These days it may be hard to find someone unfamiliar with the term skincare. On the other hand, it may be just as difficult to nail down precisely what the word means — and exactly how we’re supposed to go about implementing the idea.
So whether you’re a seasoned, multi-step skincare aficionado, or a simple bar-of-soap novice, we’re here to break down the basics. It’s everything you need to know: Skincare 101.
Who needs a skincare routine?
Let’s cut right to the chase: if you’ve got skin, you need to be taking care of it. Yes, it renews itself on a regular basis — about every 28 days in your 20s, slowing down dramatically in subsequent decades — but how we support our skin leaves a lasting impact.
While some of us are diligent about applying countless products, others only spring into action when something goes awry: a bout of eczema, or maybe a blemish breakout. According to board certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), skin health is both a reflection of our overall health, as well as something we can influence — positively, and negatively.
Do we really need skincare products?
When it comes to taking care of our skin, it’s not uncommon for people to use whatever’s handy: 2-in-1 shampoo/body wash, mystery moisturiser from the hotel bathroom, even just plain water in a pinch. We’re not here to judge, but here’s a fact: just like eating the right foods, using the right skincare (and making healthy lifestyle choices) will keep your skin looking and functioning better too.
And yes, it’s best to stick to the product labeling: if it’s meant for your body skin, avoid using it on your face. The skin on your neck and face is more delicate than the rest of your body, so those maximum strength body products could be much too harsh.
Finding the ideal skincare routine
With so many philosophies — and a seemingly infinite number of products — floating around, creating a skincare routine can seem daunting. Essentially, it comes down to four decisions:
- Picking the right active ingredients
- Combining products/ingredients
- Finding the best application frequency
- Adapting to changes — internal (like hormones), or external (like weather)
If those 4 ideas leave you feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone: the notion of navigating through the skincare aisle leaves many of us with an “all or nothing” approach — waaayyy too many products, or simply none at all. This is when it pays to have a dermatologist in your corner — someone who can spell out which ingredients will work best for your needs.
Dr. Lee is a big believer in the concept of Cleanse, Treat, Moisturise — an adaptable regimen that can be customised to meet your specific needs. Here, we list her favorite product combinations for treating some of the most common skin concerns.
Skin concern: facial blemishes
Dr. Lee recommends a multi-step approach that treats spots at every stage, while keeping skin nourished. She suggests these dermatological ingredients for the job:
- Salicylic acid: a pore clearing exfoliant that controls blackheads and whiteheads. Find it in SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser.
- Sulfur: an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory that helps control P. acnes bacteria while calming irritation. Try SLMD Skincare Sulfur Lotion.
- Retinol: a collagen and elastin boosting antioxidant that supports the skin cycle, preventing clogged pores and renewing skin. SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum also contains hyaluronic acid to work gently overnight.
Together with vitamin C infused Facial Moisturizer, these products make up SLMD Skincare Blemish-Prone Skin System — a 3-step programme that takes the guesswork out of managing breakouts and keeping blemish-prone skin healthy.
Skin concern: body blemishes
As we mentioned earlier, body skin is a bit tougher than facial skin, so using higher concentrations of active ingredients is recommended. For the body, Dr. Lee suggests maximum strength beta hydroxy acid: SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Body Wash is a powerful foaming gel that’s gentle enough to use daily.
Skin concern: ageing
With so many anti-ageing products on the market, navigating which to use (and when to start!) can be confusing. Here are Dr. Lee’s top picks:
- Salicylic acid: this exfoliant helps combat dullness, minimising fine lines and encouraging a more youthful glow. SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser does the job.
- Hyaluronic acid: one of Dr. Lee’s favourites for hydrating and plumping skin, which helps firm and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Try SLMD Skincare Skin Drink, which also contains moisturising squalane.
- Retinol: this vitamin A derivative is the most clinically proven anti-ageing ingredient, supporting cell turnover and boosting both collagen and elastin. Find it in SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum.
- SPF: sun protection is the most effective way to prevent the signs of premature ageing. Find one that’s formulated with non-comedogenic ingredients.
Skin concern: dry, rough body skin
To combat the bumpy, dry condition called “chicken skin” (aka keratosis pilaris) Dr. Lee recommends a combination of exfoliating and moisturising ingredients:
- Glycolic acid: this alpha hydroxy acid exfoliates built-up keratin while also stimulating the production of skin’s natural hydrators like hyaluronic acid. Find it in SLMD Skincare Glycolic Acid Body Scrub, a blend of physical and chemical exfoliants gentle enough for daily use.
- Shea butter: a soothing moisturiser with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that helps lock in hydration. It’s one of the main ingredients in SLMD Skincare Glycolic Acid Body Lotion, which both exfoliates and moisturises.
Dr. Lee’s last word
One of my primary missions as a dermatologist has been to bring effective skin health solutions to anyone who needs them. This is why I created SLMD Skincare: to make dermatology accessible to all. These days, skincare can be confusing. My systems are designed to take the guesswork out of treating some of the most common concerns my patients have.
—Dr. Sandra Lee