By: Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH
Skin care creams come in many different varieties, and there are products designed for just about any skin care disorder you can think of. Creams are available to deal with dry skin, balance out skin tone, eliminate age spots, improve the appearance of spider veins, improve wrinkles, and even combat damage from free radicals. Here’s an overview of some of the common conditions and imperfections that may call for a skin care cream, as well as some tips for finding the proper skin care cream for your particular needs.
Why use cream?
Wrinkles are an inevitable consequence of getting older. As your skin ages, it naturally becomes thinner and less pliable. Wrinkles are imperfections of the skin that vary in degree, depending on their depth and location. They are often classified as coarse (deep) or fine (shallow). The older we get, the more our skin undergoes changes regarding structure, amount of collagen (reducing about 1% annually after the age of 30), elasticity, amount of muscle mass, and other measures of skin quality. All of these factors combine to produce wrinkling that changes the appearance of our skin.
Another common result of aging skin is inconsistent skin color. As our skin gets older, less and less melanocytes (specialized pigment-producing cells) are available. It is estimated that most people lose almost 7% of their melanocytes every decade once they turn 30. Thus the skin becomes lighter and more irregular in appearance. This phenomenon also makes the skin more susceptible to sun damage.
Spider veins are enlarged and ruptured blood vessels that are found near the surface of the skin, most typically on the face, arms, and legs. Older skin becomes thinner over time, and therefore these tiny veins become increasingly visible.
The official name for age spots (or sun spots as they are sometimes called) is solar lentigo. They are generally flat blemishes that are brown or tan in appearance. Their incidence increases with age, being found mostly on folks over 50, and with greater exposure to the sun. They are most commonly found on parts of the body that typically receive a lot of sun, such as the hands, neck, and face. They rarely appear on skin that is usually deprived of sun, such as the legs, inner arms, or buttocks.
Changes in our skin structure as we age result in increasingly dry skin over time. Younger skin keeps itself hydrated via a substance called hyaluronic acid, which works together with collagen and elastin fibers to maintain natural skin moisture. After the age of 40, the amount of hyaluronic acid found in the dermis declines steadily.
Free Radical Damage
Free radicals are toxic byproducts found within the skin which can disrupt the immune system and disturb the healthy chemical reactions that normally take place on the skin. Free radical damage can thus make the skin more susceptible to dangerous malignancies. The likelihood of free radical damage increases with age because every time the skin cells replicate to replace dead cells, additional free radical activity occurs.
Choosing a Skin Care Cream
Identify Your Needs
Before choosing a skin care cream, analyze your skin to determine your specific needs. Identifying issues such as thickness, dryness, skin tone, sun damage, or the type and number of blemishes is crucial to finding the right skin care cream for you. Don’t depend on the advertisers who are trying to tell you what your skin needs base solely on your age. Instead, think for yourself based on the specifics of your situation. Consulting with a skin care professional may be helpful as well.
Know Your Skin Type
Knowing what type of skin you have is essential too. There are specialty creams available for each type of skin.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, be especially careful to avoid products that contain potential irritants such as harsh dyes or perfumes.
Those with oily skin may find that a skin care cream is not necessary. However, if you do have need of one, perhaps to deal with an accompanying symptom such as spider veins or free radical damage, be sure to choose a formula designed for oily skin that will not increase the greasy or heavy appearance of your skin.
Make Your Own Skin Care Cream
Homemade skin care cream is an excellent option that will ensure optimal “quality control.” Here is a suggested formula that will work great for dry and older skin:
Mix 1 cup of ground organic chamomile in 1 cup of hot organic milk.
Let the mixture sit for several hours, then strain it and save the liquid.
Add 4 tablespoons of organic honey and 8 tablespoons of organic wheat germ.
Mix well and refrigerate.
Apply twice daily.
This recipe produces about a one week supply.
About the Author
Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH is a Doctor of Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Clinical Herbalist in Houston, TX and Founder / CEO of Oasis Advanced Wellness. Under her leadership, Oasis Advanced Wellness is known and respected as one of the leading companies in providing safe and clean hi-tech natural health and wellness solutions. Because of the need for high-end natural and organic skin care products, Dr. Lanphier has developed Lanique Organics, an all-natural skin-care line which promotes natural health for the skin.