Londo: A year ago, I opened an email from my friend, Ellie. She’d had what she called ‘a horror moment’ in the mirror that morning. ‘I really need to see someone good who can do something clever for my face,’ she wrote. ‘What I really need is a good recommendation for someone you trust.’
Ellie is approaching 50 and has spent the past 25 years concentrating on her family and career, rather than her face.
Anti-aging: How you CAN look younger
She’s heard a good deal about Botox, fillers, lasers, and face peels, and knows certain celebrities owe their ageless looks to these subtle ‘tweakments’, so wondered: ‘Would this work for me?’ But she was baffled as to which procedures did what, and who to see to ensure she ended up looking like a better version of herself, rather than, well, slightly weird.
Why did she ask me? Because I have been writing about anti-aging treatments for nearly 20 years. I not only interview those who develop the procedures and the doctors and nurses who carry them out but have, over the years, tried hundreds of anti-agers myself. I know which treatments are reliable, know first-hand which work best, which hurt the most — and which aren’t worth the bother.
This week in the Mail, I’ll guide you through everything you’ve ever wanted to know about non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
SKINCARE TO START
I reassured Ellie there was a lot she could do with advanced skincare and ‘facials with benefits’ before she needed to consider anything more serious. Skincare can genuinely help improve the appearance of wrinkles. Dry skin wrinkles more swiftly than well-hydrated skin, so if yours is dry, and you are not already using a moisturizing serum with hyaluronic acid (HA), try one of the products on page 3 as a first step.
HA, a naturally occurring substance has a near-miraculous ability to hold on to water — each molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. HA serum vanishes into the skin, but it will be sitting there in the upper layers, preventing that tight, dry feeling and drawing water into the skin from the air.
NOW ADD VITAMIN A
The next step is to start using a cream containing a form of vitamin A, such as retinol. This kickstarts the production of collagen, the protein that gives skin its structure and elasticity and reduces the rate of collagen breakdown in the skin. Retinol also speeds up the renewal of skin cells, reduces oiliness, helps to clear blocked pores, and diminishes the production of excess pigment. These effects make skin look clearer and smoother.
WHAT ARE RETINOIDS?
Retinol comes from the retinoid family — ingredients derived from vitamin A — and skin experts are in rare agreement that retinoids help make skin look fresher. The most potent is retinoic acid (tretinoin), which is available only on prescription. (Retinol acts like retinoic acid, but more gently.) Retinyl palmitate is weaker and has the same rejuvenating effect only if combined with other ingredients, such as peptides.
The standard advice when starting to use a retinoid is to apply it twice in the first week: your skin needs to get used to it and you need to find what does it will tolerate. The twice-a-week start is vital also because it will take 72 hours to find out if it will irritate your skin. Increase to three times a week if you are fine with two.
If you find a retinoid drying, pop a moisturizer over the top. As well as moisturizing, it may ‘buffer’ the retinoid and soften its effects. Or just stop using the product for a few days.
Follow product instructions, which tend to advise applying the lotion to a clean, dry face at night and using sparingly. I suggest using it on your neck and the backs of your hands, which often need more help than the face. If you don’t already wear sunscreen, you need to, since using a retinoid may make your skin more reactive to daylight. dailymail