In one brave move, Healthista Editor Anna Magee is trying out Epionce, a new range of dermatologist-recommended skincare and having her wrinkles photographed before, during and after. Warning: make-up free pics in harsh light included
This is one of those blogs where the angles and pictures should come with a warning for readers with a faint heart to look away now. Look away now! It will feature pictures of me without make-up – a sight that could scare small children. I will be trying out a range of anti-ageing skincare called Epionce new to the UK.
My face will be photographed using a wrinkle-spotting camera before, half way through the experiment and after 12 weeks of continuous use of the products. Each week I will also be photographed without make-up in harsh light to see if any of the changes the skincare claims it will make are actually happening.
Why do it?
I got the idea after being contacted by leading dermatologist Dr Mervyn Patterson on Twitter. He said: ‘Anna, you often report on the best thing for the health of the body on Healthista, why not try something for the health of the surface your skin?’ Patterson felt that it would fit with Healthista’s approach to seeking optimum health and vitality to try out a skincare regime that optimised the nutrition on the surface of the skin. Epionce’s strap line is ‘Delivering the beauty of healthy skin,’ which to me was compelling. Patterson continued: ‘By optimising what you give the skin, it performs at its best and becomes as healthy as you can get it and healthy skin looks good’.
Patterson explained that every Epionce product is tested in pharmaceutical standards. One clinical study showed that the Epionce regime after six months of use was as effective as prescription strength retinol at reducing fine lines, tactile roughness and skin laxity (sagging) and increasing brightness as well as reducing dark spots caused by sun damage – but without the initial irritation that can be caused by prescription strength retinol.
I knew that retinol treatment was effective for anti-ageing but it often came with irritation, stinging, dryness. In my experience, using retinol at prescription levels for my sun damage (dark pigmentation on my forehand and chin) had in the long run made it worse and I was wary of using anything harsh on my face, usually opting for high quality botanical and organic products.
‘There is no point tackling your pigmentation issue without repairing the surface of the skin,’ said Patterson. ‘You also have to dampen down chronic inflammation of the skin; a bit like repairing the roof of your house to keep the rain out – you need to repair the surface of the skin to protect it against damage from the sun and pollution.’
Current strategies tend to blast the skin with hard products that remove the top layer of skin which means skin might look great for a few weeks but because the surface isn’t strong, the pigmentation and fine lines tend to ‘rebound’ which means the problem comes back, often worse than when you began. This ‘rebounding’ of skin with its previous damage is something that dermatologists are speaking increasingly about right now. It’s exactly what happened to me – I had treatment for my pigmentation in the form of prescription retinol and a harsh peel but one fortnight away in Barbados (even with high sunscreen) and my sun damage had come back with small dark spots on my forehead, cheekbones and chin coming back worse than before.
The Epionce approach focuses instead on giving the skin what it needs to function at its best, on building up the skin barrier before gently giving it the treatment products it needs. I was wary of using a medical strength anything again but Patterson assured me these were gentle yet effective.
Epionce products are entirely botanical which appealed to the Healthista in me that loves natural products. But I also like the idea of it being so thoroughly and stringently tested and proven effective – who wouldn’t? The botanicals in the products such as date palm extracts and natural antioxidants had been shown in previous studies to have a profound effect on skin.
Patterson had come across the products at a dermatology conference in the States where he’d heard doctor colleagues raving about Epionce as ‘the best skincare that’s ever been made.’ He didn’t believe it but then looked at the impressive trials: ‘There isn’t another line with such true independent research behind it and that gives me a lot of confidence.’ Which is why he’s encouraged me to go ahead with this experiment, looking at how the products perform under the Visia wrinkle camera – it doesn’t lie.
Under the scope – the state of my skin before under the Visia skin camera
To make the trial as controlled as we could get it, I visited the Waterhouse Young Clinic where I had a Visia Skin Analysis. This is a state-of-the-art camera that sees the skin in a number of different lights that highlight all the problems that develop as skin ages – and quantifies them. So everyone ends up with a percentage score in things like their level of skin wrinkling, spots, texture, pores, UV spots and sun spots. I will be having one of these at week one (see below), week six and week 12.
According to Dr Mica Engel, the dermatologist who conducted my analysis at the Waterhouse Young Clinic my skin was: ‘really good for your age group and even your pigmentation isn’t as bad as it could be for someone my age  with my skin type’. She too had heard good things from doctor colleagues about Epionce.
Specific problems Dr Mica pointed out in my skin (that I am hoping will improve after using the Epionce):
Eye wrinkles – I have virtually no other wrinkles, just loads around my eyes!
Very dry skin in the eye area, almost flaky in parts
Thick skin a good thing which Dr Mica said is great for not getting wrinkles but can lead to sagging, as thick skin is heavy
Dilated pores on T-zone
UV spots on top of nose, top of forehead, top of cheeks and top left of forehead and as well as at the left of my chin.
Good levels of bacteria and low inflammation
My skin’s main weak points are low hydration levels, tendency to sagging, dryness, eye wrinkles and sun damage.
There’s no serum or treatment product yet which feels weird as I normally more products than this.
There is no doubt the products feel luxurious to use and deeply moisturise my dry skin – the botanical extracts make them smell divine, but the refinement of their formulation means they really sink into the skin in the way only high quality products can.
The first thing I noticed quite quickly was the softness of my skin the next morning after using the renewal night cream and cleanser. Normally I wake up and my skin is crying for moisture, feeling quite crepey and dry. This didn’t happen in the first week of using the Renewal range. My current favourite product is the Renewal Lotion, which feels moisturising but absorbs quickly. I also used the sunscreen Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion £40.50, which left no white residue or pilling under my make-up.
End of week two
I can already spot more brightness, dewiness and a more even complexion. My skin is softer to the touch and needs less foundation (though still a tonne of concealer is required!). It looks plumper and somehow healthier. In this picture you can still see the sun damage on my bottom left cheek and the sides of my forehead.
This week I am starting a new addition to my regime; treatment product called Lite Lytic TX £46.50. Patterson is always wary with his patients of starting them on extensive regimes of different products as it can strip the skin of vital nutrients far too soon. ‘It’s important to repair the skin barrier with the basic renewal range for the first couple of weeks before introducing and treatment products,’ he explains.
The Lite Lytic contains Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) that will smooth and plump the skin surface. It contains additional anti-inflammatory ingredients too to calm the skin. The BHAs remove dead skin from the skin surface but without harsh exfoliation which Dr Patterson says irritates the roof of the skin and creates more inflammation that could be weakening the skin’s surface and making it thinner (thin skin gets wrinkles). So gently does it when it comes to exfoliation of the top layer, encouraging the loss of dead skin cells without the use of harsh treatments. This product should also help make surface pores look smaller. Patterson says that alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) can do the same job but in a more harsh way and lead to greater sun sensitivity.
So what happens next?
I’ll be bringing you updates of my skin care trial every couple of weeks and also having my pictures done with the Visia at week six and week 12 so we can really quantify any improvements in the skin.
More on Epionce here
More on Dr Mervyn Patterson here