Skin Care Resolutions
"…adding these three to your cleansing and moisturizing routine can make a dramatic difference in your skin’s health and appearance.”
Travis James, DO
Advanced Dermatology & Skin Surgery
Board Certified Dermatologist, FAAD
For a lot of people the New Year is a time to set goals and resolutions. Often these goals include improving our health and appearance. Taking care of our skin is a great way to do both. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and it helps protect us from the world around us but we often forget to give our skin as much care and attention as it deserves. Aside from healthy lifestyle choices, a great way to help us rewind the clock and age elegantly is implementing a good skin care routine. I recommend adding three steps to your cleansing and moisturizing; a sunscreen, a retinoid, and a topical antioxidant.
If I could recommend only one product to everyone regardless of their age or skin type it would be sunscreen. Not only does it protect us from skin cancer but it also helps prevent some of the common signs of aging that people want to avoid; wrinkles, sagging skin and dark spots. A common myth is that sunscreen is only really needed during the summer months as we enjoy hours of outdoor activity. This is simply not the case, we should protect ourselves everyday all year long. Sunscreens have come a long way from the greasy tubes your mom used to bring to the beach. They are formulated for all skin types and these days there are mists, serums, foams and even powdered varieties. There are still two main types of sunscreen, physical and chemical blockers. The physical blockers contain zinc and titanium and reflect the sun. Physical sunscreens are effective immediately after applying. There are multiple chemical blockers, these need to absorb into the skin to work so they need to be applied thirty minutes prior to sun exposure. There are a few sunscreens out there that also add antioxidants and other ingredients to help combat damage caused by UV radiation and infrared, they are usually referred to as “superscreens.” Some of my favorite sunscreens include EltaMD®, SkinMedica®, Colorscience, and Blue Lizard. The superscreens I like best are SkinMedica®’s Total Defense + Repair and Elizabeth Arden Triple Protection Factor. I recommend applying sunscreen every single day in the morning under your makeup and then reapplying as needed.
A product containing vitamin A is a great second step in a skin care routine. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and help with collagen and skin cell formation, which helps to improve fine lines and the overall texture and tone of our skin. Products containing retinol are readily available over the counter and are usually quite affordable but they are often much less effective than their prescription counterpart which is known as tretinoin or Retin-A. Although prescription vitamin A can be a little more expensive than the over the counter versions their chemistry compositions and potency make them a lot more effective so they tend to be a better bang for your buck. When buying an over the counter retinoid you want the active ingredient to be retinol as there are other products out there that don’t seem to be as effective or visit your dermatologist for the stronger and more effective prescription strength tretinoin. A small pea-size dab applied once a night can work wonders against the damage caused by UV radiation and when used consistently they can really help improve your skin's overall appearance and tone.
My last recommendation for a skin care routine is adding a topical antioxidant in the form of a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C is a very popular ingredient in skin care products because it is a free-radical fighter and helps produce collagen naturally. These serums help repair and renew the cells and give the skin a healthier look. It can help decrease the formation of pigment and can help your skin rebuff external elements and free radicals that we come in contact with daily. Vitamin C serums should be used once or twice daily. Apply to a damped face and let it dry for some time before applying a moisturizer preferably one with sunscreen. My favorite vitamin C serums are SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF Gel.
Although there are a lot of great products out there that can be helpful, adding these three to your cleansing and moisturizing routine can make a dramatic difference in your skin’s health and appearance. To supplement your daily routine, you can also see your dermatologist who can assess your skin’s unique needs and offer you customized treatment options to address any of your concerns. With all the products, fillers, injectables, lasers, peels and treatments currently available, there is no reason to be unhappy with the skin you are in.
We just need to take care of it, so it can take care of you.
By Travis James, D.O.