Skincare Awareness Month

September is Skin Care Awareness Month and let’s “face” it, we all want beautiful, glowing skin. Skin is perceived as a measure of health, our age, and the amount of sun exposure we’ve had. Most of us know using some skincare is beneficial in keeping the skin looking healthy, feeling hydrating, and protected with SPF. The question is with all the brands, marketing claims, and formulas, where do you even start? Here are some tips starting with the most basic of needs for healthy skin:

  • Wash your face. Oil, dead skin cells, makeup. There is a litany of “things” your skin is exposed to daily. Just being consistent here can make a difference healthier looking skin.
  • Moisturize. Your skin will look and feel better if you use a moisturizer. Old school thinking was that using a moisture would prevent wrinkles, and as Harvard Health points out, there are lots of dubious claims and mysterious ingredients, but by trapping water, moisturizing is beneficial to the skin.
  • Wear sunscreen. We had to say it, but sunscreen, especially used early on will help prevent the breakdown of collagen, sparing you of age spots, pigmentation, and wrinkling prematurely. It also helps in the prevention of skin cancer.

Anti-Aging Products

There are so many in this category but the premise is products that have active ingredients perform a function. Examples of this are antioxidants like Vitamin C to reduce inflammation, and Vitamin A in the form of a retinoid to slow skin aging. Other ingredients to look for:

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Ceramides
  • Peptides
  • Niacinamide
  • Growth Factors
  • AHA’s like Glycolic Acid
  • Azelaic Acid
  • Lightening products that reduce pigmentation

Skincare can be a little subjective in that what works for one doesn’t work for another. It’s cringe worthy to purchase a high tech expensive serum that your bestie swears by only to find it doesn’t do anything for your skin.

This is why dermatologists love a retinoid. Retinoids have ample science behind them so we know they work. Tretinoin has been studied extensively after being in the market for 50+ years. It started with the brand Retin-A, and it was a game changer. Originally prescribed for acne, patients using it had smoother, younger looking skin, and a real anti-aging product was born. The cascade of benefits is truly remarkable, it turns your skin cells over faster so new healthier cells are created, increases glycosaminoglycan’s (moisture in the skin), and the growth of new blood vessels which are necessary for wound healing.

Vitamin C is also well substantiated, L. ascorbic acid being the gold standard and something to keep in mind when selecting products. It gets more difficult to know if other derivatives of C work, or remain stable long enough to have a benefit.  Beyond that, it’s a process of trial and error. Skin is dynamic, and when something works, you will see it, and although we want to see the science, sometimes seeing is believing.

Products for Problem Skin

Problem skin is complicated, especially when chronic conditions like acne or rosacea. It’s common for anyone experiencing a skin problem to try and solve it through trying many products, give up then go through the same cycle again.

This can lead to temporary improvement, a compromised skin barrier, and frustration. Acne usually responds well to benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, Adapalene (the synthetic retinoid Differin gel), salicylic acid, and azelaic acid. Cystic or chronic acne should be seen by a dermatologist. So should rosacea. Dermatologists recommend patients to use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer along with prescription treatment products. Popular choices for this include Cetaphil cleanser, Free & Clear, CeraVe, Vanicreme. La Roche Posay also has some great products for acne and sensitive skin conditions.

The Future of Skincare

Will you take your skincare with a hint of mushroom, a probiotic, or a little snail mucin? It’s exciting to hear what’s new on the horizon. Something new that does peak interest in the dermatology community is the skins microbiome. Research has shown a link between microbiome imbalances in the skin and gut have a link to conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. This means treatment plans geared towards building up a healthy skin microbiome, with skincare products, and dietary changes.  There is also promising data to support using probiotics topically.

It’s not just skincare but a rise in home devices like LED. LED or light emitting diodes work by exciting the cells, creating more energy. This help to improve wound healing, reducing inflammation, and stimulating collagen. Red light is the most recognized for this, but there is also blue light that helps with acne.  It’s important to point out not all devices are the same, and home devices have less energy than medical devices so the benefit on some of the smaller devices might be difficult to establish.

Skincare is not just what’s in the bottle, it’s what’s on the label.  A trip to Ulta revealed newer boutique brands are focused on being part of the clean beauty movement. This means emphasizing how their products are gluten free, cruelty free, vegan, chemical free, harsh chemical free and more.        

When Skincare is Not Enough

Skincare is more than the products we apply and something to be mindful of the limitations skincare products have. The skin itself makes it difficult to get things to penetrate deep enough to make a difference. Our stratum corneum (top layer) is very efficient and for good reason, skin is the body’s first line of defense.

Treatments with lasers like Fraxel, laser resurfacing, pulsed dye laser, can more effectively remove sun damage, skin redness, and scarring than skincare can. Skin problems that don’t go away with the help of product should be evaluated by dermatologist. They are the true skin experts and can help through a diagnosis to prescribe the right products and guidance to either resolve or manage a skin disorder.

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