The positive effect that great skin can have on your appearance cannot be overstated. Clear, glowing skin gives the impression of health, vitality, and inner youth, even in the presence of wrinkles and gray hair. Although as a plastic surgeon I don’t have the same training in skin health as a dermatologist, skin care is an indispensable part of my medical practice. I am regularly asked about facial rejuvenation. While I love performing surgery and injecting Botox, I always recommend that patients start with a basic overhaul of their skin care. Often, this involves no more than starting a regimen of facials, performed every 4 to 6 weeks by an experienced esthetician. Your esthetician will begin to know your skin after one or two sessions, and will also be able to recommend products which will allow you to maintain your new glow.
To care for your skin at home, it’s best to follow a few basic steps.
1) Cleanse: Cleansing your skin is the easiest and one of the most important things you can do. Cleanse twice daily, morning and night. The morning cleanse can be brief, as you are only removing surface oils and skin cells that have accumulated during the night. The night cleanse should be more thorough to remove all traces of makeup and toxins that have been deposited during the day. Cleanse all the way from your collarbones up to your hairline. This will keep your pores clear, and allow penetration of your toner and moisturizer.
2) Tone: Toning the skin is generally believed to be necessary to balance the pH of the epidermis, which then allows moisturizer to be absorbed effectively. When a toner is used, it should not contain alcohol as its primary agent, as this will dry out the skin. The ideal toner refreshes and mildly tightens the skin.
3) Treat: Damage from UV radiation, pollution, stress and diet can release free radicals, which can then start a chain reaction which damages cells. As we age, our bodies cannot fight free radical formation as effectively. Anti-oxidants fight the free radicals which can lead to fine lines, uneven skin tone, and skin cancer. Natural sources of anti-oxidants include vitamins C and E, green tea, fig, amla, mango, orange, pomegranate, saffron, and turmeric. Amla, mango, and orange each contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which effectively scavenges free radicals. It is also able to stimulate collagen and elastin production, brighten skin tone, smooth wrinkles, and increase blood flow to the skin. Vitamin E can increase the effects of other anti-oxidants. Daily use of a product containing an anti-oxidant is recommended, and you will almost certainly notice the difference in the texture of your skin.
4) Moisturize: Moisture in the skin maintains softness and suppleness by keeping water in the outer layer of the skin, and safeguards the body by preventing the penetration of bacteria. Apply twice daily after cleansing and toning, while the skin is still damp. Skin naturally changes with the seasons, and will maintain its natural hydration better in the warm summer months than in cold, harsh weather.
5) Exfoliate: Exfoliation removes layers of dead skin cell buildup which are incompletely removed by cleansing. These dead cells can clog the pores and dull the complexion, especially in people with oily skin. In addition to removing dead skin cells and improving product penetration, exfoliation stimulates blood flow and increases cell turnover. Gentle exfoliation once or twice each week can produce smooth and translucent skin, but over-exfoliation will damage the barrier function of the skin and predispose to sun damage.
6) Protect: Shielding your skin from the sun will prevent wrinkles and reduce your chance of skin cancer. An SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93% of harmful UVA and UVB rays. A quarter-sized amount should be applied to the skin every single morning.
Good skin health requires a small time commitment, but it will pay off quickly in terms of your overall appearance and confidence.