If there’s one thing age has taught us, it’s that gravity can be a bitch. As we get older, our skin begins to lose elasticity as a result of damage to the collagen and elastin fibers, as well as age-related changes to the fat pads under our skin. “Most of this damage is from the sun, but lifestyle factors such as smoking can also cause skin to lose elasticity faster,” says Dr. Anne Chapas, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. For many women, this signals that it’s time to reach for injectables like Botox or Restalyne to help re-plump a sagging visage.
Most of the derms we spoke with said there are very few downsides to using these types of fillers and wrinkle relaxers, provided they are administered properly and in moderation by your doctor, but we’ve seen one too many Real Housewives episodes to be down with shooting our faces up with chemicals. That’s why we asked a variety of health experts — an acupuncturist, a nutritionist, and two dermatologists — to weigh in on the latest anti-aging alternatives.
While the results might not be as drastic as resorting to fillers, they can still make your complexion refreshed, plumped, and healthy without any unnatural looking side effects. Read on for our favorite ways to give your skin the lifted look without going under the knife (or needle).
Holistic medicine has been used for eons by those seeking solutions to their ailments that don’t involve medication or invasive surgeries. Now, many women are turning to the ancient practice of acupuncture to also help erase fine lines.
“For good health of the skin and body, you need to make sure that energy is flowing sufficiently in the right direction and in a balanced nature,” says Dr. Jingduan Yang of the Tao Institute in NYC, whose patients include Norma Kamali. “When energy is blocked, it can cause all kinds of dysfunction. When your body is healthy and happy, it manifests on your face. Acupuncture is part of an integrative approach to address stress and maintain the health of the chi.”
Dr. Yang says it’s important to start young with acupuncture, not to wait until you are in your 40s and starting to see problems. Stopping that energetic imbalance before it happens will ensure your skin stays in prime condition. If you have a specific health issue, Dr. Yang suggests getting acupuncture two to three times a week for about six weeks. If you are just looking for health promotion, he advises going once a week, or once every other week. “When I treat you, I’m not just treating your face,” he says. “You come to me because you want to invest in health and wellness, slow down your aging process, and prevent disease from happening. Acupuncture is a tool for people who are looking for health and wellness, and as a result of this health and happiness, they end up looking better, too.”
Lasers And Ultrasound Therapy
Lasers like Titan and Thermage are a popular choice for those in search of immediate results. They work by delivering infrared energy into the skin to help stimulate dormant collagen-producing fibrolasts and tighten up the skin.
According to Dr. David Colbert of the New York Dermatology Group, one of the best tightening treatments on the market is Ulthera, which delivers ultrasound waves deep into the facial muscles. These waves heat up the muscles and cause them to contract and tighten, resulting in a mini, knife-free facelift. The treatment is pricy at $5,000 a session, but you only need one session and it can last for up to three years. For best results, Dr. Colbert says patients should do a tag team of Ulthera and Thermage to tighten both the muscles and loose skin.
“Many people are turning to laser treatment because the results are more gradual and can look more natural over time,” adds Chapas. “My patients tell me that they don’t want anyone to know that they’re doing aesthetic procedures and they don’t want to ‘look like a plumped up Real Housewife.’ They feel that laser procedures are better for helping them achieve this goal.”
You may love those Doritos, but they sure don’t love you. When you eat crappy foods, your skin is going to look haggard, dull, and yes, old. “Eighty percent of our immune response if reflected by our gut, and our skin is a reflection of that. The nutrients we get from our food impacts the quality of our skin,” explains integrative women’s health practitioner Meg Richichi. Just like dipping and diving blood sugar levels can cause you to gain weight, so too can all that up and down insulin age you. “When your blood sugar starts to fluctuate, your body goes into stress response and you start breaking down muscle for fuel. My philosophy is that if I can keep your blood sugar even and steady through the course of the day, you will age much more slowly.”
Also, drink lots of water because “water brings nutrients to help repair and remove toxins that damage the cells,” she says. Not sure how much you should be drinking each day? Richichi says to take your weight, divide it by two, and that’s how many ounces of water you should be drinking each day. If you work out, add an additional 16 ounces of water for every hour you work out. Finally, be sure to eat steadily and frequently throughout the day to keep your blood sugar even and avoid those spikes that cause the production of Advanced Glycated End Products (AGEs), which are what cause us to age from the inside out.
Usually found in spas or the aesthetician’s offices, microcurrent facials use safe electrical stimulations to help tense and tone the nerves and muscles of your face. There are now even some in-home options, including the NuFace, BMR Beauty Face, and Japanese-import ReFa Platinum Electric Roller.
While devotees of these treatments swear they can both feel and see the results of continual treatments, Dr. Colbert says that the tightening sensation really only lasts for a few hours. “I call it the ‘Emperor’s New Facelift,'” says Dr. Colbert. “There’s hard to find any medical research on it, but those who swear by it have been doing it weekly for years.”
BMR Beauty Face, $395, available soon at BMR Beauty.
As much as we wish there was a wonder cream out there that could magically lift and tuck away our wrinkles, the sad fact is that no topical lotion currently has that power. But that’s not to say skin care products aren’t beneficial — they are still an integral step in maintaining healthy, youthful skin.
“Most skin care products that promote lifting and tightening do so by increasing water content in the skin,” says Dr. Chapas. “Any cream that promises an ‘instant lift’ is usually just a good moisturizer that helps the skin appear more hydrated. Hydrated skin has more fullness and can appear lifted.” Keeping your skin cells hydrated is a key preventative step, so start now to stave off problems in the future.
Lancôme Rénérgie Eclat Multi-Lift, $75, available at Bergdorf Goodman; La Prairie Skin Caviar Liquid Lift, $500, available at Bloomingdale’s;Yves Saint Laurent Forever Youth Liberator Serum, $150, available at Nordstrom.
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