Care of Aging Skin
It is well understood that skin characteristics are determined for each individual upon conception. The aging process, therefore, will follow the path that is already predetermined though these genetic blueprints. While aging cannot be reversed at this point in time, prevention may be a key component to easing this inevitable process. A regular skin regimen followed twice daily may symptomatically show visible signs of improvement. Lifestyle modifications in the forms of nutrition, exercise, and stress management may alter the rate by which we age.
Use of well designed moisturizers, emollients, and active concentrates targeted to correct dryness and other assaults to the skin may indeed prove fruitful. Studies of topical active components in advanced delivery systems have demonstrated that visible, positive changes to the skin actually occur. When the ecosystem of the skin remains in harmony, the complex cutaneous structures are protected thus inhibiting external aggressions that cause degradation of the extracellular matrix, lipid peroxidation, and denaturation of proteins that lead to tissue damage.
Free Radicals and Antioxidants
Cells have highly evolved defense systems that limit and repair the chemical damage that reactive oxygen can cause. Enzymes such as superoxide dismutase participate in this process. In aging and solar damaged skin, these free radical scavenging systems undergo a natural decline that leads to irreparable tissue damage. As one aging expert, Peter Pugliese, M.D., wrote,
"While scientists have viewed aging as a natural process there are some who see aging as a manifestation of environmental stress, a disease related to oxygen stress. Considering that we have to suffer many trillions of oxidative hits on our cells every day, it is no wonder that we slowly bum out under this load."
A free radical is any chemical species that contains one or more unpaired electrons and is capable of independent existence. When skin is exposed to excessive UV radiation or other environmental assaults, cellular activity increases, resulting in what are called respiratory bursts. In this flurry of activity, free radicals are formed. Cell membranes are highly fluid and contain many polyunsaturated fatty acids. Out of control oxygen radicals will contribute to the degradation of the cell matrix through lipid peroxidation that leads to cell and tissue destruction.
Additionally, exposure to UVB and UVA radiation appears to weaken the skin's population of Langerhans' cells, which are responsible for immune recognition of foreign antigens (toxic substances). With these defense cells immobilized, the skin's immune system is left vulnerable.
There are numerous scientific studies showing the reduction of free radical activity with the use of antioxidants both internally and topically. Some popular ones are listed herein. Science continues to research the efficiency of many others.
Free Radical Scavengers
A precursor of Vitamin A, it acts as a scavenger of both the oxygen and lipid peroxyl radicals.
Vitamin A is a recognized skin normalizer. When applied topically, vitamin A is regarded as an agent which stimulates the skin both mitotically (cell regeneration) and metabolically (increases cell metabolism). It revitalizes and helps to smooth the skin by strengthening the skin's elasticity. Beneficial to dry, parched skin, vitamin A's powerful antioxidant properties deactivate free radicals before they become destructive to the cell. Acid derivatives of vitamin A, such as retinoic acid, cause an increase in cell turnover in normal follicles and comedones as well as a reduction in the cohesion between keratinized cells.
Ascorbic acid is essential to life and is responsible for numerous functions in the cell. Research has concluded that it supports collagen synthesis and without its presence, tissue breakdown is inevitable (as in the case of scurvy). Its actual name means against scurvy."
Vitamin C has been found to be photo-protective because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It also deactivates free radical activity.
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
Vitamin E forms a protective defense for cell membranes, with evidence to indicate the alpha-tocopherol has antioxidant effects against lipid peroxidation in living tissue. It is a key scavenger of hydroxyl radicals in the body. Vitamin E is also useful in reducing UV light damage. New studies indicate that SPF values are enhanced when vitamin E is added to sun protection formulas.
Recognized for its anti-inflammatory, healing and antioxidant properties, green tea has been consumed for centuries in the Far East. Green tea contains flavonoid compounds called catechins. Experts claim that the presence of these substances have many biological effects including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar, killing decay-causing bacteria and even inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. In topical formulations, they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
With a long tradition in Chinese medicine, licorice root possesses many healing and skin-soothing properties. Studies have found it to function as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic agent. It is a photo desensitizer and possesses properties that inhibit the activation of oxygen radicals. It also stimulates antimicrobial activity against dermal bacteria and inhibits proliferation of acne staphylococci (P. acnes).
Ampoules and Special Concentrates
Ampoules are concentrates of active components which absorb quickly into the skin. They create an immediate effect resulting in definitive skin correction. Specific components are placed together to combat and control specific skin conditions such as
- Highly Sensitive/Reactive
- Atonic (slackened)
- Skin Wrinkles
- Breakouts Environmentally
- Damaged Pigmentation
The use of ampoules and specialized concentrates boost any skin regimen to improve the skin's appearance and support its cutaneous function. They may also add vital antioxidants onto the skin for advanced protection from free radical damage.
In the treatment room, the addition of an ampoule after the cleaning phase of the facial, will boost the effects of the work of the skin professional.
In a home regimen, the concentrate is applied once or twice daily after cleansing and before moisturizer. The effects of this routine are accumulative, hence, must be used consistently for long tern results.