Can anything help you look younger? What works for pigmentation and acne? Dr Lawn answers our readers’ questions…

Can anything help you look younger? What about addressing pigmentation and acne?

When it comes to skincare, it’s difficult to know which ingredients are worth paying extra for and which ingredients you should avoid at all costs. That’s why we got Dr Lestonn Lawn (a GP with a special interest in aesthetic, anti-ageing and cosmetic medicine) from Skin Renewal to answer your questions about skincare ingredients. The answers may surprise you…

  1. What are the best and most cost effective ingredients to use for severe skin pigmentation or dark marks on my face?

The best way to treat pigmentation topically is with tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that activates pigment production, so a topical ingredient like alpha arbutin or kojic acid can reduce the amount of pigment being made. It is also very important to use SPF every day, as the sun will encourage more pigment to be made.

  1. Does topically applied collagen have any positive effect on skin like increasing ‘plumpness’ and reducing sagging?

Unfortunately topically applied collagen can’t penetrate the skin.

Dr Lestonn Lawn

There are other ways of creating “collagen plumping” with skin treatments. For example, a needling treatment creates tiny little injuries to the skin which activate our skin’s healing response. Certain cells in the skin stimulate as well as produce collagen, creating plumping in the skin.

  1. What are the best ingredients to prevent the signs of ageing in people in their 30s and 40s? Is it possible to start looking younger again?

Ingredients we focus on to prevent premature ageing and increase collagen production include growth factors, vitamin C and Retinoids. With time, these ingredients stimulate fibroblast cells – these special cells produce collagen and elastin in our skin. By using these ingredients every day, you will see lines and wrinkles starting to soften, making you look younger.

  1. I went on holiday and used SPF 50 sunblock and base, but the left side of my face (window side of the car) still showed an increase in pigmentation! I was very upset as I have been having intensive treatment to get rid of my pigmentation. What base or sunscreen is best to give 100% protection? I’ve also heard that sunscreen with more than SPF 30 is a waste of money. Is that true?

Sunblocks are designed to protect your skin against UV rays and prevent burning and ageing, but unfortunately they can’t block heat. Heat can still stimulate pigmentation in the skin. If you are prone to pigmentation, the pigmentation may return or darken.

SPF 50 protects your skin against UV rays, but even SPF 100 won’t protect you from the heat.  A supplement like the Heliocare 360 capsules can be taken to protect your skin from the inside, but it’s also not 100% guaranteed.

We always recommend an SPF 50 product as this gives you the longest protection time before having to apply your sunscreen again. It is important to reapply any SPF every three hours if you are active in the sun.

  1. What ingredients really work for acne and older skin?

For acne and acne-related skin conditions, salicylic acid can be used to decrease oil production as well as increase cellular turnover to facilitate healing. Tea tree is also a good option for acne as it is very anti-bacterial as well as anti-microbial.

  1. Are there any natural products that can be used as sunscreens on the face and what natural products can be used to remove or lighten dark spots and blemishes?

‘Natural’ is a very difficult term as most products need some sort of alterations to be stable. But there are products on the market that contain natural ingredients.

Heliocare sunblock contains fernblock, a natural plant extract that protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. For pigmentation, ingredients such as liquorice root and fruit acids can be used to lighten dark spots and discolouration.

  1. I’m 71 and my skin looks good for my age. Is it still necessary at this age to spend a fortune on products? Should older women keep on moisturising and will those pricy products really make SUCH a difference?!

Well done to you for looking after your skin! It is however still necessary. Older skin loses lipids much faster than younger skin, so if you stop using proper products, your skin barrier will become disrupted and you will start losing moisture. This will result in dry skin with lots of textural irregularities. If you want to scale down, you can invest in a good day cream and night cream to keep the skin’s lipids and barrier intact as well using SPF every day.

  1. I’d like to know more about these ingredients and if they are good or bad for your skin:

Retinol – Retinol is an excellent ingredient to include in your skin care regime. It stimulates cellular turnover, keeping your skin’s natural exfoliation mechanism intact, resulting in smoother skin. Retinol also affects collagen and elastin production, so as part of an anti-ageing regime, it’s a must-have ingredient.

Hyaluronic and glycolic acid – Both these ingredients are very good for the skin.

Hyaluronic acid is the “water” of the skin, responsible for its volume and plumpness. Think about a raisin vs. a grape. Without hyaluronic acid, your skin would turn into a raisin much faster. Daily applications of hyaluronic serum can help keep skin as plump and hydrated as a grape.

Glycolic acid comes from sugar cane and it gently exfoliates and gets rid of dead skin cells. When there’s a build-up of dead skin cells, skin looks dull and lifeless. Glycolic acid helps restore this and makes skin look smoother.

Glutathione – Glutathione can be a good ingredient if used correctly. It normally comes in an oral form that can be taken daily. When it comes to the skin, over time glutathione can help brighten the skin, giving it a radiant complexion.

Parabens – Most products on the market have parabens in them; it’s very hard to make products without them. Whether they’re ‘good’ or not comes down to the quality and quantity of parabens in the product.

Liquid paraffin and alcohol – It is never a good idea to use liquid paraffin and alcohols on the skin. These ingredients can strip the outer barrier of the skin, causing the skin’s natural oils and water to escape, allowing pathogenic bacteria to enter and cause inflammation.

*If you don’t see your question answered, don’t worry! We’re going to be doing this every month with the doctors at Skin Renewal, so there’ll be plenty of chances to have a response to your burning beauty questions.