By Dr. Doris Day
Making a New Year’s resolution is usually a set up for failure. You can promise to eat better, lose weight, be nicer to yourself—but in the end if you don’t give yourself the proper tools to reach that goal you make it impossible to get there. It’s like trying to cross an ocean without building a bridge…you get the idea.
It’s good to think big and set goals. And the best way to make sure you get there is to take baby steps. The resolution: to have healthy skin that ages well. Your skin is a powerful reflection of your overall health and well-being, having skin that looks beautiful means your skin is healthy and has a lower risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Putting your best face forward can take effort—but it’s worth it and gets easier when you see the results in the mirror. Here, my five steps to make your resolution a reality for 2017.
This is true in life and for your skin. Look in the mirror and see your best features. Is it your eyes? Your bone structure? Your lips? What are your best features? Being thankful for your unique special features, and reflecting on that, is a great way to star your new year off beautifully. Another important goal is to be grateful for your natural skin tone and to go with your own glow. This means being sun smart: use sunscreen every day all year round, reapply it every two hours when you’re out, wear a hat and sun protective clothing when possible and stay in the shade when you can. It will make this year’s resolution for beautiful, healthy skin a reality and will add value for years to come because 90 percent of wrinkles and the signs of aging we see in the skin come from exposure to ultraviolet rays. Simply protecting against damage will serve you well for decades to come.
Yes, loving your skin means following a daily routine of great skin care. It starts with cleansing as the first step. This is often overlooked, but it is crucial to wash off makeup, pollution and buildup of oils from the day. The next step is regular exfoliation, how often depends on your skin type. After that, I love serums containing growth factors and antioxidants to help your skin regenerate and rejuvenate and of course sunscreen and moisturizers to round out the set of recommendations. One simple guide to the order of application of skin care products is thickness: apply the lighter products first such as serums or lotions and the richer products last such as moisturizers.
PUT IT BEHIND YOU
Every day I hear patients lamenting their years of tanning and other lifestyle choices that accelerated the aging of their skin. This shows as blotchy uneven skin, wrinkles and sagging. The good news is what you do today can help undo at least some of the damage of the past. Simply stopping the tanning will go a long way in avoiding future damage and will allow your skin to reverse some of the changes that have occurred. A visit to your dermatologist will also help as we have outstanding non-surgical approaches to turn back the clock leaving you restored and refreshed.
TIME FOR YOURSELF
Living in today’s world can be stressful. You can be pulled in so many directions; there may be traffic woes from traffic delays and, of course, work and family matters are right up there. The compounding of stress upon stress can lead to a flare of anything you’re prone to from acne to eczema to psoriasis or rosacea. Plan ahead by acknowledging the facts, allowing yourself time for you every day. Create an emergency skin care bag with your dermatologist to help you handle flares and be sure to maintain your regular skin care routine when you travel. Your body likes routine, it is called homeostasis. As much as you can, keep to your regular sleep-wake cycles and avoid excess salt and alcohol.
Things will get better: The way I see it, you didn’t get here overnight. We live in a time of instant results, quick fixes and apps that make everyone look picture perfect. But they set an unrealistic expectation of what it takes to reach those goals. True and lasting changes, improvement in collagen and restoring you back to a more youthful appearance in a natural way takes time and is best done slowly. This will leave you looking your best not just today and this year, but for years to come. This also means sticking with any new product you try for a minimum of six weeks.
Each point was meant to inspire you in many ways for the coming year. There are no shortcuts, but you have the whole year to follow them for a great year and beautiful, healthy, happy years to follow.
Dr. Day, a dermatologist, is affiliated with NYU Langone Hospital.