By Kendria Smith
It’s been peeled, plucked, powered, sunburned, wind chapped, scrubbed, masked, lightened and tightened. Yes, your face has felt it all this past year, and if you were to assess its healthiness in the last twelve months, where would your face fall? Maybe you’ve finally settled into a beauty routine that works for you, and you’re feeling confident and clear for the New Year. Or maybe a few battles with breakouts and a rough patch of dry patches have you a bit uncertain about a solution to your New Year’s skin resolution. No matter where you stand, there’s always room for improvement and a lot to benefit from knowing the basics of good skin care.
To get the 411 on Skin Care 101, I met with Dr. Jeanette Graf, a board certified, award winning clinical and research Dermatologist, who left a busy day at her practice in Great Neck, Long Island to meet with me in Manhattan. The first thing to note is that Dr. Graf is a firm believer that what goes into the body is reflected in its appearance. You can dress yourself up as best you can, but nothing substitutes for a good diet and plenty of water, enhanced with a consistent routine of exercise and adequate sleep.
She also explained the importance of maintaining the body’s natural pH level of 7.4, which can become overly acidic based on stresses in our environment and the food we eat. Our pH level affects our cellular health and is therefore reflected in our physical appearance. According to Dr. Graf, a balance of acidic and alkaline foods is key. She recommends a Mediterranean diet — high in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and fish, but low in red meat, sweets, and dairy. This diet neutralizes the pH level and keeps the body at optimal working condition.
When it comes to skin maintenance, it’s best to keep it simple. “Skin care is very basic. It’s ‘clean and cream’. You want to clean and defend with moisturize during the day and clean and rebuild with moisturize at night,” says Dr. Graf.
Your daily regime should consist of:
Wash your face twice a day, especially at night before going to bed. And at the very least, keep a container of face cleansing wipes by your bed to remove make up and acne-causing bacteria for those really late nights when the bathroom sink seems just too far away.
A good one should contain antioxidants and have a minimum of SPF 15, preferably higher, that is broad-spectrum to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. It must be worn during the day every day and all year-round to defend against aging, free radicals in the environment, and sun damage.
Apply at night when the skin is busy rebuilding itself. Key ingredients should include retinal, a natural source of vitamin A that increases cellular elasticity along with poly and alpha-hydroxy acids to exfoliate and hydrate the skin. A good eye cream is also imperative to decrease puffiness, dark circles and wrinkles.
According to Dr. Graf, a good quality skin care line can be found anywhere from drug stores and make up counters, to the internet. Products do not need to be expensive to give you the results you need, but the proof is in the pudding. Dr. Graff recommends Eau Thermale Avène, an affordable line of products which contains French thermal waters fortified with minerals. The Cleanance Soapless Cleanser is a gel that helps maintain the skin’s natural pH balance by gently washing away dirt without stripping the skin of moisture. Avène’s Trixéra+ Sélectiose® Emollient Cream is rich, hydrating and soothing. It’s a great daily cream for both face and body that contains essential fatty acids to relieve itchy, dry skin, especially for those with sensitive skin. And you won’t want to leave the house without the High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50 — a 100% mineral-based broad-spectrum sunscreen that comes in two shades, beige and honey.
Beauty is more than skin deep, and so is the process that gets you there, but it does not need to be complicated or overwhelming. No matter what your age, race, or gender, following a routine of a healthy lifestyle and daily skin care habits will help create a firm foundation to give you the gift of great skin through the New Year and beyond.
For more skin care advice from Dr. Graf, visit http://www.askdrgraf.com