Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so keeping it in top condition should be a priority throughout life. A healthy skincare program begins with a cleansing regimen designed for your specific needs and skin type. Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City has the tips you need to keep your skin healthy and beautiful.
A trip down the skin care aisle of your local grocery store can be an overwhelming trip today. The sheer volume of choices can make it almost impossible to select the best product for your skin. Should you go with a cleanser or quick, convenient cleansing wipes? What ingredients do you look for?
Dr. Birnbaum helps to break it down, so you can understand how each of these methods works.
Cleansers and makeup remover wipes use surfactants to break down the interface between oil, water, and dirt, removing them and cleaning our skin. When we use cleansers, we tend to rinse off this debris more effectively with water. Using a wipe can often leave residue on your skin. This residue can include cleansing ingredients like surfactants, solubilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives, leading to irritation or an allergic reaction.
While Charlotte Birnbaum, MD recommended cleansers over wipes as a general rule, she recognizes that there are times when wipes are the more practical option. She recommends rinsing off your face with water, if possible, after using the wipe. If rinsing is not possible, her recommendation would be to use micellar water instead of a makeup remover wipe. It is a milder formulation than makeup remover wipes, and the residue is less likely to cause a reaction on the skin.
When selecting a cleanser, remember that the skin on your face is more sensitive than the skin on your body. Choose a gentle formulation that does not include alcohol in the list of ingredients. You can also skip the exfoliating ingredients since daily exfoliation can be irritating and even damage the face’s delicate skin.
Getting on a Schedule
Once you have selected your cleanser, you need to know how to use it correctly. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face twice a day or after you sweat. More frequent washing can end up causing more harm than good by irritating the skin. Always wash with lukewarm water, rinse thoroughly, and pat your skin dry with a towel.
If you choose to exfoliate your skin, don’t use these cleansers more than once or twice a week. Think of exfoliation as a treatment, rather than a daily part of your skincare program. You can also opt for professional exfoliating procedures at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City periodically for safe and effective treatments.
Guidelines for a Cleaner Scalp
The scalp is often an area that gets neglected in a regular skincare routine. You may wash your hair regularly, but if you do not focus on the skin below, you may be missing an essential step in your hygiene program. Dr. Birnbaum explains that if you have an oily scalp, it may require additional care.
Our oil glands, also known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum on our skin. Sebum improves the barrier of our skin and scalp, protecting them from damage and drying out. Some of us naturally produce more oil than others, which can lead to a greasy scalp. Oil production is related to our genetics, hormones, humidity, and stress. If you are naturally prone to oily skin, you likely encounter it on both the face and scalp.
For an oily scalp, Dr. Birnbaum recommends more frequent, regular shampooing up to once a day. It is a common myth that your scalp can overcompensate with oil if you shampoo too often. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it as this can lead to dryness and irritation, so it is crucial to find your sweet spot number of times a week to wash your hair. Those with coarse, curly hair can wash their hair more infrequently.
Here are a few additional tips Dr. Birnbaum recommends for an oily scalp:
- Clarifying shampoos have more potent surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate to clean an oily scalp.
- Shampoos with salicylic acids, such as Neutrogena T/Sal, can also be used a few times a week.
- Dry shampoo can help control the oil and keep hair looking clean and shiny.
- Place conditioner only at the ends of the hair, never on the scalp.
Dr. Birnbaum advises against using shampoos containing sulfates if your hair is color-treated.
If these at-home treatments do not help after several weeks of use, Dr. Birnbaum suggests an evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist. Prescription treatment options include topical retinoids, spironolactone, oral contraceptive pills, and even Accutane. Neuromodulators like Botox can also decrease oil production. These products can be injected directly into the scalp to keep oil at bay.
The Next Level: Professional Treatments
While a good home skincare regimen is essential for healthy skin, professional treatments can take you to the next level. At Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, we offer various cosmetic procedures to keep your skin at its absolute best. Some of your options include:
- Laser treatments to brighten skin and create more even texture and tone
- Exfoliating treatments to stimulate cell turnover for fresher, more radiant skin
- Injectables to smooth away wrinkles and restore youthful volume
- Light and laser therapies to address sun damage and early signs of aging
- Skin tightening treatments to reverse jowl formation and firm up sagging skin
Our board-certified dermatologists have the experience and expertise to customize your treatments to your precise needs and goals. Whether you want to turn back signs of aging, treat a specific skin condition, or brighten the complexion for an upcoming event, our team can help you look your best throughout every season.
We are Committed to Skin Health
Healthy skin is our specialty. For more information about the treatments we offer, contact Spring Street Dermatology in New York City today.