Wednesday, July 23, 2014

While I am not a fan of having my picture taken, because this post is about skin care, I thought it only fair to show mine. This is me shortly after my 67th birthday in January. I will say it is nice when someone tells me I don't look my age but am by no means escaping the aging process. Feeling good and vital are my main concerns, looking a bit younger is just a bonus.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body but is often only cared for on the outside. Maintaining its health should be a joint effort between what goes into our body as well as what we put on and expose it too. 
While heredity may play a part in how our skin fares with the aging process our lifestyle choices, what we eat/drink and supplements we do or don't take are all big factors in the health of our skin. I think it is also important to be comfortable with the "skin you are in" during each decade of our life. This is especially true the older we become.
I'll be the first to admit that noticing changes in my physical appearance is not an easy adjustment. We are a society that worships youth and there is a big monetary stake in that. But if you live long enough, the aging process will take place. There is a saying, "growing old isn't for the faint of heart", or something to that effect. For the most part, changes occur subtly, so much so, they aren't quickly noticed. Then one day you look in the mirror and say, when did that happen? With any luck, by the time the changes start adding up, we are secure enough with our inner being to be accepting of our outside appearance. 
Our skin type is a factor with aging but what we do is of far more importance. Even those who initially tan instead of burning can overdue their sun exposure which may show up prematurely as dry, wrinkled skin. It is interesting to note that just recently I heard a dermatologist say our everyday, normal activities cause a big cumulative effect regarding sun exposure damage, more so than tanning.
While my olive complexion kept me from burning in my youth, I also didn't start going to the beach and laying in the sun until my early 20's. I don't remember using sunscreen either. Back then it was suntan lotion to get that, "copper tone tan". In my 30's and 40's I started using sunscreen as there were frequent warnings regarding skin cancer. But still, at that time, not many of us realized how sun damage could result in premature aging of the skin. It is the UV rays which erode the elastic tissues in the skin and cause wrinkling. I've often felt that vanity could play a bigger part in promoting the protection of our skin. Because youth tends to feel infallible to cancer, maybe the threat of premature wrinkled skin may be the deterrent to emphasize for avoiding excessive sun worshiping!
So while becoming aware of deleterious sun exposure, what else was I doing for my skin health? Luckily, my smoking habits were never an addiction and I stopped social smoking and drinking in my early 40's. This is a total body benefit; smoking for obvious reasons but both these habits dry out the skin and promote wrinkling. Caffeine also does this and while I haven't been able to give it up, I do limit my consumption. During my 40's my diet was shifting to no refined or processed foods except for the occasional meal out when the food prep wasn't from my hands. Lots more fruits/vegetables (raw as much as possible), whole grains, nuts/seeds, some dairy, chicken/fish/tofu and mostly everything organic became our meals and snacks.
The supplements I started using were for my overall well-being, and unknown to me at the time, quite beneficial to my skin. A whole food multi vitamin, probiotic and omega oils (from flax seed and fish) were the basics. But some of the vitamins and supplements I was using for health issues have also had great benefits. I feel my daily lysine intake has proven to be one of the most significant nutrients for the health of my skin as is MSM. Used for joint health it is also at the top of the list for helping to smooth and prevent wrinkles as listed in "The Prescription for Nutritional Healing". Calcium/magnesium and glucosamine sulfate which I take are also listed. A Jarrow Formulas Hyaluronic Acid  is also for joint and connective tissue health. The antioxidants I use are Twinlab C Plus Citrus Bio Capsules, Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid and Nature's Way Grape Seed extract. Antioxidants are important in controlling free radical damage throughout our body including the breakdown of collagen in connective tissues which releases chemicals causing skin inflammation leading to skin aging and wrinkling. These are the vitamins and supplements I have been taking for many years now.It is also important to get some exercise, even moderately, as this increases circulation of blood to the skin. I walk, bike ride and do yoga.
This brings me to caring for my skin on the outside. Just as I was transitioning my diet to natural and organic foods, all my body care products were being changed too. No more traditional soaps, shampoos, lotions, face creams, etc. for me! But it should be said that it took a lot of trying and testing before I found the products that suited me. They were narrowed down by scent, feel, results, price and it took years before I settled into the products I use now and have been using for about two decades. The first to change was going from a soap to a body wash, Body Wash-Apricot Satin Jason. This was the scent I found most pleasing. Shampoos and conditioners I like are by Nature's Gate Organics, the Lemongrass & Clary Sage and the Herbavita Line of Shampoo and Conditioners. My favorite body and hand lotion is Nature's Gate Moisturizing Lotion, Papaya. The Reviva Body Firming Lotion is also a good product. Remember, my favorites may not become yours, but there are so many wonderful products to choose from. A deodorant switch was made with Crystal Essence Chamomile and Green Tea Roll On Crystal Body Deodorant.
My routine is simply a morning shower with the body wash and a loofa; this is a wonderful way to slough off dead skin and get the circulation going. To wash my face and neck I use a cotton wash cloth. After my shower, it is body lotion all over; very important to nourish your skin and help keep it moisturized. But when I step out of the shower the first thing I do is pat my face dry and use three products, they are all by Reviva Labs.
I first heard about the ingredients in the skin cream while watching a PBS show almost 15 years ago with Dr. Nicholas Perricone discussing "The Wrinkle Cure". It is beneficial to apply the products to warm, moist skin. First I use the Reviva Firming Eye Serum then the Reviva Labs - Serum Hyaluronic Acid and finally the Reviva Labs Alpha Lipoic Acid Vitamin C Ester and DMAE Cream. That's it nothing more during the day or at night! My make-up is easy as I use very little, a bit of face powder, blush and no liquid make up. Because my eyes are so sensitive to irritants, I haven't used mascara for many years but will use eye shadow occasionally. The products are by Zia and the lip shimmers are from Burts Bees. But again, there are so many great companies to choose from. A store like Whole Foods will often have samples for you to try. Some of the products can be quite pricey but I think I have found good ones that are reasonable.
I've always believed that less is better and that includes the temptation to do so much more to my skin. I've never even had a facial; maybe I am missing out and could look even younger. But I've drawn the line on what I will and won't do in caring for my skin and believe that supplying the nutrients it needs with diet, vitamins/supplements and natural products topically is far more important than any corrective steps to be taken on the outside. The integrity of your skin including how well it heals from cuts, scrapes, and burns will also be improved. Case in point, two weeks ago I burned my right forearm with boiling water. The burn was about the size of an egg. Immediately I ran it under cold water for 5 minutes and then put lavender oil on (saw this on Dr. Oz). It was bright red and over the next few days was obviously a 2nd degree burn. I kept applying the lavender oil and a light bandage when going out. The healing process continued through the various stages to a point where I thought for sure there would be scarring. But looking at my arm today, there is no evidence that it was ever burned. I think I am quite happy with the skin I am in.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2014


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