As a family nurse practitioner with a special interest in dermatology, I frequently have people ask me how they can not only prevent skin cancer on their faces, but how to keep their skin looking youthful.
The list of age-defying products, foods, tips, and “secrets” is endless. Typically they involve expensive lotions and creams, eating foods that contain antioxidants, or even sometimes rubbing those foods on your face. But here are some simple, everyday changes that can alter your look without altering your lifestyle or significantly impacting your budget.
1) Use daily moisturizer with sunscreen on your face all year round.
Everyone already knows that to prevent premature aging, they should protect themselves from harmful UV rays from the sun. But think about it. How do you typically use sunscreen? You arrive at the beach and proceed to put it on. What about your drive there, though? It’s likely that the sun was beating down on your face as you wended your way down the road from your house to the beach, daydreaming of your toes in the sand. You should apply sunscreen before you leave the house. There are many facial moisturizers that contain between 15 to 50 SPF that are available in discount pharmacies as well as department stores. Higher price doesn’t necessarily mean more sun protection.
Since my private practice is in the state of Washington, many patients say to me, “but we don’t have sun here in the winter.” Any amount of sun can be damaging to your skin, leading to age spots, wrinkles and cancer. Just like you should brush and floss your teeth daily, developing a daily habit of year-round sunscreen is best. See your healthcare professional or cosmetic dermatology practice to discuss treatments available to remove sun spots, skin cancer and minimize wrinkles. Using daily sunscreen can minimize the return of these aging effects of the sun.
2) Just as less makeup is more youthful
In most situations, less scrubbing will help protect your skin from damage. Dab – don’t wipe – your face with a towel to dry it off. I have seen women who, although using age defying cosmetics, are absolutely brutal with their face when it comes to removing the very makeup they are hoping will keep them looking youthful. And don’t forget, your daily makeup applying and removing rituals aren’t the only times you interact with your face!
Many times throughout the day we touch our faces without even thinking, breaking down the elasticity of our skin and creating perfect homes for wrinkles. Try to be conscious of when you touch your face; fold your hands in your lap when you are tempted to rub your temples or rest your chin on your hand, and be gentle when using a napkin.
3) Sunscreen is not the only way to protect your skin.
Sun protective clothing, gloves and hats are all great ways to block the sun’s rays. Each day I see men with cancer or precancerous lesions on their ears, temples, cheeks and neck, even though they have worn a baseball cap every day for most of their lives. You need to wear a broad brimmed hat to fully protect your face, ears and neck. Since I have fair skin, I make sure to wear a hat with UV50+ sun protection year-round, even when the sunshine is not as intense. Cowboys and people on the prairie learned this lesson a long time ago, and sun protection can be a fashion statement as well as a health decision.
With just a few tiny adjustments, you will be well on your way to maintaining a youthful appearance. Like other things in life, I believe it’s the little things like these, that when compounded over time, can make the most profound difference.
Susan J Jones, ARNP is a registered Family Nurse Practitioner. She now runs her own family practice on Whidbey Island, Washington. In 2011, Susan was awarded the Hometown Hero award for her medical work, both domestically and in Latin America.