If there was one good reason for a wish to return to childhood, it might be to recapture the beautiful, blisfully aromatic, smooth skin we all had as babies. Sadly, we don't grow younger and our skin does not stay clear and smooth. Puberty hits and we suffer from acne. Then the natural aging process kicks in and produces lines, wrinkles, age spots, pigmentation problems, broken capillaries, dull skin and various other skin flaws. Skin care is essential for all of us, no matter our age, gender, race, or pigmentation.
Whether you have dry skin, oily skin or a combination complexion, and whether you are a teen concerned about acne or an aging senior troubled by varicose veins, it is vitally important to give adequate attention to your body's largest organ--your skin. Providing much needed protection for your muscles, nerves, bones and internal organs, these fragile skin layers are often over-looked when we consider the health of our bodies.
We have all seen and heard the ads: "Wash your wrinkles away"; "Face lift in a bottle"; "Tone and firm your sagging skin." Americans spend billions of dollars each year on skin care products that promise to erase wrinkles, cure acne, lighten age spots, tighten the skin, reduce varicose veins, and eliminate itching and flaking.
The single major cause of skin changes, we think of as aging, is sunlight! The immediate effects of harmful sun rays--sunburn, rashes and cell damage--are bad enough. But medical experts now tell us that too much exposure to sunlight during childhood and adolescence is a primary cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging later in life. Health experts also believe that the ultraviolet(UV) light may weaken the immune system which allows dangerous diseases to develop within our bodies.
It's never too late to save your skin--or your children's--from the damaging rays of the sun. Using the proper water-resistant sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing (particularly a hat), and wearing quality sunglasses can all help protect your fragile and delicate skin cells. Apply sunscreen liberally, at least a large handful, about 30 minutes before going outside. In addition, try to keep teenagers away from the tanning salons. Like the sun, tanning devices can damage skin and eyes.
Over time, the sun's UV light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. The breakdown of these fibers reduces the ability of the skin to snap back after stretching. As a result, skin sags, droops and wrinkles form. Cigarette smoking also contributes to wrinkles. The reason is not yet clear, but it is believed that smoking also damages the elastin.
Good skin care is a daily process from both inside and outside the body. Even if you have the best skin care routine in the world, it's still possible to have skin problems if you're eating a great deal of unhealthy food. While chocolate and French fries do not directly cause acne, they are unhealthy for your entire body and therefore unhealthy for your skin.
Most skin care involves certain basic daily steps: washing, toning and moisturizing. Yes, there are a multitude of fancy and more costly techniques like exfoliation and masks, but they're not needed every day. A place to find great advice about skin care for your particular concerns is to stop in a beauty store and find a qualified and interested esthetician. Skin care should be a pleasant and relaxing experience, not a boring routine that you grudgingly endure each bedtime. Serious skin care is about prevention, not just treatment.
Whether you are looking for anti-wrinkle products, acne treatment, something to lighten your age spots, or make your skin more resilient, one important tip--there is no single product or program that is right for every person. When dealing with skin care, as with most other forms of human endeavors, there is no "one-size-fits all" solution. But with diligent research, a basic skin care routine, exercise and proper diet, your skin will serve you well for years to come.