Taking care of your skin is essential to looking your best. But, let’s face it, skin care is a confusing maze of products and ingredients. So, what are the different types of skin care products and what exactly do you need to be using? Let me break this down into something I like to call my “skin care 4x4”—four tiers of skin care products and four undisputed anti-aging ingredients.
Every day I’m asked about skin care products.
"What are the best products?"
"What ingredients should I be using?"
"Are medical grade products really better than my drugstore creams?"
Skin care is a billion dollar industry. Yes, that’s a “b”—it’s a billion dollar industry. Every brand is fighting for its piece of the pie and hoping that a fancy label or an 18-year-old model with flawless skin will convince you that their product is the best. Please…don’t be fooled by the pretty girls and fancy packaging.
There are four tiers of skin care products:
- Over the counter
Such as Oil of Olay, Roc and Neutrogena
- Department store
Think Chanel, Clinique and Estee Lauder
- Day spas
Brands like Elemis, Yanka and Skinceuticals
- Medical grade
Like Regenica, Skin Medica and customized prescription compounded medications
What sets these levels apart? Tiers 1 to 3 may have specific active ingredients, such as retinol, salicylic acid or hydroquinone (lightening agent), but the amount of these ingredients is minimal. Think about it. These companies have to make their products safe enough for millions of people (with varying skin issues) to use them.
This means the amount of retinol in anti-aging products has to be present in extremely low percentages as to not cause irritation, burns or scarring from irregular peeling. It also means those very expensive lightening agents are limited to only 2% hydroquinone (vs. 4% - 12% medical grade). Salicylic acid over the counter is limited to 2% versus a whopping potential 25% concentration in compounded medical grade.
Tier 4 products, the medical grade products, are regulated, made in FDA-approved laboratories, require a medical license to purchase and have specific dosages that can be measured. These products are typically prescribed for you, with your specific skin issues in mind.
So, now that you know the four tiers of skin care products, the question becomes, “Do you really need ten different products to get your skin looking beautiful?” That’s right…the average woman who classifies herself as in the "anti-aging" category uses ten skin care products daily. Ten!
I say enough is enough.
There are only four ingredients that all “anti-agers" need to be using on a daily basis (consider these the “four pillars” of skin care). This means that every person who is concerned about their aging skin should be using these four products. (At Clarity, we’ve conveniently packaged products containing these ingredients into our “Pillar Collection” set.)
- Retinol - Nighttime application
This means prescription grade retinoic acid either in a cream, gel or liquid. This medication should be gradually increased over time to improve skin tolerance. The number one reason people stop using retinol is the dryness, redness, irritation and peeling. This can all be avoided with proper instruction and titration.
So, why should you use it? Retinol gives your skin a radiant, fresh-faced glow by boosting collagen production to reduce wrinkles, unclogging and minimizing pores and improving skin tone by speeding cell turnover. What’s not to love about that?
- Antioxidants - Twice daily application
You've heard about how important things like vitamin C, green tea and Acai berry are in your diet. Well, they’re just as important in your skin care regimen! The name of the game with antioxidants is that they protect your skin against those nasty free radicals that accelerate aging. At Clarity, we recommend vitamin C to our clients. Be careful though, as vitamin C will oxidize and lose potency if it’s not in crystallized form or in an airless pump.
- Growth factors - Twice daily application
These are the new kids on the block and have been touted as miracle ingredients for the last ten years. Why? Because they stimulate cell regeneration, collagen production and skin repair, reducing wrinkles, age spots and roughness. Growth factors can come from plant or human sources. Our current favorite is Regenica, which is the strongest growth factor formulation on the market in the U.S.
- SPF - Daily application
Who can forget sunscreen? Millions of you neglect to use a physical based sunscreen every day. “Physical based” means that it has zinc, titanium or oxinoate in it. The lovely sunscreens found in your lotion, makeup and serums don’t count as full protection. Remember, when using sunscreen, apply it EVERY DAY rain, sleet, snow or shine from hairline to bra line.
You may be asking, “Well, what do I do about my brown spots, redness, dryness or acne?” Truth be told, these are problem-based issues that will require specific topical or oral treatments. Depending on your concerns, you may need to add one more product to your roster.
So, there you have it, my “skin care 4x4.” When you examine your skin in that magnifying mirror, and don't like what you see, step away from the sea of less than helpful, over the counter and department store products. Instead, run, don’t walk, to your local, medical grade skin care prescriber.
At Clarity, we recommend a thorough one-on-one consultation. We even ask that you bring your current products so we can assess your current plan and review your skin concerns to prescribe a uniquely designed regimen just for you. Of course, the best part…skin care consultations at Clarity are always complimentary.