Advanced Skin Care

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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My mother was an incredibly beautiful woman. As a successful model and actress, she made her living for many years off her face. I learned from the knee up the basic rules of advanced skin care. To wit: Don't use soap. Vitamins A, C, D and E are your friends. When you run out of moisturizer, split open a vitamin E capsule and put it on your face. Drink as much water as you can stand. Stay out of the sun. Wear sunscreen.

I even learned the tricks of sleeping on a flat pillow (or better yet, no pillow at all). That way, you'll have fewer lines on your neck and face. Sleep on your back, not your stomach. If you've got an early morning appointment and don't want puffy eyes, throw that rule out and replace it with sleeping on a fluffy pillow which elevates your head, so that fluids don't collect.

I was very lucky to have had such a firm grounding in skin care, since I'm now a grown woman in my mid-30s trying to survive in a culture that begs us to remain young looking at all costs. Nonetheless, even with careful coaching, I'm still trying to maneuver my way through this teenaged aesthetic, and find natural ways to keep myself looking attractive and healthy. It used to be that being beautiful was a nice thing, not the only thing. However, thanks to a cultural frenzy towards "youth and beauty," skincare research is at an all-time high. There are products on the market that really can make a difference. But you must know a little bit about what works, and what doesn't.

Identifying Ingredients that Work

The beauty industry is the new haven for the snake oil salesman. Thousands upon thousands of products sit shoved together on store shelves promising miracles. First lesson: there are no miracles. But there are some new formulations, some even made from thousand year-old ingredients, which make for highly effective skin care.

Alpha hydroxy acids work. The most effective AHA is glycolic acid, which, because of its smaller molecular structure, is better able to permeate the skin and get down to business. Glycolic acid in a concentration between eight and 15 percent will, if used consistently and correctly, will have an effect on the appearance of your skin.

Don't Forget the Antioxidants

Antioxidants work. Taken orally via supplements and applied topically via creams, lotions and serums, these little guys will do wonders to protect your skin from further damage, and even help minimize the appearance of the damage you've already done. The most well known, and most easily found, antioxidant in lotions and creams is vitamin E. Other antioxidants which pack an even better anti-aging punch include vitamin C (look for 10 percent concentrations), green tea extract, grape seed extract, lipoic acid, and co-enzyme Q10.

Other products which show great promise include hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring chemical manufactured by the body. It is present in high quantities in very young skin. Hyaluronic acid provides the framework for skin cells. When hyaluronic acid levels begin to dip, skin starts to sag, and wrinkles and creases start to form. Many products which contain antioxidants also contain hyaluronic acid. Look for them.

Getting a Grip by Holding on to Yourself

Let's look in the mirror for something else, though, if only for a second. Aging gracefully means just that. It may not be pleasant to face, but it is not graceful to kick and scream and try to look 16 in both manner and dress when you're on the verge of collecting social security. Overly tight skin across the cheekbones, and eyes pulled wide in perpetual surprise is not beautiful, really. Think for a moment about Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, Ellen Burstyn, Olivia de Havilland, Isabella Rossellini, Julianne Moore, and Andie McDowell as they look right now, today. These women range in age from 40 to nearly 90. And they are beautiful. They look like themselves, as best as they can possibly be. Take a moment to appreciate your own uniqueness and try to make that look as good as you possibly can. And then stop worrying about it. Skin care should be part of your daily toilette, not something you worry about day in and day out.


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