Ask a Sarasota beauty about her skin, and she’s likely to mention her aesthetician. One local favorite is Monee Arpin, who recently relocated from Main Street to L. Spa on South Pineapple Avenue. And that is how I came to talk to her and some other highly regarded skin-care specialists about skin fitness.
Let’s acknowledge a couple of things up front. First, going to an aesthetician is a luxury not everyone can afford. A strong case can be made for making it a priority because your skin says a lot about your age and wellbeing. But it’s an expensive proposition. You can plan on kissing $100 or more good-bye for a treatment — and expect to be encouraged to buy products the salon carries.
Second, the world of those products verges on scary. Cosmetic industry insiders talk about “hope in a bottle” and, in many cases, there is more cost in the packaging of a product than there is in the ingredients. Marketing claims can stretch credulity, even though manufacturers have been disciplined to use careful language: A product doesn’t reduce wrinkles; it reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Those caveats aside, there are dos and don’ts for healthy skin just as there are for diet and physical fitness. They are the basics that we all know but may not think about in relationship to our skin. For example, remember your mother’s admonition to get your beauty sleep? Arpin says, “Your body replenishes at night and mends itself; skin care is most important at that time of day.”
Like all of your organs, your skin needs the nourishment of a healthy diet. It needs hydration to keep cells functioning; one of Arpin’s clients says her skin-care routine is as simple as “moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.” Maureen Young-Wolff, of The Little Day Spa uses that exact language: “ … wash morning and night, make sure all makeup is off and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.”
Exercise is as good for your skin as it is for your overall health, as is sexual activity. A.J. Jacobs, in “Drop Dead Healthy,” writes: “Recent science has come down on the side of sex as healthy … Overall, frequent orgasms have multiple health benefits. Among them, according to Rutgers University researchers: lower stress and decreased rates of heart disease, breast cancer and endometriosis.” To which the aesthetics world would add, “healthier, prettier skin.”
Sandra Day, of NeoDerm, another well-known and credentialed aesthetician, says, “What I find most people lack in their basic skin-care protocol is exfoliation. As we age, dry, dead skin cells make our skin appear dull. The key is to use a product that exfoliates to restore a glow to your skin. It may be a retinol, a gentle scrub or a toner — it should be appropriate for your particular skin type. Exfoliation is important because it allows anti-aging serums and moisturizers to penetrate skin to provide the expected benefit.
Skin-care products are a huge, complicated category with lots of options. There is the drugstore, or “mass” world, then department stores, the aesthetic world and the medical one. In the mass market, according to Arpin, the brands from Europe are your best bet; she mentions Roc and says, “The French are decades ahead.”
Day says, “Professional recommendation by a skin-care specialist can help determine which product or facial treatment is best for you and your lifestyle.”
“What is geared for a 30-year-old is not going to work on a 60-year-old,” she says.
Arpin makes a telling final point about skin fitness: “In order for your skin to look really good, you’ve got to work on it. You have to invest some time just like you do at the gym.”
It may be hard to find that time, but it’s more difficult, by far, to argue with the principle.
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.