Just when we thought we had the whole anti-aging thing figured out—religiously applying sunscreen, moisturizing, exfoliating, and retinol-ing—we learn that some of the very things we're doing to treat and prevent the signs of time could be causing us to age faster.
Turns out that all those efforts may, in fact, be thinning our skin. Which contributes to crepiness, which (you guessed it) makes us look older. Sigh.
Luckily celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau is here to save the day.
The Skin Types Most Prone to Thinning
"The thinning of the skin is more problematic for people whose skin is already genetically on the thinner side," explains Rouleau.
Thin skin has the following characteristics:
- Fair in color—think Irish, Swedish, Scottish and Scandinavian descent
- Small or invisible pores
- Little to no oil production
- A transparent look where you can visibly see blue blood vessels underneath the skin's surface
- Sensitivity where the skin can get easily uncomfortable and irritated with a stinging sensation from products or when itchy fabrics touch the skin. This is due to the nerve endings being closer to the surface
How to Know If You Are, In Fact, Going Overboard with Anti-Aging Regimen
One pro to having sensitive skin is that it tells you exactly how it feels about a product. You should be paying extra attention to products with super-active ingredients like retinoids or chemical exfoliants, as well as how often you're using them.
"If you experience an increase in breakouts, dry patches, redness, flakiness, bumps, or lines or wrinkles that are more pronounced, this would be an indication that something isn't working," she says. "A lot of people fall into the 'no pain, no gain' mindset. There is a time and place for this, but not on a daily basis with home care products."
The Safe Approach to Anti-Aging
When it comes to exfoliating:
"Be sure not to over-exfoliate with too many acids, cleansing brushes, and at-home peels as these all can weaken the skins protective barrier and continue a cycle off irritation—for all types of skin, not just thin," she explains.
Rouleau suggests using an acid serum three nights on and three nights off, using a hydrating skin serum on the alternate nights, for chemical exfoliation.
"Your skin needs a balance and not the same ingredients night after night," she says. "When you use an acid serum three nights in a row, every night it works a little deeper within the skin to give the best exfoliation. After three nights, you're exposing these fresh, new cells so you want to give them other beneficial ingredients like hydrators, brighteners, and tighteners to provide nourishment."
When it comes to retinol:
If it's a prescription retinol, it should be used sparingly and with a well-formulated moisturizer over it—no more than twice a week should be sufficient.
"If you're using a non-prescription retinol, which is gentler in nature, then you can use it three to four times a week," says Rouleau.
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