Protecting your skin is important for anti-aging and health. Here are five things you can do to improve the health and look of your skin:
Proper Sun Protection
Ultraviolet exposure is the No. 1 cause of skin aging. It is natural to lose skin elasticity with age, but most collagen breakdown is from environmental factors. Before leaving the house every morning, apply SPF 30-plus sunscreen with zinc oxide to your face, neck, chest and back of hands. Basically, if you do not need a flashlight outside, you are exposing yourself to UV rays. The majority of sun damage over your lifetime is incidental during everyday activities. If you plan on spending time outside hiking, biking, skiing, etc., seek shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and consider taking a natural supplement called Heliocare to protect your skin from the inside out.
Top picks: sunscreen = EltaMD; hats = Sunday Afternoons.
Retinoids are vitamin A derived compounds that may go by the generic name of retinol or tretinoin. Retinoids have been shown in numerous studies to treat acne, remove abnormal pigment, reverse sun damage, and help with fine lines and wrinkles to give the skin a brighter, healthier appearance. Retinoids should be used as your first step nightly after washing. A pearl-sized amount is all that is needed for your entire face and can be used continuously, but should be avoided during pregnancy. Best results are achieved after using for six months consistently. Your best options will be found by prescription or in a dermatologist office, although an over-the-counter product can give modest results. Retinoids may peel your skin until it acclimates, so ease into it by using it every other night and applying a moisturizer afterwards.
Topical vitamin C products, when properly formulated, are potent antioxidants. They should be applied every morning prior to sunscreen to protect skin at a cellular and DNA level from environmental toxins and ultraviolet light. Vitamin C is very volatile, so don’t expect something you buy at the grocery store to be active and effective.
Top picks: Skinceuticals CE Ferrulic, Skinmedica Vitamin C+E Complex, PCA Skin C-strength, Obagi Vitamin C 15% serum.
Avoid Sugar and Eat a Rainbow of Colors
Eating sugar or highly processed carbs (look like sugar to your body) causes the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that permanently damage the collagen in your skin and other organs. This causes deep wrinkles to form and the skin to lose its supple, glowing appearance. Furthermore, those circulating sugars in combination with UV rays brown the skin, like toast brown, leaving brown spots where they are least wanted. Eating colorful vegetables and berries will impart a healthy color to your skin and also protect it from the inside out. Supplementing with fish oil and vitamin D is highly recommended in most people, as both are anti-inflammatory.
I would be lying if I didn’t recommend Botox®, or one of the other neuromodulators such as Dysport® or Xeomin® . Your mother was right when she said that making all those crazy faces would eventually stick. As elastic tissue and collagen diminishes over time and with environmental factors (UV rays, sugar, stress, pollutants), every time a muscle in the face moves, the skin has less of a tendency to bounce back. This eventually causes lines at rest, leading to an angry, weathered and tired appearance. Botox®, Dysport® or Xeomin® weaken unwanted muscles to produce a more relaxed appearance. I highly recommend finding a reputable injector and starting before the lines are there at rest. An expert will give you the results you want without anyone knowing you have had it done. The procedure takes less than 10 minutes with no downtime.