Skin Deep

Anti-Aging Skin Care

| January/February 2007


A regular exfoliation program results in fresher, more radiant skin.

Skin is remarkably resilient, but few people reach the age of 30 without at least a few of the telltale signs of aging. How quickly and to what extent your skin ages depend on genetics and lifestyle. While your genetic blueprint is the luck of the draw, there’s a lot you can do in terms of lifestyle to keep your skin looking its best.

All of the basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle—a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and minimal stress—will go a long way toward keeping your skin healthy and beautiful. Protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure also is critical, because ultraviolet rays cause free-radical damage that culminates in wrinkling, sagging and age spots. Choose a chemical-free sunscreen based on natural minerals, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and apply it every day, even on overcast days.

Your daily skin-care routine should incorporate regular exfoliation. It’s also important to use moisturizers and serums that contain antioxidants—they are an essential part of an anti-aging skin-care program.

Exfoliate for Youthful Radiance

As we age, the turnover of skin cells slows down, resulting in dull, dry skin. You can assist your skin’s natural process of rejuvenation with hydroxy acids. By dissolving the intercellular glue that binds the dry, dead cells on the surface of the skin, alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (AHA and BHA) gently slough off the topmost layer of skin, uncovering the smoother skin beneath. Using these products a couple of times a week (or even daily) provides immediate gratification in the form of fresher, more radiant skin. Over a period of several months, hydroxy acids can minimize fine lines, fade irregular pigmentation and decrease pore size. Note: Individuals with rosacea or very sensitive skin should not exfoliate without the guidance of a dermatologist.

Side effects of hydroxy acids include increased sun sensitivity and possible skin irritation. To prevent irritation, use hydroxy acid products only two to three times a week initially and gradually work up to daily application. Because removing dead skin cells on the surface of the skin eliminates some of the skin’s natural protection against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, it’s essential to use sunscreen daily when using AHA and BHA products.

Alpha-hydroxy acids: Natural AHAs are derived from sugar cane (glycolic acid); sour milk (lactic acid); and fruits, such as apples (malic acid), lemons (citric acid) and grapes (tartaric acid). To be effective, AHA skin products should contain between 3 and 10 percent AHA and have a pH level between 3 and 4. (Manufacturers are not required to list pH information on their labels. To test the pH value of a product, use a pH strip. These are available at drugstores.)

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