Now a couple weeks into the New Year, your resolutions are underway and hopefully, you are well on your path to the new and improved you! If one of those resolutions was to take better care of your skin, you may find the mass of information and products available to be quite dizzying! Let me cut through the maze of products and give you a few skin care basics as well as simple explanations for the many procedures and services available to make you and your skin look amazing.
First, everyone needs a good daily regimen to take care of their skin. The foundation of this regimen is cleansing twice a day. There are many options for cleansers depending on your skin type and specific skin needs. Toners and astringents are not necessary as the appropriate cleanser will leave your skin balanced and refreshed. Sunscreen is the most vital step for everyone regardless of skin type. Everyone needs a sunscreen with at least 6% zinc as an active ingredient and an SPF of at least 30. Zinc blocks all forms of UV even those that come through your windshield (yes, you need protection in the car too!). Sunscreen is necessary every morning of everyday of the year. Moisturizing should be done twice a day. Ideally, a moisturizing sunscreen meeting the above criteria in the morning and then a more hydrating moisturizer without sunscreen at bedtime would be an excellent routine.
For those looking to take their regimen to the next level, adding an antioxidant in the morning and a vitamin A derivative at night is key. These two products can help prevent premature skin aging and even be corrective for skin that has already been damaged by the sun. Popular antioxidants include things like vitamins B, C and E as well as soy, coffee bean, CoQ10, and green tea. These agents help to repair damaged cells and prevent further damage. Vitamin A derivatives are things like Retin A (tretinoin), retinal/retinoic acid and Renova. These products are also corrective for damaged skin and they stimulate new collagen and thickening of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. The overall effect is smoother, younger looking skin.
There are many services out there promising younger, healthier skin. The following are brief explanations of what these services are and what they are intended to do.
- Facials: by incorporating cleansing and massage, a facial can stimulate blood flow and give your skin a polished and glowing look.
- Microdermabrasion: by incorporating exfoliation and massage, this can leave you red for a day, but instantly reveal the clearer, fresher skin underneath.
- Chemical peels: there are varying solutions, tailored to your specific needs, that can be applied to the skin and left on for specific amounts of time. For a day or two, skin will appear tight and red and then peel or flake off over a week to reveal brand new healthier, clearer skin.
- IPL laser: this laser incorporates multiple wavelengths of light to heat the skin. This process helps to break up dark spots, blood vessels and stimulate new collagen. A series of treatments is recommended for tighter, milkier appearing skin. Downtime is minimal.
- Laser resurfacing: Erbium or CO2 lasers can be used to create large areas or precise, pinpoint grids of injury to the skin by damaging the top few cell layers. This damage stimulates the body’s own healing process and in turn creates new cells. The result is smoother, firmer and clearer skin. Again, a series is recommended to achieve full results. Downtime can be 1-7 days.
- Botox: this is a protein that has been used medicinally for several decades. It is injected in very small quantities into the facial muscles to prevent contraction of those muscles. While Botox can be used in the lower half of the face, it is generally used for lines and wrinkles caused from frowning and squinting around/between the eyes and from raising the eyebrows on the forehead. Botox may soften facial lines that are present at rest, but it is best for the lines that appear with facial expression. There is no downtime.
- Dermal Fillers: These are products such as Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane, Radiesse. As we age, we lose the fat in our face. This is called “volume depletion”. The result is hollowing around the eyes and a sagging in the cheek and jowl area which produces deep creases around our nose and mouth, as well as thinning lips. Fillers can be used to restore this volume giving the face a more “rounded”, youthful appearance. Techniques are evolving from just filling in the creases, to rebuilding the youthful structure of the face which results in a longer lasting result and more natural appearance. Side effects can include swelling and mild bruising, but most people resume normal activities the next day.
The best way to decide what is optimal for your skin is to schedule a face to face consultation with a skin care professional who can examine your skin and ask specific questions regarding your concerns, needs and budget. Together, you can structure the perfect regimen and/or treatment to help you achieve a more youthful, healthy you!