As a physician assistant who spends a lot of time talking to patients about their skin, the most common question I’m asked is, “What skin care regimen should I use at home?”
Your skin care regimen should be personalized and based on your lifestyle. What is your skin type? Do you have oily skin? Acneic skin? Dry or combination skin? How much time do you have to invest in your skin care?
Ultimately, when a patient comes in for a consultation, we will help them determine the answers to these questions and can help guide them to an at-home regimen that will work for them. There are, however, a few general basics that are universal pieces of a good skincare regimen: healthy living, hydration, cleansing, toning and problem correction.
Your Lifestyle Is Showing
It’s not a secret that your skin is often a reflection of what’s going on inside of your body. Too little sleep, poor diet or a lack of exercise can show up as dark circles under your eyes, skin lacking in luster or fine lines and wrinkles. While it seems to be an easy thing to do, squeezing in the right amount of sleep, a healthy meal or 30 minutes of exercise a day can be challenging, however, these things serve as the foundation of good skin care – and good health overall.
Hydration, Hydration Hydration
Your skin needs to be hydrated, inside and out. And the good news is that both of these tasks are easy to manage. First – water – it’s so important! Not only does it help move toxins through the body, but it also assists with nearly every biological process your body carries out every day, from digestion to cell regeneration. Drinking enough water each day will help
your skin look more lustrous and plump, not to mention the added benefit of making you feel better. Depending on your skin type, it may also be necessary to use a moisturizer to assure that your skin is staying hydrated on the outside as well. While using a moisturizer will help to hydrate your skin, these products will not change your skin at a cellular level. They will help to improve the texture and replenish natural moisture elements. It is important to know your skin type before purchasing a moisturizer—you don’t want to waste resources purchasing something too heavy for oily skin or too light for dry skin.
Cleansers Aren't One-Type-Fits-All
By the end of your day, your skin has collected makeup, excess oil, dead skin cells, unwanted bacteria (some bacteria is extremely beneficial to skin, however) and all kinds of other environmental impurities that should be removed. Not only does properly cleansed skin look healthier, but using the correct cleanser for your skin type will prepare your skin for anything else you use on it, such as moisturizer or sun screen. Like with any other skin care products, it’s important to find a cleanser for your skin type. Some cleansers are harsh for oily skin, and while they work in the immediate short term, they can strip the skin of essential oils, which actually increases oil production in the long run. Some cleansers have fragrances or chemicals that are far too harsh for dry skin. Make sure you speak with us to determine your skin type before purchasing a cleanser.
What the Right Toner Can Do
A good toner should restore the pH balance to your skin after cleansing it. This essentially evens out skin tone, removes any excess makeup, oil or impurities that may have been missed in the cleansing process, and can give your skin a more radiant look. Again, there are toners for all skin types, so make sure you consult with us before purchasing anything.
The Final Step
The last step to a skin care regimen involves correction and is highly personalized. This is the step where you use, perhaps, a prescribed product for acne or hyperpigmentation. Chances are, this step is taking care of the issue that brought you to the physician in the first place. Regardless of the issue, it is important to follow your physicians’ suggested care method. If you are supposed to take medication to prevent rosacea every day, remember to take it. If you are supposed to apply a topical cream on a specific area of your face each morning, remember to do it. This is likely the only way you’ll see a resolution to the problem you’d like to correct.
A skin care regimen shouldn’t feel like work, and it won’t if you and your physician tailor it around your lifestyle. Look forward to it! You’re doing something good for yourself!
What skin care questions do you have? Describe the regimen you follow and the difference it has for you.
Alisa Baker, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant to plastic surgeon Jamal Bullocks, M.D., F.A.C.S. She administers Botox®, collagen filler (Juvederm®) and chemicals peels, performs minor surgical procedures and assists Dr. Bullocks in the operating room.