20s Now's the time to preserve and protect your youthful skin with a regimen that addresses particular needs like acne or oiliness. Daily sunblock is also a must to prevent premature aging.
The daily use of an SPF lotion is key during this decade to delay some of the changes that occur as skin ages. Those prone to oily complexions can treat their skin to a weekly oil-absorbing mask. If you suffer from breakouts, looks for cleansers, moisturizers and treatments formulated with pore-cleansing salicylic acid or bacteria-eliminating benzoyl peroxide "Proper management of acne is essential to preventing longstanding, and sometimes permanent, scarring and hyperpigmentation," says New York City dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton. If your complexion is in generally good shape, wash twice a day with a cleanser for normal to oily skin and keep it hydrated daily with an oil-free noncomedogenic, sunscreen-infused moisturizer.
THE PRODUCTS Dr. Brandt Poreless Purifying Mask, $40, sephora.com; Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Lotion, $13.50, Clinique counter nationwide; Biore Shine Control Foaming Cleanser, $6, drugstores nationwide
Clear Your Complexion
gorgeous skin develops from the inside out
Diet and Nutrition
"A diet that promotes good health will likely promote healthier skin," says Carmen D. Samuel-Hodge, Ph.D., research assistant professor, department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Nutrients associated with good health include antioxidant vitamins A (found in organ meats, dark-green and deep-yellow or orange fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin), C (from citrus fruits, broccoli, melons, sweet pepper and kiwi) and E (seeds, nuts, plant oils and fortified breakfast cereals are good sources).
Monthly chemical peels with glycolic or salicylic acids (about $90 to $150 per treatment) can help unblock clogged pores--alleviating one of the major causes of acne breakouts--and speed up cell turnover, which may help fade any dark marks from acne scarring. Those with sensitive skin might opt for aesthetician- or physician-grade microdermabrasion treatments that exfoliate the skin. Whichever you choose, make sure the professional performing the procedure has experience treating ethnic skin, explains plastic surgeon Shirley Madhere of New York City.
DIAGNOSIS: As with many young women, and particularly those of color, Aja's skin shows few wrinkles or UV spots. But she can still benefit from some targeted TLC. Her scan reveals enlarged pores and porphyrins (bacteria excretions that can clog pores and cause acne).
TREATMENT: A series of glycolic essential, beta essential or microdermabrasion treatments will shrink Aja's pores and make her skin less prone to blemishes. Beta peel treatments will also help control her porphyrin problem. Aja should wash morning and night with a gentle foaming gel cleanser formulated for normal to oily skin. She should also minimize her exposure to bacteria by keeping germ catchers, such as dirty fingers and telephone receivers, away from her face.
ESSENCE sent four women of different ages to New York City's SkinKlinic (skinklinic.com) for the medi-spa's new Skin Scan. This advanced imaging system uses ultraviolet cameras to uncover skin damage not visible to the naked eye. What each woman learned can help us all in our quest for perfect skin.
30s One of the biggest challenges for sisters in this age bracket is maintaining an even skin tone. Rough texture, dull complexions and adult acne are major hurdles on the way to perfect skin. Exfoliate regularly to curb these concerns.
DIAGNOSIS: Angie suffers from a complexion that is both uneven and rough-textured. Her skin scan shows raised areas (marked in yellow) and depressions (marked in blue). She also has brown and red patches caused by freckles, acne scars and broken capillaries.
TREATMENT: For intense skin-balancing, the spa recommends its Surface Repair remedy, a laser treatment that evens complexions without damaging the skin's surface. Cap Zap, another type of laser therapy, can take care of any broken capillaries that remain. Even Your Skin Tone
Your best defense against blotchiness? Brighteners and at-home exfoliants
At-home exfoliants such as cleansers, toners and lotions that contain retinol or fruit acids, as well as prescription retinoids, help slough away dead-skin cells so that all of your skincare products penetrate more effectively. Avoid skin-sloughing scrubs, which can be irritating to sensitive skin, cautions Miami dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd.
If an uneven complexion is a concern, hydroquinone is still an effective option. Dermatologists prescribe medications like TriLuma, EpiQuin Micro and Lustra, which contain hydroquinone in a 4 percent concentration. A caveat: If you use hydroquinone, you must protect your skin with a sunscreen of at least SPF 30; even minimal UV exposure can reverse the effects of a hydroquinone-based skin-care regimen.
Diet and Nutrition
Iron deficiency, which can result in lackluster skin, is common in this decade. "Three to five percent of young women 18 to 44 have iron-deficiency anemia, and 11 to 13 percent have low levels of iron stores," says University of North Carolina nutritionist Samuel-Hodge. To make sure you're getting what you need, consider adding meats and green leafy vegetables (both are naturally high in iron) and iron-fortified foods like breakfast cereal to your grocery shopping list.
Brighten up with a new procedure called vibradermabrasion, which offers an alternative to microdermabrasion with a device that uses vibrating paddles to remove dead cells instead of potentially irritating exfoliating crystals. "Besides being gentler on the skin, it can cover a larger area with less irritation," explains dermatologist and laser surgeon Eliot F. Battle of Cultura Cosmetic Medical Spa in Washington, D.C.
