Believe it or not there are patients I see that tell me they have been using Oil of Olay or Noxema since they were young, and they have gorgeous skin! While this is NOT the norm, it is interesting that there are people who just have amazing genes, and the simplest of care serves them well. The best advice to these patients is to continue doing what they are doing because it is working very well for them.
However, for the majority of women, we need to have a more proactive approach to enhancing the look and feel of our skin.
There are many ways to combat the signs of aging, ranging from the very basic skin care to the most aggressive choice — cosmetic surgery. And individuals, men and women alike, can fall along the spectrum of being completely adverse to any cosmetic procedures to wanting them all! I have found that the best results come from a multi-disciplinary approach, and the foundation for any or all of it is good skin care!
Taking care of your skin care is the most important part of combating the anti-aging process. If you don’t have nice and healthy skin, you don’t appear as healthy, and may actually look older than you really are. Healthy glowing skin will help you look many years younger! Having healthy skin is also the first step in beginning all cosmetic treatments. If you are planning on having facial cosmetic surgery, your skin will not only heal faster if it is healthy and correctly nourished, but it will also help enhance the surgical correction.
For good skin care at the anti-aging level there is a focus on the COLLAGEN layer. Collagen is a protein support system in the skin that promotes healthy, youthful and firm skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and is thickest when we are young. The collagen layer shrinks with age, making the skin thinner and more prone to develop fine lines, wrinkles, and become saggy in appearance. Aging, thinning of the collagen layer, is accelerated by poor diet, inflammation, smoking, sunlight, and environmental exposures. Reducing the risk to these exposures will help lessen the degree of aging, but for most of us, we can benefit from topical treatments.
MUST-HAVES TOPICAL TREATMENTS
When I am asked what is/are the most important product in a skin care regimen, I always state that there are three products to never go without: Retiniod (Retin-A family), topical Vitamin C, and sunscreen. Lets take a look at what each of these three “must haves” are all about.
RETIN-A (ALSO KNOWN AS RETINOL, RETINOIDS, AND TRETENOIN)
Of all the topical anti-aging preparations this group is the most effective for anti-aging. This group is made from Vitamin A and is a powerful ingredient that encourages your skin to increase its own collagen production. Retinol’s are antioxidants as well, so they interrupt the free radical damage that causes our skin to appear older. It helps skin cells to turn over faster, and fine lines and wrinkles appear softer. Retinol’s are also used to manage acne and are excellent in stronger versions for sun-damaged skin. Retin-A is excellent at stimulating collagen production, enhancing blood supply to the skin, making its use essential before and after facial surgery.
- Retinol comes in different strengths, and the lower doses can be found in over the counter creams. Retinoids/Tretenoins are of pharmaceutical grade and are only found in prescription strength obtained from your doctor.
- Retin-A products work best when applied at least every 72 hours because the mechanism of action in the skin from the product will only last that long. Best results come from applying Retin-A daily or every other day if possible. Some people only apply Retin-A weekly because it dries their skin, but they will not receive the anti-aging benefit from the product. For these individuals it is best to switch to a lesser irritating version of Retinol.
One tip to remember is that Vitamin A in any form will break down when exposed to light and air. So, when choosing a Retin-A product make sure to select one in a pump type container, or a tube, never in a jar.
In that Retin-A is sun sensitive and can be broken down by sun exposure, it is best to apply Retin-A at night. It is also important to remember that Retin-A will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, therefore a daily sunscreen is a must to prevent sun burn and sun damage!
There are some common side effects from using Retin-A including dry, red, and irritated skin. Because of this, many people feel that they cannot use the product. To combat the side effects, one can choose a different, lesser irritating version of the product. My personal preference is a prescription strength Retinol, because it is buffered and not as irritating as the Retinoid/Tretenoin creams. The goal is not to irritate your skin to achieve a better result. Remember, inflammation actually causes aging! With the right quality and strength of a Retinol, irritation should be minimal, and you should see great results!
TOPICAL VITAMIN C
Like Retin-A, this product stimulates collagen formation and is an anti-oxidant. Vitamin C will provide the same end result as Retin-A type products, but through a different path. Vitamin C is an important nutrient and freely available in our diets, however, very little of what is consumed actually gets to our skin. Topically applying Vitamin C is 20 times more effective compared to ingesting it.
Topical Vitamin C is available in many different products and also as a stand-alone product in a serum or cream form. Since Vitamin C also quickly oxidizes with sun exposure be sure to choose a product that comes in a light protective container like brown glass. The best use is to apply a serum, (I use Vit C), as your first product after cleansing your face in the morning.
Using a minimum of SPF30 sunscreen DAILY, regardless if it is raining, the sun is shining, or whatever the season, is essential to good skin care. Regardless of the weather we are exposed to UV light rays all day long, that’s even in cloudy weather or the winter months in colder climates. UVB rays are what give your skin color when exposed to the sun, and cause sunburn. UVB also helps our skin stimulate the production of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for many body functions such as bone formation, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulator and many other benefits, but UVA rays are also what cause long term damage to the skin, and accelerate the aging process.
When choosing a daily SPF, sunscreen, choose one with at least an SPF30 containing zinc and titanium dioxides. I prefer using a tinted SPF30 cream as the last product I apply before my powder daily. To further help protect my skin, I also use a face powder that contains SPF. This is an essential step every morning if you are using Retin-A products at night.