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“Skincare Hysteria:” When Enough Is Enough

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail celia_ ellenberg@condenast.com.

I recently read a study that said that skin sensitivity is on the rise from excessive and unnecessary product usage. Is there any truth to that? Is a Dove Beauty Bar all you really need to keep your complexion at its best?

There is definitely truth in that. There is skincare hysteria these days; it’s a multibillion-dollar industry so it’s no surprise that people are launching products that aren’t that great and that you don’t really need. You have to think simple: You don’t need to overstimulate your skin if it’s young and beautiful because if you use any one thing, there’s always a possibility of side effects. If you use something to get rid of wrinkles you might get red and flaky; then you need to use something else to counteract that. Overuse of products can wreak temporary havoc on your skin. Generally, though, if you’re in your twenties, wear sunblock, wear a hat, and stop complaining. In your thirties, because you need to protect and treat your skin, start using a retinol, and so on. At the bare minimum, I’d say use Cetaphil as a wash to take makeup off; if you have acne, you should use some kind of acne wash, like Neutrogena. Then you need some sort of light antiaging product—a glycolic acid once in a while to stimulate your skin, and, of course, an SPF product. I like Physicians UV Defense and Eucerin SPF Daily Facial Lotion. It’s also important to give yourself a break: You don’t need to do everything every day. And never scrub your skin. Scrubbing is for floors, not your face.

Most of all, use common sense: A skin cream cannot reverse gravity. If someone says something that is clearly against Newtonian physics don’t believe it. No cream is going to physically lift your skin. But that being said, we do have technology that can help skin look younger—and it doesn’t happen with just a bar of Dove. There’s nothing wrong with trying to learn as much as possible.

David A. Colbert, M.D., is the founder of New York Dermatology Group and its Head Physician. A board-certified member of the American Academy of Dermatology, he has served as a consultant for Chanel skincare and has published numerous articles on medical and cosmetic dermatology.

Photo: Courtesy of Drugstore.com

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