THE PRODUCTS Ponds Age DefEYE Anti-Circle, Anti-Puff Eye Therapy, $14, drugstores nationwide; Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 30 Daily Moisturizer, $12, drugstores nationwide; Lancome Resurface-C Microdermabrasion system, $85, lancome.com
Keep Your Skin Firm
As more signs of aging begin to show (wrinkles, fine lines), your skin requires a little TLC
"As women of color reach their 40s, some early signs of aging start to set in, like loss of firmness, more prominent smile lines, brow furrows and an uneven complexion," says New York dermatologist Ingleton. To counter these signs, incorporate into your regimen products like a moisturizer infused with sunscreen and antiaging copper or antioxidants and an eye cream. Retinoids are also clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and may also boost skin-firming collagen production.
Diet and Nutrition
Reducing your sodium intake is especially important in your 40s and beyond. Not only does limiting your salt intake help prevent water retention, which can make your skin look puffy and bloated, but it can also reduce your risk of developing hypertension, which affects about 37 percent of African-American women. Samuel-Hodge recommends cutting back on salt and adding a combination of eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables along with three servings a day of low-fat dairy products.
Many women in this age range can benefit from skin-rejuvenating laser treatments. What's best about them is the immediate results you'll see. "Lasers stimulate collagen, which in turn improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduces pore size, and leaves the skin extremely vibrant," says Thomas Elzner, owner of The Skin Spa in New York City. A series of six treatments is recommended. The Cutera Cool Glide laser (cutera.com), if used correctly, will not burn or scar darker skin as lasers of the past did. If your lines and wrinkles are more severe, you may want to consider Botox and other injectible fillers (CosmoDerm, CosmoPlast) to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and to counteract a loss of skin firmness. Depending on the filler, effects can last from four to six months.
40s Black women in this age group begin to notice a loss of firmness and other signs of aging. Acne is finally disappearing, but hyperpigmentation is still a concern. Your skin is less oily, so your complexion will likely be drier.
ARIA'S SKIN SCAN
Diagnosis: Aria's scan uncovered enlarged pores and elevated porphyrin counts. Her face also shows signs of uneven texture and skin tone--two problems that are common in women this age.
Treatment: A course of glycolic essential, beta essential and/or microdermabrasion treatments will even out her spots and help minimize enlarged pores. If Aria's skin is too sensitive to undergo a professional exfoliation, she might try a treatment containing lactic acid, which delivers many of the same exfoliating, skin-smoothing and tone-balancing benefits as traditional glycolic treatments without the irritation.
THE PRODUCTS Aveeno Positively Smooth Facial Moisturizer, $14, drugstores nationwide; Olay Regenerist Targeted Tone Enhancer, $19, drugstores nationwide; Peter Thomas Roth Power C 20 AntiOxidant Serum Gel, $85, sephora.com
50+ Hormonal changes caused by menopause can lead to drier complexions, so now's the time to switch to richer cleansers and moisturizers and avoid irritating skin-care treatments.
ANGELA'S SKIN SCAN
Diagnosis: Years of sun exposure coupled with a decrease in oil production can lead to dry, hyper-pigmented skin, so it's not surprising that Angela's scan reveals unevenness and age spots.
Treatment: instead of glycolic, beta (salicylic) and microdermabrasion treatments, a gentler option is in order to tackle Angela's uneven skin tone and areas of hyperpigmentation. While Angela's skin shows few other common signs of aging--like loss of firmness or wrinkless--she might want to consider a treatment that boosts collagen, which contributes to a more radiant complexion.
Protect and Preserve
Minimize lines and improve firmness with moisturizers and antiaging products designed for mature skin
When you hit your fifties, your face displays more visible signs of aging, including more significant lines, loss of firmness and an overall lack of luminosity. Ingleton therefore advises using a creamy cleanser once or twice a day and choosing moisturizers and eye creams with nonirritating skin-smoothing and brightening ingredients such as copper or kinetin. Maintaining hydration is key, adds dermatologist Valerie Callender of Mitchellville, Maryland, who recommends that her patients with dry skin use creams and lotions with added ceramides. "Ceramides are similar to the fats and cholesterol in the outermost layers of our skin, so they are able to seal in the moisture our skin may be losing," she says. As always, make sure your daytime lotion contains sunscreen, or layer one on top. For more aggressive age prevention, Callender prescribes retinoids to smooth away fine lines and hydroquinone to tackle persistent hyperpigmentation.
Diet and Nutrition
Bone loss caused by osteoporosis can make your face look gaunt or drawn. It's especially serious in postmenopausal women, who lose bone mass at a faster rate than their younger sisters. "This may be reduced by weight-bearing exercise and diets with higher calcium levels," says Samuel-Hodge. Adequate vitamin D is also important because research shows it helps the body absorb calcium. You can get the calcium and vitamin D needed by drinking fortified milk and orange juice or by taking supplements.
A number of state-of-the-art procedures can help improve the quality of mature skin. You can still benefit from the professional skin-smoothing effects of microdermabrasion and peels, as well as lasers and injectible fillers. For those seeking a more dramatic anti-aging effect, consider Sculptra, an injectible volumizer that plumps up areas that have become gaunt due to fat and collagen loss from such areas as your cheeks, chin and temples. Patients generally require more than one session for optimal results.
THE PRODUCTS Murad Moisture Rich Cleanser, $26, murad.com; AmorePacific Time Contour Lift Eye Creme, $125, amorepacific.com; Avon Anew Alternative Intensive Age Treatment, $32, avon.com
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