Articles By Angela Lukach

rouquinne's makeup missive

Angela Lukach

That’s a picture of me!

I’m 50 years old—today if you’re reading this on August 2nd.

You know that Diane Lane commercial where she says she doesn’t want to look good for her age, she just wants to “look good”? For once, I’m going to be completely immodest and say that’s me on *both* accounts. People always think I’m much younger than I actually am. But if they saw my hands instead of my face, I think they’d figure it out pretty fast.

I have bathed in sunscreen for more than 30 years. The last time I remember getting too much sun was 27 years ago.

Over the past six-plus years, I have gone on about sunscreen many, MANY times in this space. There are those who disagree with me, often vehemently. And lately, there has been a sunscreen backlash with respect to the chemicals contained in those products and in their use of Vitamin A derivatives. Sure, Retin-A is great for your face, but it looks like Vitamin A in sunscreen could do more harm than good.

No matter what we’re using on our skin or putting in our bodies, it pays to be an informed consumer. Then it’s up to us to decide whether or not the associated risk is acceptable to us.

Which is how I made the decision to start using Botox for my forehead wrinkles a few years ago.

When I was a child and petrified of getting lock jaw from rusty metals, I probably would have gazed at you in astonishment if you had suggested that the adult me would willingly put inert botulinum toxin into my face. But when I was a child, no one told me that I had a bad habit of raising my eyebrows while I read; a habit that would get worse with the introduction of computers in later years.

It’s purely vanity, of course; I started doing it after being dumped by my long-time love. When you’re back on the dating market at the ripe old age of 47 and a half, you do what you have to do in order to compete with all the other eligible women out there.

Would I get a face lift? Probably not, but I won’t rule out a nose job—even at this point in my life.

As for aging “gracefully”, I see no problem in wanting to look “good” well into my 90s, should I live that long. I actually get a kick out of shocking people when they find out how old I am.

So what do I put on this face? The usual suspects are: Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 45 with Helioplex; Olay Regenerist Serum and MAC Cosmetics Select SPF foundation in shade NC20. I wash with whatever cleanser is on sale and a gentle brush I get at The Body Shop. I eat a lot of fresh berries and carry a parasol in the summer months.

I figure those should all carry me through the next 50 years!

The month just past is one of total opposites in the makeup business.

On the one hand, the emails landing in my inbox from all the major companies say things like:


MAC Pro Long-Wear Lipstick in For Keeps

Are You Camera-Ready for The Big Day?
Wedding Season Must-Haves<

While days later, the emails have subject lines like:

Let Your Beauty Soar With Our Summer Collection
Order the Summer Essentials Kit

Protect Your Summer Skin Today

(I especially like the last one, but you knew that already.)

wedding makeup

Too-Faced Metal-Eyed Liquid Shimmer eyeliner in Brown Sugar

Wedding makeup tends to favor subtle, natural shades designed to enhance your features. The finishes are sheer or gently shimmering instead of glossy or sparkly, which can reflect light back to the camera and wash you out. Waterproof is probably also a good idea if you’re going to be outside in heat and humidity or are prone to crying tears of happiness on such occasions. And a long-wear lipstick formula should maintain your color through even the longest receiving line.

wedding makeup

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer

Some products to try for your wedding look:

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer
  • Tarte Blushing Bride Cheek Stain
  • Stila It Girl eye shadow palette – 3 neutrals including Kitten
  • MAC Pro Long-Wear Lipstick in For Keeps
  • Too-Faced Metal-Eyed Liquid Shimmer eyeliner in Brown Sugar

If you want to use your own favorites for your big day, Benefit She-Laq can be applied over your lips to make your lipstick last, or spray on Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray lightly over everything.

Stila It Girl eye shadow palette

Conversely, beach beauty seems to be all about bronzing, high shine, extreme color and melting at the edges.

We know you’re protecting your skin from the ravages of the sun with sunscreens containing broad spectrum protection so you’ll be looking for bronzers to give yourself a “beachy glow”.

PPPs should look for golden shades to avoid looking dirty. The darker your skin tone, the darker the shade of bronzer you can wear. One to try: Too-Faced Aqua Bunny Crème to Powder Splash Proof Bronzer - $28 US

Along with waterproof mascara, long-lasting eye liners are a better bet to outsmart humidity than eye shadow. Bright colors seem to be a staple at all the major makeup companies, like MAC Float on By Eye Kohl (yes, it’s turquoise!) - $17.50 Cdn.

wedding makeup

Tarte Blushing Bride Cheek Stain

Brights or bronzes are also in for the nails – take a look at OPI for Sephora Havana Nights nail polish minis - $18 US. The four colors contained in this set are bronze, bright orange, pale green and deep teal.

