May 23, 2013 02:39PM
woman with mask
With aging still a largely mysterious process, current seekers of perpetual youth and beauty are urging scientists to find ways to slow or even reverse it. New tools to fight lines, wrinkles and sagging skin excite the imagination.
Today’s anti-aging toolbox is filled with promise. Tools range from at-home strengthening and refining creams to commercial treatment technologies such as cold laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), light-emitting diode (LED), microdermabrasion, photofacials, and skin tightening and rejuvenating ultrasound. Acupuncture facelifts make use of ancient Chinese techniques. Then there are the more invasive injectables, fillers and chemical peels. How do we know what is best for us?
Whatever one’s chosen tools, Hema Sundaram, author of Face Value: The Truth about Beauty—and a GuiltFree Guide to Finding It, believes that women at any age have every right to pursue the outward expression of their inner beauty. The Washington, D.C.based medical doctor and board-certified dermatologist, who specializes in cosmetic surgery, supports a woman’s freedom to choose, without embarrassment or criticism. She emphasizes the positive effects of cosmetic procedures performed for the right reasons and notes, “Restoring the balance between a woman’s inner and outer selves can transform her life.”
An at-home anti-aging regimen aimed at retarding time’s telltales and enhancing beauty lays the foundation for an effective partnership with an esthetician or dermatologist. Performed consistently, do-it-yourself treatments can help to maintain cosmetic work performed by skincare professionals. Popular, non-invasive techniques are explained here. Many take it a step further with a meditation practice designed to develop and project inner, spiritual beauty.
Gua Sha. This Chinese technique (pronounced GWA SHA) uses a small medicinal board to gently massage, manipulate and stimulate energy points along the face. The objective is to promote a normal flow of energy, or qi (pronounced KEE), and blood circulation and to remove toxins. It also supports, lymph drainage.
Gua sha activates inner vitality by stimulating both the superficial and deep muscles that control facial expression. Beauty benefits include a brighter complexion and a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, dark under-eye circles and puffy eyes. It also lifts sagging at the neck and jaw.
Hypnox. This 25-minute guided hypnotherapeutic audio recording is touted as a natural alternative to the neurotoxin Botox. Instead of paralyzing targeted facial muscles, which inhibits natural facial expression, Hypnox targets and retrains the same muscles to stop habitual frowning, lip puckering and squinting. The process is said to promote overall relaxation, allowing wrinkles to fade away.
Facercize. Muscle resistance training helps tone and enliven the 30 muscles of the face to render more youthful-looking features. Muscle fibers literally smooth out, shorten and lift the attached skin on the face and neck.
Enzyme Mask. A weekly exfoliating fruit enzyme mask gently dissolves dead surface cells and embedded impurities, while restoring hydration. Adding an organic, fruit-based peel of alphaand beta-hydroxy acids supplies an ideal boost that can result in an even brighter complexion and firmer looking skin.
Retinols. These naturally occurring forms of vitamin A are a gentler, over-the-counter version of retinoids. They likewise promote healthy cell renewal and collagen production.
Gentle Microdermabrasion. Athome microdermabrasion kits work to reduce the visibility of pores and fine lines. Many come with battery-operated brushes, aluminum-free scrubs, balancing toners and moisturizing serums; look for natural ingredients.
Microcurrent Facial Sculpting. “Electrical stimulation forces facial muscles to do sit-ups,” says Charlene Handel, owner of Skin Fitness, Etc., in Carlsbad, California. Twenty years of experience with handheld commercial products have convinced this certified holistic esthetician that if the current can’t be felt, it isn’t doing the job.
~ Dr. Hema Sundaram, owner, Sundaram Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Center, Rockville, Maryland, and Fairfax, Virginia.
Trained by Elina Fedotova, CEO of Elina Organics and founder of the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners, Handel cautions that techniques intended to move skincare products beyond the outermost dermal layer—such as microcurrent, cold laser, ultrasound and LED—should be 100 percent natural and organic. “Read labels to find the USDA Organic seal and avoid subjecting skin to synthetic chemicals and ingredients that contain petroleum derivatives from crude oil; artificial fragrances, which frequently contain toxic chemicals; and synthetic preservatives such as parabens,” she advises.
The ultimate responsibility for skincare is our own. When a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, exfoliation, hydration and natural topical treatments are no longer keeping gravity at bay, individuals of either gender need not hesitate to seek help from skin-care professionals.
Facial Contouring Primer
by Linda Sechrist
Facial acupuncture uses 12 strategically placed needles in the scalp and neck at muscle attachment points to lift the face and neck. “Ten to 20 treatments refresh the face, regardless of your age,” advises Anna Baker, a doctor of Oriental medicine and owner of Faces by Dr. Anna, in Sarasota, Florida. Baker advises that the results of 50 treatments are frequently better than a facelift, from sculpting the jawline and neck profile to erasing lines and lifting droopy eyelids.
“Cold lasers, IPL and LED use gentle energy from light waves to act on cells deep in the skin, helping them to grow back stronger,” says cosmetic chemist and esthetician Elina Fedotova, of Elina Organics, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois. Of the three, she considers IPL the most dramatic.
Offered by many estheticians, ultrasound wands emit radio frequencies to stimulate skin cells through vibration. Used to diminish wrinkles and lessen the appearance of scars, it also facilitates migration of serum and mask ingredients to sink into deeper layers of skin. Note that because ultrasound penetrates to the blood level, any products used during the treatment should be only the purest and most natural.
Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings magazines.