Last week I attended the press launch of dermatologist and aesthetician’s conference FACE in Westminster and it really was the most fascinating couple of hours.
To kick off the 3 day long extravaganza, a brilliant panel of dermatologists and surgeons discussed the headline stories and trends we’re going to see over the next couple of years. Some big names were there, notably the suave Dr Sherif Wakil (of the Vampire Face and boob lift fame) who along with fellow panellist Dr Simon Zoakei have now made it their mission to help women achieve beauty on the inside. Yes that’s right – vaginal rejuvenation.
And holding court throughout, the indomitable Dr Zein Obagi of top drawer skincare range ZO medical, who I’d never seen talk before but am now slightly obsessed with. Imagine Kevin Spacey reprising Peter Finch’s Howard Beale by way of Silvio Berlusconi and you’re halfway there.
So here’s rundown of stuff to watch out for in 2016 and beyond.
Anti-ageing got old. It’s now all about ‘skin health.’
People have bemoaned the phrase anti-ageing for a while now. I mean ageing has it’s downsides but when the alternative is premature death, you’ve got to admit it’s preferable and even something to celebrate. So with that in mind, as we look after our bodies and mind’s let’s focus on maximising our skin’s health. It’s the biggest organ in the body after all, so it deserves the attention. Love your skin!
New buzz word in
anti-ageing skin health – ‘Inflammaging’
Illnesses from cancer to IBS, chronic conditions like arthritis and irritating skin flare ups like ezcema & psoriasis are thought to have their root in inflammation. But not only can it endanger and limit your life it also, get this, makes you look older!?! FFS!
But like Brexit and the economy – it’s complicated. Not all inflammation is bad.
Chronic inflammation is the villain, it’s this that makes you ill and prematurely ages your body and skin.
Acute inflammation however, is a useful tool which will cause temporary irritation (like dryness and redness) but will restore barrier function, collagen and hyaluronic production and elasticity in the long term.
Acute inflammation is the medical term behind most new skin treatments’ methods – namely irritating the skin to help it turn over it’s cells quicker and imitate the behaviour of more youthful skin.
Retinol, acids, peels, micro-needling, laser, infra-red, LED & radio frequency treatments are all about encouraging your skin to act younger and this trend is one that is really starting to dominate the beauty industry to point where it’s possible to imagine a future where the idea of buying a pot of cream with the promise of improving your skin seems as bonkers and anachronistic as applying leeches to fight infection.
While acute inflammation might help hold back the tide, your best bet to avoid inflammaging is to minimise chronic inflammation is counteract effects of pollution by washing your face as soon as you get home. And also thoroughly cleaning it first thing in the morning because, sebum it turns out is also a total rotter when it comes to having lovely skin.
Annoyingly the main way to rid yourself of chronic inflammation says Dr Obagi is to give up sugar which as we all know is a poison which is killing us. The room sighed and looked over at the amazing platter of pastries on the buffet table. Okay, maybe that was just me.
Another buzzword and $$$$$ trend: ‘Nutri-Ceuticals’
We’ve all seen the growing number of oral supplements with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and collagen. Our skin needs both of these things to look good and conveniently enough is totally capable of making them itself. Hurrah.
But can eating them actually up your natural quantities?
Dr Sabika Karim, who being both really beautiful and having amazing skin was an excellent advert for her practice, said it was tricky to achieve the correct levels of ingredients. Collagen for instance only works with the correct combo and amount of amino acids. So a supplement which did not take this into account would be useless.
She advised that generally supplements should only be prescribed as part of a holistic approach and calibrated to individual needs by a qualified dermatologist.
So those buy one get one half price deals at Holland & Barrett are not the way to go, people. 😦
But the efficacy of oral supplements is a moot point amongst those in the know.
Dr Obagi stopped short of saying they are a ‘right load of old crap’ although I had a feeling this was on the tip of his tongue.
He proffered that ingredients like collagen would simply be digested in the stomach, ‘like a steak’ (yum) and so you’re better off helping your skin produce it’s own collagen than popping a pill or vainly slathering it on your upper dermis.
If you must take a supplement or add anything into your diet to improve your skin, take a vitamin C supplement or just eat loads of veg. This will also help you reduce your chronic inflammation (see above) so it’s all good.
