Prepare your skin for autumn

We’ve experienced 
a summer of extreme temperature changes, from scorching-hot days that have had us running for the pool, beach or airconditioning, to weeks of wind and rain. The extreme temperature changes aren’t kind to even the least sensitive skin, but there are things you can do to heal some of the damage and to prepare your skin for the cooler months ahead.


Skin feels and looks dry


Is your skin looking and feeling tight and dry? You may need to look at your beauty regimen, diet and water consumption.

1 Don’t use hot water when washing your face. Use water that is tepid. Also, make sure the washcloth you’re using isn’t too rough.

2 Opt for a soap-free cleanser that will remove excess dirt while encouraging gentle exfoliation. Toner, moisturising day cream and night conditioner can help to hydrate and revitalise the skin.

3 Treat yourself to a facial, which 
can give your skin a deeper cleanse than what you can achieve at home. Speak with your beautician about 
having a facial that is designed for dehydrated skin.


Sun and age spots


Commonly occurring on exposed areas such as the face and hands, sun and age spots are usually the result of cumulative exposure to sunlight.

1 Unfortunately, sun and age spots don’t usually fade naturally over 
time, so prevention is key, which 
means applying sunscreen daily.

2 There are various skin lighteners and brighteners on the market that help to fade sun and age spots. Check with your skincare specialist about the products that will best suit your skincare needs.

3 Check with your doctor, dermatologist or skin cancer specialist to ensure these spots are not something more serious, such as melanoma.


Skin is irritated and flaking


Red, inflamed and irritated skin usually points to dietary imbalance or can be caused by your external environment.

1 A daily multivitamin, plus a diet rich in essential fatty acids, is vital for achieving a healthy, glowing complexion. Essential fatty acids can be found in nuts, seeds, flaxseed and evening primrose oil.

2 Avoid hot showers and baths. Make sure the water is lukewarm and limit your bathing time to five to 10 minutes.

3 Make sure you are not overheating when you sleep. Inappropriate heating, bedding and clothing are some of the main causes of skin irritation. Opt for natural fibres that allow the skin to breathe.


Fine lines are more visible


Fine lines are the inevitable result 
of ageing, but skin damage and 
lack of nutrients can make them 
more visible than they need to be.

1 Use beauty products that contain 
alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which have been shown to minimise the appearance of fine lines.

2 Fine lines can look more obvious if you are dehydrated. Make sure your water intake is adequate and keep alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum.

3 Take your face to the gym. Exercising your facial muscles, including doing facial yoga, tightens and tones the skin.

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Remove stress from your face

Stress is not for the faint of heart – nor thin of skin. You know at some gut level (like when you catch the reflection of your furrowed brow in a window) that stress doesn’t help your appearance.

Now science is detailing the myriad ways the stress hormone cortisol literally gets under your skin, leading to dryness and other signs of ageing (including, yes, those lovely worry lines).

But what science now reveals is that it also heals. Once you ID how your inner turmoil shows itself, you can use targeted home and pro therapies to counter its not-so-pretty effects. With our strategies, your skin will look calm, cool and collected.


“Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol, which damages skin’s ability to hold on to water,” says Peter Elias, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The resulting moisture loss also diminishes luminosity, explains David Goldberg, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology and director of laser research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Correct it

Look for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products. “Their lower pH prevents further dryness and inflammation,” says Goldberg.

Wash your face with lukewarm water; hot temperatures strip skin’s oils. Slathering on your face cream while skin is slightly damp traps moisture.


Cortisol triggers an elevation in blood sugar, which – via a process called glycation – damages collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that plump skin and keep it smooth. Constant muscle tension also leads to permanent wrinkling.

Correct it

OTC creams made with retinol and antioxidants encourage collagen production to firm skin. A prescription retinoid like Renova offers significantly better results.

For an instant fix, you can soften lines by relaxing muscles with Botox (costs around US$400 per treated area and lasts up to four months) or filling them in with injectables such as Evolence or Restylane (US$600 and up, with results lasting six months).


The increased blood flow that occurs when you’re under duress may cause capillaries to expand. Stress also triggers flushing known as rosacea, according to the National Rosacea Society. And because stress weakens your immune system, flare-ups may last longer.

Correct it

When used daily, topical creams made with anti-inflammatories such as allantoin and licorice root extract can ease ruddiness. Prescription treatments include light and laser therapy that zap blood vessels: You’ll need several sessions that each cost US$300 and up.

If you suffer from rosacea, you may need topical prescriptions to reduce inflammation.


Stress increases the inflammation that leads to breakouts, says Gil Yosipovitch, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University.

Correct it

Use a lotion containing skin-sloughing salicylic acid or bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide, plus a noncomedogenic moisturiser so skin won’t get too dry. If your skin doesn’t respond to treatment within a few weeks, see your doctor for more potent meds.


Anxiety causes a chain reaction, leading to sleepless nights, which in turn cause puffiness, says Amy Wechsler, MD, a dermatologist and psychiatrist in New York City and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection.

Correct it

Use cucumber slices as mini ice packs for the eyes; they constrict the blood and lymph vessels that bring fluid to the area. Sleep with your head slightly elevated to prevent fluid from pooling.



1. Work out

Exercise three or four days a week to decrease tension, boost circulation, and keep inflammation in check. “Even a long walk can pump out positive endorphins,” says Richard Fried, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and psychologist in Yardley, PA.

2. Get enough sleep

Sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night not only monkeys with your mood, but causes the body to release cortisol, increasing dryness and inflammation, says Amy Wechsler, MD.


1. Keep a Skin Diary

“Write down what’s going on in your life when your skin acts up and when it gets better,” she says. That helps you zero in on the emotional issue that’s triggering your skin problem.


See a skin shrink. Consider seeing a dermatologist who’s also board certified in psychiatry or psychology, known as psychodermatologists.

Besides prescribing antibiotics for acne and retinoids for wrinkles, they will recommend alternative techniques such as acupuncture and massage.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved by New York Times Syndication Sales Corp. This material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.

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