Lips age, too.
Like the rest of our skin, our lips change as we grow older. Lips, after all, are basically skin — which means they need to be cared for, too.
Lips are moisturized by tiny oil glands. As the years go by, these glands stop functioning optimally. So look for lipsticks and lip balm that contain petrolatum, dimethicone, and glycerine to help retain moisture. Also, just as you look for facial moisturizers with SPF, be sure to use lip products that contain broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA- and UVB-blocking ingredients. Aesthetically, this will help to minimize scaling, which is a huge plus. But more importantly, it can help prevent precancerous lesions and even skin cancer.
Your shower may be causing dry skin.
Experiencing dry, itchy skin? The cause could be lurking right in your own bathroom. Proctor & Gamble beauty scientists conducted a survey and found that taking frequent hot showers and baths is the leading factor in dry skin. On top of that, the very products you use to cleanse your skin could contain harsh chemicals that actually cause skin dryness.
So, what are the best dry-skin remedies in the shower? Reach for moisture-enriched body washes and beauty bars. These can help you battle dry skin as you cleanse.
A wrinkle is a wrinkle is a wrinkle. Or is it?
What's a wrinkle?
There are two main types of wrinkles: surface wrinkles, which can disappear or be barely visible when you're relaxed and are thought to be the easiest to reduce or eliminate without the use of invasive procedures, and deep wrinkles, or folds that permeate the dermal layer of the skin, which is directly below the epidermal layer. Deep wrinkles remain well-defined and evident even when your muscles and skin are relaxed, because they reach the subcutaneous layer, the third layer of skin, where fat is stored.
Unfortunately, there's really nothing you can do, other than hope for good genes. However, there are some well-proven skin-care ingredients that are worth using to help prevent external damage, as well as to reverse and reduce existing signs of aging you might have.
Retinoids are natural or synthetic substances derived from vitamin A. They stimulate the production of collagen and have been shown to increase the skin's natural moisturizer, hyaluronic acid. Clinical studies have proven that topical retinoids are effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also smooth skin texture and reduce discoloration. However, retinoids cause an enhanced sensitivity to sunlight, so sun protection should be even more vigilant than usual when using them.
Niacinamide, found naturally in the body, is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin B3. Topical niacinamide is proven to increase collagen production, which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Peptides, specifically, the amino-peptide complex Pal-KTTKS, have been shown to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as increase skin firmness without damaging skin's barriers. They play a critical role in the generation of new skin and can increase the production of collagen and elastin. Together, these boost volume and skin elasticity for younger, healthier-looking skin.
Most skin "aging" really has little to do with age and more to do with sun exposure and environment.
Try this: Compare the skin on an area of your body that is repeatedly exposed to the sun to an area that typically doesn't get much sun exposure at all. If you have significant cumulative sun exposure, you might notice that your exposed, sun-damaged skin will often appear blotchy, with brown spots, redness, and textural changes. On the other hand, skin that has been protected from the sun tends to be more uniform in color, with a smooth, supple texture.
As you develop an anti-aging skin-care regimen, remember that a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 can help prevent wrinkles, too.
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Our bodies rely on hyaluronic acid.
What is hyaluronic acid?
It's a naturally occurring component of connective tissue that lends strength and flexibility to many parts of the body, including the cartilage, blood vessels, and skin.
What does hyaluronic acid do?
Hyaluronic acid helps keep your skin moist and agile, aiding in a healthy, youthful appearance.
Research has shown that as a person ages, the hyaluronic acid content in the skin decreases.
As a result, beauty scientists are in the process of investigating anti-aging skin-care formulations that can stimulate the skin's own production of hyaluronic acid, resulting in improved skin moisture and less-prominent wrinkles. Additionally, you can find skin-care products that are formulated with cosmetic-grade hyaluronic acid to help maintain younger-looking skin.
Patches of darker skin on your cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip may be the result of melasma.
What is melasma?
Melasma is the stimulation of melanocytes to produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Freckles, for example, are concentrated areas of increased melanin production. When skin is exposed to the sun, this melanin forms patches of darkened skin. For some women, this discoloration is barely noticeable, while for others it can be dark and quite embarrassing. Melasma can occur with any skin type, but it is more common in darker skin tones.
What causes melasma?
Female hormones can stimulate melanocytes to produce melanin. Because they affect your hormone levels, taking birth-control pills can trigger melasma, as can pregnancy (which is why melasma is also known as "the mask of pregnancy"). And unfortunately, once this skin discoloration has started, it may continue even after hormone levels have returned to normal.
Effective Melasma Treatments
The single most important way to get the pigment to fade is to stay out of the sun. Even without other treatments, minimal sun exposure can solve the problem — so daily sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 is essential. Reapply every two to three hours if you're going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time.
