Skin Care Basics
You probably didn’t know this but our skin is the largest organ in the human body, and when compared to the inner organs such as the liver, the skin is thoroughly exposed to the elements. At Westerville Dermatology, we’re all about taking care of your skin. But a big part of that is up to you, as well, things like using sunscreen and following a skin care regimen.
There are so many skin care products out there, it can seem overwhelming. Each promises some miracle or another, and it can make you simply buy a bottle of lotion and call it good.
But taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be a complex process. Here’s some information to help you know how to take care of your skin.
Why is skin care important?
Proper, attentive skin care isn’t just for a model heading to a photo shoot — it’s for everyone. Proper skin care is important because our skin is the ultimate barrier against infection, and we need to keep the outermost layer intact and healthy. That outer layer, the epidermis, maintains the skin’s overall hydration.
Daily skin care should follow a routine that cleanses, moisturizes, and protects.
What makes my skin oily?
Under each or our pores is a sebaceous gland whose job is to produce sebum (oil) to send up through the pore to the surface skin. This keeps our skin and hair hydrated and healthy. But in some people the sebaceous glands go a little overboard and overproduce oil. This gives the person oily skin that constantly looks a little shiny and is more prone to breakouts when those pores clog.
If you have oily skin, you may not be able to do anything about it, but you can manage it. These are some causes of oily skin:
- Genetics — Overactive sebaceous glands tend to run in families.
- Age — Younger skin is usually oilier skin. This means that you may have oily skin in your 20s, but in your 40s this is no longer the case.
- Season and location — Obviously, summertime and humid climates make oily skin even oilier.
- Larger pores — Large pores tend to produce more oil.
- Wrong skin care products — You may be using the wrong products for your skin type.
- Overdoing it — If you wash and exfoliate your skin too often, this actually can make your skin oilier. This seems backwards, but it’s true. If you do this too often, you strip away too much oil from your skin, and your sebaceous glands sense this and go into heavier production.
What products should be a part of my skin care regimen?
OK, so here’s what do you need to follow those steps:
1. Cleanse — The purpose here is to get rid of the dirt, debris, germs, and excessive oils that build up on the surface of our skin. But you don’t do this with just any old products. Some harsh cleansers can actually be more harmful than not cleaning your skin at all.
Cleansers can be bar soaps (usually the most irritating to the skin), liquid cleansers, and facial cleansers. Start with the mildest possible option. It should remove the dirt, debris, and excessive oil without stripping away the natural moisture.
2. Moisturize — A good moisturizer will stop the dry skin cycle from moving into the realm of cracked, thick, and flaky skin. Your moisturizer should do this:
- Replenish the skin to help maintain its natural structure, pH balance, and the like
- Reduce damage from free–radicals
- Help skin cells to function normally
Moisturizers used to be a mix of water and wax that simply trapped water on the surface of the skin, but today’s moisturizers have ingredients intended to replenish the skin’s natural moisture. Your moisturizer should have some or all of these ingredients:
- Glycerol — Helps water and other ingredients penetrate the outer layer of skin
- Ceramides — Help replenish the skin’s natural oils
- Hydroxy acids — Exfoliate the skin’s dead cells
- Niacinamide — Helps the skin produce natural oils and reverse some signs of sun damage
3. Protect — Excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun damages the skin and increases your risk of skin cancer. Sun damage is the number one factor in facial aging, along with declining collagen production. You can’t do much about the collagen production (short of various aesthetic treatments), but you can do everything about the sun damage by protecting your skin. The UV index where you live makes a difference. Here in Ohio, it’s not as high as Aspen, Colorado due to the elevation difference. Plus, dark winter days don’t require the same diligence as a summer day at the lake.
Your sunscreen has different factors to consider:
- What is the SPF (sun protection factor)? This tells you, in theory, how long the sunscreen protects your skin versus being bare. For instance, SPF 15 says it will take 15 times as long to burn versus without.
- Is it an everyday sunscreen or an outdoors sunscreen intended for extended exposure?
- Does it contain moisturizer in addition to protection?
Should I use the same products in the morning and at night?
Your nighttime routine is different than your daytime routine for your facial skin. It will take somewhat longer because you need to remove any makeup and the dirt and residue from the day. You can use the same facial cleanser you did in the morning. You may want to use a separate eye makeup remover, such as makeup removal pads.
You can use the same cleanser as in the morning, but that’s where the similarity ends. This is because nighttime is the time your skin gets to work clearing old cells and replacing them, and this includes your facial skin. You want to give this process all the help possible by what you put on your face.
At nighttime, after cleansing and patting your skin dry, apply night creams and anti-aging formulas (these may one product). Anti-aging products will have retinols. Apply anti-aging products first, and then your moisturizer. You don’t need a separate eye moisturizer. Put these on 30 minutes or so before bed to allow them to soak in and not wind up on your pillow.
Tips for Caring For Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is often a sign of other conditions, such as contact dermatitis or just dry skin. For more serious, ongoing problems, such as eczema or rosacea, you need to see us at Westerville Dermatology.
But there are some general things you can do, regardless of the cause behind your skin’s sensitivity, to help alleviate these issues:
- Take short showers with warm, instead of hot, water
- Avoid harsh astringents and exfoliants
- Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
- Use essentials oils, instead of perfumes
- Use a gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent
- Experiment with organic or natural cleaning supplies
- Always use a shaving gel or cream, not simply soap
- Pat yourself dry after your shower, don’t rub
- Apply moisturizer immediately after showering
- Test a new skin care or makeup product on a small discreet area first to see if there is a reaction
How do I take care of my skin in the winter versus the summer?
As your would assume, there is a difference in skin care between summer and winter, transitioning through spring and summer. Here are tips for winter and summer skin care.
Winter skin care tips:
- Get a humidifier
- Lower your themostat to 68
- Limit shower time and opt for warm instead of hot water
- Use gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
- Switch to cream-based cleansers (rather than water-based)
- Apply astringents sparingly or not at all
- Don’t forget to protect your lips
- Moisturize frequently, especially your hands
- Still use sunscreen
- Keep wool and rough fabrics from touching your skin
- Eat foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Change out of wet clothes immediately
Summer skin care tips:
- Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen daily
- Cover your skin with clothing or use umbrellas and such
- Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- If you burn, use aloe vera
- Apply a mask three times weekly to remove impurities and excess oil
- Use moisturizer, but switch to lightweight varieties
- Exfoliate your face
- Protect your lips with lip balm with SPF of at least 15
- Limit the makeup
How often should I exfoliate my skin?
You need to not overdo it with exfoliation. Sure, we all want to get rid of the dead skin cells on the surface of our skin, but over-exfoliating can cause chronic skin irritation and inflammation. This accelerates skin aging, which defeats the purpose of exfoliating in the first place.
If you have normal or combination skin, exfoliating two to three times per week is about right. If you have sensitive skin, once a week is all you should do, and that may be too often.
- Switched from another dermatologist, and Westerville Dermatology hit all the marks. Very kind and warm employees, and a doctor who knows what she is doing!- Kayla L.
- Dr. Lin and her staff have been professional, knowledgeable, and compassionate during my treatment. My rapid progress has been the result of her effective and cost-saving recommendations, and I appreciate her ability to listen to my concerns thoroughly during each visit. I’m so thankful for Westerville Dermatology!- Jennifer M.
Get the help of experts
While doing all of these skin care basics is important for your skin’s health, it’s also important to enlist the help of experts, such as the team at Westerville Dermatology. Our staff of board-certified dermatologists will evaluate your skin and develop a customized program for treatment, enhancement, and maintenance year-round.