At birth, we all start out with beautiful skin. No wrinkles, spots, large pores, but then what happens? Sun, smoking and poor diet all begin to affect the quality of our skin.

For example, look at the inside of your upper arm, which receives little sun and compare it to your outer arm or forearm. See a big difference? It’s all about sun exposure.

More sun abuse results in more wrinkles, spots, discoloration, etc. But, with the advent of sunblock and skin care regimes available today, it’s now possible to maintain healthy, young looking skin forever.

For the younger generation, your parents applying sunblock have already given you a head start, but continuing to use sunblock is not the only answer.

Starting a good skin care regimen will help prevent further damage as aging continues and other environmental factors (i.e., diet, smoking, etc.) occur.

Even if one cannot afford non-surgical options, such as lasers, peels or surgical options such as eyelid lifts, face and neck lifts, a good at-home skin care system can still provide the benefit of healthy, young looking skin, which is affordable for most.

Some systems can actually tighten the skin, delaying the necessity of more invasive non-surgical as well as surgical procedures.

The question then arises; with the myriad of skin systems touting their claims of “anti-aging,” how does one know which products really do work and which are a waste of money?

First of all, the system should be “cosmeceutical.” What does this mean? Cosmeceutical-grade systems are a combination of ingredients that can be as effective as prescription strength and thus have demonstrated that they actually do live up to their claims.

In addition, the systems should have a “delivery system” that allows the ingredients in the product to actually penetrate the skin and repair the cells that produce the skin instead of just affecting the very top layer of the skin.

Since the top layer of skin continues to slough throughout one’s life, it makes sense that simply treating the top layer is only “bandaid” therapy. Only by repairing cells can we produce long-lasting healthy skin.

So how does one choose an effective skin care system? Generally, those sold at physician’s offices are “cosmeceuticals.” Making an appointment with a qualified aesthetician would be a good first step.

  1. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton. www.fingerand