ask marta your questions

My inbox fills up every week with questions about regimens, skin concerns and product recommendations. Every now and then, I select those that I think other readers will relate to. Whipsawed with worry over dry, sagging skin? Agonizing over which device to pick? Going potty over serums in jars? It's all here. And if it isn't, then ask me your question. 

Q: I have oily/acne-prone skin and tend to break out with most heavy hitters. What's a good option for me?

A: Because this question crops up frequently and I have breakout prone, oily and very sensitive skin, I’ve been going out of my way to find effective anti-aging serums that have been formulated with us types in mind. Michael Todd True Organics Knu Anti Aging Face Lift ($150 in the shop). Not only does it smooth wrinkles with copper peptides, Matrixyl 3000 and epidermal growth factors, but it soothes my skin on disgruntled days and, according to Michael Todd, can help with acne and rosacea. This may be due to the inclusion of snail slime. Really!

Medik8 CE-Tetra ($115 in the shop) is a standout a 7% concentration of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a potent but stable form of vitamin C. In the past, I have rarely been able to use vitamin C because it is too drying (even for my oily skin) and causes irritation. Not so Medik8 CE-Tetra. This is extremely well-tolerated by my skin. Oh, and it works.

Q: I am looking for the most effective products for wrinkled knees and firming cream for sagging skin above the knee.

A: The best thing I have found for wrinkled knees is a regimen: exfoliate, hydrate and firm.

Exfoliate: To exfoliate I use a glycolic such as Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10% ($35 in the shop). This is not a wimpy formulation; it contains very few ingredients and each is determined to do a thorough job including10% glycolic acid lotion pumpkin ferment AHAs.

Hydrate: Stemulation Relance Body Lotion ($98 in the shop) is one of the most rewardingly hydrating body lotions and has impressive anti-aging chops with growth factors as well as some excellent botanicals for tackling wrinkles longer term.

Firm: The most effective firming cream I have found is Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Age Repair Body Lift ($95). Although designed for "bust, belly and behind", it works a treat on sagging knees and flabby thighs. Finally, regular use of Ultra Renew Sculpt ($129 in the shop) firms body areas with ultrasound at 1MHz, FAR infra-red LED and EMS (electro massage stimulator).

Read more about sagging and wrinkled knees

Q: Do active ingredients remain potent if they are in a pot that can be exposed to the air, rather than a closed pump system?

A: Typically, cosmetics are manufactured for a three-year shelf life and are subjected to testing to see if they will remain stable without the product being compromised in any way. Airless pumps can help keep products fresh and may mean that fewer harsh preservatives and stabilizing ingredients can be used. However, other compromises need to be made to, for example, the density and viscosity to ensure the product goes through the pump.

If the formula is designed as a rich cream, then a pot may be the most practical option. But what about those actives disappearing into thin air every time that you remove the lid? Some ingredients are inherently unstable, such as vitamin C (although newer versions such as MAP are much improved on the stability front). But most antioxidants and peptides will not evaporate into thin air and will last the three or four months that a product is typically in use for.

So now you might be more confident to try some pots of gold, such as BRAD Michael Todd’s moisturizer with Matrixyl 3000, Damascus Rose Enriched Anti-Wrinkle Cream ($89) or BRAD Biophotonic Skincare’s Ultra Elastin Sculpting Firming Cream Complex ($195 (in the shop), an active packed serum and moisturizer in one.

Q: I have VERY dry skin and sagging facial and neck areas. I just want something for sensitive skin that works. I know I can’t look 50yrs again (I am 59) but would just like to keep the status quo. I noticed a brush for cleansing and a machine that helps for sagging skin?

A: The Ultra Clear is a facial cleansing system  by Truth in Aging ($86 in the shop) that is great for sensitive and mature skin. As proper cleansing and exfoliation is the foundation of a good skincare regime, it's a great addition to one's regimen.

The Ultra Renew Plus ($159 in the shop) combines ultrasonic and LED to help firm and lift, repair wrinkles, help with hyperpigmentation, as well as breakouts. This is a great multi-purpose tool, and our founder, Marta Wohrle, finds that ultrasonic is the best thing she has found to help firm and plump sagging skin.

To help with dry skin, you might consider the Hyalogic Episilk line, which formulates with super hydrating sodium hyaluronate and is very suitable for sensitive skin. In particular, the Episilk Pure Hyaluronic Serum ($59.95 in the shop), which also has Pepha-Tight, an instant skin tightening active.

Another product I recommend that has been a Five Best for Sagging Skin, and is also great for hydrating, is the La Vie Celeste Extra Rich Face Cream with R-Lipoic Acid, Chronoline and Apple Stem Cell ($75 in the shop) – ChroNOline is a peptide that helps with elasticity and supporting sagging skin.

Q: Should I incorporate sodium hyaluronate into my regimen? If so, what should I use? 

A:  It is important to understand how sodium hyaluronate works. It is water-binding and water-attracting. Some people in very dry climates report that sodium hyaluronate serums make their skin drier. This may because, this water attracting active draws on the moisture in the skin when there is little in the atmosphere. If you live in a normal to humid climate then it can be very useful as it fills up the spaces between the connective fibers collagen and elastin in the dermis and prevents elastin from getting dry and brittle.

Serums with hyaluronic Sevani Hyaluronic Wrinkle Defense ($60 in the TIA shop), Your Best Face Hydrate B Concentrate ($40 in the TIA shop) and Prana Active Vitamin Lift Serum ($75 in the TIA shop).

Q: I am interested in a device but am struggling to decide between Myotone and Ultra Renew Plus.

A: Myotone Facial Toning System ($279) is microcurrent and uses a subsensory electric current that delivers a pulse to the facial muscles and stimulates them and the surrounding tissue. Because microcurrent works at the muscular level and so is a good complement to LED and ultrasound, which plump and smooth the complexion. So, conceivably, you can use both (I do by alternating them during the week, two sessions Ultra Renew Plus followed by one Myotone session). If you have to choose, it will depend on your concerns. Myotone is mostly for firming, whereas ultrasound firms, and smooths wrinkles, as does LED. So if you only concerned with firming, Myotone would be a good choice. If you are concerned about firming, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation then the Ultra Renew Plus by Truth In Aging ($149 in the shop) with LED, ultrasound and galvanic (positive and negative ions).