscreen every single day, one 20-minute walk – that’s truly all it takes – can bring back all the pigmentation.
The power of Retinoids
Very few anti-aging ingredients have a scientifically proven track record. Here are the secrets about wrinkle-fighter, retinoids.
• Packaging matters. Avoid retinol products that come in jars – as soon as the cap comes off and air hits the formula, the retinol begins to degrade. Ideally, you want something in an aluminum tube with a tiny mouth. Second best is an opaque plastic pump bottle.
• The name matters. Retinyl palmitate and retinyl linoleat are mixed with a buffering agent to make them less irritating – so they’re also significantly less effective than straight-up retinol.
• Night-time is the right time. It doesn’t matter if a retinol product contains sunscreen – sun exposure causes the ingredient to break down.
• They’re safe for eyelids. Many women don’t’ realize that retinol eye creams can be applied directly to the lids to fight creepiness. Use them every third night; any more may cause redness or peeling.
• Breaks are necessary. Stop using retinol for two days before a trip to a location where the air is dry, like a skiing holiday, or before a flight that’s six hours or longer. Low humidity is drying, so the retinol might be more irritating. Once you’re home, wait two days to resume use.
The power of Sunscreen
We all know by now that UV is a great ager, and it stands to reason that one of America’s top skin cancer researchers would know – and care – a lot about sunscreen, one of the best bets for protection.
• The higher the SPF, the better. SPF30 or higher is the usual recommendation, even for non-beach days, and here’s why: people apply less sunscreen than they should and end up getting a protective level more like SPF15 – which is the minimum required.
• Misting can lead to mistakes. Spray-on sunscreens cover a large surface area quickly, but their speed encourages a light application that’s inadequate. To really reach the SPF indicated on the can, you need to keep spraying until it looks like a liquid on the skin (then either way for it to dry or rub it in – it’s up to you).
• Toweling erases SPF. You probably know you need to reapply sunscreen – even ones labeled water-resistant – after swimming. But you probably hadn’t heard that toweling off removes sunscreen, too. Sand also scrubs it away.
• Shade is not a sunblock. If you can read a book in the shade, then UV lights is reaching your skin. Be sure you’re protected with sunscreen.
• There’s no need to wait. It’s a misconception that you have to apply sunscreen 20 minutes ahead of sun exposure; all formulas start to work right away. I apply mine as soon as I’m on the sand, not before.
The power of good nutrition
What we eat is important when it comes to staying young. Here is the latest expert opinions on how the right diet can make you look younger.
• Cinnamon is your friend. The spice helps prevent cravings for sugars and starches, which raise insulin levels and play a role in glycation, a collage-damaging process that leads to sagging and wrinkling. Add 1/4 tsp to oatmeal or yogurt, or sprinkle some in your tea.
• Coffee can be aging. The acids in coffee beans tend to cause the body’s insulin levels to spike, triggering inflammation that can trigger deterioration of skin cells and cause wrinkles. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day. Or, better yet, switch to green tea.
• Watercress helps skin repair itself. It has more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk, and it’s also a source of vitamins A, E, K, and B6, plus folic acid, zinc, iron, and powerful antioxidants. Collectively, these help your body produce robust, healthy skin cells and fortify the skin so collagen production, cell repair and cell signaling function optimally. Aim for 2-3oz of watercress at least here times a week – add it to salads, sandwiches, omelettes or soups, or sauté it like spinach.
• Stress can be beaten. Excessive anxiety riggers inflammation, so a week before a stressful event, take 1,000mg of fish oil three times a day to fight inflammation and one B-complex pill a day to bolster the nervous system. At night, take 500mg of magnesium along with 1,000mg of calcium (these are often combined in one supplement, and they help muscles relax, which can make it easier to sleep). Stick with the program until you feel calm.
• Exercise doesn’t always make you look younger. Women who are slim risk shedding too much body fat, resulting in a gaunt look that’s aging. We don’t recommend more than 45 minutes of exercise a day; instead, exercise every other day. These women also need more fat in their diet to keep volume in their face. Healthy sources of fat include avocado and olive oil, nuts, seeds and extra-virgin coconut oil (you can add it to tea in the place of milk).