Skincare doesn't have to be complicated. For most people, spending just a few minutes a day on a routine that uses a small variety of high-quality, effective products can make a big difference. Below, you'll find answers to some of the most common questions people have about how to care for their skin.
Q: What causes acne?
A: Acne can be caused by excess sebum oil and clogged pores. Doctors aren’t sure why some people get acne and others do not, but some research suggests that hormone levels may play a role.
Acne is most common in young adults with increasing hormone levels, and about 80 percent of people will have at least one [acne] outbreak before age 30. It is less common in older adults, who tend to have steadier hormone levels. Since stress can affect hormones, it may also play a role in the development of acne, but so far, there is no definitive evidence that factors such as stress, diet, or light makeup have any links with acne. If you have acne, wash gently with a mild cleanser no more than twice a day; and avoid hard scrubbing, exfoliating, and touching the affected areas.
Q: What are the most important parts of a skincare routine?
A: Since sun damage increases the risk of skin cancer, as well as skin problems ranging from wrinkles to dark spots, wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is essential. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Beyond that, it takes just a few minutes each morning and each evening to do the basics: washing with a gentle cleanser and applying a moisturizer to your face and neck.
Q: How can I avoid wrinkles?
A: Wrinkles are a natural result of aging, but you can delay their onset or minimize their appearance. To do so, limit sun exposure, wear sunscreen every day, and use skin products that contain antioxidants and retinoids, which can reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Q: What should I do about dark spots?
A: UV exposure and hormonal changes are two causes of dark spots. Avoiding the sun and wearing sunscreen can prevent new dark spots from forming, while exfoliating regularly or using prescription medications may help treat the existing spots you already have. Certain dark spot correctors or moisturizers may also make a difference over time. Remember to choose the products that are formulated for your skin type.
Q: How can I prevent aging skin?
A: As your skin loses elasticity and collagen, it naturally begins to appear wrinkled and saggy. By caring for it and focusing on prevention, you can minimize these issues. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, and consider using eye creams and other topical products that contain retinoids and antioxidants, which can help improve the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.
Q: What’s the best way to handle sensitive skin?
A: Be gentle with it! Always wash sensitive skin gently, and never use harsh cleansers. Avoid products that contain irritating substances. Instead, seek out those that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin.
Q: How do I know if a product is right for me?
A: Sometimes, there is no way to tell for sure unless you try it. Usually, however, you can make an educated guess by examining the product’s label and ingredient list. To increase the chance that products won’t irritate your skin, seek out those that are fragrance-free, contain little or no alcohol, and are labeled “suitable for sensitive skin”.
Q: Do I really need to wear sunscreen every day?
A: In short, yes! If you care about your skin, wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 is the one thing you can do to protect it most. Sunscreen helps decrease the risk of skin cancer and other negative effects including wrinkles, fine lines, freckles, and sallowness.
Q: How can I fix an uneven skin tone?
A: An uneven skin tone is caused by an uneven distribution of pigment. Sun exposure and hormonal changes can also contribute to this issue. Certain serums, creams or moisturizers, especially those that contain vitamin C, can all help to even out your skin tone. It is also possible that your skin can develop an uneven tone due to a buildup of dead skin cells. If that is the issue, a simple way to even out your skin tone is to exfoliate once a day or every couple of days.
Q: How do I find out my skin type?
A: Typically, skin is classified in just a few categories, including normal, oily, dry, and sensitive. If you have combination skin, it means your skin is one type in one area and another type in another area (oily around your T-zone but normal everywhere else, for instance). Your skin type can change over time and can also be affected by factors such as hormones, medications, and diet. To get a good idea of what your skin type might be, wash it gently and leave it product-free for several hours before examining it closely to observe different areas.
You know your skin best. Paying attention to how it looks, feels and acts on a day-to-day basis, as well as how it reacts to different skin care products, is the best starting point to finding a routine that will leave you feeling healthy, rejuvenated and vibrant for many years to come.