Skin care tips
March 28, 2005 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Other than using sun screen, what should I be doing to keep my skin healthy as I age? What do all these anti-aging products actually do, anyhow?

I'm 27, and so far I don't have much in the way of wrinkles. I've got dry skin most of the time because of the heavy-duty anti-acne creams I use, so I moisturize. I get the feeling that I'm not doing enough, but I don't know if I'm just buying into the media hype or what.

I'm innundated with ads for anti-aging products every time I turn on the TV. I've got a these products that I got as free samples when buying cosmetics, but I'm not sure if there's any actual point in using them. Do any of these products actually work? And what are they supposed to do? Does anti-aging eye cream moisturize? Dry? Or have some other effect altogether?

If some of these products work, which ones shoudl I be using?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of them are not so much anti-aging as they are wrinkle reducers. That is, they do not prevent the aging, just temporarily reduce its outward appearance.
posted by caddis at 11:36 AM on March 28, 2005

Drink LOTS of water. The best moisturizer is the one applied internally.
posted by terrapin at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2005

Well, I don't think it's about falling prey to consumerism because I remember my grandma making homemade cosmetics to protect her skin. But, there is no single "right cosmetic formulae" against aging.
This is what many well-preserved elderly ladies have advised me to follow:

- under no circumstances should you bare your skin in the sun.
- your morning cream should be very light, your evening cream heavier.
- you can chose to add a firming serum (ie: a liquid to put under your morning/evening creams) or eye cream to your daily routine, but it's not necessary.
- exfoliate every three days
- firming clay face mask once a week
- go to competent beautician once a month
- dermatologist once a year

- under no circumstances should you bare your skin in the sun.
- after your morning shower/bath, put on a body moisturizer. (thick one in winter and thinner one in summer)
- hand cream in winter is essential (footcream if you need it)
- full body exfoliation once a week
- dermatologist once a year

As for specific products, your best bet is to look around and settle for those that you feel the most comfortable with. When shopping, take in consideration the price (duh), the frequency of use, how practical the packaging is (this is more important than it seems), the size/weight of the product...

From a very personal point of view, I have settled on the following products/companies:
Clarins for their day cream, night cream, firming serum, odds and ends as well as Avene for everything from cleansers to masks to lip balm to their fantastic hand cream. (note: these are not US$ but Australian dollars)

In general: About skincare
posted by ruelle at 12:06 PM on March 28, 2005

Best answer: * Use sunscreen. Most "aging" is sun damage. If you tanned a lot as a kid, but keep your skin out of the sun and use sunscreen from now on, you can still greatly affect how you will look when you're older.
* Don't go to sleep without first washing off your makeup. Use a gentle non-soap cleanser.
* Eat decent food, don't smoke, drink water.

Do you see a dermatologist? How bad is your acne?

If you've never gotten a facial, and you can afford it, you might want to give it a try -- an aesthetician can help you make sure that you are using appropriate types of lotions, potions, cleansers, etc. Most people use too many products, too vigorously, too frequently. Get recommendations before you choose someone. Look for someone who is more concerned with helping you learn to take care of your skin than sell you expensive products.

The "not doing enough feeling" with regards to all those anti-aging creams is mostly just good marketing.
posted by desuetude at 12:25 PM on March 28, 2005

Response by poster: I went to a dermatologist for a while, while I was experimenting with different acne treatments. Now I just get refills through my regular doctor.

My acne was extremely awful as a teenager, and it's still pretty bad if I go a few days without following my presciption regimen. Without the 'scrips, I break out (we're talking cystic acne, not just little pimples) and it takes a month or two to clear up. With the Differen gel and the Ortho Tricylin, plus a benzoil peroxide ointment and salicylic face wash, however, I have no zits three weeks of the month and only minor acne when my hormones flair up.
As a result of all of this stuff, though, my naturally oily skin is dry all the time.

I do the really basic stuff: I wash my face with a very gentle cleanser mornings and nights, and use the harsher anti-acne face wash maybe twice a week. I moisturize. I wear sun screen.

I guess the thing that confuses me is that I don't even really understand what a lot of the products out there are for, and whether or not they can prevent problems before they happen. What is firming serum supposed to do? What is eye cream supposed to do? If I don't have eye problems or firmness problems, will these serums and creams prevent them?

I like the idea of going to an aesthetician, but I'm not sure that I can afford it right now. Do aestheticians help with prevention, or are they more about treatment?

