Be it Spring Break or that winter get-a-way to a warm place, by February or March people tend to crave the warmth of the sun's rays. Opportunities to spend more time outdoors are wonderful for our physical and emotional well-being, but do your skin a favor and prepare for exposure to the sun.
During one of my used book store jaunts, I picked up a very informative book about skin care called, "The Wrinkle Cure" by Nicholas Perricone, M.D.
An interesting question from the book was "Does the skin on the face age faster than the skin on the rest of the body?"
Apparently, it is the way we treat our skin, not the aging process, that ages facial skin the most. Dr. Perricone explains that there are two types of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic or internal aging is the rate of aging that occurs with the passage of time. Extrinsic aging or external aging is intrinsic aging compounded by external factors such as sunlight, air pollution, cigarettes and inflammation caused by harsh detergents, cosmetics and illness.
The prime culprit of extrinsic aging is sun exposure. Compare the skin on your body that has been exposed over the years to sun and the areas such as the torso that have protected by clothing. Exposed skin eventually looks more discolored and less taut.
While young, the body has the ability to repair itself very quickly, but as we age that ability diminishes. Free radical damage is a universally excepted explanation. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron in interactions with other molecules. These molecules become very unstable and thus steal electrons from other healthy molecules. Therefore, every time free radicals seek to stabilize themselves, they damage healthy cells. Our cells use oxygen to produce energy and resulting free radicals are a natural by-product of normal bodily processes.
The body has its own defense system for fighting free radicals. This system is the power of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free-radical damage by giving these out of control molecules the electron partner they seek, thereby making the free radical harmless. The problem lies with balance. Free radicals are also unleashed by external factors like sunlight, cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Unless we can replenish antioxidants by way of proper diet and/or supplements the body's antioxidant system gets overwhelmed and the free radicals become unchecked, creating havoc. The superstars recommended by Dr. Perricone are vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid and alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Foods to include are: avocado, bell peppers, berries, melons, dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, pineapple, tomatoes and salmon.
One of the substances that gives our skin its youthful suppleness and tautness is a protein called collagen. Collagen is the strong connective tissue that holds us together. This protein holds our skeletons together, attaches our muscles to our bones, and keeps the organs and skin in place. Normally, collagen molecules slide over one another, but once they've been damaged, they become inflexible, resulting in skin that starts to look "old".
Time does march on and even if we do manage to avoid cigarettes and the sun, our bodies still proceed with the aging process.
After the age of about 30, the skin's oil glands reduce their production and the loss contributes to dry skin. Both sexes experience a drop in hormonal levels as they age, but in women the decline is more dramatic. With a decrease in estrogen levels the skin's fat layer begins to thin, resulting in the skin becoming drier, less firm and more fragile. Being men produce testosterone, their skin tends to be thicker than that of women, therefore women tend to show signs of aging sooner then men.
Melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, begin to diminish as we reach the age of forty. Melanin determines skin tone, and as the skin loses its ability to fight sun damage, the result can be uneven pigmentation.
Even with the unavoidable passage of time and its effects, we should do all we can to properly care for our health and appearance inside and out.
Wrinkle Wrath with SPF
The use of a sunscreen of at least SPF-15 and wearing a sun hat with at least a 4 inch brim can do wonders to protect your skin and delay the onset of those dreaded wrinkles. The above picture is just one of the beautiful sunhats handmade by a California based business called Freckles California. Below are two great companies that offer not only sunhats but sun protective clothing and accessories such as sunglasses.
Vacations, lawn work, gardening, outdoor events and hobbies, all add to the excitement of the anticipation of warmer weather. Enjoy every opportunity to get the most out of every day. Just prepare, and remember, everything in moderation.