First let’s understand aging skin. The skin is an organ that consists of 3 basic layers: the epidermis, dermis and the subcutaneous layer. Premature aging is a consequence of poor skin care including poor nutrition. Factors which accelerate aging include environment exposures, poor diet, smoking, UV exposure, harsh skin-care products, stress, acne, hormonal imbalances and sugary foods. Each of these factors increases inflammation and decreases collagen.

Keep in mind that a key part in the formation of a wrinkle is inflammation and damage to collagen. There are 4 goals that one should focus on. [divider]

•GOAL 1 is to Increase Cell Turnover, which stimulates collagen production. The stratum corneum (top layer) is sloughed off continually as new cells take its place and as we age, this sloughing process slows down. For young people, cell turnover is every 28 to 30 day, by age 60 the process takes 45 to 50 days.

•GOAL 2 is to Decrease Free Radical Damage. External causes of free radicals include sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollutions. Free radicals will damage collagen and collagen gives skin its softness and resiliency. Once damaged these molecules become stiff and inflexible. The result: skin looks “old”.

•GOAL 3 is to Decrease Sun Damage. Sun exposure not only creates free radicals, it causes a cascade of damage to the skin. This triggers the inflammatory process within skin cells causing “collagen-digesting” enzymes. These enzymes cause tiny defects or scars in the skin which are the birth of a wrinkle. Did you know it takes 10 years to see the damage of UV rays.

•GOAL 4 is to Decrease Inflammation. If the skin is in a constant state of inflammation, it will show signs of aging earlier. Some inflammatory examples are acne (which can increase risk of scarring), rosacea and sun damage. Consuming sugary, high-glycemic foods and unhealthy fats will cause inflammation and sometimes harsh skin care products can induce inflammation. Now let’s look at the actions required to achieve these 4 goals. [divider]

For Goal 1: Increasing Cell Turnover, the answer is exfoliation. There are 2 types of exfoliants, those that stimulate collagen and those that slough off the top layer only. The prescription Retinoids (Tretinoin, Retinol, and Vitamin A); Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic Acids, Lactic Acids) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid) are your deeper ones. The top layer ones are your fruit enzymes (papaya, pineapple) or mechanical exfoliate scrubs (grape seeds, apricot).

For Goal 2: Decreased Free Radical Damage, the answer is antioxidants. Some topical antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E (tocopherol), green tea (camellia sinesis leaf), pineapple extract, and caviar extract.

For Goal 3: Decreased Sun Damage, the answer is Sunscreen. Use sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 15 every day and minimum of SPF 30-50 for increased sun exposure.

For Goal 4: Decreased Inflammation, the answer is topical anti-inflammatories. Some anti-inflammatories include niacinamide (vitamin B3), MSM (dimethyl sulfone), Green tea (Camellia Sinesis Leaf), Aloe and the flower extracts (Chrysanthellum, daisy flower family), Arnica and Marigold. The expression “Beauty from the Inside Out” is true.

There are vitamins and nutriceuticals that one can take including antioxidants like Alpha Lipoic Acid and Resveratrol. Omega 3 Fatty Acids like fish oils and flax seed oil. Vitamins C, D, E and Probiotics.

Your skin is a major organ that functions to keep you healthy, just like every other major organ in your body; except with this organ, one can see the positive and negative effects of one’s lifestyle.

Article by: Maria Musitano B.Sc.Pharm

AIM Clinic Pharmacy

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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