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In an era where we have to streamline many avenues of our lives, beauty and skincare seem to go to the bottom of the list, as many would consider it frivolous to spend hard-earned cash on eyeliner and moisturiser. Yet it is still possible to maintain your skincare routine, albeit in a simplified version. Dr Sian Hartshorne (president of the SASDS: South African Society for Dermatologic Surgery) imparts some valuable advice…
Apart from the pandemic turning everything we know upside down and having to adjust to what is being called the “new normal”, one of the major challenges we are forced to face is how to survive on a considerably lesser income. We have come to question what is really important and necessary in our daily lives, as many of us have had to tighten our purse strings as well as our belts.
When consumer trust in the economy is dwindling, consumers will buy goods that have less impact on their available funds1.
Accordingly, if faced with economic crises such as WWII, 9/11 and now COVID-19, there is a theory that consumers are more willing to buy luxury goods- just the less expensive ones. So instead of buying an incredibly costly cashmere coat, for example, you would buy a glamorous lipstick to lift the spirits. The underlying assumption is that consumers will buy luxury goods, even if there is a crisis.
So Covid 19 notwithstanding, consumers are still buying beauty products. Except that the focus has shifted from make-up to anti-ageing skincare, as healthy, glowing skin has become paramount in this mask-wearing period.
Our inner health is reflected by healthy, radiant skin, and as medical advisors, we need to help our patients achieve their goals and expectations. But with patients having limited budgets, how can we help our patients to achieve their goals?
Most people are looking for advice on products and procedures which have the support of good scientific research and that yield visible results.
And as each patient is different in age, gender and skin tone and quality, it follows that the advice would alter from one patient to the next.
Information such as current skincare, previous treatments and the patient’s expectations are central to the counsel given by the medical practitioner. The skin health and beauty pyramid (Flores & Draelos) is a clinically-based guide which helps to establish essential products in order of importance.
Here comes the Sun
Sun protection is at the base of the pyramid. Sunscreen is the most important beauty product needed, no matter your age, gender or skin tone. Research has shown that sunscreen prevents skin cancer, photoageing and pigmentation. Daily use is encouraged, especially in those prone to the effects of sun radiation. Sun protection not only decreases the percentage of premalignant actinic keratosis but also reduces the overall development of squamous cell carcinoma. According to various research, actinic keratoses have a 1% to 16% risk of progression to squamous cell carcinoma.
When we start to combine cost factors with the importance of cosmetic product choice, then sunscreen could replace your daily moisturiser.
Spoilt for choice
There are many wonderful sunscreen products to suit all individual needs. For example, those with oily, acne-prone skin can choose a sunscreen which is oil-free and non-comedogenic. In those patients with normal to combination skin, the use of a sunscreen can definitely take the place of a day cream.
Furthermore, many sunscreen products contain additional elements such as antioxidants or ingredients to help improve pigmentation. This type of product can multi-task a range of requirements so that you are getting sun protection, hydration and anti-ageing- all in one.
Out of the Blue
While sunscreens are focused mainly on decreasing the effects of ultraviolet light on the skin, there is greater evidence that visible light – particularly blue light – can also have damaging effects on the skin. Blue light is obtained from the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets), electronic devices, and fluorescent and LED lighting.
Yet while visible light plays an important role in the development of pigmentation, it can be blocked by the use of iron oxides (which are present in foundation products). Enter the tinted sunscreen, a hard worker in limiting the effects of visible light while also giving the coverage you want for flawless, pretty skin.
Key ingredients: retinol and alphahydroxy acids
In the next step of the product pyramid, retinol and alphahydroxy acids are powerful anti-ageing ingredients that should be added to your skincare regime. Retinol has been clinically proven to stimulate collagen and elastin fiber production, which keeps the skin looking plump and firm. The mild exfoliation caused by retinol use improves the glow, while aiding the decrease in pigmentation.
However, retinol is difficult to use as it can cause dryness and irritation of the face. Before applying retinol, use an ordinary, inexpensive moisturiser. This can help prevent these effects. Start off by using retinol once a week, then slowly build up to three times a week at night. Sunscreen must be used every day, as another side effect of retinol is photosensitivity.
Alphahydroxy acids such as glycolic acid are ingredients used in cosmetic products and facial peels. That said, it must be noted that facial peels are a long-term investment in your skin health, so one treatment is not enough to get the results you might want. Of course, the best option would be to have a regular facial peeling with a therapist. But for a stricter budget, or for those patients more susceptible to the dangers of Covid-19 who have to stay home, look out for toners or lotions that contain various strengths of Glycolic, Lactic, Salicylic and Mandelic acids, to name a few. You will still get the same benefits, perhaps at a slower rate, as an alphahydroxy acid peel.
The silver lining
In short, if you could only purchase one product then the most important one would be a sunscreen, especially if it contains additional beneficial ingredients. At a push, you would add a product containing retinol or alphahydroxy acids- this would be the powerful anti-ager that would help you realise your radiant skin dream.
Tightening your belt will not only whittle down your waist- it can restructure your skincare routine to be smart, effective and economical.
Written by Dr Sian Hartshorne
MBBCH(Wits) FCDerm (SA) MMed Derm, Dermatologist
- President of the SASDS www.sasds.co.za
- Board member of the DSSA www.derma.co.za
- Board member of the AWDS Serves on the South African Dermatology Congress Organising Committee for 2020/2021
- Serves as an honorary dermatology consultant for the Eden district of the Western Cape
A2 Disclaimer: This article is published for information purposes only, nor should it be regarded as a replacement for sound medical advice.
This article was written by Dr Sian Hartshorne and edited by the A2 team EXCLUSIVELY for the A2 Aesthetic & Anti-Ageing Magazine Summer 2020 Edition (Issue 35 – Dec 2020 to Mar 2021).
A2 Magazine prints only four magazines each year – reporting seasonally on everything you need and want to know about aesthetics, anti-ageing, integrative medicine, quality and medical skincare, cosmetic dentistry and cosmetic surgery in South Africa – where to go, who to see, what to expect, something new and so much more! Never miss an edition – click here for more info about where you can buy the print and/or digital copy of A2 Magazine (including back copies).
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