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Health and Wellness: Finding the balance between 4-in-1 body wash and a 10-step skincare routine

By April Larson - PathologyWatch | Jan 26, 2022

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past year, you may have seen inspiring pictures displaying the results of the 10-step Korean skincare routine. Seeing the remarkable before-and-afters, you may have wondered, “Should I be using more skincare products?

According to most dermatologists, probably not. 

Because of allergies, sensitive or acne-prone skin and budget constraints, most people do best with using a few basic products. But you can go too far in the other direction: not giving your skin enough attention, such as using one product that claims to be a shampoo, conditioner, face wash and body wash all rolled into one. So consider sticking to a three-step morning and evening routine, and see a dermatologist when that regimen isn’t working. These tips can help save you time and money and may be just what your skin needs. 

Keep it simple

If you’re experiencing dry skin, acne or other skin issues, it can be tempting to implement a long, product-laden routine to get it under control. However, many of these products may have ingredients that will actually worsen these issues. 

A better approach is to find one or two high-quality products that work well for your specific skin needs. You likely do not need as many products as you might think! Plus, with so many steps to follow, you may end up forgetting or skipping products that are the most important.

Follow a short routine, morning and night

So, what do you need to use in your skincare routine? For most skin types, a three-step morning and night routine works well. Read reviews and ingredient lists carefully. If you are acne-prone, avoid products that contain oils in their ingredient list. For sensitive skin, avoid products with a heavy fragrance or a long list of ingredients. 

In the morning, start with a cleanser targeted toward your skin type: dry, normal or oily. Next, apply an antioxidant serum, which can help prevent or reverse DNA damage in the skin. Lastly, apply sunscreen, then a moisturizer if needed. Studies have repeatedly shown that the regular use of sunscreen decreases the risk of pre-cancers and the three most common types of skin cancer. 

In the evening, apply a cleanser and exfoliate gently with a wet washcloth before rinsing to remove impurities and makeup and to brighten skin. If needed, you can also use a mild chemical exfoliant like glycolic or salicylic acid a few nights a week for additional exfoliation. Apply a retinoid or retinol-containing product, which helps maintain healthy collagen and promote new skin cells. Finally, use a simple moisturizer to round out the day. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good diet and sleep habits! Most of my patients, particularly teenagers, have significant stress, an unhealthy diet and sleep deficits, all of which can exacerbate skin conditions. I recommend drinking only water and eating foods high in natural antioxidants, such as dark chocolate, pecans, blueberries, artichokes, strawberries and red cabbage, which may help prevent cell damage to your body.

Know when to see a dermatologist

What are the signs you should make an appointment with a dermatologist?

  • You’re not seeing improvement over three to six months’ time.
  • You’re struggling to manage skin issues like acne.
  • You’re frustrated or worried about your skin.

A dermatologist will take a close look at your skin and ask you questions about your lifestyle and skincare. They can then make specific recommendations for your skin type, help diagnose and treat medical conditions and address the most effective ways to achieve desired outcomes. 

Keeping your skincare regimen simple and focused can save you both time and money, so it’s worth a try! Be sure to reach out to your dermatologist if you have concerns.

April Larson, MD, FAAD, is a practicing dermatologist and the cofounder and VP of client experience and Advisory Board at PathologyWatch, a digital dermatopathology lab headquartered in Salt Lake City.


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