Your New Anti-Aging Arsenal: 11 Beauty Tricks to Look Younger
Pollution. Air pollutants generate free radicals, which damage our DNA, says Susan Taylor, MD, a dermatologist in Philadelphia. "That can lead to the loss of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin, causing wrinkles," she explains. A German study also found that women who were exposed to high levels of traffic emissions, soot, and other pollutants had more brown spots. Here's what you can do to protect your skin:
- Don't exfoliate too often. "Daily use of alpha hydroxy acids breaks down the skin's barrier, making it easier for environmental pollutants to get in," says Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in New York City. She favors a once-a-month in-office peel or sloughing with the acids at home no more than once or twice a week. We like Philosophy The Microdelivery In-Home Vitamin C/Peptide Peel ($69, sephora.com), which contains salicylic and lactic acids, a combo that Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas says helps provide deeper exfoliation without the drying effect.
- Load up on antioxidants. "Use a mix so you can effectively battle the different types of damaging substances you're exposed to," Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas says. Try Origins Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin Complexion Corrector ($35, origins.com), which combines the proven free-radical fighters vitamins C and E with green tea in a time-release formula. "It's important to apply these creams in the morning to protect yourself all day, considering that intense sun exposure is probably at midday and you're putting them on at 8:00 a.m.," says Elizabeth F. Callahan, MD, a dermatologist in Sarasota, Florida.
- Wear SPF. Pollution damages the earth's ozone layer, and, according to Drew Shindell, PhD, a senior scientist for NASA, UV exposure increases by 33 percent for every 20 percent of ozone loss -- possible reason for those brown spots on skin. That's why SPF is crucial year-round, even on gray days. Every morning, layer on sunscreen with at least SPF 30, or use an antioxidant-sunscreen combo such as Avon Anew Clinical SkinVincible Multi-Shield Lotion ($36, avon.com), with SPF 50 and six different antioxidants.
Extreme Temperature Change. Hitting the slopes this winter? "When the temperature and humidity drop, skin goes from well hydrated to red, flaky, and dry," Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas says. "That makes it susceptible to other forms of damage." Cold, dry air isn't the only thing that causes trouble. Extreme heat (hello, hot yoga!) can result in flushing and even broken capillaries. "Repeated exposure to high temperatures can leave skin permanently red, and that can make you look older," Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas notes. In a season marked by both blustery conditions and cozy fires, these strategies can help you keep your skin climate-controlled:
- Fortify your defenses. Strengthening your skin's outermost layer will help protect it from harsh elements. Look for a moisturizing cream that includes ceramides, phospholipids (fatty acids), and/or hyaluronic acid. "New data show that sunflower and sandalwood extracts are also key," Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas says. Try Murad Hydration Maximizer ($35, murad.com), with hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids, and Neova DNA Barrier Accelerator ($105, neova.com), with ceramides and sandalwood extract.
- Plan accordingly. Hopping on a flight? "Start increasing your water intake a couple of days before you leave; don't wait to hydrate on the plane," Dr. Callahan says. If you're heading to the mountains, pack a portable cool-mist humidifier (you can find one at target.com) to offset the dry air. If you're skiing, wear a balaclava to cover your head, neck, and face, Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas suggests. And if you're prone to broken capillaries or have rosacea, skip sauna sessions and hot yoga.
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