Is the mirror showing a few more wrinkles on your face or a little more sagging than it used to? A combination of physiological changes is responsible for these signs of aging. The elastin and collagen that give our skin its strength and resiliency break down making it more difficult to replenish damaged skin cells with new ones; our skin cell turnover rate slows, causing skin to look dull; gravity contributes to the thinning of our skin; and our glands produce less oil bringing about dryness and accelerating the aging process.
Skin Care By the Numbers
With so many products and services available, how can we know which remedies will actually help slow the effects of aging on our skin? About 50 percent of the way our skin ages is determined by genetics; the other 50 percent we can do something about.
In your 20s:
Leading a healthy lifestyle in your 20s can decrease the effects of aging on your skin. Use a good sunscreen and eat a well-balanced diet that includes antioxidant-rich foods like colorful vegetables and fruits. Also, stay hydrated by limiting alcohol and caffeine and drinking plenty of water; get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night; exercise; and reduce stress.
In your 30s:
In your 30s, continue a healthy lifestyle and consider using an alphahydroxy acid moisturizer. Changes in hormones and metabolism at this age cause skin to start losing hydration. Use a night cream to hydrate skin during sleep. In your mid to late 30s, consider seeing a skin care professional. Having a chemical peel or laser therapy twice a year will remove dead skin and reveal younger skin. Also, begin using an eye cream if you’re showing wrinkles around the eyes.
40s and beyond:
In your 40s, more intense treatments can help minimize the effects of aging. Doing one or more of the “Four R’s” can help:
- Relaxing: Chemodenervation injections are a quick, effective and popular treatment for relaxing lines and wrinkles.
- Resurfacing: Creams, chemical peels and laser treatments can bring a brighter glow to damaged outer skin.
- Refilling: Refilling areas of the skin that have lost volume can bring balance to the face.
- Re-draping: Re-draping the skin requires surgery and is the most invasive of skin rejuvenating treatments.
Which Products to Use?
When choosing the right anti-aging products, there are a few things to remember. Retinols like Retin A work to reduce lines and wrinkles, while antioxidants like Coenzyme Q-10, Niacin, and Vitamins C and E protect against free radicals. Also, a good delivery system is as important as good ingredients. Good delivery means the active ingredient(s) are compounded with other ingredients that enhance absorption into the skin. For example, using the oil from a Vitamin E capsule directly on your skin doesn’t work because the vitamin does not get absorbed well into the skin. This is a key distinction between many over-the-counter products and those available in a medical office or high-end spa. A simple way to boost the effectiveness of creams or serums is to exfoliate. Use an exfoliant three times a week to get rid of dead skin and help with product absorption. When shopping for products, beware of tempting “miracle cures”. Aging doesn’t happen overnight and neither does anti-aging. Anything that seems too good to be true probably is. You should also be diligent when choosing a skin care professional. Go to someone who is board certified and reputable. Don’t be afraid to ask about their credentials.
Though aging is inevitable, healthy habits and a few cosmetic remedies can bring about success in slowing the effects of aging we see on our faces. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of moderation when caring for your skin. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, sleep well, and take small steps toward healthy skin, but don’t be so strict that you stop enjoying life.
(Editor’s Note: Hear more from Dr. Song at a free seminar on Thursday, June 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Swedish/Issaquah. She will discuss nonsurgical options to rejuvenate your face and how you can help turn back the clock. There will also be live demonstrations of a cosmetic injection and dermal filler procedure. To register, call 206-386-2502 or click here.)