Three panels of woman's aging process

A Decade of Changes

As we age, our skin changes drastically. Skin is a reflection of what is going on inside our bodies. When we eat well, it shows in the skin. The skin also betrays when we eat poorly. Our skin reflects when we are stressed, tired, happy, and angry. It’s no surprise that our skin will also change when we get older, even though they are definitely not always welcome changes.

What happens to your skin at 40?

What is your body doing?

Your estrogen levels are heading down. You may be experiencing a slower metabolism and more fatigue.

How does your skin reflect this?

The collagen that keeps your skin firm is starting to break down. Your skin is also losing hyaluronic acid, which helps maintain the skin’s elasticity, giving the skin that bouncy, youthful appearance.

What can you do?

  • Taking a low dose of estrogen can help keep your estrogen levels from dropping too drastically, so these changes won’t happen quite so suddenly. This can make them more manageable.
  • Adding a product with hyaluronic acid will help your skin maintain its elasticity and hydration.
  • Using a retinol will increase the cell turnover of your skin. This will keep your skin looking fresh and bright- just make sure you are using a good exfoliator because retinol will create dead skin cells to exfoliate away and uncover younger-looking skin.

Woman applying serum

What happens to your skin at 50? 

What is your body doing?

Most women experience menopause during their 50’s. This means their estrogen production has slowed or stopped.

How does your skin reflect this?

Your skin can lose up to 30% of its collagen in the first few years of menopause. Skin will lose a lot of its elasticity, and be much more prone to dryness. Wrinkles will deepen as your skin loses collagen.

What can you do?

  • Hormone therapy (if your doctor approves) can help your skin hold on to more of its collagen.
  • Keep using retinol creams and firming eye creams to slow the loosening of the skin, especially around the eyes.
  • Switch to a rich night cream to combat dryness.

What happens to your skin at 60? 

What is your body doing?

As you age, your body becomes more susceptible to illness. Your immune system isn’t as strong, and things like smoking and drinking start to have a more negative effect.

How does your skin reflect this?

Your skin is drying out and thinning, so it is much more sensitive to sun damage, heat rash, damage from smoking, and other environmental factors. Wrinkles can deepen, and collagen breaks down further.

What can you do?

  • Keep using your rich night creams and retinol.
  • Protect the skin around your eyes- it is your thinnest skin.
  • Be careful to wear sunscreen and shield your skin from the sun as much as possible.
  • Most importantly, don’t worry about it! If you care for your body and your skin, you will age beautifully.
Issues that affect aging skin

Avoid These Environmental Agers

There are all kinds of little things you can do to prevent premature aging. Follow these types to keep you skin looking younger, longer!

Take Care of Your Pores
Making sure you cleanse your skin appropriately plays a huge role in maintaining the skin’s youthful appearance. Dirt, makeup, and bacteria can clog pores and cause blackheads and uneven skin tone. It is important to cleanse your skin and remove makeup before bed. Sleeping in makeup can really add years to your skin. You should also always cleanse your skin after you work out, so sweat doesn’t sit on your skin causing it to dry out and breakout.

Woman smoking

Don’t Smoke
There are many reasons not to smoke, but if you are looking for one more to add to the list, smoking also ages your skin. Smoking causes wrinkles and dulls the skin. Dewy, bright skin is youthful looking, and smoking causes it to take on a sallow tone.

Be Careful in Dry Climates
If you live in a dry or extremely hot area, keeping your skin hydrated will help preserve its youth. Using thick night creams or overnight masks to replenish your skin overnight can help combat dryness. Looking for products with collagen and hyaluronic acid will replace what your skin losing as you age, keeping it looking young.

Woman drinking

Limit Drinking
Alcohol takes a huge toll on your skin. Drinking dehydrates your skin, and can deprive it of nutrients it needs.

