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Anti-Aging Is Impossible, Becoming Pro-Gorgeous Isn’t

When it comes to perfect skin, we know every trick in the book.

Today we're in a beauty era that truly allows topical skincare to provide noticeable results that actually stave off surgical procedures.

Your best you is being “pro-gorgeous”—a concept I picked up on a decade ago, after seeing just how badly anti-aging terminology and its synonyms were being overused. I was also writing for a 55-plus luxe audience at the time, and my readers expected results. With the bulk of the emphasis being on skin perfection, we went to town.

About me: Let’s just say I might have an AARP card. That said, I grew up on the San Francisco Bay, water-skied everywhere during an era when Bain de Soleil sunscreen and red-hot skin color were chic. Fortunately, my mother bathed us in Lancôme moisturizer as youngsters, and I’ve never looked back or downgraded since. I knew from early on that rich moisturization was key, because I started seeing fine lines when I was young—and aggressively found ways to counteract my aging skin. I segued from two years of small business management and spent the bulk of my adult life in the beauty industry as a licensed cosmetologist (hair and skin). And as an ’80s Beverly Hills stylist—with stints in Rome, Paris and Milan—I became super fascinated with skincare, because, well, I woke up and realized I was approaching 40. Work required true jet-setting with royals, dignitaries and captains of industry and their offspring. And the branded skincare industry was an explosion of fascination and promising results—youth and perfection weren’t an option. I started using Retin-A 1.0 strength at 28 years. I don’t even get red from it now. But it still works! Fair-skinned people should consult an expert and go slow.

Skin and age don’t really have a genre. And my definition of beauty is clear, supple skin that’s mark-free, rubbery and taught. Man or woman. And pore-less, if we get that far. I love skincare and shoes. I have a closet for both. The idea that we can slow the signs of aging makes me excited—and that requires consistently applying layers throughout the day. And yes, dealing with the occasional OMG blemish that prevents you from answering FaceTime calls. All of it.

We also live in an age of organics and natural skincare products, all battling for market-share in a trillion-dollar industry. It’s an era that truly allows topical skincare to provide noticeable results that stave off surgical procedures—almost replacing surgical treatments if you’re diligent and consistent enough. Few are. Also, although DIY, at-home organics can provide maximum penetration, not many of us can show up at work with an orange peel soaked in watermelon juice enzymes and honey on our face. Why has that sector of retail exploded? Because it works better, faster and deeper. (Or in industry-speak, it absorbs organically fast, due to its bioavailability.) Working our way backwards from plastic surgery lets us itemize our youth options:

Sunscreen: Sunscreen’s a savior and deserves its own paragraph! Sun protection (and protection from light that comes from computers and smartphones) is often the most overlooked pro-gorgeous skincare practice. You spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on skincare and services, only to have a pinky-brown spot surface weeks later. Why? The chemical peel did its job, but your job is to protect the skin, post-service, 110 percent of the time. Driving with a glass sunroof and walking outside (even a three-minute walk to the corner turns procedure-treated skin to brown “hyperpigmentation” spots) can reverse weeks or even months of pounding with serums several times a day. Most luxury SPFs have become treatment based. Don’t skimp on them.

Injectables: In most states, in order to receive injectables, you need to go to a med spa, licensed nurse at a doctor-monitored establishment or doctor. Restylane and Juvaderm are forms of Hyaluronic Acid fillers used to plump wrinkled skin, lips, crevices and sunken indentations—and it’s also manufactured in our bodies, so injecting it poses a less creepy risk. I wish the industry would drop tthe word “acid” on labels, because, as a face serum, it’s so gentle that you can swim in it. Literally. Botox, Dysport and Xeomin are all branded forms of a botulism toxin meant to flatten by blocking muscle movements that cause wrinkles, each with its list of comparables regarding tolerance, price and length of effectiveness. Kybella is used to break down double-chin fat (often completely). Fat transfer, on the other hand, extracts fat from your own body where you can afford to lose it (buttocks, thighs or jiggly areas). The process is obviously more detailed, but, essentially, it’s a deposit coming from your own bank—a nutrient fund transfer.

