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The skin is the body's largest organ and is exceedingly complex. It is our barrier against the environment. It is what keeps us in and the world out.

The skin is made up of the epidermis, which we can treat, and the dermis, or true skin underneath. In fact, exciting new products today are penetrating to and otherwise influencing the dermis. And as baby boomers age, the research is intensified. But one factor in skin health is not in question; it is the fact of photoaging.

It is only in this century that a healthy tan has been desirable. This sun exposure, coupled with environmental pollutants, to say nothing of the thinning ozone layer, has put our skin at risk as never before. On the other hand, it has been less than ten years since facial products actually started to have significant effects. As cosmetic chemistry and application of botanical and biological knowledge have become ever more sophisticated, skin care products, at the professional level at least, can deliver their promises. These promises are not of a cure-all or a magic wand, but the industry can and does offer products which help your skin resist environmental damage and the effects of aging.

If you were to see the skin of an elderly person who had been secluded indoors all his life, you would notice the effects of gravity, that is some sagging and the folds that go with it, but no wrinkles, thickening of the skin, or discoloration. His skin would be baby soft. Most of what we think of as inevitable aging comes from the sun and pollutants. Therefore, the first rule of skin care is: stay out of the sun or wear effective sun protection. We can also take reasonable care of our skin by keeping it clean and hydrated.

Skin types are generally "oily" "combination" or "oil-dry." The designation of "normal" is generally reserved for the very young. Oily skin tends to be thick and resilient, while dry skin can be thin and sensitive. A temporary condition of the skin is its relative hydration. This is dependent in great part on the oil content, as the oil forms an anti-evaporation barrier so that the moisture (from those 8 glasses a day that you drink) stays in the skin rather than evaporating off. This is why dry skins need moisturizers: to seal in the water which you need to keep your skin healthy and to keep from getting unnecessary wrinkles and fine lines.

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