Summer Ready: Take Care of Your Skin From the Chin Down With Products That Protect, Brighten and Nourish

Sunny Ways

When it comes to protecting our skin from the sun, the neck and shoulders are just as important. Photo: Gabor Jurina

It’s been 30 years since fashion experts proclaimed the shoulders the new erogenous zone. However, for many of us, it also means it’s been 30 years or
more of sun exposure — beyond the face. Here, Vivian Vassos asks the experts what to do about it.

At the dawn of the ’90s, American fashion designer Donna Karan was in her mid-40s, and understood that sexy is not all about in-your-face T&A (although someone might want to tell the Kardashians that). Her designs, famously worn by former first lady Hillary Clinton and legend Barbra Streisand, suggested that a subtler hint of skin, a strategic slash of a V-neckline, a flash of clavicle and a curve of a shoulder are just as scintillating. In 2008, the late writer/director Nora Ephron, with that eternal headline, “I feel bad about my neck,” released a book of the same name, humorously musing on the state of women and aging. And currently, scarves, which Ephron famously wore to camouflage said signs, and chokers (thank you, Bridgerton), are back in style. With all this “exposure,” we’re reminded that the skin beyond the face — from below the chin right down to our lacy brassieres — is always in need of more TLC.

Enter integrated skin care. It’s a new approach that combines topical products and proven technology, which is at the forefront of treating sun-damaged skin from the bosom up, while fortifying and protecting it from further damage. According to Dr. William McGillivray, medical director at Project Skin MD in Vancouver, research backs this up, showing that the delivery of the products into the skin is enhanced when in combination with non-invasive fractional resurfacing lasers. 

A Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, McGillivray also works with medical grade skin care lines such as Skinceuticals, and has been using this integrated approach for many years and he says “it continues to be a hot topic” for innovation. He routinely applies Skinceuticals CE Ferulic vitamin C serum immediately following fractional skin-resurfacing [lasers], such as the Fraxel Restore laser, which, he says, can vastly improve photo damage including pigmentation, wrinkling and actinic (precancerous) changes. Other technologies, such as RF microneedling, which combines radio frequency delivered into the skin via tiny needles to help stimulate new skin growth, are also showing promise.

Dr. Monica Li, a double board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, University of British Columbia, who also works with the dermatologist-developed CeraVe skin care line, understands the desire to erase the damage, but she reminds her clients to be cognizant of the limits of science. “Treatments to reverse sun damage aim to provide superficial repair, but at this time, they are unable to undo DNA damage of skin cells,” she says. At her practices at City Medical Aesthetics in Vancouver and The Skin Doctor, in Surrey, B.C., she employs personalized topical prescription creams. “They can be used to deliver field therapy of cells showing early sun damage that may gradually evolve to become skin cancers over time.” Li also suggests other topical agents, such as retinoids, to promote cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production, which she believes improve signs of photoaging. “Additionally, advances in laser and light-based modalities provide us with options to lighten sun-induced skin dyspigmentation, improve premature signs of aging, such as fine lines where cumulative sun exposure plays a major role, and help to slough skin cells that are showing early precancerous changes.”

Both McGillivray and Li believe treatment goes beyond the clinic to the everyday. A properly prescribed skin care program, says McGillivray, complements and adds to the results obtained from all procedures performed. “Healthy skin not only optimizes one’s present appearance but also can prevent future deterioration as we age gracefully,” he says. “There is nothing more beautiful than healthy glowing skin.”


Sunny Ways
Dress, Greta Constantine, Beauty note: Give hair a natural beachy texture. Try Oribe Apres Wave Spray. Fashion Direction: Zeina Esmail; Photo: Gabor Jurina


Block it


Expert Rx: Always integrate a comprehensive sun protection strategy including a broad-spectrum sunscreen with minimum SPF 30, says Li. Seek shade, avoid the use of tanning beds, and avoid the sun whenever possible during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Li’s pick: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion and Skin Renewing Day Cream, both formulated with SPF 30, combining two skin care steps into one.

Editor’s pick: Biotherm Lait Solaire Corps SPF 50 for the body, boosted by proprietary ingredient Mexoryl XL, which provides photostable, water-resistant and long-lasting UVA and UVB protection.  


Brighten It


Expert Rx: Topical vitamin C — also known as ascorbic acid — is a skin care ingredient with scientifically proven antioxidant effects, says Li. “It helps to build healthy collagen and elastin, fade uneven pigmentation and brighten the skin, and can be used for virtually all skin types.” McGillivray integrates it into what he calls his “Trifecta:” sunscreen, vitamin C serum, and a vitamin A derivative, which may be in the form of a retinol or a retinoid.

McGillivray’s pick: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic with 15 % L-Ascorbic Acid.

Editor’s pick: Clarins Bright Plus Dark Spot-Targeting Moisturizing Emulsion, which uses superfruit extracts, vitamin C and the company’s trademark plant extracts, such as Acerola fruit to help reduce the over-production of melanin and improve the look of dark spots; and Montreal-based Laboratoire Dr. Renaud’s Retinol 0.22 Intensive Night Care.


Polka-dot dress, Magda Butrym,; earrings, Jenny Bird; Fashion Direction: Zeina Esmail; Photo: Gabor Jurina


Boost It


Expert Rx: Skin tone and texture can also be addressed. “We are seeing more chemical peels [for sun damage] that are branching out of the professional side into the dermocosmetic side,” says Nancy Labonté, IDC Dermo’s skin care specialist. The skin care line was developed in Quebec by Canadian medical science entrepreneurs, Eric Dupont, PhD, and his brother Luc. “Also, products using higher concentration of ingredients such as AHA allow a more intense chemical peel, at home.”

Labonté’s pick: IDC+ Glowfix Peel daily brightening resurfacing pads.

Editor’s pick: La Roche-Posay’s Pigmentclar Anti-Aging Dark Spot Correcting Serum for hyperpigmentation and with light-reflecting properties to add radiance; and StriVectin Crepe Control Brightening & Firming Hand Cream. 

A version this article appeared in the June/July 2022 issue with the headline ‘Sunny Ways’, p. 85.


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