The Basics of Anti-Aging

So this is a skin subject that most consumers don’t really know much about, and for some reason professionals aren’t always quick to educate them.  Well, I’m going to break it down for you, because I care about your face.

I get asked a lot by twenty-somethings if they even need anti-aging.  My answer is always an enthusiastic YES!  It’s called “anti” aging for a reason, people.  If you’ve already aged, there isn’t much you can do about wrinkles and sun spots, is there?  So, what are you actually trying to achieve by using products labeled “anti-aging?”

You want to increase your cell turnover rate.  We shall call that CTR to make my life easier.  When we, as humans, are born, our cells turn over at a rate of approximately fourteen days.  As we get older, this obviously slows down.  To have great skin that ages more slowly, you want your skin cells to turn over every twenty-eight days.  Unfortunately, if you don’t take care of your skin, your cells could be turning over at a rate as high as approximately forty days!  FORTY DAYS.  This, my friends, is the foundation of anti-aging.

The next big question is, how do I get my cells to turn over at a rate of twenty-eight days?  Exfoliation.  Getting the old cells off so new ones can form.  This is a product that should be discussed and chosen with your esthetician to make sure you’re getting the correct exfoliator for your age and skin condition.

Treatments for anti-aging are almost always exfoliators.  They may have different ingredients, but they all do essentially the same thing, just at a higher or more intense rate.  For instance, in your twenties, you can probably get away with a scrub exfoliator that’s light (like Daily Microfoliant), but in your thirties or forties might need to switch to a stronger chemical based exfoliator that features glycolic acid (like Complete Reform).  Again, there are a ton of options out there, so it’s best to get with an esthetician to find out what will work best for you.

Another aspect we focus on with anti-aging products is hydration.  You must keep your skin properly lubricated to keep it at its healthiest.  This is why those with oily skin types typically age better, because they are always naturally lubricating their skin.  In other words, if you’re a normal or dry skin type, you really must focus on hydration.  There are great masks on the market that you can do weekly, and you want to look for ones that are creamy and feature ingredients like Vitamin C or other antioxidants.  Intense hydrators like shea butter are also great ingredients.

And finally, stay out of the damn sun!!!!!!  Seriously.  In my professional opinion, sun spots age people more than wrinkles do.  Use sunscreen every single day.  I have seen more sun damage on the left side of people’s faces just from driving in their cars to work five days a week.  Of course, most of your sun damage is done before age 18 (up to 80%) so please, if you care about your children, slather them with SPF until they are 18 and can decide for themselves what to do.  It’s the greatest gift you can give them.  Well, other than unconditional love and a sense of self-worth and all that crap.

If you are in your forties or fifties and you’ve discovered your sun spots are coming out, get yourself a product with hydroquinone.  It’s an FDA approved ingredient for actually lightening pigment.  You can get it over the counter at up to 2% or prescribed for a product that will work much faster.  And yes, it does actually work with continued use.  (There is a difference between BRIGHTENING and LIGHTENING but that’s probably a whole separate post.)  I have personally seen clients get results with Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum but you must follow the directions to a tee.

I think that covers it!  If any esthies have anything else to add, please do so in the comments, and if you need a recommendation for an esthetician you can always ask me (of course if you’re from San Antonio or Champaign only.)


How To Start Your Skin Regimen

It can be really confusing going into a store like Ulta or Sephora, or even a spa, and trying to decide which products you need and which ones you don’t, and is this lady selling you something necessary or a product totally not right for your skin?  To get started, you really need to use four products when you do your routine.

Before we get started, let’s be clear about the fact that you should be cleansing twice a day unless your esthetician advices only once (which would be rare, honestly.)  Morning and night, pretty simple.  Here is something you may not know: you need to double cleanse.  Essentially cleansing twice, back to back.  The first cleanse takes off excess oil and grime so that when you do your second cleanse the cleanser can actually do its job.  And yes, you should be doing this both morning and night, though night time is most important if you’re stingy.  And finally, I already wrote a post on the importance of finding out your skin type — which you can read here if you missed it — so make sure you already know this info before buying your regimen.

Okay, now to the good stuff!  I’m going to list them in the order in which you should be doing the steps.

1. Cleanser  Obviously this is where you’ll be starting, and it’s important this is suited to your specific skin type.  I really like an oil based cleanser for your first cleanse, because the oil removes make up and your natural excess oils much better than a typical cleanser.  That is an additional cost however, and completely up to you to decide financially if it’s worth it.  Otherwise, you can just use your regular cleanser twice in a row.  Or you can even use olive oil (which is oftentimes the active ingredient in most oil based cleansers) and just rinse it off.  It will come right off when you do your second cleanse.  

