Every day, patients come in and tell us: “Well, I purchased this $250 product at a department store because it worked for my friend. I’ve been using it faithfully for 2 month now, and I’m not sure that I see results.”
Patients need to understand that everybody’s DNA is unique, and so their skin care should be. Nobody will age the same way, at the same rate, with the same symptoms. Aging skin looks differently on different people. Could be fine lines and wrinkles, lack of firmness, lack of elasticity, lack of radiance, brown spots and sun damage, redness, sensitivity, large pores, dark circles…. one person might be presenting one of visible signs of aging (ex: only wrinkles), another person might show 3 signs (ex: wrinkles, large pores and lack of firmness), another person 3 different ones (ex: brown spots, large pores, lack of radiance) and another all of them at once.
Since aging has a strong genetic component (also referred as intrinsic aging), people say that can look at your mom to have a good idea of how you are going to look later in life. It’s partially true, but that’s not enough to explain one’s aging – as the environment and lifestyle also has a strong influence on the long term aging of the skin (also referred as extrinsic aging). And even then, different people will be affected differently by different extrinsic causes.
So why is it that a product would work well for one person, and not at all for the other?
For one, it depends on what the product does, and that comes down to which active ingredient (or blend of ingredients) that is/are included in the cream/lotion/serum. Let’s say that an anti-aging product contains an ingredient like hydroquinone to work on pigmentation and brown spots. One person with brown spots and freckles will be a happy with the results, but if another person is using it as an anti-aging product (as it is labelled) but doesn’t have brown spots to begin with, and wants to work on her wrinkles, hydroquinone is not going to work for her wrinkles because it’s a lightening agent. For that second person to be happy about the results from the cream, it would need to contain ingredients that boost collagen, elastin, glycans, hyaluronic acid to work optimally on improving the appearance of wrinkles.
Making sure to have anti-glycation and anti-MMPs ingredients would surely be an added bonus, as they work indirectly on the skin’s fiber content. If a third person, showing signs of aging like wrinkles AND brown spots, was using that anti-aging hydroquinone-based product, she would be PARTIALLY happy with the results because that cream would work on evenness of the skin, but she wouldn’t be happy when it comes to wrinkle improvement.
I personally have found that a lot of people use anti-aging products that are not targeted towards their particular symptoms of aging.
A product can be labeled “anti-aging” because it contain Matrixyl 3000 (a well-known anti-aging peptide that boosts collagen) but if your wrinkles are caused by glycation, free radicals, inflammation and lack of elasticity, you will not see results from using a Matrixyl-based cream.
Since it is difficult to define the intrinsic causes of aging without a DNA-based test, and that the skin care industry is starting to understand that not all wrinkles are created equal, we see more and more multitasking products. In my experience, these so called “multitasking” products usually address 1-2 maybe 3 aspects of skin aging, but never all.
Another aspect to consider in a product’s activity on the skin is how it is formulated. An important aspect of skin care formulation is the pH (or hydrogen potential) – an indicator of the acidity or alkalinity of a product. It is based on a scale from 1-14, 1 being very acid, 7 being neutral pH and 14 being very alkaline. The pH of a product is important for the activity on the skin of certain active ingredients, such as glycolic acid for example.
Thirdly, it is common knowledge that different people can get very different results with the same product. Experts usually explain this fact by variations in individual body chemistry. Sometimes it is indeed true. However, quite often the truth is far simpler. Different people often get different results because they apply skin care products differently.
Generally, the following optimal conditions apply:
1. CLEANSE: Before applying skin care products, make sure your skin is properly cleansed. The best time to apply skin care products is after you are fresh out of a warm shower or bath because not only is your skin clean but it is also thoroughly moist and should better absorb whatever you apply to it.
2. EXFOLIATE: The uppermost layer of the skin, called stratum corneum, is composed mostly of dry, dead cells. If this layer becomes too thick, as in aged or poorly maintained skin, active ingredients of a skin care product have trouble penetrating deeply enough to have an effect. The skin needs to be well exfoliated to be able to absorb active ingredients better.
3. DAMPEN SKIN: Moist, hydrated skin absorbs active ingredients better because active ingredients can penetrate better when they are dissolved.
4. SHORT FIRM STROKES: Use short, firm strokes to apply skin care products (it is best to use the middle finger). Do not stretch the skin. Do not rub. After applying, gently tap the area with your fingers for half a minute.
Finally, your lifestyle (or how well you control the aspects of potential extrinsic aging). You can use the best products for wrinkles and brown spots, if you continue smoking, lounging in the sun, not using sun protection, not staying hydrated and eating high glycemic foods, you will not see optimal results from your skin care cream and procedures.
Got questions on how to best address the specific symptoms YOU see in the mirror? Looking for the best products and procedures for YOU, and stop wasting money on products that don’t work?
Your 1-hour personalized consultation awaits. We look forward to seeing you soon. 403-287-1477