The Truth With Skincare
I originally posted this on my Facebook page, in case it looks familiar to you. This is the updated version.
As someone who’s obsessed, passionate and medically involved with skincare, the most important product you shouldn’t skip is sunscreen! Not only it will protect you against melanoma but it will prevent premature wrinkles and sunspots and/or exacerbation of PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation), acne and melasma brought by harmful UV rays. Use SPF 30 that offers protection against UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays). There is not enough evidence that a higher SPF will offer more protection. If you are staying out longer in the sun, re-apply every 2 hours or each time you get sweaty or wet. It doesn’t matter if you have dark skin, there’s overcast, you work indoors, there’s snow. Unfortunately with our ozone layer severely destroyed, UV rays are damaging now more than ever. There are 2 types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. If you have sensitive and acne prone skin, your best choice is physical (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, or both). SPF in makeup is not enough because if we are going to strictly follow the recommendation of the American Dermatology, you need to apply (for visual reference), equivalent to 1 shot glass for all exposed areas. 99% of the time, we all under-apply so just layer it. Your skin will thank you later.
Now let’s talk about skincare products. As someone who tried a gamut, worked in a pharmaceutical dermatology company, and currently involved in aesthetic medicine (procedures, treatments) unless you started early with skincare (early 20s), then all these over the counter moisturizers and concoctions will not reverse aging, sun spots, acne scars, stretch marks, among others.
Wrinkles: What a moisturizer does is preventing TEWS (trans epidermal water loss) or in layman’s term, hydrating the skin. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying expensive products from Neiman Marcus or a drugstore brand, you are getting the same benefit: moisturization because a well hydrated skin helps “blur” and diminish fine lines.
What about over the counter retinol, hyaluronic acid, collagen, and all other anti-aging ingredient in your skincare? Marketing! If you’re dealing with issues and it bothers you, you need to see a medical professional. In the case of retinol, you should be looking at retinoic acid which is obtained via prescription only. Over the counter retinols are derivatives (common names retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, among others) hence they need several cellular interactions and conversions to be able to render some form of efficiency. In short, they are relatively weaker. NOTE: if you are vegan, retinols and retinoic acid, hyaluronic acid and collagen, unless stated by the manufacturer, are mostly animal-derived. Read how to veganize your beauty stash.
Sunspots, age spots, PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation): if it’s in the early melanin synthesis, you can benefit from glycolic acid, azelaic acid, even Vitamin C. I for one can vouch for glycolic acid because I don’t have sun spots or even PIH after acne breakout. But if you’re dealing with multiple and really dark spots, save your money and go for the real treatments.
Acne: this is tricky to treat because it is caused by a host of factors. The goal of acne management is to have it under control and prevent scarring. If you have moderate to severe acne, you need to see a medical professional. The two mainstream over the counter ingredients you often see are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Both are hallmark treatments. Salicylic acid helps with unclogging the pores as well as keeping oil at bay. Benzoyl peroxide is bactericidal, it kills p.acnes, if that is the main cause. Both are ideal for mild to moderate. Adapalene is third generation retinoid which is now available over-the-counter (only the 0.1%). It works for mild to moderate and is relatively safer and gentler than retinoid. If your case is hormonal, you need to address first the root of the problem, otherwise you will just be frustrated with topical medications.
So what are your treatment options?
For minor issues: topical, over the counter, medical facials for prevention and maintenance
For moderate to severe, somewhat to overly bothersome: prescription, aesthetic procedures (invasive or non-invasive), surgery in some cases.Regardless of the route you’re pursuing, go with someone who understands your situation and will not sell you with unnecessary treatments. There is no single best treatment around, it’s always a combination of procedure that yield optimal results. If someone promise you the moon and the stars, run and go somewhere else.
So the burning question is, are laser or aesthetic procedures expensive? Well it depends on where you’re getting it done. The same laser machine / laser treatments used or done in Beverly Hills versus far away suburb will definitely be pricier because of the location. But really, you’d be surprised that it ain’t that pricey! If you can afford the latest designer bags, you can definitely afford a procedure. And I’d be completely honest with you, no-holds barred…You can carry the cheapest bag from Ross but if you have good skin, you will look like a million-dollar boss babe.
Now for my own personal experience. I suffered from acne as a teen and had adult acne in my mid to late 20s which left scars. My meager salary back then would go to skincare treatments. When I first went plant-based more than a decade ago, that’s when I noticed dramatic difference in my skin. I would still have zits every now and then but never that bad anymore (I will discuss this in a different post). That and great skincare regimen. So what about my scars? Only laser and radiofrequency microneedling significantly helped reduce their appearance. Whenever I tell my own patients (btw, I am an Aesthetic Registered Nurse Laser Specialist) that I used to have bad skin, they don’t believe but it’s the truth, I am one of the success stories. And since I’m older now (going 44 in July), I benefit from the neocollagenesis effect of laser and radiofrequency procedures. I do it every 4-5 months for maintenance. Best beauty enhancements, if done under experienced hands.
Over the counter products I use (affiliate)