Skin: Loving the New Skin You're In (cont.)

"Soy products can plump the skin, which makes it look smoother."

To keep the collagen you are making from breaking down, Newburger also suggests serums containing "pentapeptides" -- chains of amino acids that help inhibit collagen breakdown and may promote its production. Her recommendations include the Olay Regenerist line of products, most of which sell for under $20, and Avon Ultimate Cream, for around $30.

"If you're dieting, these ingredients can make a difference in how your face looks after all the weight is lost," says Newburger.

Galvaz says her own favorites are the new creams containing Matrixyl, a combination of pentapeptides and collagen that she says helps to bind moisture in the cells.

It can also help to take some of these ingredients internally [and not just apply them to the face], says Newburger. She suggests 1,000 milligrams daily of ester C (a form of vitamin C that may be easier to tolerate) along with 5 micrograms each of copper and zinc. All three, she says, play an important role in collagen production. (Don't forget to check with your doctor before adding any supplement other than a daily multivitamin/multimineral to your regime.)

Galvaz also suggests adding supplements of vitamin E and evening primrose to your regimen, and says to be sure to take them at night. (Keep in mind that herbal supplements like evening primrose are not regulated by the FDA; it's a good idea to ask your doctor about them first.)

"Our body does its most intensive skin-repair work at night, and I've found that taking these supplements in the evening appear to accelerate their effects, particularly in making skin appear plumper and more moist," Galvaz tells WebMD.

Skin Problems Don't Stop at the Neck

While protecting the skin on your face is important, dieting can also take its toll on the complexion of the skin on the rest of your body. Among the biggest problem many dieters experience is dry, flaky skin. This is particularly true, experts say, if you're on a very low-fat diet.

"Part of the outer layer of skin is made up of fatty acids or lipids, and if you don't have appropriate fat intake, you won't make the normal amount of fatty acids," Newburger tells WebMD.

When that lipid layer is reduced, she says, skin can't hold moisture as well.

The solution: Compensate by using a moisturizer that enforces the skin's lipid barrier from the outside.

"An ordinary body cream that simply makes your skin soft isn't going to help," says Newburger. "You have to use a product with a high concentration of lipids, which can help replenish from the outside what you're lacking on the inside."

Ingredients to look for include sterol, cholesterol, lecithin, avocado oil, or soy.

"Plant lipids like soy are particularly good because they have a component similar to cholesterol which is perfect for sealing in moisture and really protecting dry skin," says Newburger.

Additionally, she says, soy products can plump the skin, which makes it look smoother.

What can also help: Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or other oily fish. Or, says Newburger, take a fish oil supplement. "And it can be a synthetic supplement so there are no concerns about mercury," she says.

Additionally, Narins says, making sure that you're drinking enough fluid can help offset some dry skin problems.

"If you were used to drinking lots of soda and juice every day, and suddenly cut down, you may find that you aren't getting as much liquids as your body requires, and that can result in dry skin," Narins tells WebMD.

The solution here is the simplest of all: Drink more water.

"Don't overdo it, but if your skin is dry and you are feeling thirsty, then you do need to consume more fluids," says Narins.

Finally, all our experts agree that dieters should be extra careful to apply a generous amount of sunscreen when spending time outdoors. "Even though you will, hopefully, be getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet, still, when you are cutting your food intake you may not be getting the full antioxidant protection your skin needs to fight off the damaging effects of the sun," says Newburger.

If dryness is a problem, look for a sunscreen that contains a moisturizer. If you use a self-tanner, which can be drying to the skin, choose one with a built-in moisturizer as well.

Published June 24, 2005.

SOURCES: David Goldberg, MD, director, Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of NY/NJ; clinical professor of dermatology, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York. Susie Galvaz, esthetician, owner, Face Works Day Spa, Richmond, Va.; author, "Ooh la la!" series of beauty books. Amy Newburger, MD, dermatologist, director, Dermatology Consultants, Westchester, N.Y. Rhoda Narins, MD, clinical professor of dermatology, NYU Medical Center, New York City; president, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.

©2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
Last Editorial Review: 6/24/2005 9:00:29 PM