How To Care For Mature Skin With Naturals — No Pro Treatments Needed — From A Derm
How can you actually help your skin look its best for longer? It's a challenging question that can conjure up many differing opinions. In my most recent episode of Clean Beauty School, I spoke with double board-certified dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, M.D., Ph.D., FAAD, about what she thinks. She's the expert, after all. The aesthetic and clean skin care pioneer holds three degrees from Harvard (including her medical degree and doctorate in genetics) and has helped develop many of the treatments, surgeries, and topicals used today to achieve youthful, firm skin.
See, as the derm explains in the episode, she first aimed to replace the need for cosmetic surgery by developing in-office procedures (like lasers, injectables, and the like). But her next iteration is to replace those with highly potent naturals that promote skin health and longevity.
Can naturals be as effective as "anti-aging" treatments?
"I feel like there is still a place for everything—for medical, cosmetic, and surgical treatment options—until I've been fully able to replace all of these procedures with natural, active ingredients," she says. "The ultimate goal is to put highly effective, clean, active ingredients into the hands of the consumer—and in my view to democratize aesthetics. It shouldn't be just that [the] super affluent who can afford all these very expensive surgeries or procedures can have [skin longevity]."
beauty & gut collagen+
The one-step beauty routine for youthful skin, healthy hair & strong nails.*
Certainly it's a message we can get behind: prioritizing long-term skin health over quick fixes. "If you use natural and organic ingredients in your skin care, or even in your diet, you will in the long run, look better, healthier, and more beautiful than those who go for the quick fixes," she says. "Quick fixes and aggressive treatments may look good for a night, a week, or even a month or two. But if overused, they can damage the skin. And as the months and years go by, the skin can actually look worn and unhealthy. So you're far better served going with the healthy, organic plant ingredients that actually boost skin health and naturally repair damage."
Before we begin, both Alexiades and I note that there's nothing wrong with getting in-office treatments should that be what you want to do. However, we also want to provide options for people who can't or do not want to go that route.
Here, some of her favorite ingredients that perform like in-office treatments.
Plumping: Peptides & microencapsulated hyaluronic acid.
As Alexiades notes, people typically turn to fillers and neurotoxins to smooth fine lines. Fillers plump up the deep, set-in wrinkles under the skin with ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Neurotoxins freeze and relax the muscle, so expression lines are eased and new ones aren't as likely to form.
"Peptides and microencapsulated hyaluronic acid can replace injectables. These help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles through boosting skin thickness," she says. "Historically, we've done this using injections, but if you can deliver peptides and microencapsulated hyaluronic acid to the correct layer of the skin, you can achieve similar effects," noting that the key is to use these topicals consistently.
Discoloration & redness: Amino acid derivatives and caffeine extracts.
Dark spots (sometimes called age or sun spots) are a common concern that comes with aging. See, as we get older, all that cumulative environmental damage can start to show up by way of discoloration. "For brown spots, we usually use peels, lasers, or prescription-grade topicals," she says. "But amino acid derivatives can brighten brown blotches in the skin."
Redness is another issue that may happen for some as they age (skin gets more sensitive with age, which can account for this), but she notes you can address this through highly targeted caffeine extracts. "Natural caffeine that comes from a host of plants—such as teas, coffee extract, yerba mate, or feverfew—help reduce redness. They can also help de-puff and reduce swelling via the lymphatic drainage-type system."
Repair and elasticity: Plankton algae extract.
One of the more popular skin rejuvenation treatments is via potent peels and lasers. These stimulate a wound repair response in the skin—as they superficially remove layers of the epidermis—thus encouraging collagen and elastin production. (If you use at-home peels like those with glycolic acid, it stimulates a similar response, just on a smaller scale.) However, Alexiades believes there are better, more effective, and kinder ways to encourage skin repair.
"Sea extracts from plankton algae can help repair skin damage in the DNA, due to sun and pollutants, to improve overall skin quality. I believe that we can repair the skin in real time and in the long term instead of just chronically peeling the skin to make it look like it has fewer wrinkles," she says. "With these actives, we can actually make the skin look and behave like it's 25 years younger."
The good news is that some of the best minds in aesthetics fully believe that you can get comparable results from in-office treatments as you do with regular and consistent use of highly effective natural topicals. Alexiades is proof. If you want more tips, be sure to tune in.