Remedies for soft skin
Whether you’re 25 or 65, the quest to maintain healthy, soft skin can be a daily battle. While there is no guaranteed method to permanently turn back the clock, there are several simple ways to slow it down and retain fresh skin. Dermatologist Benjamin Barankin, MD, says that help is available for even the most serious of skin cases, thanks to advances in skin care and some healthy lifestyle tweaks. From the latest in facial moisturizers to new medical interventions, here are some tips to achieve more vibrant skin.
Wash your face properly
With a vast spectrum of lotions and potions on the market, it’s easy to become confused about what to use—especially on your face. “Using a cleanser rather than a soap is always a good idea,” Dr. Barankin says. Soap is often too harsh and drying for delicate facial skin. The key is selecting a cleanser that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), “a detergent that is deep cleaning but also dehydrates the skin,” he explains. To complete your routine, Dr. Barankin suggests using lukewarm water after you finish washing and to pat dry without rubbing.
Try a new moisturizer
Been using the same moisturizer for years? With scientists discovering new ingredients to fight the war on dry skin, perhaps it’s time to start anew. “Look for creams containing coffee berry extract, matrixyl, or ceramide to soften skin,” Dr. Barankin says. Barankin also applauds the use of vitamin-infused emollients. “At night, using a vitamin-C-based cream can be helpful. It’s not only anti-aging, but it also peels off some of the upper dead layers of skin that cause dullness and roughness,” he says. “An over-the-counter retinol or prescription Tretinoin (vitamin A) would also help soften the skin and peel off dead layers.”
Add more fish to your diet
We’re all familiar with the old adage, “You are what you eat.” But when it comes to your skin, this saying couldn’t be more applicable. An unhealthy diet chock-full of fast or processed foods and high in sugar will result in a dull, dry, and sometimes acne-riddled complexion. Dr. Barankin suggests a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and especially fish. Salmon, tilapia, and herring are packed with omega-3 fatty acids—key building blocks that stave off inflammation and help your skin stay smooth and pliable. And don’t forget water! “If you’re not getting enough fluids, you’re going to look more crinkly, and the skin will appear dryer and rougher,” Dr. Barankin says.
Avoid the enemies of soft skin
Alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and excessive sun exposure are all factors that threaten healthy skin. “Being healthy overall—not smoking or drinking alcohol—helps your body in so many ways, including your skin,” Dr. Barankin says. Alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes act as diuretics, dehydrating the skin and causing a sallow color, while too much sun also encourages skin damage. “[If] you look at older people where they haven’t had sun, the skin is actually soft and supple, so we know pollution and sunlight do play a role,” Dr. Barankin adds.
Separate fact from fiction
“Sleep and exercise are both great for the skin,” Dr. Barankin says. “When you sleep better, you have less dark circles [for example].” As for exercise, being physically engaged aids the skin, too. “It increases circulation and gives a nice firmness to the skin,” he says. “Exercise reduces cortisol levels—your stress hormones—and we know [they] age you as well.” He cautions, however, that homemade masks as well as facial massages, only offer a temporary effect. “They feel nice, but there’s no real data to say they’re beneficial [long term].”
Consider a professional cosmetic treatment
Advances in cosmetic procedures have opened the door to many new soft-skin success stories. “There are now more chemical [facial] peels than ever: glycolic, salicylic acid, retinoic acid, Jessner. Each is unique and gives more options, depending on skin type and how much downtime someone can tolerate,” Dr. Barankin. says. “Microdermabrasion and some laser-type devices can soften skin as well.” While these cosmetic quick fixes are tempting, they can also be pricey and are not appropriate for everyone. Before proceeding with these treatments, a consultation with a dermatologist is recommended.
Your guide to healthy skin
Looking for more advice for healthy skin? From skin cancer prevention to the best anti-aging treatments, find all the answers to your skincare concerns in the Reader’s Digest Guide to Skin Care—a comprehensive, no-nonsense guide.