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skin care

10 things you can do now to save your skin

By August 16, 2011No Comments

We regularly get questions about which skin cream will reduce wrinkles or what is the best thing to reverse aging.  There are many things you can do and avoid, no matter your age, to maintain your skin looking its best.  Here are the 10 that we recommend everyone put into their daily skin care regimen (in no particular order).

10. Control the sun: We all need the sun.  Besides keeping our planet alive, it is necessary to synthesize vitamin D, which is good for bone health, the immune system and may reduce the risk of certain cancers and other diseases.  Excessive sun exposure, however, is the number one reason skin goes from tight and youthful looking, to loose and more aged in appearance.  Sunlight destroys elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles. It also leads to telangiectasias (fine blood vessels visible under the skin), sallowness (a yellowing of the skin), as well as freckles and potential skin cancers. The myth that the majority of skin damage occurs in our youth and we can’t change it now has led many to not bother with sunscreen in older age.  This has been debunked and all ages should use sunscreen.

Finding a sunscreen that you’ll use everyday is the best way to avoid harmful UV exposure. Olay Regenerist UV Defense is one particular cream that has SPF 15 protection, doubles as a nice face cream, rather than an oily sunscreen, and won’t break the bank.  There are many similar products that may be more or less expensive. Click here for an alternate list of sunscreens. Don’t forget your neck and upper chest, as these areas are prone to premature aging as well.

9. Stop smoking: Just in case you hadn’t heard, smoking is really bad for you.  Not only does it harm your lungs, it also prematurely ages your skin.  Smoking leads to premature development of deep wrinkles and an unhealthy yellowing of the skin.  Facial aging can be seen under a microscope in smokers as young as 20.  Many of these changes or partially or totally reversible by stopping smoking.

8. Rebuke the tanning bed: Look at it this way, do you want to look good (in your opinion) for a few years, or good (in most other people’s opinion) for all of your years.  Tanning is a one-way street to major wrinkling and loss of skin tone. Also, a recent study showed that those who use tanning beds 10 times per year are 8 times more likely to get malignant melanoma, which is very often deadly.  The skin effects of indoor tanning are similar to smoking, and the potential addiction is also very real (read the NY Times article on the subject)

7.  Understand facial expressions: You know those deep lines between the eyebrows you see in older people, well those were carefully developed with decades of smirks, scowls and squinting.  Humans are expressive people and much of what we say is projected nonverbally by our face.  Unfortunately, this constant flexing of facial muscles folds the skin, leading to the formation of static wrinkles.  While I don’t recommend becoming an expressionless zombie, there are a few ways to lessen the effects of our expressions.  1) Be aware of your expressions – if you are developing deep forehead lines or crows feet prematurely, look in the mirror and make the expressions that deepen these wrinkles.  Being aware of these expressions will allow you to avoid making them (we’ve all seen people who scrunch up their face while listening to a compelling story). 2) Wear sunglasses – not only do they protect your eyes and eyelids from UV exposure, they also reduce your desire to squint, which causing wrinkles. 3) Be happy – the wrinkles that come from smiling are arguably better looking that those caused by frowning.

Injectable neurotoxins, better known as Botox and Dysport, have become popular due to their ability to prevent certain expressions that lead to wrinkles. When properly administered, they can block certain facial contractions, but still allow for an expressive face.  A little can go a long way when placed in the right sites on the face.  Once static wrinkles have formed due to repeated facial contortions, these medicines cannot totally eliminate lines.  Injectable fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane, Radiesse, Sculptra) then must be used to lessen or eliminate the lines.

6. Hands off your skin: You are already battling gravity, loss of skin elasticity, and the elements.  Why further age your skin by pulling and rubbing it?  As an eye doctor I frequently see patients who have rubbed their eyelids so much that they are stretched out and need surgery to correct.

5. Sleep on your back: If you can, train yourself to sleep on your back.  Sleeping on your side or face down leads to premature creases forming, especially between the nose and mouth (nasolabial fold).  I often will ask my filler patients which side they sleep on and I am right most of the time.  The side they sleep on has a deeper fold and sometimes the eyelids are noticeably more lax.

4. Get your beauty sleep: While you should sleep on your back, it is just as important to actually get that sleep.  Inadequate sleep will quickly cause changes in your skin.  The peak hours of sleep are when collagen production is accelerated and cortisol and insulin production increase.  This leads to better repair of damaged skin.  To improve your sleep, get into a healthy schedule of getting up and retiring at the same times each day.  Make your bedroom a place for sleep (banish the TV).  Don’t eat or exercise just before going to bed.  And make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress.

3. Keep hydrated: Drink ample water to maintain hydration, which will keep the skin more perky.  Moisture inside and out is important.  Dry skin is not a cause of wrinkles, but moisturizers have been shown to reduce the appearance of lines, temporarily, by plumping them up. Applying them to skin moistened with water is the most effective way to lock in that moisture.  Just don’t get sucked in to spending a fortune on these creams, as the very expensive creams rarely are much more effective than the more affordable alternatives.

2. Consider a retinoid: Dermatologists, nearly across the board, recommend prescription retinoids (Retin-A, Tazorac) as the only anti-aging creams that really work.  They have been shown to reduce fine lines and many say they give an nice glow to the skin.  They do not reduce your pore size, as is claimed by some.  They also will make you more susceptible to sunburn and will cause some redness in the beginning.

1. Develop daily skin habits: Just pampering your skin some of the time won’t cut it.  Wash your face well nightly to remove the dirt and pollution floating around in the air.  Start each morning with an application of a sunscreen product. Find time to exercise daily, which will improve circulation and tone.

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