Youthful skin is not only wrinkle-free, it’s smooth as silk. And while it might feel effortless to maintain soft cheeks in your younger years, at some point (earlier than we expect!) the natural shedding of our skin cells— an essential process for smooth, glowing skin— begins its decline. Warm weather signals an uptick in our cell turnover (the rate at which our skin cells naturally loosen and fall off, revealing new skin underneath), but that doesn't mean that your skin will always be smooth and glowing in the summer. The sunscreen we’re applying daily to prevent wrinkles can exacerbate textural issues when it mixes with sweat and makeup. The result is a dull, uneven, clogged complexion.
But we’re not stuck with rough. My prescription for your silkiest skin ever is a combo of beauty foods, products and practices to restore the smoothness of your cheeks. This regimen helps even your skin, head to toe, so other problem areas like your shoulders and décolleté will benefit as well.
Get younger-looking skin right now with these four steps:
1. Boost the skin-smoothing vitamin A in your diet. This multitasking beauty nutrient is essential for balancing the sebum production in our skin, repairing and renewing our cells, and encouraging natural cell turnover. Excellent seasonal sources of vitamin A include greens (dandelion, collards, romaine, kale and spinach are great picks), carrots, cantaloupe, red peppers and peas. Be sure to add some healthy fats to your vitamin A-rich foods to help you absorb the fat-soluble nutrition.
2. Reduce inflammation. Lowering aging inflammation is always a good idea for your skin (since it contributes to wrinkles, redness and blemishes), but it’s especially important for maintaining a smooth, happy complexion. Reduce the quantity of inflammatory foods in your diet (I call them the Beauty Betrayers, and you can find a complete list in my book Eat Pretty), like refined sugar and processed foods.
3. Practice more frequent (but gentle!) manual exfoliation. Using a soft muslin cloth or gentle washcloth to slough off dead cells and stubborn sunscreen can transform the texture of your skin. The trick is to slow down and never tug, rub or pull. Soak your cloth in warm water, wring it out, and use it to wipe your face, along your jawline and down your neck to your collarbone once a day or a few times a week after you cleanse.
4. Find a scrub or enzyme exfoliant that pairs well with your skin. Some scrubs and alpha hydroxy acids can be harsh on skin, and leave them more susceptible to sunburns. If you have reactive skin, try honey or an enzyme exfoliant formulated for sensitive skin as a gently exfoliating mask. And if your skin can handle a little more intensity, go for a stronger enzyme exfoliant (pineapple, papaya, honey and berries are naturally exfoliating ingredients) or a scrub. Both skin types can also benefit from the use of skin care that contains retinols to increase cell turnover‑ask your dermatologist about those, or look for a gentle, over-the-counter version.
Image ©J E Theriot