Mothers, Daughters, and What They Really Want
By Gigi Anders
In his song "Everybody Knows," Leonard Cohen sings, “Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose, everybody knows.”
On this Mother’s Day, I would add that everybody knows every mother and every daughter want beautiful skin for as long as possible. Some of it is genetics, of course – you have to pick your parents wisely. But mostly, it’s adhering to good habits.
We tapped our top two celebrity advisors to discuss what age-appropriate skincare entails: Tina Alster, the world’s best dermatologist, and Renée Rouleau, the world’s best aesthetician (if we do say so ourselves). They’ve got a lot to say and it’s the best free advice you’ll ever get. So control your ADHD and your ADD and your Netflix fixation, and read this all the way through. If you don’t, Dr. Alster may have to come bitch-slap you. (Miss Renée’s a Southern girl, so she won’t. But she may secretly want to.)
Plus, what better way to say Happy Mother’s Day than hanging with your mom and trying out great products together? For that grueling assignment, our latest More Lovely addition, Lauren Pippins, 21, and her lovely mom, Marlene, 51, have created a fabulous video showing you how they and their faces fared.
Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!
But first, our Q&A with the experts:
Gigi Anders: Tina and Renée, for gals in their early 20’s like Lauren, what are the main priorities?
Tina Alster: Hopefully, Lauren’s already started with the SPF thing across the board. It’s never too early or too late to start with sun protection, like quitting smoking. Boom, just get started. Mom Marlene too. There’s a solid, easy routine: Protection during the day and repair at night. The real key is daytime, preparing the skin for the day. You want to clean it well, not just shower off from the night before.
Renée Rouleau: Now more than ever, young people in their 20s are getting a jump-start on preventative skin aging by applying sunscreen daily, eating a less-processed, more nutrient-rich diet, incorporating good skin care habits, and using quality products. They are hoping for a pay-off in years to come with beautiful, glowing skin, and fewer lines, wrinkles and brown spots. Sound familiar? It’s a known fact that preventing visible skin aging is far easier and less expensive than getting rid of them once they appear.
TA: I also love the Clarisonic brush. Use it every morning in the shower. Same goes for Lauren’s mom.
GA: Every morning? That’s not excessive?
TA: No, because it’s vibrating, not scrubbing. Don’t press hard and get different brush heads for your specific skin type.
RR: The words “anti-aging” and “preventative aging” are being used by so many when it comes to their skin. This includes those in their 20s and even teens. I hear it from my clients all the time -- ”I really want to take care of my skin to prevent aging and wrinkles.” While I couldn’t agree more with this mindset, those in their 20s and younger should ensure that they aren’t actually harming their skin through using the wrong exfoliator, moisturizer or serum.
GA: Good point. And then once you’ve cleansed and Clarisonic’d in the morning?
TA: You pack in your vitamins at the beginning of the day. Put on an antioxidant to clear away free radicals and build up collagen. If you’re acne-prone or blotchy, that will help brighten. Both the Clarisonic and the serum will also amplify effect of sunscreen, your final daytime step. That’s, like, 80-plus percent of the equation.
RR: The 20s are all about creating a healthy, balanced environment for the skin so it can look its best, as well as slowing down what is inevitably to come. But be careful when using “anti-aging” products. A lot of people in their 20s want to get a jump-start on using potent anti-aging ingredients to get ahead of wrinkles. While this is certainly understandable, for some skin types, this can also create more problems for two reasons: The first is that anti-aging products are formulated with intensive moisturizing ingredients (such as lipid-rich oils), which are appropriate for dry skin types, but may potentially clog the pores of skin that produces oil and prone to clogged pores and breakouts. The second reason is that many of these products have active ingredients in them that are designed to be anti-aging by increasing the metabolism of the cells (such as certain vitamin combinations and peptides). While these are excellent for preventing wrinkles, they may be too stimulating for a younger skin that already has an active metabolism. The result could be increased breakouts.
GA: What role do meds play?
RR: Re-assess your prescription medication with your doctor. The most popular medications for those in their 20s are oral antibiotics and topical blemish creams -- both for clearing breakouts -- and birth control pills. However, as you get well into your 20s, they may no longer be necessary, and could be negatively affecting the appearance of your skin. Did you know that one of the side effects of birth control pills is the darkening of skin pigmentation above the upper lip as well as the cheeks and forehead? A lot of people wonder why they have a dark shading (kind of like a mustache) above their lip, and more than likely, this is caused from the hormonal changes occurring from birth control pills that stimulate melanin production. Skin cells have a memory, so the longer the pigmentation is there, the harder it may be to get rid of later on. If this is something you are experiencing and you’re looking for improvement, talk with your doctor about possibly switching to another type of pill or other birth control options. Read more about how birth control pills affects the skin. In the case of topical and oral medications for treating acne, I find that many people in their 20s will still be using the same prescriptions that they have been on since their teenage years when their acne was much worse. They are afraid to go off of the medications for fear of their skin breaking out again. But in a lot of cases, by the time you’re in your 20s, you have outgrown the severe hormone-induced acne from your younger years. Personally, I’m a believer that oral antibiotics should be a short-term strategy and not be overused, so consider discussing this with your doctor. If a topical prescription gel or cream is drying out your skin and breakouts are few and far between, this can be easily controlled with more gentle, non-prescription options like a salicylic acid serum (I recommend my clients to use BHA Clarifying Serum) or by using a spot treatment specifically designed for monthly hormonal breakouts (like Anti Cyst Treatment).
