Skin care is the range of practices that support skin integrity, enhance its appearance and relieve skin conditions. They can include; nutrition, hygiene, use of cosmetics, avoidance of excessive sun exposure and appropriate use of emollients. A daily routine procedure is required to build healthy habits that can ensure the health and hygiene of the skin, and its appearance.
Health and hygiene:
Practices for health and hygiene are about staying clean, which involves washing your face twice a day (morning and evening), or your whole body for maximum hygiene with soap, shower gel, or cleanser.
After washing the skin with soap, shower gel, or cleanser, it is advisable to apply to the skin, a light oil e.g. coconut oil or any other that is preferable, to avoid the skin from being stripped of skin oils. This is because soap, shower gels, and cleansers, which are essential when washing the skin, also strip the skin of the much needed oils whose purpose is to protect, nourish, and lubricate the skin.
After washing the skin with soap or shower gel, and applying a light oil for protection and nourishment, it's advisable to apply an oil control item to the skin, if you wish to prevent shiny skin. There are a variety of oil control products on the market that can be utilized but Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is also an alternative.
The routine exemplified above does not apply to those with acne or other complicated skin problems. It’s a routine to maintain healthy skin and not cure any skin problems. It’s advisable for those dealing with acne to use acne control products e.g. products containing salicylic acid or other ingredients proven to be effective on acne.
Some anti-acne products contain drying agents such as benzoyl peroxide (concentrations of 2.5 - 10%) which can help ease acne in certain cases, particularly among teenagers. However, many adults can't tolerate the intense drying effects and might experience cracked skin and red blemishes the longer they use the product. It is therefore advisable to see a skin care specialist as each case is individual.
Practices that enhance appearance include the use of cosmetics (e.g. primer, lip products, concealer, foundation, face powder, blusher, highlight, bronzer, mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, eyebrow, nail polish, setting spray, false eyelashes, contouring), botulinum (method used to smooth out wrinkles), exfoliation (mechanical and chemical), fillers, laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, peels, retinol therapy etc.
Practices that help protect skin from sun damage include wearing sunscreen with the physical blocker zinc oxide and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater. Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun does damage to the skin. It can cause; age spots, benign (noncancerous) growths like seborrheic keratosis, color changes, freckles, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Most skin cancers come from sun exposure.
Skin is the part of the body that interfaces with the outside world and is certainly subjected to dirt, bacteria, and all sorts of pollutants in the environment. Skin that is left unclean can lead to an overload of dead cells, dirt and microbes which in turn can lead to infections and various other health and hygiene problems.
Skin care practices ensure the health and hygiene of the skin through cleansing of the skin. Cleansing involves practices such as facial cleansing with a cleansing lotion or face-wash, body washing with bar soap or shower gel, and hand washing with soap particularly every after using the toilet.
Motivations for cleansing include; removing dirt, overdue skin oils, bacteria, other pollutants that may be on the surface of the skin, the reduction and prevention of skin infections, skin healing, overall health and sense of well-being, social acceptance and the prevention of spreading of illness to others.
Skin cells are constantly changing with older cells getting replaced by new ones. The older ones are displaced outwards through the epidermal layers, undergoing multiple stages of differentiation until, in the cornified layer, losing their nucleus and fusing to squamous sheets, which are eventually shed from the skin surface in a process known as desquamation (shedding of skin cells).
Normal, non-pathologic desquamation of the skin occurs when keratinocytes (cells of the epidermis), are individually shed unnoticeably. The rate of keratinocyte production equals the rate of loss. This is the skin's natural way of exfoliating. When dead skin cells do not shed from the skin regularly enough though, skin problems occur.
The dead skin cells collect in the skin pores where they combine with skin oils (sebum) to clog the pores, resulting in pimples, acne, blackheads and whiteheads. If bacteria where to enter into these clogged pores as well, these pimples can become inflamed, causing pustules (pimple containing pus), papules, or even cysts.
Through skin care, the skin can be supported to remove the dead skin cells more regularly and thereby achieving a clear skin, free of acne, black and white heads, dead skin cells, blemishes and pimples, and other skin imperfections. The most prominent methods deployed for this purpose are cleansing and exfoliation which help remove dead skin cells.
