Skincare 101: The Must Do's and Major Don't’s

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Class with Dr. Drew Anderson is in session

Take out a pen and paper because you’ll want to take notes. Dr. Drew Anderson, owner of Lifetime Skincare, will be acting as your personal tutor to answer all the questions that will make your skincare routine the most effective it’s ever been. When it comes to smooth, hydrated and clear skin, let’s choose all of the above. This isn’t a math lesson, but here is what you should be adding and subtracting from your skincare steps to redefine your routine.

Does over exfoliating exist and is it more harmful than beneficial?

More is not always better. In simplest terms, yes, there is a such thing as exfoliating too much. This can lead to skin irritation due to too much penetration. Dermatologists recommend a daily dose of a gentle cleanser in place of a strong facial scrub. These are made without soap because these suds can be drying and remove more than they need to, such as the natural oils that your skin produces. Naturally, skin exfoliates itself gradually over time so that you don’t have to.

Exfoliating becomes overpowering when it causes redness or irks your skin. Some like to believe that the tight feeling after washing your face is a sign of clean skin. Others feel that the flushed color your face turns is a sign of a good scrubbing. In fact, this is your skin’s attempt to alert you that it is now too dry and possibly agitated.

Are face masks a myth or do they really add to a routine?

After being at work for six hours just to realize that only 30 minutes have passed, going home and picking out a cooling mask sounds like the perfect way to unwind. Clinking round glasses with your girlfriends while an earth-toned mask seeps into your T zone feels like a scene right out of a movie. Sitting in an instagrammable tub circled by lit candles and your favorite playlist playing in the background makes for the perfect time for a sheet mask. No matter the reason, face masks seem to always be the answer.

Dr. Anderson, on the other hand, believes that most face masks are used as feel good products. It’s rare that a derm would recommended one because they do not do much for skin improvement. Using a face mask consistently will not alter your skins makeup or improve the overall health of it long term. There may be an extra shine on the tops of your cheeks and your hand may glide across your forehead easier but the feeling is oh so temporary.

What ingredients should be avoided when looking for products to add to our skincare collection?

Unfortunately, when it comes to this question, there is no straightforward answer. A list of bad ingredients does not come with this study guide. There are no specific ingredients to avoid except those you know you are allergic to. The secret is to include a gentle cleanser and moisturizer with sunscreen in your skincare stock. Products with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium make for great sun blockers. Ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are power players when it comes to treating acne.

We can’t assume that every natural ingredient is automatically good for the skin or better than those manufactured. Essential oils may be natural, but they can clog pores and make acne even worse. In the words of Dr. Anderson, “poison ivy may be natural but it is not good for your skin.”

What should we be doing to prevent acne with acne prone skin?

The truth is, there is no one way to prevent acne for any skin type. Sometimes there is no real prevention because people are simply genetically prone to flare-ups. In this case, seeing a dermatologist is the solution. In other cases, working towards overall good health in all areas have the ability to promote clear skin. Sleep tight, eat right, exercise and repeat.

Not getting enough sleep each night will release hormones such as cortisol in response to stress which is the source of worsened acne. To take another step toward good health means to eat smart. Well balanced diets include lean protein such as chicken and fish, veggies, particularly green leafy ones, fruit and, of course, water. It’s more so important to know what to avoid when it comes to nutrition. Stay away from incorporating dairy and carbohydrates into your diet because a diet too high in sugar can increase acne. Exercising is like putting the period on the sentence because overall good health is incomplete without it. One good habit leads to another.

How should we be treating blackheads and whiteheads?

At home remedies seem to be the most common form of treatment for blackheads and whiteheads. Though tempting, squeezing them out is damaging to your skin. Manual cures are instant and inviting, but plucking and picking at your skin is never the answer. Even peeling them away with a mask tugs and pulls at the skin and creates a false perception of what is truly happening. What’s left behind in this face formed shell is actually dead skin. The removal of dead cells may be satisfying but the problem is, they can peel off too much resulting in water loss. Scratch out peel off masks and add a comedone extractor to your list for your next trip to the drugstore.

Preventing blackheads and whiteheads are hard for the same reason acne prone skin is. Genetics. However, understanding how they’re formed may be the first sign of hope in treating them.  Blackheads are more formally known as open comedones while whiteheads are closed comedones. These comedones are both dead skin and oil. The difference between this dirty duo is one is black due to air exposure while the other is white due to its lack thereof. Oil clocks in when hair follicles or pores are clogged. Overgrowth of bacteria then produces inflammation or what we know as pimples. Breakouts are rooted in this build up of oil. Getting rid of these is the key to getting rid of acne.

Is there a specific way that combination skin should be taken care of?

Combination skin is the ultimate mash up. This is when some places on the face are oily and other parts are dry. In most cases, oil resides on your forehead, nose and chin while dryness inhabits its neighboring areas. There is no one-size fits all type of remedy to this dual ended complexity, but Dr. Anderson is here to offer a bit of clarity.

Combination-skinned people tend to think oiliness equates to hydration. In fact, it is very possible for someone who is oily to have dehydrated skin. This is why including a moisturizer is a mandatory in your skin routine. This must-have replaces the water that dry skin is lacking without coating your skin in any additional oil. Dodging oiliness while nipping dryness in the bud makes you the master of multitask.

The true test will come when you’re standing in front of your mirror ready to walk through your skincare routine. To guarantee you pass, here’s a quick review. Cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are essentials for the most effective lineup. The “tender” in TLC does not stand for how your skin should feel after scrubbing and scrapping. Loving and caring for your skin is to know what works best for you.

Q&A with Dr. Drew Anderson, owner of Lifetime Skincare, President of Indiana Dermatology Academy


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I am a Chicago Heights native currently studying Journalism as an undergraduate at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.