Unfortunately the nature of the beauty and cosmetic industry is such that for some trying to find the best and most cost-effective treatment can be a hazardous and expensive journey.
The aim of this report is to give you some useful pointers that will inform you how best to look after your skin both now and for the future – I hope it helps you achieve that.
by Dr John Tanqueray
What is Ageing Skin?
Most of the effects that we put down to ageing are really caused by the accumulation of exposure to ultra-violet light over the years. With each episode of sun exposure there is damage to collagen. The skin cells attempt to repair this but never achieve 100% success so some collagen loss inevitably occurs.
What we all call ageing skin should really be thought of as sun-damaged skin.
Effects of sun damage include:
- Dry, rough, thin wrinkly skin
- Pigmentation spots – lentigo, melasma
- Increase in threadveins
- Loss of collagen leading to skin becoming thin and lax
- Increased risk of skin cancers
Top Tips for Healthy Skin
TIP no. 1 – USE A SUNSCREEN REGULARLY
You need to use a sunscreen that protects against ultra-violet light, both UVA and UVB, and ideally a factor 25 or more.
Apply plenty of sunscreen, and reapply every few hours, especially if you are sweating or are in and out of water.
The good news is that using sunscreens effectively not only protects your skin from further damage but also encourages it to repair and improve.
TIP no. 2 – AVOID SUN EXPOSURE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY
UV rays are at their peak and therefore at their most damaging between 12.00 midday and 2.00pm, so try and avoid the sun between these times, especially if you are in a hot climate.
TIP no. 3 – WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
Cover your skin with clothing and use a wide-brimmed hat. Remember that some fabrics, especially loosely woven ones, do not offer much protection.
Over a one-year period 80% or more of our total sun exposure occurs during our summer holiday, so this is the time to be particularly aware.
Sorry if the first few tips seem a little boring – I make no excuses for that as they are the most effective (and cost-effective) ways of avoiding skin damage.
TIP no. 4 – AVOID SMOKING
Smoking accelerates ageing of the skin, leading to dry “lifeless” skin and increased wrinkles. It also reduces blood flow to the skin, depriving it of essential nutrients and preventing skin repair processes, so damaging collagen and elastin fibres that are responsible for giving skin its strength and elasticity.
If you find this difficult it is very likely that your GP surgery will offer additional support, advice and medication if necessary.
TIP no. 5 – WASH SKIN GENTLY
Use warm water and limit your time in a hot bath. Hot water removes natural oils from the skin – limit time in the bath to 15 minutes and use warm rather than hot water.
Avoid strong soaps, which can strip oil from the skin leaving it dry and vulnerable. Use mild soaps.
Avoid irritating additives such as products with perfumes, essential oils and dyes. These can irritate sensitive skin and may trigger an allergic reaction.
Often one of the first things our new clients tell us is that they don’t deserve to have issues with their skin because they “moisturise regularly”. Probably most people would say that moisturising is the most important aspect of good skincare. Is this true?
Here’s a clue – there is no moisturiser in our leading range of prescription skincare, and we see impressive results…
What’s wrong with cosmetics?
Skincare products bought across the counter can be expensive and still be ineffective. Remember that most of what you are paying for is spent on advertising and packaging, and often the ingredient cost is mere pennies. Just because something smells good or feels nice doesn't mean it will do anything for your skin.
Unfortunately the old adage “no pain, no gain” applies well to effective skincare. Active ingredients, or the carriers necessary to help them penetrate, can cause some skin irritation while the skin adapts – retinol, tretinoin, hydroquinone and vitamin C all being good examples. In general manufacturers of products sold in stores are not equipped to deal with side-effects and can’t risk potentially upsetting their customers, so might prefer them to see little or no result rather than risk side-effects.
TIP no. 6 – CONSIDER PRESCRIPTION SKINCARE
PRESCRIPTION SKINCARE IS EFFECTIVE
So often we see clients who have found that nothing they have applied to their skin has worked, and therefore assume that nothing works. Often they change their minds on this within 2 weeks of using appropriate skincare products, and will then stay with their new treatment long-term. The improvement is noted by other people – we commonly see family members asking for the same as their daughter/sister/mother when they've seen the effects that good skincare can have.
Prescription skincare has to be offered under medical supervision, and is ordered by us through a pharmacy.
You can see the following effects, some within 2 weeks, some within 6-9 months:
- Reduction in pigmentation
- More even distribution of pigmentation
- Fresher, brighter, smoother skin
- Reduction in fine lines
- Firmer skin
- Fewer breakouts of acne spots
- Reduction in future risk of skin cancers
SKIN PENETRATION OF INGREDIENTS
Since the main purpose of the skin is to act as a barrier to keep things out it is not surprising that it can be very difficult to formulate skin creams in a way that allows the active ingredients to penetrate. This is one key reason why so many products are ineffective: even is they include effective ingredients they will not be effective if there is not adequate absorption. In fact there have been studies showing that inappropriate formulations can actually cause harm to the skin.
As well as using the best products there is another way of enhancing absorption:
TIP no. 7 – USE A HOME ROLLER
Using a home roller, such as Dermaroller®, can increase absorption into the skin by over 200%.
Using a home roller twice a week is a great way of getting the maximum benefit from skincare products such as vitamin C serum.
THINKING OF HAVING COSMETIC TREATMENT?
Cosmetic treatments can make a great difference to your appearance and confidence, and contrary to popular belief (and against the evidence seen all too frequently on television and in magazines!) can look completely natural when the treatment is chosen carefully and carried out sensitively. Very often a subtle change can make a big impact – we are believers in the maxim “less is more”. Treatment that is performed sensitively will attract a comment like “You’re looking really well” or “You’re not looking tired any more ” The last thing you want to hear is “What on earth have you had done?”
TIP no. 8 – CHOOSE CAREFULLY WHEN THINKING OF HAVING COSMETIC TREATMENT
When looking for a suitable practitioner remember you are ideally entering a long relationship so don’t be afraid to ask questions if it helps you find someone you can trust.
- What are the qualifications of the practitioner?
- Do you feel comfortable talking to them?
- Do they understand what you are looking to achieve?
- Are they offering you a range of options, or simply giving you the treatment they happen to offer?
- How long have they been carrying out the treatment you are interested in, and how many procedures have they performed?
- Have they informed you fully of what you can expect from treatment, possible side-effects and complications?
- Will they be easy to contact and see should the need arise after treatment?
- Do the premises and the manner of the person feel right?
- Are you talking to the person who will actually be carrying out the treatment?
Word of mouth is an excellent way of finding someone – don’t be afraid to ask your friends if they can recommend a good practitioner. They may well be able to tell you they know of somebody even if they’re not prepared to admit they have had treatment themselves (we know this happens!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and that you have learnt at least one thing you didn’t know before. If you have any questions, or would like to leave any feedback please send me an e-mail:
Dr John Tanqueray, Cosmetic Physician MBBChir, MRCGP, BACD