As we age, we gain experience, wisdom and a new perspective on life. Unfortunately, we can also gain a few fine lines and dark spots, some redness and skin that isn’t as firm as it once was. Take one walk down the beauty aisle at your local department store and it’s easy to get bombarded with serums, masks, oils, creams and everything else being marketed to women with aging skin concerns. That’s why we sat down with Patrick Keehan, D.O., a dermatologist and physician on the medical staff at Keehan Dermatology, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, to discuss exactly what you need to have in your anti-aging skin care arsenal to put your best face forward for years to come.
According to Keehan, a healthy skin care routine doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to give you great results.
“Cleansing your face twice a day with a mild cleanser (not a soap) will keep your pores cleaner and can help wash away dirt and impurities,” he says. “And a daily sunscreen or sunblock will not only help prevent cancer, they can also reduce the number of wrinkles we get as we age.”
Sun protection forms the foundation of even the simplest skin-care plans, because it serves a double whammy of preventing cancer and keeping our skin looking younger for longer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the sun’s rays make our skin age more quickly, in a process aptly named “photoaging.” Since an estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun, Keehan suggests applying mineral sunblocks, such as those comprised of zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which physically block the sun’s harmful rays instead of needing to be absorbed into the skin first, and aim for an SPF of at least 30.
How you wash your face can also affect your appearance. For best results, gently wash with warm water —not hot — and a mild cleanser such as Influenster Reviewers’ Choice 2018 winners Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser or Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser.
Follow up your cleansing routine with a moisturizer. Two of Keehan’s favorites are the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream and the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. Both contain emollients and humectants that are clinically proven to bind water to the skin and prevent moisture loss.
If there are areas or concerns you want to target such as wrinkles or dark circles, Keehan says serums and wrinkle creams can help, but you need to do your research first and consult a board-certified dermatologist for the appropriate product.
“There are hundreds of products to choose from, so taking the recommendation from a board-certified dermatologist, not a medical spa employee, is important,” he explains. “In our practice, we are very specific in what we carry. You want to use something that actually provides clinical evidence similar to what a prescription product has to achieve.”
In addition to what you put on your skin, what you put in your body may also help keep your skin looking younger longer. While there may not be a magic potion to make you feel or look like a teen again, Keehan says eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is good for your overall health, including your body’s largest organ: your skin. Make sure you’re consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, and stay hydrated. If you’re suffering from a bout of adult acne, Keehan says there is evidence that high sugar intake can be related to acne, so reducing your sugar intake can help soothe current breakouts while preventing new ones.
Furthermore, smoking can help speed up aging effects on the skin. Tobacco smoke contains toxins that lead to “smoker’s face,” such as dull and dry skin, loss of skin firmness, premature lines and wrinkles and leathery skin.
“Smoking causes constriction of our blood vessels, not just around our bigger arteries but also the smaller ones in our skin,” Keehan adds. “This prevents the proper amount of nutrients and blood supply from getting to our skin.”
Almost everyone knows how bad smoking is for our health, but did you know that indoor tanning has a higher cancer rate than smoking? That’s right! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking. According to Cancer in Texas 2017, a report published by the Department of State Health Services, the incidence of melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, has increased by 28 percent in men and 13 percent in women in Texas.
Even if you use sunscreen, tanning beds are designed to deliver a high amount of UV rays so you can achieve a level of tan that would normally require hours in a matter of minutes. This, in addition to the sun’s skin-aging properties, is why Keehan suggests you wear sunscreen daily, limit your time in the sun and stay away from indoor tanning.
A final tip from Keehan is to make sure you’re getting plenty of quality sleep. There’s a reason it’s called “beauty sleep” to begin with!
“Collagen is made in our skin while we sleep,” Keehan says. “Getting only five hours of sleep can lead to twice as many wrinkles as getting seven hours of sleep. Also, sleep deprivation can lead to decreased blood flow in your skin and can result in a duller, more ashen appearance.”
As for what age you should start concerning yourself about your skin, Keehan says the sooner the better, with prevention being easier than reversing the signs of aging.
“Age isn’t as important as how your skin looks,” he explains. “If you’ve had many years of sun exposure, your skin will show more damage at an earlier age. There are so many products for aging that it can be difficult to parse through all of them. This is a conversation that is best handled between a patient and their dermatologist, but it’s never too late to protect yourself from the sun.”
Your skin health plays a role in your overall physical health. Visit TexasHealth.org/Doctors to find a dermatologist near you.