Skincare

Reviewed by Linda Nelson

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The natural skin-rejuvenation process takes only a few days for children. Children can scrub with a soapy washcloth and go back to playing. Skincare for teens and adults gets a little more complicated. The ability to exfoliate (shed dead skin cells) and regenerate new skin cells begins to slow down by puberty and slows down drastically by middle age.

Facial Aging

Exposure to certain environmental conditions can exacerbate facial aging. The sun, wind, and biological or chemical pollution damage the appearance of the skin. Lifestyle choices also damage the skin, such as improper diet and not enough exercise. Genetic causes include changing hormone levels that age your skin. The effects of these factors along with a slowed skin-cell-rejuvenation process can ultimately appear in the form of wrinkled, discolored, rough-textured, broken-out skin.

The Signs of Problem Skin

As skin cell replacement slows with age, more and more dead cells build up on the surface layers. You can see the effects in the following symptoms:

  • Fine Lines and Deep Wrinkles
  • Hyperpigmentation Spots (skin discoloration) and Brown Spots
  • Sagging Skin
  • Broken Capillaries
  • Excessive Oily or Dry Skin
  • White and Black Heads
  • Blotchy Skin
  • Acne Scars
  • Pustules (small elevated marks or spots)
  • Rough Texture
  • Dull Tone

There are many possible sources of each skin problem. For example, excessive oil and glycerin production can trap bacteria, causing infection and scarring, or acne. Extreme exposure to heat and cold as well as changing hormone levels can cause pigmentation cells to migrate to the outer skin layer. These cells may then be trapped, appearing as discoloration spots on the surface of the skin. Another cause may be our declining ability to naturally exfoliate (shed dead skin), which occurs with age, and may exacerbate sagging, wrinkled, rough-textured, dull skin. Here is our list of steps to help you combat these effects:

Steps to Better Skincare

  • Cleanse: Twice a day, and more if sweating or after rigorous activity.
  • Exfoliate: Since the natural exfoliation process slows, exfoliation can be enhanced with an exfoliation product.
  • Tone: Toners, known as degreasers, prepare skin for additional products such as moisturizers and make up.
  • Moisturize with Cleansing: Moisturizers hydrate and protect skin from harsh environmental factors such as free radical damage.
  • Sunscreen SPF 15 or more: Sunscreen can help prevent hyperpigmentation (skin discoloration) and sun damage. Apply every hour of sweating or outdoor activity, otherwise twice a day.
  • Remove Make Up: As we sleep, pores enlarge and sweating often occurs. This traps un-removed make up and results in break outs.
  • Night Cream: The heaviness of night creams can vary. They provide necessary hydration and seal in moisture.
  • Eye Cream: There are no oil glands under the eyes. A heavy moisturizer is required.
  • Antioxidant Therapy: Eat a well-balanced diet (with antioxidant-rich foods) and perhaps a topical antioxidant cream.
  • Daily Supplements: Use supplements that are rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids (seek your physician's recommendations).
  • Diet and Exercise: Drink eight or nine 8-ounce glasses of water every day, eat a proper diet, and exercise three times a week.

Individualized Approach

Skincare requires vigilant monitoring and periodic treatment modifications to react to ever-changing conditions, in order to keep your skin balanced. The best treatment is determined by your skin condition, age, sex, and overall health. Remember that recommendations may vary among dermatologists, and results may vary among patients.

Clinical treatments are more widely recognized today, offering a more aggressive approach to skincare. These treatments frequently involve accelerated exfoliation through chemical, physical, or laser technologies. Medical grade home skincare programs are coordinated to sustain results. Antioxidant therapies may be used after clinical treatments to enhance healthy skin cell turnover. Alternatively, you can limit your regimen to over-the-counter skincare products.

Even as adults, skin can be treated with some simple methods. Advances in medical science are yielding new insights into the causes and effects of aging skin. Greater understanding leads to better treatments. Talk to a qualified doctor about your goals and all of the skincare options that may be suitable for your condition.

Cost

Costs for over-the-counter or medical-grade programs may be comparable, and may amount to $750 or more annually.

Consult a Qualified Doctor

The information in this article cannot replace the advice of a doctor, nor can it diagnose your individual skin condition. Combining the expertise of a physician and skincare professional is the best way to maximize the health and beauty of your skin.

About the Reviewer of This Article

Linda Nelson is the director of education for ZO SKIN HEALTH, by Zein Obagi, MD. She is based in Irvine, Calif.