There are many ways to make your­self look ra­di­ant – and not all of them come in a jar

“BEAUTY IS THE ONLY thing that time can­not harm,” wrote Os­car Wilde. He is right. Of course he is. Age­ing is just a state of mind. Truly. Ex­cept for those rare times when you look in the mir­ror and won­der if the ex­pres­sion “age­ing grace­fully” isn’t just a tired old oxy­moron. Watch­ing your face ma­ture isn’t al­ways the most ful­fill­ing of spec­ta­tor sports.

So what to do? The truth is that beauty can be bought. Should you have the money, pop over to the Cen­tre for Ad­vanced Fa­cial Cos­metic and Plas­tic Surgery in Lon­don’s Har­ley Street. There, your fea­tures will be com­puter mapped ac­cord­ing to the Greek golden ra­tio of beauty phi and then nipped and tucked to per­fec­tion. Thanks. But no thanks. Re­shap­ing your fea­tures based on an ex­act and an­cient equa­tion for de­ter­min­ing beauty is just a bit too Step­ford Wives. The aim is to look like you – only slightly glossier than you did when you woke up this morn­ing. Here’s how:

Shine up that smile

A good den­tist has be­come as es­sen­tial to cos­metic beauty as a skilled fa­cial­ist. Laser whiten­ing, ve­neers and crowns, den­tal im­plants, resin com­pos­ites (sim­i­lar to ve­neers) and al­ter­na­tives to amal­gam fill­ings are now com­mon­place. So too are spe­cial­ist aes­thetic den­tal prac­tices such as Auck­land’s The Tooth Com­pany, which can cor­rect any­thing from ugly fill­ings and dis­coloura­tion to ir­reg­u­lar gum lines and bro­ken or miss­ing teeth.

Teeth sorted. How about the lips? Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts there are seven key sig­na­tures to the per­fect pout that na­ture ei­ther pro­vides or ap­pear­ance medicine can im­prove on. Th­ese are: a well-de­fined lip bor­der; a Cupid’s bow; an ab­sence of lines around the mouth; sym­me­try of the bot­tom lip; bal­anced pro­por­tions of top and bot­tom lips; lips that are smooth in tex­ture and even in colour; and a lack

of droop at the cor­ners of the mouth.

“But mod­ern ap­pear­ance medicine isn’t about im­pos­ing a one-size-fits-all so­lu­tion,” says Dr Teresa Cattin, a cos­metic physi­cian whose FaceWorks clinic spe­cial­izes in a range of fa­cial re­ju­ve­na­tion tech­niques. A past pres­i­dent of the New Zealand Col­lege of Ap­pear­ance Medicine, she says “per­fec­tion” is rarely the end goal. The best use of cos­metic in­jecta­bles such as Bo­tox and der­mal fillers like Juve­d­erm is to en­hance rather than change.

“Think soft­ened and re­freshed rather sig­nif­i­cantly al­tered,” she says. “The top prac­ti­tion­ers make sub­tle ‘tweaks’ – they don’t do any­thing rad­i­cal. The idea is to look like you, only fresher.”

Give your­self a head start

Ever gone to sleep with slightly damp hair and wo­ken to find your limp locks mirac­u­lously vo­lu­mi­nous? The vo­lu­miz­ing ben­e­fits of go­ing to bed with damp hair are grat­i­fy­ing but they are greatly max­i­mized if you lightly ap­ply a nour­ish­ing treat­ment like hair oil be­fore you hit the sack. It’s the same with the skin. Slap­ping on a hy­dra­tor last thing at night is good for many rea­sons (pre­dom­i­nantly your body is in re­pair mode and in­gre­di­ents like retinol, hyaluronic acid and botan­i­cal anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries work best when they also don’t have to bat­tle with UVs and pol­lu­tion).

But not all night mois­tur­iz­ers are cre­ated equal. Some, like Dr. Hauschka’s Night Serum, $75, have been specif­i­cally for­mu­lated to bol­ster the skin’s nat­u­ral re­newal pro­cesses while you sleep. Suit­able for all skin types, it’s a wa­ter-based hy­dra­tor that har­nesses the re­gen­er­at­ing good­ness of rosen ap­ples and is rec­om­mended for af­ter-hours use only. An­other, the an­tiox­i­dant-rich Pre­vage An­ti­Ag­ing Overnight Cream $265, is pro­moted as be­ing in sync with the skin’s sleep cy­cle, all the bet­ter to sup­port its nat­u­ral mois­ture and re­pair pro­cesses. And Der­ma­log­ica’s Age Smart Overnight Re­pair Serum, $119, is packed with pep­tides to deeply nour­ish and shore up the skin while you dance with the Sand­man.

