Board-certified dermatologists are experts when it comes to the skin, hair and nails, diagnosing and treating more than 3,000 diseases and conditions, including skin cancer, acne, psoriasis and eczema. They also help patients address their cosmetic concerns, such as tattoo removal, scarring, and aging skin.
But do you ever wonder what skin care tips dermatologists use themselves to maintain healthy skin? In recognition of National Healthy Skin Month in November, dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology are sharing six skin care tips they recommend to all of their patients—and actually use themselves.
“When it comes to skin care, I like to keep it simple for both my patients and myself,” says board-certified dermatologist Ivy Lee, MD, FAAD. “Sun protection—including seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen—is nonnegotiable for me and one of the most important things you can do for your skin, since ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging, such as wrinkles and age spots. This is important year-round, not just during the summer, and even on cloudy days.”
Additionally, says Dr. Lee, it’s important for everyone to identify and understand their skin type:
- Sensitive skin may sting or burn after product use
- Normal skin is clear and not sensitive
- Dry skin is flaky, itchy or rough
- Oily skin is shiny and greasy
- Combination skin is dry in some areas and oily in others
“Understanding your skin type will help you learn how to take care of your skin and select skin care products that are right for you,” says Dr. Lee. “However, when buying skin care products, keep in mind that an effective skin care routine doesn’t need to be complicated or cost a small fortune.”
To maintain healthy skin, Dr. Lee recommends the following tips, which she adheres to herself:
- Wear sunscreen daily. For the best protection, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. To save time in your skin care routine, you can consider using a moisturizer that also contains sunscreen. However, while cosmetics that contain sunscreen are convenient, remember to reapply them in order to achieve the best sun protection. Keep in mind that since no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s UV rays, it’s also important to seek shade and wear protective clothing when outdoors, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
- Stay out of tanning beds. Just like the sun, tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation that causes skin cancer. In fact, even one indoor tanning session can increase your risk of developing melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%. If you want that golden glow, achieve it with self-tanning products instead. When applied correctly, self-tanners look natural and won’t give you orange skin, streaks or splotches.
- Simplify your skin care routine. Less is more when it comes to skin care. Using too many products, especially multiple anti-aging products, can irritate your skin. Instead, focus on the basics, such as a gentle cleanser, sunscreen and moisturizer. Establish morning and nighttime skin care routines that work well for your skin, and stick with them.
- Treat your lips. Since skin cancer can form on the lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going outdoors. If your lips feel chapped or dry, apply petroleum jelly for added moisture.
- Keep your hands off your face. Whenever you touch your face, you transfer dirt, germs and oil from your hands to your face. Do your best to leave your skin alone throughout the day. Avoid picking, popping or squeezing pimples, as this can cause scarring.
- Check your skin regularly. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., affecting one in five Americans in their lifetime. Further, nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every day. However, when detected early, skin cancer—including melanoma—is highly treatable. In fact, the five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98%. It is important to check your skin regularly for new spots, spots that are different from other spots on your body, or moles that itch, bleed or change color, as these are often early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious spots, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.
“The skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s important to take good care of it,” says Dr. Lee. “If you have questions about your skin type or how to take care of your skin, talk to a dermatologist.”
These tips are demonstrated in “Skin Care Tips Dermatologists Use,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s “Video of the Month” series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails.
To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/findaderm.