Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How do those pesky lines form anyway?

Grr. Sometimes I just want my skin to look naturally nice. Which got me to thinking: what are the main ways that these wrinkles and fine lines actually form? Here they are:

*Facial expressions. When we smile, laugh, frown or squint, we use facial muscles. So, naturally over the years, lines and wrinkles develop.

*Environmental enemies. Pollution, chemicals, automotive exhaust, wind and UVA/UVB sun rays attack skin. These environmental factors cause skin to break down, resulting in wrinkles.

*Collagen loss. Collagen is vital in structuring our skin, keeping it soft, smooth and plump. We have lots of collagen when we're young, but with age, collagen decreases and wrinkles form.

*Moisture loss. When skin loses moisture, it becomes drier, contributing to wrinkles. Imagine a wrinkly raisin - basically a dried-up grape!

*Smoking. Toxins in smoke are extremely harmful to skin. Smoke also causes eye irritation, making you squint and leading to wrinkles. If you smoke, do yourself - and your skin! - a favor by quitting.

Anti-aging ingredient basics!

There are a myriad of factors responsible for causing lines and wrinkles: facial expressions, environmental damage, UV rays and cigarette smoking. Additionally, skin naturally loses collagen and moisture as we age, making it appear drier and more fragile.

This is where a great anti-aging product comes in. Look for the following ingredients to combat fine lines and wrinkles:

*Alpha hydroxy acids exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage new skin cells to grow.

*Ceramides protect and shield skin from environmental damage.

*Peptides are proteins that relax facial muscles to prevent new wrinkles from forming and fill in creases.

*Retinol is a type of vitamin A that helps replace damaged cells and encourages collagen growth.

*Antioxidants, including vitamin C, grape seed extract and green tea, defend the skin from free radical damage.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Antioxidants: How do they really work?

On a daily basis your skin is in a war zone. A natural but disruptive process called oxidation, the loss of an electron from an atom or molecule, results in free radicals—the assailants of good skin. How does this happen? Normally, the body’s electrons come in pairs but some atoms and molecules exist with an unpaired electron, making them extremely unstable. Known as free radicals, these scavengers try to steal other electrons, creating a destructive chain reaction. By stealing one electron, they only further the cycle of unpaired, unstable electrons.

This electron “stealing” pattern wreaks havoc on living cells, damaging DNA and leaving your skin vulnerable to environmental stress. Pollution, car exhaust, smoking, ultraviolet rays, radiation and pesticides are all free radicals.

Antioxidants are your best option when it comes to protecting your skin against the elements. By donating one of their own electrons, antioxidants stop this pattern of electron "stealing" and help to stabilize these dangerous free radicals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Know the difference: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Aging

Understanding how your skin ages can help you become better prepared for the years to come. Intrinsic aging is inevitable; its the normal kind of aging that results in wrinkles, loss of moisture and dull, sagging skin. Loss of subcutaneous fat underneath deeper layers of skin means your cheeks become thinner and less full. Less estrogen means moisture loss in the skin. And decreased circulation means oxygen and other nutrients have a harder time reaching the skin. Finally, cellular turnover means that collagen and elastin are replenished less often, leading to less skin elasticity. If you seem to be aging faster than your friends, you can most likely blame genetics; short of high-quality skincare products and treatments, there isn't a lot you can do about intrinsic aging.

Then, extrinsic aging. This is where multiple factors come into play: UV rays, facial expressions, cigarette smoking, and overall lifestyle habits like how much sleep you get and how stressful your lifestyle is. This is where learning about how the skin ages, and what positive changes you can make to impact your lifestyle, can drastically change how your skin ages. Photoaging may be common, but that doesn't mean it has to be natural; sunscreen and smart sun sense can make a world of difference in avoiding sun spots and UV damage. And smokers as young as 20 may start to notice the effects of their daily cigarette breaks, so take care of yourself early on.

Look to Nature for Gentle Skincare

Itchy, red, irritated skin? Dryness and flaking? Maybe its time to re-vamp your routine a little. If you haven't considered adding or switching to natural/organic beauty yet, here are some reasons why you should think about it:

*Less harsh chemicals. Although technically speaking, everything in our beauty cabinet contains chemicals, some are harsher than others. An especially irritating chemical component is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), common in most beauty products. This is why so many natural products are now "sulfate-free," so check the labels.

*Less fragrances and artificial colorants. In reality, your lavender-scented body wash is only purple because of chemical dyes. And that strongly-scented body butter probably contains synthetic fragrances. Both can cause skin irritations, which is why many natural beauty products will be lightly colored with only a slight scent (oftentimes from essential oils).

*Fewer preservatives. While preservatives are necessary to prevent products from spoiling, some can be irritating to the skin, especially if your skin is already dry or you suffer from a condition like eczema. Parabens, which are found in most beauty products, have even been linked to breast cancer--although there haven't yet been any conclusive studies on the correlation.

When choosing between natural brands, make sure to do your homework; many brands now use the words "natural" or "organic" as selling points in order to charge more for their products. Be sure to read the labels and be sure that your product doesn't contain irritating ingredients; if you're looking for products free from sulfates or fragrances, for example, don't assume that a product will be free from these things just because its natural.


Ah, what to say in an introduction? My interest in skincare began with anti-aging and the attempt to look "young," but has since blossomed into a different sort of quest: acceptance, of everything that comes with aging. I'm interested in how exercise and healthy eating habits help people to look and feel their best, and a more holistic approach to anti-aging. I'm also a member of the editorial team of Skincare-News.com. My colleagues and I know how frustrating it can be to find accurate information about skincare, especially when it comes to anti-aging. I'd love to hear what others are interested in reading about, and to share tips related to the aging process.