What should I be doing to take care of my skin?

As a dermatologist, what is the inevitable question that I get asked at every family gathering, girls night out or social function: “So what should I be doing to take care of my skin?”  I understand why women and men ask that question. If I had free access to physicians in other fields, I would be asking them the many questions that I have too.  So, truly, I understand.  I also realize that we as consumers are bombarded with advertisements for the latest, greatest wrinkle removing cream, chemical peel or laser treatment that are “guaranteed to work!”  It is hard to know what to believe and what really is too good to be true.  I also know that when you actually go to the store to buy a product it can be quite overwhelming.  There are hundreds of different cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and serums.  And let’s face it, none of this stuff is cheap.  So that takes me back to the popular question, “So what should I be doing to take care of my skin?”

I like to keep things pretty simple.  Good skin care doesn’t have to be complicated.  Everyone should wash their face with something gentle every morning and evening.  It isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money on a cleanser.  I really like Dove unscented for sensitive skin soap or CeraVe foaming face wash. This goes for men, too. I don’t recommend washing your face with a body soap in the shower (like Irish Spring), as these types of soap are too drying for your face.

Every person should apply a moisturizer to their face with a SPF of at least 30.    To some degree, this choice of product boils down to personal preference.  But in general, if you have oily skin you might try Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with a SPF of 50. If you have dry skin you might like CeraVe am moisturizer with an SPF of 30.  If you wear make-up choose one with SPF as well.

So that is the basic plan.  If you like to have a low maintenance routine, wash with something gentle and apply a moisturizer with sunscreen on your face every day, rain or shine.

More advanced skin care

If you want to take things a step farther, see a dermatologist to see if you would be a candidate for a Retin-A cream prescription.  The active ingredient in Retin-A is tretinoin.  There are many different strengths, formulations and brands of tretinoin out there.  A dermatologist can help you figure out the best type for your skin.  Tretinoin, a substance in the Vitamin A family, is the only prescription treatment approved by the FDA for reducing fine wrinkles, splotchy pigmentation and rough skin associated with chronic sun exposure.  Tretinoin can be irritating to some skin so they are not for everyone.  But if your skin tolerates it, you should be using a tretinoin cream daily.  A generic tretinoin prescription will cost about 50 dollars and likely will not be covered by insurance.  Keep in mind that a tube of tretinoin will usually last several months and you get more value for your dollar with a tretinoin cream than buying over-the-counter wrinkle creams at the drugstore.  If you are going to stick to non-prescription strength products, then look for products containing retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.

The Cadillac plan

 If you want what I call the “Cadillac plan” for skin care, you should, in addition to all the steps above, add a topical antioxidant.  I really love the vitamin C and E product that we carry in our office through SkinMedica.  You do have to be wary about buying Vitamin C products outside of a physician’s office.  It is difficult to maintain a stable Vitamin C and to get it delivered to the skin effectively.  That is why the good ones can be a little pricey.  But, they do work and they are better tolerated than tretinoin if you have sensitive skin.  The Vitamin C and E product protects your skin from oxidative damage all day long.

We carry another product in our office called TNS Recovery Complex through the SkinMedica line as well.  It really is a product in a class of its own.   It is a mixture of growth factors, cytokines, and antioxidants. Growth factors are messenger proteins that play a role in maintaining healthy skin.  This product has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and enhance tone and texture as well.

And don’t forget about a Latisse prescription for eyelash enhancement.  It might surprise you how much longer, thicker, and darker eyelashes can rejuvenate your face and just increase overall attractiveness.


     In addition to these products, we also offer a variety of procedures in our office.  I often tell patients, not to waste their hard earned dollars on drugstore wrinkle creams and instead they should spend their money on something that really works.  For instance, Botox is very safe and effective for treating frown lines between the eyebrows and for softening crow’s feet around the eyes.  Fillers can be injected to replace the volume we lose as we age.  We also offer a procedure called photodynamic therapy with intense pulsed light, or PDT with IPL.  I have found this to be the single most effective way to lighten or even completely remove stubborn brown spots, with just one treatment.  We are also proud to offer the Fraxel Re:pair skin resurfacing laser treatment.  This procedure can help with fine lines, large pores, acne scars and discoloration.

Make an appointment

So, wear your sunscreen everyday whether it is January or July and make an appointment today with our dermatology office!  You deserve to have an expert in skin care giving you skin care advice instead of a non-physician spa or someone that is not trained in the field of dermatology.  Let Central Missouri Dermatology take care of your skin…

Trisha Taylor, M.D.