The question I am asked most, by far, is “what is the best skincare regimen?”
In dermatology, we are most concerned with skin health. After all, your skin is the largest organ of your body! It is responsible for keeping pollutants, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals out while also regulating temperature and maintaining a cushion for your organs and musculoskeletal system. Whew–I’m tired just typing all of that!
It makes sense, then, that healthy skin appears as more youthful-looking skin.
Therefore, the best skincare regimen is one that protects skin health!
The Basics of Skin Protection
Too much UV damages skin cells and the DNA of the skin, leading to pre-cancer and skin cancer lesions (melanoma). Chronic sun damage causes color and texture changes that are often irreversible.
Make sure your daily face moisturizer has mineral SPF in it. If you’re not sure, look for Zinc and Titanium which are mineral sunblocks. If you can’t find a mineral sunblock, chemical sunscreens are better than nothing, but mineral sunblocks are preferable.
Use Gentle Products, Especially Cleansers
Not everyone has sensitive skin, but in the dermatology world, many patients do! You should avoid soaps, washes, and lotions with strong scents and artificial dyes to reduce skin itching and irritation. You should especially avoid these types of products if you’re taking care of babies and children.
Take a Daily Multivitamin
Through the seasons of life, it can be easy to become mildly deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. When your diet lacks these nutrients, that deficiency can affect skin health. Taking a daily multivitamin can help maintain healthy levels of important nutrients when your diet or lifestyle is a bit…wayward.
Infection Control and Wound Healing
Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs to your skin. Germs are a natural part of life and exposure to germs helps construct a strong immune system. However, there are many cases when infection can be prevented by hand washing.
You can promote wound healing by cleaning and covering wounds. All you need is plain soap and water to effectively clean your skin and any wounds. Finally, make sure to apply Vaseline and a bandage to clean skin daily until the wound heals.
The Best Skin Care Regimen Recommended by a Dermatologist
Now what you’ve all been waiting for!
The best skincare regimen is simple: Cleanse, Protect, Repair.
Cleansing should happen twice a day to rid your skin of dirt, oil, products, and pollutants.
Find a non-soap, liquid face wash that suits your skin type:
Face wash only touches the superficial layers of the skin. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about damaging the deeper layers of your skin from repeated use.
And you only need to use a cleanser for about 30 seconds twice a day. So don’t hem and haw too much over cleansers.
No face wash is going to make or break your skin’s health or appearance. You can’t cleanse away skin conditions/diseases. Cleansers won’t cure acne, won’t soothe eczema, and won’t kill bacterial infections of the skin. That being said, a cleanser may keep your skin condition from worsening, but it won’t cure it.
Either way, you should cleanse regularly, but always remember a cleanser’s effects are superficial and temporary.
2. Protect your skin during the day with SPF
The number one cause of premature aging is chronic and cumulative UV exposure. Your skin will be more healthy when UV damage is minimized.
Look for a daily face moisturizer that suits your skin type and contains mineral-based SPF for all-day sun protection. Zinc and Titanium are minerals that block UV rays from the skin. By blocking UV every day, you reduce the risk of precancerous and skin cancer lesions, fine lines and wrinkles, and other surface imperfections.
Don’t forget to use the moisturizer with SPF on your neck and chest too! This product is powerful so make it work hard for you! Also, many of these moisturizers with SPF come with a tint and/or anti-oxidants. These do-it-all products save time and money!
3. Repair Your Skin
Repair current skin damage and protect yourself from further damage.
There are 2 general avenues for anti-aging:
1. Fruit acids
Fruit acids resurface imperfections on the epidermis and stimulate collagen production and skin cell turnover. Additionally, when acids remove superficial dead skin cells, other products like antioxidants and moisturizers absorb and work better! Fruit acids include lactic acid, glycolic acid, retinoic acid/retinol. These can be found in various concentrations over the counter, by prescription, or in procedures like chemical peels.
Antioxidants fight the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are byproducts of ozone, pollution, and other environmental processes. Vitamins C & E are natural antioxidants for the skin. More potent antioxidants are green tea and other plant polyphenols. When used regularly, topical antioxidants fortify the skin’s defenses and reduce the effects of daily ROS exposure.
Acids and antioxidants can be used together or separately. Antioxidants are well tolerated in all skin types. However, acids can be a bit more tricky for sensitive or very dry skin. But, we have recommendations for all skin types, so we can find the perfect product for you.
Moisturizer with SPF
If you want to double-up, several skincare products offer both moisturizing and sun protection benefits. Here are some of the products that I recommend adding to your skincare routine.
A do-it-all patient favorite. This is a light but effective zinc-based moisturizer with medium tint. It’s packed full of green tea polyphenols and other antioxidants, making it the ultimate protect + repair combo product for everyday use.
Another do-it-all favorite. This cream combines oil-free moisture, mineral SPF, light tint, and vitamins C & E, with antioxidant ferulic acid. This product is nearly identical to other big name products, but at a much more affordable price!
Nearly perfect line of daily face moisturizers with SPF. Elta MD is especially good for very sensitive skin. All formulations contain zinc or titanium SPF, have varying degrees of moisture content, and many have tinted options. We’ve found that these are super affordable and long-lasting.
Elta MD Elements works for nearly all skin types. Use Elta MD Physical for oily skin and Elta MD Replenish for drier skin.
A tinted moisturizer with strong mineral-based SPF. Several formulations with a variety of tints to choose from if your skin tone needs more specific matching.
You should apply these at night on clean skin. All of these products are well-tolerated by nearly all skin types.
Aptly named as this cream contains Vitamins C & E, a gentle retinoid, and ferulic acid. It is a little pricey, but a competitive all-in-one product.
Green tea polyphenols, Resveratrol, and Hyaluronic Acid! It also contains squalene and caffeine! Available in serum for combination/oily skin or cream for drier or more mature skin types.
Formulated with Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins, a powerful combo of antioxidants, as well as aloe, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E. A really fantastic and easy to use product with a noticeable improvement in just a few weeks.
Use these at night on clean skin. You can follow up with an application of antioxidant products or moisturizer.
This lactic acid compound is brilliantly formulated in a solution for wipe-on application! Well tolerated by all skin types and long-lasting for affordability. The label recommends use twice a day, but I find that only nightly use is very effective. Once you start using this, you should see visible improvement within a few weeks.
Available in various 2x, 3x, 7.5x strengths. Potent retinol and available without a prescription. You should always start with lower strength formulation and step increase in strength over the next few months. Most people will need to start with every other night application and increase to nightly use as tolerated.
Schedule An Appointment For More Personalized Dermatology Care
I hope these tips have helped you better understand how to build and maintain your skincare regimen. I also hope these product recommendations will guide you as you protect and take care of your skin.
If you have any questions or have skin diseases or concerns, please schedule an appointment so we can discuss them!