I’m a statistic–part of the 80% of all 11 to 30 year olds affected by acne.
So I decided to reach out to an expert with questions about skin care I’ve been dying to ask since my teenage years.
I got in touch with Dr. Lesley Reece. She has six years of experience in aesthetic medicine, is on top of her game, and is young and fabulous!
I hope you’ll find our conversation on as useful as I did–from what not to eat to the right products to use to how to get rid of pesky acne scars.
Q: What’s the biggest myth about skincare?
A: “You don’t need to wear sunscreen everyday.”
Each and every one of us, regardless of our skin complexion, needs to wear sunscreen daily. I cannot stress this enough. We are all at risk of developing skin cancers from harmful UV rays. So whether you are in sunlight for 15 minutes or 5 hours, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Don’t like how it feels on your face or skin? There are loads of sunscreens on the market for every skin type, so shop around, find one you love and use it!
Q: Acne. We all hate it. What can we do to avoid it?
A: I recommend five basic tips.
Wash acne-affected areas (face, chest, back, arms) twice daily. More often is unnecessary. Use a cleanser medicated with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Cleansing strips the skin of oils and the skin’s natural response will be to replace those oils, thereby worsening oily skin. By using a moisturizer specific for your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive) you prevent overproduction of sebum and breakouts.
Make-up generally isn’t a problem, but make sure you use a make-up remover cloth before washing your face, to make sure you have no residue which can clog pores and cause breakouts.
Keep your hands out of your face
Acne breakouts are associated with stress, so chill out :)
Q: How important is water for great skin, really?
A: The skin is the largest organ in the body and just like all the other organs, its cells need water to properly function. Dehydrated skin tends to be dull, dry, and more prone to wrinkling. Also, water flushes toxins from the body, so not drinking enough of it leaves toxic build-up in all organs, including, yup you guessed it, the skin. Drink up! At least 8 glasses of 8 ounces each per day will make a huge difference.
Q: Do we really need to see a doctor to have acne treated?
A: Some of us do. If you notice that your acne is not improving after 2 to 4 weeks of using over-the-counter remedies and practicing proper skincare, it may be time to see your doctor. Resistant acne may be due to medical conditions such as hormonal imbalances, Cushing’s syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome, to name a few. These require specific treatments that can only be administered by a health professional.
Q: Hoorah! Pimple’s gone. Now I’m left with all these horrible, annoying acne scars. Help me fix it!
A: Some acne scars do improve and fade over time. But for those who prefer not to “wait and see” many options are available, including dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. These stimulate collagen production without damaging the skin’s surface, and must be done by a dermatologist. Less costly options include using skin products containing Kojic Acid, Vitamin C and/or arbutin. These help create a more even skin tone, which helps with those pesky scars.
Q: What should every girl be doing as a part of her skin care regimen?
A: Without a doubt, drinking water regularly and using sunscreen daily. Staying hydrated will ensure that skin maintains its normal plump turgor, so it looks more radiant. Using sunscreen daily not only protects from sun damage, but it also contributes to more even toned skin, as well as less dark marks that usually result from irritations such as acne breakouts.
Q: For great skin, what foods should I eat?
A: If your goal is great skin, I recommend including these foods in your diet.
Vitamins C and E reduce skin inflammation and boosts skin vitality. Avocado oil also stimulates collagen production in the skin.
Excellent for acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis as it fights inflammation and also contains powerful antioxidants. Super tip: Steep teabags briefly in hot water, allow to cool and apply to inflamed acne areas to alleviate redness and pain.
Vitamin C rich foods
Oranges, berries, tomatoes, Bajan cherries fight free radicals which damage cells.
Contains acids which help combat acne inflammation. Similar effect is seen with other cold water fish.
Q: Which foods should I avoid?
A: For healthy skin, stay away from
Any foods packed with salt
These foods cause water retention which leaves puffiness, especially around the eyes…not a good look.
Spikes in blood sugar can make you prone to more acne breakouts. If you must have that chocolate, make it the dark variety, which is packed with antioxidants!
Too Much Alcohol
Too much (more than 2 units per day if you’re female and more than 4 units per day if you’re male) dehydrates skin causing lines and wrinkles. Alcohol also causes flares in persons with rosacea.
Some persons experience more acne breakouts with consistent dairy use. Consider switching to soy milk, and as an alternative source of calcium and Vitamin D use green leafy vegetables.
Q: Any other tips for fabulous skin?
A: Make your skin care regimen a priority, not an afterthought; research what products best suit your particular skin type and be willing to invest in your skin; and, most importantly, love the skin you’re in!
Dr. Lesley Reece (MD, Dip Derm, PCA Skin Professional) is a medical doctor, who provides services in family medicine, aesthetic medicine and laser tattoo removal. Like COSMEDICS Skin Solutions on Facebook or follow Dr. Lesley on Twitter.