Having great skin means more than just washing your face twice a day. Having your best skin ever goes far beyond that.
Here are some very important tips and advice by a dermatologist to keep in mind.
If I was going to pick my hero product of all time, I probably would pick niacinamide.
Niacinamide is an amazing ingredient that’s found in lots and lots of products.
Niacinamide is one of the B vitamins and it’s anti-inflammatory for the skin, a huge hydrator, and it also helps to repair the barrier function.
It also helps to reduce the amount of oil produced in our sebum and calms and soothes the skin.
Majority of skins will tolerate niacinamide as it’s very calming. And it’s super, super strengthening to our barrier. It can be used all year round.
Everybody likes to have lovely, moisturized, hydrated skin but not everybody can actually use a moisturizer.
Moisturizers are a thick molecule and they lay on the surface of the skin and they act as an emollient over the top of the skin and the skin actually hydrates itself underneath the moisturizer. And the moisturizer kind of locks that in over the surface.
And as a therapist we often call it the cling wrap effect. So the skin is coated with the moisturizer.
So someone with very dry skin can benefit from a moisturizer but they would benefit even better if they use the hydrator like hyaluronic acid or vitamin B serum underneath the moisturizer. And then the moisturizer over the top to kind of lock in the serum.
Those with an oily skin usually should avoid moisturizers and stick with serums instead. As a heavy molecule, the moisturizers seems to sit in the pores and helps to clog the pores for a very oily person. Mixes with their oil and tends to congest the skin.
Exfoliation is huge. Everybody wants smooth, soft, silky skin. And to achieve that, exfoliation is part of our routines, but when to and what to do it with is a big question.
So, on the whole, exfoliation should be performed once or twice a week, and should be kept to that as over exfoliating the skin can cause more problems than you originally had.
Over exfoliated skin is actually probably worse than not exfoliating your skin at all.
So the kinds of exfoliants you can use are chemical exfoliants, which can be a mixture of lactic salicylic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid and sometimes a mixture of all of those.
They’re generally placed on the skin for 15 to 20 minutes and rinsed away.
Not only do they create a nice smooth texture, but they’re also very good at cleaning out clogged pores.
Then we look at scrubs. I really don’t like the word scrubs.
Scrubs are indicative of those harsh, grainy materials that we’ve scrubbed our faces with, and the skin feels really, really clear and it feels really smooth, but within two or three days, our skin feels rough again.
And the reason for that is our cells like to lie flat on our skin, and when over exfoliated or roughly exfoliated, they come through the layers rough. And then our skin looks rough again, and we think that we need to exfoliate and the cycle continues.
So the best way of exfoliating is with gentle materials, like a gentle chemical exfoliant or a chemical called AHAs. AHAs are fruit enzymes that help to gently buff away the surface.
Anti-aging starts with sunscreen.
Sunscreen is probably the most important part of our skincare routine. It doesn’t matter how lovely our makeup
or how flawless our skin, if we don’t protect it from UV rays, things can go downhill very quickly.
The sun will create pigmentation in the skin. It also degrades our cells, causing us to prematurely age.
We’ve all seen the old sunbathers that have got very leathery, dry skin, and it’s due to the UV damage to the skin.
So, the way that we protect our skin is with sunscreens. And sunscreens come in lots of different formats.
The two most common are titanium dioxide and zinc. One isn’t particularly better than the other.
Titanium dioxide is a chemical sunscreen, so it chemically creates a barrier within the skin to protect the skin from the UV.
And zinc is a physical barrier, so it creates a barrier like a shield over the top of the skin to protect the skin.
These products can be found in tinted versions and nice milky substances that feel really lovely on the skin, and they’re also found in lots of our mineral makeups to extend the sunscreen protection of our skin.
Ingredients are everything when it comes to product.
What’s in the product, more importantly what’s not in the product.
So the ingredients that we’re looking for are what we call cosmaceutical actives.
We actually want them to make change in the skin. We don’t want them to lay on the surface and be washed away.
We want them to penetrate down into the layers of the skin and create a difference so that our skin can be nourished and nurtured and protected.
I get asked all the time by patients whether they can just purchase chemical peels online and do them themselves at home.
And my answer to that is always no.
You never know what you’re buying. You never know the composition and you don’t know what reaction and action is going to be created in the skin.
Chemical peels should always be provided by a professional that has been trained for many years in how to use them.
And more importantly to be able to look at the skin and know when things are right and when things are not.
It’s very easy to purchase chemical peels online. But the side-effects and the reactions and the permanent scarring that could be created by these products could be horrific.
I’ve seen this myself with people that have come in and purchased them. And sometimes it can be permanent.
