Skin care regimen for aging and sun-damaged skin


I was at the cosmetic counter recently, and they performed a skin analysis on my skin. I thought my skin was in pretty good shape, until they printed this picture that shows spots that represent sun damage. I had more spots than normal skin on my face! They suggested skin care programs to reverse sun-damaged and aging skin. I am 46 years old and believe that I have some sun-damaged skin, but am so confused regarding my home skin care regimen. Any suggestions on where to start?


Recent research is trying to pinpoint the basis behind sun-damaged and aging skin. Aging is the slow breakdown of tissue caused by free radicals. These free radicals are produced by sun damage and chronologic aging. People with sun-damaged and aging skin have two battles to fight.

The first is repairing the damaged cells caused by ultraviolet rays, age, pollutants, and smoking. I think it is important to keep your skin care regimen simple, yet effective. There are cleansers and reparative creams which contain glycolic acid and alpha lipoic acid to repair damaged skin cells, improve skin cell growth, and restore normal skin exfoliation.

The second battle to address is neutralizing the damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can have a profound effect on protecting and repairing the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Stated in a different way, the skin relies on antioxidants for protection against free radicals. Since the skin receives the most free radical assault from ultraviolet light exposure, replenishing and increasing the antioxidant defense of the skin becomes an attractive strategy for sun protection and sun repair.

It has been demonstrated that the skin’s native antioxidant protection breaks down during excessive UV injury and aging (due to the fact that there are more free radicals created by the UV damage and cell metabolism than there are antioxidant molecules available in the body and skin). This allows free radicals to damage cells.

Although dietary supplementation can replenish internal antioxidants, there is a limit to the amount that can be absorbed and delivered to the skin. Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is the most important water soluble antioxidant in the skin, and Vitamin E (tocopherol) is the most important fat soluble antioxidant in the skin.

Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. When they are exposed to light and air, the antioxidant molecules are neutralized and turn brown from oxidation. Formulation characteristics are critical for delivery, penetration, and biologic activity of antioxidants into the skin to restore and enhance the skin’s natural antioxidant activity. Your skin care professional should make sure that your skin care product has the correct pH, the correct ingredients and concentration of the ingredients, and proper packaging to prevent oxidation of the active ingredients.

A simple, home skin care program would consist of a reparative cleanser, an effective antioxidant product used in the evening (or at bedtime) along with a skin moisturizer, and a reparative cream used in the morning. Sun protection requires the daily use of a sunscreen, which blocks a broad spectrum of UV rays.

The clinical benefits of using a home skin care regimen (including a cleanser, reparative cream, antioxidant cream or serum, moisturizer and sunscreen - five total products) with antioxidants and reparative ingredients are improved skin texture, reduced brown spots, improved skin tone, and decreased appearance and prevention of fine lines and wrinkles. Products can make a difference, but make sure the products have the right active ingredients and proper pH balance.

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