Are drinking water, washing regularly, using moisturizer, eating well and wearing sunscreen enough?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2005

I'm 36, and I've got much better (smoother and clearer) skin now than when I was 26. My regimen is pretty easy: lots of water, lots of oil-free moisturizer/sunscreen and eye cream (just plain ol' Neutragena), lots of sleep, frequent (gentle) exfoliation, and a commitment to complete avoidance of sunburn. Also: use very gentle motions when washing and drying (only pat your face dry with a cloth -- try not to rub), and a very delicate hand when applying moisturizer/cream/makeup.
posted by scody at 1:13 PM on March 28, 2005

The skin under your eyes, as you know, is very thin, very delicate, and the first place most people get wrinkles. This makes it an excellent focal point for obsession.

There are few oil glands in that area, so it can use the extra help of a slightly heavier moisturizer. That's what "eye cream" is. Firming serums ("serum" sounds more scientific) are supposed to infiltrate the delicate skin and heal it/plump it up/prevent damage/undo damage. They're also a zillion times more expensive than regular ol' eye cream. Cosmetic companies put a lot of money into R&D to ensure that this stuff is fun to play with. Any evidence they live up to any of their more magical claims? Not really.

A good aesthetician can help with treatment and prevention, both. (After slamming expensive skin care products, I will say that when my aesthetician is done with the lotions and the masques and facial massage and all that, my face feels fantastic and super-soft for days afterwards.)

But since you have cystic acne, you'd need to make doubly sure that you had a damn good recommendation. Skip it. An aesthetician who doesn't know what she's doing can make your skin worse.

Are drinking water, washing regularly, using moisturizer, eating well and wearing sunscreen enough?

In short, yes. I'd reiterate the importance of scody's well-said point, also -- be gentle with your skin.
posted by desuetude at 1:54 PM on March 28, 2005

I recommend The Beauty Bible. It has really basic information and busts a lot of myths about what works and what doesn't. Sunscreen is really important. Another really great product to keep in major rotation is some sort of chemical exfoliant (like alpha or beta hydroxy acid). You can find a lot of basic information here, too.
posted by abbyladybug at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2005

First, not just any sunscreen will do the job. Photoaging is caused by UVA rays, which are blocked only by sunscreens with at least one of the following ingredients: avobenzone/parsol 1789, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mexoryl. Avobenzone itself is a free radical generator, so it's best to be avoided. Mexoryl is not yet approved by the FDA, but is approved in the EU and provides the greatest degree of protection against UVA. If you're interested in trying it, SkinCareLab is a legit US spa that somehow manages to sell it on their website. (I've purchased the "bootleg sunscreen" myself). Whatever you do, wear a sunscreen with at least one of those 4 ingredients.

A hat, suglasses, and just not speding too much time in direct sunlight will help as well. Even the best sunscreen can only do so much.

Other than that, drink enough water, don't wash your face with harsh soaps, and don't put a ton of weird crap on your face.
posted by 4easypayments at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2005

The water drinking thing is a myth.

Also, are alpha/beta hydroxies really a good idea? Don't they make your skin more photosensitive and so more prone to sun damage?
posted by insideout at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2005

Best answer: I used to have bad acne and took all the usual meds for it, so when people started telling me I had beautiful skin, I had to stop and evaluate what I was doing right. My skin is extremely sensitive to lotions and the like, so I never really used them, but about a year ago, I started a combination of a nightly wash with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash followed up by a good application of Pond's replenishing moisturizer lotion. That stuff is really the key. It doesn't make my skin burn and it has sunscreen in it. I put it on after showers and when I wash my face at night. If I miss an application, I'll break out. It's dirt-cheap, about $6 for 4 oz. that will last you a year. I don't take acne meds anymore and I get compliments on my skin all the time, which I still think is weird. Sorry to sound so much like a commercial, but this stuff is a freaking miracle in a bottle for me.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 5:23 PM on March 28, 2005 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I've marked as "best" the answers that are easiest for me. Thanks for all the suggestions.

I love Ponds! I also have fairly sensitive skin, and it does the job better than anything else I've found.

Once my big summer vacation spending is out of the way, I may look into finding an aesthetician. I don't have any friends who could recommend someone like that, but I bet a few of my coworkers could.

Thanks for all the comments.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2005

And avoid hard drugs!
posted by shoos at 12:24 AM on March 29, 2005

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