Beauty Wisdom From Grandmothers and Estheticians

Lisa Sykes

I recall the beauty advice my grandmother gave me almost twenty-five years ago: 1. Stay out of the sun—carry an umbrella if you must. 2. Only wear mascara on your upper lashes and don’t use eyeliner. 3. Don’t smoke (even though, ironically, she once modeled for Chesterfield cigarettes).  At the time, I thought I knew better than she did and politely agreed with her, ultimately doing what most other teenage girls did in the 1980s: tan. And, uh, mmm. . . I won’t address the years I listened to new wave and ignored her suggestion by applying makeup in the fashion of Siouxsie Sioux.

My grandmother, Susan

Growing up in Florida, I spent most of my teen years on the beach, eschewing sunscreen and rubbing in the baby oil. Now, as I approach 40, I’m becoming increasingly cautious about how I treat my skin. So are your clients. Perhaps they ignored good guidance from their grandmothers too. As they age, they’re more willing to listen, so here’s your chance to offer them some practical pointers, perhaps the same they were given years ago but disregarded.

Don’t Smoke
A major contributor to premature wrinkles, especially around the mouth and eyes, smoking depletes skin of oxygen and nutrients because it impairs blood flow. Studies also show that smoking also damages collagen by destroying the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) molecule, which is integral for the production of collagen.

Drink Water
Much has been written about drinking water to moisturize skin from the inside out, but some dermatologists disagree with promoting this theory because it lacks a controlled study. This isn’t to say, however, that you should lower your water bottle. Maintaining proper hydration helps reduce the appearance of fine lines–it just doesn’t prevent dry, flaky skin.  So, continue to drink plenty of water, just don’t rely on it to replace your daily moisturizer.

Choose Highly Nutritious Foods
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will deliver the nutrients your skin needs to look its best. Avoid low nutrition meals like processed and fast foods—they’re mostly comprised of salt, calories, fats, and unhealthy additives.

There are two reasons why exercise is good for your skin: It reduces stress and boosts circulation. Your skin tries to keep out viruses and antigens, but sometimes these wicked little assailants get through. When this happens, your skin discharges an immune response (white blood cells) to destroy them. When you are under a lot of stress, there’s an increase in the frequency of this occurrence, which can lead to blotchiness. Stress also releases cortisol, a hormone that triggers the production of sebum. While sebum is beneficial for pushing out impurities from the pores, too much of it can actually clog them, causing a build-up of dead skin cells, resulting in inflammation and acne.

Boosting circulation is important too. Blood removes waste and carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells. The more often blood circulates, the better.  When skin cells are nourished, they function properly.

Get Some Sleep
Chronic lack of sleep can alter your complexion by causing puffiness, bags, and dark circles. Research even suggests that it slows collagen production. Most people need 7-8 hours, but some may require slightly more or less. 

Avoid the Sun
You don’t have to carry around an umbrella–you can avoid harmful rays by utilizing sunscreen/sunblock, hats, and sunglasses. The difference between sunblock and sunscreen? Sunscreens are light and water-soluble.  Their function is to filter certain UV rays. Thick and water-resistant, sunblock actually blocks UV rays, so they don’t reach the skin at all. (Think of the thick white zinc oxide that lifeguards use on their noses.)

Gently Cleanse
The following will strip oil from your skin: bathing in hot water, using harsh cleansers, and toweling off completely dry.  Try warm water, gentle cleansers, and patting dry, allowing a little moisture to remain on the skin. Then, follow up with a moisturizer.

I’m sure there’s more! Have suggestions? Reply to this post and share them.

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