Autumn Skin

Dr. Kenneth Sanders

Ahhhhhh – autumn – fresher days, cooler evenings, crispness in the air. Just saying it out loud makes you feel fresh…like grabbing your windbreaker and heading outside to enjoy the crispness in the air. Some of the nicer things about fall are the changing weather, the beautiful fall foliage and the falling leaves – okay maybe not the falling leaves, especially if you’re the one holding the rake. This brings up a good question: why do trees lose their leaves? Without going into a lengthy biological explanation, the simple answer is survival. A tree will shed leaves as a strategy to survive harsh weather conditions. Once a leaf drops, the contact point to the tree seals up and forms a barrier for the tree to hold moister throughout the dryer winter months. In humans, the process is a bit more complicated. A healthy human will lose about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – roughly one and a half pounds of skin flakes a year. We shed our skin as a protective strategy against infections. We are food for many nasty little creatures. Without our skin constantly shedding, these irritating pests would move in, set up camp and cause all sorts of problems. This alone is reason to exfoliate every day.

Healthy skin cells constantly regenerate and take approximately 27 days to regrow. Damaged skin growth can vary depending upon the nature and severity of the injury. For example, a knee scrape can take as long as three weeks to grow back skin, whereas burned skin can take months for regrowth.

Just as Mother Nature changes its beauty regiments from season to season, so too, must the human. Dryer seasons call for a change in your skincare routine. It’s important to understand the difference between moisturizing and hydrating. Moisturization is the process of skin feeling hydrated, while hydration increases the water level in skin. It’s the addition of water that helps to combat signs of aging.

In the fall and winter months, the air becomes drier and robs your skin of its moisture. Keeping a good moisturizer on the skin and applying extra moisture to those, areas of skin with visibly flakiness easily remedy this. Switch out the lightweight summer moisturizer for a more nourishing, heavy-duty face cream. Cold air equals dry air, because the molecules can’t hold water as well. Keep skin hydrated by using products with humectants, which will help draw water from the lower layers of skin to the surface. If you are an outdoors kind of person, you’ll need to keep using a sunscreen. Cutting cold winds can strip the skin of protective lipids, making you more susceptible to UV rays. Save yourself from windburn by applying SPF 15+ sunscreen to all your exposed areas. Your own home can become an enemy to your skin. Your heating system keeps you warm but it is also drying out your skin. The higher temperatures draw moisture from the air, which in turn takes moisture from your skin. An indoor humidifier can help fight skin dehydration. If you are prone to dry skin, then avoid products that eliminate oil, such as toners, clay masks, and some stronger anti-aging ingredients. Instead, reach for moisturizing cleansers and creams to use twice daily.

You might see the added clothing coverage as an opportunity to quit shaving. But you could be missing out on a key exfoliation opportunity. In the fall, it is important to get rid of the top layer of flaky and dry skin cells to help moisturizers reach skin.

Look at the ingredient list of almost any beauty product and it will contain hyaluronic acid. The molecule draws and keeps water in your skin, so it’s a favorite for hydrating serums, foundations, and plumping creams. But not all HAs are created equal—most sit on top of the skin and have a temporary effect—and they come in all different molecular weights and structures. SkinMedica’s HA5 includes five different types of hyaluronic acid for instant results and potent antioxidants for long-term results. It is (yet another) additional step, but if you’re forever dry, this will do the trick.

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