Dry skin is a condition where skin is lacking in moisture. It is an uncomfortable condition marked by ashen skin, scaling, itching, and cracking. It can occur for a number of reasons including; age, season e.g. winter; bathing habits e.g. using hot water, hash soaps etc.; medical reasons e.g. eczema, contact dermatitis etc.; or you might just have naturally dry skin.
Skin care practices can be deployed to help alleviate the conditions of dry skin through dietary and topical measures as explained below:
On the dietary front, drinking water at a minimum of 2 liters per day can help to restore skin hydration or prevent dry skin. However, consuming foods that contain mostly water can be as hydrating for the skin and indeed the whole body just as drinking water. This can include water-dense fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, plums, celery, berries, lettuce etc.
On the topical front, avoiding hash chemicals found in certain skin care products can help prevent skin from drying out in the first place. Also, using skin care products that contain moisture attracting ingredients (humectants) like hyaluronic acid, a superstar hydrator that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, can help add moisture to the skin. The moisturizing effect can even be enhanced if the formula used contains occlusive agents that prevent moisture from evaporating to keep water in the skin longer.
How skin looks on the outside, is a reflection of health on the inside. Skin needs to be nourished from the inside out to be healthy and flawless. Malnourished skin is subject to all skin problems known; from dry skin, due to dehydration; wrinkles, due to depleted collagen; acne, due to vitamin A deficiency; infections, due to decreased immunity; hyper pigmentation, hypo pigmentation, rashes, skin imperfections etc., to severe cases like scurvy, skin cancer etc.
Skin nourishment therefore, is the most important aspect of healthy skin and the primary aspect of skin care. It can be catered for through the use of skin care products that have been fortified with nutrients that are essential to skin health e.g. vitamins A, B, C, E, zinc among many others. This can be done by topical application to the skin or through injection e.g. glutathione injection.
Skin nourishment can also be done through the diet by eating plenty of fruits and veggies especially the nutrient and water-dense fruits and vegetables to hydrate and nourish the skin. Skin hydration is important because water is the body and thus skin's main solvent. It is (water) the medium where the biochemical reactions that support life occur.
Fine lines and wrinkles:
Fine lines and wrinkles typically appear as a result of the ageing processes such as glycation, habitual sleeping positions, loss of body mass, or temporarily, as the result of prolonged immersion in water. Age wrinkling in the skin is promoted by habitual facial expressions, aging, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, and various other factors.
One of the purposes of skin care is to provide methods or ways to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles from the skin. Various skin care methods can be deployed to achieve this and they include some of the following:
Dermal fillers are injectable products frequently used to correct wrinkles, and other depressions in the skin. They are often a kind of soft tissue designed to enable injection into the skin for purposes of improving the appearance. The most common products are based on hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxyl-apatite.
Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botox is a specific form of botulinum toxin manufactured by Allergan for both therapeutic and cosmetic use.
Laser resurfacing is FDA-cleared skin resurfacing procedure in which lasers are used to improve the condition of the skin. Two types of lasers are used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face; an ablative laser that removes thin layers of skin and a nonablative laser that stimulates collagen production. Nonablative lasers are less effective than ablative ones but they are less invasive and recovery time is short. After the procedure people experience temporary redness, itching and swelling.
Topical glycosaminoglycan supplements can help to provide temporary restoration of enzyme balance to slow or prevent matrix breakdown and consequent onset of wrinkle formation. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are produced by the body to maintain structural integrity in tissues and to maintain fluid balance. Hyaluronic acid is a type of GAG that promotes collagen synthesis, repair, and hydration.
Current evidence suggests that tretinoin decreases cohesiveness of follicular epithelial cells, although the exact mode of action is unknown. Additionally, tretinoin stimulates mitotic activity and increased turnover of follicular epithelial cells. Tretinoin is better known by the brand name Retin-A.
Many have asserted that certain advantages tend to come to those who are perceived as being more attractive, including the ability to receive better treatment from others; being judged more positively by others; having more choices in romantic partners and thus, opportunities for better relationships; etc. As a result, concern for improving attractiveness has led many persons to consider alternatives.
Skin care is one of the measures (others being e.g. surgery etc.) used to enhance appearance. In skin care, cosmetics are substances or products used to enhance or alter the appearance or fragrance of the body. Many cosmetics are designed for use on the face and hair; some being derived from natural sources (such as coconut oil), and some being synthetics. Cosmetics applied to the face to enhance its appearance are often referred to as makeup.
Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin. Skin care practices can be deployed to address such concerns. Most often treatment of hyperpigmentation caused by melanin overproduction includes the use of topical depigmenting agents, which vary in their efficacy and safety, as well as in prescription rules. Several are prescription only in the US, especially in high doses, such as hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and kojic acid. Some are available without prescription, such as niacinamide, alpha Arbutin, or cysteamine hydrochloride.
Hydroquinone was the most commonly prescribed hyperpigmentation treatment before the long-term safety concerns were raised, and the use of it became more regulated in several countries and discouraged in general by WHO. For the US only 2% is at present sold over-the-counter, and 4% needs prescription. In the EU hydroquinone was banned from cosmetic applications. Treatments that do not involve topical agents are also available, including fraction lasers and dermabrasion.
Tanning is the process whereby skin color is darkened or tanned in order to achieve a healthy glowing complexion. It is most often a result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or from artificial sources, such as a tanning lamp found in indoor tanning beds.
Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is known to cause sunburn, skin cancer, make skin age and wrinkle faster, mutate DNA, and impair the immune system. Frequent tanning bed use triples the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer places the use of tanning beds in the highest cancer risk category, describing them as carcinogenic to humans even if used as recommended.
To avoid exposure to UV radiation, many sunless tanning products have been developed in the form of darkening creams, gels, lotions, and sprays that are self-applied on the skin. There is also a professional spray-on tanning option or “tanning booth” that is offered by spas, salons, and tanning businesses. Spray tanning does not involve a color being sprayed on the body, instead it uses a colorless chemical which reacts with proteins in the top layer of the skin, resulting in a brown color.
Though the sun is beneficial in order for the human body to get its daily dose of vitamin D, unprotected excessive sunlight can cause extreme damage to the skin. Ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation in the sun's rays can cause sunburn in varying degrees, early ageing and increased risk of skin cancer. UV exposure can cause patches of uneven skin tone and dry out the skin. This can reduce the skin's elasticity and encourage sagging and wrinkle formation.
Skin care practices such as the use of sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and hats, and general avoidance of sun-light at its peak (notably midday) can be utilized to protect the skin from UV radiation from the sun.
Sunscreen can protect the skin from sun damage by applying it directly on the skin at least 20 minutes before exposure, and should be re-applied every four hours. Sunscreen should be applied to all areas of the skin that will be exposed to sunlight, and at least a tablespoon (25 ml) should be applied to each limb, the face, chest, and back, to ensure thorough coverage. Many tinted moisturizers, foundations and primers now contain some form of SPF.
Skin care starts with nourishment from within and thus a steady supply of key nutrients is essential to support growth of new cells as older ones get shed and replaced by young ones. By eating a balanced and varied diet, you provide the skin the vital nutrients it needs to be healthy and vibrant. Some of the most important nutritional items that are essential for beautiful healthy skin include but not limited to:
- Vitamin A, also known as retinoids, benefits the skin by normalizing keratinization, downregulating sebum production which contributes to acne, and reversing and treating photo-damage, striae, and cellulite.
- Vitamin D and analogs are used to downregulate the cutaneous immune system and epithelial proliferation while promoting differentiation.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that regulates collagen synthesis, forms barrier lipids, regenerates vitamin E, and provides photo-protection.
- Vitamin E is a membrane antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage and also provides protection against harmful UV rays.
- Water is the most abundant molecule in living cells, accounting for 70% or more of a cell's total mass. This is because water is the cells main solvent in which all the biochemical reactions within the cell take place. This makes water to be one of the most important items for skin health since skin is made up of skin cells.
- Several scientific studies confirmed that changes in baseline nutritional status affects skin condition.
- The Mayo Clinic lists foods they state help the skin; fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
Facial cleansing is about the basic common practice of cleansing your face. It can be done in two main ways; face-wash or cleansers. A face-wash is a foam based wash while a cleansing lotion or simply called "cleanser", is non-foaming in nature and doesn’t have to be washed off but instead needs to be wiped off.
While a cleanser does the odd job of cleansing the face, it does it by simply dissolving away excess oil, grime or makeup from the face before getting wiped off. A face-wash on the other hand removes deeper seated debris and also cleanses pores, due to its foaming action. The foaming action and deep-level cleansing of a face-wash cannot be substituted by a cleanser alone.