Lip stains last longer than lipsticks or glosses. Benetint is the grandmother of all stain products, but most makeup companies have one in their product line these days. The Italian company Tokidoki has the Fantastico Lip Stain that comes in five shades. Try Cactus Friends for $15 US at Sephora in North America.

For the less daring or those who prefer their summer beauty on the softer (bridal) side, DuWop has a product called Angel Washes – sheer tints for eyes, cheeks and lips, set of 3 (pink, peach and gold) for $27.

It’s June and this is usually the month that I write about sunscreen. Since I have some good news to report on the “sun front” and I got distracted by the "60 Minutes" piece on pthalates in everything including makeup, I’m presenting you with a bit of a hodge podge in this column.

Everything is good for you, if it doesn’t kill you – Part One

The iconic news magazine program 60 Minutes aired an episode on May 23 that included a segment about pthalates; esters of phthalate acid that are used to soften plastics in a variety of products like toys and shower curtains among others. Turns out that pthalates are also used in the cosmetics industry as a binding agent for nail polish or to make hair conditioner more emollient.

In high doses—way higher than those the average human encounters over a lifetime—lab rats showed evidence of hormone changes and birth defects due to pthalates. There is NO CONCLUSIVE PROOF that they have the same effect in humans, but pthalates are thought to play a role in obesity, insulin resistance, allergies, ADHD and low birth weight in babies.

It would be next to impossible to eliminate plastics and pthalates from your life. They are in just about EVERYTHING you come in contact with during the day. However, manufacturers of many products are starting to take notice and are taking steps to reduce the use of these chemicals. When it comes to beauty products, if excessive exposure to pthalates is a concern of yours, switch to offerings from Burt’s Bees, Tarte or Kiss My Face.

Everything is good for you, if it doesn’t kill you – Part Two

After years of hearing how using sunscreen protects us from the harmful UV radiation of the sun, there has been a backlash in recent years: one camp stating that sunscreen itself is bad for you, another stating that we’re depriving ourselves of needed vitamin D through too much sunscreen usage.

Sunscreen has chemicals—and some chemicals are bad for you (see above). It is up to you, as the consumer, to decide if the chemicals are more scary to you than UV radiation. Speaking as someone with a family history of skin cancer, and knowing personally how awful it feels to have lesions removed from one’s face, I would much rather take my chances with the sunscreen. Chemically-speaking, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safer physical sun blocks, although they do give your skin a whitish cast, as if you were a character in a Japanese “Noh”. Try Blue Lizard and Badger Healthy Body Care sunscreens.

There is no doubt that vitamin D is required for good health, and there is also no doubt that getting it from sun exposure is better for us than trying to ingest enough from food sources. Dr. Michael Holick, author of The UV Advantage, has detailed tables available in his book about how much sun exposure you really need depending on where you live in the world and your skin tone. Caucasians need only FIVE TO TEN minutes of exposure to the sun two or three times a week in order to make sufficient vitamin D in northern latitudes. The closer you live to the equator, the less you need.

So, What’s the Good News?

A study conducted in Alberta, Canada, has found that skin cancer rates leveled off and started dropping a decade ago. This is in contrast to earlier studies that found that skin cancer rates were rising around the world, even as more potent sun screen products became available. The Canadian Dermatology Association believes that this study can most likely be applied to our population as a whole.

Practice safe sun!

Here’s a column I never thought I’d write...

I think I’m make-up’d out!

And it’s also all because of my favourite makeup company.

I don’t know what’s gotten into the folks at the Estee Lauder Companies, but this year it seems like MAC is putting out a new collection every second or third week. And I dutifully run off to the store to look at yet another batch of brown or purple or blue eye shadows and the many gradations of pink and coral and red for the lips.

Then I visit the closest department store that carries all the other brands—from which I also get email updates—to see their latest offerings.

Due to this column, I get inundated with make up news from every major player in the North American market and substantial numbers of smaller ones; in addition to a number of European lines that I’ve found in stores here in Canada. On any given day, at least five messages arrive in my email. And when holiday weekends approach that number can be tripled or quadrupled.

