By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you don’t like what you’re seeing in the mirror, you can still improve your aging skin’s appearance.
“At any age, it’s never too late to improve,” said Sarah Rizzo, licensed esthetician and owner of Sarah Rizzo Skin in Rochester.
By age 55, changes in the body have begun to affect the skin in noticeable ways.
“With women, there’s hormonal changes that affect suppleness and plumpness in the skin,” Rizzo said. “The cell renewal process slows as well.”
Since the skin turns over more slowly, it’s helpful to stimulate it through exfoliation. Facials, peels, microderm abrasion and laser treatments can help. These modalities break down the skin’s top layer, the epidermis, and reduce the appearance of discoloration and fine lines as the skin renews itself. It appears less dull.
“You’re helping let your skin breathe and function,” Rizzo said. “After exfoliation, at-home products are better absorbed into the skin.”
She advises receiving regular facials — at least once per month — noting that these treatments include facial massage, which also helps promote healthier looking skin.
“We have over 60 muscles in the face alone,” Rizzo said. “You’re creating firmness and tone through blood flow and oxygenating the skin.”
At home, using products with vitamin C as an antioxidant and skin brightener can improve skin’s appearance.
Although prevention is key to reducing the signs of aging in skin, Rizzo said that wearing sunscreen is still important.
“Wear SPF 30-plus,” she said. “I’m also a big proponent of mineral sunscreen, as it’s a physical block.”
Avoiding exposure to sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wearing a hat and sunglasses can also help prevent further damage.
It’s also vital to feed the skin with a diet rich in nutrients such as the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes vegetables, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. Rizzo also cautioned to limit alcohol.
“I have clients who come in for a facial and want the most expensive facial, but we also talk about you as a person and their daily routine at home,” Rizzo said. “Many say when they wake up the first thing and have a cup of coffee. If you don’t get water to jumpstart your body from within, it won’t work. Look at a plant that hasn’t been watered in days: it shrivels. Drink that water before coffee.”
Staying fit and active can also promote healthier looking skin.
“You don’t look at a healthy runner and say their skin looks terrible,” Rizzo said. “People who are active and have a good diet look better. You need to get enough sleep as well.”
In addition, properly cleansing the skin at home also promotes healthier appearance. One widespread mistake is going to bed without washing with a mild cleanser, suited to the skin type.
“Someone who had oily, acne prone skin in their 20s may stay with the same routine,” Rizzo said. “As we age, we dry out and your skin might feel normal. If you had normal skin, it can be really dry. We have to compensate and use a thicker cream.”
Some people expect to see immediate results. However, Rizzo said that like working out in the gym, it can take some time to see skin look better as a person integrates positive lifestyle changes and skin care routines.
“We’re all going to age,” Rizzo said. “You can’t expect someone in their 50s and 60s to look like they’re in their 20s. Have realistic expectations. Let’s age gracefully.”