We speak to skin specialist Dr Terry Loong about maintaining a youthful complexion, no matter what your age or skin tone
Thandie Newton (41), Iman (59) and Oprah (60) - wow these ladies know how to age well. Inspiration for the future, I can only hope that my current skincare routine scrubs up well enough to ensure that I look half as good as them in the years to come (even now to be honest - HOW IS IMAN NEARLY 60 FOR GOODNESS SAKE!).
So what exactly should I be doing? When it comes to the most common ageing problems for dark skin tones (dark circles, scars, pigmentation, loss of elasticity), what beauty products and treatments are best when it comes to turning back the clock?
I asked Dr Terry Loong (aka ‘The Skin Energy Doctor’ and Get The Gloss Expert ) to clear my confusion when it comes to what needs to go into my anti-ageing artillery. From the key ingredients that should be on our hit lists, to prevention, cure and a good ol’ serving of skin sense, here are her top beauty tips when it comes to maintaining a flawless complexion for both today and tomorrow.
GTG: In your clinic, what do you find are the most common ageing concerns for women with dark skin tones?
TL: Pigmentation and dark circles under the eyes.
GTG: What are your top skincare tips and product recommendations for tackling pigmentation?
TL: My top skincare tip isprotection, prevention and preservation! Use a sunscreen such as Heliocare , from £25 and antioxidant serums such as Exuviance Antioxidant Perfect 10 Serum , £49 to be applied before sunscreen to protect the skin from free radical damage.
My top product recommendations depend on the extent and depth of the pigmentation - deeper pigmentation will need stronger ingredients and may need a longer time to treat. It depends on the person's goals and needs - treatment for pigmentation may involve downtime so it depends how driven one is to clear their pigmentation in relation to their lifestyle.
For mild cases, I’d recommend Neostrata’s Enlighten range , from £37.72.
For moderate cases, try this skin conditioning programme using ZO Medical Brightenex, Glycogent and Retamax (available following a ZO medical consultation, 0113 282 7744).
GTG: When it comes to loss of elasticity and sagginess of the skin, what would you recommend both with regards to prevention and cure? What beauty products do you think actually provide visible results?
TL: Growth factors, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C are good to stimulate the cells and produce elastin in the skin.
Skin products can only maintain the firmness of the skin, not the volume of the face. If there is loss of volume, this can only be addressed using dermal fillers, fat or PRP (platelet rich plasma).
My recommended beauty products are:
a) Endocare Tensage Serum , £37.50.
b) The Body Shop Nutriganics Drops of Youth , £24.
c) Exuviance Collagen Triple Boost Serum , £49.
GTG: Scarring often seems to be a big problem with people with darker skin tones. Why is that and what products really work for helping tackle it?
TL: When injured, darker skin tones tend to produce more melanin and collagen as a way of protecting the skin, hence producing more pigmentation (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and scars (e.g. hypertrophic or keloid scars).
A good way to help tackle the "side effects" of the skin's natural protective mechanism is:
- During the injury, ensure the area is protected with sunscreen and antioxidant serums to avoid further damage from UV rays.
- When it is newly healed, encourage consistent healing using silicone gel e.g. from the Kelocote range , £30. Make sure you massage the area using vitamin E cream (e.g. from The Body Shop, £11) or oils, to encourage flattening of any raised areas. If your skin can tolerate it, you can also use a mild polish such as ZO Skin Health Offects Exfoliating Cleanser (available following a medical consultation) to soften and smooth the areas, before applying a brightening serum or cream to control the melanin production.
GTG: The under-eye area is often an area that people with dark skin tones struggle to address as they get older. Are there any techniques or products that you would recommend for tackling both puffy eyes and dark circles?
TL: The under-eyes are a tricky area as the skin around the area is so fragile. Puffiness occurs due to lack of circulation, proper lymphatic drainage or overload of toxins in the system. Dark circles can be due to loss of volume around the orbit creating a true tear trough or the skin becoming thin due to sun damage or age so that the dark muscle underneath is "seen through." Dark circles can also be due to lack of circulation or toxins in the system so the skin becomes sluggish and dull.
For both puffiness and darkness around the eyes, optimising the body's detoxification process (gut, liver, kidney and skin) and nutritional food plan is a must to optimise the products you use.
For puffiness around the eyes, I would recommend using:
a) Exuviance Depuffing Eye Serum , £60.
b) Endocare Tensage Radiance Eye Contour , £37.50 which uses SCA growth factor technology to improve the skin's texture and firmness too.
For dark circles around the eyes, you can use:
a) iS Clinical C Eye Advance+ , £48 which uses vitamin C to brighten the area.
b) ZO Medical Brightenex - this is a very effective but strong ingredient so it is recommended that you use it under the guidance of a practitioner.
c) If you have volume loss, I would recommend the Eye Regen Treatment using PRP (platelet rich plasma), from £650 to restore the volume loss, increase circulation in the skin and stimulate the collagen and elastin of the skin in this delicate area.
GTG: What changes can women with darker skin tones make to their daily skincare regime to boost their anti-ageing artilleries?
TL: Darker skin tones tend to be oilier so I would recommend:
1. Exfoliating more, e.g. using ZO Skin Health's Offects Exfoliating Cleanser 2-3 times a week. If you don't like polishes, you can use Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash , £29.90 everyday to gently exfoliate and brighten the skin.
2. Making sure you adopt a good cleansing routine as darker skin tend to have more breakouts. I recommend investing in a Clarisonic Facial Cleansing Brush , £99 to be used everyday to remove makeup properly and enhance the absorption of the products.
3. Use serums (lightweight water-based products) more than creams.
4. Add an antioxidant product e.g. the Exuviance Antioxidant Perfect 10 Serum , £49 to be applied before your sunscreen for extra protection.
GTG: What's the biggest skincare mistake that we can make?
TL: Piling on too many products and changing your skin products too often. It takes time for skin products to take effect so I would recommend using a product for at least 6-8 weeks before throwing it in the bin.
GTG: What would you recommend with regards to sun protection for darker skin tones? What is the minimum SPF we should be applying as a default?
TL: Sunscreen is important for everyone. Although darker skin tones have more melanin protection, sunscreen will avoid premature ageing and pigmentation. I would recommend a minimum of SPF 25.
GTG: Do daily facial massages really work? If so, are there any that you'd recommend we try?
TL: Yes they do. It helps improve lymphatic drainage, removing toxins and puffiness, the blood supply supplying oxygen and nutrients and allowing the absorption of the ingredients. Besides, facial massage is relaxing and meditating, giving you a few minutes to yourself to be appreciative of your face, your skin and yourself. This will lower your stress hormone, cortisol which will encourage repair of your skin and prevent premature ageing.
I created one on my YouTube channel .