BY LISA WILLIAMS
The first step to amazing skin is to find out how yours is holding up. “Not all ageing is created equal. Depending on the complex interplay between multiple factors such as genetics, the environment, hormones and our facial structure, we tend to age differently,” explains Dr Low Chai Ling, from SW1 Clinic.
Look into the mirror: Your primary problem tends to be the one staring right back at you first. Armed with this knowledge of their top challenges, beauty writers and willing friends of SKIN tested out this guide to radically rid their faces of visible signs of ageing and prevent future problems.
1. SPLOTCHY SALLY
DEFINING FEATURES: Irregular pigmentation, most commonly in the form of discrete sunspots or patchy melasma, blemishes your complexion. Sunspots resemble big freckles and usually appear in your mid- to late 30s on sun-kissed areas of the face, upper chest and dorsum of the upper limbs. Melasma appears as a symmetrical blotchy, brownish hyperpigmentation on the face. Irregardless of the actual identity of those brown marks, uneven skin discolouration affects the way skin reflects light, and hence will cut your radiance and add years to your appearance.
WHY ME?: Cumulative sun damage over the years (yes, the first sunburn in your childhood counts to it too!) accounts for majority of the sunspots, although factors like genetic predisposition and smoking do weigh in heavily as well. Melasma is classically triggered by hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills, which explains why it occurs predominantly in women. Again, family history and sun exposure (ditto…even small doses of sun can send the already hyperactive pigment cells into a melanin-churning frenzy) will increase your risk and worsen this unwelcomed “mask of pregnancy” that’s notorious for being stubborn.
MODERN SOLUTIONS: Since UV rays worsen all forms pigmentation, sun avoidance and protection is key to regaining a clear and radiant complexion. “If the spots are relatively new, the pigmentation is likely to be within the superficial layers of the skin which makes it highly treatable with skincare products laced with ingredients like vitamin C, azelaic acid, AHA or retinoids,” says Dr Low. If your skin is more sensitive, new products such as the White Plasma uses novel synergistic brightening combinations without AHAs, hydroquinone or retinoids to target existing spots, reduce new pigment production and boost overall radiance of the skin.
“For stained in trouble spots that have been hanging around for awhile, adding on in-office treatments like Professional Peels, IPL, Pico Pigment Laser or Fraxel Light laser can help. A series of 3 to 6 regular treatments may be required.”
Read More: 5 Ways to Tackle Stubborn Zits
2. WRINKLED WINNIE
DEFINING FEATURES: Typically, fine lines around the eyes are the first to take a peek. Skin dullness and open pores are other common early changes you might notice with loss of skin elasticity. As the problem progresses, expression lines on your forehead and creases around the mouth appear, gradually becoming permanently etched in even when you freeze out on seeing your mirror reflection. Crinkly, loose undereye skin and hooded upper lids may frequently disturb your vision of staying youthful as well.
WHY ME?: With each additional candle on your birthday cake, the dermis gets thinner and hence, gets more prone to creasing with your expressions. Those born with porcelain-thin delicate skin and little fatty tissue support beneath the skin tend to take the first and worst hit, developing more and deeper wrinkles earlier. Skin dryness will magnify any fine lines. Collagen-cidal lifestyle acts such as smoking, sun tanning and sugar addiction put out the welcome mat for deep wrinkles and sagging skin, along with uneven pigmentation and dull sallowness.
MODERN SOLUTIONS: Start by optimizing your skincare regime with the wrinkle repair quartet consisting of antioxidants and SPF by day, plus peptides and retinoids by night. For a potent source, go for Special Effects, a clinical grade skin lightener with mequinol and vitamin A for the maximal strength skin revitalisation in a bottle.
“For etched in lines or widespread wrinkling, far-reaching lasers such as the SmartX laser to renew the damaged skin can help you triumph over creases and spots while giving skin a major collagen boost to ‘firm up’ your victory. Botox is another gold-standard line smoothener to target specific lines around the eyes and forehead by relaxing overactive expression muscles.”
Read More: Is Skin Lifting Without Surgery Possible?
3. SAGGY SABRINA
DEFINING FEATURES: You look bottom heavy. Jowls – often accompanied by a double chin – weigh down your face, blunting the sharp, youthful jawline definition and making you look like less approachable (think: the bulldog face).
WHY ME?: Few things are as inevitable as gravity’s toll on your skin. And those with well-padded faces tend to fall faster in response to Earth’s downward pull, although as a consolation, the ample fatty support generally protect you against premature lines and creases.
MODERN SOLUTIONS: In more severe cases, gentle Vaser liposuction combined with a mini facelift using the new silhouette threads is the trend du jour to lighten up and redefine the jawline with significantly reduced risks and recovery time as compared to a full facelift. “For those with milder sag or who are not ready for the scalpel, Ultherapy is a well-tested non-surgical ultrasound facelifting treatment to add spanx to tired brows, jowls and double chins during your lunch hour. Botox masseter is another open red-carpet secret to slim down a broad squarish jawline without surgery. Take that, ageing!
For those who want an even greater lift sans scalpel, but don’t mind tiny injections of the price of beauty, try Infinity Instalift, a facial thread lift that is meant to target sagging skin throughout the face.
Utilising 100% bio-absorbable threads that will dissolve in 3-6 months, these threads stimulate a strong supporting network of collagen matrix in its place that will anchor any resulting lift to ensure your skin stays firm, supple and ultra youthful for up to 2 years!
4. SUNKEN SAMANTHA
DEFINING FEATURES: Your skin is less supple and your cheeks look less plump – and not in a good way. “This generally begins in your 30s, but can start as early as the mid-2os for some. Hollowing in the under eye, or some flattening around the mouth are common first symptoms you might notice. As the problem progresses, sagging skin sets in and your face drops as more of the supporting pillows of the cheeks go. In more severe sinkers, loss of the youthful plumpness in the temples and buccal areas give rise to a drawn or skeletonised appearance.”
WHY ME?: Faces deflate over time like balloons, shrinking away into a gaunt, wrinkled prune as fatty soft tissue and the underlying facial bone get resorbed gradually with age. Hence, the effects show up more prominently in fine-boned women with little fat to start off with, who lack the support to hold up the skin. Rapid weight loss due to extreme dieting or illness can also cause the skin to droop. So choose carefully between your fanny and your face (and boobs).
MODERN SOLUTIONS: If you’re in your 20 or early 30s and could stand to gain back a few pounds, your skin will thank you by looking more juicy, glowing and taut on the whole.
For the rest, filler microinjections are an instant godsend to restore the supple plumpness and necessary support that’s been lost. Natural Fillers made up of skin-identical hyaluronic acid such as Restylane and Juvederm are the most popular filling option to lift the dreadful hollows and imbue a dewy glow. Other alternatives include autologous fat transfer, Radiesse and Sculptra. Due to the break down of collagen support with ageing, those in their 40s may find that their skin envelop has also lost the elasticity to tighten back up just with volume restoration alone, and might benefit from skin-tightening treatments such as Thermage as well.