TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN AND YOUR SKIN WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.
WHERE THE SUN SHINES
Take care of your skin and your skin will take care of you.
As my friends and I were growing up in the Florida sun, we never worried much about the havoc we were wreaking on our largest organ at a cellular level. Sure, our parents warned us, and we half-heartedly remembered their words as we sloppily applied sunscreen maybe once, forgetting to re-apply after it wore off. Our teen years were full of good times that we would never forget, and we had the brown, splotchy freckles to show for it.
Today, as a licensed esthetician, I know better — and luckily, I know how to reverse some of the damage my younger self left me with. With a little work (which you can leave to the experts) we have the resources to regenerate the healthy smooth complexions we started with and to take back the luster we once took for granted.
MEET THE EPIDERMIS
If you want to see an improvement, it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. The outermost layer of skin is made of skin cells forming the epidermis, and this superficial layer is exposed to all the elements of the world. Think of it as your shield against germs, toxins, pollution and anything else you come in contact with, including the sun.
These cells do not have a blood supply, and need fresh oxygen to help them survive. From the time they’re formed until they die, the renewal process takes about a month or so to complete. This layer, which is mostly made of insoluble protein (keratin), can take as little as two weeks to regenerate in a teenager, but as long as three months in mature skin. As we age, the process of skin renewal slows, however we can take some action to help speed up the process.
There are plenty of claims about new products that will transform your skin overnight, or in one week, which is not realistic. The truth is that there isn’t a magic cream that will solve all your skin problems. The best results take time and can involve some complex factors in the quest for smoother skin.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
To get your skin looking better, consider investing in facials that have “peeling” or “resurfacing” in their description. The types of peels administered by a licensed esthetician are stronger than the kind you would find over the counter. Also, as we age, our skin can become more reactive to ingredients, and seeking professional help will increase your chances of success. Customized peels administered by an expert facialist are only intended to treat the epidermis, and are considered non-invasive with an acid solution no more than 30 percent in strength. Getting a peel will remove the dead skin cells of the superficial layer and accelerate the growth of new healthy ones in their place.
Have these treatments done about a month apart until you reach your desired results. Once your skin is more vital looking, you can start going less often for professional treatments. The key is to have one treatment at the end of a cell’s life cycle (once every 30 days would be best) to increase cell turnover. After you have completed a series of treatments, you should maintain your skin with follow-ups once every four to six months to keep your skin looking amazing. The results can be life changing.
Taking care of your skin is not just about facial treatments, though. There are other key factors to consider. Protecting your skin from free radicals (cell-damaging molecules often formed from outside pollution and sun) is essential if you are trying to achieve a smooth, healthy look. In other words, once these cells are regenerating, you want them to remain healthy and live as long as possible. The best way to do this is to protect them from the outside elements.
You should always wear a daily moisturizer with sunscreen. Add some oil or cream with antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E), which fight free radicals and are essential for giving these cells the best protection you can. Ask your esthetician to guide you with a daily skin routine to help soothe and protect your skin at home and in between treatments.
There are additional things you can do to keep skin looking healthy. Your skin is an organ comprised of different layers that connect with the rest of your body. So there is such a thing as “beauty from the inside out,” and I’m not just referring to happiness and body image. The body is connected and what happens inside will manifest itself outside eventually. For instance, when someone has an allergic reaction to something they eat, the first place you’ll notice it will be on the surface.
To see long-term skin results, we must take care of our bodies by avoiding sugary drinks and fried foods. Sometimes the best things we can do for ourselves is to simply drink more water and adjust our diets. For example, in order to avoid poor impulsive menu decisions, look at menus ahead of time and make a plan in advance for what you will order. For meals at home, look for easy recipes that are healthy and quick to prepare. If you make an effort and commit to even small changes, you will see major improvements to your overall health — and especially your skin — over the long haul.
We all want to feel the best we can, so just remember that your whole body is important and that your skin is part of your body. Treat your skin well and you will feel better as a whole.