The miraculous appearance of the sun breaking through the clouds above my hometown has me thinking of summer. Summer has me thinking of schedule-less mornings with kids underfoot, freezing cold Chardonnay with a sprinkle of sand, lazy-hazy days with frequent squirmy sunscreen reapplications and beautiful, late sunsets that make it hard to put the babies to bed. Like all seasons, there is good mixed with bad, but in a popularity contest with spring, fall and winter, summer still wins — hands down. My days of baby oil and lemon juice mixed with peroxide may be over but I still feel younger with flip-flops on my feet and sun on my face. Ironically, sun-bathing is the most renowned thief of young, smooth skin, though it isn’t the only thing you should avoid. The following is a list of what not to do. Let’s get it over with before we get into what you should be doing.
1. Smoking – Maybe the risk of developing lung and bladder cancer, emphysema and COPD, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure are not enough to make you quit. Vanity is sometimes a powerful incentive — smoking will age your skin very quickly.
2. Hot water – Using hot water to cleanse your face results in dehydration of the skin. It also causes a breakdown in the layer of oils that protect your epidermis.
3. Lack of sleep – The regenerative powers of the body kick into full gear while we sleep. This includes the regeneration of skin cells vital for a healthy glow, decreased sagging and minimization of wrinkle formation. Another don’t … don’t sleep with your face in the pillow. Sleep on your back if you can to avoid creases from forming on your face.
4. Frowning – All of the expressions that we make contribute to the wrinkles that form on our face. Remember those white, leather Keds we used to wear with two pairs of socks bunched into them? I guess I am revealing my age but maybe you remember how perfect they looked when you first took them out of the box. After a few weeks of wear, cracks and creases started to form in all the bendy spots. This is sort of what happens to your face. Unless you are very good at masking your emotions, lines will be inevitable. Wouldn’t you rather have laugh lines?
5. Alcohol use – Alcohol dilates the blood vessels near the skin’s surface creating fine red lines and causing the skin to look irregular. Like a little sun exposure, I will be taking my chances with this one. When done moderately, it allows me to spend less time doing #4.
I am sure none of this is breaking news for you. Still, as we shop for better and more expensive lotions and spend more time at the dermatologist, it is increasingly important to be reminded of the simple steps we can take to keep our skin and ourselves healthy. Especially as we age, reminders become more and more helpful. Tomorrow, the simple things that can slow our skin’s aging process. Thursday, the more complicated, expensive and painful things …