It seems to happen overnight. Your skin is a little dryer; perhaps summer freckles and discoloration no longer fade in the fall. Fine lines and wrinkles seen in the morning start to persist throughout the entire day. The first signs of sun damage and aging will eventually affect us all. But the time to start thinking about skin protection, anti-aging products and treatments is different for everyone. Most commonly, the earliest signs of aging appear in the late 30s or early 40s, but excessive sun exposure, skin color, smoking, and genetics all factor into how our skin ages. Also, not everyone is concerned about wrinkles and the signs of aging. However, it is still important to protect the skin using broad-spectrum sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing to reduce the risk of skin cancer even if skin rejuvenation is not the primary goal. But if you are interested in slowing down the aging process, read on.
First things first: minimize sun exposure
Since the majority of the signs of “aging” such as wrinkles, brown spots, red spots and dull skin are due to sun exposure (or tanning salons) rather than true aging, the most important first step in a rejuvenation regimen is a good sun protection plan. In addition to broad-spectrum (covers both UVA and UVB light) sunscreen of at least SPF 30, hats and clothing to cover the skin are a must.
The next step: Anti-aging skin care products
The number of “anti-wrinkle, anti-aging” creams and products grows exponentially every year. A visit to the local drug or department store can leave your head spinning! With claims that seem too good to be true (smoothes even deep wrinkles in 2 weeks!), what is the best way to figure out what will work for you? In general, some of the best most scientifically-studied anti-aging ingredients include retinoids, glycolic acids, and anti-oxidants such as vitamin C and idebenone. Prescription-strength retinoids (tretinoin, tazarotene) are the strongest, most effective anti-aging products available. However, people with sensitive skin may not be able to tolerate these creams due to prolonged skin irritation and increased facial redness. If sensitivity is an issue, it’s best to have an evaluation and personalized skin care regimen outlined by a dermatologist.
Beyond anti-aging creams: a visit to the doctor’s office
Once you’ve committed to a good sun protection plan and maximized skin care products, what is the next step to help slow the aging process? The most effective treatments are available at the doctor’s office. The best treatment will depend on the specific issue. Sun spots do well with light or laser treatments and chemical peels. Broken capillaries and facial redness respond to a series of laser treatments. Grooves between the nose and corner of the lips (nasolabial folds) or lip and chin (marionette lines) become less noticeable with dermal fillers such as hyaluronic acid. Wrinkles on the upper third of the face respond beautifully to botulinum toxin (otherwise known at Botox or Dysport). When wrinkles are new, only small amounts of botulinum toxin are needed to deliver a soft, natural-looking result without the over done “frozen” look.
Bottom line: Keep looking as young as you feel
In my practice, the best way to preserve a youthful look is to combine a good sun-protection program, skin care products, and in-office treatments to deliver natural-looking results. When started at the earliest signs of aging, a less-is-more approach to treatments is best. With today’s most advanced products and treatments, there are more options than ever to keep looking as young as you feel.