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Retinoic Acid for Your Skin continued...

Retinoic acid comes in gel and cream forms, which are typically used once a day. Although dermatologists used to believe that retinoic acid made the skin more sensitive to the sun, they now know that it actually protects against further sun damage.

If you apply retinoic acid in too high of a concentration and too often, it can cause redness, extreme dryness, and peeling. Burke recommends starting with a low concentration (retinoic acid products range from 0.01% in gels to 0.1% in creams) and applying it once every second or third night to reverse photo damage more slowly.

Flavonoids (Green Tea and and Chocolate) for Your Skin

Green tea and yes, even chocolate, just might help improve your skin. Research suggests that the flavonoids in green tea are strong antioxidants that may help protect the skin from cancer and inflammation. A German study in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who drank hot cocoa with a high flavonoid concentration for three months had softer, smoother skin than women who drank hot cocoa with a lower flavonoid concentration.

Another study, this one in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that women whose skin was treated with green tea extract were more protected against the adverse effects of sunlight exposure. Although the results look promising so far, more research is needed to prove that flavonoids work and to determine the best dose, according to Burke.

B Vitamins for Your Skin

The B vitamins are essential for cells throughout the body, including skin cells. It's important to get enough of foods rich in B vitamins, such as chicken, eggs, and fortified grain products, because a B vitamin deficiency can lead to dry, itchy skin.

Research is showing that some B vitamins are beneficial when applied to the skin.

For example, in one study of hairless mice, researchers in Kawasaki, Japan, found topical application of an antioxidant derived from vitamin B-6 protected against sun-induced skin damage and decreased wrinkles.

Other Antioxidants

Many other plant-based extracts are being studied for their positive effects on the skin, either when ingested or applied topically. Examples are rosemary, tomato paste (lycopene), grape seed extract, pomegranate, and soy. Some experts feel that a blend of many different antioxidants and extracts might be more effective than individual products. The final answer about the best doses and extracts remains to be determined by researchers.

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