Now that 2013 is here, it is time to farewell any bad habits of the old year and make resolutions to start living a healthier life in the New Year. Often, our resolutions centre on discovering a healthier and happier version of ourselves. How about deciding to treat your SKIN better in 2013? Achieving healthy skin is the clearest indicator of a healthy life. Give our facial ‘resolutions’ a go and see how beautiful and healthy your skin will look!

1. Quit Smoking:

Studies suggest that tobacco smoke exposure decreases capillary and arteriolar blood flow, possibly damaging connective tissues that help maintain healthy skin. Skin fibroblasts (the cells in connective tissue that form collagen and elastin) are damaged by tobacco smoke. There is also evidence that tobacco smoke is phototoxic. Smoke becomes more toxic in the presence of ultraviolet light (UV), such as is found in sunlight, and causes more damage to skin cells than either smoke or UV would cause on their own. Nicotine, one of the toxic components of tobacco smoke, is a vasoconstrictor (an agent which causes the blood vessels to contract). When blood vessels are constricted they transport less blood through the body, and therefore reduce the supply of nutrients upon which the skin depends to regenerate. Similarly, carbon monoxide, another toxic component in tobacco smoke, reduces oxygen flow through the body, thus reducing the supply of oxygen needed by damaged cells to regenerate.

2. Develop Skin Routines:

Cleansing and moisturizing are the key components to maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Cleansing removes dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. Moisturisers not only increase the skin’s water content, but they also protect the skin and encourage an orderly desquamation (shedding) process that makes the skin appear more smooth. The best time to moisturise is after a bath or shower as your skin is still slightly damp and will soak up the moisturiser a lot quicker and deeper. Applying moisturiser within 3 minutes of towel drying (or after cleansing and toning for your face) will again allow the moisturiser to sink deeper into the skin and will therefore keep your skin hydrated for longer. The skin on your face and neck is more sensitive and ages quicker than the rest of your body’s skin so when applying to your face and neck use gentle upwards and outwards strokes, this will help to tone. Skin around the eyes is the most delicate and a moisturiser specifically made for this skin should be used, a normal facial moisturiser will be too heavy for this area and the oil content in these moisturisers stretch the under eye skin causing puffiness. Apply with your ring finger, gently dabbing the moisturiser from the inside corner to the outside corner taking care not to drag the skin.

3. Protect Your Skin:

Skin care products should all have one thing in common: sunscreen. Sun damage is behind almost all of the signs of aging skin such as wrinkles and age spots. To prevent damage to your skin from aging, be sure that sunscreen is your number one anti aging skin care product. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15 (use a sunscreen with a higher rating if you plan to be in the sun for a longer period of time). Also, be sure that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from damage from UVA and UVB rays. Finally, be sure that your sunscreen is water resistant even if you are not planning on swimming – your sweat alone can undo the protection of non-water resistance sunscreens. All the ointments, moisturizers and creams in the world can’t compare to the anti aging effectiveness of ordinary sunscreen.

4. Reduce Your Sugar Intake:

Sugar is the formidable enemy to anyone who is hoping to combat their skins aging process. The reason: It speeds up the aging process by binding to and eventually weakening the collagen in your skin, which can lead to premature wrinkles and sagging. When you have sugar molecules in your system, they bombard the body’s cells like a meteor -shower—glomming onto fats and proteins in a process known as glycation. This forms advanced glycation end products (commonly shortened, appropriately, to AGEs), which cause protein fibers to become stiff and malformed. The proteins in skin most prone to glycation are the same ones that make a youthful complexion so plump and springy—collagen and elastin. When those proteins hook up with renegade sugars, they become discolored, weak, and less supple; this shows up on the skin’s surface as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance. The presence of AGEs also makes the complexion more vulnerable to bad-news assailants such as UV light and cigarette smoke. As New York–based dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, MD, puts it: “Number one, the glucose makes the cells abnormal; and number two, it creates free radicals. So you get a double whammy when it comes to aging.” While glycation can’t be completely stopped, it can be slowed. From a dietary standpoint, forswearing white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup—which studies have shown increases the rate of glycation by 10 times, compared with glucose—and simple carbs is a no-brainer. “Even though all carbs get converted into sugar, when you eat the good ones, like brown rice and whole-grain bread, you get less glucose, and you get it more slowly.” Skin care too makes a difference. Now that glycation is widely recognized as a major cause of aging, lots of comprehensive anti-aging creams contain AGE fighters too. Superstar multitasker green tea has been proven to significantly interfere with the glycation process while stimulating collagen synthesis—so if you’re using a product containing green tea (or drinking it regularly), you’re already protecting your skin.   These resolutions represent a lifestyle that will prevent the natural aging process. To reverse the signs of premature aging that your skin has already been exposed to, there are treatments available. To find out more, please visit www.silkwoodmedical.com.au/non-surgical or, contact the clinic today on (02) 93879300.

Written by Maureen Cole — Dip BTh, ITEC, CIDESCO IFA, AABth

Maureen Cole is a paramedical aesthetician with more than 20 years of experience in the skincare industry. She has completed diplomas with ITEC and CIDESCO, as well as an Advanced Certificate in Beauty Therapy, a Certificate in Advanced Skin Analysis and a Certificate in Paramedical Aesthetics.