Many factors go into maintaining healthy skin tone and quality. Here are some simple steps that can make a big difference.
Check Labels. Going to the beauty counter is like going to the supermarket -- there are millions of products, and often you have no idea which are healthy and which aren't. And many offer double robbery: They weigh down your skin and lighten your pocketbook. Look for products that list an active ingredient and a particular concentration. Vitamins and supplements in topical products usually have to be in the 1- to 10-percent range to really do something for or to your skin. The formulations also need to be pH-balanced, and the active ingredient must be able to penetrate the skin. Your best bet is to try reputable brands, but even some of those use ingredients that could only enter the skin in a science-fiction movie.
Cream it on. The list of ingredients that can really make a difference in the skin is small. Here are some good ones to know:
- Vitamin A is a valuable skin care nutrient. But too much -- or use on sensitive skin -- can be problematic and lead to issues with wound healing. Use these products with care. They're often referred to as retinols or retinoids at the pharmacy.
- Vitamin C is best as a 10-percent concentration of L-ascorbic acid.
- B vitamins that can benefit your skin include vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinamide) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
- Vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant in your skin. Topical vitamin E needs to be in the form of DL-alpha-tocopherol to make a positive difference to your skin.
- Choose a water-based, fragrance-free skin lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 10 for daily use. This helps to moisturize your skin while protecting your face from the sun. This step may also help combat wrinkles and fight the risk of skin cancer.
Take the tape test. To take your facial fingerprint, pull out a roll of clear tape. Make sure your face is clean (without makeup, sunscreen or moisturizer for at least two hours). Place a piece of tape vertically on the middle of your forehead from your scalp to the area between your eyebrows. Move it to the outside corners of your eyes, across the apple of each cheek and above your lip. Press gently in each spot, leave it for a few seconds, and carefully remove. Check the tape for lines and flakiness.
- If your tape is completely smooth, you have the skin of a typical 30-year-old.
- If you have flaky or dead cells but no lines, you have the skin of a typical 40-year-old.
- If you have flaky cells and small lines, you have the skin of a typical 50-year-old.
Follow the links on the next page to learn more about the nutrients that make skin beautiful.