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Get Glowing With These Skincare Tips From Hudson Valley Experts

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Photo by iStock | CoffeeAndMilk

These Hudson Valley dermatologists and beauty experts agree that when it comes to a daily skincare routine, less is more.

If we’ve learned anything from the past two years of simplifying so many things in our pandemic lives, it’s that less really is more. Thankfully, the dermatologists and beauty experts we spoke to agree that pared-down makeup and using fewer but better targeted products in our daily routine is on trend this year.

For some, cutting back on social interactions during Covid has been hard (and lonely and boring), for others it’s been a bit of a blessing. With fewer reasons to get dolled up, we’ve all adopted a more minimal look—which is better for our skin. But a streamlined routine doesn’t mean ignoring skincare completely. We asked the pros what you need to do for complexion perfection.

“Maskne”

Dermatologists report an increase in skin sensitivity from masks including breakouts, hyperpigmentation, and redness. “Masks can take a toll on your skin’s natural barrier—causing irritation and breakouts from trapped sweat and dirt,” says dermatologist Peter Friedman, M.D. of The Skin Center Dermatology Group in New City. “People aren’t necessarily getting acne, or conditions like rosacea or eczema because of masks, but the masks may trigger an existing condition.” Besides swapping out masks daily, Cynthia Yalowitz, M.D., a dermatologist in Larchmont, tells her patients to avoid wearing makeup under their mask. “Heavy foundation can worsen the occlusion of your pores, which leads to more breakouts,” she says. Wash your face as soon as you get home and only use products that are labeled “non-comedogenic,” she suggests. Yalowitz recommends a gentle cleanser for most patients because acne-specific cleansers are often too drying. Look for one with ceramides or hyaluronic acid to replenish the skin barrier such as CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser or Fresh Soy Face Cleanser.

If you’re dealing with maskne, stick to the absolute basics—cleanser, a vitamin C serum, moisturizer, and SPF. Many people, with extra time on their hands, became curious about trying new products, and TikTok-inspired DIY treatments like peels and exfoliations became popular, often with bad results. Friedman advises keeping things simple—encouraging a healthy skin microbiome will have more impact than layering your skin with too many ingredients. Beauty pros recommend products to balance the skin’s pH level, or that contain hydrating ingredients. Try glycolic and salicylic pads, like Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pad—the glycolic acid exfoliates and rejuvenates while the salicylic acid has antibacterial properties to treat buildup.

Ditch the Dryness

While we were staying in more, we were also outside more in 2021. “Some behavior changes that happened, like spending more time taking walks and dining outdoors, led to more exposure to outside elements,” says Friedman. Besides getting more rays, being outdoors affects the oily layer on top of skin that keeps it hydrated, so anything that damages this layer can cause skin to dry and flake. “Preventing dryness is two-fold: always use moisturizer”— Friedman likes CeraVe Moisturizing Cream—“and avoid things that damage your skin’s ability to retain water such as cold air (especially bad for eczema sufferers) and hot showers,” he says. “We all like our daily rinse off to feel like a day at the spa but standing in a hot shower wreaks havoc on your skin.” Hot water damages the epidermis (the outermost layer) which causes dry skin by preventing the cells from locking in moisture. A hot shower feels great in the moment but could be the culprit aggravating your skin.

A woman smiling with hands touching her face. skincare tips

Photo by iStock | CoffeeAndMilk

Rely on Retinols

If you shelved your foundation and concealer last year, you may have been faced with your skin’s true colors—undereye circles, fine lines, and blotchiness. “This year will be all about focusing on your skin’s health,” says Yalowitz, who predicts that streamlining skincare products will be one of the biggest trends this year, along with a focus on items that actually deliver results. Among the myriad serums that promise dewy, flawless skin, one standby always reigns: retinol. A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has been around for decades and is the go-to solution for dermatologists. It’s effective for everything from fighting acne and shrinking pores to erasing wrinkles and reversing sun damage.

Prescription retinoids (Retin-A or Tretinoin) contain much higher concentrations of the active ingredient retinoic acid and fewer emollients, meaning the cream penetrates more quickly. Retinols are the over-the-counter versions—less potent and usually mixed with moisturizers. Yalowitz is a fan of Skin Better Science’s AlphaRet Overnight Cream because it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and is well tolerated by most skin types. It incorporates a retinoid and alpha hydroxy acid, which provides moisture to help counteract dryness. No matter which you go with, retinoids and retinols change the speed at which a cell turns over, to create new cells, and healthier-looking skin.

Switch up Your SPF

Many of us love the way we look with a tan but most derms and skincare experts advise staying out of the sun. Since total avoidance is impossible, you need to be vigilant about sunscreen. There are two types to choose from: chemical sunscreens that contain ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone or physical sunscreens (also called mineral) which contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. In the past, mineral sunscreens have been white, pasty, and hard to apply but the latest versions are formulated to be sheer and easily absorbed. “Most dermatologists recommend mineral sunscreens because they’re unlikely to cause allergic reactions,” explains Yalowitz. “They’re better tolerated by all skin types—even those with sensitive skin— plus there’s some controversy with chemical sunscreens being bad for the environment,” she points out. (Hawaii prohibited the sale of sunscreens with a high concentration of chemicals to protect marine life.)

Yalowitz likes EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and SunBetter Tone Smart SPF 75 by SkinBetter Science but says there are good drugstore options, too—look for one that’s broad-spectrum with an SPF of at least 30. Remember, the sun is sneaky— you risk exposure through windows and on cloudy days, too. “I keep a zinc stick in my car for emergencies and always apply sunscreen before I get on an airplane,” says Craig Austin, M.D., founder of Craig Austin Dermatology in Rhinebeck and Fishkill.

Your Scalp Is Skin, Too

Facial skin gets all the attention, while the scalp is ignored and under-treated. But if you care about your hair, you need to care about your scalp. “Scalp health is important because it creates the environment for healthy hair,” explains David Bank, M.D, founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco. Certain factors such as vitamin deficiencies, health conditions and medication side effects can lead to hair shedding and thinning. Being overly anxious can injure hair follicles, too. When we’re under stress, elevated cortisol triggers a disruption in the hair growth and cause hair to fall out, says Bank.

Given that we’ve all been under an abnormal amount of stress for the last two years, experts predict that scalp massages may emerge as a 2022 trend. A head rub not only feels great and eases tension, but the stimulation can also benefit hair growth. At home, carefully consider the products you’re using. Shampooing every day can strip natural oils and alter the scalp’s pH levels, causing irritation and flaking. But washing hair too infrequently can lead to product and excess oil buildup, resulting in scalp inflammation. You’ll want to think about applying the same basic steps of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing your scalp as you would on your face. If you tend to use fewer hair products, going longer between washes is recommended; but if you overdo it with products, you should shampoo more often to avoid buildup. Bank says to always avoid products with parabens, sulfates, and sodium-chloride (also known as NaCl on a label)—all of which impair the barrier function of the scalp’s epidermis. If you shampoo often, you’ll need to restore the moisture you might have lost during cleansing, so look for a serum that will lock in hydration, such as Kerastase Initialiste Scalp & Hair Serum. You could also DIY with peppermint oil mixed with water. “Use a serum all over your scalp two to three hours before you shower so you can wash it out,” says Bank. “You don’t want to keep them on for too long and risk clogging your pores again.”

Related: Get the Refresh You Deserve at These Hudson Valley Spas

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