Awaken Your Skin This Spring

It is springtime, and we are ready to awaken from our relative slumber, also known as hibernation. Well, we don’t hibernate, per se, like bears do, but when the light cycles are shorter, humans exert less energy, rest more, and have a slower metabolism. Our circadian rhythms are based on light angle, intensity, and duration. A conical gland in the center of our brains called the pineal gland detects these cycles and secretes melatonin at specific times to help regulate our sleep cycles. It has other functions that science has not fully delineated yet. In some cultures, the pineal gland is known as the third eye.

During the shorter light cycles of the winter, our bodies have been on reserve mode, presumably because during evolution, bodies adapted to perceive shorter light cycles as a time of scarcity. Indeed, naturally found fruits and vegetables were rare in these months, before supermarkets were invented. Our bodies go on “reserve mode” during these times, preserving resources. Our hair, nails, and skin grow more sluggishly. Then, as we head toward spring, our bodies awaken. It is time to shed the old, built-up dead skin cells accumulated over winter and make room for the new. There are many things we can do to awaken our skin and bodies and take advantage of this time of renewal.

Exfoliate!
Contrary to what you might think, dry, flaky skin needs exfoliation and then moisture. If you are opting for mechanical exfoliation with a brush or scrub, limit it to once weekly. Chemical exfoliants are what I personally prefer, using a glycolic acid-based cream or serum daily. Mini peels with 2% salicylic acid pads every other day work great as well. Of course, at our office, a light Jessner-peel series or visit to our esthetician to get particle free microdermabrasion with the Diamond Glow device would be optimal. For the body, a glycolic wash followed by a once-weekly loofah scrub or salt scrub is ideal.

Hydrate
It is important to drink plenty of water. Hydrating from the inside out is key. It helps flush the organs and keep cells at optimal health. Drinking a glass of water morning, noon, and night and juicing fresh green vegetables a few times a week provides hydration and bioavailable vitamins and chlorophyll—now being studied for its anti-aging effects.

Step up your SPF
Generally SPF 30 is adequate for daily use in the winter months, but in the spring and summer, it is best to up your game by using an SPF 50 every day. The SPF contained in makeup is not adequate coverage and protection for your skin. One trick I learned to keep your daily SPF in place is to use a makeup primer first and setting powder afterward. When swimming, opt for an SPF 60 or higher-water-resistant formula. If you are sensitive to sunscreen, don’t give up! Keep trying different formulas until you find the one that your skin can tolerate. My preferred brands at the moment are ISDIN, Colorescience, EltaMD, and L’Oreal Anthelios.

Use brightening serums
In order to brighten your skin and give it firmness and glow, I love a great daily vitamin C serum. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, which is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It is an antioxidant and gradually lightens unwanted pigmentation (brown spots). I love RoC Revive and Glow daily serum with vitamin C. Other brightening active ingredients to look for are arbutin, kojic acid, and azelaic acid, all of which can reduce brown spots. In our office, we offer prescription-strength topicals as well to ameliorate unwanted pigmentation.

Stimulate lymphatic drainage
Once a skeptic, now it’s time to embrace the concept of facial lymphatic drainage. Use of ancient Gua Sha or Jade roller tools allows for stimulation of blood flow and reduction of puffiness due to stagnant lymph flow. The lymphatic vessels throughout the body do not have valves as the blood vessels do. They require movement and pressure in order to “milk” the lymphatic flow through the body. A lack of this flow causes a puffy, boggy look to the face. Drainage can be done daily or twice daily at home and has the added benefit of better delivering products to the skin. Our practice offers a lymphatic drainage facial, for those who prefer that it be professionally done.

Supplement
I am a huge fan of supplements and take at least 35 a day. At the very least, a multivitamin provides necessary co-factors to rev up your organism this spring. Because I have many requests for a list of my favorite vitamins, I put together a month’s worth of daily packets. It contains the ideal supplements for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Select skin supplements are available at bellaskinstore.com.

Eat fresh
Besides juicing, enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables chock-full of antioxidants. Citrus fruits are ideal for skin health and contain co-factors for collagen formation. Add to that broccoli, lettuce, carrots, apples, blueberries, and watermelon and voila! You are giving your body a fresh start.

Lighten up!
Change your nighttime moisturizer to a lighter formula as the weather becomes less dry. A hyaluronic acid or water-based formula is best. Avoid thicker oils and emollients. Continue retinoids if you have been using them, (but be consistent about sunscreen). Looks like masks aren’t going anywhere just yet but you can keep your skin clear of pimples by applying a dab of Miracle Cream on your breakouts. It does its best to work overnight and can be applied directly over pimples, after your usual regimen. Available at bellaskinstore.com.

Spring cleaning
A thorough replacement or cleansing of makeup brushes is in order. Use a mild, hypoallergenic, Dove foaming cleanser and stir brushes in warm water. Rinse thoroughly and squeeze moisture out with a dry towel. Rather than setting the brushes to dry, try blow drying them. This is a good time to get rid of old, expired makeup and skin care products as well. It is time for a fresh start!

There are many tips and tricks to keep ahead of the weather and humidity and body changes that happen in the spring. The changes are mostly for the better! Let’s optimize what nature is already doing by following these few simple tips. For more beauty tips, my book, Seven Days to Sexy, is available at Amazon.com.

The statements in this article are for general
informational purposes only and do not
substitute for individual medical advice.

By Anna D. Guanche, MD, FAAD
Board Certified Dermatologist
Bella Skin Institute, Calabasas