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Expert Advice: Beautiful Skin Treatments

According to New York City–based plastic surgeon Dr. Aron Kressel, the character of our skin will change as we age due to a combination of external and internal factors. Externally, the sun’s rays and air pollutants will cause the skin to become wrinkled, rough, and darkened and to develop red spots. Internally the chronological, inevitable aging of the skin causes thinning of the skin and loss of elasticity. Following is a summary of Dr. Kressel’s lowdown on popular skin treatments.

Numerous products have become available with the promise of rejuvenating the skin. What these products share is their ability to stimulate the components of the skin to develop thicker, plumper, shinier, and smoother skin. Products containing alpha-hydroxy acids are available in concentrations ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent. Alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic acid) have been shown to improve hyperpigmentation, color, and to a lesser degree the character of wrinkles.

When used in moisturizer products at a 4- to 5-percent concentration, skin smoothness has improved. Tretinoin (Renova/Retin-A) is a prescription product that has been shown conclusively to improve wrinkles and smooth skin by stimulating collagen production. Unfortunately, when use of the product is discontinued, the skin reverts to its untreated condition. The major drawback of this product is that the skin becomes quite sensitive to sun exposure.

Glycolic acid and trichloroacetic peels have been shown to smooth skin and reduce hyperpigmentation. The higher the product’s concentration, the greater the resulting effect, though with deeper chemical trauma to the skin. More peel means more posttreatment redness and crusting, which can often last for several weeks or months. Another potential complication is the development of areas of scarring or irregular skin lightening.

Treatment with laser or LED light causes a controlled thermal burn on the layers of the skin. The depth of injury depends on the type of laser and other factors varied by the laser operator. Often small variations in the settings can cause significant trauma to the skin. Just as with chemical peels, these burns can cause redness and crusting and potentially areas of irregular skin lightening. Many of the lasers/light products will require multiple treatments over several months. The hope is that, by using a less aggressive treatment more frequently, the posttreatment side effects will be minimal.

When evaluating options for skin rejuvenation, take a historical perspective. Over the years numerous products have arrived with great promise that did not stand the test of time. Clearly, if there were a perfect product, research would cease. When looking at a new product or treatment being offered, we have to look at its potential for improvement and also weigh it based on the number of treatments that will be needed, the time commitment required, and the potential for skin damage.

Expert Advice: Natural Skincare Ingredients Found Inside Your Home
According to skin expert Valerie Mayo of the Face Studio in New York City, once you find the right combination of natural ingredients for your skin, you will be amazed at how radiant you look. Following are a few suggestions from Valerie for using natural skin-care ingredients found at home to get you moving toward healthy, balanced, and radiant skin. Remember to test any ingredient on a small area of your body first, to make sure you are not allergic.

*Honey. Humectants attract and help to retain moisture, which is a major factor in giving the skin a hydrated and plump appearance.

*Strawberries and egg whites. Strawberries contain antioxidants that help the skin fight free radicals caused by stress, sun, and pollution. Egg whites have a great firming effect on skin. Mix the ingredients together and you have a winning antiaging combo.

*Lemons. These are excellent for lightening dark patches on the surface of the face and body. The citric acid is the ingredient that lightens the skin.

*Oats, lemon juice, and honey. This is an excellent combination for a moisturizing facial mask. The oats and honey hydrate and plump, while the lemon lightens.

*Plain yogurt. This is an excellent mask for oily and combination skin. Yogurt, oatmeal, and honey are a great combination to use for balancing the skin.

*Milk. Excellent for soothing irritated skin. Milk contains lactic acids, which are enzymes that help to exfoliate dry patches and make skin smooth and soft. Great for soothing mild sunburns and shaving irritations.

*Water. The best natural resource ever! Drinking water hydrates the skin and helps flush out toxins, which can cause all types of skin problems. Dehydration is a major cause of dry, dull, and patchy skin, as well as acne with dry patches. Water is one of the great balancers of life.

Topical Treatments
Many of the foods discussed in this blog can also be applied directly to your face. For example, many people use yogurt as a face mask. I have read that applying fish oil to your skin can be beneficial, but I have not tried this personally— I don’t want my husband, David, to think I smell like a mermaid!

Many natural substances found in food are now being used in commercial cosmetics. For example, dimethylaminoethanol, which is found in salmon, is used topically to increase circulation. A modified version of vitamin C can be applied to the skin, and of course medications containing vitamin A are used for acne and other skin problems. I asked my friend Valerie, a skin specialist who owns the Face Studio in New York City, for her recommendations regarding food and beautiful skin. You can read what she has to say in the “Expert Advice” section that follows. If you are considering other topical treatments for your skin, be sure to check out Dr. Aron Kressel’s advice in the second “Expert Advice” section.

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