But there are so many skin care products out there! How do you know which ones to use?
Here I break great skin down into four easy steps. And while I would love to take credit for this knowledge, this is a summary of some great advice I got from Dr. Dee Anna Glaser at Saint Louis University Hospitals. She’s an excellent Dermatologist, and you may have seen her on the Latisse® commercials.
Step 1: Keep your skin clean
Between makeup, pollen, and everyday dust and dirt, your face is exposed to a ton of grime, visible and invisible. Give your skin a break and clean that layer off in the morning and at night. Even I’ll admit to sometimes just rinsing my face with water in the morning, but I always take my makeup off at night.
Step 2: Even out skin tone
Freckles (the polite term) and age spots (the less-polite term) develop as a result of sun damage. Instead of producing even color, the little cells that make our pigment start clumping together. This results in brown spots. Hydroquinone causes these cells to stop making melanin, and over time the brown spots fade and skin tone becomes more even. Hydroquinone is available over the counter as a weak formulation in many bleaching creams, but these often have irritating fragrances and additives. I recommend obtaining prescription strength hydroquinone from a physician.
Step 3: Increase Collagen Production
Retinoids such as tretinoin (a.k.a RetinA) thin the rough outer layer of our skin, resulting in a brighter look. They also increase collagen production, which improves the appearance of fine lines. They can be very irritating, so they are usually started at a low dose, every other night. As your skin becomes used to the tretinoin, you use it every night. Again, various retinoids are added to many over the counter skin care products, but the best result will be from a prescription-strength product.
Step 4: Prevent Future Damage
This step is most important- SPF 30 sunscreen, every morning. Bonus points if you reapply at lunchtime, but even I’m not that good. Another optional product is an antioxidant such as Vitamin C, which will help prevent DNA damage from the sun.
Some skin care lines, such as Obagi’s Nu-Derm® line, have all of these elements, plus a few other products to boot. They are touted to work together to improve the end result. And while I Iove (and use!) Obagi, it can get complicated and expensive. If you find a cleanser and sunscreen you love at Walgreens or CVS, and get hydroquinone and tretinoin from your doctor, you will still see results. But skin care is like a gym regimen- results don’t happen overnight. Expect to see changes after 6 weeks of regular use.
Below you can see my results after using a couple Obagi products and tretinoin with over-the-counter Cetaphil cleanser and Oil-of-Olay moisturizer with SPF 30. I won’t lie- I have pretty good skin to start will. But after 12 weeks of regular use it was softer, smoother, brighter and more even.