Forget what you've heard about great skin. A radiant glow isn't the exclusive right of those with good genes, nor is it locked in a jar of pricey wrinkle cream. In reality, beautiful skin is a full-body experience -- one that anyone can cultivate.
In other words, it expresses what's going on in your body, and it needs support from the inside out. With that in mind, on the following slides, we've created a holistic, decade-by-decade skin-care guide featuring advice on what to eat, which supplements to take, and how to spot a moisturizer that suits you.
The Skin You're In: Your skin is probably at its peak vitality, with good texture, a nice luster, and few discolorations. Many in their twenties have combination or oily skin, but "while you may still have acne outbreaks left over from adolescence, on the whole your skin is typically low-maintenance," says Leslie Lucchina, M.D., a dermatologist based in Boston.
Thinking Ahead: "I call this the decade of awareness," says dermatologist Neal B. Schultz, M.D. "It's important to understand that long-term issues like sun damage have already begun, and that more damage is coming down the pike." You'll be doing yourself a big favor if you don't smoke, adds Lucchina. In addition to the obvious health risks, smoking causes free-radical formation and damages collagen and elastic tissue, she notes -- a combination you'll regret later.
Try This: Holistic nutritionist Lisa Petty, author of " Living Beauty," advises upping your intake of essential fatty acids (like omega-3s, found in flax, walnuts, and wild salmon) to balance oil production and promote clear skin. Vitamins A and B6, taken in a multivitamin or B complex, can help. Opt for hormone-free meat and dairy, since hormones can exacerbate acne.
The Skin You're In: "The major issue of your thirties is texture," says Schultz. Since dead skin cells don't turn over as rapidly as they did in your twenties, your face may look dull and uneven. You might also experience some brown blotchiness (caused by hormone fluctuations from pregnancy or birth control pills), as well as early sunspots. Due to work and family stress, some thirtysomethings still have acne, as stress can release hormones that cause breakouts.
Thinking Ahead: Your skin will thin and develop fine lines as you head into the next decade, so make sure to get your Z's, says Valori Treloar, M.D., a holistic dermatologist. "Your skin heals during sleep," she explains. "Seven to eight uninterrupted hours are optimal, but if that's impossible, nap when you can." Don't forget sunscreen on your neck and chest, warns Lucchina: "People start to hate their neck in their forties. It doesn't dawn on them to protect those areas as well as their face."
Try This: To help delay the onset of lines and wrinkles, up your antioxidants: vitamins A, C, and E. Drinking green tea and red wine and eating antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies (like berries and dark leafy greens) can also boost your skin's resilience to environmental damage, Petty says. Dietary silicon and zinc aid in skin repair and may improve skin's overall texture.
The Skin You're In: Your skin is losing some of its elasticity and firmness now. Many of the changes you're seeing are due to a decrease in estrogen that naturally occurs as you get closer to menopause, Welch explains, and chronic ultraviolet exposure that finally catches up with you. Typically drier, your skin will have larger pores, some age spots, and some fine lines around the eyes and mouth.
Thinking Ahead: Menopause is coming, which means your skin will get drier -- so don't skip the moisturizer. As estrogen levels drop, fatigue and nutritional gaps will take a greater toll, Treloar points out. "This is when adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and relaxation exercises become really important," she says. And don't slack on the sunscreen -- keeping sun damage at bay is as crucial as ever.
Try This: Petty's prescription for dry skin includes increasing your vitamin B2 (as part of a multivitamin or B-complex supplement) and taking borage oil supplements, which supply the body with gamma linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid. And drinking eight glasses of water a day will promote skin hydration from within.
The Skin You're In: You'll notice even more of a change in your skin tone after menopause, says Lucchina. "It has even less elasticity," she explains. When you toss in cumulative sun damage, texture and color issues suddenly become more apparent. You'll also see more significant lines around the eyes, mouth, and across the forehead.
Thinking Ahead: It's never too late to prevent skin damage from occurring in the future, emphasizes Schultz. "It's terrible to think people are writing their skin off," he says. "Your skin is still constantly renewing itself and can actually be very forgiving. It just needs help to improve." You'll be surprised at the difference proper moisturization and exfoliation can make.
Try This: Age spots indicate an accumulation of free radicals, Petty explains. Prevent further damage by getting enough vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and selenium -- all potent antioxidants. Petty also suggests drinking milk-thistle tea to support the liver and aid in the elimination of toxins.
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