Shrek Forever After OPI Collection

There’s also an increase in cross-marketing that adds to the email traffic and crowded store shelves. For example, Mattel partnered with Stila last year for collections designed to celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday. They had previously partnered with MAC for the Barbie Loves MAC collection—complete with doll. (Yes, I do have the doll!) Nail polish giant OPI has designed a collection for the movie blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, as has Urban Decay. OPI is also offering a collection to tie in with this summer’s Shrek sequel.

While make up companies often pair with fashion designers who don’t have their own makeup lines—like the late Alexander McQueen, Lilly Pulitzer, Emmanuel Ungaro and Zandra Rhodes—other collaborations seem to be odd matches. For example, Hello Kitty (which apparently does have its own make up line in Japan) and French graffitti artist Fafi.

I can always count on Bobbi Brown to produce yet another plain brown eye shadow, but there are only so many of those one can use. And so many of the special collections seem to feature brights that are way in my past.

For the past four years, I’ve been managing all this from a small city where Sephora has yet to open.

But... that’s going to change next month!

My makeup blues aside, here are some things you might want to look at for your mom for Mother’s Day next weekend:

Stila's Mother's Day Collection

Benefit has the April Showers Collection—a selection of their standard products including She-Laq, Silky Finish lipstick in Candy Store and Creaseless Cream eye shadow in Venetian Brown. Stila has a special Mother’s Day Set with an exclusive eye shadow trio, a lip glaze and their new One Step Prime Color primer ($38 US at Laura Mercier has released her summer bronzing collection ahead of the competition and Urban Decay has released a new fragrance oil they call Revolver - top notes of lychee and pineapple leaf followed by fig over a base of amber and musk ($26 US at

I was a teenager when facial scrubs first became available. You know the ones I mean—crushed apricot kernels (currently marketed by St. Ives). They seemed like a miracle product with their promises of clearing away dead skin cells that could clog your pores and cause blackheads and blemishes.

What we didn’t know is that the crushed kernals had rough edges that could tear at your skin, making it more prone to blemishes. And tearing at the pimples already present not only spreads bacteria, it also made them heal slowly and scar. The scarring I got on my cheeks lasted well into my 30s when acid peels finally became available

There is no doubt that exfoliating is a good thing for your skin. It does slough off dead skin cells, helps stimulate blood flow, and deep cleans pores.

But it’s more than possible to over-do a good thing.

The popularity of the Clarisonic skin cleaning system and various knock-offs is leading to an increase in patients showing up at dermatologists offices with over-exfoliated skin. Despite the products’ claims that these brushes are safe for daily use on all skin types, including those with rosacea and sensitive skin, you may want to think twice before reaching for a sonic brush.

However, if you are determined to try a sonic brush because you’ve heard so many good things about them, practice an ounce of prevention. Get the softest brush they offer; unless your skin is like leather you won’t need the “normal” (i.e. “harder”) brushes.

Use the brush once a day. Sure, they all say to use them twice a day, but if you’re using it at night before you go to bed, is your face really going to get so dirty while you’re sleeping that you need to use it again in the morning?

FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON TIMING—I cannot emphasize this one enough. When they say 20 seconds on your forehead and 10 seconds on your cheeks, stop when you’ve reach the prescribed time. It’s the people who ignore this advice and keep scrubbing for longer who are the ones landing at the doctor’s office with the damage to their skin.

Since these brushes are expensive ($150 US for the Clarisonic Mia mini-brush), you might want to try something cheaper and a little more low-tech. I’ve been using a soft brush to wash my face for years. The Body Shop sells a small one that fits in the palm of your hand for the amazing sum of $3.00 Cdn. Shiseido has one with a handle available for $23 US and Sephora sells a similar one for $5.

Using gentle pressure and your favourite cleanser, these brushes might not vibrate 300 times per second, but they can be very effective in removing makeup and the grime of daily living.

Common sense should be your guide when exfoliating. Be gentle - you’ve got one face that has to last the rest of your life!

No sooner had I emptied my mailbox of all the makeup companies’ emails about holiday gift sets, than it filled up again with promises of spring.

“First Look at Spring,” said one. “Your Spring Fling,” promised another. With an Aussie friend taunting me with details of her steamy summer and groundhogs dashing hopes of early warmth for the northern climes, I opened all these messages eagerly.

So what is in stores for spring makeup 2010?