Most dermatologists will use a combination of pigment-fighting agents to affect pigment at all stages of its development. Some of these treatments include: 4% hydroquinone, lasers and light-based treatments, and natural agents like niacinamide (vitamin B3), n-acetyl glucosamine, sepiwhite, and retinol (vitamin A).
4% hydroquinone: Frequently prescribed. Although effective, rarely clears the problem entirely.
Lasers and light-based treatments: Often used by physicians and are successful, but can be expensive. Also, if you don't maintain your skin with appropriate creams, the pigment will likely return.
Natural agents: Niacinamide (vitamin B3), n-acetyl glucosamine, sepiwhite, and retinol (vitamin A) help to prevent pigment development, interrupt its transfer to other cells, or increase cell turnover (exfoliation) to help lighten affected areas.
Menopause affects more than your monthly cycle.
During menopause, women experience a decrease in estrogen that can lead to changes in the skin.
Examples of menopausal skin changes include: reduced production of collagen, delays in wound healing, thinning of the skin, decreased hydration, and slower formation of new blood vessels.
In other words, menopause can have a dramatic impact on your skin's appearance.
Since there are more estrogen receptors on facial skin than the skin on your thighs or breasts, the effects of estrogen loss may be more noticeable on your face than on other parts of your body.
With age comes a decrease in skin elasticity (more so in women than in men). Skin may also become more sensitive to irritants, particularly if skin care has been inadequate or too aggressive.
In the face of so many skin changes, what's a gal to do?
The best defense against the effects of time is regular daily protection against the sun, combined with the regular use of well-formulated moisturizers.
Hydrate your skin early. Hydrate your skin often. And hydrate your skin especially after menopause. In the quest for the fountain of youth, hydration just may be the next best thing!
Niacinamide increases your production of collagen.
What is niacinamide?
You may have heard of it referred to as vitamin B3. Well tolerated and compatible with other anti-aging products, niacinamide is an effective ingredient in skin-care products. Topical niacinamide is proven to increase collagen production, which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also decreases oil production in skin — so if you're prone to oily skin or breakouts, that's an added bonus. Niacinamide has even been shown to reduce pore size and decrease discoloration like brown spots.
Pregnancy is a joyful time filled with changes — even in your skin.
Here are three of the most common skin changes that pregnant women experience:
Many women notice a degree of increased pigmentation (skin coloring) when they are pregnant. For some, moles and freckles get noticeably darker. Others experience melasma, or "the mask of pregnancy": patches of darkened skin on the face that develop with exposure to ultraviolet sunlight. The best way to minimize melasma is to avoid sun exposure and to use broad-spectrum sun protection that blocks UVA and UVB rays.
During pregnancy, increased blood volume can cause blood vessels that are close to the skin's surface to swell and burst, causing "spider nevi." These are red bumps with lines radiating out, resembling a spider's legs, and they're common on the face, neck, and upper body.
You may notice that your palms, nail beds, gums, and face are strikingly red. This happens because of the increased blood volume in your body and it may be responsible for giving pregnant women that special glow.
Beauty — it's in the eye of the beholder. Really.
Did you know that having youthful, glowing skin can actually be less about how you look and more about how people see you? A breakthrough in imaging technology co-developed by Procter & Gamble beauty scientists is now enabling researchers to understand how and why the human eye perceives a person to have a youthful glow.
To understand how the human eye perceives young skin, a device called a SIAscope (Spectrophotometric Intracutaneous Analysis) was developed. It uses visible and infrared light to create maps that show how light-reflecting molecules in the skin, called chromophores (for example, collagen), change with age.
The future looks more like the past.
Using the SIAscope, researchers have discovered that beyond wrinkles, it's variations in chromophores that are responsible for making skin look older. Armed with that knowledge, P&G beauty scientists can work to create products that can mask or manipulate chromophores to trick the human eye — making your skin look 10 or 20 years younger to anyone who sees it.
There's more to skin cancer than meets the eye.
Every year, millions are diagnosed with skin cancer. And it's caused by more than just tanning. Call your dermatologist right away if you find moles that are asymmetric, have irregular borders or color, grow or itch, or if you have a lesion that bleeds and doesn't seem to heal. Watch out for brown spots on your hands, feet, or under your nails. And if something looks suspicious, ask your doctor!
Most people think skin cancer is caused by sun damage or tanning beds. While that's true in many cases, there are other risk factors for all three forms of skin cancer (see below). Even if you're not fair-skinned or a beach bunny, you might be at risk.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
BCC is not only the most common skin cancer, it's actually the most common of all cancers. It originates in the basal cells, found at the bottom of the epidermis (the skin's top layer).
