What’s the ideal skin care regimen?

In today’s world, the amount of skin care options can be dizzying.  With so many products, which ones should you use? The cosmeceutical market is a billion dollar industry.  The truth is, great skin can be attained on a budget with the following products and principals.
  1. Sunscreen – many people think of sunscreen as a way to prevent skin cancer, and not so much to maintain youthful appearing skin.  However, the sun’s effects on the skin are often the biggest contributing factors to an aging appearance.  Damage from the sun causes wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, dilated blood vessels, and multiple benign and malignant growths.  A minimum of SPF 35 is recommended.  However, if you aren’t great about applying enough, a higher SPF may be required.  Also, remember to reapply every few hours when in direct sunlight.
  2. Smoking cessation – if you smoke, stop.  If you don’t, don’t start.  Smoking causes wrinkles by way of free radicals as well as giving you wrinkles around the mouth from “pursed lips”.
  3. Retinoids – these are a family of over the counter and prescription compounds derived from vitamin A.  As a group, they increase collagen, normalizes epidermal cell turnover, evens pigmentation, and decreases the appearance of fine lines.  People serious about maintaining youthful skin should use this regularly, as it is one of the few topicals with actual, IRONCLAD scientific data behind it.  You can pick some up over the counter(retinol) or better yet, see your dermatologist for prescription strength(tretinoin, “Retin-A”).  Beware of dryness, as often people have to gradual increase its use and often combine it with moisturizer.  A side benefit is it treats acne!!
  4. Wash and moisturize – a delicate balance exists between washing to avoid excess oil, and moisturizing when too dry.  Everyone is different, but on average, you should wash your face once/day.  While the excess sebum (oil) you wash off can contribute to acne, it also is a natural moisturizer, so be sure to replace it with a moisturizer at least oncea day.  Moisturize more frequently ifusing drying products (retinoids, acne products).
  5. Vitamin C – this works mainly by enhancing sunprotection through antioxidant effects. It is best used in the morning before sun exposure.  Many formulations exist, many are relativelyinexpensive.
For those that want to go the extra mile, or have to makeup for lost time, there are many easy treatments your dermatologist can perform that are safe and effective.
  1. Neuromodulators (botox) – while this may sound scary, it is by far one of the easiest and most effective treatments with only minimal side effects.  It works by temporary paralysis of the facial muscles that cause some of the most common and bothersome wrinkles for patients including “11s”, “crows feet” and forehead wrinkles.  The best (and worst) part, it lasts an average of 6 months, so even if it’s not right for you, there are no lasting effects.  Most wish it would last much longer!
  2. Fillers (Juvederm) – these products work by replacing volume loss and fighting the effects of gravity.  Many are made of a substance that is already naturally in your skin (hyaluronic acid), so allergic reactions are rare.  By replacing volume in the face, static wrinkles can be dramatically softened and can take years off.  They can even be used to add volume where there was little previously, as often seen in individuals that get “lip injections”.  Side effects are uncommon but can be serious especially in high-risk areas.  The best idea is to seek an experienced injector with the appropriate credentials.
  3. Chemical Peels – there are a wide array of chemical peels that are available dependent upon patient goals.  They vary in depth from superficial (most often for acne or those seeking smoother skin) to deep (for deep wrinkles and diffuse sun damage/pigmentation).  Your best bet is to speak to your dermatologist about which peels would be best for what you are looking for.