It wouldn’t surprise most of us to learn that we are being exposed to environmental pollution all of the time. Cars, trains, buses, factories, sky rise output, chemicals - you name it it’s adding to the pollution. But have you considered what this is doing to your skin?
Whats causing the damage?
Pollutants are dangerous because of their size. At roughly 20 times smaller than the pores on your skin, damaging particles easily penetrate your skins natural barriers where they can start an oxidation process.
In an attempt to rid itself of these harmful environmental toxins our skin reacts by producing free radicals. However, this response has long term negative effects on our skin. In the article “Aging in a Polluted World” by Dr. Zoe Draelos, she explains this free radical reaction ultimately damages our collagen layer. Our skins natural production of Vitamin E is also diminished. This leads to a higher risk of wrinkles, hyper pigmentation and even skin cancer.
How to help?
Like most things, preventative measures are far more important than treating the damage later. Luckily, its not too difficult to remove these particles and reverse your skins free radical production.
My two favorite osmosis products are both high in antioxidant fighting ingredients.
Rescue Serum This epidermal repair serum is perfect for combating the stresses acquired through environmental pollution.
Calm A vitamin A based serum, this product calms (duh) reduces inflammation and helps to build your skins natural protection against free radical damage.
The most important things to look for in sunscreens are spf 30 or higher and a broad spectrum designation. My absolute favorite brand of sunscreen is Image, they even have an anti pollution sunscreen! Search for local spas that sell the line to pick some up.
Neutrogena Oil Free Broad Spectrum spf 35 is my favorite drug store brand
* I use Osmosis products in my practice. I will usually recommend Osmosis products because I believe they are some of the best skin care products around and I am well educated in the line. However, I will always try to include drug store alternatives and I will never recommend a product I don't explicitly believe in.
We have all experienced the brutal effects of cold, dry air on our skins. Last January I wrote a post with some easy tips to help minimize some of the damage. You can read that post here.
But today I want to talk about one product that will help to ease the pain of winter skin - AmLactin. This lotion is my jam and I honestly don't think my dry skin would be able to handle DC winters without it. (Side note - I'm originally from Florida and DC is the farthest north I've ever lived. I know for some of you these winters are a cake walk but for me, 23 degrees and snowy is about as cold as I'm interested in)
Ok, back to AmLactin. There are a few different formulations but as the name would suggest, they all contain lactic acid as their main active ingredient. Lactic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid which means it does two important things: the acid gently disolves your dull, dry, dead skin and it creates a moisture bond to your skin - essentially binding moisturizers to your skin so that it is harder to escape.
What are some cold weather products that you can't live without? Leave them in the comment section!
Winter wreaks havoc on skin - drying it out, chapping it, turning it red and flakey and leaving you not just looking dull but sometimes actually hurting! Today in DC we’re getting hit with a lot of snow and the temperatures are dropping fast so now seems like the perfect time to share some professional tips on how to stay on top of your winter skin care routine.
Don’t Shock Your Skin: While winter temperatures are brutal, we do a lot of the damage on our own in the shower. Nothing feels better than a super hot shower when it’s cold outside but going from the wet hot shower to the cold dry air of your house shocks the skin and causes the follicles to break. Have no fear, however. I am not suggesting that you stop taking those amazing hot showers, just rinse off with luke-warm water at the very end. It won’t be the most pleasant 10 seconds of your day but it will act as a temperature bridge and your skin won’t panic when it hit’s the cold. This will save you a lot of pain, discomfort and ashy skin for the next few months.
Know the difference between healing and protecting ingredients: This one applies to a lot of products but especially with lip treatments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client tell me “I put vaseline on my lips every day but they never feel hydrated!” That’s because vaseline, or any petroleum based ointment, can’t actually penetrate your skin to heal it, it only sits on top to protect it. This is great news if you’re going to be outside all day and don’t want to give those harsh winds access to your skin but if your skin is already chapped and angry it can’t do anything to help. For healing purposes you want to look for ingredients such as Vitamin E, shea butter and avocado oil.
Know your acids: Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHA’s can be a great way to repair dry, damaged skin. My two favorites are hyaluronic and lactic acid. Both of these work to dissolve dead, dry skin cells while encouraging your skin to hold onto moisture - but be careful because these can be a little aggressive depending on the strength of the acid. For a gentler approach look for moisturizers with fruit enzymes which will help to exfoliate that itchy dry skin in a similar manner.
Now get out there and face the cold!
It seems unfathomable that after the drama, horror and embarrassment of your teenage years that suddenly, well into adulthood, acne would steer it's ugly head back your way. More than 50% of adults over the age of 25 suffer from adult onset acne. Below you will find ways to treat them without compromising your skin.
First, lets start by identifying where you're having your breakouts.
Chin/Jawline: These are hormonal breakouts and the most common form of adult acne I treat. Women will typically notice these popping up right before their cycle, when they're pregnant, after they give birth or anytime their hormones might be making a major swing in one direction or another. (If men are experiencing breakouts in the chin and jawline but are otherwise healthy this is probably an issue with shaving or regrowth of beard hair)
Forehead: Internally this can be a digestive issue, externally this could be a hair product issue.
Cheeks: If major organs are having issues then the cheeks are where we see the external result of that. However, clean your cell phone and wash your make up brushes before you send yourself into a health panic!
So what can you to treat it? Standard acne medication is marketed for teenage skin which is typically oily and pliable. As you age your skin becomes drier and doesn't have the same speedy healing abilities it once did. Typical acne treatments contain benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Both of these ingredients are great at killing the bacteria that causes acne but they also have the potential of zapping everything else your skin needs to stay balanced and look great. There are several approaches to treat the acne that are more appropriate for aging skin.
Retinol: This form of Vitamin A is great at killing acne bacteria as well as stimulating collagen and elastin to simultaneously heal the break out faster and counteract signs of aging. However, most forms of retinol can be very sensitizing and drying on the skin so it must be used in moderation and with proper precautions such as daily sunscreen and no facial waxing.
Glycolic: Glycolic is another antibacterial acid but unlike it's teenage acne fighting counterparts it is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid which means its holds moisture on your skin. This is great news for keeping skin looking youthful, feeling hydrated and looking plump.
Vitamin C: While not able to kill an active pimple, topically applied Vitamin C is a great defender for your skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows down the rate of free-radical damage and reverses DNA damage. The benefits result in the overall health and appearance of your skin and gently helps to make your skin stronger and more capable of fighting off those annoying bumps.