"Must Haves" in a skin care regimen

Hi everyone...... I'm back!  And I have to say, it feels really good to be posting again. Lately I have been inspired by so many of my patients to write about skin care.  Two of the most common questions I hear are, "Which products do I absolutely NEED to be using in my skin care regimen" and, "Which items should I splurge on, and are there any items that I can maybe substitute for something less pricey?"  These are both wonderful questions, and hopefully I'll be able to give you the answers you are looking for!

(My current skincare regimen)

Before I start writing, I just want to say that technically there is no right or wrong skin care regimen.  In my opinion, the only wrong routine is the one you aren't using!  If you are trying to take care of your skin, that’s a step in the right direction.  Just keep in mind that "medical grade" means more potent and therefore more effective.  Dr. Russo, who is my employer and mentor, strongly suggests that his patients use a regimen including a strong antioxidant, a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and a retinoid. I 100% agree with Dr. Russo, so I will be basing my recommendations around that foundation and then adding a few extras that I personally love. 

Cleanser:  So what does a cleanser do exactly?  I mean, of course, the obvious.  It cleanses all of the dirt, oil, makeup, and grime from the day off of your face.  But aside from that, some cleansers are specifically formulated to treat specific skin issues such as acne, hyper pigmentation, or sensitivity.  With so many options out there, how is someone supposed to know which cleanser to use?  If you are looking for a cleanser to simply just cleanse, and not treat any specific condition, my advice is to keep it simple.  I'm going to be complete honest here.  I personally feel that a cleanser is a product that you do not need to spend a ton of money on.  I have worked in this industry for over 10 years, and I've tried a lot of 
different cleansers.  My absolute favorite go to is Cetaphil.  It comes in two different types:  a creamy formula for normal to dry skin, and a gel formula for normal to oily skin.  It is extremely gentle, non-comedogenic, and better yet, it costs around $6 at your local drug store.  Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of really great medical grade cleansers out there that work really well.  But I like to keep my cleanser basic, and I keep coming back to this little gem every time I try to stray.  (I hear there is a newer foaming cleanser that I can't wait to try!!!)

Antioxidants:  Antioxidants are powerful substances (typically known as vitamins or enzymes) that help protect our skin from free radicals in the atmosphere.  We are exposed to free radicals that are caused by smoke, pollution, UV rays, and much more.  If not protected, these free radicals invade our skin causing damage to the DNA, proteins, and cells.  This process is called oxidation.  Sound familiar?  We've all eaten an apple.  What happens when you cut up an apple and leave it out exposed to air?  It turns brown and gross.  But, if you apply a thin layer of lemon juice to the apple and leave it out, it will last much longer before turning brown.  Your probably wondering how lemon juice can keep an apple from turning brown.  In a nutshell, the acidic lemon juice slows down the process of oxidation because of its low pH.  Oxygen reacts with the lemon juice first and can't get to the apple until it breaks down the acid.  This is kind of scary if you apply this scenario to your skin, huh?  YIKES!
This is why every single person should be using a topical antioxidant serum. Skin Ceuticals makes the best topical antioxidants out there, CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF.  CE Ferulic is for more normal to dry skin, and Phloretin CF is for normal to oily skin.  Phloretin also comes in a gel form which men tend to really like.  All of these retail for about $165.  In my professional opinion, there are no substitutions for these products due to their high concentrations of Vitamin C and low pH.  This is a product that you should 100% splurge on..........your skin is worth it!

Moisturizer:  For me, moisturizer is a lot like cleanser.  There are so many different types made for treating different issues, as well as different formulations for different skin types.  The purpose of a moisturizer is to help hold water in the epidermis, and slow down the depletion of existing moisture in the skin.  This helps keep your skin hydrated.  The most important thing to remember when choosing a moisturizer is to find one that is suitable for your skin type.  For example, if you struggle with oily skin and breakouts, and oil-free moisturizer might be a good option for you to try.  Personally, I switch back and forth between Skin Ceuticals Triple Lipid Restore ($127) and SkinMedica Replenish Hydrating Cream ($66).  But once again, I have to say, if you are looking for a basic moisturizer to help with hydration, there are some drug store moisturizers out there that aren't bad products.  Cetaphil makes a daily moisturizer as well as a night cream, and they both cost between $12-15.  

