I’m horrible! A reader emailed me weeks ago asking me to answer her skincare question, and unfortunately, I am just getting to it now. Sometimes life just takes over and there is no time to blog.
In any case, reader, please forgive me – I will answer the question now.
Here it is:
“I am 22 years-old and I am looking for a skincare routine that will benefit my particular skin care concerns while providing me with reasonable preventative anti-aging. I regularly use sunscreen but lately I have noticed very minimal fine lines around my eyes. I think they have more to do with dehydration than with anything else. The adage that it is easier to prevent than to repair is true; therefore I have been looking into retinol but I am overwhelmed by the options available! I also wonder if retinol is even a good idea– should I use Vitamin C instead? But what about the exfoliation properties? I should mention that I have oilier skin that is very prone to horrible blackheads and the occasional blemish. I like in Saskatchewan and the weather can be very dry here so I find that my skin can become very dull-looking when it is particularly dry in the Prairies. Like I said before, I am overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and products available. I could go to a department store but sometimes I would like someone with a considerable neutral agenda that could guide me into finding the best products for me. Maybe it is a tall order but any feedback is greatly appreciated.”
I’ll start my answer by saying that I am by no means a dermatologist or a skincare expert. I didn’t go to school to learn about skincare and have no formal training on the matter. I have, however, tried lots of products with a variety of different active ingredients. I also do research into the ingredients before I try the products so that I know what to expect and so that I can judge whether a product is working or not.
I will also say that all advice you get is biased. Just today I was at the eye doctor and she told me that I should buy a specific vitamin through her because it was made just for my eyes. She was selling me a basic Omega 3 pill and there’s no doubt in my mind that she got a kickback from selling me what I could get from any Shoppers Drug Mart.
Similarly, if you go into a store or salon, they will try to get you to buy a certain product that they sell instead of just finding you something that you need. Believe it or not, all skincare lines are not the same, and you may need something that isn’t available at the counter in front of you.
So I conclude, by reminding you that if all advice is biased, then so is mine. I have certain products that I prefer and there are certain ingredients that to me, seem more effective. But, you can rest-assured that there’s nothing in it for me to recommend certain brands to you and whatever you buy will make no difference whatsoever to me.
And so to the answer….
… I remember when I was 22! I have to say that at that age, you really shouldn’t be seeing too many fine lines on your face. A mirror that enlarges a great deal might show you lines, but they shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye, and so I’m with you when you say that they are probably due to dryness. You also mention that you’re living in a prairie province, as am I, and so the air there does tend to be dryer than anywhere else. That means that you need to hydrate your skin on a regular basis, even if you already have combination or oily skin.
You also mention that you’re using a sunscreen but want some preventative anti-aging. I think that this is a great idea, but I’m going to steer you away from the Retinol. Retinol is a great ingredient, but save it for your 30’s. You may be able to help your skin by turning to less strong ingredients first.
You mention that you have oily skin that sometimes looks dull and this is something you would like to remedy. I think this is a great place to start, and a combination of vitamin C and a chemical exfoliant would be your best bet.
Let me explain.
Exfoliating your skin is something that we should all be doing anyway. It will get rid of dead skin cells and any acne scars that you may have. But manual exfoliation (think of gritty scrubs) can be too harsh on the skin and can lead to more wrinkles. Instead, it’s a good idea to incorporate a product with AHA’s in it. The most common AHA is glycolic acid, which I love. Glycolic Acid can be found in a concentration of up to 8%, though it comes in formulas that are weaker as well. They gently and slowly speed up the skin’s sloughing cycle. Because you use them daily, you end up with the best skin that you can have on a regular basis. Start with a low concentration of the Glycolic acid, and then work your way up once your skin gets used to it. It’s common to feel a tingling or burning sensation when you first start, but your skin will eventually get used to that.
As for products that you can get, I really like a few drugstore brands. I have found it nearly impossible to find good glycolic acid products at the department store. The few that are there are overly expensive and you don’t need to spend that much money. Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Face Lotion has glycolic and salicylic acid in it and it really helps skin look clear. It is available for less than $20. Neostrate also has a huge range of AHA products. You can get a toner, a lotion, or a cream. Since you mention that you have some dryness, a lotion or a cream would be a good idea, but above all, focus on the concentration you want and then the formula. You may be able to work a mild toner into your routine too, by topping it with a very moisturizing cream. Another lovely brand is Reversa, which is relatively new to the Canadian market. It is also available at Shoppers. Reversa and Neostrata are also more expensive compared to Neutrogena.
If you use an AHA product, you’ll find that your skin will not only be more clear and less dull, but your wrinkles will also start to look less obvious.
Vitamin C is also essential for helping skin that looks dull because it effectively and gently fades dark spots on your face. If this is a problem you have, try to incorporate some vitamin C products into your routine. I really like the Vitamin C powder from The Body Shop. The Body Shop Vitamin C range has lots of products on it but read the ingredient list carefully and make sure that the ascorbic acid is in the top 3 ingredients and definitely listed before the fragrance in the product. Dermalogica also has a great Vitamin C powder and that line can be found at salons.
So! I know this is a lot of information, but I hope that it helps!
And if any of you out there have questions you’d like to submit to me, feel free. I promise, I’ll try to get to them a lot quicker this time around.