We all strive to look our best. As the largest organ in the body, skin is the most important factor contributing to beauty and self-confidence. The skin we are born with remains for life, so it is essential to value and treat our skin with the utmost respect.
Ultraviolet radiation plays the largest role in damaging our skin. UVB rays, the rays causing sunburns, contribute to skin cancers and skin aging. These rays are strongest from May to August, explaining why many people that are not cautious while outdoors, will get bad sunburns throughout the summer. UVA however, is constant and consistent throughout the entire year. It will not cause a sunburn, but it does result in brown spots, pigmentation, dilated veins on the face, wrinkles and skin cancers. UVA will radiate on the skin through clouds and glass. Simply said, it is always present and unless you wear a sunblock year round, you are getting significant UVA sun damage.
Many sunscreens are biased towards UVB, meaning they block out UVB very effectively (thus are excellent at preventing sunburns), but they let a lot of UVA rays through the skin. In addition, there has been some controversy surrounding chemical sunscreen filters (like avobenzone and oxybenzone) getting absorbed into the skin and affecting hormone levels in the body. Physical sunscreens, with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, block out both UVB and UVA rays very effectively and do not get absorbed in the body. I always advocate physical blockers for my patients; they are the safest and most effective to protect against the adverse effects of sun exposure. Any good anti-aging regimen should start with a daily physical sunscreen. The good news is that newer physical sunscreens are no longer white and opaque, they are clear and very cosmetically appealing.
There are many other ingredients that can delay aging from the sun. Retinol creams help to build collagen and elastin, improve fine wrinkles and even out skin tone. Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, helps counteract free radical damage that skin is exposed to on a daily basis. Growth factors and stem cells are up and coming and help to illuminate, radiate and tighten the skin. These are simple skin care steps that can be taken to ensure your skin stays youthful and even.
Despite all measures we may take to protect our skin, it is inevitable to get some photo damage: brown spots, dilated veins, rosacea, large pores and wrinkles. These are issues I encounter on a daily basis, but fortunately there are great treatments that can be done to ensure our skin health is forever maintained. Intense pulse light (IPL) treatments are very helpful for evening out skin tones and brightening the skin. Studies have shown that regular IPL treatments can even help reverse aging at the DNA level. Chemical peels help to shrink pores and reduce brown sun damage. Volumizing fillers (like Juvederm and Emervel) help to restore youthful volume and can non-invasively lift and tighten the skin. Botulinum toxin (Botox and Dysport) can help relax facial muscles that contribute to deep lines and make us look older and tired. The goal of these procedures is to look natural, refreshed and rested. This outcome is what I strive for with every treatment at my clinic.
Skin beauty plays an important role in overall health and wellness, and contributes to our confidence and self-esteem. Make sure you treat your skin with respect. As you age and your skin retains its youthful glow, you will be happy you gave it the care it deserves.