Facing 40

Turning 40 is one of the key psychological milestones in a person’s life. We evaluate who we are and where we want to be going. It’s also a time when we start to notice the signs of ageing and feel compelled to do something about it. According to Suzie Hoitink, Founder of Clear Complexions Clinics, it would be ideal if we took care of our skin well before we hit the big Four O. But for the majority of us who leave it to the moment when life catches up in the form of changes to the tone, texture and strength of our skin, Suzie assures us that there is a plethora of fantastic treatments available to help minimise and prevent the signs of ageing.

“Most clients in their forties come to me concerned with pigmentation,or brown spots and marks, that keep appearing on their skin,” explains Suzie. “Despite being vigilant in recent years about sun protection, the damage that was caused in their twenties and thirties due to sun exposure has already been done and will continue to surface.”

Using sophisticated imaging software, Suzie and her team are able to give clients a window into the future – albeit a shocking one.“When I saw what was lying underneath my skin’s surface, I felt terrified,” says Nicole, a client in her forties. “Obviously my skin is paying the price for my earlier neglect and the pigmentation is just getting worse.”

Luckily, Suzie has an array of technologies and treatments at her disposal to help address these issues, but advises that getting the right treatment plan is crucial in ensuring the best results.

For pigmentation and capillary damage, one of the more common treatments is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). In experienced hands, IPL offers a quick, effective solution that has little downtime, and minimal side effects. The downside though is that multiple treatments may be needed and, despite manufacturers’ claims, it does have an Ouch factor.

Laser treatments are also effective for pigmentation and vascular damage. The ‘new kids on the block’ are fractionated lasers that resurface the skin, removing excess pigmentation and stimulating collagen and elastin. “It’s the perfect three-in-one treatment,” enthuses Suzie. “They do have about 4-6 days of social downtime, but if you can manage the time off, they’re worth every second as they yield superior results for tired skin.”If the downtime is an issue, Suzie recommends a newted laser that is a less aggressive alternative. “It’s amazing for smoother, softer skin and minimizing pores. It’s usually performed in a series of 4-6 treatments,” she adds. “But even a one off treatment will give your skin a beautiful refresh, without the need to take time off.”

Initially, wrinkles are dynamic, meaning they are only visible when we move our face and form expression. But as the skin loses its elasticity, these wrinkles become static, or visible at rest. According to Suzie the wrinkles that bother clients most are between the brow (frown lines), around the eyes (crows feet) and on the forehead.

All of the above treatments will help to soften lines and slow the ageing process in the skin. But for those movement wrinkles, Suzie is emphatic that injectables are the way to go. “It’s an issue that splits the world; there are strong views on both sides,” she acknowledges. “But the simple truth is that if you want to stop the wrinkle deepening, you need to stop the muscle moving.

But, she cautions, don’t go overboard. “Time and time again I see women whose entire anti-ageing skin routine consists of injecting with Botulism toxin muscle relaxants. It’s not a good look. We are supposed to be able to move our faces, especially as we age. By all means, use injectables to soften, but it must be age specific. If you don’t address the other ageing in your skin such as texture and tone, you can end up looking strange and ‘done’.”

She believes the same for the use of dermal fillers too. “If volume loss is an issue, fillers can be used to restore some of that volume in cheeks and around the mouth. But please don’t be tempted to put too much in your lips! Nothing is worse than a lady in her forties with 20 year old lips.”

An exciting new procedure that Suzie says is yielding fabulous results in stimulating new collagen is Platelet Rich Plasma. This involves taking a small amount of blood from the client and spinning it in a centrifuge so that the collagen-stimulating platelets are separated. This is then re-injected in the areas that need rejuvenation. “It sounds terrifying,” laughs Suzie. “But I assure you it’s effective and only takes about an hour. It’s perfect for under the eyes where the thin skin deteriorates quickly as we get older. We can’t use lasers in that area for obvious reason, so this is the very best treatment to address that crêpe-y skin. It is also perfect to combine with fractionated lasers for superior results.”

Puffy and sunken skin
Another telltale sign that our skin is getting older is the loss of thickness and elasticity of our skin. We experience a loss of volume in the cheeks, and the under-eye area either looks puffier or more sunken. If you are just looking for a treatment that will gently stimulate collagen and elastin and give your skin a few years back, then Suzie suggests LED technology, in particular, the Omnilux. “This very clever technology uses light on specific wavelengths to stimulate the collagen producing cells,” she explains. “It’s best used in a course of 10 treatments and is inexpensive and completely pain free.”

Microdermabrasion and peels are still popular for mildly resurfacing the skin and are fantastic for treating congested or dull skin. Both these treatments are inexpensive, have no downtime and minimal side effects. “They don’t offer dramatic results,” says Suzie, “but for those who may be looking to tread lightly and get their glow back, they are great.”

Skin Care
When it comes to improving your skin and keeping it healthy when you are in your forties, Suzie is adamant that you need to start by looking at what’s in your bathroom cabinet. Products that contain vitamins C, A, E and B3 as well as Alpha and Beta hydroxy acids will help maintain cellular function and minimize environmental damage.

Where can we get these?“Not in a department store, that’s for sure,” says Suzie. “Cosmeceuticals are skincare products that contain the ideal strength of active ingredients necessary to make a visible difference and are available through medical skin clinics. Make sure you are professionally diagnosed with products suited to your skin. Get it right and your skin will reward your effort every day.” Whilst Suzie does believe that you get what you pay for, she points out that you won’t pay more than any of the cosmetic brands you’d find in a department store that simply don’t deliver.

Suzie’s dos and don’ts
Suzie’s biggest ‘should do’ for clients in their forties is to protect their skin from UV damage.

“It’s a message we hear over and over again but it’s never too late to start. The sun rapidly ages our skin and the older we get, the less our skin is able to cope and protect itself. Remember your neck, chest and hands. Clients put sunscreen on their face but forget those other areas until it is too late. The skin is much thinner on the neck and chest area and requires twice as many, if not more, treatments to get the same improvements as the face.”

Suzie also warns about spraying perfume on our necks. “You know the reddish, brown marks that are appearing down the sides of your neck? It’s called Poikiloderma, and it’s caused by the perfume acting as a photosensitizer (concentrating the suns rays), accelerating damage. It is really difficult to treat. My advice? Just spray it on the areas that never see the sun!”

Skin Diagnosis
Before taking any steps towards addressing the issues of ageing, Suzie recommends that you educate yourself about the exact condition of your skin first, under the guidance of medical professionals. “New technologies and skincare innovations are continually emerging in the market,” she explains. “But before we can draw on these fantastic resources, we need to gain a thorough understanding of the extent of damage to your skin and the problems that are likely to arise in the future, before deciding on a specific course of action.”

The Clear Complexion Clinic nurses conduct a thorough skin analysis of each client, including skin diagnostic imaging, before determining a treatment plan. This medical approach ensures the best care for your skin and the most successful results.