BeneFit velvet eyeshadow

Eye candy from Benefit with six limited edition shades of their velvet shadows. The colours are Bo Peep (lily pink), Buns (golden sienna), Fancy Pansy (pale lavender), Mermaid (golden turquoise), Nice Melons (papaya pearl) and Shamrocker (iced mint). To go with your sparkling lids, you might want to try their new shimmering body balm called “Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer” – it’s a golden pink shade that should nicely set off your faux-tan.

Tarte is offering “Flower Child”, a collection that includes one of their signature cheek stains in a new golden rose shade, and an eye shadow palette that could take you from day to evening with colours like Daffodil and African Violet. They’ve also got a new mascara and lash primer that they claim have “lash-enhancing” properties.

Bobbi Brown Cabana Corals

Stila was responsible for makeup at Betsey Johnson’s shows during New York Fashion Week last fall. Johnson is known for her wild use of colour, and her collection for this spring is no exception with shades of blue and turquoise dominating along with punk rock chic little black dresses. In order to match everything, Stila chose a classic smoky eye with bare lips and barely blushing cheeks. The Betsey Johnson colour collection at Stila is available in a set for $32 on their website.

Bobbi Brown is showing coral for spring. The Cabana Corals collection features a BB Shimmer Brick in coral-gold shades, pot rogue in a shade called Cabo Coral and three new shades of shimmering lip gloss: Sunset Beach, Golden Nectar, and Coral Sand.

Not to be outdone, MAC Cosmetics has four Spring Colour Forecast collections in pink, coral, plum and amber. There are shadows and lipsticks and some beautiful new shades of lipglass available along with a new perfume called PinkAura that is described as “(starting) off green then (bursting) into a flowery bouquet of freesia, black violet and magnolia petals. (Sashaying) into a rich warm amber and balmy vetiver.”

Urband Decay's Book of Shadows

One of the most-anticipated movies of this spring is Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, the photos that were seen last fall showed Depp with fantasically-made-up eyes in shades of blue and red. As a tie-in to the movie, Urban Decay has created one of their very popular Book of Shadows collections in colours suited to the magical world Alice finds herself inhabiting. It contains 16 eye shadows, a mini-primer potion and two eye pencils. Unfortunately, this collection sold out in one day and many are available on eBay for $100 – or more!

A slightly more affordable movie tie-in comes courtesy of OPI with four nail polish shades in honour of the movie: Thanks So Muchness, Absolutely Alice, Mad as a Hatter, and Off With Her Red!

It’s time to break out the brights and cast-off the cashmere! Happy Spring!

No one is exactly sure of how the word "sugar" came to be a euphemism for “kiss” but in this month when we celebrate love and sweet stuff, I thought we’d take a look at some sugary and sugar-inspired beauty products.

Sugar scrubs for the body have become especially popular over the past decade. While sugar as a beauty product has always been in use in some parts of the world (the Middle East, North Africa and India), the Boston-based cosmetics and personal care company Fresh is probably responsible for promoting the sweet stuff in North America.

While the company started with bar soaps in 1991, their Fresh Sugar line (launched in 1997) has come to define the brand. Using brown sugar and several natural oils as the base, the centerpiece of the line is the Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish. Not only does this gentle scrub exfoliate well, the oils leave your skin feeling silky soft, and the gentle lemony scent supposedly has aphrodisiac qualities. A gentler version is now available for facial use.

novalash candied lashes

NovaLash has developed "candied lashes."

The company also has a rich body cream infused with açaí berry juice, a lip-exfoliating treatment and a citrus-based fragrance that combines the scents of lily, caramel and vanilla.

Another fragrance that is decidedly sweet is Aquolina’s Pink Sugar. While many describe the top note of this scent as cotton candy in nature, the list of ingredients shows that the middle and base notes put it firmly in the “oriental” family: bergamot, Sicilian orange, raspberry, fig leaves, lily of the valley, licorice, strawberry, vanilla, caramel, and musk. Pink Sugar not only comes in eau de toilette, but also as a body scrub, cream, mousse, shower gel, perfume hair spray and in a deodorant.

Sugar is a natural healing agent. How often have you heard about dabbing honey on cuts to help them heal? With that in mind, some companies are using sugar as ingredients to help with a wide variety of cosmetic difficulties, as in Korres’ Sugar Crystal Antioxidant Eye Treatment which helps combat under-eye puffiness.

For centuries, sugar paste was used for hair removal. Currently on the market is a mini “wax” kit from Anastasia of Beverly Hills ($12 US at Sephora). You heat the sugar paste in the microwave for a few seconds and use it with linen strips instead of wax to remove unwanted hair. Since regular wax gives me welts, I’ve been using sugar to do my brows for years and find it works very well—without welts!