Overall message. Like general health, skin health does not come in a bottle or capsule. Eat well, avoid crap and make that skin WERK! #werk
Trend to watch: Mesotherapy a.k.a Micro-channelling
Micro-channelling (transdermal application of drugs or products) have been around in sports medicine for a while to administer analgesic and I daresay performance enhancing substances (naughty!) for quite a while. It’s also been popular for cosmetic and hair loss treatments using needles but will soon be available and more accessible via patches made by 3D printers.
The skin patches have tiny pointy bits laced with, say, hyaluronic acid, which pierce the upper dermis and convey the magic ingredient into the skin to a deeper and more effective level. So technically it’s invasive but not really because it doesn’t hurt, there’s no downtime and the patches themselves just look like those weird pore extraction stickers teenagers stick on their nose.
Products at the forefront of this new method, watch out for the ‘Rodara’ patch.
Selfies are ageing you!
It doesn’t matter which filter you use. Despite the fact that yes, Clarendon does throw a lovely key light onto your face to diminish shadows, lines and bags and makes you look like you’re walking around with a reflector under your chin the verdict is in: Our selfies, chelfies and belfies are ruining our skin!
The electro magnetic / light waves from your smart phone and other tablet / computer screens are affecting our bodies’ mineral content. The more selfies you take, the older you will look which by my reckoning Kim K has a couple more years before she looks like Zelda from Terrahawks. (Milliennials, ask your mum.)
How to solve this? Limit your screen time, (yeah right.) If you can’t do that wear a sunscreen and ingest anti-oxidants to counteract.
Breaking: Sebum is the enemy and must be eradicated.
Why do babies have such beautiful skin? Because they don’t have sebaceous glands, or rather they haven’t yet developed.
Like other vestigal nuisances appendices and wisdom teeth, these annoying sub-dermal resevoirs of grease serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever and are a post-evolutionary* hangover.
*Post evolution is a thing – we’ve stopped evolving, right? I mean Nigel Farage is surely proof of that?
Sebaceous glands were originally useful to waterproof our hairy skin. But since we are (almost) out of the primordial swamp* (*note this article was drafted pre-Brexit – Ed) we no longer need them.
In fact not only do they cause spots, acne and an inconvenient oily sheen they are also ageing us by contributing to chronic inflammation and encouraging all manner of environmental nasties to adhere to our skin on a daily basic. Yuk. Thanks sebum! NOT!
At Now We Are 40, you may be forgiven for thinking acne is something which may affect our kids rather than us but female adult acne is on the rise. The answer to this, according to Dr Obagi is get rid of the sebum and keep your pores super sparky clean.
Tbh, most of this anti-sebum hyperbole came from Obagi who it seems has personally declared war on grease and at some point in the future will eradicate it, either by hi-tech surgical intervention or breeding a new race of super humans without sebaceous glands. (He didn’t actually say this, but it was the impression I got.)
The panel also had some interesting ideas on why adult acne is on the rise in women. Sabika Karim suggested it was because many of us who go on the pill as teenagers then come off around 30 to start having children are effectively delaying their hormonal adolescence until mid life. Which if you ask me, is the best place for it. OKAY? *huffs off and slams door*
Newest trend – Designer Vagina 2.0
If you’re an avid Kardashian viewer you can probably recall an episode where one of them gets their bits ‘lasered’ and with that the whole vaginal rejuvenation business slid irrevocably into disrepute.
Panellists Dr’s Simon Oakei & Sherif Wakil who both have skin in this game (sorry) were both keen to distance the whole shebang from the preserve of reality tv stars and reposition it towards older women who have had significant and limiting issues …um in that area… after having multiple children / difficult births, prolapses and so on.
They stressed that this was not an ‘aesthetic’ treatment at all but should be seen as medical and psychological.
Oakei’s product Thermiva (which was featured in the Kardashian programme) is in fact internal non invasive heat tech using radio waves, not lasers, to tighten inner pelvic / vaginal area and tackle pelvic control and bladder problems.
And Dr Wakil’s ‘O-Shot’ uses his trademark PRP therapy (platelet riched plasma) as a means of re-sensitising bits which have lost sensation, helping women enjoy sex even after popping out several kids and well into / past the menopause. (The clue is in the name, guys!)
