A new haul of brawny skin products claims to plump up and smooth out complexions, but can they even come close to mimicking the effects of a trip to the dermatologist’s office? Remy Rippon investigates.
Can the new haul of brawny skin products mimick the effects of a trip to a dermatologist’s office?
Pain is a very powerful deterrent. One friend of mine in her early 40s, who recently booked in for a particularly agonising facial ultrasound treatment, found herself in a pool of tears moments after the device made contact with her skin. “I tried it again a second time, thinking I was just being overly sensitive, but again I couldn’t do it. My pain threshold must be particularly low, or that procedure is beyond painful,” she says. “But I really want the benefits of the treatment.”
Whether it’s the squirm factor, fear of the side effects, or a conscious decision to avoid the now somewhat ordinary path of non-surgical procedures – Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels – many women are looking to their at-home skincare regimens to pick up the slack. But can diligent serums and targeted creams go so far as to mimic the results of an in-clinic treatment? And when it comes to a more youthful complexion, does it have to be no pain, no gain?
“Medical skincare is the foundation of healthy skin for life,” says Victoria-based plastic and cosmetic surgeon Dr Ian Holten. “Just about the only thing skincare cannot do is replace lost volume in the cheeks and lips, and I take a very conservative approach here using radio frequency, fillers and fat transfer. But skincare always comes first.”
Thankfully, the newest haul of skincare products to hit the market takes its ‘first response’ role seriously and has upped the ante when it comes to efficacy. La Prairie has launched
“THE MASK WOULDN’T LOOK OUT OF PLACE AT A DAFT PUNK CONCERT”
Skin Caviar Absolute Filler, which forgoes needlework by targeting loss of firmness and volume from the epidermis down. Its signature caviar-spiked formulation aims to strengthen the skin’s matrix by boosting collagen and elastin all while requiring “no down time, appointments or discomfort”, says Belinda Besant, La Prairie’s regional training and events manager. “Women are looking to put off having an invasive procedure, so products such as this offer an alternative by producing results over time.” It certainly won’t match filler by inflating wrinkles like a birthday balloon, but it does smooth over fine lines resulting in a plumper and smoother texture.
While the efficiency of cosmetic solutions can’t be overlooked, Australian dermatologist Dr Ingrid Bassett says even if her patients opt for cosmetic procedures, skincare’s preventative benefits are tantamount. “Fillers and muscle relaxants on sun-damaged skin can look appalling,” she says. “And I ensure every laser and cosmetic patient is protecting their skin from the sun daily, otherwise all our good work will be undone.” Dr Holten agrees that, particularly when sun damage is concerned, his rule of thumb is marrying effective skincare with cosmetic practices: “Scientific skincare that protects the skin from the sun and repairs sun damage bridges the gap between cosmetic and medical skin conditions, including premature ageing and skin cancer. This is my non-negotiable first step in managing all of my reconstructive and cosmetic patients.”
Long considered skincare’s most hard-working ingredient – and the most difficult to incorporate into your regimen, given its instability – retinol is like a stepping-stone ingredient between slather-and-go skincare and more brawny procedures. “Even if someone still chose to go down a more invasive path with surgery, or just lasers or injectables, preconditioning the skin with retinol would allow for a better supporting skin structure and ultimately a better result long term for any treatment,” says Tracey Beeby, global education ambassador at Ultraceuticals. The brand has most recently launched Ultra A Skin Perfecting Range (a mild and regular serum, and a concentrate for preconditioned retinol users), which administers the star ingredient via teeny-tiny microparticles with a “higher retinol load capacity” to ensure it actually reaches the epidermis to pump up fine lines, wrinkles and brighten overall skin tone.
Meanwhile, skincare that effectively targets a certain area – be it crow’s-feet or laugh lines – remains a key part of any efficacious regimen in lieu of injectables. Shiseido has relaunched Future Solution LX with not only trusty staples like a cleanser, day and night cream, but also with the high-performance Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream. It’s a supercharged reparative cream – on application it feels more hearty than an all-over alternative – promoting collagen production in the areas that need it most. “It’s an intensive treatment that helps the delicate skin to thrive, and reduces signs of ageing and fatigue,” says Shiseido’s national training director Nancy Woo, noting the eyes and mouth are generally the first spots to show signs of ageing. “The skin around these two areas weakens easily due to facial movements.”
Proving that it’s quite possible to bring the doctor’s office home with you, Neutrogena has managed to emulate – albeit on a slightly smaller, more user-friendly scale – the benefits of in-clinic light therapy. The Visibly Clear Light Therapy Acne Mask treats the skin with visible red light (for inflammation) and blue light (for bacteria) to nix acne at the source. In a clinical test by Johnson & Johnson, subjects who wore the mask for 10 minutes daily showed 80 per cent fewer breakouts within a week and three-quarters felt their skin was softer and smoother. A word of warning though: the mask wouldn’t look out of place at a Daft Punk concert, so avoid answering the door during treatment.
Choosing a targeted at-home treatment to fix concerns is the first point of call, but for cases that require heavy lifting, a dermatologist’s appointment can ultimately reach a superior result in a fraction of the time, says Bassett. “For a 35-year-old with moderate sun exposure, medical skincare may be enough,” she says. “But a lifetime spent in the sun requires more serious measures, such as laser and peels.”
ULTRACEUTICALS ULTRA A SKIN PERFECTING SERUM, $132.
LANCÔME ADVANCED GÉNIFIQUE SENSITIVE DUAL CONCENTRATE SERUM, $109.
SHISEIDO FUTURE SOLUTION LX EYE AND LIP CONTOUR REGENERATING CREAM E, $199.
FREEZEFRAME INSTANT V-LIFT, $69.