Pro advice on how to achieve gorgeous skin
Beauty trends come and go, but healthy, happy skin is always in... and there has never been a better time to be a skin care nerd. With a treasure trove of superpowered serums, plant-powered potions and high-tech hyaluronics on the market, today there are a million ways to put your best face forward, no matter your skin type.
While getting older is nothing to be ashamed of (we wear our laugh lines with pride, thank you very much), let’s be real: aging skin can be a drag.
“People come in and say, ‘I look tired even when I'm well rested,’ or ‘I look like I’m angry because of my frown lines,’” says Dr. Marcie Ulmer, a cosmetic dermatologist at Pacific Derm in Vancouver who regularly treats clients concerned with sagging skin, sun damage and frown lines. "People want to share the best versions of themselves. This may mean preserving what they have or exploring options to restore, all of which can be a part of aging gracefully.”
As we age, we lose volume in our subcutaneous tissue. Cartilage, collagen and elasticity levels start to drop off too, and repetitive muscle action causes etched-in lines. There’s no one easy fix: repairing that damage has to start from the inside out. “Even if you’re buying $300 creams, you just won’t reach the depths,”says Dr. Amanda Lau, founder of Vancouver’s Skinfolio. “The moisture just can’t get through to that live layer of your skin, which is where your blood vessels are.”
For those of us intimidated by the idea of fillers or injectables, there’s thankfully a new wave of state-of-the-art, non-invasive procedures that can treat your skin on a cellular level. Medical-grade lasers, targeted light therapies or even radio frequency can reinvigorate and rejuvenate safely in a snap, with results that look and feel fresh, natural and youthful.
“I think medical aesthetics has a bad reputation,” says Dr. Lau. “Some people think that you’re going to look unnatural or frozen, but it’s a misconception. It’s just a way to keep looking like the best version of yourself.”
We asked Dr. Lau and Dr. Ulmer to talk about the latest procedures that can help combat our most common skin care concerns.
Read on to find out how you can tackle discolouration, wrinkles and more, as well as how to care for your skin at home to maintain a gorgeous glow...
Overexposure to UV rays can cause development of extra melanin over time, which can clump together to cause visible dark spots or patches.
Solution: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment
IPL focuses on brown pigmentation (aka “sun spots") and breaks down the melanin build-up. “We pair IPL with a laser that was originally developed to help with tattoo removal, and allows your body to reabsorb the melanin safely,” explains Dr. Lau. This treatment can also reduce redness and dilated blood vessels to even out the skin tone overall... side benefits that explain why IPL is also known as a “photofacial.” “With IPL, you’re going after tone and discolouration, but in addition, patients can also see improvement of fine lines,” says Dr. Ulmer. “Over time, skin appears more luminous.”
Whether you’re blessed with frown lines or crows’ feet, sun damage, smoking and environment can affect the intensity of your wrinkles.
Solution: Fraxel lasers
These hyper-specific lasers are used for resurfacing areas of the face with wrinkles and fine lines, and are targeted at just a fraction of your damaged skin at a time to stimulate the body’s healing process. Energy in the treated areas accelerates growth of new and healthy cells, replacing old damaged ones, leaving you with skin that’s plumper, tighter and brighter. Fraxel technology can also be combined with a CO2 laser to precisely heal aging skin in delicate areas like the neck, chest and hands. With minimal side effects and downtime, expect to see results in under a week. Is it science... or magic?
Problem: Sagging skin
As we age, we lose volume, which means that skin starts to get looser and saggier over time (thanks for nothing, gravity).
Solution: Radio frequency
We’ve seen collagen pop up in a lot of external and internal treatments over the past few years (smoothie, anyone?) but stimulating your body’s own production is going to bring you the best results. “We want to generate collagen in the skin because that’s where you need it,” explains Dr. Ulmer. Thermage is the latest iteration of radio frequency technology, using RF energy to produce heat in your deep dermis. “It basically gets the cells in your body to wake up,” explains Dr. Lau of this non-invasive procedure. “It brings that luminosity.” And who doesn't want a little more of that?
Problem: Uneven texture
Sun exposure and pollution can cause the build-up of dead skin cells, but also strip away collagen and elasticity: a double whammy that leaves skin looking dull and rough.
Think of it as extreme exfoliation. A microderma-brasion machine uses a diamond-tipped wand to get right up into your pores; gentle suction collects all that dead skin and anything else giving your pores trouble. The process stimulates blood flow, increasing cell production and elasticity. “I’ve had one client describe it as a Dyson for her face,” laughs Dr. Lau. Additionally, IPL can help treat textural problem areas for a one-two punch that leaves your skin smooth and clear—so say goodbye to those acne scars and rough patches.
Day by Day: A little daily care goes a long way
“I always tell my patients: if you’re putting time and money in, you should be protecting your investment,” says Dr. Marcie Ulmer of Pacific Derm in Vancouver. In between treatments, keep your glow going with these dermatologist-approved tips.
1. Get your beauty sleep
We’ve all seen the difference a good night’s rest can make to our skin, but the way you sleep can affect your skin, too. “Sleeping on your side or face can cause sleep lines on the face and décolletage,” says Dr. Ulmer. (Not to mention that in this position, dust and bacteria on your pillow will get up close and personal with your pores.) Lay on your back, Sleeping Beauty-style, for both sweet dreams and a friendly face in the mirror the next morning.
2. Soak up that sunscreen—rain or shine
It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue-sky day or the middle of a snowstorm: the best way to protect your skin is with a daily sunscreen. (And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses, too.) “People generally don’t wear it inside or during the winter, but UVA rays can penetrate clouds and windows,” says Dr. Ulmer. “Even if you’re not getting burned or tanned, the sun can still be causing damage.”
3. Stock up on the skin care power players
Antioxidant serums are one of Dr. Ulmer’s go-to morning skincare products. Apply before your sunscreen to reap the benefits—antioxidants protect against free-radicals and defend against atmospheric aging. Dr. Ulmer also recommends a retinoid serum for your nightly routine to even out skin tone and stimulate collagen.