Turning thirty was bad. Turning thirty-three was worse. Not having college students think I was “one of them” at a restaurant at my alma mater after a recent football game was the Grand Poobah of all things awful.
The combination of having a stressful career, spending years laying in the Florida sun after dousing myself with baby oil, and drinking five cups of coffee a day has taken a toll on my skin. I’ve resisted Botox, mainly because of an irrational fear of needles triggered by a bad vaccination experience when I was four years old. I’ve also resisted Botox because “old lady face” beats “crazy lady face” any day of the week, and a bad Botox job can be spotted a million miles away. In an effort to postpone resorting to the knife or the needle, I reached out to my long-time girlfriend, Dana Hess, who is a Physician’s Assistant at a Tampa dermatology practice. Dana and I met in college when I was assigned as her recruitment counselor when she was participating in sorority rush at the University of Florida. We’ve stayed friends ever since, and she was kind enough to give me skin advice after I had my second baby and was ready to tackle pre-pregnancy skin problems. Here’s her input on how to have gorgeous skin without breaking the bank:
Best Drugstore Product: It’s important to have a good cleanser that removes dirt, oil, and make-up. For people with dry or sensitive skin, I recommend Cetaphil. People with normal skin can use a variety such as Neutrogena. For oily skin, I recommend a cleanser with salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena pore refining cleanser. It is vital to wash your face (and wash it well!) before going to bed. Do not skip it. Your skin will thank you in the morning.
Best Over-the-Counter Product: Good sunscreen! Not all sunscreen is created equal. The active ingredients I look for are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide because they physically block the sun. The pricier sunscreens micronize these minerals so they are clear when applied, as opposed to “baby” sunscreens and the 1980s zinc oxide that is thick, white and pasty. I like LaRoche Posay sunscreen and EltaMD, the latter we carry at my office. Sunscreen should be worn daily, especially in hot climates! I know, I know, “you work in an office and don’t go outside.” Put it on regardless! Sun exposure is cumulative from birth, meaning that your skin does not forget each time you are exposed.
Best “Splurge” Product: My favorite splurge product is from ZO, which is Dr. Obagi’s new line of products. It is called Daily Power Defense and it should be worn daily prior to sunscreen. It contains DNA repair enzymes, antioxidants, retinol, and ceramides to help repair dry, irritated skin. There are a few key reasons I am a big fan of this product. Evironmental factors such as allergans, pollutants, and sun can cause free radicals, which are small enough to get into our pores and begin to break down collagen. This product helps repair and restore skin barrier function by protecting and repairing damaged DNA. Even women with sensitive skin can use this product. I have not had one patient say their skin cannot tolerate it. You want to begin using this product in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, and it’s worth the hefty price tag.
Best Out-of-the-Box Pointers: When applying sunscreen, I always include my chest, if exposed, before applying the remainder on the backs of both hands. Nobody wants brown spots on the backs of their hands. I am also a huge fan of my Clarisonic. I can physically see the difference when using my Clarisonic to wash my face versus when I don’t use it. You can find them on sale frequently and there are many knock off competitors which I am sure do the job just as well. Many women also notice the first signs of aging to the delicate skin around the eyes, so I think a good eye cream can be paramount. If you have puffiness and dark circles, I like Teamine Eye Complex by Revision skincare, and if you have fine lines and crepiness, I like ZO Intense Eye Repair.
Best Way to Achieve “Red Carpet Skin” without Needles: I am a big fan of undergoing chemical peels a couple times a year, such as after summer and mid spring. A chemical peel is great for uneven skin tone/hyperpigmentation, acne, pores, bad texture. In order to keep skin healthy, you need cell turnover and exfoliation, both of which a chemical peel can provide. You do need to pick a time where you don’t mind your skin peeling for a few days, typically the second or third day after the peel. We also have several lasers to address fine lines, deeper wrinkles, texture, scarring, pigmentation. Come and see me for a VISIA skin analysis and we can get a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. Skin care is not “one size fits all.”
Dana Hess is a Physician’s Assistant at South Tampa Dermatology. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters. (And she’s so much fun and an awesome friend!)