The Secret To Flawless Skin
Dr. Katherine Flanagan of Shades Valley Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama tackled the most common issues that threaten our Southern complexions.
Problem: Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Two of the most difficult signs of aging, fine lines and wrinkles, are the results of skin's loss of two youth-preserving proteins: collagen and elastin. "We are the victims of genetics, often following the wrinkling proclivities of our parents," says Dr. Flanagan. "However, those issues can be worsened by factors like UV exposure, chronic sleep deprivation, smoking, and lack of antioxidant-rich foods." Menopause is no friend to smooth skin, either. Dr. Flanagan explains, "In the first five years after menopause, skin loses up to 30% of its collagen."
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"Retinol remains the gold standard for antiaging. It helps collagen production, exfoliation, and the creation of new healthy skin cells," says Dr. Flanagan. "My favorite retinol product is anything that people will use consistently; it's an ingredient for long-term use, not short-term gain," she says. We love RoC's daily moisturizer with SPF and retinol because it's easy to incorporate into your routine.
Dark patches have aging effects on your complexion. The two main types of facial hyperpigmentation are dark spots and melasma. Both result from an over-
production of melanin (skin pigment). Melasma most commonly pops up in a symmetrical pattern on either side of the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, and it's caused by an increase in estrogen levels (as happens during pregnancy). Dark spots, on the other hand, don't form in a distinct pattern, and both genetics and age are to blame. Not surprisingly, UV exposure plays a major role in the severity of both.
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Although these two conditions have different causes, the remedy is often the same. Dr. Flanagan explains, "First, you must commit to sun protection and avoidance. These skin conditions are very difficult to totally eradicate, and even mild sun exposure can promote recurrence. Hydroquinone—an active ingredient that can be found in both over-the-counter and prescription products—is a consistent weapon in the brightening arsenal, but it's not recommended for use during pregnancy or for a period of more than six months. Vitamin C, however, is a brightener that's effective on both dark spots and melasma, and it's safe for everyone. It also contributes to keeping wrinkles at bay by protecting collagen." For those who want to take treating dark spots a step further, in-office treatments such as IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) lasers are also effective.
Problem: Adult Acne
An undisputed upside of getting older is that acne is no longer an issue—or at least so we thought. Many of us who have long qualified as adults still haven't outgrown unsightly blemishes and are left wondering, "What gives?" Dr. Flanagan explains, "The most common reason for acne in adults is hormonal changes. A shift in hormones can cause an increase in the production of sebum, the skin's natural oil, which can ultimately clog pores and result in acne."
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A few changes in your skin-care regimen can remedy blemished skin."It's critical for everyone to start their facial routine with a gentle cleanser and a daily moisturizer," says Dr. Flanagan. "If extra help is needed to eradicate acne, something like Paula's Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment is a great thing to add to your routine." This moisturizing formula not only uses benzoyl peroxide to prevent future breakouts by eliminating blemish-causing oil and bacteria, but it also helps reduce redness and won't leave skin flaky like some other acne-fighting products do.