Hydration and Sun Protection (Guide To Flawless Skin Part 4)
There are many factors that affect and contribute to the aging of our skin:
- Genetic Background
- Environmental Factors (like sun exposure and climate)
- How we care for and maintain the skin (skin care products treatments, etc)
- Water Intake
- Sleep Patterns
Each of these various factors affect the way the skin looks, feels, and behaves over time. How your skin will look with the passing years largely depends on how well you care for it.
Ever notice how a baby’s skin is plump, resilient, moist, and snaps back after being touched? Young skin is born with a balance of several natural substances (humectants) which promote the retention of moisture in the skin. Some humectants, like hyaluronic acid, can attract and hold up to one thousand times their own weight in water, so a more youthful, natural hydration level can be maintained.
As we age, these precious moisture-builders break down due to free radical damage, altering our skins own ability to hold in moisture. This lack of water in or around cells disrupts the skin’s normal metabolism and tissue repair. As a result, the skin’s ability to repair and regenerate itself is greatly hindered. Although dry skin is not the major cause of the visible signs of aging, the skin’s decreased capacity to heal makes it far more susceptible to the various forms of skin damage and infection.
When properly hydrated, skin should be soft to the touch and radiant, so maintaining moisture should be priority on the list of basic skin care necessities.
How to maintain adequate moisture levels in the skin:
Sunscreen Use: Sun, even dim early morning and late afternoon sun, causes free radical damage, which in turn impedes the skin’s ability to maintain its own moisture balance.
Quality moisturizers generally contain antioxidants, water-binding agents, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Moisturizers for extremely dry skin also contain various forms of lipids, plant oils, and glycerides. These ingredients help fight off environmental damage (a leading cause of dryness) and help protect the natural moisture barrier of the skin.
Choosing the Right Moisturizer
Quality is truly important when it comes to choosing your moisturizer. A quality moisturizer for your skin type can do more than just protect the skin’s moisture balance. It can help renew skin daily with performance ingredients formulated to brighten skin and add luminosity. Moisturizers can also function as a makeup base. For mature complexions, a moisturizer that also provides ingredients to counteract the visible signs of aging can help restore and maintain a firm, smooth look and feel.
Moisturizers and Acne-Prone Skin
When someone suffers from acne it can certainly be tempting to avoid moisturizing the skin in an effort to decrease excess oil. Doing so, however, could not be more wrong. All skins types and conditions require additional moisture and barrier protection and this includes oily and acne-prone skin. In fact, acne-prone skin is often irritated from intensive treatments that overly strip the skin causing intense inflammation. Over time, a lack of moisture can actually cause surface inflammation of the skin, resulting in additional redness on already irritated, acne-prone skin. For individuals with oily, blemished and/or acne-prone skin, it is best to use a water-based moisturizer or gel rather than an oil-based one. Regardless of skin type, moisture should always be of the utmost importance.
Moisturizers and Sun Protection
As you are now aware, moisturizers are formulated to repair and maintain the skin’s vital protective moisture barrier, so choosing a daily moisturizer for your skin type and environmental conditions is essential. Yet another key element is needed to maintain the skin’s protective barrier: Sun Protection.
Using a daily sunscreen over your moisturizer is an absolute necessity to shield skin from both the UVB rays (burning rays) and the UVA rays (aging rays) that cause damage. UV rays form free radical aggressors that break down hyaluronic acid. Free radicals also degrade collagen (the structural “cushion” of the skin) and cause the destruction of elastin (the stretchy, fibrous elastic component of skin). This cascading cycle of damage is what shows up as premature lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (darker skin discolorations), sagging skin contours, and uneven skin tones.
Especially for young skin, both hydration and sun protection are very important, as most sun damage occurs before the age of 18.
How to apply a Moisturizer and Sunscreen
Each morning and evening, cleanse, tone and treat your skin. Apply a small amount of moisturizer to the face, neck and décolleté.
Sunscreens should be used in the morning and always be applied last, after moisturizer, but before makeup.