Dr. Zein Obagi, M.D., a Diplomat at the American Board of Dermatology and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, is world-renowned for his unique approach to anti-aging skin care. He has maintained a practice at his Obagi Skin Health Institute in Beverly Hills since 1981. Dr. Obagi created ZO Skin Health and his original Obagi Nu-Derm System which he has taught to other dermatologists in training sessions around the globe.
ThirdAge asked Dr. Obagi for advice about keeping skin as youthful-looking as possible.
ThirdAge: Can sun damage be reversed?
Dr. Obagi: Yes. The secret is to correct the source at the cellular level rather than simply treating the surface of the skin. The traditional recommendation to exfoliate isn't very effective and results only last a short time. But if you have deep folds, wrinkles, or even red, scaly patches that may be precancerous, there is help available. In 1983, I invented a process called Skin Health Restoration that heals the damaged DNA. The active ingredient is Vitamin A. If you apply my formulation on your skin at night in the recommended amounts, 90% of sun damage will be eliminated in two or three months. This will benefit anybody at any age and it will not only correct existing problems but it will help prevent future damage. In addition, in my office I perform a procedure called Controlled Depth Peel that is works very well.
Third Age: Do broad-brimmed hats really help protect against sun?
Dr. Obagi: Yes, but you should also wear sunglasses and you definitely need sunscreen, especially if you have fair skin. People with very light complexions have pheomelanin, sometimes called false melanin. This is a form of the pigment that explodes like tiny bombs and releases free radicals that do damage. Fair-skinned people don't tan. They burn or at best get freckles. Blonds and redheads typically fall into this category and so do people with dark hair but pale skin. For them, I definitely recommend my product called Smart Sun Protection. It uses a natural zinc oxide that covers the skin and wards off UV rays. Ordinary sunscreens can work but they are sweated off in about an hour and people should reapply many times a day which can be a nuisance. My version lasts up to eight hours and goes way beyond SPF 30 to 80.
People with darker skin have eumelanin, the true melanin. This form of the pigment does not explode and it actually creates protection for the skin which is what a tan really is. However, too much exposure to UV rays isn't good for anyone.
Incidentally, reflected sun off water or snow does more harm than direct sunlight. If you are at the beach or do water sports or winter sports, be sure to use protection.
ThirdAge: Should we use moisturizers?
Dr. Obagi: There's nothing wrong with applying some hydrating cream if your skin feels dry but there's really no scientific evidence that moisturizers do much good. In fact if you overdo it, you may weaken the skin. The new thinking is that it's more important to stimulate the skin. Forget that old advice about applying products with gentle strokes. Instead, massage your skin vigorously to get the blood flowing. This will strengthen your skin.
ThirdAge: Are facial exercises a sham or do they keep skin taut?
Dr. Obagi: Facial exercises are fantastic! You have muscles in your face and you need to keep them active to prevent atrophy and keep the muscles strong just as you do with muscles everywhere in your body. Every chance you get, smile broadly, blink hard, and makes faces the way you did when you were a child. Exercise increases circulation and delivers nutrients to your skin.
ThirdAge: Are there “skin-friendly” foods?
Dr. Obagi: Certainly. One-third of your diet should be vegetables and unsweetened fruit. Sugar is the enemy of your skin. You also need fiber from whole grains. Another third of your diet should be protein. Turkey, chicken, and fish are best. Don't eat red meat more than once or twice a week. It's also a good idea to take a supplement that has Zinc and B-complex vitamins. If you eat this way, your skin will look more alive and vibrant in a surprisingly short time.
Please visit Dr. Obagi's ZO Skin Health site at http://www.zoskinhealth.com/.