Let it Glow
| November 4th, 2015
As the cooler weather arrives, so can dry, dull skin. Stay fresh-faced with these latest skin-care innovations.
In her first television commercial as a L’Oréal spokesmodel, 69-year-old Helen Mirren, elegantly dressed in a classic trench, is offered a young woman’s seat while waiting for the bus. After declaring, “Enough!” she uses her L’Oréal cream, zips up a black biker jacket, strides confidently down a boardwalk and smiles knowingly to the viewer after giving a lingering once-over to a much younger man.
It’s all saucy wish fulfillment, yes. And yet, when the camera goes in tightly on Mirren’s face, her lines are all there, not airbrushed out. But her skin positively glows.
So let us take this as the new beauty benchmark. Given that most of us start getting feathery lines around our eyes in our late 20s, spending the next half-century fighting them seems pointless. Instead, let’s focus on the top five ways to achieve luminous, plumped, radiant skin.
As we age, our epidermis thins, and its barrier function (protecting skin from absorbing things it shouldn’t) can be compromised. Replenishing the lipids and ceramides within the skin strengthens the barrier and helps retain moisture, both for skin health and for that visible glow.
Try: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $23.
“The key to that glow is hydration,” says Ellis Holevas, national trainer for Biologique Recherche, a cult favourite skin-care line. (Its super-hydrating Crème Masque Vernix, $182, replicates the waxy layer protecting fetuses in the womb.) Holevas recommends gently massaging one’s moisturizer in with cool hands, “almost reminding the muscle of its original space” and always “massaging upwards because no one needs to help gravity,” she laughs.
Try: L’Oréal Revitalift Volume Filler Progressive Revolumizing Day Cream, $36.
When we’re young, our skin renews itself in only 28 days but, after age 40, that process slows, while any accumulated sun damage means our cells “don’t shed as uniformly and no longer reflect light as well,” explains Dr. Sonya Cook of Toronto’s Compass Dermatology. Daily use of a gentle exfoliating serum or lotion containing glycolic acid will speed cellular turnover to reveal newer softer skin underneath.
Try: Olay Pro-X Nightly Purifying Micro-Peel, $40; NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Lotion, $39; Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Gentle Balancing Exfoliator, $66; La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster, $335.
Asian Skin Care
The latest skin-care innovations are emerging from Asia, where beauty maintenance is a centuries-old tradition. Today’s skin-care consumers in Korea, Japan and China are beauty fanatics with an intense love of ritual and ever-newer products, so Western cosmetics companies, always looking for new ways to sell us ever more things, are gazing eastward.
According to Florence Bernardin, CEO of Information et Inspiration, a think-tank that tracks Asian cosmetic trends, skin-care regimens of up to 12 steps are not uncommon, as women will double cleanse, double hydrate and layer product upon product to attain well-hydrated, flawless skin.
In Korea, “there are even TV shows showing actresses removing their makeup,” she says.
Multi-step regimens and products like essences, sheet masks and sleeping packs can seem foreign and frivolous to a Western way of thinking. Here, we tend toward brisk efficiency, the polar opposite of a culture that finds comfort and stability in ritual and complexity. But some of these additional skin-care steps and new products can be beneficial to giving drier peri- to post-menopausal skin the hydration it needs.
Even familiar North American drugstore brands are bringing their Asian successes back home. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream ($20,) a hydrator packed with moisture-holding glycerin and hyaluronic acid that launched in Asia in 2009 and is a best-seller in the Asia-Pacific market, is now available in Canada.
Online e-shops like Peach & Lily are capitalizing on the hunger for the newest and greatest from Asia, offering unfamiliar-to-us brands like Cremolab and Tatcha while expanding our beauty horizons with products like Mizon’s All in One Snail Repair Cream, a multi-purpose balm that contains snail extract for hydration and healing.
One new product that may seem like nothing more than an added step but is perfect for dehydrated boomer skin is essence. “Ninety per cent of Japanese women use an essence,” says Bernardin. Existing in the notional space between liquid and runny gel, essences are super-hydrators pressed into the skin with the fingers that can deliver amino acids, lipids and vitamins that hydrate skin and boost the effectiveness of any skin care you use afterwards, allowing it to penetrate more deeply. (Think of the skin as a dry sponge. Dampened first, it will more readily absorb what you put on it immediately afterwards.)
Try: Shiseido’s Eudermine Revitalizing Essence, $78; Biotherm Life Plankton Essence, $67.
Martha Stewart, 73, legendary for her obsessive nature, claims to apply a hydrating mask every weekday morning upon waking. For those of us who like to sleep past 5 a.m., sleeping masks are the answer. Loaded with moisturizers like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, these overnight gel creams are a futuristic spin on night creams, locking in moisture so you wake up to visibly plumper looking skin.
Try: Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, $103; Vichy Idéalia Skin Sleep Repairing Night Balm, $52.
For daytime moisture infusion, sheet masks are another Asian success that has been embraced by the West. These fibre face-shaped masks drenched in serum are worn for up to 30 minutes for the ingredients to infuse the skin, resulting in deeply hydrated skin.
Try: Skin Republic Brightening Vitamin C mask, $8; Sephora Ginseng Toning Mask, $8.
For an even more intense dose of moisture, perfect before a party, after a flight or just to combat dehydration, Peach & Lily’s co-founder Alicia Yoon employs her Sheet Mask sandwiching trick. Instead of removing a sheet mask after wearing it the allotted time, carefully peel it back, apply a favourite serum liberally underneath “perhaps something lighter-weight as your skin has just absorbed a lot of other ingredients,” suggests Yoon and replace the sheet mask for another go-round. Your skin will glow as it never has before.
Yes, this may be obsessive, but the results are undeniable.
Makeup for Glow
Rarely do high fashion makeup trends translate for over-40 women, but the skin-centric “no-makeup makeup” that ruled the Fall 2015 runways is perfect for boomers.
MAC cosmetics senior artist Melissa Gibson recounts that backstage, before raising a single makeup brush, artists prepped models’ skin by “spending a lot of time massaging moisturizer into the skin, bringing a natural flush back to the cheek to make skin look less tired, more hydrated,” says Gibson.
Try: Weleda Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing Day Cream, $43; Shu Uemura Tsuya Youthful Bouncy-Fine Cream, $90.
Jettison any old opaque foundations and lighten up with the new generation of tints that do double-duty to hydrate and illuminate with just enough sheer colour to even out skin tone.
Try: Cle de Peau Correcting Cream Veil, $85. A concealer in pencil form (try: Rodial Instaglam Magic Pen Corrector, $28) ensures you apply product only where needed (under the eye area and on any spots or around the nose to blur out redness).
Instead of mucking about with contouring powders, which can look muddy, sculpt your face with light. Cream highlighters (try: MAC Cream Colour Base in Luna or Dusk for darker-toned skin, $25) applied “along the upper cheek” bounce light to define cheekbones. Use the heat of your fingers to gently melt it into your skin and, for a lit-from-within glow, also apply to “the upper temples, the bridge of the nose and on the cupid’s bow of the mouth,” says Gibson.
Clear pink or plum blush can appear disconcertingly vivid in the compact, but this powder, Physician’s Formula Argan Wear Argan Oil Blush, $16, shot through with light-reflecting pigments and applied with a fluffy brush to cheeks and temples, enlivens with minimal fuss.
A swipe of moisturizing sheer lip colour in a transparent rosy shade (YSL tint in oil, #5, $35), and you’re done – but not overdone.