Written by: Kimberly A. Wenner, MD
There are numerous products, advertisements and conflicting information out there regarding the ideal skincare routine, making taking care of your skin to improve its tone and texture can be confusing and – at times – overwhelming. Kimberly A. Wenner, MD, of Cascade Eye & Skin Centers personally believes that “less is more” when it comes to most people’s skincare regimens as long as they use the five basic products listed below.
Wearing sunscreen every day is essential. UV light from the sun causes photo-aging (freckles, wrinkles, and sallow appearance) and skin cancer. This light penetrates clouds and wind, so your skin may be at risk even when you think the weather is in your favor. Therefore, it’s best to get into the habit of wearing sunscreen daily.
Essentially., sunscreen is the most important step to protect the skin and maintain a healthy texture and tone. The younger you are when you begin to use sunscreen, the better your skin will age.
What Type of Sunscreen is Best?
The best type of sunscreen depends on the person. Sunscreen only works if you use it, so choosing a sunscreen that feels comfortable to you is essential. If it is sticky, discolors your skin or stings your eyes, you probably won’t wear it. There are powders, sprays, lotions, and creams ranging from light to moisturizing depending on preference. Many cosmetics also contain sunscreen.
Sunscreen ingredients are divided into physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreens. Many sunscreens contain both types and multiple ingredients, so it is important to read the label.
Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens
The typical ingredients in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and iron oxide. They form a physical barrier on your skin, causing UV light to be reflected. They work immediately on application and are not absorbed through the skin. They can (and do) leave a white appearance on the skin, especially in darker skin types and are often mixed with pigment or tinted so they blend more easily with the skin. These sunscreens are safe to use around coral reefs.
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed in the skin and deactivate the UV light as it is absorbed. They contain many different ingredients and are absorbed through the skin. Though they are absorbed, it is not known whether they cause long-term complications. However, if you are concerned, stick with mineral sunscreens.
2. Retinoids or Retinol
Retinoids are medications that help with skin turnover, decreasing fine lines, wrinkles and improving skin tone and texture. Regular use often makes dull, sallow skin pink and vibrant and decreases oil production. It can cause irritation, redness and peeling in some people (especially with dry or sensitive skin), but that usually improves over time. Retinols are slightly less potent and are available without a prescription.
Tips and Tricks for Using Retinoids or Retinols
Apply a pea-sized amount to your face at night. Sometimes using a 5-7 dot method (small dots applied to forehead, cheeks, nose and chin) before rubbing in will help. If you are sensitive, use moisturizer immediately after use and consider waiting 20 minutes after washing your face to apply. When first starting, use the product 3 times a week and gradually increase.
Types of Retinoids and Retinols
Prescription: Tretinoin, Retin-a, Tazorac, Tazarotene
Over-the-counter: Differin OTC gel
There are hundreds of retinol products. Dr. Wenner likes Avene Retrinal for patients with sensitive skin and Skin Medica Retinol because it comes in different strengths, and it can be increased over time for best effects. Retinols purchased at a physician’s office or their online store are typically more potent than brands purchased at drug/beauty stores.
3. Alpha-Hydroxy Acids & Glycolic Acid
Alpha-hydroxy acids/glycolic acids are the secret to smooth, clear, non-bumpy skin! It is like a mild chemical peel every day. Available in creams or washes, Dr. Wenner loves SkinMedica AHA/BHA wash and Glytone Enhance tone brightening because it also helps reduce redness.
Regular glycolic acid peels (every 3-6 months) will also help keep your skin smooth and bright. Start out using these products once daily and increase to twice daily as your skin tolerates it. We recently added Cascade Rx peel pads in 2 formulations. Dr. Wenner uses them on her face and then her hands.
Moisturizing products depend on skin type and personal preference. As you age, your skin typically becomes less oily and more sensitive. Dr. Wenner loves Avene, SkinMedica and CeraVe. If you do not wear foundation or makeup, consider using a moisturizer with sunscreen in it. We recommend applying moisturizer twice daily unless your skin is oily.
5. TNS Advanced Serum
TNS Advanced Serum is a treat for your face, but if you go on vacation and don’t bring it, you can probably tell. This product is non-irritating, light, and contains growth factors. It consistently makes the list as one of the top skin care treatments every year at cosmetic dermatology conferences and is recommended for all skin types.
These five products are the base of any skincare regimen, Other products, such as serums, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid, can be added as desired, but regular use of the above will keep your skin healthy, happy and bright!
Please contact us for a personal evaluation at any Cascade Eye and Skin location with our amazing estheticians and skin care specialists!