There are some things that make us look older which are totally out of our control. One of my go to statements in new patient consultations is, “Genetics is the trump card!” By this I mean, there are traits, expressions, features, components of skin which are simply who YOU are. These things are inherited from your family gene pool and really not much you can do about it. However, in my 15 or so years in non-surgical, medical anti-aging and skin care, I have learned some theoretical facts, as well as, observed from my patients, there are some things YOU DO which accelerate the aging of your face. I have listed 5 things below to STOP doing immediately!
- EXCESSIVE SUN EXPOSURE- The sun is perhaps the worse culprit of skin damage! We all have heard and perhaps experienced just how damaging the sun can be on the skin. Excessive sun exposure causes breakdown of elastin, causing the skin to thin, sag and stretch, much like smoking. And then, of course, there is the increased risk of skin cancer, which can be deadly in some cases. Approximately 90 % of facial aging is sun damage related, especially for Caucasian skin. Your sun block MUST contain the words UVA and UVB coverage or broad spectrum. UVB rays, the ones that burn the skin, are protected using most over-the-counter sunscreens. UVA protection, which causes aging, may not be a component of those products. The flip side is, that about 10 minutes of sunrays provide the daily requirement of Vitamin D. And the buzz in medicine these days is Vitamin D deficiency. Another blog for another day…
- STOP SMOKING- This habit, usually started in college, is one of the most difficult ones to stop! Smoking (and excessive sun exposure) are indisputably the two worst things YOU DO to accelerate aging of the face- for several reasons. Nicotine actually contributes to the breakdown of elastin, which is the component of skin that maintains elasticity. It also decreases circulation leading to a gray, washed out complexion. Lack of proper circulation can also aid in cellular death accumulating a labyrinth of dead cells, accentuating fine lines and dull appearance. So lighting up can lead to dull, gray, sagging skin and increased fine lines. All of that, and you’re paying for it- pun intended!
- TANNING BEDS- STOP IT! Tanning beds can create the same negative issues as sun exposure. Follow the lead of Nicole Kidman and go naturally pale! I have never noticed any leathery, wrinkled skin on Nicole’s décolleté. If you must tan, use some of the much-improved sunless tanning agents and/or spray tans. Tanning beds have been proven to increase the risk of skin cancers and break down collagen and elastin. In fact, in some states, these bad boys have been banned! So get over it! Tanned skin does not define beauty anymore- even in the south, Girlfriends!
- STOP USING YOUR BATH SOAP AS YOUR COMPLETE SKIN CARE REGIME- In order to slow the natural aging, you MUST use some medical grade anti-aging skin care products, at some point. For instance, vitamin A, retinoic acid, will help exfoliate, decreasing fine lines, as well as, maintaining elasticity and thickness of the skin by increased skin cell turnover. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and protectant from free radicals, hydroquinone 4% will keep skin tone even, on and on. Over-the-counter products may make the same claims, but lack the proper percentage of active ingredients as medical grade products. Such skin care products are a worthy investment yielding results for many, many years.
- STOP PICKING- It’s true! Your Mama always said, “Don’t pick it!” Picking, squeezing or pressing on little bumps, pimples and red things must stop immediately! Not only does picking risk prolonging the presence of the little rascal, it also risks hyperpigmentation, as well as, pushing the bacteria deeper creating infection of the area. These actions result in creating something 10X uglier and more noticeable than the little bump! Treat it, ignore it or cover it, but DON’T PICK IT!
~Terri Harper, FNP-C