Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lotions and Creams and Sagging Skin... OH MY!

I can't pinpoint exactly when I started obsessing about the nature of my skin but I believe it was right around the time I turned 30. One incident that indelibly sticks out in my mind is while I was vacationing at my dad's house in Napa. He must have extraordinary lighting (read: not flattering) in his guest bathroom because I remember catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately going in for the close-up. HELLO CREPE-Y SKIN AROUND MY EYES and HEY CROW'S FEET! WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO SHOW UP?!? I think at that point I chalked it up to the increased consumption of red wine over the weekend (HEY! It's Napa! That's what they do!) and the lack of sleep that was causing my usually youthful-looking skin to appear aged and so uncharacteristically tired! Little did I know that this was ONLY the beginning of the downward spiral.

After a handful of scrutinizing-every-inch-of-my-skin-in-the-mirror incidences, I started to realize that if I wanted to have great skin I needed to start taking action. I needed to develop a regimen that would help my skin be at it's best...and for me that meant LESS WRINKLY, CREPE-Y bullsh*t around my eyes (I'm sure that wrinkly, crepe-y bullsh*t will eventually end up on other areas of my face but let's not go there, mmmmkay?).

Before I was a nurse, I was a makeup artist for a department store brand. I spent countless hours beautifying women and selling them products to enhance their beauty and, more often, their self-esteem. The money makers for the major cosmetic lines isn't necessarily color (i.e. eye shadow, lipstick, blush) but their skin care line. Serums, creams, toners, and cleansers can cost a small fortune but women with beauty and youthfulness in mind had no problem paying a premium for the miracle they boasted ($250 for a 1.7 oz face cream... I sh*t you not). Now I'm not saying that those products don't work because they do....but you can find less expensive products that do essentially the same thing for a fraction of the cost. And really..... it's all marketing with that crazy-expensive stuff. Now I'm no expert (I'm a NURSE, remember) but after my realization that I ain't gettin' any younger, I began experimenting with different products and I've managed to find a few that have decreased the appearance of wrinkles and given my skin a healthy, dewy, youthful glow. Using my years of experience as a makeup artist and keeping notes I'd read in magazines on recommended skin care products, I began developing my arsenal against aging. First up? Glycolic acid, baby!

I read somewhere about the amazing benefits of glycolic acid in reducing wrinkles and possibly decreasing the risk of skin cancer due to it's amazing-ness (no seriously, I read that it helps decrease this but I can't remember how...I'm sure the google can help you find it if you're dying to know). After doing a little research on the strength to buy and how often to use it, I meandered over to the Vitamin Shoppe and ordered the 10% glycolic acid cream (no prescription required!). Fast-forward to about 2 weeks later and I WAS IN LOVE! I have to say, glycolic acid CHANGED MY LIFE...or at least the life/appearance of my skin. My skin was smooth and youthful-looking and I had that just-from-the-spa glow. Amazing. No, seriously...my skin hasn't looked this good since my early-20's (ugh, that sort of sickens me to say that! Early-20's? I don't even know where my mid-20's went BTW!).

There is one other product that I added to my regimen that has taken my skin leaping and bounding back to a more youthful territory...and that, my friends, is Retin-A. Hello miracle product! Now you need a prescription for Retin-A (trust me, I scoured the internet trying to buy it from Canada = DENIED!) but most dermatologists and some primary care doctors will prescribe it to you, no problemo. The risk is that it is a teratogen (i.e. potentially harmful to a fetus) so it cannot be used if you are pregnant (and, honestly, the research about it being harmful is for Retin-A's more harmful cousin, tetracycline, which is taken orally...little is known about the effects of topical Retin-A on a fetus so for that unknown, it is NOT recommended to use during pregnancy/breastfeeding......B-U-M-M-E-R!).

Here's what I do every night... I alternate using Retin-A one night and then glycolic acid cream the next (which CAN be used during pregnancy... HALLELUJAH!!) and, after about 30 minutes or so, I top it with a heavy-duty moisturizer (I have dry skin and am not prone to breakouts). Seriously....these two products together could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize or an Emmy or something like that. They are MIRACLE WORKERS, I tell you.

Both products are irritating to the skin and you may develop some redness and/or peeling during the first few weeks....oh, and the glycolic WILL burn a bit when you first put it on (burns sooooo gooooood for like 5 minutes). If you can't stand the burn (I love...no, CRAVE the burn!) you can mix it with a bit of moisturizer to lessen the sting..... WUSS!! And you MUST MUST MUST wear sunscreen DAILY with these products because they can increase your sensitivity to sunburn... and really, it's 2010... you SHOULD be wearing a daily sunscreen anyway. Duh.

I'm toying with the idea of laser treatments or chemical peels or microdermabrasions because I hear they can work miracles, too.... but I don't know which one is best for me. And I'm not certain I'm ready to cross the threshold into the dermatologists office with the soft lighting and the comfy chairs and the super spendy procedures (upwards of $500!!) and the close proximity to Botox. I've never done needles and have no plans to... but in a moment of weakness and uber-salesmanship, I could possibly be persuaded.

Maybe living in LA for 7 years did it to me but I believe it is in our human nature to want to look good and feel beautiful... I believe a little bit of vanity is a good thing as it keeps me eating healthy and exercising regularly and showering often. I know eventually time is going to catch up to me and aging is inevitable but taking care of my skin and my body is important and by doing so I hope to continue to love my outer beauty as much as I love my inner beauty.

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