Your skin is an amazing organ. It protects you from the elements, prevents dehydration and helps to keep you from getting sick. It is exposed to sun, cold, chemicals and toxins on a daily basis. As we age our skin begins to look “weathered,” dry and wrinkled. We long for the healthy glow of youthful skin and try all sorts of treatments and products to attain it. The best method for great skin is prevention. There are some very simple steps that, if followed from a young age, will make significant strides in preventing the appearance of aging. But it’s never too late to start, so read on!
First and foremost, don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke is bad for everything and good for nothing. It is a cause of several types of cancer, increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and damages your teeth. In addition to this, it makes you age much more rapidly. Cigarettes are full of toxins and free radicals that damage the collagen and elastin in your skin, causing premature aging and deep and fine lines. It also causes constriction of the blood vessels, which inhibits the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This lessens your skin’s ability to heal wounds and injury caused by sun and other chemicals.
Speaking of the sun… Sun is a type of radiation. This energy causes damage to the collagen and elastin, making your skin loose and more prone to wrinkles and fine lines. Sun damage to skin causes age spots, which are a form of hyperpigmentation. It also increases your risk of skin cancer by forcing changes in your skin’s DNA. Sunscreen helps to block the sun’s damaging rays from reaching your skin’s surface. There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens actually block the radiation from getting to you. They generally contain zinc or titanium and often are white or colored (some can look like makeup). Chemical sunscreens absorb the radiation to keep it from reaching your skin. There are different types of sunscreen that absorb the different types of radiation (UVA and UVB). A good sunscreen blocks or absorbs multiple types. Mexoryl is a newer chemical sunscreen that can absorb both UVA and UVB.
Your diet also influences the appearance of your skin. Lots of people have noticed that certain foods cause them to “break out,” but healthy skin involves more than just avoiding a few foods. Your diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is crucial for your skin to heal wounds and damage caused by our environment. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, but also in green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Vitamin E helps rejuvenate skin by increasing collagen production. It is found in whole grains, nuts and avocados. Zinc helps to fight acne and heal injuries. Foods with high zinc content include seafood, milk and beans. Taking a multivitamin can help to replete some of the missing nutrients, but getting them through your diet is a much healthier way.
Millions of dollars are spent every year on skin care products. There are creams that brighten, lighten, even tone, clear up blemishes, moisturize…the list is extensive! There are a few products that are important however. Everyone should use a gentle cleanser daily. A toner should be applied to balance the pH and let the skin absorb the next step, which is a moisturizer. Antioxidants can be applied topically and many skin care lines have products that include antioxidant ingredients. An exfoliant is essential to keeping your skin looking fresh and new. It can be chemical (such as glycolic acid) or physical (like microbeads in a facial scrub). The exfoliant removes the dead exterior layers of skin, revealing the healthy skin below it. If you have sun or age spots you can improve the appearance of these with a lightener or bleaching agent such as hydroquinone.
Rejuvenation and maintaining youthful skin can also be enhanced with the use of Botox and anti-aging topicals such as retinoic acid. Everyone’s skin is different. It’s important to have a plan that’s developed just for you. The experienced physicians at Imagen can help you develop a program to rejuvenate and maintain your beautiful skin for years to come. If you would like to speak to one of our physicians about your skin care concerns, please call the clinic at 402-509-8473 or contact us.