Sometimes I can hardly believe I am 56. How can that have happened? But I am and it has, and you know what? All things considered, the partying I’ve done, the alcohol I’ve drank, the sun I’ve fried in, it could be a lot worse. But it could also be a lot better.
See, the great thing about 2016 is that there is so much out there and available to us ladies of a certain age. And I’m not just talking about Botox and fillers.
One friend I am thinking of in particular is in her late 40s with children. I swear she has the same skin she had when I met her almost 25 years ago.
One friend of Christa D'Souza's is in her late 40s with children but has the same skin she had when Christa met her almost 25 years ago. Her secret is LED (Light Emitting Diode) Therapy (pictured)
Not in a spooky, Real Housewives way that might panic the cat. In a nice, plausible, organic way - as if she’s been on holiday, but without having baked in the sun.
Her secret is LED (Light Emitting Diode) Therapy. It has been around a few years, but where it was once perceived as highly specialised, it’s now available for as one fashion magazine noted: ‘Move over blowdry bars, light bars are beauty’s bright new thing.’
Look, Botox is fantastic (I have it for my jawline) and fillers, if administered judiciously, can yield incredible results, too. But who likes needles?
Enter then, LED therapy: it’s painless, non-invasive and supposedly yields fabulous results - if you have enough of it.
LED therapy is painless, non-invasive and supposedly yields fabulous results - if you have enough of it (Christa pictured before treatment)
A machine transmits specific wavelengths of light energy into the skin’s deepest layers to trigger the body’s natural cell processes into accelerating rejuvenation and repair.
Different wavelengths or colours produce different effects.
Red light prompts the body to make collagen and elastin, the two key components that give us younger, plumper, richer looking skin; blue light annihilates the bacteria that cause acne; yellow light is for lines and wrinkles; near infra-red light, meanwhile, is effective for healing scars.
Think of it as getting all the benefits of the sun, but without the harmful UV rays (the ones that make you burn and can ultimately lead to cancer). This most definitely is not a sunbed for the face.
Christa headed to the new salon in West London of her friend Teresa Tarmey (pictured), to start a course of treatments
My friend is not the only one who raves about it. Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Jennifer Aniston are just two of the celebrities singing from the rooftops about LED. Well? No pain? No needles? No recovery time? There is nothing, it seems, not to like.
So I head to my friend Teresa Tarmey’s new salon in West London to start a course of treatments. Just one session plus a facial or a peel can yield immediate, albeit shortlived, results, but Teresa recommends at least two a week for five weeks for the full rejuvenation package.
While Teresa can do any number of treatments, her USP is skin. That’s what loyal clients such as Kate Moss, Suki Waterhouse and Poppy Delevingne know her for.
Any skin treatment out there, Tarmey will know about. And her favourite is LED. The state-of-the-art machine she uses is a Dermalux, and though it may sound like something you clean the floor with, it is in fact one of the latest generation models for LED Phototherapy with a few awards under its belt.
A machine transmits specific wavelengths of light energy into the skin’s deepest layers to trigger the body’s natural cell processes into accelerating rejuvenation and repair
As she preps my skin, Teresa tells me how it works and why it’s so good for 50-something skin like mine.
One unwelcome by-product of ageing is that healthy skin cells, as they get older and weaker, become unable to renew themselves normally.
Luckily, the skin has the ability to absorb wavelengths of light and utilise them to repair and rejuvenate those damaged ageing cells.
Remember learning about plant photosynthesis in biology? It’s the human equivalent of that.
The increased energy kicks off cellular metabolism. That stimulates production of collagen and elastin, which heightens circulation and speeds tissue repair.
When skin is exposed to LED light, studies show cells duplicate 150 to 200 per cent faster, while hydration can increase by a whopping 600 per cent - great news as my skin these days is as dry as the Atacama desert.
While Teresa can do any number of treatments, her USP is skin. That’s what loyal clients such as Kate Moss, Suki Waterhouse and Poppy Delevingne know her for
One word of warning: though there are few side-effects to red light, you need to tell your beauty therapist if you are using prescription strength retinoids such as retina-A or Accutane because of the skin’s heightened photosensitivity - and certain herbal supplements such as St John’s Wort, as they can make your body hyper-sensitive, too.
Blue light could be linked to macular degeneration and there are reports the treatment can exacerbate conditions such as hypothyroidism and bipolar disorder.
This has yet to be proven, but wear protective goggles and never open your eyes during the treatment.
So, I hop on her table feeling a little anxious. The machine looks like a cross between a sunbed and an MRI scanner.
To rejuvenate Christa's skin, Tarmey administered red light at a certain wavelength, which is supposed to encourage moisture retention, reduce inflammation, shrink pores and even out skin tone
To rejuvenate my skin, Tarmey is going to administer red light at a certain wavelength, which is supposed to encourage moisture retention, reduce inflammation, shrink pores and even out skin tone.
Simultaneously she is going to zap me with near infra-red light, which penetrates deeper into the dermis and increases permeability and absorption in the cells.
Zap, on go the lights and though it feels awfully hot for the first few seconds, I find myself drifting off and being rather annoyed when, 20 minutes later, the machine turns itself off.
Wow, that was relaxing and I’m not surprised to hear that exposure to this kind of light can boost serotonin levels - the hormone responsible for happiness. Could it become a natural alternative to Prozac?
Christa pictured after treatment: 'When I see myself in a picture I don’t get that horrid jolt I usually do - who is that old woman? - it’s more how I perceive myself to look,' she said
Do I look different? Maybe a little. Just as importantly, I feel energised. It is like that energy you get after a good holiday in the sun, but without the UV damage and the weight gain from over-indulging.
Two weeks later I’ve had five more treatments and there is a visible difference. I know this because people have noticed.
It’s subtle - you won’t get the same effects as from a chemical peel, but my skin is noticeably less dull, less grey, less, well, middle-aged.
The pigmentation I’ve got on the sides of my face from too much sun seems to have quietened down, too.
And when I see myself in a picture I don’t get that horrid jolt I usually do - who is that old woman? - it’s more how I perceive myself to look.
The same effect, if you like, of a series of 90-minute facials, at a quarter of the price. Teresa charges £70 a session or £580 for ten, while Elemis salons offer the delightfully named Line Eraser, with LED light therapy, for £70 a session.
Will I stop having Botox and rule out the future possibility of fillers? No. But as a cheeky top-up for a big night, a quick inexpensive pick-me-up for a glamorous do? Heck, yes!
At my age I certainly need all the help I can get.