Skin care basics
With so many skin care options out there, learning how to achieve and maintain healthy skin can be difficult. Here, Jeffrey Dover, M.D., past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), discusses how to keep skin soft, smooth and young-looking.
The most important everyday skin care steps include cleansing morning and night, wearing sunscreen, moisturizing, staying hydrated, eating healthy and getting enough sleep daily, Dover says. If you can manage that, you should end up with clear, healthy skin at any age.
Don't skip the sunscreen.
Dover says sun exposure is the single most important cause of premature skin aging. "Ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates the skin, causing wrinkles, brown discoloration, broken blood vessels, thinning of the skin and sagging -- as well as skin cancer," he says. No matter what your skin type or how your body reacts to the sun, Dover recommends wearing sunscreen daily. The ASDS recommends applying about one ounce (the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover your entire body and reapplying every three hours spent outdoors.
Keeping skin looking great means using the right products, Dover says. "There is very strong evidence that using prescription retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can reverse and prevent skin aging by stimulating new collagen production, thickening the skin, increasing the luster and vitality of skin, and improving fine lines and skin coarseness," he says. Other effective anti-aging products include vitamin C, peptides, botanical ingredients such as green tea, and antioxidants, which help protect the skin from free-radical damage.
Establish a routine.
The key to success with most skin care products is repetition, explains Dover, adding that a daily routine is especially important with anti-aging creams. Don't be discouraged if you don't see results right away. Improvements could take six to eight weeks to show up with over-the-counter remedies, so give your skin care routine time to take effect.
The ASDS recommends a program of cleanse, treat and prevent:
- Cleanse twice a day.
- Never let 12 hours pass without applying an anti-aging cream.
- Wear sunscreen every day.
- Use products that contain retinoids, AHAs, peptides, antioxidants, botanicals and vitamins.