Benefit Cosmetics has a new blush product they call “Sugar Bomb”. Available in the same format as the popular Dandelion and Georgia blushes, Sugar Bomb contains four shades of blush in one box: rose, shimmering pink, soft plum and peach. Just swirl your blush brush across the four colours to create a new look each time.

Finally, for the very daring, Nova Lash, the originators of the eye lash extension system, have developed “candied lashes”. These individual lashes are crystallized, hand-dipped, freeze-dried splashes of colour available in brown, blue, green, pink, gold, purple and black.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

HGTV has a show and David Letterman has his list, so why shouldn’t I have a top ten of my own to celebrate my 10th year as a member at

10. Perfume

All my favourite scents have one major thing in common – bergamot (which is the scent of Earl Grey Tea). For day, I love Perry Woman from Perry Ellis and for night, Nu from Yves St. Laurent.

9. Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum

The only non-prescription commercially-available skin care product that has been proven to actually reduce wrinkles – and not just the “appearance” of them. This product is relatively inexpensive and leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed.

8. Eye Shadow

I’m going to try to keep this from sounding like an advertisement for MAC Cosmetics, but I do have three filled 15-pan palettes, two of their large pots, a 6-pan eye shadow palette, a dozen pigment samples and two full-face palettes with different colours. Mulch, Naked Lunch and Mystery are the colours I reach for most often. When I’m not wearing MAC, my favourite colours are NARS Cairo, Stila Kitten, and Carol Baker Visage African Violet.

7. Brow powder

Powder brow fillers are so much easier to use than pencils - Smashbox Brow Tech in Auburn sits in my stash. I use a tiny flat square brush to apply it in small strokes.

6. Eyeliner

I think I look naked without it. While I will line my upper lids with an angled brush and a powder most of the time, I smudge pencils on the lower lids. My go-to colours are MAC eye kohl in Teddy, Prunella, and Blooz or Bonne Bell in Midnight Bark, Slate or Aubergine.

5. Maxine’s Mop

Don’t buy makeup brushes from makeup companies; go to the art supply store. The brushes are the same and cost a fraction of what the makeup-specific one does. My indispensable eye shadow brush is Maxine’s Mop from Loew-Cornell. Series 270, made from goat hair, the ¼” and 3/8” are a necessity to me – I have 6 of each and 4 of the ½” size.

4. Benefit Lemon Aid

For me, this has proven to be the ultimate eye makeup primer. It goes on drier than a liquid and makes my eye shadow last through the day; even during a Great-Lakes-humid summer day!

3. Liquid foundation

I’m just not convinced that mineral makeup is the right way to go; especially as I approach my 50th birthday. Liquid foundation, applied with my fingers, gives me the polished, not overly-made-up look I like for every day – and it doesn’t settle in my wrinkles!

2. MAC Viva Glam V lipstick and lipglass

In the makeup world, the acronym YLBB describes the perfect lip colour for you – Your Lips But Better. Five years ago, my favourite makeup company produced the perfect neutral brown-pink shade that matches my own lip colour. And they came out with a matching lipglass, too.

1. Sunscreen!

You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

UV radiation is the most aging thing in existence. Not only does sunscreen help me look 15 years younger, it also helps protect me from the skin cancer that runs on my father’s side of the family.

Earlier this year, a member posted the following comment about sunscreen usage:

“…I'm extremely concerned about ongoing research being done on sunscreen. It seems that at times you may be better off not using it at all; since it has been stated that it causes free radicals…”

At the time this thread was posted on the Non-Hair Discussion Board, I refrained from making any comment, even though other “old-timers” here know how passionate I am in advocating sunscreen usage. However, there are a couple of facts about the research that the member referenced that I feel need to be addressed.

Here’s some background to put this in context for you: when UV rays hit your skin, something called “reactive oxygen species” or “free radicals” are created. Free radicals are molecules that cause damage at a cellular level and are responsible for degenerative diseases and aging.

Researchers at the University of California at Riverside tested three of the most common UV-filtering products on the market. Their findings showed that when these products penetrate the skin, the level of free radicals present increases above the level caused by UV radiation alone. ("Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin," Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 41, Issue 8, 15 October 2006, Pages 1205-1212)

The first thing you need to know about this is that it was ONE study only; versus hundreds and hundreds of studies that prove that sunscreen works—when used as directed—to protect us from the harmful effects of UVA/UVB radiation. This single study is getting one heck of a lot of press for something that has not been duplicated or vetted through a double-blind, peer-reviewed, generally accepted scientific method.