Avoid Sun Damage
The sun causes age faster and more easily than any other environmental factor. It dries out your skin very quickly, and if you are at the pool or the beach, it may be several hours before you can moisturize and rehydrate. Sun spots and liver spots can also form on the face or hands, and they tend to be a dead giveaway when it comes to age. Make sure you wear sunscreen every single day- yes, even during the winter and on cloudy days. Buy a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that is non-comedogenic and non-irritating. It also doesn’t hurt to pair your moisturizer with a foundation that also has sun protection. Wearing a hat when you know you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time is also a good idea. Sun damage can result in wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, which can age your skin immensely. Too much sun can also cause skin cancer, so protect your skin!

Basically, you should listen to what your mother told you to protect your skin from aging. You should also be taking preventative measures in your twenties to try to maintain youthful looking skin. Using an eye cream is a great way to prevent wrinkles from forming. The thin skin around your eyes could use the extra care. Using a retinol cream can also help prevent signs of aging and keep your skin looking young. Whatever measures you take to prevent aging, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Woman sleeping

Tips for Clearing Skin Overnight

We all want our skin to look its best, which is why it’s important to take good care of it. After all, it’s not just a blank canvas for makeup; skin is our body’s largest organ! Eating a healthy diet, which should include plenty of leafy green vegetables and healthy fats, staying well-hydrated, and getting a solid night’s sleep every night should be the base of your skincare routine.

Unfortunately, even the best skincare routines can’t keep every single breakout at bay. Hormonal acne, food sensitivities, environmental factors, and even stress can trigger a breakout. When dealing with blemishes, there are a few important things to remember. The last thing you want to do is make it worse and the following advice will help get your skin clear again.

Hands Off
It’s easy to look at a big, ugly pimple and think popping it will make things better, but it won’t. Your hands can introduce new bacteria to the breakout and make it worse. Even squeaky-clean hands can spread bacteria from an existing pimple to otherwise clear skin, creating new breakouts. Not to mention, the pressure and aggravation caused by picking at blemishes can cause damage to the skin and lead to scarring.

Cleanse
Properly cleansing your skin can help start the healing process. All you need is a gentle cleanser and warm water. When shopping for cleansers, look for ingredients that can treat blemishes without overdrying your skin. Salicylic acid in low percentages can be quite effective and ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera help calm inflamed skin. To wash your face: wet your skin with warm water and apply a dime-sized amount of cleanser with your (clean!) fingertips. Using gentle, circular motions, massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.

Woman moisturizing feet

Moisturize
While your skin is still damp is the perfect time to apply a moisturizer. Often, we think we need to dry our skin out to heal pimples, but well-hydrated skin will heal quicker and look better in the process. Those with acne-prone or oily skin should look for oil-free moisturizers. Normal and dry skin types can use richer formulas suited to their individual needs. All skin types can determine if their moisturizer is right for them by seeing how their skin feels within 5 minutes of application. If your skin feels dry, you need a more hydrating moisturizer. If it feels tacky or greasy, you need a lighter, or oil-free option.

Treat
Finally, applying a spot treatment can help clear your skin when time is of the essence. There are hundreds of over-the-counter treatments available; look for ingredients like sulfur or benzoyl peroxide to help dry up pimples. For a d.i.y. treatment, apply a small amount of raw honey to the affected area for about 15 minutes before rinsing off. Since honey is naturally anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, it can treat blemishes without being quite so harsh on the skin.

Following these tips will help you wake up in the morning with clearer skin. Remember that most of all, your body needs good nutrition, hydration, and sleep to heal breakouts and repair damage. Treat your body with t.l.c. and your skin will be clear again in no time!

Woman with exfoliative keratolysis

Exfoliative Keratolysis

Exfoliative keratolysis is a common skin condition characterized by recurrent focal peeling that often affects the palms of hands, the surface of the fingers, and the soles of the feet. It manifests as air-filled blisters and skin flakes which will later slough off leaving skin dry and itchy. It can occur at the tip of the finger, resulting in a deeper crack which can lead to a numb sensation and make the finger feel hard.

