Health Features

Put Your Best Face Forward

No one wants to look their age, unless their age happens to be under 30. Each successive decade takes its toll, but the good news is, modern science has provided us with an arsenal of tricks. We may not be able to reverse time, but we can certainly mitigate its most visible effects.

skin quality
Peachy, creamy, smooth and glowing: that’s how our skin started out as babes. Then our perfect skin was driven off the dealer’s showroom floor, so to speak, and the depreciation commenced.

what happened?
“A baby’s skin has no imperfections and radiates the light that shines on it,” explains Dr. Richard Moore of The Lifestyle Center in Clayton. “It has what we call ‘luminescence.” But all good things must come to an end, as we are so frequently reminded. In this case, life happens.

Age mars skin with wrinkles, splotches, dry patches, lumps, bumps and sags— many of these the marks of daily life: cooking over a hot stove, walking in bright sunshine, squinting to watch a child’s soccer game. “There are two kinds of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic,” says Dr. Joseph A. Muccini of Mid-America Skin Health & Vitality Center in Chesterfield. “The aging process itself brings changes to the skin, and then there are the things we do that cause damage and the appearance of even greater aging.”

As we are constantly reminded by dermatologists, one assault outranks all others among the causes of avoidable aging—sunlight. “If you protect your skin, it will not have the extrinsic damage that comes from brutal exposure to the sun,” Muccini says. “People can look 15 to 20 years younger than they really are.”

collagen, elasticity & more
“As we age, we start to get imperfections in our skin,” says Moore. “The general aging process causes skin to lose collagen, and the elasticity is diminishing, which results in wrinkles. We get brown spots from sun exposure and enlarged pores. Some get acne and acne scarring. Those imperfections absorb light instead of reflecting it, and we lose luminescence.”

Then there’s rosacea, a hereditary vascular skin condition. “Its causes are not known, but people with it tend to get very red cheeks and dilated blood vessels,” says Moore. “If they exercise or drink alcohol, these will turn bright red.”

Melasma is another concern, affecting predominately women. “It causes brown, patchy spots and used to be considered a result of pregnancy,” explains Muccini. “It also is seen on women who are over 20 and on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Sometimes it manifests as a brown mustache of pigment or patches on the forehead or sides of the face.

different skin types
Not all skin ages the same. “Darker, ethnic skin holds up much better because it has an increased number of sebaceous glands and more resistance to the sun,” Moore says. “For people of Mediterranean, African, Hispanic and Asian descent, skin will age at a much slower pace.” One of the newer trends in skin treatment comes from Korea, in the form or fermented products claiming to improve skin. Muccini says the jury is out. “There really is no good science behind it,” he says. “The claims being made for these products are vague and ambiguous, so they are impossible to contradict.

be proactive
“People who avoid excessive sun exposure, keep their skin well-moisturized and have good genes will age much less,” Moore says. Muccini advises wearing a hat with at least a 3-inch-wide brim all the way around and applying sunscreen every 90 minutes. “And follow a decent skin care regimen,” he says, including exfoliation. “Women, in particular, would benefit from a Vitamin C serum or a protocol that involves topical Vitamin C.”

As for solutions, fillers are an appropriate solution for volume loss, says Moore. To improve the quality of the skin’s surface, patients might turn to treatments like Intense Pulse Light Photofacial. “For scarring, there is Fractora laser treatment or SkinPen, a microneedling procedure,” says Moore. Rosacea, melasma and acne have their own treatment protocols. “We can always design a protocol to help the skin take on more of its original luminescent quality

cheeks
Beauty really is more than skin deep—the softest skin can’t make up for hollow cheeks, for example. Those hollows are the result of facial aging, which causes us to lose the firmness of youth below the surface. Cosmetic experts tell us there are options.

fat you want
“Hollow cheeks are not necessarily going to happen to everyone,” reassures Carol Anderson, RN, certified aesthetic nurse specialist at Nouveau, A Boutique Medspa in Kirkwood. “There are two layers of fat in the cheeks, the deep visceral layer that helps with structure and supports everything, and the superficial, which softens contours. Hollow cheeks indicate loss in each.”

This issue typically manifests between 40 to 45 years of age, she says. “If people have had good nutrition, sleep well and exercise, it may not become so apparent,” Anderson says. “If they are outdoors a lot and don’t protect themselves from the sun, external causes will deteriorate the skin and its structure.”

Compensating for fat loss must be individualized for each face, she says. “Traditional fillers can only mimic the fat, while bio-stimulators such as platelet-rich plasma or Sculptra Aesthetic can stimulate your body to rebuild those fat tissues or fill in with a thick matrix of collagen,” Anderson explains.

