So Many Skin Care Products! How Do I Choose?

Perhaps quarantine has given you time to reevaluate your medicine cabinet full of skin care products. How did I ever accumulate so much stuff?! Over the years, you’ve been lured into purchasing products at the pharmacy or high-end department stores or salons, not knowing which would give the results you truly desire: clear, healthy, beautiful skin. It seems there’s always a new miracle product making promises of flawless skin and showing glossy pictures of beautiful models with enviable complexions. Who wouldn’t want that?

How do you choose?

Is more expensive better? Is the cream, your friend, or a celebrity with a beautiful complexion sells the one to get? Do all products need to be from the same “line”?

At APDerm, our mission is to help you sort through the barrage of products (called cosmeceuticals), looking for essential active ingredients and being mindful of your budget. We look forward to seeing you in the office where we can personally educate you and let you test products. In the interim, The Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid™ is here to help sort through the hype and streamline skin care. The Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid™ is an educational tool based on extensive scientific research and expert opinion that simplifies cosmeceutical selection, helping you formulate a skin care regimen that protects, repairs, transforms, and optimizes skin health while preventing spending money and time on products that are ineffective or harmful.

The Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid™

The foundation of the three-tiered pyramid is the must-haves: sun protection, antioxidants, and DNA repair enzymes. Without a firm foundation, it is not optimal to add products from tiers two or three. Tier two is the good to haves: alpha-hydroxy acids, and retinoids. Tier three is the nice to haves: peptides and growth factors.

 Tier One: Protect and Repair: Must Haves

We all know the sun causes burns, aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Sun protection is, therefore, the foundation of any skin care regimen, but did you know that you need to check the label to be sure that your sunscreen protects you from both UVB (burning rays) and UVA (more deeply penetrating wrinkle and melanoma causing rays)? Look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label and choose an SPF of at least 30. We recommend the EltaMD line of sun protection as it is broad-spectrum, hypoallergenic, fragrance, and paraben-free and feels good on your skin. It comes in a wide variety of hydration levels (one less step as you can skip AM moisturizer) and can be purchased tinted (throw away the cosmetic coverup!).

But the sun isn’t the only thing damaging your skin’s DNA and collagen, and even the best sunblock only filters about 98% of the sun’s rays. Smoking, pollution, and even the light from the computer screen also create free radicals and inflammation that contribute to accelerated aging of the skin and increased risk of skin cancer. Therefore, it’s wise to add an antioxidant like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum or SkinMedica Replenish Hydrating cream or Rejuvenate Moisturizer and a DNA repair Enzyme like Photozyme DNA Youth Recovery Serum daily.

 Tier Two: Moisturize, Exfoliate, and Promote Cell Turnover: Good to Have

Tier two includes retinoids (vitamin A) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid). These products moisturize, exfoliate, and enhance cell turnover. The most well-known retinoid is prescription strength Renova which is 0.02% tretinoin emollient cream. Renova has a long track record of minimizing the signs of aging, including fine lines, sallow complexion, and clogged pores. It can work wonders, but can also be irritating. If you have sensitive skin, you should consider starting with a milder over the counter retinoid like SkinMedica Retinol 0.25%-1.0%. While still effective, milder retinoids are potentially less irritating.

AHAs likewise exfoliate and hydrate. They range from very mild to potentially harsh, depending on the formulation. AHAs help dissolve the bonds between dead surface cells to increase skin clarity and enhance the formation of natural hyaluronic acid, which acts as a wonderful natural humectant. Examples of AHAs are Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Moisturizer and SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cream.

Tier Three: Stimulate: Nice to Have

The tip of the Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid™ includes growth factors, stem cells, and peptides that stimulate the skin’s natural cellular functions. These proteins are the finishing touch, stimulating skin cells to thicken a thinned epidermis and make new collagen. This level of the pyramid should be considered the final polish for healthier, younger-looking skin. SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum and Eye Creams fit into this category.

How to apply multiple products? Start with any prescriptions (retinoids must be applied once a day and only at night), followed by cosmeceuticals, followed by sun protection and finally make-up. If you are using more than one cosmeceutical, apply light to heavy (i.e. CE Ferulic then Photozyme then AHA/BHA cream).

It’s always best to start with only one or two new products at a time and add slowly. During this time of isolation, we are happy to have you order from our website and receive a free Travel size EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser with your purchase.

We can’t wait to see you again and help you achieve and maintain healthy, beautiful skin!  For more detailed information or to discuss other cosmetic procedures, please schedule a skincare consultation with me or one of our other board-certified dermatologists by calling (978) 315-6320 or filling out the form below.

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