Exfoliative keratolysis is prevalent in children and young adults. It is generally benign and painless though it can be made worse by constant exposure to detergents and soaps. The incidence of this condition is more common during summer months, and especially in individuals who tend to have sweaty hands. It usually resolves spontaneously with no long lasting damage, although extreme cases may result in bleeding as a direct effect of the cracking skin.

The first signs of exfoliative keratolysis are the air-filled blisters which usually appear on the palms and fingertips. These will eventually peel off or split and form skin tags. The peeling skin of the fingers and fingertips can lead to harder skin which can take a longer time before they resolve. As the blisters split, a new skin will be revealed. Though the skin will be tender, it will gradually develop into normal skin. However, the exfoliative keratolysis will recur after several weeks.

Although exfoliative keratolysis is generally harmless and painless, it is unattractive and can cause embarrassment on the part of those affected.

Exfoliative keratolysis involves the outer layer of the skin or the epidermis. The epidermis is composed of multiple layers of keratin, a protein essential to the strength and flexibility of the skin. These characteristics enable the keratin to serve as a water barrier. The breakdown in the keratin causes it to lose its strength, flexibility, and effectiveness as a water barrier which, in turn, causes the skin to exfoliate.  The cause of the breakdown in keratin is unknown although factors such as genetics and allergies are being looked into.

Excessive sweating can stimulate the breakdown in keratin which, in turn, exacerbates the peeling of the skin which is why exfoliative keratolysis is more common in summer months and among those with naturally sweaty hands. Soap and detergents will also trigger the exfoliation of the skin and stress is believed to trigger the incidence of the condition as well as aggravate symptoms.

Exfoliative keratolysis resolves spontaneously without lifelong damage, so treatment is not necessary. To prevent exfoliative keratolysis, it is recommended to avoid contact with irritants like soaps, detergents and solvents which will trigger the exfoliation of the skin. Extra care is also recommended during the seasons when breakouts are more likely to happen. One should also keep hands clean to prevent infection from setting in through the cracks resulting from the condition. Relief from dryness and other symptoms can be achieved through applying emollients containing urea and lactic acid. These are also effective in keep the skin from becoming infected.

Woman using aloe vera to sooth sunburn

Soothing Sunburned Backs and Shoulders

Sun protection is always important but the face, neck and shoulders are crucial areas. Skin is thin near the tops of our bodies which also tend to be closest to the sun and receive the most exposure. The face and neck are also the most susceptible to two of the most common forms of cancer, basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, people with melanoma of the head and neck are almost twice as likely to die from the disease as patients with melanomas on other parts of their bodies. So what is the best way to keep these parts of our bodies safe?

Hats are a great line of defense. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you wear a hat with a brim that extends three inches or more all the way around to shade the face, neck, ears and even the tops of the shoulders.

Sunglasses are also essential. Solar UVR can cause or contribute to conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, ocular melanomas and other skin cancers. Five to ten percent of all skin cancers arise on the eyelids. The SCF recommends looking for glasses that cover the eyes, eyelids and as much of the surrounding area as possible. They should come with a tag that verifies that they block 99-100 percent of all UV radiation.

Many sportswear manufacturers also offer a variety of high UPF staples including hoods, scarves, wraps, sarongs and caps. These will offer protection to the head, neck and shoulder area. They are designed to keep you cool, dry and sun safe during outdoor activities. Choose high UPF swimsuits that cover more skin like one piece suits that might offer protection to shoulders.

Many people forget about sun protection in cold weather venues, but ice and snow reflect about 80% of the sun’s UV light, doubling the intensity of exposure. Also, snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness. For optimum protection, go for hats made of high tech manmade materials that will keep you comfortable and sun protected. Wraparound sunglasses with UV protective cut glare will block most UVR.

