Finding the best products for your skin is easy if you know what you use, and also what not to use. I asked a variety of skincare experts including doctors, a nurse, and even a makeup artist what they think are the best ways to get your skin clear and glowing.
Their choices and knowledge may surprise you, but after shopping and cleaning out your bathroom, you’ll discover younger, clearer, and healthier skin.
Use inexpensive face wash
Dr. Babak Dadvand, a double board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, tells his patients (even the ones who don’t need to be budget savvy) if they are plunking down a lot of cash for face wash, it’s probably a better idea to save their money. Dr. Dadvand revealed to me, “It is not so much that expensive ones do not work well. It is that the ingredients in a face wash that are beneficial to the skin come in very basic, cheaper alternatives. The extra cost going into the expensive ones are paying for the packaging, brand name, and unnecessary ingredients.”
So, when it comes to getting your face clean, skip the department store and just head on over to the drugstore. Dr. Dadvand’s personal pick is Oil of Olay, but he agrees that whatever gets the job done is just fine.
Use sunscreen with the right active ingredients
Sunscreen is one of the most important skincare products we use, but not all are created equal. Dr. Dadvand says the first thing to look for when choosing one, is the SPF. “No sunscreen gives 100 percent protection from the sun. Sun Protection Factor means how much protection someone is getting from UVB rays, which are the rays that cause sunburn. SPF 15 typically gives 93 percent protection. SPF 50 gives 98 percent protection,” he says.
He also suggests making sure your sunscreen is water-resistant, saying, “No sunscreen is 100 percent waterproof, but if it says ‘water resistant’ on the tube, it will maintain protective for one hour after swimming or extreme sweating.”
If you’re using sunscreen to prevent aging, Dr. Dadvand recommends finding a sunscreen with avobenzene, which is a “chemical that penetrates into the skin and helps absorb UVA rays. These are the rays that can accelerate skin aging.”
But no matter what, make sure your sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Dr. Dadvand explained, “These chemicals lay on the skin and help reflect UVA rays as opposed to absorbing them. They are beneficial especially if someone has skin sensitivity to chemicals such as avobenzene and oxybenzene.”
Use retinol-based products to treat acne
Retinol is kind of a miracle multi-tasking product. It helps treat both acne and aging in an incredibly effective way. One of the most potent retinol products is Retin-A, which is available by prescription only.
I asked Los Angeles-based internist, and owner of mobile med-spa Rejuvenation in Motion, Dr. Sal Nadkarni to explain how this drug works. “Retin-A works by speeding up the turnover rate of skin cells, which reduces the buildup of dead skin cells on pores to keep pores open, preventing pimple formation. Retin-A can also be used to lighten up dark spots from acne scarring, as well as work as an anti-aging treatment by smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.”
If you are unable to obtain a prescription for Retin-A, don’t worry. There are milder retinol products available everywhere from drugstores to department stores. You can also try Differin, which was formerly available by prescription only.
Don’t use products for the wrong skin type
When it comes to skincare, remember that one size doesn’t always fit all. A lot of times we want to try products that we hear about from friends, or read about, but what works well for another person might be wrong for you, and the results may not be quite what you were expecting.
Dr. Nadkarni suggests making sure the products you choose are correct for your skin type. He explained to me, “Typical skin type categories consist of normal, oily, dry, combination, and sensitive. Skincare products are developed to treat specific conditions based on your skin type. The consequence of using products for skin types other than yours can possibly lead to acne breakouts, overly dry skin, and severe skin irritation. So knowing your skin type is essential to determine which skin care products you should use.”
If you are unsure if a product is formulated for your skin type, it’s pretty easy to figure it out. The information should be right there on the label.
Don’t use sunscreen with fragrance
Dr. Dadvand could not be a bigger proponent of sunscreen, but he doesn’t recommend choosing any random product off the shelf. The first thing he suggests nixing is an overly perfumed product, saying, “Overly fragrant sunscreens can cause skin irritation and headaches and nausea. I would recommend steering clear.”
He also suggests not sharing your sunscreen with your kids and instead getting them their own bottle. “If you have children, make sure the sunscreen is [labeled] ‘kid friendly’ and [does] not cause irritation. [Because] kids have the propensity to put their fingers in places they shouldn’t, such as their mouths and eyes.”
Dr. Dadvand also skips any bottle with too high an SPF because it’s unnecessary. “With any sunscreen that has an SPF over 50, you do not end up getting any extra significant protection, [especially] for the money they cost.”
Don’t use benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid at the same time
It can feel like there’s nothing worse than when your face breaks out. Even just a pimple or two can make you feel self-conscious. For many people, all you need to do is head over to the local drugstore or pharmacy, according to Dr. Nadkarni. “Numerous treatments exist for acne, but the most common are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are available over the counter. Both of these can treat mild to moderate acne…by preventing the formation of white heads and black heads.” Even if you haven’t heard of either one of these ingredients before, you have probably used products containing them.
While both of these products work, if you are really trying to get rid of a pimple, it’s best not to go overboard. If you do, Dr. Nadkarni says, your pimple won’t be the only red thing on your face. “Both of these products are very effective and have been mainstay acne treatments for decades. However, be cautious to not use both at the same time because it can cause excessive peeling, dryness, redness, and irritation. I suggest using benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid during the day as spot treatments, and then use Retin-A before going to bed as an overnight treatment.”