Skin Care Basics
Patients of all ages often ask what they can be doing or using to improve their skin. Our American Academy of Dermatology has lots of good information available here (https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care). In general we recommend Cetaphil, Cerave or Dove products. Vanicream is best for patients with ultra-sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions to products. If you prefer natural, pure, organic moisturizers, sunflower or coconut oil are good choices.
When it comes to anti-aging products, there are a number of quality skin care products available on the market. It is important to know what the active ingredients are in your products in order to understand how to use them properly, anticipate any side effects, and fully realize their potential benefit. Here is a summary of commonly utilized active ingredients found in skin care products.
RETINOIDS (RETINOL / RETINOIC ACID / TRETINOIN) – These are all Vitamin A derivatives. Retinol is available over-the-counter. Tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene are all prescription. These agents fight acne and aging by stimulating cell-turnover (think of it like a chemical exfoliant), lessening wrinkles and improving irregular pigmentation.
VITAMIN C & OTHER ANTIOXIDANTS – Vitamin C is the most commonly utilized antioxidant but there are many others found in anti-aging products. All work by reducing oxidative stress to reduce the effects of sun damage and free radicals.
BENZOYL PEROXIDE – Considered an essential for fighting acne, this agent has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and mild exfoliant properties.
SALICYLIC ACID – This agent is considered a beta-hydroxy acid. Like alpha-hydroxy acids, it exfoliates the skin, but it has the unique ability to penetrate the hair follicles and oil glands making it particularly effective for fighting acne. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be found in willow bark, wintergreen leaves and sweet birch.
ALPHA-HYDROXY ACIDS (AHA) – This is a large class of agents. The most commonly utilized are lactic acid and glycolic acid. Others include malic acid, citric acid, mandelic acid, and tartaric acid. They are extracted from organic products however when used in cosmetic products, they are most often chemically synthesized for purity. They work by increasing cell turnover, improving irregular dyspigmentation and if used consistently long-term, increasing collagen.
HYDROQUINONE – This agent is used for treating hyperpigmentation. It inhibits the production of melanin to reduce dark areas.
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