The Facelift That Never Happened

The pressure to “do something” —meaning dramatic steps, like a facelift—about aging is everywhere in our society. The opposite pressure, to “age gracefully,” is at least as powerful, and neither is particularly helpful: One-half of the population is supposed to look young as long as possible, but also to reflect no signs of that struggle against nature.

Actual facelifts have come a long, long way from the pulled-tight caricature, but as Dr. Julius Few, a top plastic surgeon in Manhattan and Chicago, explains, they are also—for some—becoming obsolete. Surgeons like him, he says, are busier than ever, yet doing fewer facelifts. “Of course, I still do facelifts,” he says. “If you’re in your ‘60s and you haven’t taken care of your skin, a thread lift isn’t going to give you the results you’re looking for. But for people who’ve taken care of themselves, combination therapies—especially involving the new thread lifts—are starting to approach facelift-like results without the surgery. I love being able to say. ‘Here are some options for you,’ rather than simply ‘surgery or nothing.’”

Few’s technique involves what he calls the stacking of treatments—starting with healthy, cared-for skin, and building on it with ultrasound technology like Ultherapy, new minimally-invasive thread-lifts from Silhouette, plus dermatologic staples like Botox, fillers, and lasers. “There’s a whole new category of patients who aren’t trying to look like they’re a different age than they are, they’re just trying to look better,” says Few. “Many of these people would never get surgery, others might have in the past but are now finding they might not need it.”

Facelifts address sagging and wrinkling, but don’t address skin texture, color (aka age spots), or, most critically, the volume that’s characteristic of a youthful face. “Dr. Woffles Wu, a plastic surgeon in Singapore, pioneered the idea of the three-dimensional lift, where you’re stimulating collagen as you’re lifting the skin,” he says. Volume added back into the face via fillers alone can easily look out of kilter, Few observes. “Those therapies alone can look a little unusual,” he says. “The cheeks, in particular, end up with an outward projection that’s not as natural-looking as I’d like.”

“Now, with the new Silhouette thread lift, I lift the cheeks and stimulate collagen the way it would naturally grow in those areas, “ he says. “And we achieve those results without the negatives of the thread lifts of the early 2000s, which used barbed sutures and non-dissolving threads, both of which caused problems. The Silhouette technique is critically different in that it uses cones instead of barbs to hold the threads within your skin, and biodegradable threads.” The results—skin that’s both lifted and plumper, thanks to the collagen-stimulated effects of the threads and cones themselves—last at least two years, but Few says he augments those benefits by layering it over Ultherapy treatments: “Ultherapy stimulates the collagen further, deep within the skin, and it tightens the skin, too. It’s a great combination with the thread lift.”

Botox, smaller amounts of filler, and lasers to treat discoloration and other texture issues can be performed later, to further enhance the effects. “You can use less filler, so the results are much more natural,” says Few. My colleagues are excited, and patients are excited, too. The minimum benefit I’ve seen so far in a patient is one and half years—and it can extend to four or five years.”

Recovery, he reports, involves spotty bruises at the most: “You can go to work that day, but no working out for a week or two while it really settles.” If recovery times are dramatically different than that of a facelift, cost is not: A Silhouette thread lift alone costs close to $3,000, on average; Ulthera, too, approaches $3,000 (prices depend on your skin, your doctor, your region, and how much work is being done). Botox, lasers, and fillers add on even more.

But the point here, Few says, is that you can be much less aggressive, and have much less downtime and pain, with potentially much more natural results. “This is the future,’ he says. “It’s about tackling all the components of aging—and many, sometimes all, of those components can be nonsurgical.”

The Aging-Gracefully Routine

Essential #1: Daily Mineral-Only SPF

If you do nothing else, this is the single thing that will keep you looking younger, longer.

Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18

goop, $54

This lightweight, ultra-hydrating all-mineral SPF 18 blends in so beautifully it’s truly unbelievable. Unscented and packed with skin-perfecting vitamins, it treats your skin while leaving it smooth and protected. Sinks into skin in seconds, feels incredible–this lotion is seriously the ultimate (easy) daily anti-ager.

Kypris Pot of Shade Heliotropic

goop, $68

This broad-spectrum, beautifully translucent formula is perfect for everyday protection. Boosted with moisturizing botanicals (and no essential oils so it’s ideal for reactive and sensitive skin) and non-nano, non-whitening zinc oxide, it’s brilliant as primer, leaving skin radiant, plumped, and smooth. It feels incredible going on, blends like a dream, soothes any skin type, and makes serious, long-lasting protection a luxurious daily ritual.