Sunscreen:  Hopefully I don't need to elaborate on why this is so important.  And no, the "sunscreen" in your foundation isn't enough protection.  Everyone that is invested in taking care of their skin should be using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.  Broad spectrum means that it protects from both UVA and UVB rays.  Sunscreens have come a long way.  Most of them come in universal tinted forms as well as clear.  Two products I typically recommend are Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion ($34), and Elta MD tinted ($35).  My personal favorite is Total Defense and Repair by SkinMedica ($68).  This little gem is called a "super screen" because it protects from not only UVA and UVB, but contains an advanced antioxidant complex that protects against free radicals and infrared rays as well.  It has a nice light feel and the universal tint works really well under my  makeup.  I'm obsessed!!!  These three products are medical grade sunscreens, which means you can't  purchase products with this level of protection from your local drug store.  When purchasing medical grade products, just make sure you are purchasing from a reputable source. (like Rejuvenis!)  Buying from a reputable source will ensure that you are getting the best product, that isn't tampered with or expired. And if you experience an issue or problem with the product you purchased, reputable sources will make it right for you. Sunscreen is definitely a product I would splurge on.........protecting yourself is priceless!!!

Retinoid:  A retinoid is a vitamin A product that promotes faster skin cell turnover. Retinoids work by initiating the skin to rapidly turn over cells, killing old cells in order to boost new cell growth. They also stimulate collagen production and thicken deeper layers of the skin, which can help correct fine lines and wrinkles. Some of you might be thinking, whats the difference between a retinoid and a retinol?  Simple.  Retinoids come in prescription form and are found in very few over the counter products.  Retinols are found in many over the counter products and do not require a prescription.  Retinols are weaker then retinoids, and unless Vitamin A is listed as one of the top ingredients, what you are getting will most likely not be very effective.  My absolute favorite retinoid is Refissa.  I have tried using other retinoids in the past, and hated dealing with the redness and flakiness.  Refissa is .05% tretinoin, but it is formulated in an extremely emollient cream that is easily tolerated by most skin types. This is ABSOLUTELY a must have in your regimen.  The most important thing to remember when using a 
retinoid is to use at night only, and apply to clean and thoroughly dried skin.  And sometimes you may need to start slow and work your way up to every night.  Refissa retails for around $80, and you can purchase it at Rejuvenis!  (If you read this paragraph, I think its safe to say not to skimp on this one.)  

Specialty Products:  Now that I've talked about all of the staples, lets chat about specialty products.  These specialty products are either serums or creams that are formulated to treat specific skincare issues and concerns.  For example, SkinMedica makes Lytera which is a cream used to lighten hyper pigmentation caused by sun damage.  An eye cream would be considered a specialty product as well.  I personally have three favorite specialty products:  SkinMedica HA5 ($120 for 1oz or $178 for 2oz), SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex ($220), and Regenica Eye Cream.  HA5 is a lightweight serum/cream that helps the skin replenish its own hylauraunic acid levels. It contains five HA molecules that smooth the skin, and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. HA5 provides immediate smoothing and continuous hydration throughout the day.  TNS Recovery Complex is a topical growth factor product that also contains antioxidants and peptides.  This unique blend helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture. This anti-aging serum also reduces inflammation, encourages cell growth and casts a healthy, youthful glow on your skin.  Regenica Eye Cream, unfortunately, no longer exists.  The company was sold, so I'm on the hunt for a new favorite eye cream.  I'm thinking my new go to will be SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair ($102), but I'll keep you posted if I come across something that I just can't live without!

Hopefully this gave you some helpful information about skin care.  Other than the drug store recommendations, we carry all of the products that I mentioned where I work at Rejuvenis Cosmetic Surgery.  If you live in Champaign or nearby, come and see me at work and let's chat more!  My coworkers at Rejuvenis love this stuff just as much as I do.  We offer complimentary skin care consultations, and can even sample you a product if you are interested in trying something.  If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to invest in your skin.  You're going to be wearing it for the rest of your life, so make it the best it can be.  You're worth it! 


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