Skin Care Excerpt: 'You: Being Beautiful'

In your typical 50s, you may experience a deepening of facial lines and wrinkles due to the loss of subcutaneous fat, moisture loss, and accumulated sun damage. As skin elasticity declines, skin may start to sag, especially around the jawline and eye area. If you are postmenopausal, the related drop in estrogen can make your skin thinner, dryer, and more easily irritated. Hydrating moisturizers will decrease water loss but can lead to unnecessary dependence on them (you'll feel as though you always need them). Vitamin A and E creams increase the water content of the skin. Regular exfoliation is a good start, decreasing the thickness of the dry, rough epidermis (more details later).

If you are typical and natural, in your 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, cell turnover and skin healing are even slower, and your skin may be very dry, as well. Mature skin may need special care, starting with hydrating moisturizers and regular exfoliation to encourage cell turnover.

Your Skin: What Else Can Go Wrong

As the primary part of your body exposed to external threats, your skin is not only your -body's greatest protector but also extremely vulnerable to the outside world.

Of course, -we're most concerned with cancerous growths. Keep an eye out for precancerous growths by self--exam with the help of a partner (have your spouse or a close friend look at all the areas you -can't see and photograph your total skin surface), and have anything new or different evaluated by a dermatologist. You can even use your cell phone camera to record pictures that your dermatologist can use to compare yearly changes. Put a dime next to any growths that you photograph to provide an estimate of size. By the way, in case you think -you're safe just because you stay out of the sun, realize that skin--damaging ozone levels increase in the afternoon, which can affect skin whether -it's sunny or not. That underscores the point that you need to try to keep your skin healthy even if you have the best sun--protecting habits. Following are some other health issues that have beauty implications. These are irritating conditions that can influence your appearance and self--confidence.

Acne and Rosacea: While people often like to think that things like chocolate are responsible for pimples, -there's no proof that what pops up on your dessert plate influences what pops up on your nose the night before a big presentation. What we do know is that 80 percent of U.S. teens and 40 percent of U.S. adults complain of pimples. But in Papua, New Guinea, the figure is nearly 0 percent, so -it's a fair guess that something is going on with our lifestyle. One culprit is inadequate intake of omega--3 fatty acids (as opposed to saturated or trans fats or omega--6 fats from corn and soybean oils). Get adequate amounts of these good fats by consuming walnuts, avocados, freshly ground flaxseed, canola oil, fish oils, or DHA supplements from algae. Another culprit? Stress. In studies of college kids during exams, researchers found them to have many more bouts of acne while under pressure. Paradoxically, the steroid medication triamcinolone can be injected to calm a severe form of pimples called cystic acne, but -there's a cost—it also thins the skin, often leaving a depression months later.

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