It’s that time of the year! Snowing and Minnesota-cold! Check out Dr. Ahmed’s skin tips for Jason DeRusha on how to treat dry skin. Are you using the right moisturizer? You’d be surprised!
Gifts of time… The birthday present you didn’t ask for… Any way you put it, there are tell-tale signs that skin is aging. These include the development of wrinkles, discoloration, mottling or patchy skin, broken blood vessels (red spots), decreased radiance and loss of firmness. Below the surface, we also see loss of the deeper tissue (skin, fat and bone). To our eyes, it appears that everything’s moving down — the effect of gravity — or the dreaded word, “sagging”. Why do these changes occur? A lot of the damage, both on the surface, as well as deeper within, comes from sun exposure. Free radical damage occurs throughout our body with age and from various exposures, including the sun and other toxins (pollution, cigarette smoking, and other damaging environmental elements). Free radicals are unstable molecules that form from these toxic exposures. When they develop, free radicals set in place a series of reactions that ultimately lead to the breakdown of healthy tissues. In the skin, they destroy the structure and accelerate premature aging, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation – the changes that we see on the surface. They also accelerate the loss of the deeper tissues in the skin. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals by stabilizing them. There are ways to slow these changes so that we age gracefully. Protect your skin from the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light speeds up the natural aging process of your skin, causing wrinkles and rough, blotchy skin. In fact, sun exposure is the No. 1 reason for signs of aging in the skin, including uneven pigmentation. Protect your skin — and prevent future wrinkles — by limiting the time you spend in the sun, never using tanning beds, and always wearing protective clothing and hats. Also, use sunscreen on exposed skin when outdoors, even in winter. Choose products with built-in sunscreen. When selecting skin care products, choose those with a built-in sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Also, be sure to select products that are broad spectrum, meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays.
Do you know the best way to shape your nails when manicuring to help protect them? Rounded or oval-shaped nails are more prone to ingrown nails and chipping. Instead, nails should be trimmed straight across with minimal curve at the edges (arc). Quick Tips: File nails in one direction to reduce shear forces, rather than using clippers or scissors. Soak nails in water prior to trimming to soften them and help minimize cracking during trimming. Using blades with blunt ends minimizes trauma to surrounding tissue. Avoid using orange sticks to clean under the nails, as over time this can lift nails off the nail bed, which can become permanent. Avoid aggressively cutting or pushing on the cuticles, which can lead to infection.
We all know vitamin C is good for us – eat your oranges! Vitamin C can also be applied topically to the skin. Pure vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is gaining a lot of attention for its benefits to the skin. First, when used during the day it works with your sunblock to protect from damaging UV rays – vitamin C neutralizes free radicals and reactive oxygen species that aren’t completely blocked by a sunscreen. Second, it helps brighten the skin and lighten dark spots. Vitamin C may also help improve skin tone and the appearance of fine lines, as well as reduce skin laxity. It couldn’t be easier to use. Apply Vitamin C after washing your face, neck and upper chest, and follow with a moisturizing sunblock in the daytime or a moisturizer if needed at night. Vitamin C can be used by a variety of skin types, including sensitive skin.
One of my favorites is Elta MD UV Clear Broad spectrum block, which is a facial sunblock that is good for sensitive skin and acne prone skin (and so often the two overlap). It is a non-comedogenic SPF 46 and blocks both UVA and UVB rays without parabens or added fragrance. Hyaluronic acid plumps fine lines and niacinamide builds the skin’s barrier and calms irritation from breakouts. Another benefit is that this sunblock won’t leave a white residue because of the “transparent zinc technology” the company uses – it is so light-weight my husband will use it, and it can be used alone or under makeup.
Hats are in style again! And, hats are a simple way to protect your face and neck from UV rays. When looking for a hat for sun protection, look for one with a UPF rating (UV protection factor) of 30 or higher. There are a variety of great hats that will keep you protected all the way from intense sports to sophisticated social gatherings. For travel, there are hats designed to withstand being smashed between your clothes. Other important factors: It should have a 3 inch brim at least. It should cover the ears and the top of your head And, if it’s woven, the weave should be tight.
Did you know you can get clothes with sun protection built in? Clothing with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) built in to the fabric are a great way to get sun protection while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. UPF is a rating system, like SPF – UPF rates protection against both UVA and UVB. A garment with a UPF of 50 allows only 1/50th of the UV radiation falling on the surface of the garment to pass through. So, it blocks 49/50ths or 98% of the UV radiation. A UPF rating of at least 15 is required for a garment to be classed as solar UV-protective. Sun protective clothing are especially helpful when you’re going to be out and about for longer periods of time (think of sporting events, yard work, sight-seeing on vacation, swimming at the beach). They are also excellent for anyone with sensitivity to sunscreens or sunblocks.
Look at the right side of your face. Now the left. Now look at your left hand compared to your right. See a difference in the number of freckles or in the texture of your skin? It may be subtle, but many of us have a noticeable difference. Why? It’s from the time we spend every morning and afternoon, driving to and from work–the added UV exposure through the driver-side window (left side of the face) and through the windshield (driving hand). It adds up to quite a lot of sun exposure and ultimately premature aging of skin. In fact, the sun is responsible for 70% of skin aging! Many patients tell me they use sunblock when they’re out in the sun – but if you’re driving to work, or take a quick walk at lunchtime, you’re getting sun– and it’s the small amounts that add up.
We all need to use sunblock or sunscreen to protect us from damaging UV rays, which not only increase our risk of skin cancer but also cause premature damage and aging. But, when I use sunblock I don’t want to feel it and I certainly don’t want everyone to be able to see it – no chalky film, please! Here are a couple of my go-to’s for the face.