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A number of changes take place as we get older, which we typically begin to notice in our forties. However, these ageing changes actually begin as early as our thirties.
Suddenly dark marks appear, the skin begins to look sallow and dull, the texture appears to be rougher, fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable - especially around our eyes, mouth, and cheeks. We may also see an increase in skin laxity and even hollows, under the eyes and cheeks.
These are just some of the things we may notice, and most of us think only the surface of the skin is changing with age. In reality, a number of changes are happening under the skin which contribute to ageing on the skin and to the face.
When we age, all our facial structures tend to change, including the skin; the underlying fatty tissue, the muscles, and the bone. In our teens and twenties, we tend to have a higher volume of fatty tissue with the best and most robust bony support. Fat and bone is vital for defining the shape of our face and to provide support to the overlying muscles and most importantly, the skin.
To understand the changes we see as we age we should look at these structures separately. The treatment approach will be different for each of these layers.
The skin is the biggest organ of the body and plays a number of vital roles:
There are a number of factors that contribute to the changes that take place in older skin:
The most affected cells in the skin are keratinocytes and fibroblasts, cells which help determine how our skin ages. Keratinocytes are responsible for producing keratin which in turn makes our skin strong and flexible. Fibroblasts are our precursor cells and, when stimulated make more collagen and elastin in our cells.
There are two main treatment approaches for improving the outward appearance of ageing skin: cellular stimulation and targeting the skin barrier. By repairing and maintaining optimal function of the skin barrier you can improve the condition of the skin and visible ageing changes
By using a topical skincare regime and adding other professional treatments we can maximise results to slow the ageing process, improve the stimulation of cells (in particular fibroblasts and keratinocytes) and repair and maintain the skin barrier.
Cellular stimulation is a vital part of any skincare regime. Typically, our approach is to use a combination of high concentration active ingredient serums that contain antioxidants, skin cell stimulators, and chemical exfoliators that further enhance cell turnover, added to which, if necessary, professional treatments such as chemical peels and Dermapen, will be included.
My go-to active ingredients are glycolic acid (normal to combination skin types) or salicylic acid (acne and oily skin types), vitamin C and vitamin A.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), originally derived from sugar cane, that has become one of the most popular AHA’s used in skincare products. The small molecular size allows it to be easily absorbed. The primary action is to exfoliate the outer skin layer and to increase cell turnover.
Glycolic acid is a highly hydrophilic molecule, which means that it is easily soluble in water and therefore has the greatest bioavailability of all the AHAs. This results in smoothing of uneven skin tone, refines the appearance of pores and helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
It is normal to experience a stinging or burning sensation which can last between 5 to 10 seconds when applying glycolic acid to the skin. This sensation may be exacerbated with sensitive skin. If you are a first-time glycolic acid user, we recommend introducing it slowly into your skincare regime.
There are four main benefits of salicylic acid:
oily and acne skin:
The exact mechanism of how salicylic acid benefits people suffering from oily skin and/or acne is not 100% known.
However, research has shown that salicylic acid is a lipid-soluble agent, in contrast with the alpha hydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid which is water soluble). This means salicylic acid can mix with and breakdown epidermal or skin cell lipids and sebaceous gland lipids in hair follicles. Furthermore, salicylic acid has been shown to reduce sebum production. Added benefits include deep penetration in pores, allowing complete cleansing with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Further studies have also demonstrated that salicylic acid has greater effects on reducing sebum production than other acids including pyruvic acid.
Salicylic acid causes an exfoliation of skin through loosening and detachment of corneocytes, the epidermal skin cells that make up the outermost part of the epidermis. As mentioned above, salicylic acid is a lipophilic agent that has the ability to cause a loosening of the lipid-based adhesions between skin cells.
The importance of this is that salicylic acid does not ‘burn’ or wound skin cells. Exfoliation is allowed simply by the break-up of cells from one another.
Studies have shown that salicylic acid:
We have established that salicylic acid removes the most outer layer of the skin and also will clean deep inside pores, reduce sebum and provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. This combination allows active ingredients – like retinol, granactive retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid etc – to penetrate better.
sk.in pure | medi shot
There are a number of reasons I recommend vitamin C as a must have ingredient in your morning skincare routine:
We can see why numerous skincare brands use vitamin C in their formulations.
Topical forms of the vitamin C family include:
The commonest vitamin C ingredient used today in skincare preparations is L-ascorbic acid. There are a number of reasons for this, including that it has been around for a long time and, as a result, has multiple studies that prove its effectiveness in the skin. However, L-ascorbic acid has two negative factors to consider:
L-ascorbic acid is water soluble. What this means is that it flows through and is eliminated from the skin through water channels known as aquaporins. This is a fairly fast process which in turn reduces its effectiveness as L-Ascorbic Acid can only work while in the skin.
L-ascorbic acid in its natural state cannot penetrate the outer lipid rich skin barrier. Formulators need to reduce its pH (make it more acidic) to allow penetration or absorption through the skin barrier. Unfortunately, it is this low pH that contributes to:
why I chose ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate
When choosing a vitamin C ingredient for the sk.in range I wanted an ingredient that minimised the chances of a skin reaction and was not affected by the water absorption channels, allowing for a longer duration of effect within the skin.
Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is an oil-soluble or lipid-soluble tetra ester derivative of vitamin C. This means, very simply, that as an ingredient in its natural state is easily absorbed through the skin barrier and is not eliminated through the aquaporins. There are studies that demonstrate that ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate will stay in the skin cells 40 to 80 times longer than ascorbic acid and will have as much as four times the effect (1).
Other recent studies have shown the following (2, 3):
Formulated with salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, zinc PCA, and papaya/pineapple extract to help control acne breakouts and remove acne-causing bacteria. These ingredients also work to control sebum production and to reduce the appearance of pores.
fine lines and wrinkles
High strength lipid soluble vitamin C serum that is indicated for the use as an antioxidant, to help repair and prevent skin ageing concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, textured skin, sallow complexion, and dehydrated skin.
Contains granactive retinol and vitamins C & E, Ceramides and hyaluronic acid to target and delay intrinsic skin ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. The added benefit of sk.in flash is that it repairs the skin barrier and protects the skin against environmental free radical damage.
Add sk.in avenge | HPR 3% once or twice weekly to the above regime to provide spikes of cellular stimulation as a full-face treatment or as a targeted application to more stubborn lines and wrinkles.
Kligman AM. Salicylic acid: an alternative to alpha-hydroxy acids. J Geriatr Dermatol. 1997;5:128–131.