Summer skincare tips from William Moore, clinical director of Advanced Skin Fitness on Oak Lawn Avenue, are practical and simple:
Moisturize your skin from the inside as well as the outside and protect it from the damaging effects of the sun.
Moore recommends drinking plenty of water, especially during hot summer days, but he offers a few alternatives as well.
"I recommend decaffeinated green tea," he said.
Caffeine is a diuretic so it doesn’t help hydrate the skin. Avoid coffee and most sodas as well, he advises.
Juice is good, he said, but not in massive quantities because of high sugar content. Sports drinks help balance electrolytes but won’t do much for the skin.
Green tea also has antioxidants, substances that fight viruses, slow aging and help prevent cell damage while also helping to lower blood sugar and high blood pressure.
"We get free radicals in our skin from the sun, cigarette smoke and toxins we come in contact with," Moore said. "They destroy collagen, dilate capillaries and cause hyperpigmentation or sunspots. As free radicals build up, they cause the skin to age."
Antioxidants help eliminate these free radicals.
Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene are the most common substances that protect skin cells from the damaging effects of the sun.
Vitamin E, the principal fat-soluble antioxidant, protects cell membranes. Water-soluble vitamin C helps maintain healthy collagen.
The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which supports the immune system.
Moore recommends not just relying on diet to get those antioxidants to the skin surface.
Use a topical antioxidant especially on the face and neck, two of the body’s most exposed and vulnerable places for sun damage, he said.
The protein collagen is sometimes referred to as the glue that holds the body together.
Protecting the skin helps keep the layer of collagen under the skin healthy. When enough collagen disappears, sagging skin can suddenly appear.
Moore said loss of collagen in the face can be seen particularly around the eyes, mouth and jaw line as we age. At age 35, the body stops producing the substance naturally and existing collagen begins to break down slowly. He likened this to termite damage that suddenly becomes apparent after eating away at the interior of the structure over a long period of time.
The greatest damage to the skin is caused by too much exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Sunburns are the major cause of dry, wrinkled or leathery skin, as well as the most common forms of skin cancer.
To block the harmful effects of the sun, use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating or higher. Apply enough and apply often.
Since water reflects sunlight, be especially careful to use enough sunscreen around pools or at the beach and reapply generously after swimming.
After swimming, Moore suggests showering. Chlorine from a pool can dry the skin. Following the shower, he recommends applying lotion with antioxidants and pigment regulators.
He said diet is important as well. Stay away from fatty and oily foods. Those same foods that choke the heart and blood vessels clog the skin as well.
Of course all of these tips to promote healthier skin this summer does nothing for Moore’s business. But he said that sunscreen, lotions and diet aren’t always enough.
Photo facial treatments help repair sun-damaged capillaries. Accent XL skin tightening helps turn on the mechanism that allows the body to produce collagen. And laser resurfacing can help make the skin smoother and softer after years of sun exposure.
Following his routine skin-care tips makes any of these procedures less necessary.
Know your SPF
Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, refers to the amount of time skin is protected from ultraviolet B radiation, not the amount of protection. The higher the number, the longer the skin is protected.
An SPF of 15 filters 93 percent of the UVB rays that affect the outer layer of skin.
If it takes 20 minutes to burn without protection, SPF 15 provides 5 hours of protection.
In addition to sunburn, UVB rays are the main cause of basal and squamous cell carcinomas and a cause of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
UVA rays (longer wave solar rays) cause wrinkled and leathery skin.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Sun blocks with SPFs higher than 30 only block 4 percent more UVB radiation.
William Moore said to look for sunscreens with the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which soothe the skin and reflect the light. Others lotions are made with ingredients that absorb and disperse the light.
Moore warned to make sure you apply enough on sunscreen to make a difference.
"If you’re using a dime-sized amount on your face, you’re getting SPF 2 not 15," he said.
Since the amount needed to truly provide a protection factor of 15 is unrealistic, reapply often.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.