By Rita Zekas – Special to the Star
We all want Elle Fanning’s skin: Young, Taut, clear, lineless.
Hey, she’s 13 and apparently still acne free.
Get back to me when you’re 40, Elle.
Unless we take precautions, we’re all bound to end up with skin like the Corinthian leather seats Ricardo Montalban used to extol in those 1970s Chrysler Cordoba ads.
This is an SOS: Save Our Skin.
“Beautiful takes attention and dedication,” says Nahla Saad, creative director at Noor boutique, the only purveyor in Toronto of the Erno Laszlo line of skin-care products.
In the 1920s, Dr. Erno Laszlo (1897-1973), a Hungarian dermatologist, treated Princess Stephanie of Belgium for acute acne. Because she refused to wear heavy make-up, Laszlo created a special treatment including a transparent film of colouring that transformed her skin and restored her self-esteem. This attracted an aristocratic clientele and prompted Laszlo to open his first institute in Budapest in 1927.
“Dr Laszlo was nothing short of a revolutionary,” Saad says. “He caused a commotion when he insisted that his patients cleanse their faces with cleansing bars/soaps and water instead of the then popular cold creams. He was also one of the earliest specialists to observe that climate change and sun exposure can wreak havoc on the skin.”
In 1939, Laszlo opened the New York Institute at Fifth Ave. His devotees included the Duchess and the Duke of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn, Hubert de Givenchy, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
“One of the reasons I like this brand is because it approaches skin care in a very sensible way – it does not promise the moon,” Saad says.
THE GROUND WORK to good skin is in the 20’s, when the skin starts to lose moisture, fine lines can start to develop and freckling can become apparent.
Establishing good skin care habits is key at this very early age,” says Saad. “A good cleansing ritual will keep blemishes at bay. Dr. Laszlo treated both adults and adolescents with problem skin. In fact, it was his most famous patients who brought their children to see him. Water and botanical actives were then and still are Laszlo’s answers to breakouts. He was the first to design water-based skin care for oily skin.” A favorite Laszlo product for all ages is the iconic Dead Sea mud soap, featured in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Presumably Diane Keaton is also a fan.
“It is 97 per cent natural, a deep cleansing highly refined bar with natural Dead Sea mud,” Saad explains. “It is beneficial for chronic skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis. Also it works wonders on blackheads.”
During the 20s you get a free pass: Wash your face and take off your makeup at night and you can pretty much squeak through. It’s the 30s when you are horrified by those lines around the eyes and mouth and those errant grey hairs.
“During the 30s fine lines and expressive wrinkles start to appear” says Dr. Lisa Kellett dermatologist and owner of DLK on Avenue, a state-of-the-art skin-care clinic that offers non surgical and cosmetic treatments. Kellett will do surgery to address skin cancers, moles, and cysts. DLK will also remove tattoos.
“The 30s is when you look at Botox” Kellett adds. “Acne is huge in your 30s and 40s – a combination of stress and heavy anti-aging products that are too rich can cause breakouts. You start to see photo aging – the skin tone is irregular and not as clear. That’s when you have to start to use Vitamin A and retinol.”
(Retinol is a form of vitamin A naturally found in the body which fights the appearance of wrinkles and skin crepiness, thereby helping reduce the signs of aging.)
In the 40s its hello crows feet; goodbye jaw line.
The 40s and 50s are all about damage control: Repair, restore and hydrate.
“Aging continues through the 40s,” Kellett says. “You develop more brown spots and wrinkles are more defined. Wrinkles form around the mouth and frown lines deepen. Diamond peels (Microdermabrasion) are effective as are Foto Facials: a type of intense pulse light source that fades brown spots, rosacea and spider veins and improves overall look of the skin.”
“The 50s, that’s when you get static wrinkles. Before it was only when you frowned: now you have wrinkles at rest. There is aging of the hands, neck and chest, where the skin is more delicate. That’s when we use the ProFractional treatment, a laser that burns off wrinkles.
“There is also sagging of the jowls and loss of skin elasticity. The face an inverted triangle: The bottom of the face gets heavier and the jowls develop. Because of gravity, everything falls.”
Gravity is a bitch. Why not just get a burqa?
Plus, we lose cheek fat. Of all the places to lose fat, go figure it’s in the cheeks. God is defiantly not a woman.
Kellett insists that preventing prune face is just a matter of maintenance. No big whup.
“AT AGE 30 and up, it’s like doing your hair highlights” she says. “Use products with Vitamin C, which are antioxidants and good for brown spots. Also, combinations of bleaching agents are excellent agents for pregnancy masks. Melanostop peel is a process that helps treat hyperpigmentation.
“Luminous 1, ProFractionals, Botox and injectable fillers make skin look better and repair damage skin to sagging skin. Thermage (non-surgical tightening by computerized radio frequency) is great for skin laxity. Thermage is also great for wattles.”
