You’ve dieted and exercised to look great in that little black dress but what people notice first is your skin. What shape are you in? Liz Newman, RN, BSN
A proper skincare regimen can change the integrity and appearance of your skin regardless of age, ethnicity or race. Although a healthy lifestyle definitely contributes to better skin, staying “fit after forty” doesn’t stop with diet and exercise. As skin ages, it loses collagen and elastin, getting dryer and less supple. The epidermis (superficial layer of the skin) becomes thicker if sun damaged, while the dermis (deeper layer), thins, losing the ability to hold moisture. As time marches on, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging become more noticeable. Women arm themselves with lotions and potions promising to turn back the clock. What works? What doesn’t?
Considering women spend billions annually on skincare, it is ironic that so many misconceptions prevail. Here are four of the most common myths, debunked:
“The holy grail of skincare is moisturizer.” FALSE
In fact, not everyone over 40 needs moisturizer. True, some women have drier skin than others, but many have combination or oily skin. If treatments include a cream base, another moisturizer is unnecessary. Some products tout their ability to “build up collagen” which is misleading. The established “gold standard” of improving skin from the inside out is a product available by prescription called Retin A. Used as prescribed, Retin A penetrates into the dermis where collagen and elastin reside, encouraging skin cell turnover for fresher feeling and looking skin in 6 weeks. Retinol is a weaker derivative of Retin A which is converted to Retin A by the skin. It is available over the counter in cream or gel form. Some of these retinols are quite effective, but have different strengths so it’s important to consult with someone with a medical background.
“You get what you pay for…the more I pay for a product, the better it is…” FALSE
This is a misconception on two levels. The first has to do with ingredients, the second with application. Skincare products at even the most upscale department store do not have pharmaceutical grade ingredients and are therefore not as strong as those you will find in dermatology and plastic surgery practices. Often you are paying for packaging and marketing. The price of a product is not a true indicator of its effectiveness. Real results start with what is on the label versus the container. In many cases you are paying the same or less for a more effective product in a clinical setting. In terms of getting what you pay for, the most critical step is an accurate diagnosis of your skin. This should precede any purchase. Until you know your “prescription” you may be spending lots of money on products you don’t even need. Keep in mind, it’s also possible you are paying top dollar to harm your skin if you are using the wrong products. Or you could be putting them on incorrectly and in the wrong order. Start with seeing a professional consultant in a clinical setting—not the cosmetics counter at the department store.
“I use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 to protect me at the beach, and my makeup has an SPF of 20, so I’m covered.” FALSE
Did you know the rate at which your skin “ages” is only 20% dependent upon genetics? 80-90% of aging is attributed to sun exposure. There is a UV spectrum that includes both UVA and UVB rays. Not all sunscreens protect you from both regardless of SPF. Sunscreens must be worn every day and everywhere—cloudy, rainy, sunny—at the beach on the slopes or in the grocery store. You are constantly being exposed. The secret ingredient for the best coverage is zinc oxide. The newest products containing zinc are clear and cosmetically acceptable, imperceptible. Titanium dioxide is also good. Pay attention to your sun IQ. It is the single most important weapon against damaged skin that we can easily control. Prevention and protection go hand in hand. The key to sun protection is re-application at mid-day. Sunscreen applied in the morning is gone by afternoon when sun exposure is maximum.
“Botox and dermal fillers will improve my overall skin quality and appearance.” FALSE
Botox will smooth lines of expression by relaxing the muscles underneath the skin. Dermal fillers can alter folds and correct volume loss, essentially camouflaging some of the hallmarks of aging. When done conservatively, injectables can remarkably enhance one’s appearance. They do not, however, change the quality or texture of the skin. Similarly, cosmetic surgery improves the quantity of skin, not the quality through lifting sagging skin to a more youthful position. In short, skincare, injectables and surgery are three distinct propositions, although they can play in harmony. For instance, in our practice, a good skincare regimen prior to surgery yields better overall results for optimal facial rejuvenation.
Liz Newman is a registered nurse with close to 40 years’ experience in skincare. She is manager of SURFACE CLINICAL in Dallas. SURFACE CLINICAL is the skincare arm of Dr. Fritz Barton, and works in concert with Dr. Michael Lee’s cosmetic plastic surgery practice. Located within their medical suite, SURFACE CLINICAL allows the custom management of skin with total coordination or care. Initial skin evaluation with the VISIA photographic system helps identify each patient’s specific needs.