GA: Okay. And in the evening?
TA: Evening is time to repair. Simplify it. You want to cleanse off the dirt, pollution, grime from the day, and use the right moisturizer. If I had a bunch of people in their 30s who did that that in their 20s, oh my God. Most people have really crappy practices. Literally, that’s the majority of it and it is crucial.
GA: What are the main concerns for women like Marlene, entering their 50s?
TA: At mom’s age, same recipe. Where it changes is at night. Many moms didn’t take care of their skin as I’m telling their daughters to do. So it’s a repair situation at night. What are they repairing? Pigmentary problem? Use a brightener or lightener. More increasing collagen formation? Use a retinoid or heparan. And peptides. Alternate one with the other.
RR: There are a lot of great things women in their 50’s can be doing for their skin. One of my biggest tips for this age is to increase your exfoliation rather than over-moisturizing. By removing surface, dry skin cells, you reveal healthy and vibrant skin. When caring for your skin, the phrase “out with the old, in with the new” really holds true. Exfoliation removes expired, dry skin cells making way for new, healthy, plump skin cells. It also helps to reduce blemishes and breakouts, lessen clogged pores, rid the skin of dryness and lighten brown spots and hyperpigmentation – all while smoothing the skin. Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is excellent when used in the 50s to exfoliate, encourage cell turnover and promote a smoother, more even toned complexion. Continuing the use of anti-aging products is of course key as well, she may also want to look into a stronger formula for her skin.
TA: And eye cream for crinkles and fine lines is better done at night when you’re not rubbing your eyes. A peptide cream around the eyes is great. If you have puffy eyes, get a depuffer.
RR: Hormones can have a huge effect on the skin at this age. Intrinsic aging is determined by heredity, your genetic programming that controls the hormones responsible for aging. The skin will certainly behave differently under the influences of these hormones, but how do they affect it from ages 50 to 60? Usually occurring sometime after the age of 50, hormone changes cause the cessation of monthly periods which results in menopause. Estrogen, which drops rapidly, can create hot flashes, or rapidly worsen rosacea and the propensity for skin reactions. This is because of the anti-inflammatory nature of estrogen. When the estrogen is no longer there, the skin becomes more reactive. Over-active mast cells perceive non-threatening stimuli as dangerous and cause sensitivity and allergic reactions. Besides the discomfort of skin irritations, it is now believed that inflammation is the major cause of aging. The inflammation cascade of chemical changes that occurs in the skin can cause irreparable damage to skin cells.
GA: What can we do about it?
RR: Estrogen is very involved in the normal function of the skin. It directly affects the function of key cells in the skin, like the fibroblasts (produces collagen and elastin), keratinocytes (closely involved in skin protection) and melanocytes (involved in evenness of skin color.) It also helps regulate hair follicle function (hair production) as well as sebaceous gland activity (producing skin oils.) Estrogen also grabs on to water and holds it in the dermis, keeping the skin plump. With the extreme decrease in estrogen that occurs in the 50s, the skin deflates and wrinkles become more pronounced. Microcirculation may be less efficient and the skin thins from lack of nutrients and oxygen. Hormonal swings tied to aging also account for an increase in facial hair (peach fuzz), particularly on the cheeks, chin, and upper lip. The menopausal years also trigger skin growths on the face and body. They begin as small, rough bumps and over time, they thicken and get larger. There are many names for these: seborrheic keratoses, actinic keratoses, skin tags, sebaceous hyperplasia, and they all can appear a bit different (some brown, some flesh color), but generally speaking, they are bumps, excess skin, enlarged oil glands, and growths that protrude from the skin and become impossible to hide with makeup.
GA: I’m officially terrified.
RR: Women in their 50s should wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Research indicates that 78% of all sun damage incurred in a lifetime is from incidental exposure. It’s all those times when you don’t think you’re getting sun because you aren’t out there long enough to actually get a tan -- the drive in the car, walking down the street… Just because you don’t sunbathe doesn’t mean you’re not getting the UV damage. Wear a sunscreen built into your moisturizer, applied to both your face and neck, every day, 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out -- and your skin will thank you for years to come. I also highly suggest to my clients to wear an SPF-infused mineral powder such as ColoreScience SPF 50 Mineral Powder to ensure the skin is properly protected from daylight.
GA: I’ve used that. I loved it.
TA: If you keep your skincare routine simple and consistently stick with it, you’ll get good results. Remember to give a product a minimum of a month to see what it’s doing. Test it. Allergies are another story. People are always changing. I have patients who say, “I used this for two days and nothing happened!” Well, what do you expect? Nothing works in two days. Some patients just refuse. They have ADD. They think they know more than they know. It’s confusing because there’s so much noise out there with skincare and beauty. Which Pied Piper are you gonna follow? If you do nothing of consequence, fall off the wagon, and tell me to “fix it,” I’m gonna bitch-slap you because I’m frustrated. Ninety percent of patients who take skincare seriously will look and feel better. That’s all there is to it.
Lauren Pippins, one of our new members here at More Lovely, tested out some of Renée Rouleau's skin care products. Check out their amazing video.
They absolutely loved the products!