(BlackDoctor.org) — When the schedule’s packed and a latte feels like a splurge, a facial probably falls off the to-do list. But it’s a crucial anti-aging tool, dermatologists say. Read on to find the right one for your skin needs. Plus, are you skin-care savvy? Take our quiz and find out…
Even if you don’t usually treat yourself to a spa facial, now’s the time. Regular treatments – if you can afford it, with follow-up care at home – can yield long-term benefits, like warding off wrinkles and keeping skin hydrated.
Besides removing blackheads and exfoliating dry, flaky skin, facials help fade dark spots from long-term damage and bad habits.
“Almost 90% of premature aging is attributed to sun damage and smoking,” says Susan Evans, M.D., a dermatologist with Skincare Physicians of Beverly Hills, Calif.
But skin needs change as we get older, so it’s important to get the best facial for your age. A glycolic peel that’s perfect for a 40-year-old could irritate a 20-something.
Here’s what experts say you should look for in a spa facial and how to follow up at home:
In your 20s: Start good skin-care habits
At this age, you’re probably not worrying about your skin or beauty routine. You’re too busy working, staying out late with friends and having fun in the sun.
In your 20s, however, you should lay the groundwork for maintaining that youthful glow later in life.
“Prevention and maintenance, with an effective skin-care regimen, [are] keys to long-term healthy skin,” Evans says.
Neglect is cumulative, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Not exfoliating dead skin cells, for example, prevents healthy, new cells from coming to the surface, leaving skin dull and lifeless.
Ignoring skin at this age may also lead to “premature wrinkling, dehydration of skin cells and the potential for an increased incidence of skin cancer from [sun] damage,” Evans says.
At the spa: Deep-cleansing facials with masks of clay or kaolin (also known as china or white clay) draw out impurities – including dirt and excess oils – from skin.
Fine clay particles also exfoliate, unclog pores and stimulate circulation, which nourishes cells with nutrients.
If skin is dry or sensitive, a mask with botanical extracts of chamomile or aloe will soothe it.
At home: Good skin care should be as mindless as brushing your teeth.
Make a habit of a four-step daily regimen: cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer and sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients that physically block the sun’s rays.
Also, keep your face clean – and never sleep with makeup on.
In your 30s: Bust blemishes
Hormones rule in this decade. And that can mean breakouts – from your period, pregnancy or stress. All can push oil glands into overdrive. In fact, adult acne affects 1 in 5 women between 25 and 40 years old.
The thick lotions that kept younger skin moisturized can now clog pores – trapping oil and dead cells that mix with bacteria to create blackheads and blemishes. Even if you never had breakouts as a teen, you may get them now.
Cycling hormones and stress can also trigger eczema (a chronic condition causing red, cracked patches), as well as blotchy, itchy skin and other types of inflammation.
You may also see signs of aging, such as crow’s feet, smile lines and irregular pigmentation.
“In their 30s, people usually notice fine lines, especially around the eyes,” Jaliman says. “This area is extremely thin and sensitive.”
To ward off these signs of aging, Jaliman recommends daily use of sunscreen and antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins E, C and A, as well as beta-carotene and quercetin.
“It’s also important to eat well and exercise regularly,” she says.