Skin care "resolutions" for the 2021 New Year featured in the media focus on some curious topics (in my opinion as a dermatologist). Is this really where you should put your effort and energy? Great examples:
- Exfoliate regularly,
- Stay hydrated,
- Use a face serum regularly, and
- Make skin care a priority by using a face oil.
I agree with the sentiment of the last one - make skin care a priority - though I have a different take on it as a clinical dermatologist. The rest are minutia and myth. I want to share what I think is important for your skin health this year.
Skin Care Resolutions for the New Year from a Dermatologist
My top skin care resolution is to think of your skin care as self-care and take it seriously.
I mean self-care in the context of prevention and wellness. Craft your skin care routine to treat skin problems, keep skin well and prevent problems in the future such as sun damage and skin cancer. This goes beyond "serums", "face oil" or even sunscreen. I encourage you to think carefully about your skin care routine, craft it mindful of your values, budget and goals and make it Complete - including daily sun protection.
For some, this may mean a simple routine with smart skin cleansing that avoids allergens, a good moisturizer and antioxidant product, and comprehensive sun protection routine that includes zinc oxide sunscreen on exposed skin daily. My Complete Facial Skin Care Kit is an excellent example of what this might look like. The kit is a firm and complete foundational skin care routine. Specific treatment products can easily be added such as for acne, rosacea or collagen renewal to fight fine lines and wrinkles.
Think of your diet as part of your path to healthy skin
Yes, your diet really impacts your skin! Diet absolutely impacts skin health just like it impacts our overall health. Skin is your body’s largest organ and reflects your metabolic wellness. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet filled with fresh produce, nutrient packed foods and minimizing junk and empty carbs is important for all of your organs, the skin included.
For more information on my specific recommendations for how to leverage your diet for healthy skin, I invite you to download my free eBook on Diet for Healthy Skin. It includes recipes and is how I have tried to stack my own diet for overall wellness during my lifetime.
Resist unfounded skin care myths and focus on what's real regarding skin health.
What is the biggest skin care myth I would love to see squelched? It is that drinking water will hydrate your skin. If it were true then taking a bath would quench your thirst. Fortunately, the skin is an excellent barrier protecting us from outside assaults - it keeps the inside in and the outside out pretty darn well.
No insult intended to the water drinking advocates, but your skin barrier is dependent on your skin care. Hydrating your skin from the outside in protects this important barrier and requires an understanding of how your skin care choices hurt or support it.
- Using soaps that are not harsh and remove precious lipid or damage barrier protein is important.
- Applying the right moisturizer for our skin type after bathing is also important for optimal skin hydration and barrier integrity.
Learn what dermatologists know about healing and preventing dry skin based on clinical study and practical skin care choices. I explain it here in this article on Dry Skin Care. It's not about drinking gallons of water!
Start an anti-aging skin care routine and understand what that really means.
Daily sun protection of exposed skin needs to start early to prevent premature skin aging. - Dermatologist and Skin Wellness Expert Dr. Cynthia Bailey
Products that fight the signs of skin aging in other ways, such as retinoids, glycolic acid and antioxidants, are best added after skin matures to a more adult structure. This would be in the teen years.
One of the best quotes to show the value of starting an age-fighting skin care routine early came from a patient of mine who came in right after her 38th birthday. This also shows the benefit of the privilege I've had to take care of my patients for over 3 decades - I get to see the results of my care and advice. She said,
You got me on these great products in my early 20's and I've been on them ever since. It was my 38th birthday yesterday and this woman giving me a pedicure thought I was in my 20s. She couldn't believe it. I credit it to your products, they're fabulous. I've turned so many people on to them too." Tracy A
She was using a good zinc oxide based sunscreen, my clinical grade glycolic acid and green tea antioxidant products, my daily moisturizing cream and prescription tretinoin. It really is that simple to alter skin aging. The sooner you start, the better your results. Don't despair if you think you waited too long - you didn't. Trust me, skin continues to age and starting now is always beneficial!
Happy New Year. May 2021 be a new and bright beginning for us all in many ways.