By Doris Day, MD
Being a New Yorker from birth and having experienced many winters here, I’ve tried to teach myself to love every season, but the best part of winter has always been knowing that spring was patiently waiting on the other side. Each season has it’s own unique, special effect and offering, not just in nature but with your skin, as well. It has it’s own special light, angle and set of colors that I work to enhance with treatments and skin care products. Springtime in particular is a powerful time of renewal for your skin and hair. I see more shedding of hair and patients coming in panicked that they are losing hair when it’s really just a shift in the hair cycling process, much like trees shed and regrow leaves and animals shed skin or fur.
It helps to change the way you treat your hair, the less you process and touch or “check” on it to see if it’s shedding the better. For the skin, you also have to take special care and adjust for each season. I see the worst sunburns in the spring because everyone has cabin fever after being indoors all winter so that when the first warm and sunny days arrive everyone is out and about, spending as much time outdoors as possible. They don’t think of sun protection as much as they should, or really at all in many cases. I submit to you that sun smart behavior is needed all year round. This means using sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days and even if you’re just going out for a short time. It also means wearing sun protective clothing whenever possible, wearing a hat and sunglasses as appropriate. I know, I can see from here how your eyes are glazing over, but know this: sun protection is the most powerful anti-aging gift you can give yourself. Over 90 percent of wrinkles and skin aging comes from exposure to ultra violet rays. For those who feel Vitamin D depleted, I highly recommend you opt for other natural sources of vitamin D, like fatty fish and nuts, rather than thinking the sun is the only or best source. It’s also one of the best times of year to eat high anti-oxidant fruits and vegetables, which give you extra protection from the inside and also add hydration since they are also usually packed with water. Berries are in or coming into season, lettuce and other vegetables are just coming into their prime.
Next on the list is to adjust skin care products. This means seeing your dermatologist, getting your annual skin cancer screening and reviewing your skin care regimen to optimize anti-oxidant, protective ingredients, and lighten up on the richness of the products to avoid clogging pores since there’s now more moisture in the air and you don’t need to provide as much barrier protection as needed in the cold dry winter months. You essentially lighten the load in every way. Here’s a list of my favorite spring ingredients and treatments to get your skin looking it’s very best for the bare-skin summer months ahead:
These are treatments best done by your dermatologist. Depending on the peel used, they can be done every 2-4 weeks and will leave your skin looking smoother, more even in tone, and feeling softer.
Clear and Brilliant Laser
This is a step above a microdermabrasion/peel and is a gentle laser treatment that helps improve tone and texture of the skin.
Fraxel 1927 Laser
Moving to the next level, this has about 3-5 days of flaking where your skin looks a little rough, but you can wear makeup and go out. It’s designed to treat sun spots, also known as age spots, but are really caused by exposure to the sun, as well as fine lines and rough texture of the skin. It’s one of the most popular treatments done today.
This is still the only device FDA approved to lift without surgery and it’s now also approved to treat the décolleté region. It goes deep to improve and reduce skin aging and wrinkling with no down time and helps get you ready for summer’s bare-skin season coming up.
Skin Care Ingredients
Look for ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid in your skin care products. These are two of my favorite ingredients and can be found in over-the-counter products, as well as cosmeceuticals from your dermatologist. They help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles in the skin and also help even out skin tone, hydrate, and improve skin radiance. They are great to use along with in-office treatments.
Incorporate nutraceuticals into your diet. These are daily supplements that boost healthy, beautiful skin. Yes, there is such a thing. Stay tuned for next month’s article on my favorite ingredients and brands to look for.
Did you think I would forget to mention this one? Not a chance! This is your best, most important step to help your skin look it’s best. Remember, it’s easier to avoid the damage than it is to fix it afterwards, but just by using sunscreen every day, you give your skin the most power to repair itself as well as help avoid further damage.
Light Emitted Diode (LED)
You will be hearing more and more about LED’s power of light without heat to heal and rejuvenate the skin. Yellow/Red are the colors for skin radiance and these are available in over-the-counter products, as well as through your dermatologist.
Dr. Day, a dermatologist, is affiliated with NYU Langone Hospital.