Your Skin Ready for Autumn
Last month, on one of the warmest days of the year, I received a visit from a photographer who came to take photos for the cover of the Reaal Insurance magazine. The theme was Autumn and I had to amend my clothes choice to fit in with this!
And then it was autumn…
Before I knew it, I was dressed in a suede poncho sitting infront of a roaring fire. Meanwhile, outside the thermometer read 35 degrees! One week later (and the baby sparrows are still falling from the roof) I wrote a piece for Reaal about the best way to prepare your skin for autumn; the magazine came through the post a couple of days ago. If I look outside now and hear the wind bellowing around the house, I can see that it’s high time I share these autumn tips with you. Because this is the time to begin the process of repair. For not only nature uses autumn to rebuild its strength, but skin does this as well. After a season of exposing our skin to lots of sun, sea, chlorine and air conditioning, she needs some extra help. Our skin has to recover and transform itself from a sun damaged dull skin to a pale, but nevertheless healthy, skin which is strong enough to cope with a harsh winter and be ready again for the following summer months.
The very first step is to hydrate. Not only has the skin taken quite a bashing from the sun, but it also has to adjust to a decrease in humidity once more (after all, the heating is going on again) a reduction in sebum production (abstract) and a fall in the amount of lipids (abstract). The result is dry, sometimes flaky and even irritated skin. Fortunately this can usually be put right by applying moisturiser more often and possibly using a richer cream than you used in the summer. Make sure that you have products to hand so that you can apply them at any time. Also make sure you moisturise straight after bathing or showering; preferably when your skin still feels damp. If your skin is very dry then apply a thin layer of Vaseline or lanette cream over your moisturiser at night.
Dry skin is not likely to be the only problem now. When you look in the mirror you can probably see dull skin, which is due to the build up of dead skin cells and some unsightly pigment spots. After that brown colour has faded you are often left with a less smooth and radiant appearance than that which appeared on those holiday snaps. The legacy of a beautiful summer! Fortunately much can be done here. Exfoliating with a product containing ingredients such as Glycolic or Salicylic Acid is now a must. As an Exfoliant removes the dead skin cells, the skin regains a smoother surface and hence a fresh, even and radiant appearance. But depending on the concentration, an Exfoliant can do even more; an Exfoliant can reduce pigmentation, increase collagen, prevent spots and retain moisture. Sometimes, though, an Exfoliant is not always enough to freshen up your complexion. What you can then do is add a prescription cream to your skincare regime (for example, Hydroquinone or Vitamin A Acid). Certain substances can lighten pigmentation and even the skin out, but they do need to be used with care. You can also choose to have a course of fruit acid peels. These treatments use the same substances as those contained in an Exfoliant, but in high concentrations. If you want to see a significant improvement in your skins appearance then go for a combination of lasers and peels. A good laser or IPL machine will help to rebuild your skin from the inside and remove those unsightly pigment spots. Be aware, however, that not all dark patches and not all skin types are suitable for laser treatment. Sun spots and age spots (such as lentigo and liver spots) are usually suitable for treatment, but often require supplemental treatment as well. What applies to all these treatments is, don’t overdo them. Too much and too many treatments can actually lead to a tired complexion. Darker skinned people need to be extra careful as they have a higher risk of side effects. Whichever treatment you may decide to use make sure that you visit a reputable clinic, where the treatments are carried out by Skin therapists or Doctors, certainly if you suffer from pigment spots.
Repair and protect
Even if you have been religiously moisturising all through the summer, there is still a big chance that you have sun damage; the free radicals produced in the summer have damaged cells, DNA and other structures (collagen and elastin) in the skin. Moreover, certain anti-oxidants are depleted straight after summer, your skins barrier function has taken a real beating and your immune system is working less efficiently (abstract). It’s not so surprising then that skin conditions arise more often in the autumn and winter than the rest of the year (abstract). Autumn is therefore also the moment to give your skin a real boost. Substances such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A Acid have been proven through scientific research to have a real effect on existing sun damage. Barrier repairing and soothing substances such as Niacinamide and Beta Glucan make your skin strong and radiant again. Moisture retaining substances such as collagen and Hyaluronic Acid are also a good choice in the autumn. And above all, don’t forget to use that sun filter daily! As applying is a must, even in the autumn…
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)
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