It’s your body’s largest organ, serving to protect what’s on the inside from what’s on the outside. But healthy skin also conveys youth, energy and radiance. To get that glow, or better yet, to maintain it, consider the steps below.
1. Stick to a medical grade skin care regimen
It’s always easier to prevent skin damage than to try and reverse it. You don’t have to wait for lines to appear or skin to sag before adopting a healthy and age-defying skin regimen. The first defensive strategy is to invest in good topical skincare. You will undoubtedly find high-end products at beauty or department stores, but these over-the-counter products usually have very little of the active ingredients needed to nourish your skin. On the other hand, medical-grade products are available from healthcare professionals by prescription only and are subject to tighter regulation and quality control. These products are formulated with higher concentrations of the same ingredients and have been thoroughly researched and tested for optimal absorption and penetration into the skin. While often more expensive, these are the products that will deliver better results. #medicalskincare
2. Slather on the sunscreen
Unprotected UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. UVB rays cause most skin cancers, while UVA rays cause skin to age prematurely, resulting in wrinkles, changes in skin texture and uneven pigmentation. Use a “broad spectrum” sunscreen designed to block both UVA and UVB, with an SPF of 30 or higher. Make sure to apply liberally and often, usually about every 2 hours. And if a tan is what you’re after, a self tanner can give you the look you want without the risks. Keep in mind, too, that while SPF is essential before heading to the beach, increased elevation, thinner atmosphere and reflective snow also translate into increased UV exposure. So, make it a habit to apply sunscreen daily, and be protected whether it’s summer or winter and you’re swimming or skiing. #practicesafesun
3. Stop smoking
If you need another reason to quit smoking, add premature aging to the list. Chemicals in tobacco smoke can lead to the destruction of collagen and elastin. These are the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity. The results? Sagging skin and wrinkle formation. Cigarettes displace oxygen, reduce blood flow and deplete nutrients like vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. This can leave skin dry and discolored and unable to protect and repair oxidative damage from the sun and pollution. Bottom line, the more and longer you smoke, the earlier you’ll see crow’s-feet, vertical lines between the eyebrows, uneven skin complexion, puffiness below the eyes, wrinkles around the mouth and thinner lips. #glowingskinisin
4. Schedule a full body skin exam
Do you know the most common cancer in the U.S.? That’s right, skin cancer. And while few people associate skin cancer with younger patients, melanoma is not uncommon in those under age 30. Turns out melanoma is the No. 1 most diagnosed cancer in 25-29 year old Americans. Fortunately, skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early. Performing at home skin self exams is an important first step to identify any spots that are changing, itching or bleeding and may warrant further evaluation. Keep in mind the ABCDE rules: asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter larger than 6 mm, evolving or changing. Any spots that fit the ABCDE should be examined by a Board Certified dermatologist. #skincancerawareness
5. Start supplementing
It is well recognized that certain nutrients are essential for skin health. Topically applied antioxidants have been shown to protect the skin so it stands to reason that ingesting them can be helpful from an anti-aging perspective. Free radicals that form in response to things such as sun exposure, alcohol and pollution, can damage the cell membrane and DNA of skin cells. While it’s impossible to avoid free radicals altogether, oral antioxidants in the form of food or supplements can bind to free radicals and slow damage to the skin. Look for foods that are rich in vitamins A, C and E. Consider also the benefits of oral collagen. Starting in the mid-20’s, the body produces less collagen leading to dry skin, wrinkle formation, fine lines and decreased elasticity. Several studies indicate that collagen supplements can improve skin hydration and decrease wrinkle depth. The science is still in its infancy, but diet and supplements may prove to be additional sources of collagen that can aid in defying skin damage. See 3 Reasons to Be More Intentional with Vitamin D Intake. #fuelyourskin
-Kristin A. Boehm, MD
Kristin A. Boehm, MD is a double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon practicing in Atlanta, Georgia. You can learn more about her at Peach Tree Plastic Surgery or connect with her @dr.kristinboehm on Instagram.