Anti-oxidants can be vitamins, minerals, or proteins (enzymes) that assist in reducing the damage caused by free radical activity.
Free radicals are groups of atoms that come to us through food, chemicals, the environment, radiation and stress. In part, they are a necessary and natural by-product of our bodily functions and metabolism. But when the production of free radicals is beyond the capability of our natural anti-oxidant defenses they can have damaging effects on our body cells and immune systems and can be extremely aging.
Skin is especially vulnerable to damaging free radicals, which can cause wrinkles (cross-linking) sagging and in extreme cases, when over exposure to UV light is involved, cancer.
Here is a list of ways to fight free radical activity:
Make sure your skin care products contain high levels of anti-oxidants and when having spa treatments have your aesthetician include vitamins along with hydrating and anti-aging ingredients that maintain the skin’s general well being.
Eat organic foods that have a high antioxidant level. Include lots of color in you daily food intake of fruits and vegetables – dark green, yellow, red and orange are the best – and eat moderate amounts of nuts and oil. (Extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed and hemp are excellent.) Make sure when you shop, you add carrots, kale, broccoli, avocados, spinach, citrus fruits, onions, walnuts, berries and tomatoes to your basket.
If you feel the need during extremely stressful times, add supplements, especially vitamins A, C and E, which speed up the skin’s natural repair systems by directly inhibiting further damage. B vitamins prevent itchy, dry skin and drinking green tea and eating dark chocolate keep skin soft and supple. There is also some proof that both may help protect the skin from cancer.
We cannot fully influence the environment or the level of radiation around us. But we can control what we are putting in our own internal environment – our bodies.
I think at this point we are all a bit tired of hearing the terms ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse.’ They tend to pop up around Spring because this time of year suggests renewal and new beginnings. Certainly, an occasional cleanse to give the liver, kidneys and digestive system a break is a great idea but I think a healthier and more realistic approach would be to consider your overall health and lifestyle and make a list of the things you need to improve. We all have them – less cheese and chocolate, more exercise, less coffee and alcohol, more water and more sleep. Those recurring “must do’s” that we never fully get around to somehow. And guess what – they all affect the skin!
So I am going to suggest six easy steps that may help you. Maybe you are already doing these things but then, maybe not!
Exfoliate the body – get that dead winter skin off with some vigorous dry brushing, followed by a good soak and scrub session in the bath tub. Then slather on a body lotion. Gently exfoliate and moisturize the face too. (No dry brushing please!)
Get a professional pedicure. Start prepping for those fit flops ahead of time and for the extra hiking and time in the gym that you are now planning to spend. Comfortable feet making exercising much more fun!
Check your supplements. Make sure you have vitamins E, C and zinc to boost the skin’s immune system and fish or flaxseed oil capsules and probiotics for your internal immune system. Add Milk Thistle if you want to do a gentle liver cleanse.
When you go grocery shopping add the following to your list: asparagus, blueberries, pineapple, cinnamon, grapefruit, beets, and pomegranates. All of these fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-oxidants that aid digestion, give you lots of energy and radiant skin. I know cinnamon is not a fruit or vegetable but it is great for the heart and circulation which you need to stimulate on a regular basis to maintain good health.
Drink a green juice daily with lots of water to aid elimination and overall bodily function. Leave out the alcohol for at least one month.
Keep the diet light – avoid meat and dairy (use almond or hemp milk instead) and stick with fish and legumes, nuts and green vegetables for protein for at least three weeks.
The general idea here is that without doing anything too drastic you will develop healthier habits that make you feel and look better and that you can stick with year long.
I know we have only just launched into Springtime, and the sun has been heavily mingled with the rain recently, but let’s recap on a few tips regarding sun protection. It is always a good thing to get a head start on these things in my opinion.
Skin cancer can originate on any part of the body, but some of the most common areas are the nose, ears, upper backs of men and women and the legs of women because of the high incidence of sun burns in these areas. One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma in later life but the good news is the survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early – before the tumor has penetrated the skin – is about 99%. For those whose melanoma is advanced, the survival rate is much lower, about 15%. The Mayo clinic is currently building a melanoma vaccine to help combat skin cancer from the inside out. Called cancer immunotherapy it is already showing some promising results and may help to improve the above statistics in the future.
Meanwhile, here are a few important tips to keep you safe. First and foremost, wear a daily SPF and get checked by your dermatologist at least once a year – a full body examination.
