Wrinkles, sagging skin, brown spots… these are all expected skin problems as we get older. And although the aging process is inevitable, we may be able to slow it down a little. It turns out we may be able to prevent other facial problems too, like breakouts, dryness and discoloration.
Dr. Ariel Ostad, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, tells us how some of our daily habits may be ruining our skin and offers tips on how to fix them.
Habit: Alcohol, cold weather, washing in hot water—they can all dehydrate the skin.
Skin Fix: Any moisturizer will work - but look for one that contains ceramides. Furthermore, moisturizing your skin in both the morning and evening is key. The best moisturizers are non-comedogenic, non-greasy and non-irritating. The formulation should contain a superior system of emollients and natural ingredients to nourish the skin.
Habit: In addition to causing lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can lead to wrinkles and is clearly associated with destroying skin elasticity.
Skin fix: There are all kinds of aids to help you quit—support groups, nicotine-replacement products and drugs. So stop smoking!
Topical retinoids have been shown to improve skin texture and fine lines. Retinol is a purified form of vitamin A, which has a rejuvenating effect on tired, sun-damaged skin. Retinoids also have the ability to increase the thickness of the outer surface of the skin, the epidermis. Chronologic aging leads to skin that is thin, lax, finely wrinkled, fragile, easily traumatized and slow to heal. Retinol reverses these effects.
One major benefit of retinol that distinguishes it from other skin care ingredients is its ability to reach the areas of the skin where it can actually have an effect on increasing collagen production and decreasing collagen breakdown. A topical retinol product should be used daily and the strength should be determined by your dermatologist.
Habit: Ironically, many lip balms contain phenol, which dries out your lips. It feels good when you put it on, but soon you need more.
Skin Fix. Read the ingredient list and use only balms without phenol.
Habit: Poor sleep habits can wreak havoc on skin. Skin-irritating stress hormones are at their lowest while people sleep, while helpful anti-inflammatory molecules are at their peak.
Skin Fix: Studies say you should get eight hours of sleep. Start by adding 30 more minutes each night, and see if you can tell the difference.
Habit: Studies suggest about 20 percent of inked clients are unhappy with their tattoos. For those who decide to get them removed, the process is time-consuming, costly and painful.
Skin Fix: Great coverage cosmetics can work wonders.
Habit: You might as well call them "cancer booths." Studies show that people who log time in tanning booths up their risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Skin Fix: Get your bronze glow from self tanners—spray, lotion, gel or wipes.
Habit: Squeezing pimples and picking blemishes are not winning strategies for anyone. Just about any manipulation—especially if the skin is already inflamed—will result in hyperpigmentation (discoloration), which can last months to years and is very difficult to treat.
Skin Fix: If your skin is inflamed, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. A steroid injection, for example, can make the problem go away quickly without leaving marks.
Habit: Stress wages chemical warfare! Pro-inflammatory neuropeptides make the skin more reactive, which can worsen acne and psoriasis. Hormones like adrenaline constrict your blood vessels, depriving the tissue of nutrients. Long-term stress can cause the production of cortisol, which potentially leads to the thinning of the skin.
Skin Fix: Guided imagery, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, exercise, yoga and tai chi are all good ways to manage stress and help improve your complexion.
Habit: From wrinkles to cancer, photoaging is "the single biggest cause of damage to the skin," declares Skin Care & Repair, a report from Harvard Medical School.
Skin Fix: You know the drill—sunscreen that's least SPF 30 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Re-application is necessary especially if you are swimming throughout the day.
Don't forget behind the ears and neck. Annual skin checks with your dermatologist are important as early detection can save your life.
When buying sunscreen, consumers should look for the following ingredients to be able to receive a full spectrum coverage and protection:
*Micronized zinc oxide -- for broad spectrum UV protection (including UVA), soothing effects for skin irritations, antimicrobial properties
*Titanium dioxide --an excellent absorber of sun rays (UVA & UVB rays) provides long-term UV-protection, water resistant.
*Niacin-- clinically shown to visibly improve skin tone, texture and discoloration.
*Vitamin E -- helps heal and protect your skin.
Habit: A common mistake among the acne-prone is thinking “the more creams, the better.” Some people use three or four products at a time, and this ends up drying out their skin, which makes them break out even more.
Skin Fix: If you can't find one over-the-counter product that works, see a professional. Acne is not just from oils. It's also from irritation and inflammation.
Not happy with your skin? Your daily habits could be causing some harm. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad has some fixes to get the glow back in your face