Healthy Summer Skin from Head to Toe

You don't have to envy the baby's bottom. You, too, can kick back and enjoy the last few days of summer with healthy, supple, radiant skin—and we're not just talking about repairing and renewing your face! Experts say that a proper diet and a personalized skin care regimen, coupled—if neces­sary—with minor corrective cosmetic treatments, your entire body can become a beautiful, healthy and almost-flawless landscape.

On these pages, skin experts disclose the latest remedies and techniques for solving the most common skin care problems and achieving that healthy summer glow from head to toe.

"Adult acne is caused by an increased production of sebum [oil] by the skin cells, an overgrowth of bacteria on the skin and the plugging of the hair follicles [or pores)," dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, author of Dr. Susan Taylor's Prescription for Flawless Skin, Hair and Nails, explains. "Try topical or oral antibiotics [to control the bacteria], and topical or oral retinoids [to control the pore plugging]."

Dermatologists suggest that you cleanse your face daily [avoid abrasive cleans­ing agents], and use products that are developed for your specific skin type [oily, combination or dry]. Exfoliation [the removal of dull or dead skin cells] also promotes healthy skin. Tip: Timely treatment of acne will usually prevent dark spots from forming; if discoloration per­sists, experts suggest using a bleaching cream to even your skin tone.

"Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra are noncancerous flesh moles [dark or brown flesh spots that may appear on the cheeks] that are common in African-Americans," explains dermatologist Brooke Jackson, of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago."These moles can be removed with excisional skin surgery."

Some people get keloids (large, raised scars) after a piercing or an infection on the neck, hands, forearms and the ears. Depending on the size and location of the keloid, they may be treated with surgery, laser treatment or radiation therapy.

Dermatologist Susan C. Taylor says you have several lines of defense against the visible signs of aging.

"For wrinkles, topical creams containing retinoids, glycolic acid and antioxidants may help," she advises. "Chemical peels, microdermabrasion [a gentle exfoliation procedure] are the next Her of treatments. Then Botox and fillers like Restylane and collagen can help. And finally laser treat­ments." (And start pushing your age back, Sisters!)
Your quality of life can also affect how your skin responds to aging, according to Faye H. Nazon, a cer­tified Southern Belle from Lucky, Louisiana, who is "ageless but will admit to being 60-something." Nazon has managed to keep her skin healthy with a steady routine of a balanced diet, regular exercise, spa visits and plenty of beauty rest.

Dermatologists believe that red, inflamed stretch marks can be treated with topical creams that con­tain Retin A, and in some cases, laser treatments are beneficial as well.

Cellulite (fat storage that resembles dimpling of the skin) typically occurs in the stomach, buttocks and thighs. Experts suggest using topical creams that contain caffeine, seaweed extracts or avocado oils. Additionally, deep-tissue mechanical massage (endermologie) may temporarily reduce the appear­ance of cellulite. However, Dr. Susan C. Taylor be­lieves that weight management is the most effective way to flush out the underlying fat. "The best method for combating cellulite is reducing the over­all amount of fat on the body through a healthy diet and exercise routine," she advises.

For immediate coverage of spider veins and other minor nicks and scrapes, you can use specially formu­lated coverage makeup that, when applied correctly, is waterproof and will not rub off or stain your clothes.
For lasting results, Dr. Brooke Jackson of Chicago suggests sclerotherapy, a process where a very thin needle is used to inject a solution into the affected area, causing the veins to collapse and gradually fade away.

To help your skin retain its moisture, experts sug­gest that you take shorter, lukewarm showers and that you apply lotion directly onto your damp skin. Con­tinuous moisturizing is also the best way to cure dry, cracked feet. To soothe dry lips, make sure that you are hydrating your body with plenty of water, and that you use a lip moisturizer or lip balm overnight. Licking dry lips is a no-no.

Experts at the American Academy of Derma­tology suggest that if you have eczema—chronic itch­ing and sensitivity of the skin—you should visit your dermatologist and take your prescribed medica­tion—a topical corticosteroid or perhaps a prescrip­tion cream, ointment, antihistamine or antibiot­ic—as directed. Tip: Eczema is not caused by stress, but stress can lead to flare-ups, so try to keep a cool head this summer.

MELANOMA (Skin Cancer)
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin can­cer, is caused by overexposure to the ultravi­olet rays of the sun and artificial light of tanning beds, and African-Americans are not immune to it. Experts say that in addition to avoiding intense sun rays and wearing sunscreen (with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher, you must also examine your feet, hands, nails and other areas of your body, and report any­thing suspicious to your doctor.

Editor: Zondra Hughes
Photographer: Vandell Cobb