There’s a lot we’re willing to do in the name of beauty. From trying various topical creams and serums to even invasive surgeries, it’s fair to say that slowing signs of aging is a skin care priority for many Americans. But does achieving healthier, more youthful-looking skin have to come at such a high cost?
We examine various methods of anti-aging treatments and compare them to cosmetic acupuncture—a natural whole body treatment—to see which methods will work best for your skin.
The Aging Process
Changes to our skin is one of the first and most visible signs of aging. These changes are the result of a few major factors:
- Sun exposure
- Environmental factors
- Genetic makeup
- Work life and stress
- Recreational choices (smoking, alcohol, etc.)
- Diet and exercise
As we age, the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) thins and pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decrease, leaving the skin looking paler, thinner and even translucent. Additionally, sun-damaged skin will yield age spots (also referred to as liver spots or solar lentigines).
In deeper levels of skin (dermis and subcutaneous), elasticity and strength is reduced, blood vessels become more fragile, sebaceous glands produce less oil and the subcutaneous fat layer thins. All of this can lead to various visible and invisible skin conditions.
Because of this, the anti-aging market is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is projected to grow “at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 7.5% between 2012 and 2016.”
With that said, what are some of the ways people can slow the effects of aging, while still embracing their age?
Common Anti-Aging Treatments
From creams to surgery, there are a plethora of options when it comes to anti-aging treatments; however, it’s important to note that these things delay the aging process, not stop it entirely.
Home care is critical when it comes to maintaining your skin, so incorporating some of these ingredients into your skin care routine will help keep your skin healthy while still embracing the natural aging process.
- Sunscreen—The easiest way to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful is to protect it against harmful UV rays, which is the leading cause of skin damage.
- Retinol—A Vitamin-A derivative, retinol is one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients available. It works by speeding up cell turnover, getting rid of the dead cells while simultaneously boosting collagen and elastin. (We love Image Skincare’s Ageless line and sell it at Blue Creek!)
- Vitamin C—This powerful antioxidant’s main job is to protect skin against UV damage, but it also boosts collagen and brightens the skin (great for pigmentation problems).
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids—By sloughing away dead skin, these acids help stimulate cell renewal which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Tea Extracts—Because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, tea extracts (especially green tea) help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Niacinamide—Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, niacinamide is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging skin. Among these benefits is the ability to visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness and a weakened skin surface. By reducing water loss in aging skin, niacinamide helps improve elasticity, keeping skin looking bright and youthful.
- Hydroquinone—When it comes to treating hyperpigmentation (such as age spots), hydroquinone works by blocking the enzyme responsible for melanin production. It is important to note that this ingredient is slowly being phased out in the U.S. (it’s already banned in Europe) in lieu of more natural lighteners. We love Eminence Organic Skin Care’s Bright Skin line!
A great addition to any skin care routine are peels! A combination of peels and proper home care is vital for helping encourage the cellular turnover (which slows as we age). Peels also help to drive powerful acids into the different layers of the epidermis.
In addition to the aforementioned ingredients, regular professional skin care treatments can help support your overall wellness goals.
- Microdermabrasion—Using tiny, fine particles, this mechanical device helps suction away dead skin cells (from the top layer of skin), promoting new growth.
- Dermaplaning—This treatment uses a sterile and gentle scalpel to take off surface debris, dirt, oil, dead skin cells and even “peach fuzz” (vellus hair), which triggers collagen production, leading to firmer and smoother skin.
- Chemical Peels—Ranging from superficial to deep, chemical peels can alleviate age spots, wrinkles, acne scars, dull skin and discoloration by removing the top layer of skin and promoting new growth. This is one of the best options for non-invasive cosmetic treatments!
- Laser Resurfacing—These specialized lasers use high-intensity light to improve the look of wrinkles and scars by tightening skin that has lost its elasticity. (*Laser resurfacing can require more downtime than other non-invasive treatments depending on the specific treatment.)
- Botox—One of the most ubiquitous treatments in the anti-aging world, Botox works by paralyzing small facial muscles, which smooths out fine lines and wrinkles.
- Filler Injections—Containing hyaluronic acid, these injections help plump up wrinkles by replacing naturally-occurring sugars that decrease with age. The biggest issues with fillers is that it is hard to control where the treatment settles, and if it separates, it can lead to a bumpy appearance.
- Plastic Surgery—On the most extreme end, invasive surgeries, such as facelifts can offer the most long-lasting results, but still cannot stop the aging process.
But what if there was a more natural way to keep skin healthy as we age? Consider cosmetic acupuncture, which doesn’t involve any injections and is a much safer anti-aging treatment. In fact, it doesn’t just treat signs of aging—acupuncture helps heal your body from the inside out, which naturally leads to healthier, more younger-looking skin.
What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?
The most important philosophy with facial acupuncture is that it respects the body’s natural aging process with the goal of aging gracefully instead of looking younger. Using our body’s healing processes, acupuncture helps bring the body to homeostasis, promoting better overall health.
At the root of good skin is good health, which is why your first treatment will involve an initial consultation where will get to understand your unique constitution and habits. This includes things such as sleep patterns, diet, exercise level, digestion, overall energy and levels of stress. Once we have a better understanding of your constitution, we can develop a personalized treatment plan for you.
Anti-Aging Effects of Cosmetic Acupuncture
Cosmetic acupuncture treats more than just your face. It is a whole body treatment that works by increasing the circulation of blood, qi, lymph in the body and up to the face. After body needles are implemented, fine (facial) needles are used on the face at specific motor points to encourage lifting and toning at specific acupuncture points (custom to that patient), and along specific lines and wrinkles.
In their book, Martha Lucas, Ph.D., L.Ac. and Denise Ellinger, L.Ac. explain how acupuncture can help give you younger-looking skin: “Inserting needles in the skin causes little micro-traumas that stimulate your body’s wound healing process. This wound healing process balances out the dispersal of collagen by encouraging fibroblasts (cells that form collagen and elastin fibers) to migrate to the needling sites and lay down new collagen fibers. That means that your skin becomes more collagen-and elastin-rich through the acupuncture process.”
Why is Cosmetic Acupuncture Different Than Other Anti-Aging Treatments?
The beauty and uniqueness of acupuncture is that it is a whole body treatment. It does not simply “fight” signs of aging, but promotes homeostasis in the body, which in turn, promotes overall health within the body and spirit.
Our resident facial acupuncture expert, Megan Moon Long, shares a case study from one of her recent patients:
“The treatments help me to look brighter and more rested. The look is not drastic, but subtle, which is a plus. Megan is very knowledgeable in this field, and she makes me feel secure and comfortable. She is friendly, kind and trustworthy!” – Melinda A.
After 10 treatments, she noticed an 80% overall improvement in skin/face, eyes (brighter), sleep and energy.
When it comes to aging, there are so many negative connotations that make people ashamed of one of their body’s most natural processes. At Blue Creek, one of our main goals with facial acupuncture is to offer realistic expectations and to help patients embrace the aging process, while providing professional treatments, at-home skincare products and routines and lifestyle recommendations to help you look and feel great from the inside out.
Interested in cosmetic acupuncture? At Blue Creek, we offer affordable treatments ($90 for 45 min.) in a semi-private space and tailor a treatment plan (masks, peels, at-home options, etc.) for your unique constitution so you can feel healthy and confident in your skin.