- Types of cleansers:
Different types of cleansers have been developed for people with different skin types. Active cleansers are more suitable for oily skins to prevent breakouts. But they may over-dry and irritate dry skin, this may make the skin appear and feel worse. Very dry skin may require a creamy lotion-type cleanser. These are normally too gentle to be effective on oily or even normal skin, but dry skin requires much less cleansing power. It may be a good idea to select a cleanser that is alcohol-free for use on dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin.
Some cleansers may incorporate fragrance or essential oils. However, for some people, these cleansers may irritate the skin and often provoke allergic responses. People with such sensitivity should find cleansers that are pH-balanced cosmetic balanced, contain fewer irritants, suit many variating skin types, and do not make the skin feel dehydrated directly after cleansing. Tight, uncomfortable skin is often dehydrated and may appear shiny after cleansing, even when no sebum is present. This is due to the tightening and 'stripping' effect some cleaners can have on the skin. One should discontinue use of a cleanser that upsets the balance of the skin; cleansers should work with the skin not against it. Finding the right cleanser can involve some trial-and-error.
Body wash involves washing of the whole body from the neck downwards to the feet. It requires soap in the form of bar soap or shower gel and but not always, a scrubber of some sort e.g. Sponge, flannel etc.
Shower gel is an emulsion of water and detergent base, usually with added fragrance, used as a skin cleansing agent in the shower or bath. Shower gel is available in different colors and scents.
Practically all shower gels on the market today are pH-balanced. Some shower gels are herb-infused, and some claim aroma therapeutic benefits. Shower gels for men may contain the ingredient menthol, which gives a cooling and stimulating sensation on the skin, and many men's shower gels are also designed specifically for use on hair and body and are thus more convenient to use.
Shower gels contain milder surfactant bases than shampoos and in addition to being pH-friendly to the skin, most also contain gentle conditioning agents in the formula. This means that shower gels can also double as an effective and perfectly acceptable substitute to shampoo, even if they are not labelled as a hair and body wash. Washing hair with shower gel should give approximately the same result as using a moisturizing shampoo.
A facial is a family of skin care treatments for the face, including; steam, exfoliation, extraction, creams, lotions, facial masks, peels, and massage. They are normally performed in beauty salons, but are also a common spa treatment. They are used for general skin health as well as for specific skin conditions. Types of facials include European facial, LED light therapy facials, and mini-facials.
There are different kinds of masks (e.g. cactus, cucumber, etc.) for different purposes like; deep-cleansing, by penetrating the pores; healing acne scars or hyper-pigmentation; brightening, for a gradual illumination of the skin tone. Some masks are designed to dry or solidify on the face, almost like plaster; others just remain wet. The perceived effects of a facial mask treatment include revitalizing, healing, or refreshing; and, may yield temporary or long-term benefits (depending on environmental, dietary, and other skincare factors). There is little to no objective evidence that there are any benefits to the various available facial treatments.
Masks are removed by either rinsing the face with water, wiping off with a damp cloth, or peeling off of the face. Duration for wearing a mask varies with the type of mask, and manufacturer's usage instructions. The time can range from a few minutes to overnight. Those with sensitive skin are advised to first test out the mask on a small portion of the skin, in order to check for any irritations. Some facial masks are not suited to frequent use. A glycolic mask should not be used more frequently than once a month without the risk of burning the skin.
Masks can be found anywhere from drugstores to department stores, and can vary in consistency and form. Setting masks include: clay, which is a thicker consistency, and will draw out impurities (and sometimes, natural oils, too) from the pores; a cream, which stays damp to hydrate the skin; sheet-style, in which a paper mask is dampened with liquid to tone and moisturize the skin; and lastly, a hybrid/clay and cream form that includes small beads for removing dead surface skin cells. Non-setting facial masks include warm oil and paraffin wax masks. These different forms are made to suit different skin types (e.g., oily or dry), and different skincare goals or needs (e.g., moisturizing, cleansing, exfoliating). Clay and mud masks suit oily and some "combination" skin types, while cream-based masks tend to suit dry and sensitive skin types.
Exfoliation involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface. Exfoliation is involved in all facials, during microdermabrasion or chemical peels. Exfoliation can be achieved by mechanical or chemical means.
