Okay, I may not be popular for saying this, but hopefully you will thank me for stating the obvious. We have all seen the “sans-makeup” insta-pics of the famous. And, while there are many who have gorgeous glowing skin there are some who look sallow, exhausted and quite frankly — older.  Yes, I really went there! Don’t get me wrong I love the whole “let’s bare it all” campaign and while most of these women appear to be wrinkle-free, many are ignoring other signs of aging that can be prevented and/or repaired. So take a cue from the famous and bare it all, but make sure you skin is looking famously flawless before you do. Here’s what to watch out for, along with easy ways to turn back the clock.

Dark Spots

Brown spots, age spots, liver spots, sun spots call it whatever you want.  It is photo-aging of the skin due to over exposure to the sun (or heaven forbid…tanning beds). Photo-aging changes the normal structure of the skin and can be attributed to 90% of the aging (wrinkles, spider veins, loss of volume, pigmentation) on sun exposed skin.  Look at an area of your body that has had very little sun if any and compare it to an area that has had sun exposure. Look different? When exposed to UV rays an overproduction of melanin can manifest on the skin creating dark spots. The effect on your appearance is every bit as aging as wrinkles. Shockingly, a 2009 study done on facial aging in identical twins found that different amounts of sun exposure made the more sun-damaged sibling look as much as 10 years older! And the real kicker, sun-damage keeps on coming. The damage you do today will keep showing up on your skin for years!

Not all dark spots (or dark patches) are created the same. Some dark patches caused by inflammation or hormones are known as melasma. It typically occurs on the face and is symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face. Other areas of your body that are often exposed to sun can also develop melasma. And, while the sun is not the initiator of this type brown spot/patch, melasma will darken with exposure to the sun.

Solution: Wear sunscreen, folks. Some people think if the damage was done in their teens, why bother with sunscreen now? This is a serious mistake. Sun damage is cumulative and your goal is to break the cycle. It is never, ever too late to use an SPF. In my book sunscreen is your top priority.

Once you have reached your thirties, everyone (and I mean everyone…the famous included) has brown spots from damage done before the age of 18. Can you even imagine what a decade of sun worship will look like on the face of a 40+?  It makes me cringe to think about. The great thing – it can be corrected with today’s technology! First, I want to give a high-five to all of the incredible lightening and brightening serums, lotions and creams available today. These are an absolute must for maintenance after corrective treatments. I find those with Vitamin C produce the best results. However, topicals alone may never get you where you want to go.  A series of chemical peels (depending on the strength and formulation) will get you quicker results than topicals.  I love chemical peels for their instant brightening effect. Over time chemical peels can lighten sun damage, but if you want to eliminate sun damage fast – read on. The #1 best treatment for brown spots is IPL Photofacial, a light therapy.  I know – this seems strange using light to correct the damage of the sun, but trust me it works. Without getting into the details of the technology, IPL Photofacial targets skin discolorations known as age spots, sun damage, freckles, liver spots, brown spots, dark spots. IPL Photofacial light therapy eliminates brown spot(s) in a few treatments without downtime.  I love technology!

Sorry, my melasma friends need to stick with chemical peels. Due to the underlying cause of melasma (inflammation and/or hormones) the IPL Photofacial can cause melasma to worsen. If you suspect you have melasma and someone is selling you IPL Photofacial, decline and try a chemical peel first.  Wait let me rephrase that, get yourself to an experienced skin specialist who can properly distinguish melasma from other brown spots, get a chemical peel ( a series of chemical peels is better) and never leave home without sunscreen.

