My New Year resolution is to take better care of my skin. What can I do?

Year after year, everyone wants to kick off the New Year with a fresh start. The most common resolutions include hitting the gym at least 3 times a week, losing weight and eating healthy. In addition to these healthy resolutions, you might also decide that this is the year to start taking better care of your skin.

Here are a few New Year skin resolutions you should consider as 2011 gets underway:

  • Develop a daily skin care regimen that addresses your particular skin concerns and leads to meaningful improvement.
    Choose skin care products that contain high concentrations of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E), peptides and growth factors. These ingredients are necessary to produce noticeable improvement in the appearance of your skin.
  • Wear sunscreen every day.
    Remember, we are exposed to UV rays when day light is present. This means it's important to wear sunscreen even when it is cloudy and during the winter months. Ultraviolet radiation causes skin cancer, premature aging and weakens the immune system. Make sure that your sunscreen has both UVA and UVB protection with SPF 20 or higher for protection against sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Get your moles checked!
    The New Year is a good time to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for a full body exam. If any cancerous lesions are found in the early stages, your diagnosis and treatments will be much easier.
  • Never go to bed with make-up on.
    The ultimate goal of skin cleansing is to thoroughly remove makeup, dirt, bacteria, pollution, excess oil and dead skin cells. Facial skin, more than any other part of the body, is exposed to environmental damage. In order to remove all these impurities effectively, it is important to use a cleanser that caters to your specific skin type. When properly cleansed, your skin can better absorb nighttime treatment products such as retinols, nourishing moisturizers and serums, which are necessary for healthy skin. If you go to bed without washing your face, you are skipping one the most important times to take care of your skin. Your skincare routine should be different in the morning and at night, as research has shown that certain physiological changes such as skin permeability (absorbency) is higher in the evening and night than in the morning1. Applying skincare products right before bedtime, when skin absorbency is at its highest (according to the skin circadian rhythms*) maximizes the efficacy of the active ingredients applied. On the other hand, skin surface temperature and the TEWL (transepidermal water loss) reach their highest values at night2 as well, which can lead to drier skin. Using a nighttime moisturizer can improve the skin barrier and its function.

If you're going to make one New Year skin resolution, wash your face at night even after the busiest day, and you will be rewarded with better skin, better sleep and no more mascara marks on your pillowcase!

REFERENCES:

  1.  Time-dependent variations of the skin barrier function in humans: transepidermal water loss, stratum corneum hydration, skin surface pH, and skin temperature. Yosipovitch G, Xiong GL, Haus E, Sackett-Lundeen L, Ashkenazi I, Maibach HI.  J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Oct;111(4):708-9.
    Abstract:
    Although circadian rhythms have been described for many human functions, there are minimal data on circadian rhythms related to skin physiology. This study investigated the circadian rhythmicity of skin variables related to skin barrier function in humans. We measured transepidermal water loss, stratum corneum moisture, skin surface pH, and skin temperature in 16 healthy volunteers (nine men and seven women, aged 23-53 y). Subjects were sampled every 2 h in two sessions over a 24 h span. Twelve samples were obtained for each variable in the following sites: forehead, forearm, upper back, and shin. We used cosinor analysis and ANOVA to validate observed differences. Time-dependent rhythms were detected in most skin variables except in stratum corneum hydration. We found a statistically significant circadian rhythmicity characterized by cosinor analysis in transepidermal water loss, skin surface pH, and skin temperature on the forearm, forehead, and shin. Peak-trough differences occurred in all locations. The values of the same variables measured at different sites correlated positively, whereas the values of the different variables did not. These results suggest that skin permeability is higher in the evening and night than in the morning. These data may be clinically relevant in several aspects applied to skin physiology and topical drug application.

  2. Barrier recovery rate varies time-dependently in human skin. Denda M, Tsuchiya T., Br J Dermatol. 2000 May;142(5):881-4.
    Abstract:
    The recovery in cutaneous barrier functions, assessed in terms of transepidermal water loss, 1 h after tape stripping of volar forearm skin in human volunteers, was investigated at different times over the 24 h day. The barrier recovery rate was significantly lower between 20:00 h and 23:00 h than that at other time points. The skin surface temperature and the basal transepidermal water loss reached their highest values at about 03:00 h (33.6 degrees C and 0.30 mg cm-2 h-1), while the cortisol level in the saliva was highest at 09:00 h (7.8 pmol mL-1). These results suggest significant time-dependent variation in cutaneous barrier repair independent of changes in skin temperature and cortisol level.


* A circadian rhythm - “daily rhythmic activity cycle, based on 24-hour intervals, that is exhibited by many organisms”. Medical Dictionary