Maintenance and promotion of healthy skin is one of the best ways to achieve and maintain a rejuvenated look.
With a large variety of skincare products and claims bombarding the consumer, deciding on an appropriate and effective skin care regimen can be confusing. I hope the following passages will help simplify and demystify skin care thus promoting more effective choices.
Skin care can be broadly categorized into the following: cleansing; moisturizing; ultraviolet protection; biologically active agents; and surveillance.
Moisturizers or Emollients
Emollients function by hydrating the outer layers of skin and thus softening the skin and improving the texture. Emollients work by different mechanisms most commonly by acting as an occlusive. When I study commercial moisturizers, I note the vast majority contain a glycerol derivative.
The skin produces natural emollients in the form of urea-based compounds; lipids; and sterols. Other than creams for hands and feet, which may contain urea, it is uncommon to find moisturizers that rely on lipids or sterols as the primary agent in moisturizing.
The disadvantage of an occlusive moisturizer is that they may be comedogenic. Comedogenic refers to acne resulting from the plugging of the sweat glands (pilosebaceous unit) or acne cosmetica.
My advice to clients is to use a moisturizer that results in soft hydrated skin; is not comedogenic; not heavily perfumed; and agrees with you. The best moisturizer is simply the one that agrees with your unique skin type and to use it at least twice daily.
Collagen is the protein that provides the dermis with structure and loss or degradation of collagen is one mechanism that causes aging of the skin.
Although we tend to associate UV light with the occurrence of melanoma and other skin cancers, it is also the prime culprit in destruction of collagen by loss of cross-links and unraveling of the helical protein strands.
Therefore, I recommend daily UV protection for the purposes of avoiding solar elastoses as well as the prevention of skin cancer.
A sunscreen of at least SPF 30 should be applied daily. By comparison, coconut oil or a white T-shirt have an estimated SPF of 10 and are therefore ineffective. If you are active outdoors, the sunscreen should be applied at least every 3-hours. If you are at the beach, I do recommend using garments with built-in sun protection.
Biologically Active Agents
Very few topical agents can claim to be biologically active. Hydration for instance does not change the biology of the skin.
Biologically active agents have the potential to increase cell turnover; increase collagen production; suppress melanocytes; or modulate the inflammatory response. One must be wary of claims by over the counter products to offer any of these actions as these tend to be prescription medications.
Biologically active agents include the Retinols which I recommend to most of my clients. Vitamin A increases cell turnover which translates to a glowing skin and thickens the dermis which results in correction of fine lines. Some blemishes are corrected with Vitamin A creams as well.
Retinol or Vitamin A is so potent that the skin requires a period of 4-6 weeks to get conditioned to the novel stimulus. Many clients experience redness and flaking skin, which is usually improved with moisturizing, which resolves after 6-weeks.
Vitamin C in the correct concentration also improves cell turnover. It is better tolerated than the Vitamin A creams and therefore an option for clients for whom the Retinols prove too strong. Vitamin C also functions as a skin lightener and melanin suppressant. It is therefore useful to correct blemishes.
Hydroquinone is a melanin suppression agent. I do not recommend it’s continuous use as it has been shown to cause thinning of the dermis the deep layer of skin).
The skin is the largest organ in the body and it follows that the most common cancer are skin cancers. Fortunately, the majority of skin cancers are easily treatable by excision (removal).
It is important to pay attention to new spots, bumps, slow healing wounds etc. Should a new lesion persist, it is best to have it evaluated and possibly removed. The removed specimen may be examined under a microscope and a proper diagnosis rendered.
One must always think of the ABCDs when examining a new spot or lesion. Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variegations, and Diameter may suggest a lesion that requires immediate evaluation.
If you are interested in a simplified and effective skin therapy regimen, please arrange a consultation at the Reddy Aesthetic Institute.