Remember to apply your sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposure, on top of your day creme and under your make-up. For longer periods of exposure, re-apply regularly and generously depending on how long you are outdoors and the sensitivity of your skin. Special Note: water renders most sunscreens ineffective so always re-apply after swimming. Also, apply a good dose of common sense to being outside – use hats, wear long sleeves, stay in the shade, avoid the mid-day sun and on long drives, wear cotton gloves to protect the hands. Remember that SPF 30 blocks 96.6% of the sun’s rays. Higher SPF’s are often more expensive, give a false sense of security, only provide 2-4% extra protection and can be irritating.
Finally, include anti-oxidants in your diet and in your topical skin care regimes. Vitamins E and C, peptides, hyaluronic acid and ceramides strengthen the skin’s natural resistance to the sun, and vegetables containing beta carotene, apricots, tomatoes, green tea and fish oils reduce inflammation and sensitivity. For women, mineral cosmetics provide another layer of protection.
Self tanning lotions have come a long way in recent years. They smell better, look a lot more natural and offer a much safer way of achieving a golden hue in the summer months. When you have a fit of nostalgia and start thinking about those old fashioned sun bathing sessions just remind yourself that the sun is on the top of the list as far as aging is concerned. I think we all saw “Something about Mary”. Need I say more!!
That sweet tooth! Who knew it could get us into so much trouble? When we consume sugar in all its forms – especially the refined type – it attaches itself very quickly to proteins and fats in our bodies. This is called GLYCATION. The really bad news is that sugar has a particular affinity for dermal proteins, the deeper layers of the skin. The by-product of glycation is known as advanced glycation end products (or AGEs) and age us it does, causing stiffening of the connective tissue, inflammation, wrinkles and sagging.
Cross linking in proteins is part of the natural aging process, but if you add poor lifestyle to the mix – smoking, UV exposure, drug use, lack of exercise and poor diet – then you have the perfect storm.
ELIMINATE REFINED SUGARS:
Eliminating all sugars from our diet is not advisable either. Complex carbohydrates supply much needed glucose to fuel cellular activity throughout the body. BUT we can eliminate certain foods to help the skin retain some of its natural youthfulness and tone. These would include refined sugars, white bread and all simple carbohydrates, and the worst culprit of all, high-fructose corn syrup.
Fruit flavored drinks and even crackers often contain very high levels of sugar and so do most processed foods, so scrutinize any pre-packaged products before you put them in your shopping basket.
We can further counteract the damaging effects of glycation by adding the amino acid, CARNOSINE, to our supplement list, GREEN TEA to our fluid intake and other anti-oxidants to our diet, such as vitamins A, B1 and B6, C and E. These are all potent AGE inhibitors.
CHECK GLYCEMIC LEVELS:
Checking the glycemic levels of the fruits and vegetables we consume can make a big difference. This information can be found easily on the internet. For example, carrots, corn and potatoes contain a lot of sugar but spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli and cucumbers contain very little. Plus, they are alkaline in nature and help to maintain the pH balance in the gut (refer to my previous post Healthy Skin and the Value of pH Balancing).
So, next time you have a hankering for something sweet, reach for a handful of cherries, berries, an apple, peach or a plum. And if you want to follow the example of our French beauty experts, a piece of dark chocolate.
At this point I really believe from what I have seen on my clients’ skins and on my own, that great skin care requires a continuous and customized plan of action. We need to respect the skin as a fully functional and self regulating organ. Consistent daily care at home, rotating topicals, particularly A and C, combined with spa visits that include deep cleansing facials, lymphatic drainage, micro current and galvanic electrotherapy, can really boost cell production and repair sun and environmental damage.
I have written several times this year about the effectiveness of serums – their ability to penetrate quickly, add concentrated actives to the skin and increase the hydration level of moisturizers. Earlier this year, Guinot launched Longue Vie Serum, a new product that contains all the amino acids and vitamins of the Longue Vie family in a lighter, more concentrated form. During the winter months, we all need a little extra support, both in the hydration and anti-aging department. This new product can supply both.
I have also mentioned the effectiveness of glycolic acid in the past. We use a 30% glycolic acid solution with many of our spa facial treatments but wanted a product that you could use at home both as a spot treatment and also as an all-over radiance boost on a weekly basis. We now have this product. Gloprofessional has just launched Renew Serum – a blend of retinol, glycolic and salicylic acids that is proving to be very effective. It exfoliates the skin and keeps the complexion clear and fresh.
The common trend today seems to be about stimulating collagen and elastin production and making the skin cells work harder and longer. This less invasive approach produces, in plain words, new skin and a more youthful appearance.