Nutraceuticals and Nutrient Supplements
The health of your skin and its appearance is closely linked with your overall health. Diet, environmental exposures, stressors, and lifestyle habits can influence the genes that influence the condition of our skin. So yes, your diet will affect the condition of your skin. In general, a diet of healthy low sugar foods is associated with fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin.
The list of skin friendly foods will surprise no one: olive oil, fish, yogurt, fruits, and green vegetables. The foods associated with skin wrinkling are also no surprise: fatty processed foods, high fat dairy products, and sugar. We all want to eat more of the former and less of the later.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, there is good research to suggest we should all be drinking green tea daily. Green tea contains important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals. There are dozens of studies to confirm its biological effects ameliorating sun damage. Green tea has also been shown to improve dermal elastic tissue. The highest grade of green tea is Japanese Matcha. Look for a high concentration of EGCG per ounce.
Your diet can also impact your skins' resistance to sun and pollution damage. Lycopene, a member of the vitamin A family called carotenoids, is an antioxidant with UV protecting properties. Lycopene is found in apricot, grapefruit, watermelon and tomato. Fish oil and/or additional fatty acid oil supplements can help protect your skin from UV damage and may slightly increase the dermal thickness and elasticity.
Taking supplements is tricky because the industry is unregulated. An evening primrose oil supplement has been shown to improve skin smoothness. A borage oil supplement may help with skin hydration. However, there almost no evidence that ingredients ingested orally enhance collagen, elastin, or fibroblast production. For example, while marine fish collagen supplements may contain signal peptides, collagen and peptides entering our digestive systems are not delivered to our skin.
What about vitamins C and E? High oral doses of vitamins C and E can actually create increased levels of free radicals. Similarly, a number of studies have indicated that beta-carotene taken as a supplement acts as a pro-oxidant.
Acne is caused by increased oil production, clogged pores, and bacteria. Acne can be triggered by hormones, stress, and foods. Acne should be treated with antibiotics, exfoliation, oil removal, and vitamin A. The antibiotic will help to kill off the P. acnes bacteria. Regular exfoliation and the use of retinoids will slough off dead skin cells.
Blackheads and whiteheads are caused when a buildup of sebum and dead skin cells clogs the inside of a pore which can become infected with bacteria. Blackheads are open comedones. Dead epidural cells block the pore, oxidize in the open air, and turn black. The oxidized keratin on top is black, but underneath is white. Whiteheads are closed comedones. Because the comedone is covered by the epidermis, the cyst remains white. The word “noncomedogenic” means a product or ingredient that will not block the pores and cause acne.
If you have blackheads, try using a pore strip such as Biore a maximum of three times per week. Used more often it will irritate your skin and cause breakouts.
To treat acne, look for these ingredients: Salicylic acid will keep pores open. Azelaic Acid contains salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide functions as a drying and peeling agent and it also inhibits bacteria growth. If salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are not working, try a product with sulphur. Lauric acid (from coconut oil), tea tree oil, and zinc are additional good anti-bacterial ingredients. You could also take an oral zinc supplement.
Daily Routine to Treat Acne: The four steps for acne treatment are 1) unclog pores; 2) kill bacteria and reduce excess oil; 3) increase cell turnover and 4) spot treat.
Wash your face with a salicylic acid cleanser. Unclog your pores with BHA exfoliation. Increase cell turnover with retinol and niacinamide. This may be counter intuitive but you should also moisturize. Use a light hyaluronic acid serum (and avoid creams and heavy oils). Finally, to spot treat try Mario Badusco Drying Lotion with salicylic acid and calamine which costs $17 per 1 oz.
For serious acne, consult a dermatologist. A professional can prescribe an antibiotic such as tetracycline or erythromycin which you can use in conjunction with a topical retinoid and a benzoyl peroxide antibiotic cleanser. The doctor may use light treatment to kill bacteria, shrink your sebaceous glands, and reduce follicle inflammation.
Despite celebrities constantly attributing their genetically perfect completions to the fact that they drink eight glasses of water per day, drinking water is probably not going to improve the appearance of your skin. It is true that dehydrated skin is dull and water is essential to skin’s metabolism and regeneration. However, there is no clinical evidence that drinking water can hydrate the skin from the inside out. The way to moisturize your face is with moisturizer.
Natural Beauty Products
Natural does not necessarily equal good skin care. In cosmetics, labeling a product “natural” can be very misleading. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is a salt and it is natural, but it is also a harsh detergent worth avoiding. Many companies that claim to be natural use coloring agents, preservatives, film filers and slip agents. If they didn’t their product would become moldy, discolored, and disgusting.
Natural or organic beauty is often more expensive and sometimes it’s a good product and sometimes it is not. It is better to review the ingredients and see if they achieve your aims such as being anti-inflammatory or providing sun protection.
The science says parabens are not a risk in personal care products but almost all natural beauty products will strive to be paraben-free.
At Home Gadgets
At home light gadgets are not as effective as medical options used by dermatologists, however they can be more cost effective. A red light LED device can help heal wounds and reduce wrinkles. Paula’s Choice recommends the Tanda Luxe Skin Rejunevation Photofacial Device for $195. A blue light LED treatment can help with acne but the general consensus is that an acne sufferer will have better results with a good skin care regiment rather than with an LED light.
Micro-needling involves using a roller with tiny needles. Research suggests these rollers stimulate collagen growth. The risk here is that you are wounding your skin and can eventually damage it.
At home laser hair removal is available with a devise called the Tria Laser 4x. It is cheaper than salon laser treatments and most people consider it a good investment.
A home humidifier is worth trying if your skin feels dry. A machine that boils water into micro-free steam will keep your face moist and reduce flaking.
Silicone sheets are successful in treating hypertrophic and keloidal scarring (localized ridged area from a wound). Topically applied, vitamin E does not improve scar appearance.
Facials are great self-care. As far as skin care, facials are essentially massage, exfoliation with a strong percentage AHA, and serum application. Now that you are well educated, you can do the exfoliation and serum application at home. Have a facial to pamper yourself not to treat your skin.
What you do to your skin is up to you. Botox is effective at reducing wrinkles. Dermal fillers plump creases. Juvederm is hyaluronic acid injected into your skin cells. Ablative lasers resurface the skin. Chemical peels improve the appearance of wrinkles, make skin smoother, and reduce discoloration. Intense pulsed light (IPL) and non-ablative lasers have the least dramatic results (maybe a good thing). All of these procedures have scientifically proven positive results and associated risks.