Of course, sunscreen is always an important consideration for the face and neck area. “You might want to look for a sunscreen designed for the face since these products are formulated to suit the needs of different skin types,” explains Arielle Kauvar, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. Many facial sunscreens are oil free which gives them a lighter feel. They are less likely to clog pores of those with oily or acne prone skin. These sunscreens are also easier to use under makeup. Beware of facial sunscreens with a strong scent since those are more likely to cause skin irritations. Also, avoid sunscreens for the face with high SPF as the higher levels of active ingredients will feel heavier on the skin. Products with SPF of 30 should offer a perfect balance of feeling lightweight on the skin while still offering the recommended amount of sunscreen protection.

Woman hiding from the sun

Avoiding Phytodermatitis

Phytodermatitis… sounds scary doesn’t it? For those who aren’t familiar with this condition, it develops when certain plant compounds come into contact with the skin making the skin more sensitive to light. So how can we avoid phytodermatitis, how can it be identified, and how can it be treated? Read on to find out.

Phytodermatitis occurs in two steps. First the skin is exposed to a photosensitizing chemical called furocoumarins that are found in certain plants and fruits. The compounds are at their highest level in summer and spring, increasing the risks of exposure. Plants and fruits to be aware of are celery, parsley, citrus fruits, parsnips, figs, Queen Anne’s lace, bergamot and more.

Symptoms will become apparent after skin is then exposed to UV light from the sun. Within 12 to 36 hours a red, swollen rash will develop which is then replaced by discoloration that can last months or years. The key clue that you have phytodermatitis, and not another condition, is that the rash often appears in the shape of drip marks or hand prints. This is because it is apparent only on the skin that was affected by the toxins. It will also burn rather than itch.

Phytodermatitis is commonly contracted from fruit drippings, airborne particles or scratches from branches. People at risk include those who handle fruits and vegetables, bartenders, grocers, and farm workers. It can also affect people who frequently run, walk, hike or bike in wooded areas or other wild places where the plants that cause this condition grow. Sometimes children might contract it from playing in grasses that come from the same family as Queen Anne’s lace. It can also be contracted from some natural perfumes or essential oils that come from wild plants containing the compound that causes phytodermatitis.

You can avoid phytodermatitis by washing hands after coming into contact with any of the agents that might cause it. Wear long pants and sleeves when you’re in wild and wooded areas.  Also, avoid sun exposure after cutting or squeezing fruit. Avoid drinking soft drinks or fruit drinks while you are out in the sun and avoid wearing perfumes while sunbathing. Also, be sure to use a potent sunblock and limit sun exposure.

Making a campfire can also lead to cases of phytodermatitis. Use only firewood and never put wild plants into the fire. If wild parsnip or other plants that contain phytodermatitis causing chemicals are burned, they will disperse into the air and come into contact with exposed body parts. This can result in an outbreak once you come into contact with sunlight.

Most cases of phytodermatitis are mild and don’t require a trip to the doctor. The spots will fade over time. Treat the rash as you would a poison ivy rash, with cool compresses, hydrocortisone creams and oral antihistamines. In a severe case, treatment may involve steroid pills which would be prescribed by a doctor.

Woman buying cosmetics from a store

Changing Up your Skincare Products

You know how you can develop a tolerance to things like medications (painkillers are a common example), alcohol, and other substances? It turns out, you might actually be able to develop a tolerance to certain skin care products too. What we mean by this is that there is evidence suggesting that if you use certain skin care products for long enough (around a year) they can stop being as effective, in the same way that if you take a certain painkiller a lot for the same kind of pain, it will get less effective at blocking it out for you after awhile, or how the more you drink alcohol, the more you can drink at a time without the adverse effects being as effective (do note, this is only provided as an example, and we do not encourage irresponsible drinking by any means; try to keep it to one glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a night).

How does this happen? And what can be done about it? Let’s talk about that.

The Process
The process wherein your skin can develop a tolerance to certain ingredients involves the particular enzymes that the ingredient activates. You can’t develop a tolerance to all skin care ingredients, because this applies specifically to ones that are active in a certain way. Some skin care ingredients, like retinol, vitamin C, and others, cause enzymes to be released in the skin cells and attach themselves to a specific receptor, which then triggers the desired effect of the product. However, your cells only have so many receptors, and if you repeatedly flood them with enzymes, eventually they will all be taken up and bonded to an enzyme and unable to accept more for awhile, lessening the effect the product can have on your skin.

