Aging in a Modern Age

By Kelly Matthews

MerylAs Meryl Streep glides gracefully toward the stage to accept her Best Actress Award at the 2012 Oscars, audiences everywhere notice how beautifully she has aged, without the help of extreme surgical procedures. She has an air of confidence about her– something that says she is comfortable with her age and appearance. Of course, I would be, too, if I’d just won an Oscar for Best Actress.

JoanOf course, the next step is to see what E!’s Fashion Police host Joan Rivers has to say about the night’s stars and their ensembles. It’s hard not to compare Joan and Meryl. Though Joan Rivers is nearly 15 years Meryl Streep’s senior (gasp!), her taut, seemingly lineless face may fool us into thinking otherwise. Numerous cosmetic procedures have altered and molded it into the façade we recognize today.

Joan Rivers is not so different from the rest of us though. Sure, she has taken anti-aging to a level beyond what most of us would consider rational or attractive. But how many women today wear sunscreen to ward off wrinkles or buy lotions that promise to keep us looking young? This all stems from a culture that has made youth and beauty synonymous.

Dr. Mary Lupo is well-versed in the youth-is-beauty trend. A board-certified dermatologist and nationally known educator in the field of cosmetic dermatology, Lupo has 29 years of experience under her belt. In that time, she says she has seen a dramatic upward shift in the number of cosmetic patients. She attributes this increase to the FDA’s approval of Botox to prevent wrinkles in 2002. Lupo estimates that today 85 percent of her patients come to her specifically for cosmetic anti-aging treatments, including Botox and fillers, laser resurfacing and skin tightening.

“On the face, women first start showing signs of aging with the fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and dark spots,” says Lupo. “When a woman wants to look younger, I focus on correcting volume loss, skin laxity and skin discoloration.”

Photo credit: Youth Renew

Photo credit: Youth Renew

Lupo says she uses Botox, filler and lasers to help corect most of these skin conditions, and that some of her patients start on the regimen in their 20s as a “cumulative” or preventive treatment.

Botox in your 20s? That’s right. It’s not just middle-aged women investing in these procedures anymore.

Deborah Blumka, a medical aesthetician at Aqua Medical Spa in Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood, has noticed a generation of 20-somethings using Botox. Even though this is simply preventive, it can make a real difference in the way women age, she says.

Of course, a 25-year-old wouldn’t be getting the same quantity of, say, a filler, injected into her skin that a 48-year-old would. Different products are utilized for different parts of the face, and every face is different, so each treatment is chosen for that patient specifically.

Photo credit: Rimpel Consult

Photo credit: Rimpel Consult

In August 2010, Town & Country magazine published an article titled “Speaking Volume.” The article focused on injectable “fillers” and how they are “reshaping faces as well as ideas about beauty at every age.”

Well, they are doing a lot more than that. By 2010, the amount of money generated from 10 million injections of the filler Restylane, at $550 a prick, added up to $5.5 billion. That price may sound steep, but the filler can make a woman look an average of 7.3 years younger after one session, experts say.

The other side of a woman’s anti-aging regimen incorporates topical creams and ointments, some used in a preventive capacity, others in corrective, and still others in an effort to slow the aging process overall.

Tracy Giesler is a 22-year-old SMU senior who realizes the value of taking care of her skin now in order to slow the aging process later. Not only does she make sure to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, but she also uses Clinique Super Defense Age Defense Moisturizer, Lâncome Absolute Night Precious Cells and Olay Age Defying Night Cream.

Sure, it may seem like a lot for someone whose face is still wrinkle-free, but there’s something to be said for those women who have the foresight and discipline to protect and take care of their skin from an early age.

Sephora makeup and skincare aficionado Leana recommends the brands Perrione and Fresh as a first-line of defense in battling the aging process.

Perricone products go through extensive testing before production. They are stronger than many non-prescription products and will yield faster results. This makes Perricone ideal for both corrective and preventive treatments.

Fresh, on the other hand, is a softer, gentler line of skincare products. It was among the first skincare companies to pioneer the use of natural ingredients — sugar, milk, soy and rice — in modern beauty treatments.

Whether it’s an over-the-counter night cream or a $550-per-treatment injection, there’s no doubt that the anti-aging industry is doing well. The website predicts that the value of the anti-aging industry will “reach $114 billion by the year 2015 if current trends continue.” That’s a whole lot of money spent on youth.

Every woman, of course, wants to look her best, and great skin never goes out of style. Whether the goal is to look 10 years younger or slow the aging process, there’s no denying that women today have more power over that process than ever before.

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One Response to Aging in a Modern Age

  1. Valerie Rhomberg says:

    This story is very interesting and very well written! Kelly did a great job bringing in sources, and I especially enjoyed the voice of Dr. Mary Lupo, who has been working in her field of dermatology for an impressive 29 years. I found it interesting that the FDA approved Botox in 2002- I thought it had been around for more than a little over 10 years. I also found it amazing that patients of Dr. Lupo start regimens in their early 20′s! It seems crazy to me. Kelly used pictures nicely throughout her story. I especially enjoyed the facial aging diagram. I enjoy how Kelly put an actual student’s regime and what products she uses into her piece. My only suggestion is that Kelly include the exact ages of her celebrity examples. What I took away most from this story is just how important women feel they need to “stop time” and how they truly, now a days, have control over how and when they age. Very interesting.


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