Skin care can be an overwhelming concept. With the vast number of brands, treatments and promotions it can be difficult to navigate without a guiding light. We looked to Cooper Clinic Dermatologist Kejal Shah, MD, FAAD, to gain a better understanding of skin care and preventive steps to take now.

You need to know what your skin type is in order to treat it. In an article by Medical News Today, the American Academy of Dermatology recognizes five main skin types:

  • Dry (skin feels tight, itchy, flaky, etc.)
  • Oily (appears greasy and is acne-prone)
  • Combination (some dry and oily areas on the face)
  • Sensitive (has visible reactions to products such as hives, rashes, burning, etc.)
  • Normal

If you are having trouble identifying your skin type, consult with your dermatologist.

For optimal results it’s recommended to have a morning and evening skin care routine. Always wash your hands before touching your face. It is important to note that you should apply your face products in order of consistency. Cleanser is always the first step. Then apply the thinnest products and work your way up to the thickest consistency.

Step 1: Cleanser (A.M. + P.M.)

Once you have identified your skin type, find a gentle cleanser best suited for you. Use cleanser each morning to remove dead skin, sweat and any other residue before applying moisturizer or makeup. End your day with a cleanser, especially at night, to wash away any pollution, bacteria and dirt you encountered throughout the day.

Dry skin: Ultra Gentle Hydrating cleanser by Neutrogena® is a great choice for dry skin. With patented technology, the effective, yet gentle, formula removes impurities without disrupting skin’s natural moisture barrier. This cleanser rinses completely clean, leaving skin feeling refreshed—never too dry, never too tight. Another option recommended by Shah is the Hydrating Facial Cleanser by CeraVe®. This gentle face wash contains ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid that work to restore the skin’s natural barrier and help lock in moisture.

Oily/sensitive skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser —one Dr. Shah recommends for both oily and sensitive skin types—is a gentle formula for acne-prone skin that requires daily cleansing. This soap-free cleanser works to purify the skin while promoting the elimination of excess sebum with a combination of zinc and glycacil. When clean and free of impurities, your skin regains its physiological equilibrium. It is an ideal complement to dermatological treatments.

Step 2: Serums + Treatments

Depending on your skin’s needs, a number of topical antioxidants are beneficial after cleansing your face.

  • ISDIN Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican (A.M.) is formulated with vitamin C, UltraGlycans and hyaluronic acid. UltraGlycans are proteoglycans, proteins naturally present in our skin. They help firm, soften and bring elasticity to our skin. Vitamin C assists in repairing our skin and preventing sun damage. Hyaluronic acid aids in moisture retention.
  • Differin® Gel (Adapalene 0.1%) Acne Treatment (A.M. or P.M.) is the only prescription-strength retinoid acne product available over the counter and FDA-approved. It helps prevent breakouts and evens skin’s texture and tone.
  • Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster is an effective dark spot corrector. Azelaic acid helps diminish dark spots and even out skin tones by inhibiting melanin synthesis. This serum is also lightweight and is absorbed instantly.

Step 3: Moisturizer (A.M. + P.M.)

Not all moisturizers are created equal; they also vary depending upon skin type.

The Restorative Skin Complex with Trihex Technologyâ by ALASTIN® is an ideal option for many skin types because its patented blend of growth peptides helps the skin produce new, healthy elastin and collagen to prevent aging.

Dry skin: CeraVe® Moisturizing Cream is an affordable option for dry skin types. This product contains three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and restore its natural barrier, helping even those with very dry skin improve the look and feel of their skin.

Oily skin: The myth about treating oily skin is that in order to stop excess oil production in the skin, you need to dry it out and refrain from using moisturizer. It is the opposite. Your skin produces excess oil because it is trying to make up for lack of moisture. Any oil-free, noncomedogenic moisturizers work for oily skin. Learn more about oil production in the skin and the best moisturizer for you.

Sensitive skin: Specifically treating redness, the Cetaphil® Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer is noncomedogenic, hypoallergenic and fragrance and paraben-free. This rich hydrating lotion is formulated with licorice extract, allantoin and caffeine to immediately soothe redness-prone skin and visibly improve skin’s texture.

Step 4: Sunscreen (A.M.)

The application of sunscreen is the most important skin care step by far. The sun is responsible for early aging, dark spots, dryness, sun damage and skin cancer. When in the sun, you are exposed to two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are linked to early aging and long-term skin damage such as wrinkles. UVB rays damage the outermost layer of the skin and directly harm DNA. They are the main cause of skin cancer; however, they also contribute to premature skin aging. Sun damage is not caused by a singular event but ongoing sun exposure throughout your life. The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

You can actively prevent skin cancer four ways:

  1. Seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  2. Cover up. Wear glasses, hats and other protective layers in the sun.
  3. Avoid sunburns and tanning beds.
  4. Prioritize regular skin exams with your dermatologist.

What SPF should you use?

Dr. Shah and most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. This means it will take 30 times longer for someone wearing the sunscreen to get burned than someone who is not wearing sunscreen. SPF 30 protects your skin from 97% of UVB rays for up to two hours. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours as long as you are in the sun.

Today, many brands offer sheer and tinted sunscreens with high SPFs. An example of a sheer sunscreen is the Supergoop® Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. It leaves a clear, velvety finish and is a great primer to wear under makeup. If you are in search of a quality tinted sunscreen, Dr. Shah recommends the EltaMD® UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

“Invest in yourself. Be more focused on proactive and preventive measures and building healthy habits,” says Shah.

The options to personalize your skin care routine are limitless—all within four easy steps. Consult with your dermatologist to find the most suitable products based on your skin’s needs.

Schedule a Cooper Clinic full-body skin cancer exam or cosmetic dermatology consultation today by calling 972.367.6000 or complete our appointment request form.