2013: A Face Odyssey

Caelia Corse

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It starts in your 30s. It’s the decade you’ll cop a three-drink hangover from the pinot you’ll confidently select from the wine list.

It’s also the decade when your skin’s collagen and elastin production starts to slack off. Those laugh lines that crinkled the corners of your eyes in your 20s? They’re setting up permanent residence now, even on your best poker face. And slower cell production means drier, duller skin.

The good news is, while you can’t stop the clock, you can have a say in your face’s future. You can even dodge your genetic inheritance to an extent.

“Genes are no longer the only determining factor in the ageing process. In fact, only 30 per cent is determined by your genes, and 70 per cent is directly related to lifestyle factors,” says aesthetic plastic surgeon Dr Vincent Giampapa.

And research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals that the more healthy boxes you tick – not smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, controlling stress and a nutritious diet – the greater the benefit when it comes to ageing. Add a few kick-arse skincare products, and you can be the architect of your face’s future, starting today. These four internationally renowned experts tell you how...

The Father Time of Facial Ageing

Dr Vincent Giampapa is an Aesthetic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

Accept your “skinheritance” “You can’t change your skin tone, your colouring is genetic. But you can increase the luminosity of your skin and decrease the ageing appearance of pigmentation and fine lines by limiting your exposure to harmful UV rays and pollution. And if you’ve inherited strong facial bones, high cheeks, a strong jawline and a long neck – rejoice. These physical traits all age well.”

Ditch processed foods “The inevitable result of a poor diet is poor gene activity and early ageing. Constant elevation of blood glucose levels (caused by eating highly processed, high-carb foods) causes glycation, which changes your ratio of collagen and elastin, resulting in wrinkles. It can also affect facial skin tone, making you look older than your years.”

The UK’s Number-one Facialist

Tracy May-Harriott is the Priori International Training Director and a beauty therapist with 25 years’ experience.

Ditch dead skin “Imagine your skin is a piece of toast. If you burn your toast and try to butter it, the butter will just sit on top. But if you scrape the burnt bit off, the butter will spread and sink into the bread. It’s the same with exfoliation. You have an average of 80 to 130 layers of dead skin cells. No matter what skincare product you buy, it can’t penetrate the surface unless you get rid of the dead skin on top.

That’s why exfoliation is key, and you can do it by using products containing AHAs (like lactic and glycolic acid) at home, or getting professional chemical peels in salons. Don’t fear peels. Find a qualified therapist who uses a reputable skincare brand. When done properly, there should be no downtime, you can be in and out in your lunchbreak.”

Know your UV “Eighty per cent of age-related problems with the skin come from sun damage. You need a broad-spectrum product that will protect the skin from UVA and UVB. And you need to wear it every day, inside and outside, as even UVA rays that pass through windows and are emitted from computer screens are degenerative to your skin.”

The Skin Shrink

Dr Amy Wechsler is a dermatologist, psychiatrist and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection.

Relax “Overproducing the stress hormone cortisol is a recipe for premature ageing. Cortisol breaks down collagen, leading to wrinkles. It also causes inflammation in the sebaceous glands (aka acne) and increases transepidermal water loss causing dryness and sensitivity.”

Get busy “The endorphins and oxytocin released during sex create molecules in the body that help repair our skin, increase cell turnover and reverse the ageing process. How? Endorphins and oxytocin help repair the damage that cortisol causes by shifting the balance towards repair, meaning fewer wrinkles and less acne.”

Get your beauty sleep “The average thirtysomething woman needs seven-and-a-half to eight hours’ sleep a night, on a regular basis. Cortisol is at its lowest during sleep, while endorphins and growth hormones are at their highest, meaning our skin repairs better while we’re catching zzz’s.”

The Holistic Healer

Dr Karen Coates is a practising women’s health doctor and lecturer at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, QLD

Feed your face “Dropping processed carbs and increasing your intake of high-antioxidant foods such as leafy greens, purple foods (beetroot, purple carrots, berries) and adding oily fish to your diet will promote anti-ageing. There’s a particular omega fatty acid called omega-7; it’s used topically by high-end cosmetic houses as a potent anti-ager, and oily fish is a great dietary source.”

Manage anxiety “Anxiety sufferers look older. Research has revealed anxiety accelerates the ageing process from the DNA up. Scientifically speaking, stress shortens the telomeres [sections in your chromosomes] that tell us to make [the antioxidant] glutathione, making us more prone to more oxidative stress. On your face, this means more pigmented skin, broken capillaries and fine lines.

Anxiety also affects the way you absorb nutrients, so even with a good diet you can find yourself low in nutrients like zinc, essential for skin health. Moderate exercise is great for managing anxiety, but don’t overdo it; this will raise cortisol levels and contribute to ageing.”

Be sun sensible “Sunburn damages collagen, it creates scar tissue [think: fine lines, pigmentation and photo-ageing] that’s virtually irreversible. And like giving up smoking – it’s never too late to stop sunbaking or start wearing SPF.

Think of it like this: if you burn your finger only three times, the scar won’t be as bad as if you burn it 10 times. Saying that, sunshine is not a bad thing and is necessary for good vitamin D levels. Enjoy safe sun. Just protect areas like your face, hands, neck and decolletage with SPF.”