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Ask the doctor: We explore non-invasive beauty procedures with Dr. Winnie Mui

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The pursuit of beauty often starts early – gingerly and inexpensively. Many of us learn by watching the adults in our lives; ads on television, magazines, billboards, sides of a bus or the internet; watching models, movie stars and celebrities. As we grow older – and hopefully wiser and wealthier – we start to aspire to loftier ambitions of beauty.

In the beginning, we usually start with non-invasive procedures that are painless, and do not penetrate the skin or draw blood. There are many options available, and here, Dr. Winnie Mui, Director of MediSpa Asia Ltd gives us just a few examples of what’s available if you’re not yet ready to hit the Botox!

Facials and home care products
Basic DIY facials typically consist of cleansing, exfoliation, hydration and sunscreen. All of these products are readily available in abundance at local beauty retailers such as Sasa and Bonjour; pharmacies like Watson’s and Mannings and shops or major department stores with individual counters. Interesting products from Japan and Korea – two countries often considered to be at the very cutting edge of beauty – are also accessible to us here in Hong Kong. Pore strips are good for removing blackheads and unclogging blocked pores, however removing them can be tear inducing! Facial masks, consisting of paper sheets saturated with serums, gels or targeted skin solutions are also readily available. Sunscreen should be at least SPF 30, and if sun exposure is likely to be intense, ensure that you use higher SPF and waterproof or sports formulas, re-applying regularly.

If acne is a problem, there are many products available to counter that. ProActiv is a popular brand, available in major local pharmacies and online. If all else fails, seek professional help from a Dermatologist or physician for antibiotics and medications to clear the skin.

Micro-dermabrasion and peels
More intensive treatments for cleansing and exfoliation the skin include micro-dermabrasion. This consists of a wire brush or a diamond wheel that manually removes the top layers of dead skin cells to smooth skin and unclog pores. Chemical peels also remove the upper layer of skin cells, this time using specialist acid solutions. Weaker acids are available as face cleansers for home use, while stronger acids require professional expertise to ensure safety.

Balanced, well-shaped, arched eyebrows frame the face, drawing attention to the eyes. Eyebrow shaping can take place with razors, tweezers, wax or using the more traditional method of threading, where cotton thread is used to remove fine hairs from around the brows and elsewhere on the face.

Thick, long, lush eyelashes are coveted by many and can be achieved by a number of non-invasive means. Latisse is an eyelash extension medicine that is FDA approved, and is available on prescription, extending and thickening the eyelashes. Eyelash extensions give you an immediate result and last for up to a month, while false eyelashes can be applied yourself (with a steady hand!). Eyelash curlers combined with good mascara are a tried and tested combination to give a “wide awake” look, while eyelid tape or glue are popular in Asian countries and can create illusion of a western-style “double eyelid” without surgery.

Bright, white teeth indicate good health and good hygiene. Popular ways of brightening your smile include whitening toothpastes, tape and gels. Laser teeth whitening can be done in one visit, but may cause the side effect of gum sensitivity. Take-home teeth whitening kits are available from most dentists, but in general, the best results are achieved after teeth have been regularly and professionally cleaned and polished.

For non-invasive, medical-grade beauty services, special equipment is often required. During a spa or salon facial, pores are opened and cleansed with steam and heat. Ultrasound, dermabrasion and micro-dermabrasion cleansing takes place in medical spas and requires specialist expertise to ensure good results. Hydration, skin toning, wrinkle reduction and collagen regeneration with electro-mesotherapy systems, such as Viora Infusion, are both painless and needle-free, and are available in specialist spas.

Those with skin sensitivities and allergies should choose milder products and methods, and as with many other services, preferences and results vary, so ask around and do your research. When buying products, always ask for samples (where available) before committing to a larger volume of expensive products.

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