This process involves physically scrubbing the skin with an abrasive. Mechanical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, adhesive exfoliation sheets, micro-bead facial scrubs, crepe paper, crushed apricot kernel or almond shells, sugar or salt crystals, pumice, and abrasive materials such as sponges, loofahs, brushes, and simply fingernails. Facial scrubs are available in over-the-counter products for application by the user. People with dry skin should avoid exfoliants which include a significant portion of pumice, or crushed volcanic rock. Pumice is considered a good material to exfoliate the skin of the feet. Microdermabrasion is another mechanical method of exfoliation.
Chemical exfoliants include scrubs containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, citric acid, or malic acid which may be applied in high concentrations by a medical professional, or in lower concentrations in over-the-counter products. Chemical exfoliation may involve the use of products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or enzymes that act to loosen the glue-like substance that holds the cells together, allowing them to ease away. This type of exfoliation is recommended for people treating acne. In beauty spa treatment in continental Europe, the chemical properties of wine-producing grapes are exploited in the practice of vino-therapy which is becoming increasingly popular.
Moisturizers or emollients are complex mixtures of chemical agents (often occlusives help hold water in the skin after application, humectants attract moisture and emollients help smooth the skin) specially designed to make the external layers of the skin (epidermis) softer and more pliable. They increase the skin's hydration (water content) by reducing evaporation. Naturally occurring skin lipids and sterols, as well as artificial or natural oils, humectants, emollients, lubricants, etc., may be part of the composition of commercial skin moisturizers. They usually are available as commercial products for cosmetic and therapeutic uses, but can also be made at home using common pharmacy ingredients.
How moisturizers work:
- Occlusives: These work by forming a thin film on the surface of the skin to prevent loss of moisture.
- Humectants: These attract water vapor from the air to moisturize the skin.
- Restoration of deficient materials: These are more complex and try to restore natural moisturizing factors on the skin, such as amino-lipids.
- Antipruritic action (anti-itching): down regulate cytokines and cooling effect from evaporation of water for water-based moisturizer.
- Antimitotic (mitotic inhibitor): Slow the process of mitosis (cell division) on the epidermis by mineral oil, which could be helpful for people who have psoriasis disease.
- UV protection: moisturizers also contain sunscreen which will protect your skin from UV light.
- Inhibit pro-inflammatory prostanoids production: blocking cyclooxygenase activity which causes soothing and lower skin inflammation.
- Wound healing: hyaluronic acid, Antimicrobial effect by act against microbe surface
How moisturizers are used:
- Preservation of normal skin:
Moisturizers can be used to prevent the skin from becoming too dry or oily, such as with light, non-greasy water-based moisturizers. Such moisturizers often contain lightweight oils, such as cetyl alcohol, or silicone-derived ingredients, such as cyclomethicone.
- Dry skin:
For treating skin dryness, the most appropriate moisturizers are heavier, oil-based moisturizers that contain ingredients such as antioxidants, grape seed oil or dimethicone. For very dry, cracked skin, petrolatum-based products are preferable, as they are longer-lasting than creams and are more effective in preventing water evaporation.
- Oily skin:
For oily skin, moisturizers can still be useful after activities causing skin dryness, such as other skin care products and washing. For oily skin, water-based moisturizers that are specifically non-comedogenic are preferable, as there is less risk of comedo formation.
- Aging skin:
Appropriate moisturizers to keep aging skin soft and well hydrated are oil-based ones that contain petrolatum as the base, along with antioxidants or alpha hydroxy acids against wrinkles.
- Sensitive skin:
On sensitive skin (which otherwise is susceptible to skin irritations, redness, itching or rashes), it is preferable to use moisturizers which contain soothing ingredients such as chamomile or aloe, and that minimize potential allergens such as fragrances or dyes, as well as irritants such as acids.
In eczema it is generally best to match thicker ointments to the driest, flakiest skin. Light emollients for example aqueous cream may not have any effect on severely dry skin.
Some common emollients for the relief of eczema include Oilatum, Balneum, Medi Oil, Diprobase, bath oils and aqueous cream. Sebexol, Epaderm ointment, Exederm, and Eucerin lotion or cream may also be helpful with itching.
Lotions or creams may be applied directly to the skin after bathing to lock in moisture. Moisturizing gloves (gloves which keep emollients in contact with skin on the hands) can be worn while sleeping. Generally, twice-daily applications of emollients work best.
