The New Millennium, 2000-The Present
The last decade has seen advancements in skin care that were previously unimagined. While the internet has changed the way we think, learn and communicate, it has also increased the availability of skin care products and information. Today, healthy skin is seen as the combined result of good nutrition, sun protection, overall fitness and a proper cleansing regime.
Daily Skin Care in the New Millennium
The multi-step skin care regime that was first developed in the 1960’s has carried its popularity into the 21st century. Most women stick to a set system that involves cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing. While many companies manufacture lines of products to be used together, many women mix and match according to their personal preference. In fact, personalization has been one of the main trends throughout the decade. Skin types are classified into categories: dry or oily, sensitive or combination, light or dark. Products are formulated to match. An increasing number of products made for men have also been introduced. While they feature “sporty” scents, they contain similar ingredients to women’s soaps and lotions.
The internet has created a new sales outlet for many skin care companies, and an increasing number of people have begun to order their cosmetics online. Many do this for convenience, or because they can find their favorite big name brands at discounted prices, but the internet has also given customers global access to many small companies. Uniqueness has become a virtue and the status symbol of using trendy, mass-produced products has been replaced by the status symbol of using high-quality products, artistically manufactured in small batches.
The Organic Appeal
As an increasing number of chemicals are linked to cancer, many people have begun to question the contents of their cosmetics. After all, these lotions, pastes and powders are rubbed into the feet and hands, painted onto the lips and left to sit all day on the face. Many companies have responded with a steady stream of products made out of natural ingredients. Anti-acne soaps now often include tea tree oil. Modern drug store shelves are stocked with an array of organic shampoos, soaps and lotions that were previously available only at health food stores and farmer’s markets. Foundation made from naturally occurring minerals such as mica, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide became popular half way through the decade, and every major cosmetic company produced their own line of mineral make-up.
The idea that skin is best nourished with natural ingredients has also found its way into nutrition-based skin care. Dermatologists recommend foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Throughout the first part of the decade, TV nutritionists touted an ever-changing list of “superfoods”, including goji and acai berries, cranberries and rooibos tea. These foods were not only said to promote weight loss, youthful energy and longevity, but radiant, glowing skin as well.
The Fountain of Eternal Youth
While youthful health has long been idealized, cosmetic scientists have found an increasing number of ways to preserve the appearance of youth. Lasers, which first came into prominence in the late 1990’s, are now being used in an ever growing list of cosmetic applications. In addition to hair removal procedures and scar tissue treatments, lasers are now being used to decrease the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks, spider veins and acne (read more here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1281735/Wrinkles-cellulite-stretch-marks–theres-laser-treatment-thatll-combat-just-work-does-hurt.html ).
Similar to laser therapy is Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL, therapy. While not as invasive or intense as a laser, IPL is used to treat blemishes, age spots and wrinkles, with varying degrees of success. Chemical peels, abrasive chemical face masks that slough off layers of dead skin, are also used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and aging (read more about IPL and chemical peels here: http://www.ourhealthvirginia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55:skincare-for-the-new-millennium-its-not-your-mothers-skincare&catid=22:women-beauty-and-wellness&Itemid=114 ).
All of these new treatments have led to the emergence of the med spa. These half-clinic, half-spa retreats are supervised by licensed doctors who offer their patients numerous cosmetic procedures. These may include invasive cosmetic surgeries such as face lifts, liposuction or breast augmentation, as well as less extreme skin treatments such as lasers, IPL and chemical peels. Some med spas even offer tradition spa treatments such as mud baths and cucumber facials. While these treatments may make skin appear more youthful, however, scientists have yet to find a treatment that can truly turn back the hands of time. Yet as our understanding of skin care grows, it is impossible to say what advancements the next decade will bring.