They used to call skin creams "hope in a jar". These days, so much science goes into creating them that hope is now a whole lot stronger. You really can slow the skin's ageing process and, in some cases, even reverse the signs of damage. As the dermatologist I interviewed told me, today's anti-ageing treatments do much more than moisturise the skin.
Wrinkle-beating advice I asked dermatologist Dr Ken Macdonald how to get the most out of anti-ageing skin treatments. This is what he had to say:
"There is no instant fix. You can't put on a product and expect to wake up the next day with a big change. And if there is, it's a plumping up of the skin caused by inflammation.
"You've got to be serious about it for at least a year. It will take some time to notice the anti-ageing effects but it'll be worth the wait.
"There is little point in using anti-ageing products if you don't protect against the sun. New Zealanders are exposed to some of the most powerful sun-rays in the world so be sure to use sunscreen. You can undo the good effects of anti-ageing treatments immediately by going in the sun and getting burnt.
"There is no doubt that an ingredient like retinol can improve the integrity of the collagen layer and the skin surface but there's no point using things to repair your skin unless you prevent further damage from occurring. There is a lot of evidence that the right approach to skincare can give the right results."
If the damage is bad over-the-counter products have to be mild enough that they're safe for everyone to use. Stronger formulations can be prescribed by dermatologists but these must be used under supervision as not every skin type can tolerate them.
If the damage has already been done, Dr Macdonald suggests consulting a cosmetic dermatologist to see if laser treatment is right for you. He stresses that, while effective, it is a serious procedure with a significant recovery period, "and you'll still need to back it up with good skincare to really benefit from it".
The life of your skin Time doesn't age skin as badly as the sun does. Look after it, protect it from harmful rays and this is what you can expect, decade by decade:
20s In your twenties, your hormones have settled down and skin is firm and healthy.
30s In your thirties, cell turnover slows so you start to notice expression lines, especially around the eyes.
40s In your forties, oil production slows, leaving skin drier. It may also appear thinner and more translucent.
50s In your fifties, expression lines and some sagging are a fact of life but, if you've been diligent about sun protection, this will be minimised and you should have an even skin tone.
60s From your sixties, skin becomes weaker and less resilient. You can still have dewy, moist, radiant skin but you'll have to work hard at it!
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