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Find your perfect skin

Cassie PenceVail, CO, Colorado
AE Skin Care Face 1 DT 3-16-07
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BEAVER CREEK – At 29, my face became more “expressive.” Tiny fine lines popped out around my eyes and forehead like I was in a constant state of contemplation. The smile marks deepended around my lips to that of a glacier crevasses. Where did these come from? How do I get rid of them? Panic set in. I didn’t know the first thing about skin care. (My mom uses petroleum-based Vaseline to take off her makeup.) But I did know it was time to get on top of it. A trip to the grocer’s beauty aisle only confused me even more. “Works like Botox.” “Look 20 years younger.” “Get radiant skin.” “Contains Retinol.” The silly promises were endless, and on the back-side, the product labels were even worse. Reading the ingredient list was like flipping through a Grecian novel. I needed a translator.So I turned to skin care experts, aestheticians and a dermatologist, to help improve my skin’s health and to help fight those pesky markers of that imminent 3-0 birthday.

The good news is skin is renewable. Even if you’ve never had a healthy skin-care regime, it’s never too late to start, says Victoria Mastrogiovanni, senior aesthetician at Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.”Skin is alive, and as long as there’s life, there’s hope,” Mastrogiovanni says. “It’s best to start early, but if you don’t, most of us are living proof as aestheticians that you can turn around skin.”Despite skin’s rejuvenating abilities, most of the damage you see later in life was done before the age of 18, says Monique Arsenault, a fellow aesthetician at Allegria Spa.”That’s why people all of a sudden get things,” Mastrogionvanni adds. “This is stuff that I’ve done 30 years ago that I am finally seeing.”As people age, the collagen and the elastin, or elastic fibers, in the skin break down, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to appear and the pores to appear larger, says Dr. Karen Nern of Vail Dermatology in Edwards.”If you think of your skin as a credit card – the first few times that you bend a new card, it springs back, like a child’s skin,” Nern says. “But as you bend it in the same place over and over, it can’t handle the stress in that one area anymore, and you see a permanent line.”

The bad news? We live in the mountains. There’s no greater fountain of youth for your attitude than the mountains. Its effect on your skin, however, is an entirely different story.At high altitudes, there is a lack of humidity and a lack of ozone protection, Dr. Nern says, which are two key factors that damage the skin and increase the signs of aging. In drier weather, the skin breaks down more easily, and irritation and rashes occur more frequently. This is why many people may notice an improvement in their skin while on tropical vacations. Besides the lack of humidity, the intense sun exposure causes a more rapid breakdown of collagen and elastin, Dr. Nern says. Dr. Darrell Rigel, is a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center and has a private practice in Vail. He conducted a study that showed at the top of Chair 4 in Vail, at 11,000 feet, the earliest sign of sunburn appears in as little as six minutes.”It takes 14 minutes in Orlando, and 25 minutes in New York City,” Dr. Nern says. “Scary.”On top of the sun and low humidity, the mountains also dehydrate you. People aren’t drinking enough water, and it’s showing from the inside out.”Skin is so dehydrated up here,” says Arsenault. “All you have to do is pick up your skin (with the edge of your finger), and you’ll see little fine lines straight across the skin. Everyone will think that they are wrinkles. It’s not – it’s major dehydration.”

Before products are even mentioned, there are certain lifestyle choices that can improve the skin. “You realize at age 30, baking in the sun with a margarita in one hand and a cigarette in another is not going to give you a good look,” Mastrogiovanni said.Smoking is by far the worst for your skin, Mastrogiovanni says, because the chemicals take out the oxygen in the body. Sun comes in at a close second to the worst. Too much sun leads to hyper-pigmentation or brown spots, wrinkles and skin cancer. But it’s ultimately harder to avoid in the mountains. And let’s face it, the sun feels good.Mastrogiovanni insists on not leaving home without a mineral-based sun block (see side bar on products) and a good pair of big, wrap-around sunglasses, which just happen to be in style. She also recommends updating eye prescriptions for glasses and contacts so you’re not squinting, which can lead to those fine lines around and in between the eyes.”Diet is very important, too,” Mastrogiovanni says. “If you are sludging up yourself with Cheetos and other high preservative foods, instead of fresh fruit, raw vegetables and fish, your skin is going to show it.”

Unfortunately, there are no hard, fast rules on what ingredients or products work best, because everyone’s skin is different. Regular soap is the biggest product no-no. It dries the skin, leaving it red and stripped, Mastrogiovanni said.What’s most important is to get into a routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing twice a day, she says. Cleanse to take away the impurities – makeup and pollution. Toner is a liquid used to cleanse, even more, and shrink pores. It balances out complexion and completes the cleansing process, removing any excess makeup or cleanser. Moisturize last to hydrate the skin. In between the toner and moisturizer, an anti-aging product can be applied, and a sun block should always end the routine.”What we usually tell people, apart from wearing the sun block, is never go to bed without cleaning your face, because it’s the best way to stretch out those pores,” Mastrogiovanni says.A good way to get started is to have a facial. Facials are about balancing, bringing your face back to normal, Mastrogiovanni says. Aestheticians analyze the skin, determine what skin type you have, dry or oily, and suggest which product lines will improve the overall health. It’s about healing and repairing.”We have so many people that come in with such a bad routine,” Arsenault said. “We can help. Not by making them spend a million dollars, but by explaining what certain things are going to do, and even if they can incorporate a couple into their routine, they are going to see a difference in their skin.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938, or cpence@vaildaily.com.


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