The thing about skin
Looking hot is not just about having a buff body. A fresh face can help you project youth and vitality, too.
With the holiday season behind us, all that over-indulgence in “sometimes” foods, alcohol and late nights have taken their toll on our skin. And don’t even mention the summer sun (for southern hemisphere readers) and the drying cold (for those in the northern hemisphere). Now’s the perfect time for some well-deserved skin rehab.
First, some facts: our skin is divided into three distinct layers. The outer layer of the epidermis functions as an evaporative barrier to maintain skin hydration and as a protective barrier against microbes, trauma, irritants and the dreaded ultraviolet light. The deeper skin layers contain collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid and provide more structural support to the skin. In young healthy skin, new cells take about a month to migrate up through the epidermis and eventually shed as part of the continuous renewal process.
The visible signs of skin ageing are caused by a combination of physiological and environmental factors, predominantly sun damage, nutritional depletion and smoking. Ageing skin demonstrates textural changes like wrinkles, dilated pores, dry and rough skin, skin laxity, pigment changes (including darkened freckles, sun spots, mottled pigmentation and dull, sallow complexion); and vascular changes with small spider veins and red patches. Precancerous and cancerous skin tumors are also part of the photo-ageing process.
Your first defense against photo-ageing are sunscreens containing both UVA and UVB protection. Secondly, regular exfoliation with chemical peels and microdermabrasion will improve overall skin function and its appearance once the visible ageing has started.
Both chemical peels and microdermabrasion are based on the process of delivering a controlled wounding of the epidermis to remove the most superficial cells, which, in turn, stimulates cell renewal and generates new, healthier skin.
Medical-grade chemical peels involve the controlled application of acid onto the surface of the skin. These acids are usually derived from various foods, fruits or plants. Lactic acid is from milk, glycolic acid from sugarcane and salicylic acid is from willow tree bark. But synthetic acids can also be used. These medical-grade peels differ from those in beauty salons by their depth of penetration into the skin: the deeper the penetration, the greater the result that can be achieved.
There can be side effects from these treatments, like redness, tenderness or itching but they are generally mild and short-lived. Actual peeling and flaking of the skin occurs with more intense treatments involving stronger solutions.
Microdermabrasion can achieve similar results but the difference is that it exfoliates the skin mechanically by physically brushing off superficial skin cells. Microdermabrasion is quick to perform and the downtime after treatment is minimal.
A course of treatments over several weeks will yield the best results with improved skin texture, a reduction in fine lines, pore size and any superficial acne scarring – as well as an improvement in any acne itself – and a reduction in hyperpigmentation (the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin). It can correct a dull complexion and help the skin look refreshed while also making your skin healthier.
Microdermabrasion and/or chemical peels can be used alone or in combination with other minimally invasive aesthetic procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers and laser treatment. Visible skin ageing is rarely the result of a single process, but rather a combination of influences. A skilled cosmetic practitioner will advise on the best approach to address your concerns and keep your skin healthy, looking great and functioning even more effectively.