The number of effective non-surgical options available that improve the appearance of the skin continues to grow. This can be seen as both good and bad. The good part is that we are finding more and more things that will make us look better. The bad part is that consistency is important, and the added complexity makes developing a simple daily skin care regimen more difficult to do. Anyone that listens to me talk about skin care on a daily basis knows about my constant struggle to find the fewest things that will make the biggest difference in your skin. In my humble opinion (or as my kids say, “IMHO”) most people spend more money on skin care products than they should. For the past few years I have preached about the “essential 3”; the 3 products everyone with aging changes to their skin (sorry, but this means anyone over the age of about 35) should be using daily. These recommendations have not changed:
- Topical vitamin A- a retinol
- Topical vitamin C- an antioxidant
- Growth factors- from humans not plants
Used daily, both sun and age damage in the skin will diminish, making your skin not only look and feel better, but making it healthier overall. And as all my patients will tell you, as long as you are using those 3 things, I don’t care about anything else. Yes, you do need to clean your skin first and you do need to put on sunscreen afterwards, but as long as you are using effective retinol, vitamin C, and growth factor preparations, I really haven’t cared about the rest.
Almost every time I finish telling a patient about the importance of the “essential 3”, they respond by saying, “wait a minute, you haven’t included a moisturizer”? My answer has always been the same. A moisturizer will make your skin feel better when it is on, but it won’t do anything to make your skin healthier overall. Use it if it makes you feel better, but remember, I’m a doctor, not the “skin care expert” in Nordstrom’s, Macy’s or Sephora, and it’s my job to tell you what will make your skin healthier so that you will look better in the long run, not to tell you what will make it look better for the next 5 minutes (and besides, isn’t that what makeup is for?).
So how do we hydrate our skin? SkinMedica (the same company that makes the “essential 3”) recently came out with a product called HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. On the one hand, it does what all other moisturizers have done for years. By adding hydration back to the skin, it immediately makes the skin appear softer, smoother and thicker. On the other hand, when used daily, the ingredients in this product (a variety of hyaluronic acids- the same stuff that occurs naturally in our skin and the key ingredient in most of the dermal fillers), improve the barrier function of the skin. This allows the skin to protect itself from both aging and sun damage and improves the ability of the skin to hold its moisture, making the skin smoother, softer, and thicker all of the time (not just during the first couple of hours that it is on your face). As many of you are tired of hearing me say, “it makes the skin looks better under the microscope”.
Good news. There is now a product, SkinMedica’s HA5, that doesn’t just temporarily add moisture, but improves the skin’s own ability to retain moisture, adding to your skin’s overall health. It looks like my “essential 3” has just become my “essential 4”.