I spend a good part of my professional life helping my clients master the art of caring for and perfecting the appearance of their skin. The majority are looking for smoother, younger skin, and it’s a goal I consider perfectly attainable. Here are my top five daily suggestions to help you have the best possible skin for the rest of your life.
This is big! If there is one thing I tell every single client, regardless of age, race, or gender, it is to wear sunscreen EVERY DAY; 365 days a year, rain or shine. And this is not just for fair skinned folks. Did you know that according to skincancer.org 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime? And not only does sunscreen protect you from cancer (which really, should be reason enough to wear it), but it is the BEST defense against aging. And the following arguments won’t work.
“I work indoors”-Sunlight passes through windows and those windows do not filter out UVA and UVB light. And even if you aren’t near a window, you likely rode in a car/train/bus with windows and had to walk from building to building. And once you get indoors unless you are working by candlelight, studies show many lightbulbs may also emit at least some UV light.
“It’s in my makeup/or moisturizer”- Look, unless you are caking that stuff on, it’s not enough. It’s a layer. Long underwear does not replace your winter coat, and that bit of SPF in your makeup or moisturizer won’t replace a good sunscreen. Go to the store, buy an SPF 30 or higher ( and to those of you who still believe SPF over 30 is ineffective, allow me to say as a pasty person, I burn wearing a 30, I don’t wearing a 50 and that is good enough reason for me). There is a formula for everyone. Look for something labeled “broad spectrum.” Pick a texture that makes you happy. I personally prefer a formula that is water based and fragrance free, and slap it on. During the brighter months I recommend two times a day. And wear a hat!
2. Breath Better
Our bodies function better in general when we get enough oxygen. The best way to do that is to exercise regularly, and NOT SMOKE. As far as exercise goes, walking counts, really. Really any movement is better than none. So don’t be intimidated if your social media feed is filled with people listing how many squats they did or how many miles they ran this morning. If you move more today than you did the day before you are making progress. And one of the perks of that regular movement is improved circulation, which will help to brighten and plump your skin and even minimize dark circles and puffiness.
That’s my positive part of this section, here is my bossy part… The fastest way to put a bee in my bonnet is to complain to me about your crows feet and lip lines, telling me you’re wearing your sunscreen and using all sorts of prescription skincare and then telling me you smoke. You certainly have every right to do whatever you like with your own body, but if your appearance is really that much of a concern to you, smoking is pretty much the worst thing you can do to your body, outside of illicit drugs. Google the words “smoking studies twins” and you will immediately stumble upon images of twins where one smoked and the other didn’t and the difference is striking. So in addition to reducing your risk of cancer, emphysema, asthma, and a number of other horrible conditions, you will age better, and have healthier skin. Put…the…cigarettes…..down.
3. The Right Fuel
What we put in our bodies drastically effects the outside appearance. And that isn’t just a weight thing. Frankly I think bodies are beautiful in all sizes, as long as they are healthy. When we feed ourselves the wrong things- food laden with preservatives and chemicals, fast food, processed foods, soda, etc. it shows up on our skin. When we are young it often manifests as acne. As we age it makes us look dull, lackluster, and sometimes even gray. When we fuel our bodies with healthier choices like lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and proteins, and lots and lots of water, our bodies can filter out toxins better because they aren’t working so hard to process the junk on the inside. This shows up as bright clear skin. Additionally we also will likely live longer and feel better doing it. So put down the cheese curls and pick up the carrots.
Exfoliation is key to healthy, smooth skin. Our bodies naturally shed about 40,000 skin cells an hour. But as we age the shedding slows down. The cells stick and this can make us appear a tad more wrinkled and dull. Regular exfoliation helps keep us on track. How you exfoliate depends on you and your skin. Some of us really benefit from a physical exfoliant like a scrub, or microdermabrasion. Some of us are better off with a chemical exfoliant like an enzyme mask, or a chemical peel. I personally prefer a combination of the two. But regardless of whether you prefer physical, chemical, or a combo you need to proceed gently. There is absolutely such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to your exfoliation. Avoid rubbing too hard. If you are rubbing harder than you would on a newborn infant, you are rubbing too hard on yourself. If you experiences a tingling or warming, that’s fine, burning is too much.
Over doing it can lead to outcomes that are as bad as the wrinkles you are combatting. Over-scrubbing can break down collagen leading to sagging, or make your skin more vulnerable to bacteria by stripping your skin, leading to breakouts. And really, few things are more annoying than pimples after thirty.
Most of us are fine exfoliating two to three times a week. Those with delicate skin should probably only do it once a week. And no one should use those awful brutal apricot scrubs that we all used years ago.
5. Moisture Moisture Moisture
As with most things, when our skin is protected, it can function optimally. It doesn’t have to work to protect itself. Basically, it can, for lack or a better word: relax. Imagine if you had to constantly defend yourself. You’d be exhausted. You probably wouldn’t look so great. And you would be stressed as all get out. Dry unprotected skin is just like that. Moisturizer, doesn’t have to be heavy, or greasy. Though admittedly I adore a rich luscious cream. The best moisturizer is the one you are willing to use. Find a product that is gentle, whose texture you enjoy, and use it; every day. In fact use it twice a day. Most people are better of with something fragrance free. Natural is wonderful, though I think it should be noted that some of us are more likely to react to botanical heavy creams. Avoid gimmicks. Just because a cream is hundreds of dollars doesn’t mean it is the right cream for you. Especially if it means not being able to afford to buy the fruits and vegetables previously mentioned. Regardless, find a cream you will actually use, and use it!
Bonus- Don’t Get Worked Up About It
It is so easy to work yourself into a tizzy about your face. I see people scrutinize themselves mercilessly in magnifying mirrors with a spotlight shining down beating themselves up. It’s not worth it. I know plenty of people who use Botox and other injectables and are very happy with their results. I personally have zero interest in anything that will restrict my face’s ability to move, even if it means there may be a few more lines. I earned those lines. I take pride that my smile lines are deeper than my frown lines. It means my life has consisted of more smiling, and to me that is beautiful. Don’t let a “friend,”or a salesperson, or anyone for that matter make you feel bad for your appearance. Even if you have sunbathed, and smoked, and eaten cheese curls, you have every right to feel beautiful. Take these suggestions if you want to make a change, or don’t. No matter, just make room in your life to smile and feel good. Because if we are fortunate enough to grow old, there will be wrinkles no matter what, and let us have more smile lines than frown lines!