try these before lasers

A good part of the raison d’etre of Truth In Aging is about trying to put off painful and invasive anti-aging options. At least, for the fainthearted like me. I am always seeking the best non-invasive treatments and potent topicals in the hope that I continue to postpone a trip to the needle-wielding doctor. Although I know plenty of people who have had laser and look great, this is one treatment that I prefer to find alternatives for. But before I share what I would try before succumbing to laser, let’s take a quick look at how laser works.

Laser treatments remove a layer of skin so that the new skin can flourish and fill in the wrinkles and crevices. There are two types of laser: a wounding (ablative) laser, which removes thin layers of skin and a non-wounding (non-ablative) laser, which stimulates collagen growth and tightens underlying skin.

An ablative laser facial is like a sandblast, removing the epidermis, or outermost layer of your skin, to reveal a smoother surface below. Typically, you would receive topical anesthesia, local anesthesia and intravenous sedation so that you are awake, but not fully aware. Temporary side effects including swelling, red crusted skin and discomfort. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average surgeon's fee for ablative laser skin resurfacing is $2,128.

With non-ablative laser, collagen beneath the skin is damaged, and this action stimulates the growth of new collagen, tightening underlying skin and improving skin tone and appearance. The epidermis is not removed. Titan Laser is an example of a non-ablative laser treatment. Read more about laser skin care treatments.

I bet you can guess that my personal preference would be non-ablative, but in either case, the skin is being traumatized, and increased collagen production is a reaction to that trauma. I’d rather find ways to increase collagen without any trauma. Here are some things I turn to:

Ultrasound

As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head into the skin, they prompt the vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen.

LED light therapy

Red light wavelengths improve the skin’s barrier function and enhance the skin’s ability to generate new collagen by targeting water layers on elastin.

Ultrasound and LED light are both incorporated into the FDA cleared Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279 in the shop).

Peptides

Copper peptides, Matrixyl 3000 and amino acids all signal cells to boost collagen production. Medik8 Firewall ($145 in the shop) is a collagen heavy-hitter, with copper peptides and Matrixyl 3000. Indeed, there are several forms of copper in Firewall; copper is the key mineral in lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that weaves together collagen and elastin. 

BRAD Biophotonic Sublime Youth Creator Gel-Cream ($245 in the shop) is an excellent and unusual serum that has a gel-like texture and hits the main collagen boosting bases with the key amino acids glycine, proline and arginine. It also has Matrixyl 3000.

Microdermabrasion

Although nothing like an ablative treatment, resurfacing of the skin from gentler microdermabrasion also improves skin texture. Microderm uses aluminum oxide crystals or diamond tips to buff away the surface layer skin. There are two microdermabrasion devices that work well at home and can be used to save on trips to the esthetician or for maintenance between visits: the PMD Personal Microderm System ($179 in the shop) and Riiviva Microderm ($299).

Skin brighteners

Laser is often used to even out skin tone and remove dark spots. A topical solution will only fade dark spots with months of patient use, but skin brightening ingredients will improve and refresh skin tone for a more radiant look. There are two that work well for me. Nutra-Lift Brite & Lite ($34 in the shop) works by exfoliating with glycolic and salylic acid, and brightening with kojic acid and some natural plant-derived soures of arbutin. Innarah Treatment Solution Daily Solution ($150) is a hydrating and exfoliating serum that stimulates cell renewal. It is a brightening serum (but with the consistency of a toner) and can be used on its own. It’s an unusual and useful product that brightens with glycolic acid and alpine rose.

Refreshing mask

There are always days when your skin is dull as dishwater, and the derm’s office starts its siren call. You need to freshen up. VOYA Maskerade Face Mask ($66) moisturizes with seaweed, antioxidants and rich organic extracts that calm irritation and hydrate dry skin. Skin is left feeling refresh and rejuvenated.