When it comes to ‘anti-aging’ as a beauty category, I think there’s a lot of miseducation and unnecessary fear-mongering going on. For starters, I don't think it should be about being “anti-age”. Getting older is a blessing and I think there’s nothing more beautiful than a complexion that glows with wisdom - or smile lines caused by a lifetime of laughter and joy. However expression lines caused by frowning or stress can make you look tired and angry, when you don’t necessarily feel that way. I’m all for products and treatments that can ease that transition into our golden years and repair the damage of too many summers spent outdoors.
For a well-balanced view on the subject, I spoke to cosmetic physician Dr. Joseph Hkeik who owns All Saints Cosmedical in Sydney’s Darlinghurst and Paramatta. I first heard of Dr. Hkeik when I was working at Vogue - his name is whispered among the most smooth-browed socialites and media types in Sydney. He is known to have a light touch resulting in a ‘”has-she-or-hasn’t-she?” level of work, and in person, he is gentle, kind and really listens. No wonder so many Beauticate subjects are devotees including Kelly Smythe, Laura Csortan and Bahar Etminan (story coming soon). When asked about the subject, Joseph is quick to point out that there are plenty of ways we can welcome the advancing years, gently and practically. “Aging is a process we all go through,” he explains. “It’s preventable and treatable. There’s a lot we can do to make sure it’s not too fast and too harsh to our bodies and our skin and our face.” He also adds that prevention is better than any cure, so on that note…
1. START WITH SUNSCREEN
Since we know that the number one culprit for lines and irregular tone and texture (not to mention skin cancer) Joseph insists that the first step in any skincare routine should always be an effective sunscreen. Joseph recommends Reflect by Cosmedix “I use that on a daily basis. It’s really watery and not creamy. When I’m travelling I use the Ultraceuticals 50+, which has more protection.”
2. ADD YOUR ANTIOXIDANTS
Like any scientifically-minded person you’ll speak to, Joseph knows the importance of using antioxidants – both orally and topically to fight the effect of free radicals. He likes the Cosmedix Affirm antioxidant serum and is also a big believer in using a Vitamin C (he likes Ultraceuticals MD Ultimate C15 + Firming Serum) every second night to help with skin clarity. In terms of oral antioxidants he takes resveratol (by Metagenix) and says that Cosmedix do make a nice peel (called Cabernet au Chocolat) that is very high in resveratrol from cabernet grapes and chocolate along with skin sloughing salicylic acid. “I used to get one before I went on The Morning Show.”
3. IT’S ALL ABOUT VITAMIN A
Also known as Retinol and Retin-A , Vitamin A is an all-rounder rockstar ingredient. “It causes all the cells to turn over at a much faster rate and helps new cells surface. Your skin’s going to be clearer. It works on pigmentation to a certain extent and it’s also good for oil reduction in the skin, for people with acne prone skin, it will reduce the amount of sebum their skin is going to create.” He likes Ultimate Refining Serum by Ultraceuticals MD.
4. AND SCIENTIFICALLY-PROVEN ACTIVES
In terms of other anti-agers that work, Joseph always looks to scientific journals to see evidence of their efficacy. He likes DNA Repair Enzymes (citing the new Elizabeth Arden Rx Triple Protector and Priori Cellular Recovery Serum) Elizabeth Arden PRO Triple Action Protector and Elizabeth Arden PRO Cellular Recovery Serum as good ones ), peptides (Cosmedix Affirm has some peptides in it), Plant Stem Cells (Dermaquest Rebuilding Serum) and Lactic Acid used as an exfoliant.
5. DON’T FORGET SUPPLEMENTS
Taking antioxidants and vitamins orally gives all cells (not just your skin) an even greater fighting chance when it comes to degradation. “My body is like a laboratory,” admits Joseph. “I take an antioxidant – resveratrol and a Blackmores Vitamin B complex compound. I take the Metagenix Vitamin D because I don’t spend too much in the sun and I’ve just started taking Nature’s Own Vitamin B3 500 mg daily as there are Australian studies that confirmed that it can help prevent skin cancer by improving skin immunity following sun exposure. I also take about 10mg of Melatonin at bedtime especially when I am travelling.”
6. REMEMBER SKIN HATES SUGAR TOO
“Sugar causes glycation in the skin, and chronic inflammation and is often is the cause of a lot of arthritis (inflammation of the joints)and more,” says Joseph. “I have a very clean diet that’s very low sugar.” He also avoids gluten for better gut health (due to gluten intolerance, not allergy) and eats a lot of nuts which helps provide vital good fats for the skin.
7. SKINCARE DOESN’T HAVE TO COST A BOMB
Joseph says the most common mistake he sees is women going to the department store and dropping a bomb on fancy creams. “Sometimes women find the most expensive cream and it’s got the wrong ingredients for their concerns and they get breakouts. It’s like they’re a size six and they’re buying a dress that’s a size 10. And often over the counter product is more expensive.” He recommends making an appointment with a cosmetic physician or dermatologist who will devise a suitable skincare plan for you that might contain an over the counter of your favourite brand together with prescriptive cosmeceutical products.
8. EXPERIMENT WITH NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS
There are a range of in-clinic treatments to slow down the march of time that don’t involve injections or surgery. Joseph is a big fan of the Hydrafacial (which combines a ‘vortex fusion’ exfoliation with a peel and finishes with a deeply hydrating Hyaluronic Acid treatment) and Ultherapy (proven to be the most effective), an ultrasound treatment that tightens skin and stimulates collagen production over the next two to three months.
9. BOTOX ISN’T JUST FOR FREEZING
While most people think of Botox as a tool to deaden muscles and erase lines, Joseph uses it as a shaping tool rather than just to freeze the muscles. He uses it in the lower face to lift the corner of the mouth when it is downturned, next to the eyebrows to give them more of an arch, and slims the face by injecting the masseters muscle in the jaw. He even uses it for non-cosmetic reasons, to help patients with migraines or in the neck if they have sore point or a chronic knot in the muscles. "I use it to relax the neck and I also use it under the arms or in the palms and feet for patients with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)."
10. PLAY WITH LIGHT AND SHADE
Move over Touche Eclat, Joseph also uses injectable fillers as a permanent highlighter. “When you look at a female when they’re young, you notice they have a little reflection at the eyebrow and to the side, that bony area of their cheeks. For patients who don’t have that contour in those areas, I can very discretely and very subtly give them a much better luminosity to the face to reflect the light when they’re not wearing any makeup at all.” The latest addition to his toolkit is Redensity 2, a product that combines Hyaluronic acid with antioxidants and amino acids to help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin and protect the skin against oxidative damage.
Story by Sigourney.