Your guide to looking your best, always

There are some things in life that can’t be controlled, and getting older is a big one. And as much as you would like to think you are the master of your own destiny, it’s best to just admit that you’re not stuck in a glorified state of never-ending buffness and eternal youth, like Captain America. As the years go by – and the wrinkles start to show – there is no time like the present to take a good look in the mirror, fire up the artillery and establish your best battle plan against time.

Fear Factor

Before you go over the top, it’s important to understand how skin ages and what causes it. ‘Ageing is a natural human process,’ explains Dr Alek Nikolic, aesthetic medical practitioner and founder of SkinMiles, a professional online skincare portal. ‘It results in a reduction of collagen and elastin, a drop in and thinning of the fat pads that support the skin, elongation of muscles that support structures, which leads to sagging, and a reduction of bone density (in the skull), which causes further loss of skin support.’ While you may not be able to stop time, there are other factors that affect the rate and degree at which we age – many of them are preventable.


If you are thinking of kicking off your attack by scooping up a handful of your girlfriend’s no-name brand potted cream twice a day, think again. While male and female skins essentially comprise the same basic components, there are some rather big differences that really make tailoring your skincare regime the way to go. ‘Male skin has a number of differences to that of female skin,’ says Dr Nikolic. ‘Namely its thickness, an increased amount of collagen and elastin, and also a greater number of sebaceous glands.’ Increased oil production results in better natural moisturisation and slows down the ageing process. And if you think shaving is one of the 99 problems you’d rather not have, then you’ve got it wrong. ‘Shaving slows ageing as mechanical exfoliation is taking place, which increases collagen stimulation.’ Along with elastin, collagen forms the building blocks of skin and you want as much as you can get to maintain skin’s natural firmness and fullness.

In your 20’s

If you’re lucky, the years of oily, blemished skin are behind you. But it is likely that your skin is still producing more oil than necessary, so make proper cleansing a priority. Chances are you’re also paying more attention to the concentration of your drink at the bar than the ingredients in your face cream, and if you still think SPF is a negotiable, think again. The next 10 years could make or break your skin.

What to expect

‘Besides blemishes and pimples subsiding, not much change will be seen from your teens,’ says Dr Nikolic. ‘In some men, a slight change in texture may take place.’

What skin needs

‘Along with skincare basics such as a good cleanser and moisturiser that are suited to your skin type, sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide should be applied several times daily,’ says Dr Nikolic. These sunscreen ingredients are effective in reflecting the sun’s harsh rays from the moment they are applied to the skin.

Dr Nikolic’s Picks from

Heliocare Advanced Gel SPF 50 R338

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 R598

In your 30’s

As the gap towards middle-age narrows, now is the right time to start introducing anti-ageing products into your skincare regime and establishing a regular routine that works with your schedule, which is probably jam-packed with climbing the corporate ladder, balancing new family life with old friends and trying to stay fit while working a full-time job. You shouldn’t let good skincare take a back seat. This is the time to start revving up its engine.

What to expect

‘Wrinkles or fine lines will start to appear predominantly in the frown area and also around the eyes,’ Dr Nikolic says. Your eyes are particularly susceptible to the effects of ageing, as the skin around them is the thinnest on the face. Along with the mouth, they’re also one of the most expressive parts of the face, which means wrinkles are likely to develop here first. ‘This could also mean a deepening of the nasolabial folds (the lines that run from the nose to the mouth) and some men may see some fat loss in the cheeks and also around the mouth.’ This is due to a decrease in the production of collagen and elastin, which begins to slow down in your mid- to late-twenties. Other signs to look out for are a change in texture caused by an increase in pore visibility and a reduction in skin smoothness.

What skin needs

In addition to your regular skin basics and sun protection, ‘incorporate products with specific ingredients into your routine including growth factors such as peptides and plant-derived stem cells; glycolic acid for exfoliation; and antioxidants such as vitamin C,’ advises Dr Nikolic.

Dr Nikolic’s Picks from

NeoStrata Skin Active Firming Collagen Booster R846

Dermaceutic Foamer 5 Gentle Exfoliating Cleansing Foam R550

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF R2 602

In your 40’s

There’s a good chance you’re feeling like the force isn’t really with you anymore, and perhaps you’re starting to wonder if what’s going down will ever come back up. The good news? There’s still time to slow down the ageing process, remedy some of the things you’ve been doing wrong (or not at all) and set your skin on the path to Youthville once again. But don’t tarry – when it comes to prevention in your forties, it’s time to bring out the big guns, and fast.

What to expect

‘This is when your skin starts to lose that natural elasticity or bounce,’ warns Dr Nikolic. ‘You’ll also notice a more sallow or dull colour (less glow); deepening of wrinkles around the eyes and frown with forehead lines creeping in; visible pores and a rough texture of the skin. Deeper shadows can be seen on the face with a loss of the underlying fat pads.’ And if you’ve neglected sun protection in your earlier years, you’ll probably start to see the effects of sun damage in the form of pigmentation spots and uneven skin tone.

What skin needs

Dr Nikolic advises, ‘Add extra antioxidants (both day and night) such as resveratrol and increase hydration with hyaluronic acid serums to enhance the plumpness of the skin.’ Your skin will also benefit from applying an eye cream daily and invest in a serum to target pigmentation if your skin tone is uneven.

Dr Nikolic’s Picks from

Dermaceutic Dermalift 5.0 Lifting Power Serum R880

NeoRetin Booster Serum R873 SkinCeuticals Resveratrol BE R2 300

Neostrata Skin Active Intensive Eye Therapy R1 007

Expert Advice

Dr Alek Nikolic

Wynberg, Cape Town

021 797 0960

Supplement chemical peels with dermal fillers for fat pad and support loss. You can also consider Dermapen MD to increase both collagen and elastin stimulation, and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to treat any stubborn pigmentation

Internal Agers

Genetics and skin type

‘Darker skin has more collagen and greater UV protection, so the signs of visible ageing are slower than in lighter skin,’ says Dr Nikolic.

External Agers

Sun damage and environmental aggressors, as well as lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol intake
and smoking

‘Sun damage is by far the biggest culprit in premature ageing,’ warns Dr Nikolic. ‘Lack
of exercise also affects ageing by reducing
the flow of oxygen and nutrients to skin.’ If you’re guilty of these skincare sins (gluttony, slovenliness and baking in the sun), it’s time to wise up about the kind of skin you want to see in the mirror years later. Dr Nikolic offers these words of wisdom; ignore them at your peril (but don’t be surprised when you see Mickey Rourke staring back one day):

1 Always wear excellent sun protection.

2 Apply a good moisturiser twice daily.

3 Avoid excessive alcohol intake, exercise regularly and consider a low-sugar diet.


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