Ask the Doctor: What should my skincare routine be?
A smart, daily skincare routine is a key part of ensuring your skin stays healthy, vibrant, and youthful. Treatments like chemical peels, Botox, and fillers can have a dramatic effect, but are no substitute for consistent daily care and maintenance.
After all, as the famous quote goes, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The same is true for skincare!
A smart skincare routine will follow these steps:
1. Wash your face with a Ph balanced, unscented gentle foaming cleanser. We like the Elta MD foaming wash, but Cetaphil and Cerave work great too.
2. Apply any targeted or medicated creams you are using. This is any kind of cream or serum which contains a medication. These should always go on first so they can sink in with no barriers. An example of a targeted cream would be Obagi, which contains arbutin for treating skin discoloration. Other examples include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for acne, or antibiotic creams for perioral dermatitis.
3. Smooth on a protective antioxidant. Look for serums that contain Vitamin C or say “antioxidant” on the label. Antioxidants fight the damaging effects of pollution, including the free radicals that destroy our collagen DNA.
4. Add moisturizer if you like. You’d never know it from the skincare aisle of your local drugstore, but moisturizer is not actually a critical part of a healthy skincare routine! It’s fine to use if you feel particularly dry, or simply enjoy wearing it. Keep in mind that hyaluronic acid and ceramides are typically better for your skin than oils.
5. Apply sunscreen. Again, Elta MD makes a great sunscreen - but any facial sunscreen will do the job. Just as long as you actually use it!
1. Wash your face with the same Ph balanced, unscented cleanser. It’s important to wash your face twice a day - once in the morning, and once at night. Don’t skip this, even if you didn’t wear makeup!
2. Apply any targeted or medicated creams you use at night. Again, these are any creams that contain a medication. You always want to apply those to clean, bare skin.
3. Apply a retinol cream. Retinols are powerful anti-aging creams that enhance collagen production and even skin tone and texture. There are two main types: Tretinoins, which are available only by prescription, and retinols, which are available over the counter. Retinols and tretinoins work a bit differently but both can be quite effective.
4. Add moisturizer, if desired. Again, this is not a necessary step to achieving healthy, youthful skin - it is simply a matter of personal preference. If you do use moisturizer at night, be sure to apply it last.
Where to buy skincare products
In general, it’s better to buy your skincare products from a physician. That’s because we can sell stronger versions than what you can buy over-the-counter. This means you need less to achieve the results you’re looking for. The products therefore last longer, so your cost is often ultimately the same.
A note about layering your products
We often hear our patients say they don’t like layering because it takes too long to let the product dry. But in reality, if it takes more than 2 minutes for each layer to dry, you are using too much product. Each layer of product should take no more than 2 minutes to absorb - but often much less.
In terms of the order to apply your products, just remember: Your medicated or targeted treatments should go first so there are no barriers to penetration. From there, apply your products from thinnest to thickest.
Just as excellence is a habit, so is glowing, youthful skin. An ageless appearance is all about the little things you do every day to take care of yourself. So remember your routine and of course, never skip sunscreen!
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