The initial therapy for cheek hollowness is just that—an initial therapy, Anderson stresses. “With any kind of anti-aging filler or restructuring of the face, it is an ongoing process.”

tailored programs
Scheduling depends on each body’s innate aging rate and personal lifestyle. “Some people age faster, some have a faster metabolism that makes their body use up that filler faster. If someone does extreme fitness workouts, they might burn up that collagen and filler faster, too, requiring treatments more often,” Anderson says.

Moderation is advisable in planning a cheek rejuvenation program, she notes. “In aesthetic medicine, we see issues when people try to eliminate all the lines and curvature in the face; the patient starts to resemble a mannequin. I encourage looking as good as you can, but still looking like you.”

Even done in moderation, cheek filling and restructuring can reduce one’s apparent age by five to 10 years, Anderson says, depending on other needs the face may have. “If I put filler in your face but haven’t done anything to improve your skin quality, the result is not going to be as good. There is a cumulative effect, so you need to address all the issues. A good aesthetic nurse will put together the right program for you.

brows
While there’s no question we obsess about our faces, there is one feature that often gets lost in the shuffle: the brows. Perhaps we over-plucked them as teens or just let them go au naturel while concentrating on lashes, cheeks, lips and eyes. Either way, it’s time to take a look at why they are important—and why they just might be the easiest fix for the face.

appreciating the brows
“You can study the evolution of the eyebrow just like trends in hairstyles, makeup and lipstick color,” says Donna Marie MacDonald, an esthetician at Nicole’s of Ladue. “Culture follows Hollywood and society trends.” During Hollywood’s heyday, brows trended to the heavier side, mimicking Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe’s dark, dramatic look. “Right now it is trendy again to be a little bit fuller,” MacDonald notes.

Whether you like your brows on the skinny side or fuller, it pays to keep them groomed and give them some attention, especially with aging. “Nice eyebrows frame the face,” says Kathee Moore, an esthetician at Beauty Brands. “It is very common for women to have too much or too little eyebrow hair. Too much eyebrow can make a woman look very masculine, and too skinny isn’t nice, either.”

MacDonald says, “I suggest that people achieve good grooming to start with. Then, figure out a shape that is appropriate for your face and what your eyebrows will allow,” she says. “There are some people who have more body hair than others, which translates into how much hair you have on your face.”

Brow-trimming is gaining popularity among bushier men who prefer a well-groomed appearance, Moore says. “My male clients do it for the same reasons as women; they’re just more likely to have a lot of brow hair.

keeping it simple
Of course, everyone wants a maintenance schedule that is manageable, and brows grow, just like the hair on your head. So what is easier: plucking, waxing or coloring? And how often will it be needed? “If someone with a lot of hair wants a thin, stylized look, they are going to be getting into high maintenance,” MacDonald says. “Visits can vary, depending on the amount of hair a person has, but I’d say every six weeks would be average.”

Moore says for the simplest solution, women with full, dark hair should aim for a more natural, fuller look. “We take away as little as possible and still make them look feminine,” she says. “Because when those dark hairs start to come back, it’s not very cute.”

Thinning the brows via tweezers is about a 30-minute job, Moore says, compared to 15 minutes for individually waxing errant hairs. “The hairs will grow back just as soon with tweezing as with waxing,” she notes, “and some people cannot do waxing because it’s too abrasive for their skin.” Both treatments run around $25 at her salon.

add vibrancy
A little-discussed procedure, but one that can brighten the face tremendously, is brow dyeing. Facial hair color, like everything else on the body, can be affected by aging, MacDonald says, which is why the brows may need a boost. “As women age, their brow hair can become mousey,” she says. “It can turn grey or white and appear less vibrant.

There are some makeup techniques, as well as some salon services, like tinting, that have become a major component of my work. We can offer clients brows that are shaped nicely and have a pretty color tone so they don’t look washed out.”

Additionally, women sometimes want to change the color of their brows altogether. “If you were born with brunette, blonde or auburn hair, that is generally the color you are going to keep. But blondes can have a variety of color, ranging from dishwater to light taupe to true blonde,” says MacDonald. And then there is the trendy look of dark brows for blondes, à la Queen Daenerys in the popular HBO Game of Thrones series.

Tinting also can help change the shape of brows, says Moore. “For women who have too little brow, there are solutions. We can fill them in with different products, and some people have them tattooed in.”

In recent decades, the brows have become an integral aspect of style and grooming, MacDonald says. “You still see some people out in public who don’t have a good handle on it, but as a whole, we have become much better. Doing your brows brings such immediate gratification. In less than half an hour, you will feel prettier.”

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