By Dr. Doris Day
As we move from summer to fall, it’s important to take stock of your skincare and diet routine to make sure you look your healthy best. When it comes to the skin, there are no shortcuts: beautiful skin means healthy skin which results in a healthy you. Autumn is my favorite time for skin health. The weather is starting to cool off from the summer’s high temperatures but not close to the winter lows. The days are still long but the sun is not quite as glaring, and the harvest foods are at their peak—which means we can feast on healthful foods for the skin.
For optimum skincare results, review the products you’re using. As you know, in the summer you need to upgrade your sunscreen and downgrade moisturizers from creamy to lighter lotions or even gels. However, now that the weather is getting drier and cooler, it’s time to revert slowly to richer moisturizers at night since you lose more water from your skin while you sleep. You may also consider exfoliating more often since skin cells can slough off a little slower in the cooler months.
Ingredients to look for skin perfection include Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol. Many people make the mistake of stopping the use of Retinol in the summer thinking it makes them more sun sensitive. In reality, it’s fine to keep using year round, as long as you use sunscreen, which should be an automatic reflex every day of the year. If retinol has not been part of your routine, it’s time to consider making it a regular. It’s at the top of my favorite ingredients list because the more we know about it, the more we learn about the benefits. It’s one of the most highly studied and scientifically evaluated ingredients available with a fifty-year history of data.
One of the more common myths about Retinol is that it thins out the skin. With the proper concentration and formulation, it makes the deep layer of the skin (where your collagen lives) thicker resulting in firmness giving skin a more youthful look. It also helps normalize skin cell turnover so those pesky dead skin cells sitting on the surface, called the stratum corneum, naturally slough off more appropriately. When the skin cells pile up on that outermost layer, they make the skin look dull, and make wrinkles appear deeper. By using Retinol regularly, your skin will be smoother giving it a more radiant, younger feel.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is another ingredient that has excellent skin benefits. It is naturally found in your body and about 60 percent of the body’s Hyaluronic Acid is found in the skin. It has the crucial job of holding water. When you drink water, the HA in your skin absorbs the water and gives your skin resilience. Aging and sun damage deplete HA, resulting in skin losing elasticity and looking saggy. Applying it to the skin will serve to improve hydration, however, it will not reach the deeper layers. For that, it is recommended you see your dermatologist who can advise you on such products as Voluma, Juvederm, and Restylane among other brands.
Don’t discount the importance of feeding and nourishing your skin from the inside. Everything you eat and drink has an effect on your skin, for better or for worse. Here are some of my top favorites for the skin:
• Pomegranate This is my favorite fruit. My dad used to buy it by the case when I was a child and we would roll and squeeze the fruit to soften and help the juice leak out of the seeds without breaking the shell. We would then make a hole in the fruit and drink fresh pomegranate juice every day while it was in season. This fruit can reduce your risk of most cancers. It contains polyphenols called ellagitannins, which give the fruit its color and which have unique protective and rejuvenating effects for the skin.
• Sweet Potato This is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It even counters the effects of secondhand smoke. It has nutrients like glutathione, an antioxidant that can enhance nutrient metabolism (think of it as a battery recharger) and immune system health. It’s also high in vitamin C, which helps smooth out wrinkles by stimulating and supporting collagen production. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that volunteers who consumed four milligrams of C (about half a small sweet potato) daily for three years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent.
• Tomato Red is best, and it’s packed with lycopene. Lycopene can be very helpful in eliminating the skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. The good news is processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones. So bring on the tomato sauce!
• Pumpkin This is not only good for carving and celebrating Halloween, but it can also help your eyesight, reduce your risk of cancer, lose weight and rejuvenate your skin. It has key ingredients like vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium, especially in cooked pumpkin And it contains an amino acid called Tryptophan which is essential for the production of serotonin (the happy hormone), so you will feel as good as you look.
• Artichoke This is a fiber-rich plant that has more magnesium and potassium than any other vegetable. It leaves are rich in flavonoids and polyphenol antioxidants which help reverse damage from pollution and ultraviolet rays. It’s also packed with vitamin C. And, it’s fun to eat!
Every season has its unique benefits to make you look and feel your best. Enjoy the season!
Dr. Day, a dermatologist, is affiliated with NYU Langone Hospital.