Tips for National Healthy Skin Month
By Rhonda Klein, MD, MPH, FAAD
November is National Healthy Skin Month, a time of year to think about how you’re taking care of your body’s largest organ. Yes, we’re biased, but skin is a pretty big deal. We asked Dr. Klein to round up some of her most important skincare tips so you can use National Healthy Skin Month as a launchpad for an improved skincare routine.
Dry Skin Remedies
One of winter’s biggest skin challenges is dry skin. To help heal dry skin and prevent its return, start with a healthy shower routine.
When your skin is dry, be sure to:
Limit your time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes
Use warm or tepid water rather than hot water
Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
Don’t over-cleanse; only a dime sized amount of face wash is necessary – and avoid cleansing brushes (e.g. Clarisonic) which can overly strip the skin of moisture
Pat your skin dry with a towel, don’t rub
Apply moisturizer immediately after drying your skin to trap in moisture
Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. To do this most effectively, pat dry then grease up while there is still water on your skin.
For the body, using a thick ointment or cream rather than a lotion will be more moisturizing. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Other moisturizing ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
For the face, use an oil-free moisturizer or hydrating serum, we love these ones available in our office and on our website: PURE BioDerm Hydrating B5 Serum, Skin Better Science Refresh Hydration Boosting Cream, Alastin Ultra Nourishing Cream and Vanicream Lite Lotion.
As always, drink a lot of water and wear sunscreen daily! At least SPF of 30, and if you’re enjoying outdoor activities like skiing, bump that up to SPF 50. Some of our winter favorites are ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+, Revision Intellishade Truphysical, Supergoop Mineral Mist SPF 30 and Elta MD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44.
Sometimes what we think is “dry skin” could be another condition like eczema or even psoriasis, so if it’s a new condition and not responding to these methods, be sure to come in and see us for a consultation.
Get the Most out of Your Products
Order matters for product efficacy. Follow this order to get the most out of your products.
Cleanse. Always start the day with a clean slate. Use something gentle in the morning.
Toner (if you use one, in general, I don’t recommend toners as they aren’t necessary and may be drying).
Prescription or topical spot treater. This is when you would apply your prescription for rosacea, acne, or dermatitis. I always remind patients that in order for your prescription to work to its fullest ability, you want to apply to clean skin before other products.
Antioxidant serum. When layering from here on out, remember to start light and build to heavier products. Makes sense, right? If you apply something heavier first, the thinner topicals won't be able to penetrate. Antioxidants are a perfect pairing for the morning as they help protect and repair against UV radiation, environmental stresses, excessive blue light, free oxygen radicals, etc. (ie., all the stuff that injures and ages your skin).
Moisturizer. Go with a gel and/or oil free moisturizer if you're acne or rosacea prone. For drier skin, select one with ceramides to help rebuild the skin barrier and effectively hydrate.
SPF. Remember, you need to reapply sunscreen every two hours to truly protect yourself. I use a combination tinted, physical sunscreen, which doubles as makeup, and then I reapply with a brush on mineral sunscreen. I find this to be the easiest and most manageable way to stay sun safe.
During the day, our skin is busy protecting us from the sun and environmental stresses and at night it is repairing and preparing for the next day and our skin care should echo that.
Exfoliate - night time is a good time to exfoliate, once or twice weekly is sufficient. If you over exfoliate, your skin can get irritated and overly dry, which can paradoxically increase oil production.
Prescription or topical spot treatment. This is the time to apply your retinoid/retinol, or acid-based products. Remember that topical retinoids work by increasing our cell turnover and can make us more sun sensitive. Also, retinoids are destabilized by the sun; thus another big reason to apply at nighttime.
Antioxidants and Serums. If it wasn't clear by now, I am a huge antioxidant fan. Many antioxidants such as vitamin C don't only protect but can also help repair damage incurred during the day. I suggest thicker serums at night that contain hyaluronic acid and B5 as these are more hydrating and can help support skin barrier function.
Eye cream. Apply gently to this area, use the tip of your ring finger to apply.
The most critical part of maintaining healthy skin is self-awareness. Do self-exams often, and when you see something new or different - a mole, a dry patch, or pigmentation - call us. Overall, change is one of the biggest indicators that something is going wrong with your skin, and we’re here to help.