Tune In: A Top Derm's Honest Advice About Aging & Facial Rejuvenation
On the surface, facial rejuvenation is a purely aesthetic endeavor. But once you peel back the layers of what's being done—and, ultimately, why you're doing it—it quickly becomes much more meaningful. In this episode of Clean Beauty School, board-certified dermatologist Caren Campbell, M.D., joins me to discuss the dangers of wanting "perfect skin," off-label uses for some of the most famous skin treatments, and how trauma influences our skin and the way we perceive ourselves.
This may sound like an episode that's primarily focused on the inner work (and in a lot of ways, it is), but so much of what we discuss has tangible, aesthetic outcomes as well. Including these ways to rejuvenate your face.
Tune in to hear the entire episode—Campbell's insights on aging, aesthetics, and self-perception are very illuminating. This episode really made me think deeply about how I look in the mirror, and it might help you too.
Don't hunt for perfection
The first thing to know about facial rejuvenation is to avoid the "perfection" trap. And this isn't just feel-good advice—Campbell notes that in the search for perfection, we can end up with distorted self-perception.
"Our brains are wired to always see the imperfection because it's what keeps us safe. Your brain is going to try to control what it can—for a lot of people, that's having perfect skin. But that's not attainable, so folks are left feeling empty because they can never get there," she says.
Of course, this will impact your emotional health (which can influence your skin via the brain-skin axis), but it also can induce a phenomenon called "perception drift." Perception drift occurs in dermatology and aesthetics when folks have a hard time seeing the ways in which their face changes over time.
"People can't see themselves clearly," she says, noting that when this happens people often start asking for more and more dramatic interventions, some of which may not be to their aesthetic advantage. "I need to say no because I'm still a physician first and foremost, and so I live by 'Do no harm.' And In my opinion, I would be doing harm if I were to give them the treatment that they're asking for."
Address where you hold tension
Stress influences how we age in more ways than one. The mechanism we discuss most often is through the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol, which gets released during times of duress, breaks down collagen, triggers inflammation, and weakens the skin barrier.
But stress can also influence how we age due to muscle tension. Everyone holds stress in the body in some way, shape, or form. And lots of folks hold it in the scalp, jawline, or neck and shoulders.
And chronic tension in these areas can influence how our face ages. "The mind-body connection is so important," she says. "We do house trauma and stress in our bodies."
The first thing to do is to acknowledge the tension and work on lifestyle habits to help reduce stress in your life (Campbell practices mediation, she says). But for those looking for relief, you can even use neurotoxins (such as Botox) as a muscle rehabilitator.
"Being able to inject relaxers in these areas has been really helpful," she says. "Some people don't even know how much pain they're in until you relax the muscles and then they realize how much tension they've been holding."
Use your body's own healing properties
"The industry is starting to move toward these kinds of treatments and potential developments where you're using your body's own tools," she says about recent rejuvenation innovations such as exomes, stem cells, and PRP. "And any good healer should be empowering you to heal yourself."
Take, for example, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which Campbell says she uses for under-eye rejuvenation. "It's harnessing your body's healing pathways," she says.
But just remember, before you rush to try the latest treatments and technologies: "Newer isn't always better, and there's no such thing as a quick fix," she says.
Want more insights? Tune in here:
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.