Is Skincare Enough? The Truth About Skin Care and Aging

The amount of skin care products available on the market is staggering, with existing brands releasing new ranges all the time, and new brands coming on to the market everyday. They are marketed for acne-prone, mature age, pigmented, oily, sensitive, combination skin, in too many varieties to count, each marketing a special ingredient or function. I know that when my wife visits the cosmetics and skin care counters, I'd better get a comfortable place to sit because it will be a long wait as she goes through her many options!

As an aesthetic practitioner, skin care is my expertise, so it is not unusual that I am asked this question: If I take care of my skin and have a good skin care regimen, am I doing enough for my skin to help it age well?

Skin care products are a very important way in which the skin can be kept nourished and hydrated. Many also have incorporated protective ingredients such as vitamins and minerals which help the skin to fend off environmental stresses like oxidants and ultra-violet radiation. As mentioned in this earlier article, there is no evidence that oral intake of water has protective benefits for the skin, so the best way to care for skin health is by surface application of sunscreen and moisturizers.

The problem is that the skin is very vulnerable to changes, both external and internal. After all, it is the largest organ in your body, and the first line of defense against the environment around you. Exposure to excess ultra-violet radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin pigmentation and degeneration. Temperature extremes, humidity levels and cleansing habits, all contribute to skin problems. Internally, genetics, hormonal fluctuations, smoking and drinking, weight gain and loss, and dietary and stress factors, all affect the health of the skin.

The ability of your skin care regiment to protect your skin from all these factors is limited, which is why many people find wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone and enlarged pores to be a problem as they grow older. You cannot expect to neglect and abuse your skin and hope that an expensive bottle of cream will erase all your sins. 

Just as with the health of your body, prevention of skin damage is always better than cure, so protection of the skin from an early age can help you defy your age for many years. 

Nine Top Tips For Aging Well

1. Sun protection from an early age - The earlier you start to protect your skin, the longer you will resist  the damaging effects of UV rays. Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher, and PA+++ to block both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Reapply often (every 3-4 hours) and use a waterproof formula if going in the water. 

2. Don't smoke. Smoking reduces the amount of nutrients and oxygen in the blood, and in the long term, capillaries that nourish the skin constrict. There are many studies that prove the negative effects of smoking on the skin. Read this previous article to find out more.

3. Don't over-do drinking. This website shows the negative effects that heavy drinking can have on the skin in the long-term. 

4. Prevent skin oiliness and breakouts - The skin's natural sebum balance is important for the health of the skin, but sometimes hormones or poor skin health causes an imbalance or overproduction, which can lead to skin cell build-up, pore blockages and bacterial infections. Consult your doctor for skin care products that can help you prevent excess sebum becoming a long-term problem. In some cases, acne medication or hormone pills may be prescribed to help treat the condition.

5. Keep your skin clean - If your mother ever told you to make sure you wash off your make-up before going to bed, you would have been smart to take her advice. Dirty skin can lead to clogged pores and bacterial infection, causing scarring, dull skin and enlarged pores in the long run.

6. Maintain a healthy diet - There is growing evidence of the effects of a healthy diet, low in sugar and processed foods to maintain the health and beauty of the skin. For best results, at least 75% of your diet should be fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses and legumes. Avoid skin damaging foods such as red meat, junk food, fried, fatty foods, and dairy products. This previous article explains more.

7. Exercise regularly - exercise has benefits beyond the skin as your blood gets circulated so your skin cells are well nourished, and sweat helps to hydrate the skin. Regular exercise also lowers your stress which has a negative effect on the appearance of your skin.

8. Get your beauty sleep - when you haven't slept well, you not only feel tired, you look tired. Over time, this sleep debt can contribute to your stress levels, which translates into poor facial appearance. Plenty of studies have shown the importance of a good night's sleep, read this article for more information. 

9. Seek preventative care - Just as cosmetic medicine has the power to turn back aging, it can also be a powerful tool to prevent the damage in the first place. Neurotoxins are a good way to prevent lines and wrinkles by relaxing unwanted facial expressions (such as frowning or smiling too much). Laser treatments such as Fraxel resurfacing or Clear+Brillant help to deeply exfoliate and stimulate collagen regeneration so the skin is clear, even and rejuvenated. Forever Young BBL is a light-based treatment that has been clinically proven to reverse the signs of aging, and prevent the skin from cellular degeneration. Plasma-Rich Platelet treatments are another exciting anti-aging treatment that uses your own stem cells to stimulate cell healing and rejuvenation, helping the skin maintain its health and youthfulness so it stays younger longer. 

Many people make the mistake of expecting instant results from skincare; they think what they see in the first two weeks of use is indicative of the effectiveness of the product. Truly beneficial skin products work to enhance natural skin immunity and health, correcting problems while allowing the skin to repair and strengthen itself naturally. Your goal with skin care products is the long-term health of the skin rather than an instantaneous, transient result.

-- Cosmetic Medicine, MD

Dr. Liow Tiong Sin is an aesthetic practitioner who practices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, Malaysia. He has more than 12 years of expertise with non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and conducts training courses for other doctors from all around Asia. 
To connect with Dr. Liow, Like Cosmedmd's Facebook page, visit Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre's website at or drop him an email at

Post a Comment