While creams are easy to apply, they are quickly absorbed into the skin, and therefore need frequent reapplication. Ointments, with less water content, stay on the skin for longer and need fewer applications, but they can be greasy and inconvenient.
Recently, ceramides, which are the major lipid constituent of the stratum corneum (outer most layer of epidermis) have been used in the treatment of eczema. They are often one of the ingredients of modern moisturizers. These lipids were also successfully produced synthetically in the laboratory.
A randomized control trial in infants found that subjects with atopic dermatitis that were treated with emollients (e.g., Eucerin, Cetaphil, Nutraderm) had significantly decreased requirements for topical steroids compared with a control group who were not treated with them. Emollients are best applied immediately after bathing when the skin is well hydrated.
Sunscreen and sunblock:
Sunblock and sunscreen are different important skin-care products though both offer full protection from the sun.
Sunblock is opaque and stronger than sunscreen, since it is able to block most of the UVA/UVB rays and radiation from the sun, and does not need to be reapplied several times in a day. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two of the important ingredients in sunblock.
Sunblock typically refers to opaque sunscreen that is effective at blocking both UVA (ultraviolet radiation of relatively long wavelength) and UVB (ultraviolet radiation of relatively short wavelength) rays and uses a heavy carrier oil to resist being washed off. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two minerals that are used in sunblock.
The use of the word "sunblock" in the marketing of sunscreens is controversial. Since 2013, the FDA has banned such use because it can lead consumers to overestimate the effectiveness of products so labeled. Nonetheless, many consumers use the words sunblock and sunscreen synonymously.
For total protection against damage from the sun, the skin needs to be protected from UVA, UVB, and also IRA (infrared-A light). Roughly 35% of solar energy is IRA. However, note that there is continuing debate within the dermatology community over the impact of sun-sourced IRA. Some sources indicate that early morning IRA exposure may be protective against further sun exposure by increasing cell proliferation and initiating anti-inflammatory cascades; these effects are not observed for artificial sources of intense IRA.
Sunscreen is more transparent once applied to the skin and also has the ability to protect against UVA/UVB rays, although the sunscreen's ingredients have the ability to break down at a faster rate once exposed to sunlight, and some of the radiation is able to penetrate to the skin. In order for sunscreen to be more effective it is necessary to consistently reapply and use one with a higher sun protection factor.
Sunscreen prevents the direct DNA damage which causes sunburn. Most of these products contain an SPF rating to show how well they block UVB rays. The SPF rating, however, offers no data about UVA protection.
Some sunscreen lotions now include compounds such as titanium dioxide which helps protect against UVA rays. Other UVA blocking compounds found in sunscreen include zinc oxide and avobenzone.
Anti-aging creams are predominantly moisturizer-based cosmeceutical skin care products marketed with the promise of making the consumer look younger by reducing, masking or preventing signs of skin aging. These signs are laxity (sagging), rhytids (wrinkles), and photo-aging, which includes erythema (redness), dyspigmentation (brown discolorations), solar elastosis (yellowing), keratosis (abnormal growths), and poor texture.
Despite great demand, many anti-aging products and treatments have not been proven to give lasting or major positive effects. One study found that the best performing creams reduced wrinkles by less than 10% over 12 weeks, which is not noticeable to the human eye. Another study found that cheap moisturizers were as effective as high-priced anti-wrinkle creams. A 2009 study at Manchester University showed that some ingredients had an effect.
Traditionally, anti-aging creams have been marketed towards women, but products specifically targeting men are increasingly common.
Anti-aging creams may include conventional moisturizing ingredients. They also usually contain specific anti-aging ingredients, such as:
- Retinol (for instance, in the form of retinyl palmitate). In various formulations it has been shown to reduce fine lines and pores.
- Epidermal growth factor, to stimulate cell renewal and collagen production in the skin, and strengthen elasticity and structure. The discovery of epidermal growth factor won Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Montalcini a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1986. In various research epidermal growth factor has been shown to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and sagging. It also has healing (wounds and burns) and anti-inflammatory properties when applied to skin.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids or other chemical peels. These help to dissolve the intracellular "glue" that holds dead cells together on the skin. The use of this type of product on a daily basis gradually enhances the exfoliation of the epidermis. This exposes newer skin cells and can help improve appearance. AHAs may irritate some skin, causing redness and flaking.