It would be easy to paint both of these procedures as yet another thing that women have to do to look / feel attractive / be sexy / whatever and why the hell should we bother, right?
But the doctors on the panel made an excellent case for both of these as having significant psychological, emotional and medical benefits for women who have specific problems which, quite often they are ashamed to talk about.
They also explained that any reputable physician would only prescribe them in these scenarios and younger woman looking to get them for aesthetic purposes should be offered counselling, rather than treatment.
Big new health story – Bio Identical HRT
Dr David Ecclestone explained that this is something we should all be asking about.
At around age 50 the ovaries give up the ghost and a hundred years ago so would we.
At the age when our Nans would’ve been looking forward to grey hair and grandchildren and socialising mainly at church on on their front step – our 40 plus generation face another 3 decades at work, our first or more children, new relationships, new careers, travel and loads more lovely clothes and make up to enjoy.
Dr Ecclestone argued that the menopause is not natural. No other mammal has to endure if, so frankly why should we? The massive drop off in hormones post 50 not only makes many women feel rubbish it also hugely increases our risk of heart disease and cancer. If there is a safe way of replicating the body’s natural amount / balance of hormones then it’s surely a no brainer for keeping women healthy and happy in later life?
When the medical profession cottoned on to the fact that we’re all living longer so we should perhaps try and enjoy ourselves while we’re all still here: HRT was born! Our Mums were probably the first HRT generation. It then fell out of favour a decade or so ago, with the alarming cancer linked stories only then to be reintroduced as it’s shown to have very tiny increased risks of cancer but much greater benefits preventing other diseases. Generally speaking though, it’s now got a bad rep which is proving hard to shake.
In an age where we are increasingly looking to naturally derived remedies, organic food, and reducing our chemical consumption it’s only right to question the impact of large doses of synthetically produced hormones on our bodies.
Bio Identical HRT is the latest and more sophisticated means of hormone replacement.
First of all, it’s designed to be prescribed differently. No more one-size-fits-all dosage. Each patient’s deficiencies and levels would be measured because each individual has different levels of each. It’s no good just lumping a load of oestrogen in for someone who has more of a deficiency in progesterone, for example.
Secondly and most importantly, the move towards bio-identical rather than synthetic hormones just sounds like a common sense no-brainer. It’s long been the case that synthetically produced hormone-a-likes work sporadically, sometimes not at all and worst, could actually be harmful.
Bio-identical human sex hormones (ie replicated versions of what is actually in our bodies) have been available for over 50 years but guess what, because they’re nature’s own recipe they can’t be patented, hence big pharmaceutical companies focus on the more profitable synthetic versions and our health is sacrificed for profit.
It’s up to us to educate ourselves about all the options post 50 and demand that our healthcare providers get across it. Bio-identical HRT is cheaper, more natural and sounds a whole lot more safe and effective, so look out for that.
The overriding vibe I got from listening to experts who in many cases seem to straddle cutting edge / NHS / ethical work with being market leaders in skincare and aesthetics is an interesting contradiction.
As more and more evidence suggests the most effective way to help our skin look good is to encourage it to fulfil it’s natural functions rather than slap on a product, it almost seems like science and dermatology is going to war with the beauty industry. Or if not totally undermining it, (because a lot of these people are marketing skincare ranges) they are seeking to turn it on its head.
The eminently quotable Obagi railed against the public having been brainwashed by the beauty industry selling pots of potions offering false promises or merely making us feel good with nice formulations, gimmicks and (airbrushed) celebrity associations. “If you want to feel good,” he barked “have a martini!” He went as far as to say that in the future some of the mass market skin creams should carry health warnings. :-0
This is all interesting stuff and music to my ears. In an age where consumers are more informed and demanding than ever before the industry needs to stop treating us like idiots and get real. Eternal youth and a perfect face are lies sold to us for decades.
But because we’re living and working longer than ever before it’s only right that we look as good as we feel and vice versa. By living healthily and using common sense methods we can achieve this without spending thousands.
Healthy bodies and skin are more achievable and desirable and they can be the future, if we ask the right questions and don’t fall for the bullshit.