We all want our face to look as healthy and youthful as possible. But new research suggests there may be some things we're doing to our skin that could make things worse, not better.
Stop over-cleansing. Wash your face only once a day. There's no need to wash your face in the morning if you washed off makeup, air pollutants and dirt in the evening. Over-cleansing is very drying for older skin, dermatologist Shari Lipner, M.D., of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in an interview. "I tell my patients just to rinse their face in the morning, pat - don't rub - it dry, and then moisturize with a cream rated SPF 30 for sun protection."
Avoid exfoliation. It's bad for the skin and the environment. Why are we obsessed with scrubbing our face with gritty exfoliating cleansers as if we are cleaning tile? For older skin, which tends to be dry and sensitive, there is no need for such harsh, abrasive treatment, says Lipner, adding, "I generally don't recommend it." She warns patients to be especially careful with exfoliating spa treatments, which can be "overkill."
Plus, all those tiny plastic particles in exfoliating facial and body cleansers are clogging our oceans and lakes, according to Scientific American. The problem has gotten so bad that Unilever, the maker of Dove soaps and other personal-care products, announced it was phasing out the use of "plastic micro beads as a 'scrub' material," CNN.com reported earlier this year.
Cut back on chemical peels. There are better alternatives. More than a million people had a chemical peel in 2012, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes, but a growing number of studies indicate that the acid often used in these antiaging treatments could have troubling side effects, perhaps even be carcinogenic, reports the New York Times.
Trichloroacetic acid, or TCA, is used by dermatologists to remove improve skin texture and minimize age spots, sun damage and other discolorations. But studies on lab mice suggest that TCA may be linked to liver cancer, the Times reported. And a few studies have found some evidence of genetic and cellular damage in humans.
Whether this means people should avoid this type of chemical peel is still up for discussion, but Lipner recommends newer, more helpful alternatives for improving the appearance of aging skin. She tells her older patients, in particular, to consider opting for milder peel treatments, such as a glycolic acid peel, or to choose laser resurfacing.
"Lasers have advanced to such a point that there are now specific ones we can use for specific problems, like sun spots or broken veins or smoothing wrinkles," she says. Using a retinoid cream at night is another good way of minimizing lines, she continues.
Whatever you choose, she points out, the most important thing for keeping skin young looking is still the same: "Protect it from the sun."
Photo: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr
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