Last spring, two weeks before my 50th birthday,  I had a pearl sized basal cell carcinoma removed from the outside corner of my right eye.... about 1/8 of an inch from the intersection of my upper and lower eyelids. The little booger had appeared one day, lived there quietly for a few years, and I guess I had hoped it would magically go away on it's own. Of course it didn't, and a trip to the dermatologist quickly confirmed that it was a somewhat scary form of cancer in a very scary spot.

No doubt there was a direct correlation between the growth of the basal cell, and the first 49 years of my life that involved actively baking my skin, without the benefit of sun block, hat, moisturizer or even sunglasses, at every opportunity. My two sisters and I spent every possible waking moment outside, and we grew up as part of the baby oil and iodine tanning generation. Back then, being tanned was not only fashionable, it was considered a sign of health. Even living in cold climates didn't stop us ( and especially did not stop me) from tanning. If the natural sun wasn't cooperating or it was sub zero outside, a quick trip to the tanning booth was an option. Our mother even had a "sun lamp" stowed away in the linen closet, which I didn't hesitate to use. So when I say that my face, neck and chest had begun to show significant signs of overall sun damage when I showed up for my skin cancer surgery, this is not the talk of a 20-something who has, gasp,  just discovered a first wrinkle or freckle. Fortunately for me however, my reconstructive surgeon not only did an absolutely fantastic job on my eye,  she noticed the general sun damage and kindly sent me home with generous samples of a terrific skin care product line called NIA 24.

Fast forward nearly eight months, and the verdict is in.... I have had stunning results with NIA 24. Not just "I seem to look a little fresher" or "I don't seem to be aging quite as fast".... these are absolutely stunning reversals of environmental damage within six months of dedicated twice-daily use. And my skin continues to improve.

My sisters think I secretly had laser treatments. My dry cleaner said she wouldn't give me back my clothes until I told her what  I had "done" to my skin. Friends asked me if I have changed make-up, started taking vitamins, changed my sleeping habits....because my skin's health has very visibly improved. Wrinkles are in retreat. A nickel sized "age spot" on my cheek has nearly vanished. Two significant malasma patches have lightened to such a degree that I now use a foundation one shade lighter.  Actually, foundation is now an option in and of itself....because my skin looks great au natural. But best of all is how my skin feels....inside and out. The rough scaly patches which likely were precursors to actinic keratosis are gone. My face, neck, chest, arms and hands are now silky smooth,  tighter, moist without being greasy. My skin simply feels fantastic.

I am neither a scientist nor a student of skin care additives, so I am depending  on the NIA 24 literature (below) to do the heavy lifting here and explain to you how and why the product has worked so well for me. But apparently the big bang  is not so much in the ingredients, but in the patented ingredient deliver mechanism, which allows the key ingredient NAD (a form of Niacin) to penetrate deeply and for extended periods of time. The NIA 24 line is one of the few products receiving endorsement by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

According to NiaDyne, sun damage occurs as a result of the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.  As UV rays are absorbed, they can cause cells to enter into photo-excited states, which can lead to the formation of free radicals, oxidation and cellular damage to occur.  UV rays can also produce changes or mutations in the DNA within the skin cells, causing the cells to function, look, and act differently than normal cells.  If the skin is continually abused, over time it struggles with self-repair and the signs of sun damage begin to emerge.

As the cells within the basal layer begin cellular replication and keratinization, the DNA changes caused by the sun’s UV rays are copied into new cells.  Eventually, visual changes on the skin’s surface appear such as hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and other more serious imperfections such as actinic keratosis (precancerous lesions).

Fortunately, the body has mechanisms to repair damaged DNA, as it is essential to maintaining genomic integrity and immune function.  NAD (the active form of Niacin) is one of the components of that process.  NAD also stimulates energy metabolism and thereby enhances epidermal renewal and dermal functions, all of which result in healthier skin.

For complete information, The NIA 24 web site contains formulary, ingredients, scientific studies, testimonials, before and after photos, etc. It also provides cautions and instructions on usage, and an excellent description of the different products themselves. NIA 24 can be purchased from physicians offices, or on the web, and you can even find samples for sale on sites like ebay. Be prepared however; it is not an inexpensive product, and it will take time for it to work. My 49 years of sun damage did not accumulate overnight, and it did not go away over night. But NIA 24 works, a little goes a long way, and if I can prevent any further trips to the reconstructive surgeon by using the NIA 24 line, it is clearly worth every penny to a notorious cheapskate like me.

So what DO I use? In the interest of full disclosure, my personal protocol does not include the entire product line, although I have tried everything except the new Eye Creme.  I use the exfoliating Physical Scrub 2-3 times per week, the Gentle Cleanser followed by the Recovery Complex morning and night, and the Sun Block when I know I am going to be in the sun for an extended period of time.  I also use the Decollatage/Hand cream on my hands, chest and arms each morning. I did try the Skin Strengthening creme, but it did not provide enough hydration for me without gobbing it on, which led to a greasy feeling by midday. I actually found that the higher priced "Recovery Complex" went farther, and was therefore a better value for me, but everyone is going to be different.

Trust me, it really never is too late to reverse the signs of aging, and bring back lovely skin.....  I hope every reader finds a product that works as well for them as NIA 24 has worked for me.