Ever stand inches away from the mirror, closely examining your face because you’re sure you see a wrinkle that was absolutely not there the day before? Relax. Time does not march on quite that fast. In fact, time is not your skin’s greatest enemy, The natural aging process gets a tremendous push from:
- sun exposure
- cigarette smoke
- environmental toxins
- a nutrition-poor diet, especially one lacking in vitamins A, C, E and folic acid yet high in fat and salt
- excess alcohol consumption
- stress harsh soaps or detergent-based moisturizers
- sleep deprivation
But even if you manage never to leave the house without sunscreen or to inhale a puff if smoke, your skin will follow this process:
Dryness: The skin’s oil glands reduce their production significantly after about age 30, and the loss continues over the years.
Sun Damage/loss of skin tone: Melanocytes begin to burn out when you reach your late thirties and forties, reducing the skin’s ability to fight sun damage and often causing uneven pigmentation.
Thinning: At about age 40, the dermis and skin’s fat layer begin to thin. The process picks up stem after your 50th birthday. THe unhappy result: sagging and loss of the plump, youthful softness. The loss of the fat layer also makes the skin more fragile and likely to abrade.
Loss of firmness: In the dermis, cells called fibroblasts constantly replenish our skin’s supply of collagen and elastin. Fibroblasts lose their ability to function over the years, resulting in the reduction of collagen and elastin.
Diminished immune response: The skin is home to Langerhan’s cells, receptors for the immune system that register the presence of foreign agents and toxins. Without them, you are less likely to get a quick warning signal when you come in contact with irritants.
Reduced ability to repair damage: Overall, the body loses its ability to repair free-radical damage, so changes in the cells become more pronounced, accelerating aging.
Loss of temperature control: Sweat glands also slowly lose their ability to function, which makes it harder for your body to regulate itself and register heat and cold.
None of us can completely escape the physical effects of living long and interesting lives, but each of us will field the slings and arrows time sends our way very differently – and that’s especially true when it comes to our skin.
A little can goes a long way. For most people, a skin care program that emphasizes nutrition, supplements and topicals can maximize the good qualities of your complexion by improving color, clarity and smoothness while minimizing or resolving problems such as discoloration and fine lines.
Treat Your Skin Type Right!
Dry Skin: The Rules
- Use a mild, soap-free liquid cleanser or “superfatted” cleansing bar to wash your face at night. In the morning, just splash your face with warm water
- Select moisturizers formulated with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or dimethicone, which delay moisture loss, preventing further dryness
- Apply moisturizer when your face and body are still damp so that you “lock in” the moisture
- Wash you face with harsh soap – ever!
- Use grainy cleansing products or buffing pads
- Forget to apply an SPF-15 sunscreen to your face, neck and chest everyday
Oily Skin: The Rules
- Cleanse your face twice a day – in the morning and before bed – with a mild liquid cleanser formulated for oily skin
- Use astringents no more that once a day. Better yet, don’t use them at all
- Choose an oil-free or oil-in-water moisturizer if you feel you need to use a moisturizer
- Use an oil-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day
- Overscrub your skin. Oil is your skin’s protective barrier
- Cleanse your face more than twice a day – but you may cleanse once more if you work out
- Develop an astringent addiction
- Use moisturizer if you don’t need it
- Keep slapping on powder to mop up oil – your skin will look chalky
Combination Skin: The Rules
- Choose cleansers formulated for combination skin; they’re gentle on dry areas, such as cheeks, and tougher on oily cheeks, nose and chin
- Apply moisturizer only were you need it, but slathering it on you T-zone may lead to breakouts
- Use a different cleanser or moisturizer for different parts of your face – it’s a waste of time and money
- Forget to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day. Use a product formulated without oil, if you like
Face Saving Foods
Acne: Eat lots of foods rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, such as melons, spinach and brocolli. Avoid processed foods.
Dry Skin: Eat foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as salmon, fresh tuna and flaxseed oil.
Rosacea: Eat lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, brussels spouts and cantaloupe.
As an active researcher, I welcome your comments and suggestions.