(Intended for education, not medical advice)
Each person's skin is unique, so a skincare regimen should be customized to each person's needs. Having said this, there are three components that I think are important to almost all skincare routines - an antioxidant, a retinoid, and sunscreen. These three form a core to what I think is a "state of the art" skincare regimen. There are different facets to each of these core components, but let's first start with an overview.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the single most important cause of skin aging and skin damage for most people. So, blocking the damaging effects of sunlight is front and center when it comes to helping you maintain and improve the health and appearance of your skin. Your first line of defense is a good sunscreen, preferably one with zinc as an active ingredient. Sunscreens reduce the amount of UV light that gets to your skin. However, some UV light will get through and start causing changes to your skin that eventually may lead to skin aging and skin damage. Part of these damaging changes may involve the production of toxic free radical molecules. To combat these free radicals, your skin has an antidote - antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize these damaging molecules. We can help support our skin's antioxidant defense by applying antioxidants directly to our skin - the second core component of your skincare regimen. Once damage is done, can we reverse some of these changes? Well, that's where a retinoid comes in. Topical tretinoin, a member of the retinoid family, is FDA approved to treat fine facial wrinkles. Topical adapalene and retinol are related molecules that are available over the counter, but have not specifically received FDA approval for treating wrinkles.
We'll dive deeper into these core skincare components in upcoming discussions!
Kay K. Sung, M.D.