The aristocrats of old went to great lengths to achieve whatever flavor of skin
they felt best announced their excellent health. The Queen of England, venerated for her pale skin, applied white lead to lighten her complexion. Others used arsenic powder as a means to instill a certain glow of the cheeks – or to inherit wealth from their mysteriously poisoned husbands. Thankfully, skin care has improved in leaps and bounds. Our understanding of both the form and function of our largest organ has led to some incredible breakthroughs in how we view and care for our skin.
It is common to approach skin care from a seasonal perspective, and there is merit to this. The challenges of winter are altogether different from those of the summer. What is often overlooked though, is that excellent skin care during the summer months allows for a smooth transition to the
changes encountered later in the year. Keeping the skin well moisturized, protected, and internally healthy will serve you well in whatever time of the year you find yourself.
Dry skin is a nuisance, an avenue of infection, and entirely unnecessary. Paradoxically, simply wetting the skin with water will only make the skin more dry. The trick is to maintain prolonged moisture on
the area, or even better, help the skin maintain its own water balance. The average moisturizer adds a superficial layer of moisture across the skin. For better results, look for moisturizers that contain ceramides, a molecule naturally found in the cells of the skin. Apply these liberally and often, but most importantly, apply immediately after showering. Ceramides are more effective
when they have an abundance of water to dole out as the skin dries.
A particularly summer specific cause of dry skin is sunburn. This too is a nuisance, but it also
carries a risk of more serious complications. That said, the health benefits of an active
lifestyle are enormous. Being outside is almost always a good thing, and there are great ways to
protect against UV radiation. It is likely that you know the basics, SPF 30 or greater, 2 tablespoons to cover the body (be wary of sprays), and multiple applications. What
you might not know is that there are two types of sunscreen, those that filter and
those that block. The controversy surrounding the chemicals used in the filter variety are
outside the scope of this article but thankfully there is little controversy over the blocking type
of sunscreen. These types of sunscreens contain either zinc or titanium and thanks to recent
technology, no longer leave a white coat on the skin. When getting ready for longer days, look
for zinc or titanium on the label of your sunscreen.
The skin, just like any other organ, is also affected by the general health of the body. However, the skin is unique in that it is constantly bombarded with radiation and chemicals of varying potency. The skin is well equipped for these challenges but as we age, its ability to resist and regenerate gradually declines. A key component in restoring the skin’s vitality is supplying it with an abundance
of antioxidants. A diet rich in these things will help but applying an antioxidant directly on the
skin will help even more. Vitamin C, aside from being a vitamin, is a potent antioxidant. Daily
application of a vitamin C serum will counteract the aging effects of oxidation and return the skin
to a healthier state.
In conclusion, the skin is more than the sum of its parts. “Healthy skin begets healthy skin”. By taking great care of your skin, the skin itself is better able maintain its health.