Dry, Dull Skin

It’s no coincidence that the harshest season of the year is called Old Man Winter—chilly weather is brutal on the skin. The cold air and arid indoor heat break down your skin’s protective barrier, making it blotchy, flaky, older-looking. It is easy to pick on Old Man Winter, but the fact is as we age, hormones and growth factors decline and the rate at which the skin renews itself slows (elastin and collagen). In turn the brakes are applied on the production of sebum (skin oil) leading to major dryness. I am going to state the obvious, but please bear with me. A youthful glow is all about luminosity and dry, rough, scaly skin stops light in its tracks! Once you start to experience dryness remember if the dead cells are not removed your skin will look chalky and dull! Not only that, but the un-sloughed cells can prevent moisturizers and anti-aging creams from penetrating the skin. What a waste of time and money! Also – if you are like me – dry skin causes me to breakout. Think about it. Dry skin and dead cells block pores and blocked pores can mean pimples. UGH! There really should be a law against pimples after 40 (and 50 J ).

Solution: Facials are a great way to combat dryness during the winter months. Let’s face it facials are great all year round, but the type of facial you get in the summer may change when winter rolls around. Just because you are “oily” in the summer does not mean you are “oily” in the winter. Check in with your skin specialist to have an accurate skin-typing as the seasons change. For our more mature skin, try moisturizing facials all year round.

There are two things you want to do to combat dry, dull skin…remove existing dead skin cells and increase the production of collagen and elastin. OK I am going to say it again – I love technology! There are so many choices here. First up – chemical peels! A chemical peel is one the fastest, easiest way to eliminate dead skin cells.  Today’s chemical peels come in a wide-variety of formulations and are literally safe every skin type.  If you haven’t had a chemical peel lately it is time to strip off the vestiges of winter and get ready for spring!  Next up is the “holy grail” of dry dull skin – Venus Viva. Venus Viva is skin resurfacing system which treats deep lines & wrinkles, textural irregularities, pigmentation and many more. It uses NanoFractional Radio Frequency to deliver energy to rebuild collagen! Now do you see why I say it is the “holy grail”? Building collagen is one of the cornerstones of luminescent skin and luminescent skin translates into youthfulness.

Other considerations for treating dry, dull skin are Micro-Needling and IPL Photofacial. As mentioned above IPL Photofacial is the “holy grail” for brown spots and pigmentation. Another lesser-known benefit is its ability to boost production of collagen and elastin.  Micro-Needling works in an entirely different way to increase the production of collagen.  It creates minor (trust me it is when I say minor) punctures in the skin which prompts the natural healing process or in other words boosts production of collagen.

Dark Circles

Dark circles can be attributed to three things: genetics, allergies and/or age.  As your skin is doing the whole “growing-old-gracefully” thing the skin under your eyes beings to lose becomes thinner, allowing blood vessels to show through. This makes the under-eye area appear dark or discolored, and makes you look tired and older. And, if that wasn’t enough, the youthful fat under your eye starts to deteriorate leading to hollowness and a shadowy effect.

Solution: First, rule out allergies. If you live in Austin the likelihood you have allergies is 99.9%.  So let’s just assume you have allergies at some point in every year. Whatever you do, resist the urge to rub when they are itchy. Your skin builds up pigment in response to rubbing. I know it is hard to keep your hands away from your eyes if they are itching like crazy, but resist, resist, resist!!! To alleviate allergy eyes try cold compresses, antihistamines and allergen-reducing pillow covers.

Genetically you may be predisposed for dark circles. That’s ok you do not have to live with it.  First a lightening cream can brighten the area. Exfoliating creams or chemical peels can remove dead skin cells creating a light-reflecting effect. Finally our friend IPL Photofacial, effective in targeting skin discoloration, may be able to lighten the underlying pigmentation significantly.  Always check with your skin specialist for the proper course of action

I know we all hate the word fat, but in the case of the eyes we may need a little strategically placed volume to reduce the appearance of hollowness as we age.  By plumping areas under the eyes with dermal filler, the underlying pigmentation is hidden and youth is restored!  But what about our friends with bags under the eyes.  I am talking about the ones that come with age and not salty food or allergies. Once again a deliberate placement of dermal fillers can ease the appearance of bags under the eyes. Dermal fillers are my “holy grail” for transformer volume around the eyes.