Skin Care Basics
Step 1: Cleanse / Exfoliate
For most people, washing the face with a gentle soap-free cleanser twice daily is optimal – once in the morning and once at night. However people with dry and/or sensitive skin may do better with once a day washing/cleansing. Women should never go to sleep with makeup on! Once in a blue moon won’t kill you, but if this is a habit, all that build up will cause your complexion to appear lifeless. Some skin care experts feel that daily exfoliation should be part of the cleansing routine for all skin types. Getting rid of the dead layer of skin leads to a brighter appearance and helps moisturizers (Step 2) and actives (Step 3) absorb better.
Step 2: Moisturize / Protect
Use a daytime lotion with built-in SPF 30 every morning. Women: apply this before makeup. Year-round protection from ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB) is critical for warding off age spots, fine lines, and skin cancer. Fair skinned people need to be particularly meticulous about sun protection. Men are notorious for skimping on daily sunscreen use. Below is a photo from The New England Journal of Medicine of a 69-year-old man who had been a truck driver for many years. The left side of his face shows extensive sun damage from years of direct sunlight exposure through the driver’s side window.
At night use a night cream and a separate eye cream (skin around the eyes is more delicate) to replenish and repair skin problems while you sleep. Protect your lips too with petroleum-free balms with SPF during the day.
Step 3: Treat
People over thirty should invest in a product or two with wisely chosen, scientifically proven active ingredients to target specific concerns like adult acne, lines, or pigmentation. Effective actives such as retinol (a.k.a. vitamin A for wrinkles, acne) and vitamin C (for fading sun spots and marks from acne) can be found in products such as liquid or gel serums, which are formulated to be applied underneath moisturizers.
These steps should be adjusted to fit your skin type – keeping in mind that your skin type may change with the season, diet and age. For example the skin tends to be oilier in the summer and drier in the winter. Another critical thing to remember is to not rely soley on at-home products. Think of products as a booster in between monthly or bimonthly visits with a dermatologist. Having professional clinical treatments done, starting at age 30, will ensure you look your absolute best when you are 60.