As we begin a new year, we have a chance to start anew with positive changes that can affect our skin health. A simple but important step in this process can be taking the time, twice daily, to cleanse and moisturize your face properly. No matter your skin type–normal, oily or sensitive and dry–it is important to follow a few steps in the daily grooming process for your facial skin.

Cleansing your face using your hands, a soft washcloth or a gentle motorized brush such as the Clarisonic PRO, will ensure the skin is actually cleansed, including the pores, so that topicals such as those used for hydration or skin repair, can actually penetrate and work properly within the skin. I recommend a gentle cleanser for most patients, unless they are acne-prone. If so, an alpha-hydroxyl acid such as glycolic acid-containing cleanser is very nice and can effectively “cut” through the oiliness in these patients. Gentle skin cleansers are abundant–brands such as SkinMedica, Neutrogena, Cetaphil or Cerave or ones that I commonly recommend to my patients.

For hydration and moisturization, all patients benefit from at least once-daily application all over the face. For those patients with oily skin, hydration is a very necessary part of the skincare regimen, perhaps even more so than normal-skinned patients. Why? When the oil producing sebaceous glands are active in acne prone patients, they can be erratic in their production of sebum. Once the skin is cleansed, even with a gentle cleanser, the receptors in the topmost layers recognize a dryness that needs compensation. Proper signals are sent to the oil producing glands which causes a delayed flush of oil production that leads to the appearance of a greasy sheen 1-3 hours post cleansing, especially if a daily hydrating moisturizer is not applied immediately after the cleansing process.

By doing this daily application of a non-comedogenic (non pimple-forming) moisturizer, even oily skinned patients can retrain their sebaceous glands to produce continuous normal amounts of sebum instead of the intermittent fluctuating sebum production that leads to clogging of the pores and eventual inflammatory reaction and then to pimples. Translation: use daily topical hydration to help prevent acne! Favorite moisturizers include SkinMedica’s HA5 or the Ultra Sheer moisturizer, as well as Cetaphil AM and PM, and Cerave AM and PM.

The only difference between AM and PM products is the addition of a chemical sunscreen, which can be helpful for busy people with little or no time to perform a series of daily steps. What should you not to use on your facial skin for hydration? Oils! The skin’s barrier was perfectly created to ensure that there is a lipid barrier that does not allow for penetration of oils. Instead, oils placed on the skin simply lay on top, and do not hydrate. They can also cause problems such as blockage of the pores which can lead to pimple formation.

Finally, the third and final step of basic skincare health is sunscreen. By protecting your skin from harmful UVA, UVB and UVC rays, you prevent DNA damage to the skin that can lead to precancer and cancer formation and you can greatly impact the aging process simultaneously. Worried about Vitamin D levels? Supplement it with an oral form rather than risk the sun damage!

Here’s to a healthy and happy new year for our skin!

Your New Skin Care Habit This 2017 • Dermatology Office of Dr. Ellen Turner