The Elevator Ask: What are the five most important things I can do to reduce the signs of aging?
If you had five minutes with a top dermatologist, what would you ask her? What’s the best eye cream? Which treatments does she do herself? What’s great and what’s a load of hooey? This is why we created the Elevator Ask. It’s kind of like the elevator pitch but they’re in the hot seat while we get to grill them. We posed the aforementioned question to New York dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Hale, and here’s what she offered.
1. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, 365 days a year.
“Fact: 90 percent of the signs of premature skin aging are caused by overexposure to the sun. Despite the popular myth (and the operative word is myth) that the harm is already done, sun damage is an ongoing, cumulative process. The takeaway: do not drop the sunscreen step, ever.
Daily sunscreen—even on cold or rainy days—is, quite literally, the most important thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy. It is never too late to make a difference. I tell all my patients: A tan is temporary, but the damage can last forever.”
A tan is temporary, but the damage can last forever.
2. Use an antioxidant serum.
“In addition to sun exposure, our skin is exposed daily to toxins in the environment, like those from pollution and secondhand smoke. These toxins generate free radicals which wreak havoc on our skin by damaging collagen and elastin (this leads to wrinkles). Even more seriously, generating free radicals can lead to mutations that cause skin cancer. Antioxidants help to fight free radicals and help minimize the damage that free radicals can wreak.”
3. Exercise regularly. (But don't wear makeup when you do it!)
“Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for our mind and body, helping us to look and feel like the best versions of ourselves. But what some don’t realize is that exercise also helps our skin by lowering cortisol levels (cortisol can lead to breakouts). Exercise increases blood flow to the skin, which helps clear toxins and brighten complexions.
However, heading to the gym with a full face of makeup kills the chances of all that good work I just mentioned. When we exercise, our pores open up, but if foundation and concealer and other cosmetics are in the way, instead of being able to release sweat and other toxins, those pores get clogged with makeup. This can cause breakouts. I recommend applying a lightweight antioxidant serum to a clean face before a workout, so when the pores open up, all that antioxidant goodness can sink in.”
4. Get an injectable wrinkle reducer.
“Injectable facial wrinkle reducers are designed to temporarily reduce muscle activity. When done carefully and properly, wrinkle reducers can give our lines and wrinkles a smoother appearance, while still maintaining some natural movement so we don't look frozen. Use of wrinkle reducers can help the deeper, etched-in frown lines and crow’s feet by softening their appearance. As with any prescription treatment, injectable wrinkle reducers have risks that you should discuss with your doctor. Choose the right provider and remember: less can usually be more.”
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5. Maintain a healthy perspective.
“Women in their forties often tell me they’re depressed about getting older. I try to remind them that this is the prime of our lives! When we reach our seventies and beyond, we will look back and wish we had realized how relatively young we were in our forties and fifties! Use regular sunscreen, practice good skincare (that includes antioxidants), and exercise regularly. Or find other ways to practice mindfulness and decrease cortisol and stress levels. Being happy and feeling grateful usually translates to better looking skin.”