Covid-19 has forced many to ignore their beauty routines. Spas closed, dermatologist appointments were missed and products became harder to acquire. Well, now with our schedules being less packed and winter approaching, we can take the opportunity to work on our sun damage. The dull skin, brown spots, redness, and dry, flaky skin that we’ve been avoiding.
With more people feeling trepidatious about invasive aesthetic procedures during the pandemic, here are some of the treatments I recommend to get skin glowing for the holidays. No needles. No surgery. As always, consult your dermatologist and ask if any of these options might be right for you before diving in.
5 Professional Skin Procedures
Dermasweep is a microdermabrasion that stimulates collagen production and drastically improves textural irregularities in under 30-minutes. The 2-step particle-free process gently lifts away the top layer of skin, increases micro-circulation, and delivers key skin nutrients. There is little to no down time and results are immediate, although for optimum results, a series of four to six treatments with maintenance every two to three months is suggested.
SKINBETTER SCIENCE ALPHARET® PROFESSIONAL PEEL SYSTEM 30
SkinBetter peels and products are only available through authorized physicians. The peel was designed for patients with mildly photodamaged skin, including early signs of skin aging and blemishes. The procedure, which has little to no downtime, can be applied by a dermatologist once every four weeks. A series of 3 peels is recommended.
INTENSE PULSED LIGHT (IPL or PHOTOFACIAL)
IPL is a broad-spectrum light device most commonly used to target excess pigment (melanin) in the skin. A series of 2-3 treatments is recommended to improve brown spots due to sun damage. The brown spots initially darken then slowly peel off over a period of 1-2 weeks.
Vascular lasers selectively target unwanted or abnormal blood vessels in the skin. A series of 2-3 treatments is effective in treating rosacea, broken blood vessels (telangiectasias), red bumps (angiomas), and redness in the skin.
PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY (PDT)
PDT can be used to treat precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses) on the face and body as well as photodamage on the face. A photoactivator, like Aminolevulinic acid, is applied to the face for 60 minutes and then the patient sits under blue light for 17 minutes. In addition, IPL can be used with blue light to enhance the effect.
5 At Home Skin Suggestions
As for at-home beauty routines, nothing beats a nourishing and exfoliating mask. I suggest incorporating one into your skin care routine 1-3 times a week. Look for ones which contain natural fruit extracts like pumpkin, papaya and pomegranate for enzymatic exfoliation. There are many on the market, but for my patients, I recommend The DefenAge 2-Minute Masque. Masks are also effective at removing excess oil, removing dead skin, and cleaning out the pores.
In the winter, opt for a more gentle cleanser that is hydrating, but still cleanses the skin and removes makeup, mascara and surface debris from the skin. For one that exfoliates, choose one that has Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and/or Beta Hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs include glycolic, citric and lactic acid. They are great at removing dead skin cells and preparing skin to better absorb other products. My favorite products that contains AHAs and/or BHAs (salicylic acid) are Skin Medica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser which contains multiple AHAs and BHA with jojoba beans to cleanse and exfoliate the skin daily.
Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that must be topically applied to the skin for maximal efficacy. It is a potent antioxidant that scavenges free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that break down skin cells and cause wrinkles), such as those found in environmental pollutants and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. In fact, Vitamin C is particularly effective when used in conjunction with Vitamin E. Vitamin C is also a critical factor for collagen synthesis. My favorite topical antioxidant product, that contains 19 antioxidants, including Vitamins C and E, is SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum, which is applied twice daily after cleansing your face. This product is appropriate for all skin types.
Winter is the perfect time to work on those brown spots that you may have accumulated over the past summer! Skin Brighteners are used to improve the appearance of brown spots, sun damage, hyperpigmentation and other skin discoloration. In the past there was only products with hydroquinone, which can lighten areas around the dark spots and its brightening effects are only temporary. Newer, safer skin brighteners are available without the risks of hypopigmentation. My favorite HQ-free skin brighteners are SkinBetter Science Even Tone Correcting Serum and SkinMedica Lytera 2.0. They are recommended for use twice daily and are safe for patients while pregnant or breast-feeding.
Don’t forget than many areas of the country still have UV exposure in the winter, especially if you live at high altitude or enjoy going skiing! Sunscreen should not be a new product to anyone in the 2020’s. In fact, it should be a part of your life since 6 months of age! A broad-spectrum, physical sunscreen of SPF 30+ should be applied daily (and reapply every 2 hours when outdoors) to your face and any sun-exposed skin to protect your skin from skin cancer and the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Physical suncreens contain ingredients like zinc and titanium. Some of my favorite sunscreens include: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+ [untinted] and Eryfotona Ageless SPF 50+ [tinted] (both of which contains DNA repairsomes to repair sun damage in skin), Alastin Hydratint SPF 36+, and SkinBetter Science Advanced Mineral Protection Sunscreen Stick SPF 56+.
Dr. Natalie Curcio
After training extensively at Vanderbilt, completing two fellowships in Birmingham, AL, and San Francisco, CA, and working in the greater Los Angeles area, Dr. Natalie Curcio excels at appreciating both east coast and west coast beauty across different ethnicities. She is one of few fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons in middle TN and the only dermatologist who is fellowship-trained in Dermatologic Cosmetic & Laser Surgery