Tried & Tested Ways To Tighten Slackened Skin
6 minutes read
If you feel like you need a bit of a facelift, you should know that the surgical route isn’t the only option. There are many products, skincare ingredients and techniques that can help tighten skin on both the face and the body.
We went straight to the experts and asked Dr Marisa Garshick, NYC-based board-certified dermatologist and Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager what causes skin to slacken and what can be done about it. Here’s what we learned.
What causes skin to loosen and slacken?
The primary cause is loss of collagen. “As we age, we lose collagen, and this results in skin laxity or looseness of the skin. While ageing can contribute to collagen loss, other factors that may also contribute, including UV exposure and environmental stressors,” says Dr Garshick.
McHale elaborates on this: “All of it comes down to a few key components in the skin. Sometimes, skin slackening occurs because of the production of collagen and elastin slowing down. Other times, it can be the result of a damaged fibroblast due to something like free radicals (due to stress and environmental factors). It could also be caused by a process that damages the fibroblast called glycation, which is to do with the addition of sugars to the collagen and elastin fibres – so it’s a real mixture of causes.”
It’s important to understand what’s causing your skin to slacken or sag, before trying to treat it. That’s because how you treat it depends on the cause.
Targeted treatments to tighten skin
Cause: stress and lifestyle
If you’re in the early stages of skin ageing, then you’re probably experiencing fibroblast damage due to stress and lifestyle-related decisions.
“A lot of people in their 30s are burning the candle at both ends,” says McHale. “You’ve got social lives, you may be working really hard to get to the peak of your career, maybe you’ve also got a family, a mortgage, etc. It seems to be the decade you do everything. And I think we can agree, it’s exhausting.”
She adds: “In that period, it’s free radicals that are going to be damaging the fibroblasts. Because they are produced by things like external aggressors like pollution, sun damage, bad diet, lack of sleep, etc,”
Ingredients to reach for: Plant extracts like the myrothamnus and teasel in the Multi-Active range will help target the damaged fibroblast and protect it from further damage.
Cause: collagen loss
In your late 30s to 40s, you may notice that your expression lines appear deeper – that’s because of collagen loss (technically, it starts declining from age 25).
“Here, you want to protect the production of fibroblasts, so that more of them reach maturity,” McHale explains.
Ingredients to reach for: Kangaroo flower extract helps reinforce the protective layer around groups of fibroblasts. “It also enhances the bonds between them,” explains McHale. “So, you’re more likely to have a good collagen production for longer, therefore preventing skin slackening.” It’s the key ingredient in the Extra-Firming range.
Retinoids are also a go-to ingredient to help boost collagen production. “By regulating skin cell turnover, retinoids help to improve the overall texture and tone of the skin,” says Dr Garshick.
She adds: “Other ingredients such as peptides can help to firm and tighten the appearance of the skin. Peptides provide a signal to the body that healing or recovery needs to take place and this actually boosts natural collagen production, which helps tighten the skin.”
Cause: hormonal changes
Hormonal changes start to play a part in skin slackening during the perimenopausal or menopausal stages. “The cause of skin slackening here is two-fold,” says McHale. “The massive drop in oestrogen affects the production of collagen and elastin, but it also affects the fibroblasts’ ability to hold on to collagen and elastin after it has produced it.”
Ingredients to reach for: Again, retinol is the ingredient for this. But you could also try harungana, its plant-based alternative which has been proven to synthesise collagen in the same way as retinol.
“To help the fibroblast really hold on to collagen, we pair harungana with organic gorse extract in the Super Restorative range,” says McHale. “Organic gorse extract increases the tensile strength of a fibroblast by up to 89%.”
Cause: post-menopausal skin
After menopause, skin tends to fluctuate less and remains stable. But the level of collagen and elastin has depleted. So, along with boosting collagen, we also need to rely on other solutions to make it appear plumper. You want to ensure the efficient flow of nutrients around the skin.
Ingredients to reach for: The plant extract duo of horse chestnut flower and escin is great for the micronutrient network. Plus, harungana will help continue the production of collagen. These are key ingredients in the Nutri-Lumière range.
“In Nutri-Lumiere Revive, you’ve also got kaki extract (also known as sharon fruit or persimmon) that helps fight the effects of glycation,” explains McHale.
Nutri-Lumiere Revive, £91 is a day cream, ideal for mature skin. The formula also contains Illuminating purple pearl pigments that help brighten up dull skin.
Bonus tip: “It is important to remember that regardless of what you use to address the tightening, always apply sunscreen,” says Dr Garshick. While it protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, it also helps to reduce any worsening of skin laxity over time.
How does skin slackening affect the skin on the body?
“While skin on the body can also experience a loss of collagen, some people may find they notice loose skin developing after the skin has stretched after having a baby or after losing weight,” explains Dr Garshick.
To combat this and tighten skin on the body, we like the Body Firming Extra-Firming Cream, £42 that uses potent plant extracts like organic petasites extract and organic mitracarpus that help firm, tone and tighten the skin. It’s also incredibly moisturising, so it can replace your regular body moisturiser.
If you prefer an oil, try the Tonic Treatment Oil, £42 that helps improve the elasticity of the skin. Just apply it two to three times a week onto damp skin.
Professional treatments to help tighten skin
Want to see quicker results? There are also some professional skin treatments that can help tighten the skin. “Some of the options include lasers such as the CO2 laser, micro needling, microneedling with radiofrequency, radiofrequency and ultrasound-based energy,” reveals Dr Garshick.
“These work by creating micro-injuries in the skin,” she continues. “Which in turn stimulates collagen production. Others may rely on radiofrequency, like heat energy, or ultrasound to trigger collagen production to smooth and tighten the skin.”