Treat your­self to the fu­ture

Nee­dles aren’t news when it comes to beauty. Bo­tox, af­ter all, was orig­i­nally tapped for use in the 1960s. Fa­cial needling – the process of us­ing nee­dles to cre­ate a con­trolled skin in­jury – has also been around since the 1990s. But lately the use of nee­dles to help the skin re­new and re­ju­ve­nate it­self have been get­ting more at­ten­tion. For that we can blame the Kar­dashi­ans, specif­i­cally Kim. When she posted pho­to­graphs of her­self on In­sta­gram af­ter a treat­ment in which platelet-rich plasma from her own blood was in­jected into her face, the beauty world went loco. (Her face all red and blood­ied, she did in­deed look a sight.) A few years later, how­ever, and Kim’s “vam­pire fa­cials “(known within the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion as PRP treat­ments) are rel­a­tively com­mon­place.

A sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure, and one also avail­able in New Zealand, is Re­den­sity. De­signed to pre­vent and treat the signs of pre­ma­ture age­ing, in­crease skin thick­ness and boost skin ra­di­ance, Re­den­sity does in­volve mul­ti­ple mi­cro in­jec­tions but the sub­stance in­jected into the skin isn’t the pa­tient’s plasma but in­stead a cock­tail of skin-ben­e­fit­ing in­gre­di­ents in­clud­ing the hy­dra­tion won­der-worker, hyaluronic acid.

“I first saw Re­den­sity in Paris last Jan­uary at an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence and was im­me­di­ately im­pressed with the clin­i­cal ev­i­dence and sci­ence be­hind it,” says Teresa, who of­fers the treat­ment at her clinic.

“With age and sun ex­po­sure our skin thins, los­ing col­la­gen and elas­tic­ity, be­com­ing dry and dull with un­even pig­ment and red veins. Re­den­sity helps in many ways – thick­en­ing the skin, in­creas­ing elas­tic­ity and hy­dra­tion and restor­ing a healthy glow.” A course of three Re­den­sity treat­ments at FaceWorks costs from $1370.

Buff your brows

Per­fect arches make your eyes look big­ger, your fea­tures more de­fined, and your face some­how “cleaner” and more bal­anced. A well-shaped pair will cer­tainly make you look sharper (and ar­guably younger since fading colour in brows, lips and hair is a no­table sign of get­ting older). But like any­thing worth hav­ing, good brows take ef­fort.

One of the lat­est so­lu­tions for wonky or thin­ning brows is mi­crob­lad­ing, a semiper­ma­nent kind of tat­too­ing that in­volves “draw­ing” on in­di­vid­ual strokes with a spe­cial mi­crob­lad­ing pen that im­plants pig­ment un­der the skin. The re­sult is a kind of trompe l’oeil for the face. Nat­u­rally, the suc­cess of treat­ments like brow tat­too­ing and mi­crob­lad­ing is hugely de­pen­dant on the tal­ents of the prac­ti­tioner so choose yours wisely. Word of mouth (and the shape of the ther­a­pist’s own brows) are of­ten the most re­li­able indicators. Costs vary but ex­pect to pay about $500 for the re­quired two ses­sions.

Blades and nee­dles aren’t for ev­ery­one how­ever. And for those who choose to DIY, pen­cils and pow­ders are still the best op­tions. The key of course is to avoid the Sharpie-es­que re­sults of a heavy hand. First fill in any gaps with a pen­cil that’s two shades lighter than your hair if you’re a brunette or a taupe pen­cil if you’re blonde or a red­head. (Tip 1: Use short an­gled strokes in the same di­rec­tion as brows grow.) Now, us­ing a small an­gled brush go over the pen­cil with pow­der, which helps set the pen­cil and blend the pig­ment. Fi­nally, brush hairs up­ward with a clean spoolie brush to re­move ex­cess colour and soften the lines. (Tip 2: Never pluck grey­ing hairs. Tint them in­stead.)

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