Beauty Savvy: Products to Use Every Day

Today in Becoming Beauty Savvy, I am sharing skin care advice from my friend and dermatologist, Dr. Jo Lynne Herzog. Last week, I asked her the following two questions:  1).What products should I be using every day to keep my skin looking its best? 2) Where can I find these products at the best price?

Dr. Jo Lynne Herzog, M.D.

The first and most important product that everyone should use is sunscreen.  Wear sunscreen every day. 365 days a year. No exceptions. In the course of any given day, we are all exposed to more sun than we realize. Since sun damage is cumulative, the minutes, hours, days, months, and years all add up. The long-term risks and consequences of sun exposure can range from wrinkles to discolorations to skin cancer-and many things in between.  Establishing a daily morning routine of applying sunscreen is of the utmost importance.

Worries about vitamin D deficiency are no reason to skip sunscreen. First, you can find out if you are deficient by asking your doctor to perform a blood test. Then, any deficiency can be addressed by taking the appropriate dosage of Vitamin D.

When shopping for a sunscreen, be sure to choose one with at least 15% spf. There are many  good, inexpensive brands, and cost doesn’t determine a sunscreen’s effectiveness. My personal favorite is Aveeno Positively Radiant SPF 30.  I also use Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50 on days when I have more sun exposure. There are many good inexpensive brands that do the job. Just find the one you like, and use it every day.

Some people prefer purchasing an entire skin care “system” or “kit” from the doctor’s office. If this is you, just make sure the daily moisturizer contains adequate sunscreen.   I tell my patients that purchasing these kits if fine, but it is expensive.  Good products can be found in every price range.  I will address that in a later post. The most important thing to remember about sunscreen is to use it every morning. Period.

The second most important thing that everyone can do is to apply a moisturizer and prescription retinoid every evening. Retinoids are prescription strength forms of vitamin A. The first retinoid, Retin-A (tretinoin), was initially designed for acne but is now most widely known as the drug to maintain youthful skin.  Retinoids are the only topical medications that we dermatologists have maintained faith in for almost 30 years. They really work!  They communicate directly with cells and provide numerous benefits, some of which include:  preventing wrinkles, increasing collagen production, managing acne and eczema, and improving sun damage and discoloration.

Retin-A, Tazorac, Renova, and Refissa are all prescription retinoids that do basically the same thing but in varying strengths and formulations. If you are new to a retinoid product, it may cause redness, flaking or irritation. If this happens, you can alternate days and add more moisturizer. Of course, any concerns should be addressed to your doctor as well. He or she can guide you to the best product for your skin type. Since retinoids are prescription, you might ask for samples to see how your skin reacts to a particular retinoid before you buy it at the drugstore.

Retinol, a milder form of vitamin A, can be found in over-the-counter skin care products; however, the strength of prescription retinoids is far more effective. Go ahead and buy the tube of prescription strength. It works better and faster, and the tube will last you quite awhile.  It only takes a small amount each night to do the trick.

So, each of us can do wonders for our skin by following these simple and inexpensive steps.  1)Use a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning, and 2) use a moisturizer with retinoid every evening .  These are basic, but very important ways we can keep our skin looking and feeling its best.

To reiterate Dr. Jo’s advice that these daily “musts” do not have to be expensive, I will share the products that I use. For my morning moisturizer with sunscreen, I use Olay Complete Ageless with SPF 20. This can be purchased at any drugstore and costs less than $15.00. My nighttime moisturizer (no sunscreen) is CeraVe, also available at drugstores for less than $20.

The Retin-A Micro is a prescription product, but I am currently using some sample tubes that Dr. Jo gave me during my last visit. A refill for this particular retinoid, Retin-A Micro gel .1% is $135 for a 20 gram tube and $300 for a 45 gram tube (prices quoted over the phone with a Target pharmacist). This is expensive, but a tube should last many months. The last tube I purchased was 7 months ago.

I use these every day