Managing Your Assets
By Gina Way
Photo Credit: Sandro Hyams/TheLicensingProject.com
TOTALLY WORTH IT: PRESCRIPTION TRETINOIN
Pull enough late-nighters at the office and your skin will inevitably begin to look as haggard as you feel. Ensure that you always appear rested and ready with tretinoin (prescription-strength retinoic acid, which costs roughly $300 without insurance), clinically proven to stimulate the production of collagen. Considered the gold standard of topical antiagers by dermatologists, it hastens skin cell production and is ideal for eliminating brown spots and fine lines.
WHERE TO CUT CORNERS: THE COST OF YOUR PRESCRIPTION
Washington, D.C.based dermatologist Dr. Noelle Sherber tells her patients to check a pharmaceutical brand's website for discount codes and coupons. "This functions like supplemental insurance," she says. Over-the-counter retinols like RoC's and Neutrogena's are also an option, though they are less potent (and therefore less effective) than their prescription-grade counterparts.
DITCH IT: "MIRACLE" ANTIAGERS
Scientific research has yet to show that ingredients like plant stem cells or growth factors make any long-term difference to the skin," says Sherber. "They have been studied 'in vitro,' meaning in a petri dish, not on human skin."
TOTALLY WORTH IT: INJECTABLES LIKE BOTOX AND DYSPORT
Consider this popular wrinkle-reducing procedure (upwards of $500, recommended every six to eight months) an early intervention. "When visible lines start to form, subduing the muscle movement with neurotoxin injections can soften them and stop more severe wrinkling from happening," explains Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Garth Fisher.
WHERE TO CUT CORNERS: FOLLOW-UP VISITS
Dermatologists agree that there's not much that you or they can do to make the effects of Botox last longer (saving you additional treatments), but two stealth line-camouflaging techniques can buy you a month or two. Applying a makeup primer with silicone smooths and retouches fine lines (until you wash it off). And then there's always the tried-and-true Rx for masking wrinkles: bangs.
DITCH IT: TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
While neurotoxin injections can prevent wrinkles from getting worseand even from forming in the first placeit's tempting to go overboard, Fisher cautions. "A paralyzed face is not the goal. You want to look natural."
TOTALLY WORTH IT: FRACTIONAL LASER RESURFACING
"As we age, skin tissue starts to sag because collagen isn't as plentiful as it once was. A face-lift won't change the quality and appearance of the skin's surface like a laser can," says Fisher, who recommends Palomar 1540 or Fraxel Restore treatments that cost up to $1,400 per session. (He suggests a series of three for best results.) "It contracts tissue and stimulates collagen production, which definitely helps delay the need for plastic surgery." It also acts like a chemical peel (minus the red, flaking side effects), improving pore size, pigmentation, wrinkles, and texture.
WHERE TO CUT CORNERS: DAY-TO-DAY SKINCARE
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," says Sherber, who tells her patients to maintain an at-home regimen that includes proven collagen-stimulating ingredients like retinoids and glycolic acid, in addition to collagen-protecting antioxidants and daily sun protection in order to ensure and prolong the rejuvenating results of laser treatments.
DITCH IT: NONINVASIVE TISSUE-TIGHTENING PROCEDURES
The jury is still out on ultrasound therapy like Ulthera and radiofrequency treatments like Evolastin and Thermage. "The results have been variable to disappointing," says Sherber. "They are so expensive [$1,500 to $3,000 per treatment, and more than one is necessary] and painful, and some people don't respond at all. That's a major investment for that sort of uncertainty."