How to Fix It
The solution here is to vary the skin care products you use; to change them up on a regular basis. It’s recommended to use the same set of products no longer than 6 to 8 months, and then switch to another set of products which aims at producing similar effects, but with different formulations of ingredients, and/or with ingredients available in different forms (recall, for example, that all vitamins have several different “forms” which all act as the vitamin, but trigger slightly different reactions in cells). Conveniently enough, this span of time lines up relatively well with the change of seasons from summer to fall and then winter to spring. As such, try taking advantage of this convenient timing and do what’s already recommended anyway: a seasonal switch. Use slightly heavier, more moisturizing products in autumn and winter than you do in spring and summer, and kill two birds with one stone.

Overlay of scientific diagrams on woman's skin

Synthetic Skin for Daily Wear

Do you ever feel like you just want to trade in your aging skin for a fresh, youthful coat? Well, with the direction science is headed in, you might just be able to do that…well, kind of. On a small scale, at least. We’re talking small patches of synthetic skin you can get for those rough patches on your elbows, or maybe for the acne scars on your cheek, or…you get the idea. Let’s talk about this revolutionary new emerging technology, how it works, and how it can help you.

It’s Harder Than You Might Think
Right about now, you might be thinking “artificial skin can’t be that difficult, why did it take this long?” Well, the truth is that it’s not nearly that simple, and designing synthetic skin that actually works is, in fact, quite complicated. It needs to be able to act as a protective barrier while still being breathable, the synthetic skin can’t be toxic itself, and it has to have the same amazing strength, elasticity, flexibility, etc as normal skin. The scientists who created this synthetic skin took all this into consideration to create something that looks, feels, and acts like normal skin. They’ve already conducted human trials, too, and to a stellar success. Not only did participants see marked improvement in skin appearance, hydration, and function, but the underlying skin beneath the synthetic skin remained healthy and suffered no adverse effects, even through activities such as running and swimming.

It Has a Lot of Potential Uses
It’s not hard to think of at least one way artificial skin could be used; covering up areas where our natural skin is starting to lose its luster. But it goes way beyond just that. There’s a host of aesthetic applications, definitely, but consider the medical ones too; the highly adaptable artificial skin design these scientists came up with has the potential to help victims of burns and other surface injuries, and the chemistry of the skin is very malleable and can be adjusted according to specific need, further increasing its potential uses.

This synthetic skin hasn’t hit the market yet for medical or aesthetic uses, but it certainly is something to look forward to. Of course, don’t take this upcoming technology as an excuse to slack on your skincare; there’s only so much it can do! A proper skincare routine, with moisturizer, sunscreen, cleanser, etc, etc, is not going to become obsolete anytime soon, although they may have a powerful new emerging technology joining them quite soon.

Woman holding sunscreen

Save Your Skin From the Sun

Don’t leave your skin vulnerable to sun damage this summer! Follow these simple steps to keep your skin safe, so the only thing you have to worry about this summer is finding a good chair at the pool and an ice cold beverage.

Layer
Don’t expect your makeup to serve as your only protection! Use a moisturizer with SPF 30 as well as a foundation or tinted moisturizer with sun protection. Also, give your moisturizer some time to really sink into the skin before you move on to your primer- you don’t want to risk wiping off your protection when you move on to the next step of your routine!

Reapply
Most sunscreens will only protect your skin for a few hours- especially if you are at the pool or the beach! You should reapply your SPF a few times a day- or every 80 minutes if you are swimming or sweating. Read the label on the bottle to figure out exactly how often it is suggested to reapply for each brand of sunscreen or moisturizer. Don’t forget to throw a bottle of sunscreen, or a setting spray with SPF, in your bag before you leave the house to ensure your skin will be protected all day long!

