When it comes to learning how to take care of your skin, many people make the mistake of overcomplicating to process. According to Dr. Arathi Rana of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Sherman, and Paris, Texas, “You don’t have to spend hours every morning and evening to achieve healthy, glowing skin, but if you follow a simple, consistent, treatment regimen, you can look and feel your best.” In this blog, Dr. Rana walks through five simple steps to help you take better care of your skin every day.
Step 1 – Determine Your Skin Type to Learn What Products Work For & Against Your Skin
Dr. Rana says, “Skin types are an easy way to categorize the basic ways that a person’s skin will respond to certain products and make appropriate skincare recommendations, but honestly, everyone has different responses to skincare products. Partnering with a dermatologist to create a personalized skincare routine is always your best bet, so don’t skip your dermatologist visit.”
Most people’s skin falls into one of the following five categories that help to guide your skincare routine:
- Balanced skin – Often called “normal” skin, but actually far from normal, balanced skin may be the rarest skin type. Generally, being designated balanced or normal simply means that a person’s skin isn’t too dry, oily, or sensitive. Instead, it has a good balance of oil production and a healthy protective barrier with an even skin tone and texture. Most skincare products and cosmetics will be effective without causing irritation.
- Dry skin – Skin is generally dryer or has chronic patches of dryness. The texture of dry skin can be rough, flaky, or scaly, and the dry areas may create an uneven skin tone. Cosmetics and skincare products may tend to further strip moisture from the skin, so it’s important to choose products that will moisturize and protect the skin.
- Oily skin – This skin type occurs when the body produces an excess of sebum (oil), leaving skin looking greasy or excessively shiny. Individuals with oily skin may also have oversized pores that are highly visible. Products that add moisture to the skin can increase the risk for breakouts, but failing to provide adequate moisture can trigger the body to produce even more sebum, increasing oiliness.
- Combination skin – This type will have spots of oiliness and dryness. For many people, this looks like an oily “T-zone” (forehead, nose, chin) and dryness on cheeks and spots in other areas. Achieving balance should be the goal of skincare for combination skin types. That may involve spot treatments to address specific areas of dryness and oiliness.
- Sensitive skin – People with sensitive skin may have oily, dry, combination, or balanced skin types. The difference is that their skin reacts differently to cosmetics and skincare products. Sensitive skin may have an elevated response when new products are introduced, and for those with extremely sensitive skin, even gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and other products can lead to breakouts, rashes, inflammation, and other concerns. It’s important to introduce new products gradually and spot-test new treatments before applying them to larger areas.
When it comes to picking the best skincare and cosmetics products for your skin type, Dr. Rana says, “Knowing which products are wrong for your skin can be almost as important as learning which products are right. When you know to avoid certain ingredients, it can be much easier to choose the right products. Make sure you note any products that irritate your skin, increase oiliness and dryness, or otherwise negatively impact skin health. Your dermatologist can help you to better understand which ingredients caused these concerns, so you can adjust your ongoing skincare plan as necessary.”
Step 2 – Understand & Treat Chronic Skin Health Issues
In addition to determining your skin type and how it will impact your skincare routine, you should also consider any chronic skin conditions and the effects they have. Common skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis dramatically impact the efficacy of skincare products, so understanding how any chronic conditions affect your skin will make it easier to determine how best to care for your skin each day. Whether you need to incorporate spot treatments into your routine to address specific concerns or you need to use different types of skincare and cosmetics products, you need to take treatment for chronic conditions into account as you develop your ideal skincare plan.
Step 3 – Live a Healthy Lifestyle
In addition to understanding your skin type and skin health needs, you should take steps to improve or maintain good whole-body health and wellbeing. This should include steps like eating a nutrient-rich diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, limiting sun exposure, and minimizing stress. Leading a healthy lifestyle ensures your skin (and entire body) receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, dehydration, smoking, and other damaging lifestyle habits will strip the skin of necessary nutrients to maintain health and wellness. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle will ensure you maintain good blood flow. Increased blood flow can lead to blood vessels and veins becoming dilated and more noticeable beneath the skin, and it can also lead to redness and inflammation. Decreased blood flow from poor circulation may lead to paleness, skin dryness, and diminished cell turnover.
Step 4 – Develop a Simple Skincare Routine You’ll Stick With
When it comes to a daily skincare routine, Dr. Rana says, “Keep it simple. While the specific products you use should be determined based on your skin type and chronic conditions you’re managing, your overall skincare routine should be simple. Most people won’t stick to a plan if it gets too complicated, and consistency is the most important aspect of any skincare routine.” Anyone can follow a basic skincare regimen, like the following morning and evening plans, to maintain beautiful skin with a healthy glow.
