This week I visited my dermatologist for my annual skin screening and if you don’t already do this, then I highly suggest that you include this as part of your annual wellness checkup. Skin is our biggest organ that protects us from bacteria and the sun’s harmful UV rays, regulates our temperature, and plays a role in maintaining the immune system. Many people only start focusing on their skin care once there is an issue, the key to skin care is consistency and routine, and it can take time to see the changes.
I started to routinely see my dermatologist a few years ago when I was in my late twenties, I wish I started earlier. As a teenager, I had acne up until 16 years old, and then the summer between sophomore and the junior year of high school it all calmed down and my skin cleared up. Part of it, of course, is genetics and part is I was past puberty and my skin decided it was done torturing me! In all seriousness, a dermatologist prescribed medication and a topical cream that cleared it up. I wish I could say my skin was perfect after that but it wasn’t, I was left with some light acne scarring but overall my skin was clear so I was happy. Fast forward 16 years and I’m starting to notice some hyperpigmentation on my face. Hyperpigmentation is caused by sun damage, even 20 minutes outside in the sun is enough to cause sun damage if you’re not wearing sunscreen. I didn’t take skin care seriously as a young adult and did not regularly wear sunscreen. Hence the reason I started to visit a dermatologist so I can try to reverse some of the damage I caused to my skin.
I started to use a combination of Vitamin C serum and a Retinol Cream which is Vitamin A to help improve skin tone (hyperpigmentation) and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Around your mid-twenties is when collagen production starts to slow down, collagen helps the skin stay firm and maintain elasticity. Using an anti-aging product like Retinol helps boost collagen and reduces signs of premature aging. Vitamin C actually helps Retinol work better, however, do not use them together as it will lead to irritation, peeling, redness, and increased sensitivity to the sun. I use Vitamin C serum and sunscreen in the morning and Retinol cream in the evening. I think it’s important to point out that getting used to a Retinol cream takes time due to sensitivity and at least 12 weeks to see noticeable results. When I first started out using Retinol I would put a pea-sized amount on my face and neck every third or fourth night and then after about two weeks increased to every two nights and then to every other night.
My dermatologist gave me a tip is that it doesn’t matter which brand of moisturizer or cleanser you use, as long as it’s “non-comedogenic” which means it won’t clog pores and lead to blackheads, or acne. Don’t rely on wipes to clean your face, you need to actually wash it with warm water and a cleanser followed by a moisturizer. I choose to spend my money on clinical strength Vitamin C, Retinol Cream and Sunscreen products i.e. I buy them from my dermatologist. There’s plenty of drug store choices, however, the strength of Vitamin C and Retinol (Vitamin A) ingredients is much weaker and will not produce the same results.
I use SkinBetter Science products, specifically the AlphaRet Overnight Cream (Retinol) and Alto Defense System (Vitamin C). For my sunscreen, I use EltaMD’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF-46 which comes in two different formulas, clear and tinted.
There are plenty of skincare tips available online that you can follow to help improve the appearance of your skin, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Practicing healthy habits such as staying out of the sun, using sunscreen, staying more hydrated, and not smoking which in general is bad for your health will be well worth it in the long run for your skin health.