Assertive And Non-Invasive Procedures: Let’s talk microdermabrasion. It’s a large category with many options. It can be subtle or aggressive, depending on how much counteracting is professionally determined, but usually, it involves advanced exfoliation and deep dermal rejuvenation or deduction. Same with acid peels. My first was a citric organic peel 25 years ago that had an amazing result after a scary five days. Thirty years ago, they were even more harsh, and some people couldn’t leave the house for the first ten days after the procedure. Although professional Alpha or Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs or BHAs) also come as OTC creams, serums, washes and toners, they can still render you homebound if you’re not careful, and they can bring unwanted melanin to the surface if you’re not using a suggested post-procedure cream (important!). I recently had a professional PCA Skin Peel with Skincare By Eve and went straight to work the next day! And it was flawless. Post-care is everything.

Dermabrasion, on the other hand, can be a topical acid, enzyme lotion or tiered combinations of both, with liquids and involves scraping devices, including diamond-tipped buffers that also vacuum the skin particles away. Try multi-date packages or a one-time deal for accelerated service with variable down time. Sun protection is a must here.

Lastly, dermaplaning is the careful use of a surgical microblade to reshape uneven hairlines and remove facial fuzz, along with dead skin cells and fine lines—making the skin evenly and deeply exfoliated and porous enough to heighten the effects of topical treatments to follow. The finishing serums depend on your skin’s needs.

The New Regime: Early forms of microneedling were made famous by Kim Kardashian’s “Dracula Facials.” She’s a beautiful example of what this practice has the power to accomplish. SkinPen by Bellus Medical has perfected the service and results, allowing the tiny cluster of nano-needles to go deeper, looking less invasive and less irritated—safely. It prompts skin cells to rejuvenate themselves rapidly—our body’s natural defense stimulated by the topical attack. All the while, this infuses applied nutrients, and over time, clears dark spots, uneven skin tones and plumps skin to soften or remove wrinkles with cumulative (visually appealing) effects. #Amazing.

HydraFacial, at the forefront of all-in-one beauty, and OxyGeneo are professional multi-compartment tanks with equipment wands that provide innovative facial treatments that simultaneously engage impressive exfoliation, deep nutrient infusion and oxygenation. DermaSweep is a newer wunderkind of the same genre that removes micro-particle-ed skin. I’ve had this service and loved it! All of these options allow you to beautifully interface with the world immediately. And men in particular should be a fan. Oxygenated services can wipe 20 years off your face! No joke.

Icing On The Cake: The following two trends, in my mind, are real gamechangers. While Allumera itself is a gelled new-age non-peel designed to deal with pores, complexion, suppleness and textured skin, it’s also a photodynamic cream reliant on a medical-grade light source for processing. With or without Allumera, one of my new best friends is Red/Infrared LED Light Therapy (blue is for acne). LightStim has a full-body LED bed, while MyPolyLED (my fav, pictured) wraps around your body or face. (MyPolyLED has a terrific wireless handheld of the same strength.) Think of Red LED as turning a blender full of collagen into a “frappe” under your skin, while the outside looks better and better every single day, in every way. This is especially great for aged skin and collagen-depleted folks 40 and older. As a beauty biz lifer, I’m still amazed when I see esthetics people who don’t have a pro LED machine. If I had any of the treatments I mentioned without the offer of Red LED, I’d be out! Combined, these two gentle giants give you a silent, ongoing one-two punch of smooth, clear perfection. And no one’s the wiser.

Next? Laser Genesis. This perfectly biblical light fixes most everything esthetically—it can’t remove excess skin folds, but it will tighten them—with no pain or downtime. It’s known as the Red Carpet Laser facial, and it’s my Oscar nominee!

Wellness, skin-a-mins, diet, exercise and hydration all contribute greatly to how seriously your skin regimen gets amplified. Ah, but we’re out of time. Stay tuned for more beauty brands we love in next month’s “Gorgeous” column. Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on skincare to look fabulous!

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Marco Medrano

Marco Medrano is Luxury Editor at saratoga living. As a beauty expert, Medrano is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and was previously Beauty/Spa/Travel Editor at ELLIMAN, Now It Counts and HudsonMOD.

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