Erasing the Creases of Time

Photo Illustration by Chris Riley Special thanks to model

Let’s face it: Appearances matter, and some people want to do
everything they can to stay looking young
In a society where youth and beauty can score you a job, a romance and even a deal on a car, some baby boomers in the South Valley are trying everything from miracle-promising creams to medical procedures in an attempt to turn back the clock of their aging skin.

Over the past few years, the popularity of products guaranteeing a more youthful appearance has grown, and skin-care experts say the phenomenon is nationwide.

“The bulk of us are getting older, and obviously, you want to look as good as you can no matter what age you are,” said Pam Leonardi, owner of the Facial Retreat in Morgan Hill. “People will always judge you by the way you look. Once someone looks at you, they pretty much have you summed up.”

Regardless of gender, genes or any other factor, everyone will get wrinkles with age, according to Suzan Obagi, assistant professor in dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center. According to Obagi, after the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. Collagen, a protein chemical substance that is the main support of skin, maintains skin’s substance and strength.

As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile. In addition, the functioning of sweat and oil glands diminishes, as does the production of elastin, a protein in the skin that helps maintain resilience and elasticity.

Wrinkling might be inevitable, but people still can try to decrease the look of their wrinkles, said Alice Delaney, owner of the Image Center in San Juan Bautista. The best way to care for already-aged skin is with exfoliation and a good moisturizer that contains vitamins A and C, Delaney said. To exfoliate the skin, Delaney recommended using a quality exfoliating scrub.

“As you begin to age your cells turn over, and in order to keep them moving underneath the skin, you’ve got to get rid of the dead cells on the surface,” she said. “The main thing when picking out a cream is learning about the ingredients and reading the labels.”

No matter how many creams or scrubs a person tries, Leonardi says following a consistent skin-care regimen will help ensure results – but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

“I always recommend over-the-counter products,” she said. “You have to stay consistent. You have to drink lots of water and exercise and get your oxygen flowing.”

When products just aren’t enough to get the desired results, some skin-care clients turn to more drastic measures, such as injections of skin-fillers or toxic injections like Botox.

Tammy Perez, owner of Avanti Skin Care in Gilroy, says there’s nothing wrong with having such procedures done, and for many of her clients, it’s just what they need to make themselves happy with their appearances.

“I think it’s one of the best maintenance and preventative measures a person could take,” she said. “It’s temporary, and it corrects the breakdown of the skin.”

Leonardi agrees, but Delaney is concerned what the future may hold for people who receive injections.

“I’m personally not for it just because of the fact that it is poison, and I feel like so many things can happen down the road, and we’ll be left saying, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t have done that,'” Delaney said.

Women aren’t the only people who are considering the procedures or are unhappy with their wrinkles. Perez said several of her clients are men, and although older men are often seen as “distinguished” rather than undesirable when they age, many still try to hold onto their boyish looks.

“Men are a growing industry,” Perez said. “It used to be that only women were concerned with their appearance, but now as we’re seeing more men getting metro-sexual. They’re caring about their skin, too.”

For younger generations who aren’t yet waking up to wrinkles, Perez, Delaney and Leonardi said staying out of the sun and using sunscreen every day – rain or shine – can help prevent future facial creases.

Seven Tips for Younger Looking Skin

If undergoing a minor medical procedure to maintain a youthful appearance isn’t on your agenda, here are some less-drastic measures that might do the trick.

1. Protect yourself from

the sun.

The sun is largely responsible for wrinkling, blotchy pigmentation (also called liver spots), thinning of the skin, broken blood vessels, dryness, texture changes, uneven color and some sun-related skin diseases that make the skin look older.

Daily use of sunscreen products with an SPF of at least 15 – along with protective clothing such as full-brimmed hats, long sleeved blouses and shirts and long pants – will greatly reduce the aging of the skin and the possibility of skin cancer.

Sunglasses will also protect the eyelids from aging and will help reduce “crow’s feet” by reducing the squinting that comes from sun exposure without eye protection.

2. Don’t smoke.

It’s proven that the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke greatly increase the amount of wrinkles.

3. Keep in shape.

With age, extra weight can accumulate in areas under the chin, the neck or cheeks, giving the skin an older look. A combination of balanced nutrition and exercise can greatly improve the appearance of the skin. Drinking enough water is also important.

4. Smile!

Your face tends to conform to the position or expression that you carry most of the time. If you often frown or scowl, your skin is more likely to develop lines or wrinkles between the eyes, down-turning lines at the corners of the mouth, or other lines or furrows that conform to the frowning facial expression. A smiling, pleasant, relaxed expression is good for your face and will help keep you looking younger.

5. Be careful how you sleep.

Sleeping on your face can cause “sleep wrinkles.” Sleeping in the same position most of the night for years can permanently crease your skin.

6. Maintain a regular skin-care regimen.

Consistent skin care is important in maintaining younger-looking skin. Exfoliation, toners and creams can work, but only if they’re used on a regular basis.

7. Keep tabs on other blemishes.

Waxy scaling yellow, brown bumps (seborrheic keratoses) and fleshy tags (skin tags) occur with age and make the skin look older. Enlarged oil glands and small cysts commonly appear on the face with age.

These small skin lesions are easily removed by a dermatologist using simple office surgical procedures, liquid-nitrogen freezing or lasers. A clear complexion without all of these little distractions gives the skin a much younger appearance.