The transition from season to season can be brutal. With age, cell turnover rates decline and skin doesn’t maintain as much moisture and elasticity it once did. But there’s good news: There are home and salon remedies to rejuvenate weary skin.
“The first thing that people need to do is consider their own skin,” says Nicki Zevola of FutureDerm, a line of skin care and beauty products.
Especially if you have sensitive skin, avoid granular body scrubs and washes, which can create small tears and lead to irritation and blotchiness. Use products with non-bead exfoliants or ones that have ingredients like papain, an enzyme from papaya and pineapple that naturally dissolves old skin cells. (Zevola’s picks: AmorePacific treatment enzyme peel and Jan Marini’s Zyme green papaya mask.)
Gentle acids in lower strengths are other exfoliating options. Dr. Dominic Brandy, a cosmetic surgeon, recommends products containing low concentrations of alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) or glycolic acid applied with a cotton pad. Don’t forget shower standards such as a luffa sponge or glove or even a washcloth.
To help boost cell turnover, gradually incorporate a retinol cream (or the more potent, prescription-required Retin-A) to your routine. These products are effective at building collagen, peeling away flakiness, dulling signs of aging and brightening complexions, Brandy says.
Daily moisturizing is a must to add back to skin some of the softness winter stole. Apply lotions and moisturizers immediately following a shower while the skin still is damp. (Lotion on dry skin has minimal benefits, says Dr. Suzan Obagi, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center.)
Consult a dermatologist, skin center or spa for procedures to provide significant, longer-lasting results. Microdermabrasion, a common exfoliation method, involves blowing aluminum oxide crystals onto the skin at high speeds to eliminate dead cells and give skin a refreshed look.
There’s also dermaplaning, in which a surgical blade is used to scrape off dead skin. A newer procedure is the Dermapen, a pen-shaped tool with 11 needles at the tip that create tiny puncture points to allow creams and peels to better absorb into the skin. Coupling a treatment with a chemical peel can heighten the results. Look for a peel that complements your skin’s needs, such as ones for acne or extra-dry skin.
You are what you eat
How your skin looks on the outside is affected by what goes inside. Drinking lots of water is one way to hydrate the skin from the inside out. Stay away from pasteurized juices and go for freshly squeezed and pressed ones, because they contain more enzymes. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals that damage skin, so eating a high-antioxidant diet (fruits and vegetables or even a multivitamin) is another way to protect skin.
Spring and summer bring threats to skin, particularly harm from the sun.
Removing the layer of dry, dead skin cells, which can help reflect the sun’s damaging rays, can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Therefore, applying sunscreen regularly is imperative to protect skin while outdoors; or look for an SPF makeup. Not all sunscreens are created equal. Physical sunblocks that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide perform better than other compounds because they don’t let ultraviolet rays reach the skin.
“I don’t think you can ever pay too much attention” to your skin, Zevola says, but skin care is best when done with balance. If exfoliation, a sunscreen or a professional treatment leads to prolonged, extreme itchiness, redness or pain, listen to your body and make adjustments.