In case you didn’t know, cell turnover takes a hit as you (and your skin) age, reducing from every 14 days when you’re in your teens to every 28-30 days in your 30s and beyond. This leads to dead skin cell build-up, which can cause dullness, clogged pores and thus, acne. Collagen production also slows down, leaving skin more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. We spoke to Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta at her new Mumbai clinic, ISAAC Luxe, and got a low-down on her solutions to the most prevalent skin issues among those above 30
“To put it in simple words, pigmentation refers to dark spots that are an effect of faded acne scars, sun exposure, dryness and sometimes hormones. There are two types of pigmentation: that which happens as a result of dryness and exposure to the sun, or those blue or grey patches that are better known as melasma,” explains Dr Gupta. Anything that causes inflammation in the skin can potentially send a signal to melanocytes, the cells that produce brown melanin pigment as part of an immune response. This inflammation can be caused by UV damage, acne, harsh chemicals on the skin and even hormonal fluctuations, such as those in pregnancy or when taking birth control.
Treat it: Firstly, always wear a sunscreen or a day cream with a minimum of SPF 30 daily (yes, even on those grey and cloudy days), to help prevent the dark spots induced by UV damage, which is the main cause for hyperpigmentation. Daily use of a retinol works well for most skin types—it’s a great multitasker, and works to boost cell repair, regulate oil production, promote collagen formation and reduce cell damage and pigmentation. For a gentler approach, look towards topical serums and creams containing ingredients like Vitamin C, azelaic acid, kojic acid and niacinamide.
For more advanced treatments and procedures, a dermatologist consult at a clinic you trust is recommended, so that they can prescribe the right course of treatment for your hyperpigmentation. Dr Gupta says, “Laser toning is the process of using non-ablative lasers, which work by heating up the targeted tissue without actually destroying it. When the laser contacts the dermal layers of your skin, it creates a ‘controlled thermal injury’, triggering a natural response in the body to produce more collagen and elastin. A carbon laser is a non-invasive procedure involving the use of liquid carbon on the patient, and then the laser to blast it away. Not only does the carbon help lower sebum and oil production, but the laser therapy lightens pigmentation and lessens acne-causing bacteria. Q-switched lasers produce high intensity laser beams with very short pulse durations, that can treat hyperpigmentation for a few months.”
2) Adult acne
Dr Gupta says we’re more prone to breakouts because of the lifestyle we live and the pollution we’re regularly exposed to. “Recent studies have also shown sugar and lactose having a direct relation to acne, so it’s wise to cut these out of your diet. Switch to natural sugars found in dried and fresh fruits, and add almond milk, rice milk or soya milk to your diet,” she says.
Treat it: “If you don’t have acne but tend to break out every now and then, add salicylic acid to your routine as a face wash—it dries out excessive sebum and wards off bacteria. However, hormonal acne, cystic or pustular acne needs the experience of a dermatologist, so they can do a thorough analysis of your diet, lifestyle and blood work, and give you a holistic plan to combat acne,” explains Dr Gupta. Another useful acne-fighting ingredient to add to your routine is benzoyl peroxide, which works by actually killing the acne bacteria, while exfoliating pores at the same time. Glycolic acid is also great because is an alpha-hydroxy acid and an exfoliating ingredient that targets both acne and wrinkles at the same time. If you want to try something more powerful to clear up your skin, Dr Gupta recommends gene induction. “It enables an improved micro-needling procedure along with an immediate infusion of a powerful active serum like salicylic acid or glycolic acid. This helps tackle open pores and congested skin, and visibly reduces acne scars as well. I also like the Fraxel laser as it’s an amazing laser treatment that effectively improves both skin tones and textures. The benefits of the Fraxel treatment includes a reduction of acne scars, as well as an improvement in tone, pore size and pigmentation. A combination of salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids in a customised cocktail peel treats all kinds of acne while smoothing the skin after just one treatment,” she says.
The skin sheds millions of cells a day, so unless you do something to actively remove the ones that don’t fall off naturally (ie exfoliate), you’re going to have a greyish look, no matter your skin tone. The dead cell build-up is like dust, so unless you wipe the layer clean, it’ll prevents your skin from reflecting light. Another cause of dull skin is pollution. Polluted air contains many tiny particles like dirt and sulphur dioxide, which create free radicals on skin. Free radicals damage collagen (which means more wrinkles), and stimulate pigment production over time. And when your skin’s tone and texture is uneven, it diffuses light and looks dull.
Treat it: The most popular exfoliating ingredients you might come across include alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, as well as beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid. They come in a medicated wash, like an acne cleanser that contains salicylic acid, or as a serum or at-home peel that contains AHAs or BHAs. “Facials are also beneficial,” says Dr Gupta. “The Aquagold fine touch is a patented one-of-a-kind delivery tool to infuse vitamins and minerals to your face and neck using needles thinner than human hair. This treatment is great for sensitive areas usually associated with discomfort like the under-eye area, forehead, nose and back of your hands. It can be used to smoothen skin texture with dermal micro-hyaluronic gel, or to enhance laser treatments with serums, growth factors and vitamins,” she explains.
4) Stressed skin
Indicated by dullness, acne and hyperpigmentation, among other issues, stressed skin can be a result of many external factors, including work or improper sleep patterns. “Sometimes, stress and anxiety are also caused by deficiencies. Another common factor for stress are pollutants, which are unavoidable in this day and age,” adds Dr Gupta.
Treat it: “Since stress and anxiety can be caused by deficiencies, you should look into doing blood work so that these can be addressed with supplements. A Black Therapy Facial is great for polluted skin as it uses natural black magnetite to remove fine dust and heavy metal from pores. It deep cleans your skin, unclogs pores and increases skin elasticity. The facial also makes the most of bell therapy for lymphatic drainage, improved blood circulation and skin elasticity. It’s a great option for stressed skin,” says Dr Gupta.