Experts Weigh in on Preventative Skin Care at Every Age
Aging is inevitable— and something to be celebrated— but it’s natural to want to do so as gracefully as possible. There is such an overwhelming amount of information out there that it can be difficult to decipher what is good advice and what is superfluous. Knowing where to begin and when can feel incredibly daunting, but I don't want you to worry if you didn’t start wearing eye cream at the age of twelve.
I’ve sought the advice of three experts in their fields to weigh in on the world of "prejuvenation." They break down their general philosophies on the subject and provide some practical advice for people of every age.
Dr. Vincent Richer
Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist at Pacific Derm
Clinical Instructor and Director of Continuing Medical Education, University of British Columbia, Department of Dermatology and Skin Science
Dr. Richer trained in Medicine and Dermatology in his birthplace of Montreal. He did a fellowship on lights and lasers in Vancouver, where he met his husband. Six years later, here he is!
Part of his mission statement as a dermatologist is to “cut through the noise” and make complex information more manageable for his patients. Often when he consults patients, he has to explain that their complaints might not be addressed by the treatments they are asking for. He uses everything in his toolbox to target his patients’ issues, from skincare to lasers and injectables. His patients look natural, healthy, and fresh. Be sure to check out his Instagram page (@drvincentricher) for before and after client photos, stellar reviews, and funny, relatable skin care quotes.
Dr. Alyah Karim, ND
Medical Director and Naturopathic Physician at Thrive Wellness
Dr. Karim received her medical science degree from the University of Western Ontario and her doctorate at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. She holds advanced certifications in intravenous therapy, pharmaceutical prescribing, neural prolotherapy, and acupuncture. She is a practitioner of the Institute of Natural Health Technologies, advanced aesthetics (Botox™, filler) and Pastiche's advanced skin analysis.
Dr. Karim is very pro-aging and never wants anyone’s goal to be to try and turn back the clock— she wants people to look their age, just extremely good for it. She is a huge proponent of skin fasting, which is where you take away products and trust your skin to do what it is supposed to do in order to find out what products really work for you. This minimalist approach also supports the skin’s natural barrier, something which is of paramount importance to her philosophy.
The IV Facial™ is her signature treatment that encompasses her inside out approach to skincare— she gives high doses of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants simultaneously with skin treatments. This way her patients have the building blocks of healthy skin, which makes for results of topical treatments more powerful and longer-lasting.
I had the pleasure of experiencing an IV Facial™ last summer and I can safely say that my skin— and my body in general— never felt so good.
Owner/Operator of Glow Therapy
Amanda has worked and trained in Canada and Australia. She created Glow Therapy to bridge the gap between clinical treatments and no-results fluffy facials. She is certified by Biologique Recherche, the cult French skincare brand that makes the iconic “p50 lotion,” the exfoliating toner you’ll find in chic medicine cabinets around the world. In fact, when she answered today’s questions for me, she was in between treatments at a regular training session with BR in Paris.
See Amanda if you want a relaxing facial with serious results. I swear that I walk into her studio with puffy, wine hangover face and I leave with what feels like Bella Hadid cheekbones. She is a wealth of knowledge about all things skin.
Common Sense Prevention at Any Age
The common theme amongst all of the advice I was given is that it is easier to prevent than to treat. And luckily for us, prevention is fairly common sense: wear sunscreen daily (and try to stay out of the sun in general) and live a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t include smoking.
You might not think that smoking is still a thing, but whenever Dr. Richer travels home to Montreal or to Europe, he is always shocked by how many people still smoke. Aside from the long list of health issues smoking attributes to, it is also proven to accelerate skin aging.
Limiting sun exposure is a tougher sell for many people, but it is so important to consider. It goes without being said that tanning beds are not the trend anymore but wearing sunscreen every day “is not a license for unlimited sun exposure.” The majority of aging that Dr. Richer sees on patients is related to sun exposure. This is not to say that he doesn’t want people to be active outdoors— it is just important to exercise common sense in regard to protection. Wear a hat, reapply sunscreen often, seek shade and avoid direct sunlight during peak hours.
20s & 30s
This is when most people’s skincare journeys begin. There’s no need to go wild if you’re looking to care properly for your skin— the implementation of a great basic skincare routine is the crucial first step that will set you up for success.
