Turn Back The Clock

29 Sep 2015
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Turn Back The Clock
Address Aging Skin Appropriately
Christine Spehar
Someone once said, “Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.” The signs of aging are obvious– wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, age spots, enlarged pores, hormonal imbalances. Yet, we live in an age where skin care is at its most advanced, allowing us to prevent and treat the signs of aging like never before.

The ProblemsFirst, let’s take a look at how the aging process affects our skin, and then hear from the experts about how to combat those effects.

Fine Lines and Wrinkles
There are two types of wrinkles that show up as we age–dynamic wrinkles and wrinkles caused by sun damage or lifestyle choices. “Dynamic wrinkles are often hereditary and are influenced by muscle contraction and relaxation,” says Alison O’Neil Andrew, a licensed esthetician and founder of Atlanta-based Beauty Becomes You Foundation, a nonprofit organization for seniors.

Sun exposure, overly abrasive products, smoking, poor nutrition, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices can also damage skin. Add to that the skin’s own aging process: “The cell renewal process slows down. Fibroblast cells, which are the things that generate collagen and elastin, decrease their production,” says Robin Carter, licensed esthetician and manager of esthetics at Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, Inc., located in Deerfield, New Hampshire. “Also, the skin naturally loses moisture as we age, so it has a tendency to wrinkle more easily the older we get.”

Skin Discoloration/Age Spots
“Sun damage is the biggest cause of skin discoloration or texture changes and can show up as early as the teenage years,” O’Neil Andrew says. “The intensity of the damage caused will appear even more, starting in the late thirties. Symptoms include changes in pigmentation, brown discolored spots on the skin, and splotchiness of the skin following a burn.”

Sun exposure can lead to things worse than blotchy skin, however. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.” Be sure to visit your doctor if you see a spot on your skin that has irregular size, shape, or coloring, or if there are significant changes to already existing spots.

Sagging Skin
As we age, skin becomes less firm and under the weight of gravity, can start to lack definition. “Our skin begins to lose its elasticity as we get older and as collagen production slows,” Carter says. “Subcutaneous tissue is responsible for giving our skin a fresh, plump look, and we start to lose some of that padding, particularly on our face, as time goes on. This can cause sagging skin.”

Hormonal Changes
While dry skin is a common complaint of maturation, hormonal fluctuations may cause the opposite problem. “Women who are going through menopause experience hormonal shifts that cause the skin’s oil to get thicker,” Carter says. “This can cause clogged pores that can lead to papules and pimples.”

Enlarged Pores
Though pore size is genetically predetermined, pores can look as if they increase in size over time as skin loses elasticity and pores stretch. Skin may also lose its ability to clear away dead skin cells efficiently, leading to clogged pores. “In this case, it’s not that the pore is actually bigger, it is just more visible because it is not as smooth as it should be,” says Celia Lang, Palisades, New York-based spa manager and licensed esthetician for Weleda North America, a natural skin care company.

The SolutionsThough time will continue marching on, there are ways to help ourselves age gracefully.

Deep Cleanse
Clearing blocked pores is important for maintaining radiant skin and ensuring the skin is ready for optimal moisture absorption. However, it is crucial to be more gentle with mature skin than with younger skin. Strong cleansers, abrasive scrubs, and extractions should be avoided. A professional skin care practitioner will guide you through the best treatments and products for achieving the deep cleanse appropriate for your skin.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
“Hydration masks are a key to long-term results when addressing aging skin complaints,” Lang says. “If you are not properly hydrated, then you can’t expect skin cells to normalize or respond to a problem.” Following a moisturizing cleanse, your skin care professional may apply a hydrating mask on the skin for several minutes to allow the healing properties to fully penetrate the epidermis. It’s especially important to use a moisturizing day cream that contains sun block to prevent further sun damage and dryness.

Massage/Tissue Stimulation
“The massage, often thought as a luxury during masking, is actually an important step,” Lang says. “Through massage, the esthetician is warming the blood circulation and gently stimulating the lymph to encourage the body’s natural ability to normalize the cycle of skin cell rejuvenation.”

Collagen Enhancers
Your esthetician can provide serums and treatments to enhance collagen and elastin for younger looking skin. Some collagen-enhancing formulas, like Retin-A or Strivectin, can also be helpful for wrinkles. Products containing known antiaging ingredients, like Ester-C, green tea extract, or alpha hydroxy acid, are solid additions to a moisturizing regimen.

Aging is inevitable. But partnering with an esthetician and staying educated, you are better equipped to make the processes as painless as possible.

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