Tune In: Why Regenerative Dermatology Is The Future Of Healthy Aging + Tips
Some of the most exciting areas of innovation in beauty are through regenerative dermatology1 and skin care. Taking a page from the field of regenerative medicine, this area of advancement focuses on how to restore vitality to the body and skin at the cellular level—using the latest and greatest research on whole-body health.
While much of mainstream cosmetic dermatology focuses on tweaking the external, regenerative care goes internal. "Aging of the skin is a symptom of what's already happening on the inside," says board-certified dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D. "You cannot have regenerative skin care without understanding what's happening in the body."
In this episode of Clean Beauty School, I spoke with Russak and board-certified holistic nutritionist Jennifer Hanway, the experts behind their integrative Anti-Aging Wellness Program, about the emerging field. The entire episode is filled with revolutionary insights about how we'll be approaching aging going forward—and in the meantime, here are some of my favorite tips on skin longevity.
You need to give your body the nutritious tools it needs to regenerate.
One of the reasons Russak and Hanway work together is because the role of nutrition cannot be overlooked when you discuss healthy aging of the skin. Because as Hanway tells us, "You need to give your body the raw materials to regenerate."
Take, for example, collagen. "[You can use topicals and treatments] to stimulate collagen production in the skin, but if you're inflamed, then you're not going to be able to regenerate that collagen," says Hanway. "Or if you have too much sugar in the diet, any collagen that's getting regenerated is just going to get broken down again. Or if the gut health is impaired, then you're not going to have those raw materials. Finally, if you're not putting in those raw materials—like amino acids—then you have nothing to build with."
Start caring for your skin early.
No matter where you are on your skin health journey, the important thing is that you've started. But as Russak notes, the earlier you can start this process, the better.
"When we're talking about longevity on a cellular level, what we're concerned with is the decrease in energy production—it's a slow down of the metabolic and cellular processes. People need to know to start caring for yourself early, when you are still metabolically active, when you still have enough energy in your cells to regenerate," says Russak.
She goes on to explain that "people wait until it's too late or until they're already showing signs of aging that they want to correct, but that's much more difficult," she says.
When you're at this point in mainstream cosmetic dermatology, practitioners may only rely on injectables to treat the appearance. "We had things in our toolbox that would mask the signs of aging. We would use fillers as a Band-Aid over the aging process. We would mask the loss of volume and we would mask some lines. But we got ourselves into a problem where people look overfilled. Maybe they don't have a line, but they also don't look human," she says.
However, with regenerative dermatology, "we want to look how we feel—fresh and vibrant. And that's where regenerative medicine comes. We're accumulating tools that help the body actually regenerate collagen and restore youthful appearance—even down to the bones."
Managing stress & getting sleep.
One thing I'm always astounded by is that as we learn more about the most innovative ways to care for our bodies, it still always comes back to the basics.
"You can do wonderful things with diet and supplementation and treatments and procedures and skin care, but if our patients are stressed and they're not getting any sleep, it's pretty impossible for us to make a meaningful difference," says Hanway.
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.