Part One of the Skin Care Primer Series

Good skin care is the foundation to fighting back against the effects of aging. No matter what surgery, procedure, or treatment is performed, the final results will always be impacted by the quality of the facial skin. Think of the skin as your canvas; we can adjust the size, shape, and strength of the underlying framework, but the quality of the canvas determines the overall impact of the painting.

One of the hardest parts about good skin care is knowing where to start. There are countless products available all claiming to be the proverbial fountain of youth, but which ones actually work? Some products seem to cost a small fortune and offer little more than the lavish marketing campaign attached to them. Others are filled with enough ingredients to make a chemist’s head spin. We’ll try to cut through the marketing gimmicks, embrace the science, and deliver some honest advice about what we believe to be the most effective skincare products.

Over the next few weeks we’ll discuss the most important pillars of a good skincare regimen including:

– Sunscreen
– Retinoids (Retin-A)
– Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids
– Vitamin C serums
– Peptides

Before diving into the research and experience with the above products, it’s important to understand a few things about the skin as well as the effects the aging process has on it.

Skin everywhere, the face included, is made of two distinct layers; the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is what we see from the outside. It contains all the skin pigment, keeps out unwanted germs, and acts as a waterproof barrier so that we can happily exist outside of the sea. The dermis is the deeper layer and it contains all the structural proteins (collagen & elastin) as well as the nerves, blood vessels, and other goodies like sweat glands and hair follicles. Changes in each of the layers contribute to aging and each layer is treated somewhat differently (although there is a lot of overlap).

Some distinct changes are seen in the aging epidermis. Age spots develop as pigment deposition becomes irregular. The skin can take on a dull, flaky appearance as the top layer of the epidermis starts to build up a collection of dead cells. In the worst of all scenarios, lesions could start to appear associated with malignant changes to this layer.

Like the epidermis, the dermis has its own characteristic features of aging. There is a loss of collagen which translates to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. If left untreated these can progress to prominent, deep creases. Loss of the strength and number of elastin fibers contributes to the tendency of the skin to stretch and sag with time. These two changes are the most common complaints seen in our aesthetics practice with regards to skin aging.

The above changes happen to different degrees and at different rates between individuals. Much of the propensity for the skin to age either more gracefully or aggressively is coded in each person’s genetics. If our bodies were left completely alone, each of us would have a somewhat pre-determined aging course already programmed. However, much of what we do (or do not do) can have a huge impact on altering our intrinsic aging tendencies.

When considering extrinsic (external) factors that can affect skin aging, none is more important than exposure to UV radiation. Summer days spent soaking up the sun stress our skin’s protective mechanisms and push us towards quicker and more exuberant aging. The soft, sun-kissed skin of yesterday becomes the damaged skin of tomorrow. In our next post we are going to visit this topic in greater detail. We’ll talk about the ways in which UV radiation changes our skin (mostly for the worse) and about the importance of consistent, quality sunscreen use.

This series is meant to be a broad exploration into facial skin aging. Some of you may have more specific questions or concerns. We welcome all skincare concerns and will help you create a plan that meets your unique needs. For personalized attention call 860-676-2473 for an individual skincare consultation.