We all want clear, healthy and young-looking skin -- skin that is free from acne, blemishes, dark spots, discoloration and wrinkles. Especially as we age and our skin begins losing its elasticity or showing other signs of aging, we want to protect and rejuvenate it. And luckily, dermatologists have identified a number of ingredients that can work to defend your skin from the elements, clear your complexion and eliminate wrinkles.
Gentle cleansing, toning and moisturizing are key steps in a skin-care regimen at any age. Along with hydrating your skin and restoring elasticity, many moisturizers work double-time to protect your skin from the sun and prevent a host of other problems, including eliminating blemishes and wrinkles.
What's your skin type?
Choosing the right moisturizer depends on which type of skin you have. Though skin types are most commonly categorized as dry, normal or oily, you may have combination, sensitive, aging or acne-prone skin that has needs of its own. Dry skin is characterized by dry patches and flakiness, whereas oily skin produces excess amounts of sebum (or oil) on the surface of the skin. Combination skin is identified by both dry and oily areas (typically on the forehead, nose and chin), while sensitive skin may react more to the sun or specific ingredients.
Beauty by the ages
In your 20s: Beautiful skin your 40s and 50s starts when you're in your 20s. Although young skin appears healthy and youthful, it is important to treat it so that it stays that way as you age. Regular deep cleansing is essential to your skin's long-term health. All skin, starting when you're young, needs to be protected from the damaging effects of the sun, to prevent premature aging.
In your 30s: Everybody's skin ages, but not at the same pace. You may begin to see signs of aging in your 30s, while others may not experience wrinkles or fine lines until into their 40s. As skin ages, it becomes drier and thinner. An anti-wrinkle cream with retinol will visibly reduce fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging. A product with provitamin B5 and vitamin E will also help keep your skin feeling soft and smooth.
In your 40s: As you age, your skin requires extra attention. As skin matures, it generates fewer new cells, which can lead to discolouration and diminished elasticity. As women enter menopause, skin can also begin to behave differently. Cleansers and moisturizers specially designed to combat signs of aging can rehydrate skin, restore moisture and suppleness and eliminate fine lines.
In your 50s and beyond: Once you reach your 50s, you want your skin to retain its youthful glow for as long as possible. With the right care, this is simple to do. Though you still need to cleanse and moisturize the same as you did when you were 20, now you should look for products with ingredients that will target the imperfections specific to aging skin. Cleansers with salicylic acid, for example, work to treat and prevent blemishes by getting deep into your skin and removing dirt and oil. Alpha hydroxy acid will work to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
Page 1 of 2 - Read page 2 to learn how to effectively use moisturizers.
Maintaining your skin's natural moisture
The key step in treating aging skin is moisturizing. Antiwrinkle creams and moisturizers will penetrate beneath the surface of the skin, where wrinkles develop, and help to even out skin tone and build up moisture levels. Formulas that are lightweight and nongreasy will absorb quickly into the skin for effective results.
• According to Wendy Lewis, beauty expert and author of The Beauty Battle (Laurel Glen, 2003), most moisturizers don't actually replace lost moisture, but rather prevent the skin's natural moisture from evaporating by creating a barrier between the skin and the air. "Moisturizers temporarily trap water in the skin, which plumps up the skin and gives it a smoother look and feel," explains Lewis.
• Whether you're 25 or 55, use a facial moisturizer to keep skin at its healthiest. A product with an SPF of 15 or higher should be used to protect your skin from damaging UVA/UVB rays, particularly since excess sun exposure can cause premature aging. Vitamin treatments such as vitamin E and vitamin B5 can protect your skin from damage caused by environmental elements.
• Wrinkles and blemishes? Oh, my. You're not alone. Products containing retinol (vitamin A) and vitamins C and E have been proven effective in minimizing the appearance of fine lines and diminishing imperfections on the surface of the skin. Vitamin A penetrates deep within the skin's surface where wrinkles originate, while vitamin E works to even out skin tone and increase moisture in the skin.
• "If one needs moisture and it isn't available, skin can break down and become rough, inflamed, itchy or painful," says Dr. Audrey Kunin, a Missouri-based dermatologist and president of DermaDoctor.com. "It may also provide access to bacteria, which can cause skin infections."
How to choose the right moisturizer
According to Dr. Tabasum Mir, a New York-based dermatologist, skin that is lacking moisture can appear dry, cracked or tight and can feel less elastic and look dehydrated. Also, "in people with dry or aging skin, wrinkles can look pronounced without surface hydration," she says.
Dr. Kathleen Moses, an Ottawa-based dermatologist, advises that you look for moisturizers that are labeled "noncomedogenic," which means that they won't clog your pores.
If your skin is aging, or showing signs of wrinkles and blemishes, look for products that contain retinol (pure vitamin A) and salicylic acid. Working together, these two ingredients fight both wrinkles and blemishes by penetrating the skin's surface and preventing them before they begin.
• It's easy but essential to apply your skin-care products properly. Regardless of your skin type, your face should be washed daily with a gentle cleanser and tepid water. If you have oily skin, use an astringent to absorb excess oils from your face and, especially if you have dry skin, never forget to apply your moisturizer.
• Moisturizer can be applied liberally to your face and neck and to any other areas that are exposed to the sun, but be sure to rub it in gently so you don't overstimulate the oil glands at the same time. According to Dr. Moses, the best time to apply moisturizer is after a warm shower or bath, after the skin has been tapped dry. "This permits a film of water to stay on the skin and this is trapped onto the skin by the moisturizer," she explains. "Products containing urea or alpha hydroxy acids likely enhance the activity of the moisturizer."
Enjoy a lifetime of healthy skin
Caring for your skin is a simple process, but the benefits are plentiful: you can protect your skin from the drying effects of the sun and prevent signs of premature aging, along with bringing out your skin's own radiant glow. Just a few simple steps will ensure your skin continues to look smooth, healthy and younger looking day after day.
Page 2 of 2