Naturopathica Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17

goop, $58

This light hydrator is so easy to apply (we wondered whether it was true physical sunscreen, given its silky feel and the way it sinks effortlessly into skin) that it turns the daily chore of trying to blend in your stubborn sun protection into a genuine pleasure. Skin-soothing lavender plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory turmeric root combine with micronized (not nano) zinc oxide in this nourishing, mattifying, and ultra-protective SPF moisturizer. It smells and feels fantastic; used daily, SPF is the most powerful anti-ager on earth.

*Alternately, use a mineral-spf makeup every every day.

Light Coverage

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

goop, $45

This glowy, translucent, instantly perfecting SPF 20 has to be the ultimate no makeup-makeup of all time. It’s less about masking flaws, and more about looking and feeling like you—but better. The delicate, deeply hydrating formula smoothes in like a dream; zinc oxide soothes and protects all day; black currant, peony-root extract, and vitamin C address age spots and enhance brightness, and hyaluronic acid promotes firmer, smoother-looking skin. If you’re looking for coverage, this is not your product—but we guarantee it makes anyone’s skin look instantly more beautiful. It’s so sheer that different shades work for many different skins; if you’re in doubt, try No. 2, which works for practically everyone who tries it.

Translucent Veil

Coola Unscented Matte Face Tint SPF 30

goop, $36

Coola’s Matte Tint SPF 30 has the freakiest (and coolest) feel ever: It goes on like foam dust, leaving nary a trace behind. It has a very sheer universal tint and matte finish that hides imperfections and evens skin tone, too, meaning it’s kind of magic in a bottle.

More Coverage

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream

goop, $39

A true skincare product as much as it’s an amazing, wear-it-every-day, color-correcting tinted moisturizer, this cream packs 12 benefits into a single, ultra-flattering formula. Winner of EWG’s Annual Green Rating, it protects skin with full-spectrum, mineral SPF 30, and leaves it glowing, plump, and fully moisturized. At the same time, it smooths uneven texture and tone, reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and rejuvenates all skin types with antioxidants, pure minerals, and sheer, blendable coverage for a fresh, natural look.

Essential #2: Oil

The key takeaway here is moisture; we love oils, but we also love lotions and creams. Moisture makes your skin instantly look and feel better: It increases elasticity, plumps up lines, makes it so makeup doesn’t settle in creases, gives skin all around vitality and glow (just the act of putting it on increases circulation) and of course, gets rid of dryness, which often reads as aging on skin.

goop by Juice Beauty Enriching Face Oil

goop, $110

This nourishing, potent miracle oil sinks instantly into skin and starts to work. Made with a pure blend of organic oils, it leaves skin remarkably supple, soft, and glowing. It turbo- charges any moisturizer, but also hydrates beautifully on its own. It can even be patted on over makeup for a mid-day pick-me-up. The Enriching Face Oil is formulated with USDA certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 99% total organic content.

De Mamiel Autumn Oil

goop, $114

Made by hand to work specifically with the changing temperatures to nourish skin as the seasons transition, this miracle worker deeply hydrates, decongests and detoxes, brightens and smooths the signs of aging, and protects and rejuvenates skin. Combining herbs and practices from Chinese medicine, essential oils from aromatherapeutic traditions, deep experience as an aesthetician, along with meditation and prayer, Anne DeMamiel’s oils are utterly unique in feel and results—and this new season’s face oil is especially incredible. Press a few drops between your palms to warm the oil, breathe it in deeply, then enjoy a profoundly relaxing, uplifting exhale—you’ll feel better already. Then, work it gently into your skin in small circular motions—repeat as often as you like for a supremely healthy glow.

Rodin Luxury Face Oil

goop, $170

Rich and just deluxe, deluxe, deluxe, this is the face oil that put face oils on the map. It treats wrinkles and dry skin, seriously improves elasticity, and leaves skin luminous. It also smells amazing—it’s made with 11 flower and plant oils, from neroli (full of vitamin C for glow), arnica montana (treats puffiness, and is especially amazing under the eyes), evening primrose, rosehip, argan, calendula . . . Former model/stylist Linda Rodin created it; one look at her skin, and you’ll want to have what she’s having. It’s a favorite among other models as well.

Alternately, creams and lotions do the same job, in a different form.

Lavido Age Away Hydrating Cream

goop, $55

The secret ingredient in this ultra-moisturizing antiager is cold-pressed evening primrose oil. It targets lines, wrinkles, and overall dullness, refreshing and revitalizing skin. The results are visible to the naked eye—right away and long term—and it’s gentle enough to use morning and night.

