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Last post, I talked about my relentless search for a miracle – in a jar. I’ve tried countless products and read skin care articles in popular magazines, read books like “Don’t go to the cosmetic counter without me” and websites/blogs aimed at middle-aged women.  But this week, I decided that since skin is our largest organ, I should check for evidence in the medical literature.  The results were surprising!

From the Journal of Clinical Investigation, came the article “Skin care in the aging female : myths and truths.” The author, Ushma Neill interviewed four dermatologists and it seems that “less is more”.  They all agreed that for day,  protection from the sun should be every woman’s skin care priority.  They recommended sunscreens containing either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.  Neill also asked about cleansers, to which one doctor suggested using petroleum jelly as a nightly makeup remover and wiping off the excess with a tissue, leaving some residue to  “provide a barrier and keep the skin moisturized.”  The same specialist also recommended using a retinoid nightly on the face.  Retinoids contain either retinol, the over-the-counter form of vitamin A or tretinoin cream found in prescription meds such as Retin-A. So, very simply – sunscreen, petroleum jelly and a retinoid.  Couldn’t be easier!

Next I checked out what Harvard Medical School had to say in their latest Skin Care and Repair report.  Essentially, they also subscribe to a minimalist regime of cleanse, protect and “treat” whatever particular skin needs you have.

For those with dry skin, using a mild cleanser, which does not contain alcohol is best. To protect, they recommend a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 protection from UVA and UVB rays.  They agree that those products with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are preferred and fortunately these now come in skin toned and invisible formulae. Then to treat or moisturize dry skin, they recommend petroleum jelly, lanolin or mineral oil applied while the skin is still moist from bathing. If these are too greasy, they suggest moisturizing lotions or creams and say that some of the inexpensive ones work just as well as the more expensive brands. Those with sorbitol or glycerin will help skin absorb moisture.

For those who want to also reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, cosmeceuticals (ingredients in cosmetics, which offer physiological changes) are the answer. Cosmeceuticals may have AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), vitamins and/or antioxidants. The report gives details as to the benefits of these products, which do everything from reducing lines to building collagen and guarding against sun damage.  Growth factors and peptides are also being included in some products with good results, but more research needs to be done before they are recommended.

Finally, for those with sensitive skins, it’s important to avoid certain ingredients including preservatives, plant extracts, antibacterial ingredients and solvents.

The last article I read was not from a medical journal but from the March 2012 issue of one of my favourite magazines, More.  Armed with all of this information, I think I’ll use a mild cleanser (without alcohol) morning and evening. By day, I’ll use sunscreen with SPF 30, which contains either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If I find that it doesn’t moisturize enough, I can always add a moisturizer. By night, I’ll try a retinoid with a moisturizing base working up slowly to every night if I can tolerate it.  If I find it too irritating, I can always put an additional moisturizer on first to act as a buffer. Fortunately, more and more moisturizers contain sunscreens and cosmeceuticals, so I’ll watch for those too.  I’ll let you know in future posts the products I’ve chosen and how they’re working.

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners


Neill, Ushma. Skin care in the aging female : myths and truths. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 22(2) 1 Feb 2012: 473-477

Harvard Health Publications. Skin care and repair. 2010.

Listfield, Emily. Anti-aging skin care: What’s right for you? More, Mar 2012.