- Peptides, such as Matryxil and copper peptides.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Argireline (also known as acetyl hexapeptide-3). This peptide relaxes facial muscles to prevent wrinkles and fine lines from forming.
- Anti-oxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. The studies so far are inconclusive, but generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements have a substantial impact on disease.
- Sunscreens provide a high level of UVA protection against the effects of UVA radiation, such as wrinkles.
- Vitamin C is supposedly one of the most effective and commonly included ingredients in wrinkle creams. It is also thought to help the healing process.
Cosmetics are substances or products used to enhance or alter the appearance or fragrance of the body. Many cosmetics are designed for use of applying to the face and hair. They are generally mixtures of chemical compounds; some being derived from natural sources (such as coconut oil), and some being synthetics. Common cosmetics include lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, rouge, skin cleansers and skin lotions, shampoo, hairstyling products (gel, hair spray, etc.), perfume and cologne. Cosmetics applied to the face to enhance its appearance are often called make-up or makeup.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates cosmetics, defines cosmetics as "intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions". This broad definition includes any material intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. The FDA specifically excludes soap from this category.
Therapies provided by dermatologists and skin care specialists include, but are not restricted to the following:
- Excision and treatment of skin cancer.
- Cryosurgery – for the treatment of warts, skin cancers, and other dermatosis.
- Cosmetic filler injections.
- Hair removal with laser or other modalities.
- Hair transplantation – a cosmetic procedure practiced by many dermatologists.
- Intralesional treatment – with steroid or chemotherapy.
- Laser therapy – for both the management of birth marks, skin disorders (like vitiligo), tattoo removal, and cosmetic resurfacing and rejuvenation.
- Chemical peels for the treatment of acne, melasma, and sun damage.
- Photodynamic therapy – for the treatment of skin cancer and precancerous growths.
- Phototherapy – including the use of narrowband UVB, broadband UVB, psoralen and UVB.
- Tattoo removal with laser.
- Tumescent liposuction – liposuction was invented by a gynecologist. A dermatologist (Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein) adapted the procedure to local infusion of dilute anesthetic called tumescent liposuction. This method is now widely practiced by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and gynecologists.
- Radiation therapy – although rarely practiced by dermatologists, many dermatologist continue to provide radiation therapy in their office.
- Vitiligo surgery – Including procedures like autologous melanocyte transplant, suction blister grafting and punch grafting.
- Allergy testing – 'Patch testing' for contact dermatitis.
- Systemic therapies – including antibiotics, immunomodulators, and novel injectable products.
- Topical therapies – dermatologists have the best understanding of the numerous products and compounds used topically in medicine.
Most dermatologic pharmacology can be categorized based on the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System, specifically the ATC code D.
Meanwhile exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, over-exfoliation can easily leave the skin dry and irritated which is why it is advisable not to exfoliate more than twice a week.
While the general rule is to exfoliate twice a week, your skin type plays a factor. Oily skin can handle exfoliation sessions up to four times a week, whereas dry or sensitive skin may handle only once or twice-a-week.
Don’t ignore your skin type. If you have oily, sensitive or dry skin, tailor your routine to your skin’s needs and choose specially designed products.
Don't use harsh scrubs or scrub too often. Harsh scrubs can cause tiny lacerations (cuts and tears) to the skin, making the skin vulnerable.
Don’t wear makeup to bed (ladies). Leaving makeup on your skin can clog your pores leading to breakouts. Use a makeup remover and then cleanse the skin every night before going to bed.
All skin types need moisturizer but rich, heavy creams can sit on the skin’s surface and block pores. Use easily absorbed creams and lotions or water-based products for oily or combination skin.
Don't drink too much coffee as caffeine, the stimulating compound in coffee, is also a potent diuretic. This means that too much coffee causes the body to loose water and hence dehydrating. The skin apparently, needs all the hydration it can get.
Don't use a harsh skin care products unless you're under the supervision of a skin care specialist. Harsh skin care products can strip the skin of moisture sending the oil glands into overdrive, worsening conditions like acne. Also harsh substances can burn, inflame, and cause all sorts of skin problems including cancer.
Limit the use of skin care products with alcohol in them. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect which can lead to tired looking skin.
Don’t pick pimples, blackheads or whiteheads or any blemishes that might be on your skin. Bursting or squeezing spots can cause infection or scarring. Instead, use acne or blemish creams, cleansers, gels or lotions to combat those spots.