As we move from summer to Fall it’s important to take stock of your skin care and diet routine to help yourself age your healthiest best. When it comes to the skin there are no shortcuts: beautiful skin means healthy skin and that also usually means a healthy you. The autumn season is my favorite time to improve and optimize your skin health. The weather is starting to cool off from the summer highs, but we are not yet near the winter lows, the days are still long but the sun is not quite as blaring, and harvest foods are in their peak which means it is a great time to feast on healthy foods for the skin.
Starting with skin care, review the products you’re using. In the summer you need to upgrade your sunscreen and downgrade moisturizers from creamy to lighter lotions or even gels. Now that the weather is getting drier and cooler, don’t give up your sunscreen, you still need to use it every day all year round, and it’s time to slowly revert back to richer moisturizers at least at night since you lose more water from your skin while you sleep. You may also consider exfoliating more often since skin cells can slough off a little slower in the cooler months.
Ingredients to look for include hyaluronic acid and peptides along with retinols. Many people make the mistake of stopping retinols in the summer thinking it makes them more sun sensitive when in reality it’s fine to keep using all year round, as long as you use sunscreen, which should be an automatic reflex every day all year round anyway. If you did stop using retinol for the summer, now you know it’s fine to use all year round and if you’ve never started, it’s time to consider adding this ingredient into your skin care routine. It’s at the top of my favorite ingredients list because the more we know about it, and we know a lot, the more we learn about the benefits. It’s one of the most highly studied and scientifically evaluated and published ingredients available and has a near 50 year history of data.
One of the more common myths about Retinols are that it thins out the skin. The reality is that in the right concentration and formulation it makes the important deep layer of the skin where your collagen lives thicker which gives your skin firmness and makes your skin look more youthful. It also helps normalize skin cell turnover so those pesky dead skin cells sitting on the surface, called the stratum corneum, naturally slough off more appropriately. When the skin cells pile up on that outermost layer they make the skin look dull and they make wrinkles look deeper. Helping to balance out the layer does make it thinner, which is why some say it thins the skin, but it’s not abnormally thinner, quite the opposite, it’s now smooth and even, which gives the skin radiance and helps it look younger.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is another ingredient that has excellent skin benefits. It is naturally found in your body and about 60 percent of the body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. It has the very important job of holding water. When you drink water the HA in your skin absorbs the water and gives your skin resilience. As you age and with sun damage over time you can lose HA and it can make your skin look more saggy and lax. Applying it to the skin will serve to improve hydration but will not reach the deeper layers where it naturally lives. If you want to replenish your natural HA your dermatologist can inject HA into the skin in the form of products like Voluma, Juvederm and Restylane among other brands.
Don’t discount the importance of feeding and nourishing your skin from the inside. Everything you eat and drink has an effect on your skin, for better or for worse. Here are some of my top favorites for the skin:
- Sweet potatoes: This is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It even counters the effects of secondhand smoke. It has nutrients like glutathione, an antioxidant that can enhance nutrient metabolism (think of it like a battery recharger) and immune system health. It’s also high in vitamin C, which helps smooth out wrinkles by stimulating and supporting collagen production. Of note, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that volunteers who ate 4 milligrams of C (about half a small sweet potato) daily for 3 years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent.
- Pomegranate: This is my favorite fruit. My dad used to buy it by the case when I was a child and we would roll and squeeze the fruit to soften and help the juice leak out of the seeds without breaking the shell. We would then make a hole in the shell and drink fresh pomegranate juice every day while it was in season. This fruit can reduce your risk of most cancers. It contains polyphenols called ellagitannins, which give the fruit its color and which have special protective and rejuvenating effects for the skin.
- Tomatoes: Red is best, packed with more lycopene and unlike with watermelon, they lycopene is more active when tomatoes are cooked. Lycopene can be very helpful in eliminating the skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. The good news is processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones so bring on the tomato sauce!
- Pumpkin: This is not only good for carving and celebrating Halloween, it can help your eyesight, reduce your risk of cancer, lose weight and rejuvenate your skin. It has key ingredients like Vitamin A, beta carotene and potassium, especially in cooked pupmkin. And it contains an amino acid called Tryptophan which is important for the production of serotonin, aka happy hormone, so you will feel as good as you look.
- Artichoke: This is a fiber-rich plant that has more magnesium and potassium than any other vegetable. It’s leaves are rich in flavonoids and polyphenol antioxidants which help reverse damage from pollution and ultraviolet rays. It’s also packed with vitamin C. And, it’s fun to eat!
Every season has its own special benefits to help you look and feel your best. Enjoy the season!