Skincare 101

As our largest and fastest growing organ, one of the many functions of the skin is to provide protection from potentially dangerous environmental agents such as bacteria, chemicals, and ultraviolet rays among other harmful pollutants. Let’s make a personal goal for 2016 to begin healthy skin habits, which will add protection to the skin and set the groundwork for a successful skin care regimen.

The interest in skin health grows daily. Drug stores are stocked with various products that it is often difficult to make a choice. However, before applying serums, antioxidants, growth factors, etc., it is necessary to address the basics of skin care, three simple steps that should occur daily.

  1. Wash. Cleanse the skin once or twice daily with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. This is important in removing impurities from the skin such as pollutants, dirt, excess oil, bacteria, and dead-skin cells. A buildup of one or more of these agents contribute to a dull complexion, breakouts and an overall unhealthy appearance. Using a clean, dry, soft towel, pat the skin dry in preparation for the next beauty regimen step.
  2. Moisturize. Dehydrated skin can cause itchiness, redness, and flaking which can result in skin roughness as well as fine lines and wrinkles are often more noticeable. When choosing a moisturizer, whether an ointment, cream or lotion, check the label for ingredients such as lactic or hyaluronic acid, glycerin, lanolin, petrolatum. Oils such as olive oil, jojoba oil, and mineral oil are also very effective for very dry skin. Moisturizers should be compatible with skin type, e.g., oily, dry, or combination. If you are unsure of your skin type, ask a skin care consultant for assistance.
  3. Protect. Lastly, but vitally important, skin must be protected. Ultraviolet radiation caused by the sun as well as artificial UV radiation from tanning beds are classified as known human carcinogens. Several scientific studies have proven excessive radiation exposure is one of the causes of skin cancer. Accelerated photo aging, which appears in the form of brown spots, broken blood vessels, skin texture irregularities, and a ruddy and often dull completion, has also been linked to excessive radiation exposure. Extended exposure to radiation often accelerates the breakdown of the skin’s supportive structures leading to volume loss, increased winkles, and sagging skin. Another function of the skin is supporting the formation of Vitamin D, which is scientifically proven to be important in bone health. Will protecting your skin from the sun cause vitamin D deficiency? How much sun exposure is safe? The American Academy of Dermatology states there is no scientifically proven safe level of UV radiation, for maximum vitamin D synthesis in the skin, which will not increase your risk for skin cancer. Therefore, it is recommended to obtain your Vitamin D from a healthy well balanced diet. It’s important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher when going outdoors.

By making these three simple steps (cleanse, moisturize, and protect) the essentials for skin care, noticeable improvement in the skin will soon occur, resulting in a brighter, healthier complexion. As a new year begins, let’s begin “new” healthy habits for bright and glowing skin.

Holly Singletary, MD

Board Certified Dermatologist