Dr. Karim likes to see people in their twenties invest in three simple, high-quality products: a cleanser, moisturizer and an SPF. As you start to creep toward your 30s, you can start incorporating more active ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C or even rosehip oil.
Dr. Richer’s “Holy Trinity” of skincare is the same for every age: sunscreen, retinol and antioxidants like Vitamin C. These categories of active ingredients have the most science and research to back up their proven efficacy.
In addition to sunscreen, antioxidants and retinol, Amanda likes to see her clients begin to use an eye cream, as the eyes tend to be the first to show the signs of aging. She often sees clients in their mid to late twenties complain of a sudden onset of adult acne, to which she always recommends retinol in her favourite form: retinaldehyde.
Everyone agreed that mid-twenties to early thirties are generally considered the “sweet spot” for treatments— or “tweakments” as Dr. Karim calls them— like injectable wrinkle relaxers such as Botox™ because this is often when “dynamic wrinkles” start to form, something which Dr. Richer describes as “the lines on the skin brought on by activity of muscles of the face (frowning, squinting, lifting eyebrows), start etching temporary lines in the skin that will dissipate after a few hours.” Small amounts of wrinkle relaxer can help to prevent “static” wrinkles from forming, which are lines that are visible at rest.
Both Amanda and Dr. Karim like clients to consider micro-needling around this time as well. Micro-needling, which is performed by a licensed professional and not done at home with a derma roller you bought off of Amazon, creates tiny injuries in the skin that help to stimulate collagen and treat a wealth of other concerns like large pores and acne scars.
If redness or mild pigmentary issues begin to arise, Dr. Richer considers a device like Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL for short, which is a broadband light that is used for photorejuvenation.
40s and 50s
This is when people tend to start to notice a more general laxity in their face, particularly around their jawline or their smile lines.
Amanda likes to see her clients incorporate at-home facial massage, like with a gua sha, into their daily routines, as well as in-clinic radiofrequency treatments to help tighten and lift from below the skin’s surface. She loves to see clients supplement with oral omega and antioxidant supplements as well because they can help work from within to keep the skin supple.
Dr. Karim encourages her patients to opt for deeper, seasonal micro-needling as well as regular facial treatments (hi, IV Facial™!). She also begins to prescribe stronger active ingredients such as compounded retinol. As her clients reach 50, she stresses the importance of maintaining a strict skincare regimen, treatment routine and diet, as the skin begins to lose its building blocks quite quickly. Regular replenishment of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants via IV drip keeps her patients looking and feeling as healthy as possible.
Dr. Richer believes that at this juncture, skin care “may have to integrate components that have “dermal” benefits, i.e. things that go beyond the most superficial surface of the skin, like growth factors.” Many of his patients at this age have developed dilated blood vessels or excessive redness/pigment that he targets with specific lasers (more on this here: https://www.pacificderm.ca/blog/dr-vincent-richer-talks-erasing-pigment/). Patients also often begin to see a loss of volume as soft tissue “migrates south,” which can give the face a sunken or tired appearance. Dermal fillers— clear gels of various consistencies— can be used to add volume back to the skin and restore a more “youthful, rested appearance.” He stresses that like with most treatments, “an early start with regular maintenance can go a long way” and that it is crucial you find a credentialed, experienced practitioner. Finally, this age group may want to consider a skin tightening procedure like radio frequency (such as ThermageTM) or ultrasound (UltherapyTM). The results do not rival a facelift, but there is virtually no downtime as they are far less invasive.
60s and Beyond
Dr. Richer stresses that at this stage, it is important to stick to a solid maintenance regimen, whether that is strictly topical skincare or includes injectables and lasers. If the patient is just starting now and wanting to undo decades of sun damage, they might have to resort to procedures that have more downtime. Jowls, a common complaint at this age, are best addressed with a combination treatment of fillers, radiofrequency, even injectable fat-melters. He explained that cosmetic dermatologists like himself have no issue consulting a plastic surgeon if they feel the client may benefit from surgical intervention rather than non-invasive treatment. However, because he works both in medical and cosmetic dermatology, he often “bridges the gap of treating precancerous sun damage and improving pigment and skin texture” by using “nonablative resurfacing” laser known as FraxelTM. (More on this at https://www.pacificderm.ca/blog/fraxel-1927-by-dr-vincent-richer/)