The second essential fact about this study is that it was conducted on ARTIFICIAL skin! Artificial skin has been increasingly used in testing cosmetics and skin care products due to the European Union ban on animal-testing. It is made in a Petri dish using skin tissue collected during plastic surgery. One major US producer of artificial skin has sent their product back to the drawing board as tests conducted on it were producing too many false positive results. In all my reading, I discovered that “quirky” results that can’t be replicated on actual people are a common occurrence in such tests.

For those two reasons alone, I’m going to take the results of that one study with a HUGE grain of salt!

However, if you feel it’s prudent to forgo sunscreen, here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

Staying out of the sun when it’s at its strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is your best defense. Use umbrellas, and pop-up tents at the beach, and wear sunglasses and lightweight long-sleeved/legged clothing in shades of blue (which absorbs sunlight better than white).

Choose stable versions of sunscreen. Look for products containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or Mexoryl. Make sure it says “broad spectrum” on the label.

Use sunscreen properly—put enough on and reapply often. For an adult, the proper amount for the body is a shot glass full (1.5 ounces), plus a teaspoon for the face.

Higher SPF is not necessarily better; SPF 30 blocks 96% of the sun’s rays, SPF 50 blocks 98% and SPF 100 blocks 99%. You’ll still have to reapply every few hours and the SPF 100 is going to cost WAY more than the SPF 30!

Antioxidants improve the efficacy of sunscreen; so apply your own antioxidants before putting it on, or buy sunscreen that has antioxidants in it already—like Coppertone Nutrashield.

The jury is still out on that one study—while we wait for more information, don’t give up your sunscreen!

(Visit for a coupon for Nutrashield.)

Back in May, a friend and I hosted a dance attended by a couple of hundred single people here in London. And I wanted to make sure I looked GOOD.

So I went back to my charming Dr. Andy to get my Botox re-done.

During my visit, I asked him about the alternative to Botox, Dysport, another botulinum toxin that has been used in Europe, Australia and New Zealand for years. It has the same effects as Botox, but supposedly kicks in faster and lasts longer. Dysport is also significantly cheaper than Botox. The FDA has an application pending approval for Dysport and it is anticipated that Health Canada will not be too far behind in approving it for use here.

Micro Needling

Scientia Derma Roller is an FDA approved application which is simple enough that you can perform it yourself at home.

However, Andy mentioned a non-invasive method of treating forehead wrinkles like mine that I had never even heard of before — and I’ve heard of a LOT of different treatments in the years I’ve been writing this column. He suggested I try a skin roller.

This technique is also called skin needling or micro-needling and it is not the same as using acupuncture to treat wrinkles (which is only temporary, like moisturizers). The therapy is intended to stimulate natural collagen production in order to fill in wrinkles or indented scars — which is what it was originally designed to treat.

Skin needling was first reported in dermatology literature in the early 1990s. Canadian dermatologist/plastic surgeon André Camirand had tattooed deep scars to camouflage them, then he noticed that the patients’ skin texture was improving. He then tried “tattooing” without pigment and noticed that the scars showed visible improvement. The results were published as part of a presentation an international plastic surgery congress in 1992.

Dr. Camirand repeated the treatment on his patients every two to eight weeks and they continued to show improvement without side effects or complications.

In the intervening years, a device has been invented to allow skin needling to be done at home or in the esthetician’s office, rather than just at the doctor’s office. It is a gold-plated roller covered in microscopic needles ranging in length from 0.25 millimetres to 2.2 millimetres. When rolled across your skin, the roller creates microscopic punctures that break blood vessels just below the surface. According to one informational site on the process, “as the blood clots, it creates the right environment for collagen and elastin formation”.

Using the shortest needles, you will only appear to have a mild sunburn; it’s unlikely that there will be any bleeding, swelling or bruising. An added benefit of skin needling is that any topical treatments you apply immediately afterward will truly penetrate deeper into the skin. And you can repeat the process weekly.

Skin needling is also safe for any skin colour; unlike other deeper chemical or mechanical peels, no risk of hyperpigmentation has been found in years of treatment.

I have to admit that reading some of the literature on the process left me a little queasy and that the thought of intentionally puncturing my skin leaves me even more queasy. But for the cost of one Botox treatment, I would be able to buy a skin roller that will last years.

It’s worth a look — and I’ll report back on my findings!

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