Evaluating Your Skincare Product

The skincare market is filled with miracle creams that promise to eliminate wrinkles, fade discoloration, and bring out beautiful youthful skin. With the myriad of choices, how do you know what is effective and which products to buy?

The first step in evaluating a skincare product is to look at the list of ingredients. Is the list so long and filled with so many exotic and miscellaneous ingredients that you feel overwhelmed? All skincare products have a baseline number of ingredients (eg. purified water, glycerin, petrolatum, alcohols, propylene glycol) that makes the product skin appropriate with a standard shelf life. However, skincare products with too many added colors, fragrances, miscellaneous, preservatives, and exotic “extracts” may also serve as a potential source of irritation especially in people with sensitive skin. You may also look for products that are labeled as hypoallergenic.

There are certain active ingredients that are considered helpful and have a scientific basis for its use. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative (retinoid) that is commonly added to over-the–counter skin products (eyecreams, facial moisturizers) for antiaging purposes. Members of the retinoid family have the ability to help even out mild discoloration and induce collagen formation. Prescription versions are also available and commonly used for its cosmetic benefit. Vitamin C is another active ingredient used in many skincare formulations, often as a serum, to help even out skin discoloration and as an antioxidant to protect the skin against environmental skin damage. Niacinamide based products can help reduce redness of the skin. Salicylic and Glycolic acid based products exfoliate the dead surface skin cells. This is just a partial listing of more conventional active ingredients found in skin products.

Lastly, always inspect the expiration date of all of your skincare products. Almost all skincare products have a defined shelf-life because active ingredients do expire. Sunscreen is a classic example of a product in which expiration dates are critical to heed. Most products have an expiration date of one to two years, and this information is usually imprinted on the end of the tube or on the bottom of the jar.

Prevent Aging Around The Eyes

One of the first signs of aging that appear on the face are the wrinkles underneath the eyes. The skin here is one of the most vulnerable areas to aging because of how thin and delicate it is. Fine lines generally begin appearing around the late twenties and increase and deepen over time.

I recommend all of my patients to start using an ultra-moisturizing eyecream in their mid-twenties to hydrate the skin and prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. A liberal amount of eyecream should be applied at nighttime to the delicate skin underneath the eyes. Some eyecreams on the market also contain retinol, a vitamin A derivative with anti-aging properties. In my opinion, a simple and pure eyecream that is thick and moisturizing will be beneficial from an anti-aging standpoint.

In addition to adequate moisturization, there are other ways to help with undereye fine lines and wrinkles, especially for women in their thirties to fifties. Because the fine lines are directly related to the repetitive muscular contractions caused by facial expressions neuromodulator injections can tone down any excessive movements of the muscle underneath the eye. This will in turn, relax and eventually smoothen the skin.

Fractional non-ablative lasers like the Lumenis Photofractional treatment offer another option to improve the appearance of the skin around the eyes. This specific type of laser can stimulate the growth of collagen in the skin and hence give more volume and firmness to the skin. The laser induces microscopic columns of thermal injury so that new collagen can form in those areas and firm up the skin. As an added bonus, discoloration of the skin in the treated areas can also be improved at the same time.

If you feel like you could benefit from some rejuvenation around your eyes, talk to your dermatologist about the variety of options available to help with fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. There are so many options available to make you feel and look your best.

Moisturize For A Radiant Complexion

The skin is largely comprised of water, and as such, hydration plays a vital role in its health and beauty. Frequent moisturization is necessary to maintain smooth, soft, and radiant skin.

Moisturizers are products that when applied to the skin, protect water content by either forming a barrier to prevent evaporative water loss and/or drawing moisture from the surrounding areas to the area in which the moisturizer is applied. Moisturizers can be in the form of ointments, creams, and lotions.

Frequency of moisturization depends on the environment. During fall and the harsh winter months, relative humidity is often lowest, and frequent moisturization is necessary to vulnerable areas of skin such as the face, arms, and legs. A heavier cream based moisturizer is recommended for these drier seasons. During the spring and summer months, moisturization can be less frequent, and a lotion based moisturizer may often be sufficient for summer months. Your skin type will also influence the amount of moisturization needed. Oiler areas of the body such as the T-zone of the face may not require any additional moisturization.

Moisturizers for the face should be a higher quality product. I often recommend a non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free cream based moisturizer for nighttime use and a lighter counterpart for daytime use. Long term and frequent usage of moisturizers can be helpful in both reducing medical skin problems such as eczema, as well as decreasing fine wrinkles and lines that develop with age. Studies have found that even open skin wounds heal faster when maintained in a moist environment.

The market is filled with “super” moisturizers that also contain other ingredients such as retinols and antioxidants for additional anti-aging benefits. If not too irritating to your skin, this may be a good “all-in-one” solution. However, for people with sensitive skin or those who are already on a topical retinoid, a pure and simple moisturizer is sufficient to maintain a beautiful complexion.

Hope In A Jar?

On what four letters does the 75 billion-dollar cosmeceutical industry bet its fortunes? H-O-P-E.
This gigantic market is not regulated by the FDA: meaningful clinical trials and actual science are a rarity. Cosmeceutical manufacturers are free to make outlandish claims about their unproven products – preying on consumers hoping for a quick fix to improve their appearance. When instant results are not seen, the next hot new anti-aging product is substituted . . . and on it goes, at great expense.

The truth is, there are only a handful of topical formulations that are absorbed into your skin with actual hard science to prove their efficacy. And there are no quick fixes for most cosmetic problems. However, your board-certified dermatologist should be able to create a skincare plan for you that may include meaningful topical products supplemented by proven complimentary procedures like peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments.

TIP: Stop throwing your money into the fountain of youth. While over-the-counter creams can plan a meaningful role in your daily regimen, be weary of unrealistic rejuvenation claims made by beauty stores, big-box retailers, and infomercials. Talk to your dermatologist and start your skincare moving in the right direction.