Morning Skincare Routine
In the morning, your skincare plan should be all about protecting your skin and preparing to face the day.
Specific products may vary, but your simple morning skincare process should include the following:
- Clean – You should wash your face using a gentle facial cleanser and warm water. Gently massage to clean the skin, but avoid unnecessary scrubbing, which can irritate and cause inflammation. Use lukewarm water rather than hot water to avoid stripping are moisture and natural oils from the skin. Then, gently pat dry skin.
- Treat – Directly after washing your face, the pores will be clean and open, allowing them to absorb treatments. This is when you should apply products like toner, serum, eye creams, anti-aging therapies, and spot treatments for chronic skin conditions. After applying these products, allow them to be fully absorbed before applying moisturizers.
- Moisturize – During the spring and summer when the air contains more humidity, a lighter daily moisturizer will likely be adequate for people with balanced, oily, and combination skin. To keep skin nourished during the dryer fall and winter seasons and to manage dry skin, you should use a thicker cream moisturizer.
- Protect – Finally, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the possible damage of sun exposure. Many facial moisturizers now have a sunscreen built in to further simplify your routine. If not, be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your face each day. You should also wear sunscreen on other parts of the body that will be exposed to sunlight (hands, arms, neck, etc.).
Evening Skincare Routine
In the evening, your skincare regimen is about moisturizing and repairing. You need to heal the skin from the damaging effects of sunlight, wind, rain, pollution, smoke, and other external irritants your skin comes into contact with throughout the day.
The basic steps should include:
- Clean – If you wear makeup, you may want to start with a makeup remover to fully cleanse the skin of cosmetics without needing to rub or scrub at the skin. Then, you can wash your face with the same gentle cleanser from your morning routine, rinse with warm water, and pat dry. A few times a week, you should exfoliate your skin after cleansing or use an exfoliating cleanser to remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover.
- Treat – Nighttime treatments may be similar to your daytime routine, but they should be geared toward healing. Apply your anti-aging products, deep moisturizing serums, and other products that will hydrate and heal the skin.
- Moisturize – Finally, use a good, thick cream moisturizer at night time to protect, hydrate, and repair the skin. You should also apply a specially formulated night cream to the thin, sensitive skin around the eyes.
Step 5 – Perform Skin Cancer Self-Exams
According to Dr. Rana, “A dermatologist will perform a skin cancer exam during routine visits, and most physicians will also check for the obvious signs of skin cancer during annual physicals. While this is important, examining your own skin once a month or every other month can truly mean the difference between catching skin cancer and other skin conditions in the early stages and fighting an uphill battle against serious skin health issues. Many skin concerns become obvious because of how they progress. If you check your skin frequently, you’ll know if moles and other spots are changing or growing. This can help your dermatologist pinpoint areas of concern in earlier stages.”
To perform a skin health exam at home, you’ll need a room with good lighting and a full-length mirror as well as a handheld mirror. Carefully examine your body from the top to the bottom front and back. Use the handheld mirror when necessary to clearly examine hard to see areas. Don’t skip areas like the scalp, finger and toenail beds, and bends in the knees and elbows. These areas can disguise differences in skin tone and texture, so take special care when examining these parts of the body. You should note any new or changing moles or spots as well as any changes in the color or texture of your skin. You should also make a point to mark down any sores and bruises you notice and check them during the next self-exam to ensure they heal fully.
You can find numerous resources online to guide your skin self-exam, but we recommend keeping it simple. You’ll find a one-page skin exam guide on our website that gives you the basics of performing an exam as well as a body map and chart to record what you find.
Bonus – Visit Your Dermatologist Each Year
At-home skin self-exams are an essential part of your skincare routine, but at least once a year, you should visit your dermatologist for a professional exam. These visits are especially important if you are at increased risk for skin cancer or you have a chronic skin condition, but just like other annual medical checkups, visiting your dermatologist once each year will help to prevent many skin health concerns, minimize risk for others, and treat skin conditions in the earliest stages.
If you’re ready to learn more about developing your ideal skincare routine or you want to establish a relationship with a dermatologist to begin annual skin exams, U.S. Dermatology Partners would love to hear from you. You can complete our simple online request form anytime, and one of our knowledgeable team members will be in touch to finalize the details. We look forward to hearing from you.
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