Many women today are intimidated by long skincare routines. What is the bare minimum you should do for your face each day?
This is such a common feeling. The beauty industry overwhelms us with “must haves” and “must dos” sometimes to the point where it is easier to give up then to try and figure it all out. When my patients are feeling intimidated, I simplify and encourage them to start slow. There are four key steps for taking care of your skin. Start at the first and see if you can get to the fourth.
Step 1 Wash your face before you go to bed. You must get the day’s grime off your face to help your skin repair itself and prep for another day. Creating this habit will make taking on the other steps easier.
Step 2 Wear sunscreen every day to slow the signs of aging and prevent skin cancer. Concerned about using chemicals on your skin? Then use zinc-based sunscreen….. there are so many good ones out there now.
Step 3 Use a repair product at night (after you wash your face) such as a retinoid or AHA to encourage skin turnover while you sleep.
Step 4 Use an antioxidant serum every morning (before your sunscreen) to protect your skin from the free radicals created by the sun and pollution that break down collagen.
- Once women are comfortable in a basic skincare routine, what should they be adding to get the best results?
I try to get everyone to do Step 1 and 2. Step 2 can be hard for people until they find the right sunscreen that agrees with their skin. You may have to try a few products, don’t get discouraged! Once you find your “go to” sunscreen, you will like putting it on every morning. I use sunscreens with at least 10% zinc and I like them to have a tint so it can double as light make up.
Once you are comfortable with that, we progress to step 3 and 4. These are even more confusing as there is so much conflicting information out there about acids, retinoids and exfoliation.
- In order to fight off signs of aging, what are the most important products that should be in your skincare routine?
Steps 3 and 4
Vitamin A (retinoids: retinol, tretinoin) has been studied for 30 years. It is the best thing we have to slow the aging progress in a bottle outside of sunscreen. All dermatologists use it. It works but there are tricks to making it work for you without unwanted side effects. Some people have thick oily skin and can use the strongest form available every day while others have thin skin that easily absorbs products and can only tolerate the weakest strength once a week. Either is just fine. Know your skin, buy a strength of retinol that matches your skin’s tolerance of new products (strong if you have tough skin, weak if you have sensitive skin) and then start using a very small amount twice a week followed by a moisturizer. This is a treatment, not a cream, you do not need very much. If that goes well, after two weeks work up to using it every other day to every day. Advanced step: On the nights you are not using your retinol, use AHA acid, I like 10% glycolic acid, to help peel off any dry skin from the retinol and I always moisturize afterward to improve tolerance.
There are two basic types: The ones that have clinical studies to show they slow the aging process and those that do not. The studied group of serums range in price from $150-$300 and are typically sold in a doctor’s office, spas, Dermstore and there are now a few authorized retailers on Amazon through their Profession Beauty storefront. Those that have not been studied range in price from $30 to $300 and are available everywhere. If you can afford $150 on a serum, buy one with data behind it. If you cannot, then buy one under $75 with at least 10% vitamin C in it. These serums should be used every morning on naked skin to encourage penetration.
What tips would you give someone who is trying to take better care of their skin but feels overwhelmed by all the options in the beauty aisles?
It is so hard to form new habits. Focus on finding a face wash you like and using it every night. This simple step is the most important because it helps you to build an evening ritual of self care that will allow you to do more for your skin when you are ready.
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Meet the author: Board-certified and practicing dermatologist, Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD, is the founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care and Modern Dermatology in Seattle, Washington. She studied at Stanford, University of Washington School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. She lectures nationally, is well published, and an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Highly respected among the skin care community, Dr. Rogers has been annually named “Top 1% of Most Honored Doctors in the US” by Castle Connolly.