Expert's Opinion

Skin Health Dogma: What You Need to Know

By Mona Gohara, MD, Dermatologist | March 1, 2010

Dermatologist Mona Gohara provides some tenets to cut through the confusion.

Navigating through the razzle and dazzle that surrounds many cosmetic products today can be very overwhelming. Some questions include: "Does it really work?,” "What is in it?," "How long does it last?," and, in this economy, "Can I afford it?”

But, exchange difficulty for dogma and achieve beautiful, healthy skin with ease. A few basic tenets will help to disentangle this confusing web.

First, regardless of weather conditions, wear sunscreen containing an SPF of 30 or higher daily. Ultraviolet light has been proven to cause skin cancer and premature aging. Even on the gloomiest of days, the sun is reaching your skin by coming through the clouds and the windows in your car and home. Think beyond gooey, coconut fragranced thick white cream, instead channel fine powders such as Color Science “Sunforgettable” which provide adequate, daily sun protection in a cosmetically elegant way.

As you scan labels, look for ingredients such as titanium/zinc dioxide, ecamsule (Mexoryl), avobenzone (Parsol 1789), and benzophenones (such as oxybenzone and sulisobenzone) to ensure complete protection.

Second, learn the value of vitamins. Vitamin A derivatives, retinols, should be a part of everyone’s nightly skin care regimen. These products, which come in cream or gel forms, are anti-aging powerhouses, as they are effective at preventing fine lines/ wrinkles, lightening sun spots, preserving the skin’s collagen supply, and promoting new collagen growth.

Other added benefits? Retinols prevent acne, fade acne scarring, and help to treat pre-cancerous skin growths. For a maximum effect seek a prescription product from a health care provider—if an over the counter product better suits your needs check out “RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum.”

Biotin, a water-soluble B complex vitamin, is notorious for its ability to help strengthen brittle hair and nails. Start with an oral dose of 2.5 milligrams or 2,500 micrograms each day, and you'll notice results within a month or so.

Vitamin C, is a member of the antioxidant family. Antioxidants, another “must,” reduce free radical damage in the skin, and thus prevent discoloration, deep wrinkles, fine lines and sagging. Creams containing antioxidants such as vitamins C /E, coenzyme Q10, green tea, and soy (to name a few) work wonders in tandem with SPF and retinols to combat the hazards of sun damage.

Last but not least, remember to look inside your kitchen, before you look inside your wallet. When it comes to skin health, there are many household items which can function as well, if not better, than expensive, seductively packaged products. Keep your skin radiant by exfoliating with a pinch of either salt, sugar or baking soda and a few teaspoons of warm water weekly. Tired of unsightly sun spots? Try the milk mask. Mix soy milk (unsweetened) with the powder of a niacinamide (vitamin B3) capsule. Next, apply it to the areas of discoloration, spread evenly, and leave on as a mask. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat each day for a week every couple of months. Use a mineral oil soak to eradicate dry cracked heels, reduce the size of an unwelcome pimple by applying a paste made of crushed baby aspirin and water, the list goes on.

By knowing what to look for, and more importantly, what works, you can keep it simple and keep your skin healthy.

About the Author
Dr. Gohara graduated from the Medical College of Ohio, with honors. She completed her medical internship at New York University Medical Center, and her residency in dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where she served as Chief Resident in her final year of training. Dr. Gohara was certified by the American Board of Dermatology in 2005.

Dr. Gohara is currently a faculty member at the Yale University School of Medicine and has a private medical dermatology practice in Danbury, CT. She has taken a special interest in promoting skin cancer awareness and sun safety, particularly amongst non-Caucasian populations. She is a co-founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Diversity Task Force, which focuses on educating minorities regarding this important issue. Dr. Gohara recently published a review in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology entitled “Skin Cancer in Skin of Color.” She is also a member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society Service Committee and acted as co-Chair for the organization’s community outreach program, “Play Safe in the Sun.”
Dr. Gohara is on the editorial board of DermClips, a bi-monthly publication of the American Academy of Dermatology. She has also been quoted in national and local popular media publications.

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