2. Toner  There is a lot of confusion out there as to what a toner actually does, and most people think they know its purpose, but really have no idea.  Toner balances the pH of your skin.  You want a good balance because that is the condition in which your skin will be healthiest.  Your skin will look brighter and you will most likely break out less often.  This is also going to make products you leave on your face work better because your skin is in optimum condition.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all used that Clinique toner, that you put on a cotton ball and it sucks your skin dry.  Please, don’t.  Throw it in the trash if you aren’t an oily skin type.  When you’re picking out a toner, choose one that is for your skin type, is hydrating, or is anti-aging and full of antioxidants.  Most toners that aren’t targeted towards oily skin types or acne are spray toners, so just a spritz and you’re good to go.  Let that dry and move on to the next step.

3. Exfoliator  I’m going to start off by saying this step can be switched with step two if it’s not something you leave on (this will make sense in a second.)  There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical.  Chemical is something that you leave on (so it would be used after a toner) and have active ingredients like glycolic acid or lactic acid.  A mechanical exfoliation is when you use a scrub or something like a Clarisonic.  Again, this needs to be targeted towards your skin type and skin care goals, and always follow the directions on the packaging or given to you by your esthetician.  A favorite of mine is Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant because it’s something even I can use (I’m a normal/dry skin type) on a daily basis, and it removes dead skin.  You can check it out here.  If you want a chemical exfoliator, I like Murad’s Complete Reform which you only use at night time and make sure to cleanse off in the morning.  Why do you need to do this?  Exfoliating is going to accelerate your cell turn over rate, which is a key factor in anti-aging.  You want your cells to turn over every 28 days, and if you aren’t exfoliating at all your skin cells may be turning over every 40-45 days.  Only exfoliate once per day at the most, and don’t use exfoliator if you’re on a prescription skin medication like accutane or adapalene.

4. Moisturizer  You need to use this even if you’re the oiliest person alive.  When you cleanse, you’re stripping your oils.  If you don’t replenish what you just took out, your sebaceous glands (oil glands) freak out and overproduce, and can actually make you MORE oily.  If you’re a drier skin type, you probably already use this.  There are tons of moisturizers out there, so make sure you choose the right one for your skin.  I also suggest using one that has SPF in it, that way you don’t have to think about applying it if you’re just going to work or running errands.  You know what ages you worse than wrinkles?  Sun spots.  Oh, and you can use a thicker moisturizer at night since your skin is repairing itself while you sleep.

My next skin blog will be about anti-aging, so keep a look out for that in the next two weeks.  Any questions, email me or comment here.



© Carli Garrison and cllgarrison, 2014

Knowing Your Skin Type Can Clear Up Your Skin

The one thing you think you know, but probably really don’t, is your skin type.  Your skin type is what you are BORN WITH, it will never, ever change, and it can be oily, normal, dry, sensitive, or combination of any of the above.  A professional skin therapist (or esthetician) can tell you what your skin type is based on the size of your pores.  That is the ONLY way to know.

I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve heard it before: “I’m so oily all of the time! I know I’m an oily skin type.  Plus, I break out all of the time!”  You couldn’t be more mistaken.  Of course, there are people who actually are oily STs, but a majority of people who have oiliness are not an oily skin type, but are experiencing specific skin conditions (which can change) based on what they are doing to their skin.  All estheticians have clients who started using things like Proactiv waaaay back in high school because they were having “acne” and decided to try it out.  It made the “acne” go away and they have used it ever since!  The problem here is that most people using Proactiv (active ingredient benzoyl peroxide) don’t NEED to be using such harsh chemicals.  In my opinion, the only people who should use benzoyl peroxide are the few people with stage IV cystic acne or used as a spot treatment for hormonal cystic zits most women experience on their chins.  Most papules and pustules can be treated with salicylic acid.  So what happens when you are really a dry skin type and you use harsh chemicals on your face?  You produce more oil.  Essentially, your oil glands freak out that you’ve just taken away all the precious oil they’ve just created, and they make more in excess.  Or you’ll dry out completely like a dried up sponge.

The point is, find out your skin type!  Then you can use products actually made for your skin and specific skin conditions.  I would suggest seeing an esthetician to get a good regimen going, but find someone you trust.  If you really don’t believe what they tell you your skin type is, get a second opinion, or a third!  If you’re nervous about getting facial treatments, I suggest getting skin typed by an esthetician at Ulta, because they will do it for you for free and can help you choose products based on your skin care goals.  They also have reasonably priced facials there, and use dermalogica, which are products I really like.

If you have any questions, don’t be scared to ask in the comments section.


© Carli Garrison and cllgarrison, 2014.