We all want to protect our skin, age gracefully and avoid as many lines, wrinkles and age spots as possible. We’re inundated with ads and cosmetic stands selling expensive facial creams and serums, but are they worth it? What’s the best skincare regimen to keep that healthy glow?
We asked Dr. Anar Mikailov, a dermatologist with Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, to share his top tips and products for optimal skin health.
The 2 Products You Absolutely Need
Sunscreen is the first product everyone should be using for skin protection at all ages.
“Active sun protection is the No. 1 way to prevent wrinkles and age spots later in life,” Dr. Mikailov said. “Conversely, tanning beds will cause much faster aging and wrinkling of the skin, in addition to increasing risks of skin cancer. Tanning beds should be avoided just as much as cigarettes.”
Dr. Mikailov recommends EltaMD UV Clear as a great daily sunblock, but other brands such as CeraVe AM and Vanicream have great everyday options. Keep this everyday sunblock next to your toothpaste and apply it to the face and back of your hands after brushing your teeth daily.
For kids, Blue Lizard is an excellent brand from Australia. Look for Titanium and Zinc as the main ingredients with SPF 50 or higher, especially on vacations and at beaches; while SPF 30 is good enough for everyday use.
Moisturizer is also essential to keeping your skin healthy and glowing.
“Moisturization starts with a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water,” Dr. Mikailov said. “As we age, our skin loses water content faster. It helps to apply moisturizer after a shower.”
He recommends Curel Hydratherapy, CeraVe or Vanicream Moisutirizing creams for daily after shower use. Creams are preferable over lotions.
Products for Special Conditions
Moisturizing and protecting against the sun are the fundamental steps to maintaining skin health. But sometimes we have other issues that need treating.
- Acne: Look for products that say “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” on the label. For minor breakouts, you can use over-the-counter products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Prescription tretinoin, or Retin-A, creams are important for active acne that does not improve with basic over-the-counter options. More severe acne will need regular visits with a board-certified dermatologist. Accutane, Dr. Mikailov says, remains the most effective prescription treatment for severe acne.
- Wrinkles: Aside from prevention with sun protection, prescription tretinoin is one of the most effective treatments for fine lines and wrinkles. Over-the-counter retinol or retin-A products are not as effective as prescription strength tretinoin. Be sure to find a board-certified dermatologist to speak with about prescription treatments.
- Skin thinning or bruising: As we get older, our skin thins and bruises more easily. Look for products that contain vitamins A or C, arnica or retinol to diminish bruising.
How to Establish a Skincare Regimen
Setting up a skincare regimen can be very simple, Dr. Mikailov says. In the morning after brushing your teeth and washing your face with simple water, apply a moisturizer with sunscreen. Then, if you like, apply makeup.
If you wear makeup, use a cleanser to remove it in the evening. Mikailov says that most people don’t need expensive cleansers, especially if they wear light makeup. He recommends Purpose as a good cleanser for removing makeup. When you’re done — or if you never put on makeup to begin with — apply a moisturizer and then your tretinoin or retin-A cream. Dr. Mikailov cautions against exfoliating scrubs, which he says often do more harm than good.
That’s as simple as it gets. Preventive care is the best way to keep your skin firm, smooth and glowing. The earlier you begin, the better off you will be. And if you have any additional questions, be sure to speak with your Lahey Health provider.