What’s your skin care secret?
This would have to be one of the most common questions asked of a dermatologist. The answer is simple – sun protection.
Why? Well, sun damage is responsible for over 80% of the signs associated with aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin, redness, patchy pigmentation, yellowing and coarsening of the skin. Sun protection is the essential part of a dermatologist’s skin care routine.
If I’m not getting sunburn, do I need sunscreen?
Yes. Studies show that even when sunlight is not strong enough to cause sunburn, it is can still cause permanent skin damage. This can quicken the signs of aging mentioned above. Hats, clothing and a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA, UVB and infrared are year round essentials.
Does my moisturiser slow the signs of aging?
No. Moisturisers stop water evaporating from the skin and relieve dryness. They help to protect the skin from irritation. Well-hydrated skin looks more radiant and fresh and small lines may look less visible. A moisturiser is not an ‘anti-aging’ miracle.
What moisturiser you use should be determined by the way if feels on your skin. If it’s too greasy, it may sit on the surface and get wiped off from clothing. If it’s too watery, the hydrating effect may be so short-lived that you feel as though you need to use more a few minutes later. Ideally your moisturiser should be absorbed into the skin, making it feel soft and fresh.
The cost of the moisturiser is not a reflection of quality. Neutrogena, Ego Pharmaceuticals and Nivea are just three companies that have been making relatively inexpensive quality moisturisers for decades and they have lasted in a highly competitive market.
I thought my moisturiser has SPF?
When moisturisers include sunscreen, the sun protection is short-lived. Real sunscreens have to state how long their protection lasts and whether it will be affected by water or sweating. If you want to get serious about skin care, stock up on a dedicated sunscreen.
What’s new in skin care?
We are starting to understand how sunlight damages skin cells, skin cancer and ageing. Anti-oxidants can help to minimise damage and help the repair process. Retinoic acid (derived from vitamin A) is a powerful antioxidant that is effective in cream form. While Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, it is unstable in creams and when exposed to air.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) can help skin repair and reduce the uneven pigmentation of facial skin.
The pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies are aware of the research and are incorporating anti-oxidants and niacinamide into sunscreens and cosmetics. But more on this next time…