With 40 being the new 30 and advances in medicine prolonging the average life expectancy of an American woman to around 81 years, it’s no wonder more and more women are striving to look their very best, for as long as possible.
And while anti-aging tricks like facial yoga, placenta face masks and intravenous vitamin drips are all well and good (or are they?), the best and most effective way of maintaining consistently beautiful skin is to get on a medical-grade, professionally-prescribed beauty plan at the doctor’s office.
“The only way to keep your skin looking young and resilient is to harness the benefits of professional treatments and medical-grade skincare,” explains Dr. Stephen Ronan, founder of Blackhawk Plastic Surgery And Med Spa in Danville, California.
“Designed to achieve real change within the skin, these are the most powerful tools available for controlling certain aspects of aging,” Dr. Ronan adds.
During the aging process, the dermis of the skin loses up to 80 percent of its thickness as collagen and elastin production decreases and the skin’s ability to repair itself slows down. The amount of hyaluronic acid found in the dermis also starts to diminish as early as age 40 and between the ages of 40 and 50, your skin will have lost 50 percent of the HA it had in your 20s.
Couple all of this with environmental influences such as sun damage, a poor diet and air pollution, and you can say a swift farewell to youthful, plump skin and hello to dull tone and rough texture. Not to mention sagging, wrinkling and dehydration. Joy.
“The good news, however, is when it comes to aging, there’s a lot within our control,” explains Dr. Ronan.
“And the easiest and most obvious way to control aging is to continually improve your natural moisture barrier with an effective, medical-grade moisturizer containing ceramides, fatty acids and niacinamide,” he adds.
This sounds simple enough, but oftentimes moisturizer is not enough. So, here are five further anti-aging hacks to try before you hit the big 4-0.
1. Don’t Be Scared Of Injectables
Injectables are up there as some of the most requested procedures in the U.S. and the right kind – when administered by the best, board-certified professionals – can be skin-changingly good. From Restylane to Radiesse and Botox to Belotero, injectable toxins and fillers are fantastic beauty tools because results are immediate and downtime is minimal. Just make sure you a) be realistic with your goals, b) start small to keep your results as natural-looking as possible and c) never be ashamed to embrace your choice to try them out.
“Injectables are safe and they do exactly what they’re supposed to do, so why avoid them?” asks Dr. Ronan.
“In my opinion, the risk is not starting soon enough, which allows wrinkles to become deeper and more permanent.”
2. Never Scrimp On Sunscreen
Studies have shown that UV radiation is responsible for more than 80 percent of skin aging. Gulp. Not only does UV accelerate the production of melanin which can cause age spots, but it also breaks down the collagen and elastin fibers by activating certain enzymes in the skin called collagenase and elastase. These enzymes control collagen and elastin breakdown and their long-term elevation (something typically found in people with prolonged exposure to the sun) results in fragmented and clumped collagen and elastin.
What does this all mean? In short, fine lines, wrinkles and patchy discolorations.
This is why sunscreen is the single most important anti-aging skincare product to apply on a daily basis. And when we talk about sunscreen, we mean professional-strength, doctor-prescribed sunscreen that works with the kind of diligence with which we watched Big Little Lies. Granted, none can protect your skin 100 percent, but meticulously wear a medical-grade, broad spectrum formula all year long and your skin will thank you for it.
3. Try A Chemical Peel
“Getting regular light or superficial chemical peels is all part of a healthy skin regime,” explains Danae Markland, LE, CMLT and VP of education at PCA Skin, the brand recognized globally as the gold standard in professional chemical peels.
“Regular peels stimulate collagen production, remove surface build-up, encourage a healthy cell turnover cycle, fade hyperpigmentation and even reduce breakouts,” she adds.
Worried you’ll end up with red, sensitive skin for days following a chemical peel? Don’t be. Thankfully they’re a far cry from the harsh, slightly painful procedures that used to be administered back in the day. Formulas have been perfected, techniques have been tweaked and a physician’s goal in 2016 is far more likely to err towards ‘gentle skin refinement’ than ‘total peel melt-down.’
4. Get Monthly HydraFacials
While regular facials might offer a relaxing experience and make your skin feel and look better for about 24 hours, the HydraFacial MD offers so much more. It can be tailored for specific concerns, suits all skin types, offers immediate AND long-term benefits and in terms of visible results? Well, it beats anything you’ll get at your high-street beauty salon hands down.
“HydraFacials offer fantastic benefits for mature skin concerns,” explains Terrie Absher, licensed medical esthetician and founder of Total Glow Wellness in Menlo Park, California.
“Regular treatments can visible lighten uneven pigmentation, smooth fine lines, improve texture and refine enlarged pores.”
5. Introduce Retinol Into Your Daily Beauty Plan
Backed by over 25 years of clinical research, and proven – hands down – to improve skin concerns such as scarring, acne, fine lines, wrinkles and discolorations, retinoids (topical vitamin A) are pretty much the superheroes of anti-aging.
Offering a whole host of beautifying benefits, retinoids stimulate the skin to turnover more efficiently and help soften it by thinning the outermost layer of the epidermis, the status corneum. They can also visibly improve the plumpness of your skin by increasing the presence of skin-nourishing glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).
Retinoids essentially work by increasing collagen synthesis and epidermal thickness and, while they only offer minor improvements on deep wrinkles like laughter lines or crow’s feet, they’re super-efficient at smoothing fine lines, reducing age spots, improving surface texture and decreasing pore size. All of our partners at HintMD recommend some form of retinoid (whether a tretinoin or gentler retinol cream) as an essential part of a successful treatment plan. Knocking on 40’s door? Then get involved, immediately.