Confessions of a Dermatologist: Flawless Skin Fundamentals
We've followed Dr. Sejal Shah all over Manhattan. She's been our trusted dermatologist for years. When she opened up her own practice, SmarterSkin Dermatology in NYC, we were in the office right away. She's helped us navigate the world of anti-aging and been our guide as we settled on a mix of prescription and off-the-shelf products to stock our beauty arsenal. In the battlefield of New York City stress and pollution, keeping our skin healthy is a priority. We were thrilled when she agreed to share some of her golden rules for skin care with In the Midfield readers. And, yes, if you are wondering, Dr. Shah has amazing skin herself. Enjoy your road map to flawless skin:
As a cosmetic dermatologist, not a day goes by without someone asking me about what they can do to prevent or reverse the signs of aging. It's important to incorporate anti-aging ingredients into your skin care regimen. A good preventive routine established in your 20s or 30s can go long way to protecting and maintaining healthy skin as you age. Here are some key anti-aging ingredients everyone should know about:
This should be the foundation of any skin care regimen. I recommend using a broad-spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher everyday, even if it's cloudy, raining or snowing. I typically recommend finding a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide because it is a physical sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection by reflecting ultraviolet radiation, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb it. Also, if your skin is more sensitive or reacts to skin care products, physical sunscreens, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, tend to be better options.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are crucial for protecting the skin from free radicals, which are generated from environmental stressors, like ultraviolet radiation and pollution. These free radicals damage the skin, leading to skin aging. Besides playing a protective role, vitamin C can improve fine lines and wrinkles and photodamage, [structural deterioration of sun-exposed skin], and brighten the skin's complexion. I recommend a serum with at least 15 percent vitamin C. Unlike many products where price may not matter, all vitamin C products are not created equal and this is one product that is worth splurging on.
Few ingredients are as tried and true as retinoids. These vitamin A derivatives promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, reduce hyperpigmentation, and even improve acne. Note, that retinoids can cause irritation, dryness, and redness. Techniques to minimize these side effects include starting with a low concentration, applying every other night to every 2 nights and gradually increasing to nightly only if you are not experiencing irritation. Also, making sure your face is completely dry before applying, using a pea size amount to the whole face, and a basic moisturizer afterwards, (you can also use the basic moisturizer before applying the retinoid if needed). There are many effective inexpensive over-the-counter retinoids so you don't have to break the bank to reap the benefits of this anti-aging powerhouse.
ALPA HYDROXY ACIDS
Alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid and lactic acid, gently exfoliate the skin leaving it smoother and brighter. They can also reduce hyperpigmentation, stimulate collagen production, and improve acne. Because they are not as irritating as retinoids, I often recommend these for patients who cannot tolerate retinoids.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the skin, which helps it retain moisture. Why is this important? Due to aging and environmental factors, the body's natural hyaluronic acid diminishes. For the skin, this results in decreased moisture content and loss of firmness and pliability. Hyaluronic acid increases the skin's moisture content and strengthen the skin's barrier helping it appear softer, smoother and plumper. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Copper peptides are important for skin regeneration and repair. Studies have found that they promote collagen and elastin synthesis and the production of glycosaminoglycans, like hyaluronic acid, and have antioxidant activity. They can also stimulate the body's natural repair processes. Overall, the skin appears firmer and smoother.
Growth factors work by stimulating skin repair and renewal. There are several types of growth factors from plant, animal, human and synthetic sources.
Remember it's never too late to incorporate these anti-aging ingredients into your skin routine, and the changes to your skin will be noticeable. At the very least, make sure you are using a sunscreen daily. Your skin will thank you.
Sejal K. Shah, M.D. is a board certified dermatologist in SmarterSkin Dermatology, a private practice in Manhattan. She practices all aspects of dermatology with an expertise in cosmetic dermatology and lasers, hair loss and ethnic skin. Dr. Shah utilizes the latest treatments and technologies to enhance her patients’ natural beauty. (Full Bio)
225 Broadway, Suite 1610
Manhattan, New York
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