When women ask me the “secret” behind my relatively wrinkle-free skin, many of them are somewhat disappointed to find out it is so simple. My number one skin care secret is sunscreen. For years top dermatologists have told patients the same thing; that regular use of sunscreen was the most important way to avoid premature aging.
Now we have an Australian study that proves it. Dr. Adele Green and her team at Queensland Institute of Medical Research studied 903 randomly selected adults under the age of than 55. The study ran four-and-a-half years, from 1992 and 1996.
The group was divided in half. One group was directed to apply a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher, to their heads, necks, arms, and hands daily. They were also told to reapply it regularly. The other group was allowed to use sunscreen as they desired.
At the end of the study the sunscreen group showed no detectable increase in skin aging. When measured against a base-line, the skin of the group who used sunscreen had aged on average 24 percent less than those in the group that used sunscreen at their own discretion. Beta carotene, which was also tested, was not seen to have an effect on skin aging.
Photoaging happens after years of sun exposure. Along with an increase
hyperpigmentation or “age spots,” it also speeds the skin’s loss of collagen, which leads to loss of firmness.
So the first step in any anti-aging skin care regime is a good sunscreen used with anti-oxidants. Many popular sunscreens now contain anti-oxidants to help reverse free radical damage from the environment which includes sunlight. Many of the sunscreens from La Roche Posey, Murad, Obagi, Neutrogena, and Avène contain anti-oxidants. I like and use all of these brands. I also apply additional anti-oxidants, letting them absorb fully in to my face before applying sunscreen.
If you are sensitive to sunscreen or it makes you break out try one made of minerals. On my face I use only pure natural mineral sunscreens that contain a high concentration of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. I have sensitive skin, and mineral sunscreen is gentler especially if I will be outside and need to reapply frequently. But for my body I find a spray sunscreen is the easiest way to get quick and complete coverage. As a safety precaution, I avert my face and hold my breath to avoid breathing in the spray. (I also do this with hair products.)
The first step to keeping your skin youthful, beautiful, and healthy can be simple. Find a sunscreen you like and use it daily. Cover all your exposed skin. Never skip or skimp on sunscreen and you will look years – 24 years according to the latest study – younger.
Next week DolceDolce will review some of our favourite sunscreens.