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Skin Care and Aging in New Mexico
Jan and Jack Kerr
Oh, Fair New Mexico, we love you so. We love to garden, walk, hike, bike, ski, swim, play tennis, ride horses and fish.
However, New Mexico doesn’t love our skin. As much as we love it here, we live in a very harsh climate, and skin care is not a luxury–it is a necessity. When you evaluate the inevitable age-related changes in the skin, you have to take into consideration both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
Individuals age at different rates. Intrinsic aging is the chronological aging determined by the DNA of your skin type, inherited from your parents and ancestors. Intrinsic aging is a function of the body’s metabolic processes naturally slowing down, which decreases the rate of new cell production. Extrinsic aging is biological aging determined by your lifestyle and environment.
Understanding skin types and skin color is essential for corrective treatment of the skin because individual characteristics determine tolerance for skin rejuvenation. Other factors that can affect skin are sun exposure, air pollution, nutrient deficiencies, extreme weight loss, prescription medications, physical activity and emotional health. In New Mexico, wind, cold, low humidity, sun and Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation exposure are the major causes of skin damage and aging.
For every 1000 ft. of elevation, UV radiation increases 10 percent. So in Santa Fe we are at 7,000 ft. and receive 70 percent more UV compared to sea level, or say, Carlsbad, at 3,300 ft., with approximately 30 percent more UV-radiation exposure than sea level. Historically, NM and Arizona have led the US in skin cancer rates because of our elevation, exposure to the sun and lack of humidity. Our major defense against aging in a climate such as this is to wear sunscreen, preferably a 30 SPF, 365 days a year.
As of December 2012, there are new sunscreen regulations:
A. Manufacturers can claim Broad Spectrum for products covering UVB and UVA at 370 nanometers or more.
B. Products can no longer be labeled “waterproof.” “Water resistant” may be used if the product can be immersed for 80 minutes and retain its stated SPF.
C. No claims can be made for SPF above 50 SPF. SPF 30 filters 95 percent of UVB. Any SPF higher than 30 only protects in small increments up to 99 percent. If you are using sunscreen and are concerned about not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun, make sure you are eating a healthy diet of red and orange veggies and dark leafy greens. Sit outside three days a week mid-day with your palms up for 15 minutes, and keep the rest of you protected. Your palms will absorb enough Vitamin D, and you won’t be damaging your skin.
Many studies have shown the health-protecting benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants are vitamins or nutrients that protect the body and skin from oxidative stress by fighting off free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to the body, especially the skin. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and a necessary contributor to collagen synthesis and wound healing.
For healthier skin, eat a balanced diet that includes dark leafy greens, red and orange veggies, berries, apples, healthy fats such as avocados and nuts, and lots of water. In the suggested 64 ounces of water intake a day, only 2 ounces actually make it to the skin. The rest is directed to the internal organs. Keep your intake of sugar low, and try to eliminate fructose, high-fructose corn sugar and carbohydrates that cause inflammation and cell injury, and you can improve the aging appearance and quality of your skin.
We believe that products that use organic ingredients that come from whole foods and other natural sources can be even more effective because the ratio of vitamins and other nutrients in them is more likely to work in harmony with our skin. As an added environmental perk, the botanicals in organic skin-care products must be cultivated in ways that minimize pollution from air, soil and water.
Jan and Jack Kerr own Seventh Ray Skin Care in Santa Fe. They create their own organic skin and body-care products for their clients’ specific needs. 505.982.9865, www.seventhrayskincare.com
About the author
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