Welcome Spring! As we all get ready to spring into a fresh new look following a long winter, it's time to refresh our skin. Here is a re-print of an article that I wrote for St. George Magazine in April of 2005. Visit St. George Magazine http://www.thespectrum.com/section/STGEORGEMAGAZINE/St-George-Magazine
When you trade in your long pants and sweaters for the fresh new fashions of spring, make sure your skin looks just as fabulous as your warm weather look! Begin your spring skin tune-up with a good exfoliating regime to remove dead skin cells. A vast array of professional and over-the-counter exfoliating products are available, but it’s best to avoid using facial scrubs where the main ingredient is apricots or almonds. These scrubs smell terrific, but they often contain jagged particles that can damage the skin. Instead, look for an exfoliant that has round polyurethane spheres, and then use as directed.
For a more sophisticated treatment, try a glycolic or enzyme peel. Mary Ronnow, owner of the Skin Institute School of Esthetics, says these peels are great because they freshen up the skin, and require no down time. “Glycolic and enzyme peels take off dead surface skin cells, minimize fine lines and winkles, help refine the pores, improve skin texture, and even out skin tones.”
Keep your face clean and healthy by using a milky cleanser – ordinary bar soaps tend to be too alkaline, which can dry out the skin and cause premature aging. The best cleansers will be non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores.
Protect your skin from harmful sun rays by using moisturizers with sunscreen under your make-up. If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, put on a good sunblock. The latest trends in sunblocks are ones which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Ronnow says these products are healthier for the skin because they contain micronized minerals which are more natural ingredients.
“They’re a better sun blocking agent because they work by reflection and refraction. It’s particle technology,” says Ronnow, “so the sun rays actually hit the surface of the skin and bounce off.”
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunblock with an SPF – sun protection factor – of 15 or higher. Dr. Bret Smith of Southwest Skin and Cancer says SPF is a measurement of how long it takes for the skin to become red or start to burn when exposed to the sun. “If you get red in five minutes and you wear SPF 15,” Dr. Smith says, “it would take you 75 minutes to burn.”
Liberal doses of sunblock are recommended because using too little reduces the amount of protection you get. Dr. Smith advocates putting sunblock on at least a half hour before going outside so the product can fully adhere to the skin.
Suntanning can break down the collagen and elasticity of the skin, making it prone to wrinkles. Dr. Smith says over-exposure to the sun, or sunburn, actually damages the DNA in the cells. “Your body repairs that damage over time, but eventually it cannot repair it any more, and those cells are the ones that become precancerous or cancerous cells.”
Many people like their skin to have a little color, but a safer alternative to suntanning can be found in a number of commercial bronzing products. For the best results, shave your legs and exfoliate dead skin cells before applying a sunless tanning product. Skin bronzers with a little tint in the product make it easier to spot any streaks you may have when applying it.
Dr. Smith says the sun’s rays are most dangerous between 10am and 3pm, so he recommends doing outdoor activities early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. If swimming or boating is your thing, go for a sunblock that is water resistant, and make sure to reapply it often because it will eventually wash off. Dr. Smith says it’s also a good idea to wear a wide brim hat during the summer months to further protect your head and face from sun damage.
If you already have discoloration on your face, there are some medicines available to lighten the skin. Hydroquinone and kojic acid are both used to reduce pigmentation. Products containing 2% or less of hydroquinone are available for commercial use, but a dermatologist can prescribe ointments that have as much as 4% hydroquinone. Doctors can also lighten freckles using a photo facial laser which is expensive, but requires no recovery time.
Once you’ve got a fresh face and healthy skin, you might want to treat yourself to a spring make-over. Natural looks are in, but a good foundation can give your skin a uniform appearance, and cover up any pigment irregularities. Skin tends to get darker during the warmer months, even if you’re consistent about using sunblock. Powders and foundations that matched your skin in the winter may be too light for spring. Sandi Graham, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics in St. George, says that while it’s important to keep the skin clean, foundations and powders don’t cause clogged pores.
“The molecular structure of the make-up itself is too big to actually go into the skin and seep in like a moisturizer – it’s made to lie on top of the skin.” A good nightly cleaning ritual followed by a toner designed for your skin type will help you keep your skin looking radiant, Graham says.
This year’s spring fashions feature luscious shades of pink, peach, orange and coral, often mixed together. The same colors are popular in make-up, though these shades are much softer. Because it’s acceptable to mix the colors in clothing, Graham says it’s also fine to use different colors of make-up.
“The rule of thumb,” Graham says, “is to go with how you feel with make-up. If there is a trend that doesn’t look good on you, wear what feels best.
The skin is the largest organ in the body, so as you bask in the joy of spring, remember to take special care of this precious asset. In doing so, you’ll not only preserve your own natural beauty for years to come, but you’ll love the way you feel in your own skin!