What kind of skin care rituals should we be adopting as we age, so we don’t look like sea hags in our 50s?
“Cleanse twice a day; protect it from the sun; hydrate; treat with anti-aging products such as retinol (except during pregnancy), antioxidants, AHAs (exfoliants), peptides: have facials at least every two months to clean out impurities; and exfoliate regularly,” prescribes Tracy Sheridan, medical aesthetician at Gidon Aesthetics and MediSpa.
“Have a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise; find a skincare specialist who can analyze your skin, work with you and make appropriate recommendations as you age.”
What are the chief detriments to a woman’s skin as she ages?
“Not using sun protection, not cleansing properly, picking and probing skin,” says Kellett.
“Sun and smoking, not enough sleep, not drinking water, not seeing a dermatologist if suspicious spots develop,” enumerates Sheridan. “The sun causes red veins, brown spots, skin cancers, lines, wrinkles, and a sallow complexion. Smoking accelerates the sun damage, causes more spider veins and clogs pores. Too much partying and lack of sleep will cause puffy eyes with dark circles and alcohol will dehydrate the skin.”
Both Sheridan and Kellett are adamant that tanning is the worst thing a woman can do at any age.
“Tanning traumatizes the skin,” says Kellett. “In your 30s sun protection is key. Use an SPF 30 or higher year round on the face, neck, chest, and back of your hands. Start to use retinol at night, preferably in a liquid form that doesn’t cause breakouts.” What about recent reports about sun blocks getting a bad rap for being carcinogens? “The risk of skin cancer is much higher than having problems with the chemicals in sun block,” Kellett says. “The basal cell carcinoma rate from the sun is 67 per cent.”
CAN WE REPAIR damage in your 30s or are we doomed to pay our skins sins?
“Retinols, AHAs and antioxidants can help reverse some sun damage,” say Sheridan. “We offer photodynamic therapy (PDT), which involves a prescription medication and light therapy that attacks the sun damaged cells and peels the skin. “We also offer chemical peels and microdermabrasion, mild treatments that stimulate new collagen. We also offer more aggressive laser treatments for more extensive sun damage.”
Botox and fillers versus plastic surgery. Discuss.
“Surgery has to be subtle,” Kellett says. “It has to fit someone’s face and not be overdone. The biggest complaint people have is that they don’t like the fact that they look tired. Injectable fillers and Thermage are great for skin tightening sans surgery. More and more, there is a shift away from ‘tight surgery’.
“Non surgical treatment such as fillers, Botox, intense pulsed light and lasers are fabulous and can make a huge difference,” says Sheridan. “They can take at least 10 years off someone’s appearance, but make sure you are being treated by a qualified physician who has lots of experience and does these treatments all the time. If there is a great deal of sagging, only surgery will take away excessive skin and then the non-surgical procedure complements surgery.”
What is coming up in the skin care that we can be excited about?
“Topical antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, ferulic acid and coffee berry are turning up in more products,” says Sheridan. “We are excited about anew oral antioxidants that will complement our facial and body treatments. Radiofrequency is being added to treatments for facial and body tightening.”
Kellett is pumped about her revolutionary new line to combat adult acne. The line treats acne and aging simultaneously without the acne–afflicted breaking out even more from rich emollients. A four step treatment consists of a cleanser, acne treatment, moisturizing gel and SPF spray sunscreen.
“You can’t have anything too greasy,” say Kellett. “We had an independent lab testing the product and we expect 50 to 60 per cent better, but the results came back that 92 per cent of the test group reported improvement in their skin.”
“WOMAN ARE SAYING, ‘It’s not fair; I have acne and lines,” explains Miriam Mandel, director of product development for DLK. “That’s why we treat acne without drying out the skin.
“Teenage products are too harsh so that pigmentation marks are left behind. There is a residual flakiness. Clearasil won’t heal pigmentation. And the older you are, the longer it will take to heal. The goal is to reduce acne without drying out and damaging the skin.”
“We are getting great visual results. You see the difference in the way the skin reflects light and there is a reduction in fine lines and less pigmentation. It soothes the skin, reduces redness and inflammation and the amount of sebum (oil).”
The kit is $220; each individual product ranges from $35 to $95.
How expensive is the prevention for aging?
“How expensive is sun block and a hat?” Kellett demands.
But don’t expect miracles after youthful indiscretions of baby oil and iodine tanning sessions with aluminum foil reflectors.
“We do want clients to have realistic expectations,” says Sheridan. “Even something as simple as a facial can make you feel so much better. Sensitive skin is a challenge and we advise clients to not use a 10X magnifying mirror!”
A 10X magnifying mirror is not even recommended at Elle Fanning’s age.