Companies often claim that their products can give you miraculous results, but don’t believe all the hype. Although nutritional supplements and cosmeceuticals (products that combine cosmetics and pharmaceutical ingredients) are tested for safety, their benefits aren’t necessarily confirmed in studies.
Even though a product may claim to contain useful antioxidants such as vitamin C or E, it’s often difficult to know exactly how much of these vitamins and antioxidants are in the bottle. Vitamins and antioxidants need to be in strong enough concentrations, and in the correct forms, to remain stable and to be effective. If you are thinking about using a vitamin or antioxidant for your skin, it’s best to ask your dermatologist for advice before buying it.
Lifestyle Solutions for Beauty and Skin Care
Don’t forget: Practicing healthy lifestyle habits is the most important step you can take to protect youthful skin.
“Staying out of the sun and wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen have been shown to reduce photo-aging and to have anticancer effects,” says Robin Ashinoff, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology and Mohs surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
Choose a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 25 (30 or more in the summer), and one that protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays. Reapply the sunscreen at least every 90 minutes. Stay in the shade or indoors when the sun is at its strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and avoid tanning beds. When you do go outside, wear sun-protective clothing and a hat with a wide brim all the way around. As part of your skin care regimen, use only moisturizers with an SPF of 15 or more to keep your skin hydrated and protected.
Diet is another potent way of practicing good skin care. Skin nutrition includes a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruits and vegetables, which not only will help keep you healthier on the inside, but also may protect your skin from cancer. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking. Load up on foods high in omega-3s and vitamins and antioxidants for the skin, including:
- Selenium — Brazil nuts, turkey, cod
- Vitamin B-2 — Milk, enriched grain products, eggs
- Vitamin B-6 — Chicken, fish, nuts
- Vitamin B-12 — Clams, liver, trout, fortified cereals
- Vitamin C — Citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli
- Vitamin E — Sunflower oil, whole grains, nuts
- Omega-3s – Salmon and other cold-water fish, ground flaxseeds, walnuts
Get the vitamin D you need to protect your bones from dairy foods and supplements, rather than from spending hours sun worshipping. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 200 international units (IU) daily for adults 19 to 50 years, 400 IU/day for adults 51 to 70, and 600 IU/day after age 70. Although these are the current RDA levels, most research data show higher doses (1,000 to 2,000 IU/day) are safe and beneficial.
Finally, ditch the cigarettes. Smoking not only leads to wrinkles on your face, but research in the Archives of Dermatology finds that it also can lead to skin damage in areas (such as under the arm) that haven’t even been exposed to the sun.