Acne, dry skin, red patches, shininess… These are just a few reasons someone might try a new skin care product. If you’re fed up with breakouts or bad skin, you’re not alone! About 50 million Americans deal with acne on a regular basis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The skin care aisle can be pretty intimidating, offering countless choices for everything from moisturizers to exfoliants. Dr. Mary Ann Johnson, MD, a dermatologist with Mercy Medical Group, a service of Dignity Health Medical Foundation, has a few tips that she herself follows.
- Daily Cleansing Routine
“I actually have greasy, acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Johnson. “Cleansers with salicylic acid are great at fighting acne. I personally like the ZO products by Obagi.” Salicylic acid is an ingredient that helps to keep pores clear and prevents blackheads and whiteheads. It can be found in cleansers, peels, face wipes, moisturizers and more.
- UV Protection
“I wear sunscreen every single day, even if it is overcast,” says Dr. Johnson. “A daily sunscreen moisturizer helps prevent signs of aging and protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.” Remember to apply sunscreen to your face, neck, ears and any other skin that will be exposed to sunlight — don’t forget the back of your hands.
Not all sunscreens are created equally, however. There are lots of sunscreens that use “chemical blockers” for UV protection, instead of “physical blockers.” Dr. Johnson recommends sunblock that contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These physical filters deflect damaging UV rays and are better for those with sensitive skin.
Some people complain that sunscreens clog facial pores and make skin appear white or grayish even after it’s all rubbed in. “I’ve had really good experience with sunscreen from the Elta MD product line,” says Dr. Johnson. “It doesn’t clog my pores and I can easily apply makeup over it, without affecting the way my foundation looks.”
In addition to sunblock, products with retinoids can help prevent or reverse the signs of aging. “Retinol creams or serums, like Retin-A, help to reduce fine wrinkles, prevent wrinkles and even lighten skin discoloration,” says Dr. Johnson. “Retinol products are great for my patients that want to reduce the look of sun spots.” But be careful, retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
“When I am feeling really dry, I use products with hyaluronic acid, like Hydro Boost by Neutrogena which is a gel-like moisturizer,” explains Dr. Johnson. Hyaluronic acid is an active ingredient for intense moisturizers and helps hydrate and smooth skin. Moisturizing daily can prevent wrinkles, flaky skin, redness and itchiness. You shouldn’t skip this step, even if you feel like you have greasy skin. There are oil free moisturizers that hydrate skin and actually help prevent breakouts.
- Changing It Up
“When there are new skin care products you’re eager to try, remember to try them one at a time” says Dr. Johnson. “If your skin gets red, burns, or is flakey after trying the product, it was not made for your skin type.”
Some people may need to modify their skin care routine seasonally. “In the summer, I sweat a lot,” admits Dr. Johnson. “My kids play sports and cheering them on during a hot day means I need to reapply sunscreen, so I try to keep it with me.” Similarly, those who experience dryness in the winter should add a stronger moisturizer to their routine. Small changes to your regimen can keep your skin looking its best year-round.