So a proper skin analysis, a consultation and a proper treatment schedule is much more effective.
Acne skins quite often suffer with oil and congestion. Sometimes there can be dry acne as well, but more commonly it’s quite an oily condition.
And the first thing that an acne patient wants to do is to feel as though their skin is really clean of oil, and they’ll use hard stripping agents containing benzoyls and benzoyl peroxide to really strip away the oil on the skin.
They’ll use harsh cleansers containing sulfates to strip away.
And the issue with this is that the skin feels stripped, it feels lacking in moisture and lacking in oil, and it actually responds by producing more oil.
So those patients tend to find that by lunch time they’re extremely oily and shiny, and that’s because the skin has responded to the stripping agents that’s been placed on it and produced even more oil.
So, to counteract this for an oily skin, a gentle cleanser, usually a gel cleanser with no sulfates in it is a much better option to help to regulate that oil and stop a cycle of stripping and oiliness.
Where to Buy Skincare?
The kind of ingredients that we’re looking for are the ones that are going to make a change.
Generally, they’re not found in our supermarket brands. Regulations allow different kinds of ingredients to be in different levels of product.
For example, products that you can buy in your supermarkets have a very, very low level of active ingredients, if any at all.
The reason for that, is that you can walk into a supermarket, pick them up off the shelf, with no advice, buy them, and take them home.
The kind of products that you can buy in more of our beauty salons have a little bit more in the way of active ingredients, because you’ll get some education.
If you want cosmeceuticals, and the highest grade of actives, you’ll look at coming to a clinic, where there are doctors and nurses, and qualified skin therapists, that can guide you through the array of ingredients and products available.
So you can have an analysis and have them matched to your skin.
Why do we have treatments? The treatments are a boost to the skin care that we’re already on.
So usually your practitioner will advise you to start products for at least a month before you engage in any treatment and this is to strengthen the barrier of the skin and to provide nourishment and to get your skin ready for treatment
And then the treatments are like icing on the cake.
Treatments boost the effects in the skin of the products that you’re already using and help to maintain your overall skin health.
They also help in some cases with dermo skin needling to penetrate the skin much deeper and push those products deeper into the skin so that we get the benefit of the dermal layer.
500 Dalton Rule
I’m asked many times by my patients about how products get into their skin, that sometimes when they put their serum on it seems to disappear, so do they need to put more on?
And I explain to them about the 500 Dalton rule.
So, the 500 Dalton rule is all about the molecular weight of a molecule, and any weight of a molecule that’s less than 500 Daltons can penetrate the skin and go deep down, and deliver its active ingredients down into the living layers of the dermis to create change in our skin.
So, if you imagine that your pores are a teeny tiny little pinhead, and the molecule of product you want to go into the pinhead is the size of a golf ball. It’s never gonna go in.
So, we need to look for ingredients that are encapsulated in molecules or has peptides that help to take that down into the skin and deliver it deeply.
Because anything weighed at a Dalton of above 500 generally will sit on the surface of the skin, a little bit like the heavy molecule of a moisturizer will sit on the surface of the skin.
Most Common Ingredient to Avoid
The most common ingredient that we want to avoid in our skin care is usually found in cleansers. Sometimes in scrubs and exfoliants, but generally in cleansers.
That one is sodium lauryl sulfate.
That’s usually found right at the top of the list next to water on all of your shop-bought cleansers.
And the thing about this nasty product is that it’s a huge stripping agent. It’s put into the products to act as a surfactant to remove dirt and oil.
And you might think “oh, that’s a good thing, “it’s gonna remove my dirt and oil” but it’s actually not. It’s also used in floor cleaners, washing-up liquid, and cleaning agents.
And we all know that when we use these kinds of products we wear gloves ’cause we don’t want the product on our hands.
So, why are we washing our faces with them?
So, so avoid these, look at your labels. We’re all very big on looking at labels for food. We need to look our labels for products.
Cosmeceutical cleansers never contain sodium lauryl sulfate. We use naturally derived plant extracts and surfactants instead, such as kiwi fruit and coconut sugars.
One of ingredients in make up is dimethicone. It is a silicone and this silicone is put into make up and it’s put into primers, and it’s put into lots of moisturizers and creams to make the skin smooth and silky.
And we all want our skin to be smooth and silky.
But not with dimethicone.
Dimethicone coats our skin, acts like a silicone barrier, clogging our pores, our skin cannot breathe, and in the long term, with daily use, we can end up with congested skin.
Unfortunately those patients with acne are the first ones to go towards products containing lots of dimethicone because it gives great coverage.
But the acne is never gonna clear, it’s never going to go away with constant use of dimethicone on the skin.
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Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.