1. What products are essential for a daily skin care routine?
For the morning, protection is key… a gentle wash, an antioxidant to protect your skin from harmful free radicals, a moisturizer if needed, and sunscreen to protect against ultraviolet rays. Physical blocking broad spectrum sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are preferable because they have less chance of being irritating to the skin. A level between 30-50 SPF is optimal for your morning routine. The protection component of the regimen is what prevents age spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer. It is much easier to prevent than to reverse damage. So, the younger you start caring for the skin, the better you will fare in the long run.
For the evening, renewal is the goal…a gentle wash, a retinol which increases skin turnover, inhibits collagen breakdown, and stimulates collagen is key, and finally, a moisturizer to keep the skin balanced. Some of the best moisturizers have ceramides and hyaluronic acid. If you are acne prone, look for a moisturizer labeled “non-comedogenic”.
The evening portion of your regimen is what treats and reverses wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. It will take at least 3-5 months to see optimal results from a skin care routine. So, be patient…, and more product does not equate to more effectiveness. With medical grade skin care products, a sparingly small quantity is usually directed to see results and avoid irritation. Deciding among, serums, lotions, and creams should be determined by your specific skin type. Your dermatologist can help guide you through these decisions.
2. Do I need to exfoliate my skin and how often should I do this?
Exfoliation comes in two forms-mechanical and chemical. Chemical exfoliation can be achieved well by alpha and beta hydroxyl acids and retinols. The goal of exfoliation is to remove dead skin cells, which accumulate when the skin turnover slows down as we age, thus creating lack-luster skin. When a person exfoliates their skin, the key is to maintain the balance of the skin. Retinols, which are Vitamin A derivatives, go into the DNA of the skin and change the turnover at a molecular level. This is the one of best products for exfoliation because it has so many additional benefits. So, using alpha or beta hydroxacids or mechanical exfoliation with Clarisonic brushes, etc., should take a back seat to retinols if it means keeping the skin balanced.
3. Can diet affect acne?
Yes, studies have shown diets high in refined sugars and high glycemic index are pro-inflammatory. This can worsen acne and other skin diseases that have inflammation as a basis. Other common skin diseases that are affected by poor diets are eczema and psoriasis. So, eating a well-balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables can be helpful in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin.
For many young and middle-aged women, hormones play a huge role in acne production. If you notice your acne is on the lower half of your face, this is a hint that hormones are likely wreaking havoc on your skin. Topical products may not be enough to control deep, cystic acne lesions. A conversation with your dermatologist is important to avoid scarring. Once scars are in place, they cannot be completely erased.
4. Can I use all of my same skin care products on skin off of the face, like neck, decollete, and the backs of my hands for anti-aging?
It depends on the product. The skin off of the face is much more sensitive to irritation. Thus, most people can’t use the same strength of retinol or alpha/beta hydroxyacid on their neck, decollete, hands or even their eyelid skin. Speaking to your dermatologist on which products can be used in all of these areas is important. All skin is not created equally.
5. What is the best way to treat darkening age spots with your skin care regimen?
Well, first…seeing a board certified dermatologist is important because any changing spot on the skin has the potential to be cancer. A board certified dermatologist can first determine if the lesion is concerning, and if it is not, can address your cosmetic concerns. However, taking care of the health of your skin should be paramount.
Dark spots can be treated with many different products that include hydroquinone, vitamin c, alpha and beta hydroxyacids, retinols and pharmaceutical-grade botanicals like willow bark extract and sugar cane extract, just to name a few. Some of these ingredients also serve as antioxidants and can serve a dual purpose of protection and lightening for your morning routine.
However, you need to remember, things can quickly be undone if you are not wearing a good daily sunscreen that is water resistant and broad spectrum. Reapplication can be key throughout the day if your exposure to sun is intense. There are great powder based SPFs that can help with this without messing up your makeup. Tinted sunscreens are wonderful for those who are especially prone to pigment because of the ferric oxide they contain, which also blocks visible light that can contribute to the skin’s darkening.
6. Can I use a retinol if I have sensitive skin?
It depends. Not all formulations are created equally. Speaking to your dermatologist about your type of skin is important. They can then steer you in a direction of products that can meet your goals, but again, keep the skin in balanced. Using a good moisturizer is key to using a retinol regularly. If you have sensitive skin, look for a moisturizer that is void of any heavy fragrances that can be irritating to the skin.
7. Can I shrink my pore size?
Not really, pore size is genetically determined. Even with the most aggressive laser resurfacing, it is hard to shrink your natural pore size. The best skin care product that helps minimize the pore appearance is the vitamin A derivative, retinol.
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At Frederick Dermatology, we can’t wait to find out how we can help you achieve your goals of healthy, beautiful skin. Please use the contact form below to request an appointment with us, and we’ll get back to you shortly.