You know the feeling:
You wake up one day, look in the mirror and — wham! — the signs of aging are suddenly everywhere. Those fine lines around your eyes. The loose skin along your jawline. The dark spots on your cheeks — and even on your hands. Before this moment, you spent more time picking out nail polish colors than thinking about an anti-aging skin care regimen. Oh, sure, you moisturize and wear sunscreen. But at a certain point in your skin’s aging process, your minimalist approach isn’t enough. And it shows.
The good news? You can make up for lost time if you get serious about an anti-aging regimen now. New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo, M.D., Esteé Lauder makeup artist Blair Patterson and Emmy Award-winning makeup artist Melanie Mills weigh in on the most common signs of aging with quick fixes and long-term solutions to curbing those tell-tale signs of aging.
Eyes We’re not talking about the kind that can be removed with a cotton ball soaked in makeup remover. As you get older, the delicate skin around the eyes gets thinner, making dark circles more and more noticeable. Dark circles under your eyes pack a double-whammy: They make you look tired and they age your appearance.
A concealer with light-reflecting particles is your new best friend for hiding dark circles and fine lines around the eyes. Look for substances like mica, talc and titanium dioxide in the ingredients list. Words like “radiance” and “illuminating” on the packaging are also good indicators that the concealer covers and brightens dark circles. Makeup artist Blair Patterson recommends using a translucent powder to set concealer after applying.
And, of course, if you’ve got dark circles, it can be a sign you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. A consistent, truly restful sleep pattern is one of the most effective tools to combat dark circles and help the skin repair itself. It takes a few weeks to re-establish a healthy sleep pattern, and it starts with good sleep “hygiene.” Tune your pre-bedtime hours to winding down. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol two hours before bedtime, and turn off your cellphone, TV and other electronics — all things that can disrupt your sleep cycle, says Elisa Zied, dietitian, nutritionist and author of “Younger Next Week.” “Power down at least 30 minutes (ideally more) before you hit the sack,” she suggests
According to Lupo, several issues contribute to dark circles, and you’ve got to know the root cause in order to properly treat them. If your circles are more brown in color, overexposure to the sun is the culprit. Sinus problems can cause vascular congestion, which can give those circles a bluish hue. Allergies that cause itchy eyes (which you reflexively rub) can also thicken and darken the skin around your eyes, says Lupo.
First step: Wear sunglasses when you’re outside or driving and use an under-eye concealer with SPF to avoid dark circles caused by sun damage. If your dark circles are a result of sinus problems or allergies, see an allergist or ear/nose/throat specialist.
Treating dark circles “is a real judgement call, as each case is unique,” Lupo says. “Some need retinol-like ingredients, some peptides, some anti-inflammatory ingredients; there really is no one good way.” When applying these creams, Patterson says to dab small amounts at the inner and outer corners of the eyes. Use your middle finger to gently press the cream into the skin by rolling the finger from side to side over the area. “Do not pat or rub the skin,” Patterson says.
A healthy diet can also improve discoloration around the eyes. Choosing foods that contain vitamins K and B can help minimize dark circles caused by water retention and poor blood flow. Eggs, beans and green vegetables like spinach, asparagus and broccoli are good sources of vitamin K, and yogurt, fish and green vegetables are rich in B vitamins.
Before you put on your makeup, apply a serum with hyaluronic acid to help plump the skin. Primers specifically targeted to fill in wrinkles help minimize their appearance by creating a smoother, more even base for makeup. To really fill those wrinkles and avoid doing more damage to the delicate skin around the eyes, Patterson says not to massage the cream into your skin. Use your finger to press, hold and rock the hand back and forth until the cream absorbs, similar to the way you should apply eye cream.
If you’re worried about the appearance of lines around the eyes, don’t apply mascara or liner to bottom lashes or lash line. Patterson says these products draw attention to the area.
Sure, you’re getting a late start on the anti-aging game, but it’s not too late to reduce the appearance of fine lines and prevent more wrinkles from developing, says Lupo. Start by using a topical cream or serum containing peptides or growth factors, which help stimulate the production of collagen, and get thee to a dermatologist for a prescription retinoid — it’s a key tool in minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, says Lupo.
For instant gratification, injectable fillers can create quick results that last four months to a year. If you’re under 40 and have minor wrinkles, a treatment costs approximately $600, according to Lupo. The price is determined by the amount of time it takes to inject the filler and the type of filler used, so if you’re over 50 and those wrinkles are etched a bit deeper, expect to spend several thousand dollars to smooth those lines.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Wear sunscreen. We don’t want to hear you complaining about your uneven skin tone if you’re not wearing a sunscreen with broad spectrum sun protection on a daily basis and re-applying it every two to three hours when you’re outside. The pros also say to avoid prolonged sun exposure, period.
You can camouflage those dark spots while protecting them with a BB cream that contains sunscreen. Many formulations offer anti-aging benefits, including skin-tone-correcting ingredients like licorice and arbutin.
Hydroquinone is the gold standard for lightening dark spots over time, says Lupo. It works by reducing melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. Microdermabrasion or chemical peels can also reduce the appearance of mild cases of hyperpigmentation by resurfacing the skin and lifting facial pigmentation. For more severe cases of hyperpigmentation, there are a variety of laser treatments that your dermatologist can suggest based on your needs.
Lupo stresses the importance of using hand lotion with SPF to prevent dark spots and discoloration. She also suggests visiting your dermatologist for laser or filler treatments, which are being used more and more frequently on hands.If you spend more than an hour in your car every day, consider wearing a pair of driving gloves to prevent sun damage. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 50 percent of skin cancer cases in the U.S. occur on the left (drivers’) side of the body. If gloves aren’t working for you, check out clear, UV-protective film that can be applied to the windows of your car — it blocks up to 99.9 percent of UV rays, according to skincancer.org.
Banish Turkey Neck:
One of the most obvious signs of aging is a sagging neck and jaw line, and women have a tendency to neglect the skin on their necks until it’s too late.
Quick fix: The first thing you can do is adopt better posture by lengthening your neck and avoiding hunching your shoulders. Makeup artist Melanie Mills also recommends applying a good serum or lotion after cleansing. When it comes to finding an effective product, Mills says look for ingredients like sunscreen and exfoliants like salicylic acid or glycolic acid. “Along with exfoliating for smoother skin, these ingredients build more collagen and can help firm the skin,” she says.
Weight fluctuations can contribute to the sagging skin around your neck. Lupo says that the single best solution to “turkey neck” is to maintain a healthy weight. Also, don’t neglect your neck in your daily skin care routine. Apply sunscreen and moisturizer to increase the skin’s elasticity and protect it from damaging rays. If you notice drooping skin around your jawline, apply the same peptide, growth factor or retinoid product you use on your face to your neck and décolletage.