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Read the description of almost any skincare product (trust us, we’ve written most of them), and you’ll see the words anti-ageing—which, as it stands, is the mutually-agreed end-goal of our ever-increasing skincare routines. With so many claims and promises out there to prevent and/or undo the changes our skin experiences as we get older, wiser and less agile after a vino or two, we’re determined to deep-dive into our obsession with ageing, and if it’s ever too early (or late) to join the anti-ageing bandwagon. We called on MECCA Skin Specialist Lucy Shaw to help.
We’re programmed to think that ageing = wrinkles, but don’t be fooled—there’s more to it. Our skin likes to show off its tenure in more ways than one—think pigmentation, marks, texture changes and dullness—so when we talk about the fight against the dermal signs of ageing, we’re talking to all of the above.
“The skin is an incredibly powerful, intelligent and self-sufficient organ,” shares Shaw. “It knows exactly what it needs to do and is incredibly regenerative. Natural ageing, however, will occur when these natural processes and repair mechanisms are compromised, slowed down or interrupted—this could be due to chronological age, stress, poor diet, inflammation, illness, lifestyle and exposure to UV.”
Skincare leaders Dr. Yannis Alexandrides (111SKIN) and Dr. Barbara Sturm believe that ageing is an inflammatory disease, an ideal mirrored by academics around the world, who have even coined the term ‘inflammaging’. It’s chronic and causes changes in body composition, energy production, metabolism, immunity and mental health. “Whilst the skin is our largest organ,” Shaw shares, “it’s always the last priority on the body’s to-do list. It’s also the only organ that is directly exposed to our external environment, meaning that it is more likely to show the effects of both the internal and external environment.”
Every single person on this earth experiences it, and other than staying active and healthy, the appearance of ageing isn’t something that can be entirely stopped or controlled—so the fact that we can do so in some capacity with skincare is nothing short of amazing (and something we shouldn’t take for granted).
READ MORE: Our most scientific skincare, explained
“My advice is that it’s best to delay and prevent signs of ageing as soon as possible,” Shaw starts. “It’s never too early to start maintaining your skin and protecting it from the external world, in particular UV and pollution. I would look to start using a targeted anti-ageing treatment as soon as you start to see changes in your skin—it has been researched a lot and they say that for a female, the appearance of ageing in the skin starts to kick in at the age of 27. For men, however, the signs of ageing traditionally happens later in life, but when it does, it’s quite accelerated and harder to target due to the way that their skin is structured.”
Biologically, the natural production of collagen in women starts to slow at around 26—so getting into a routine before or around this time will be effective in maintaining the youthfulness of your skin, helping to delay and decrease the visual signs of aging. While we love a good before and after, unfortunately the only way to see the direct difference of anti-agers is to use them on one half of your face and leave the other be (however we—nor anyone else—recommend this).
While most brands will boast prevention (delaying or avoiding the development of lines, sagging and pigmentation before they set in), there are a select few powerhouse products that offer restoration, meaning that their products have the strength to turn back the clock and eliminate agers that have already become visible on the skin. According to Dr. Maryam Zamani of MZ Skin, “pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles are the first signs of ageing in everyone. Skin is the biggest organ in the body, and using the right skincare, and you can reverse some of those signs”.
“The funny thing is that the areas we first see ageing are often the last places that we look after, specifically the eye area and décolleté,” says Shaw. “The skin in both of these areas is thinner, more delicate and in direct line of fire from the harsh effects of the sun. Once damage has been created, it is difficult to reverse, but the skin is an extremely intelligent organ, spending most of its time trying to reverse damage.”
“Topical skincare can most definitely—in my opinion—reverse ageing,” says the Skin Specialist, “but it’s not actually the product reversing the ageing, it’s your skin. All of these products and active ingredients are essentially sending messages to the various cells, telling them what they need to do to repair and reverse damage. A great example of this process is when you injure or cut yourself—a number of messages are sent to your collagen producing cells to immediately start healing, rejuvenating and repairing the skin.”
“The first thing that springs to mind to prevent signs of ageing is sunscreen. Your best skin insurance policy, a good sunscreen will never let you down” says Shaw, whose second ingredient of priority is green tea; “it’s an absolute master at preserving your skin, particularly if you live in Australia and New Zealand or are exposed to a lot of UV. The green tea used in AmorePacific’s genius product line is grown in extreme weather conditions (much like us here in the southern hemisphere) and is full of repairing, anti-inflammatory and UV/pollution neutralising antioxidants.”
Other ingredients like hyaluronic, glycolic and lactic acids, nurturing oils like jojoba, vitamin C and pretty much anything rich in antioxidants should be your first port of call to prevent the signs of aging. “My vitamin C shows a 40 percent reduction in pigmentation when used twice daily, shares Dr. Zamani. “That’s huge, that works.”
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine
We’re retinol-obsessed, and for good reason. The ultimate restorer for skin that appears aged, this miracle ingredient activates receptors in the skin to trigger cell renewal, speeding up the process to make skin more efficient, “just like a younger skin would do.” Shaw relies on retinol to “target so many of the typical ageing concerns we see in the skin, such as wrinkles, lines, sagging, scarring and pigmentation.” According to Shaw, “another targeted treatment to literally de-age the skin is to remove dead skin cells with a peel or chemical exfoliant.”
Dr. Zamani, another retinol-devotee, shared with the Memo that “if you use retinol consistently, you will not only see the decrease in fine lines and wrinkles, but skin treated with retinol will age better in the long run. There’s no question.”
READ MORE: Retinol: a user’s guide to the powerhouse ingredient recommended by every dermatologist
Going beyond the physical means of ingredients like retinol, the newest super-ingredient on the block is one that Shaw can’t stop raving about; “one product that I can guarantee will absorb deeper into the skin than any skincare product, and complements the skincare you are using is LED light therapy. LED light acts the same way as an active ingredient—it switches on receptors in your cells, much like vitamin C or retinol.” Dr. Dennis Gross, who now offers an LED light mask in his range speaks to the new-age ingredient with the same devotion; “it’s a breakthrough technology—you can’t see it or touch it, but it works in the skin like an ingredient.” “It comes in red and blue light, and both have tremendous benefits,” says the skin-saving doctor. “For anti-ageing purposes, red light stimulates collagen, building the skin so that lines and wrinkles look better. The only way to really increase your collagen levels is to stimulate your skin’s own collagen production, which LED does—it’s certified as a medical device in the US."
111SKIN Founder Dr. Yannis Alexandrides also believes in the anti-ageing powers of high-powered glutathione, “which will neutralise free radicals, improve collagen production and reverse ageing signs.” According to the space-inspired doctor, “glutathione is given intravenously to people who have poisoning from aspirin and paracetamol—it will reverse damage to the liver, that’s how powerful it is.”
Ready to stop the clock with the latest in anti-ageing technology? Head into MECCA for a free consultation with one of our skin specialists.
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