Beautycounter Every Day AM Hydrating Cream

goop, $43

This lightweight, everyday cream is moisturizing without being heavy, making it the perfect layer for under makeup. Like all of Beautycounter’s products, it’s free from harmful and toxic chemicals.

goop by Juice Beauty Revitalizing Day Moisturizer

goop, $100

The Revitalizing Day Moisturizer is a lightweight daily cream that reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, softens and nourishes skin, hydrates deeply, and targets dark spots for a brighter, more even skin tone. Infused with linseed extract, Vitamins C & E and powerful peptides, this moisturizer works throughout the day to firm and rejuvenate the skin. The Revitalizing Day Moisturizer is formulated with USDA certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 73% total organic content.

Moisturizing masks can supercharge your moisturizing routine:

Tammy Fender Restorative Radiance Masque

goop, $235

You think of clay as drying, but this soothing rosewater/pink-clay concoction is ultra-moisturizing. It feels incredible going on, and your skin is left dewy, firm, and totally hydrated. Somehow detoxifying and totally moisturizing all at once—this is, like her and her spa, heaven.

May Lindstrom The Honey Mud

goop, $80

This clay, plant oil, and raw honey concoction smells… beyond delicious. It’s also kind of the richest, most major daily cleansing experience we can think of, especially when applied with the brand’s facial treatment brush–it gets rids of every trace of dirt and leaves skin baby-smooth. Good for all skin types.

Essential #3: Exfoliate

Regular exfoliation makes your skin act like it’s younger, in that young skin sloughs away dead skin cells and turns over new ones much faster, so young skin not only looks fresher, but absorbs and retains moisture better. Exfoliating increases circulation, and can also help build back collagen—something young skin is full of and older skin is not. Do it regularly for glow, elasticity, fewer wrinkles, smooth texture, better hydration, and better results from the treatments you use.

goop by Juice Beauty Exfoliating Instant Facial

goop, $125

The Exfoliating Instant Facial instantly brightens and softens skin to reveal a glowing, smoother-looking complexion. Natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids sweep away dead skin cells; plant-based cellulose beads exfoliate further while releasing soothing vitamin B5 — leaving skin supple, soft, and utterly revitalized. The Exfoliating Instant Facial is formulated with USDA certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 86% total organic content.

Tatcha Classic Rice Enzyme Powder

goop, $65

This whole line is based on the ancient rituals of geishas; this exfoliating cleanser smoothes skin with rice bran (Japanese sake makers originally discovered its skin-softening properties) and papaya enzymes; green tea soothes irritation and protects skin from free radicals. Good for normal and combination skin.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

goop, $58

This gentle, exfoliating mask relies on Pomegranate Enzymes (deeply cleansing), French Pink Clay (reduces the appearance of pores), and White Willow (promotes cellular renewal).

Essential #4: Treatment

Active anti-aging ingredients range from vitamin A derivatives and alpha hydroxy acids to peptides and antioxidants. New compounds are constantly being discovered and developed; the key is to find the product(s) that bring your skin results without irritation.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

goop, $185

It’s not surprising that this oil has a cult following: It’s an infusion of 22 of the world’s most active organic botanicals mixed with powerful essential oils. Anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, skin firming phytoceramides, plus nourishing fatty acids and anti-oxidants stimulate cellular turnover, enhance elasticity, strengthen capillaries, inhibit melanin production, prevent wrinkles, and protect against free radicals. The revolutionary formula penetrates deeply, restoring moisture, clarity, smoothness, and glow to your skin.

Goldfaden MD Needle-Less

goop, $115

Infused with pure hyaluronic acid, high-tech-yet-all-natural hexapeptides, and nutrient-rich seaweed extract, this plumps, tightens, and smoothes skin. Perfect for all skin types, it’s billed as an alternative to injections and surgical procedures, leaving a long-term, youthful glow and smoother, firmer skin.

goop by Juice Beauty Replenishing Night Cream

goop, $140

The Replenishing Night Cream is a luxurious, highly active night cream that works to plump, brighten, and firm skin overnight. The nourishing formula visibly improves skin texture, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and increases luminosity for a noticeable, healthy glow. Sandalwood nut oil helps to increase elasticity, while linseed extract and hyaluronic acid hydrate, lift and firm. The Replenishing Night Cream is formulated with USDA certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 79% total organic content.

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