Walk into any drugstore, and you’ll find hundreds of skin care products lining the aisles, all promising various things. It can be overwhelming to discern what you really need to care for your skin. Here, Douglas A. Thomas, M.D., who is Board Certified by the American Academy of Dermatology, outlines the basics needed for good daily skin care.
Dr. Thomas says the first thing you need is a mild or hydrating cleanser. Even an unscented, mild and moisturizing bar soap can work.
“In the morning, you’d wash your face and then put your sunscreen on,” he explains.
The sunscreen should be broad spectrum and carry a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 30 or higher. Read the directions to know how often you’ll have to re-apply throughout the day.
“We tell people to find something they like in an SPF 30 and stick with it,” Dr. Thomas says. “Some of these products even have some antioxidants in the sunscreen as well, so you’ll get a little of the rejuvenating effect in your sunscreen in the morning time.”
In the evening, you should once again wash with the mild cleanser, and then you can apply a moisturizer or “anti-wrinkle” cream. Over-the-counter anti-wrinkle creams may temporarily improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, plus provide moisturizing benefits; many people choose creams with vitamin C, vitamin E or alpha hydroxy acid. Often, name brand products are also available in a generic or store brand versions at a lower price point.
“If you’re using one of the more gentle night creams – like one with vitamin C or vitamin E – then you won’t need as much moisture in the morning,” Dr. Thomas explains. “If you’re using something like a tretinoin cream, they’re more drying, so you’ll need a more moisturizing sunscreen in the morning.”
(Tretinoin is derived from vitamin A. It’s available in prescription strengths under several brand names to treat wrinkles, acne and other skin issues.)
The Biggest Mistake
“I think the biggest mistake people make is not realizing the sun is the No. 1 cause of premature aging and wrinkling,” Dr. Thomas says. “You can do all the right stuff, but if you’re still getting sun on your face, you’re going to struggle. So even more important than the sunscreen would be a big hat and sun protective clothing like long sleeves. You really want to protect your skin.”
“When I wear sunscreen all summer, I’m still tan by the end of the summer; when I wear a big hat every place I go, I’m not tan,” he adds. “If I wear a big hat and sunscreen, then I’m really doing the best I can.”
Protecting your skin from sun damage is also important in the winter time (see the link below to learn more).
Good basic skin care doesn’t have to require spending a lot of money. As Dr. Thomas explains, three easy-to-find products plus a large hat can go a long way!