Don’t Forget your Eyes!
Even if you use a moisturizer with SPF religiously, you may be neglecting some of your most sensitive skin- the areas around your eyes. Some kinds of sunscreen can sting your eyes, so try to find an eye cream or concealer formulated with SPF to protect those peepers!

Woman wearing sunglasses

Accessorize
Always getting those painful sunburns where your hair is parted? Try throwing on a cute, wide brim hat next time you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time. Oversized sunglasses are also a trendy way to protect your eyes from sun damage. Mix up your looks this summer with cool accessories, and protect your skin at the same time!

Don’t Stop at Your Face
While wearing sunscreen on your face every day is important, we tend to spend more time outside during the warmer months, so extending our sunscreen coverage is essential. Applying sunscreen to your ears, neck, chest, shoulders, and hands can do a lot to help protect your skin from sun damage. It doesn’t take long for the stronger summer sun to harm your skin, so adding these extra steps to your morning routine will help you remember to do this every day!

Limit Sun Exposure
We’ve all heard this tip, and no one likes to follow it, but whenever possible, it is best to limit your sun exposure during peak hours. Taking a lunch break inside while the sun is highest in the sky (and using this time to reapply your sunscreen) can help decrease your chances of getting burnt. We hate to say it, but less sun is always better for your skin’s health.
No need to skip out on all of the fun outdoor activities that summer brings, but don’t forget to protect your skin first!

Vials of botanical oils surrounded by flowers

Oils To Have In Every Medicine Cabinet

While many of deal with medicines that may cause harmful side effects, others realize that there are safe, affordable products which are as accessible as our nearest grocery store. These are essential oils, many of which have remarkable benefits that can help us with physical and mental ailments. Read on to find out which essential oils no medicine cabinet should be without.

Cedar Oil
Its rich woody scent can be emotionally grounding and help relieve nervous tension. When applied directly to skin or in a bath, it can reduce the skin peeling and infection associated with eczema. When added to shampoo, conditioner or rubbed into scalp, it can increase circulation in the hair follicles to reduce hair loss and fight dandruff.

Frankincense
When inhaled it reduces heart rate and high blood pressure, as well as anxiety and depression. It has immune enhancing abilities which may help destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and even cancers. It helps strengthen skin, improving its tone, elasticity and defends against bacteria and blemishes.

Tea Tree Oil
Mix with raw honey to make a homemade, gentle acne face wash. It’s considered to be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide without the associated negative side effects. It is beneficial to the scalp as it soothes dry flaking skin and can eliminate dandruff. Tea tree oil’s ability to kill off bacteria makes it effective in oral health. Mix tea tree oil with coconut oil and baking soda for an amazing homemade toothpaste.

Orange Oil
Limonene, a monocyclic monoterpene that’s present in orange peel oil is a defender against oxidative stress, and even has cancer fighting abilities since monoterpenes have been shown to be effective against tumor growth. When diluted, orange oil makes a great cleaner. Use it to clean countertops and appliances without chemicals. It leaves behind a great citrusy smell. Adding orange oil to a shower wash or perfume, or inhaling it directly can lift your mood and bring on relaxation.

Lemon Grass Oil
Lemon grass oil has a strong citrus scent that is proven effective for headaches, muscle pain, and stress. It can also be used as a skin toner as it helps to close open pores. When applied to sweaty feet, it can reduce excessive perspiration.

Fennel Oil
Fennel oil has estrogen-like compounds which can have a balancing effect on hormones. It’s helpful for women suffering during menopause, and can also help women with low estrogen levels. Fennel oil is also great for treating cramps, nausea, and indigestion. Use fennel oil orally for fighting gum disease and freshening breath.

Basil Oil
Basil oil has antiviral properties and is a great expectorant for congested nasal passages when added to steaming water. Basil oil is also effective at relieving pain as it is an antispasmodic.

Bergamot Oil
Bergamot oil is considered a powerful antidepressant known for its cheering properties. When diluted in alcohol, bergamot oil is great for cold sores, chicken pox and shingles as it inhibits viral activity.