Who's most at risk?
Outdoor workers, people with fair skin and light eyes, and those who love soaking up the rays need to be careful.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
The second most common type of skin cancer is SCC. It can be found in the squamous cells (just above the basal cells). It's similar to BCC because it occurs mostly in exposed areas like your face, scalp, neck, hands, arms, and legs. But it's possible to get SCC almost anywhere, including your mucous membranes.
Who's most at risk?
As with BCC, lighter-skinned sun worshipers are at high risk for SCC. In people with darker skin, especially African Americans, UV radiation is not the main culprit. Other factors that may contribute to SCC include having burn scars, albinism, chronic inflammation, or a large number of X-rays.
Melanoma is the least common but the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma originates in the melanocytes (found in the lower epidermis with basal cells). If you have a mole that's asymmetrical, has irregular borders or color, or is bigger than a quarter inch in diameter, have it checked by your doctor.
Who's most at risk?
In addition to sun exposure, you are susceptible if you're fair-skinned, have a weakened immune system, or a family history of melanoma. People with darker skin are more likely to get acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM). Called the "hidden melanoma," it typically appears in hard-to-spot areas like the nails or mucous membranes, or the palms or soles of your feet. ALM accounts for half of the melanomas in people of Asian descent or those with darker complexions.
As you age, your skin does, too. Not exactly rocket science. Or is it?
Every time your skin is exposed to a change in its environment (for example, you scrape it, go out in the sun, or even apply moisturizer), its cells respond by turning on and off thousands of different genes all at the same time.
Using scientific advances that have recently emerged from the Human Genome Project, scientists are beginning to gain a deeper understanding of the genes involved in the skin aging process.
Meet the gene chip.
No bigger than the size of your thumbnail, the gene chip can measure the signals sent out by thousands of genes at a time. Using gene chips, skin scientists are in the process of identifying the genes that play a role in maintaining your skin, as well as how the signals or messages sent out by genes change as your skin begins to age.
Skin scientists believe that if they can understand which genes break down during the aging process, they may be able to slow down or reverse the signals that ultimately lead to wrinkles and keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.
Scientists watch and learn.
By comparing the genetic composition of the skin of younger and older women, scientists have observed the ups and downs of genes related to inflammation, pigmentation, collagen breakdown, hydration, antioxidant response, and lipid synthesis over time.
The benefit to you: ingredients for anti-aging.
Scientists have determined that a strong moisture barrier in the top layer of your skin is key for maximum inner skin performance and have identified (and are continuing to identify) ingredients that improve the skin and help reverse the effects of gene changes over time.
If you're stressed, chances are it's written all over your face.
Stress actually causes a physiological reaction in your body that results in the production of cortisol, known by scientists as "the stress hormone." Cortisol causes inflammation in the organs of your body, including the skin. That's right. It's not a typo: Your skin is an organ! And just like other organs, it can become inflamed. The result? Inflamed pores clog more easily. Inflamed collagen results in wrinkles. Other signs of skin inflammation include itchiness, dryness, and acne.
The fact of the matter is that we wear our stress on our skin. The question is, what can be done about it?
Address your stress. Don't ignore it!
Learn to identify the feeling of stress so you can self-soothe through coping strategies such as deep breathing, exercising, meditation, or yoga. Carve out time for yourself to minimize tension. Relax in a luxurious bath or shower. Get a massage. Unclench your jaw. And, of course, take care of your skin — keep it hydrated by moisturizing morning and night. Remember, to get maximum benefits from your moisturizer, apply it to damp skin.
The 411 on sensitive skin.
Did you know that more than half the population suffers from sensitive skin? Sensitive skin can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as ultraviolet (UV) light, wind, heat, cold, pollution, humidity, and stress. It can also be irritated by frequent or prolonged use of everyday products such as cosmetics, toiletries, or clothing rubbing the skin.
Responses include: Redness, prickling, burning, tingling, itching, stinging, dryness, hives, and scaling.
The cause of sensitive skin is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of either an increased permeability of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) or an acceleration of nerve response.
Why might you have sensitive skin?
If you are tense and exhausted, it is likely your skin could become sensitive. When stress levels soar, nerve endings in the dermal layers secrete chemicals causing inflammation and sore, red patches of skin.
How to Care for Sensitive Skin
Do: Choose mild products specifically formulated for sensitive skin. If your skin is very sensitive, test any new product on the inside of your wrist 24 hours before trying it out on your whole body.
Don't: Irritate matters. Avoid harsh abrasives like loofahs and body scrubs, and avoid extremes of temperature.
There are many skin-care products offered for sensitive skin. Especally recommended are products that are fragrance free as well as non-comedogenic, which means that they don't clog pores.