Everything you need to know about skincare with Dr Natalia Spierings
Self-care starts with skincare! Your skin is your largest organ, and also the one most exposed. From sunlight to dust and everything else that could accelerate ageing and unwanted conditions touches your skin. And really, who wants that?
Skincare, therefore, becomes an important part of your health regimen to look and feel beautiful in your skin. A little love goes a long way!
My dear friend and dermatologist Dr Natalia Spierings, who has authored “Skintelligent: What You Really Need to Know to Get Great Skin,” joins me to discuss questions you asked about skincare.
Let’s begin by clearing the air around a common misnomer: weak skin barrier. “Your skin barrier is your stratum cranium, which stops things from coming in and out. Unless you have an actual skin disease — like acne vulgaris, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis — your skin barrier is just fine,” Dr. Spierings says.
A skin disease, on the other hand, may break the barrier down, which calls for intervention to nip the problem in the bud. Dr. Spierings recommends NeoStrata products, which contain useful acids like glycolic, and in particular their skin smoothing lotion AHA 15.
To keep skin looking youthful, staying away from direct sunlight and cigarettes are fundamental essentials. Simultaneously, compounds like retinoids are known to show positive results. To put it simply, “it stops collagen from breaking down,” per Dr Spierings, therefore helping in the treatment of fine lines.
Tretinoin, which belongs to the retinoid class, helps with anti-ageing. Dr Spierings prefers it over adapalene, which is also a retinoid and has fast gained relevance for fixing acne and ageing. Tretinoin is backed by more evidence and has been around longer than adapalene.
Skin peeling is a common by-product of using retinoids like tretinoin. In such a case, Dr Spierings advises taking some days off the medication. “You can also alternate tretinoin with a glycolic to help with exfoliating away that skin at the beginning of your treatment,” she says. I personally love going over with toner when my skin is peeling.
Epiduo gel is also a recommended go-to for acne correction – that is, “if you can tolerate using it, because it’s a very strong cream,” Dr Spierings notes. Benzoyl peroxide with adapalene is the strongest topical medication there is for acne, she adds.
When dealing with flaky skin, acid toners help. Safe tip: go with the lowest acid percentage you can find. Anything above 2% would need a prescription. Meanwhile, a combination of hydroquinone and tretinoin is what Dr. Spierings approves over any other procedure for an even skin tone. CO2 is another quick fix solution for bumpy texture, delivering results within a couple of weeks.
Warty growths on the body can be expelled with cryotherapy for a smoother surface. But Dr. Spierings cautions against implementing it on your legs, since the risk of poor wound healing in that zone is especially high.
What about steroids like hydrocortisone? Do they calm inflammation and bring relief in case of skin conditions like acne folliculitis? “Yes, in the short term it can do. But in the long run, if you continue to use topical steroids on your skin, like for acne folliculitis, you can actually make it worse,” Dr Spierings says, advising against use of hydrocortisone on acne.
A simple route is often the best route. The humble Vaseline is a holy grail of sorts for skin health. Applying it before you sleep is good practice – I tend to use it down the centre of my face and neck.
Sometimes I have a spot coming through in the day, I put Vaseline on at night and 9/10 times it’s gone! Vaseline won’t clog your pores, and is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial in nature. Dr Spierings notes that even a thinly applied layer will do the trick. You can even mix in your essential oils with Vaseline!
“The more skincare products you use, the more likely you are to get irritation, folliculitis, chronic dermatitis, and problems developing from overuse of products,” she says.
When it comes to your jaw and neck, surgical procedures help with reversing sagging or loose skin. A facelift is a long-term solution, per Dr Spierings. A neck lift skin tightening procedure or Profhilo treatment would also be helpful in removing residual excess skin. But is Profhilo worth it? Read my experience here.
Dr Spierings advises against Kybella injections, which are gaining popularity for apparently dissolving fat under the chin. Excess fat in the form of cellulite can be treated with QWO, an injectable medicine presently only available in the United States. As you age, you also naturally lose fat, which could make your veins stand out distinctly – and there’s no solid counter for that. I, for instance, got fillers on my hands to make them less veiny but it didn’t help much.
For glabella lines – the tiny strains around your eyebrows and forehead – botox is the way to go! Some schools of thought also tout face yoga as an effective method. Dr Spierings finds it to be counterproductive: “Because moving your facial muscles is what causes wrinkles to begin with.” Botox, on the other hand, stops you from using your frontalis muscle to avoid lines being created. A Volite treatment is helpful for fine lines around your lips.
A question from our viewers also brought attention to skin irritation following the use of prescription creams like Efudex on the lips. That’s the drug working its magic, says Dr Spierings. “Generally, I advise people not to do anything when it becomes raw or crusty.”
Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room: hairfall. The condition, and also the fear of it, plagues so many people. Dr Spierings agrees with me: “With hair loss, so much is in your head. The more you stress about it, the worse you feel it is.”
Research around hair health is extensive, with the benefits of coconut oil being highlighted. Olive oil, meanwhile, is not the best for either skin or hair. Minoxidil is known to be an effective treatment against hair loss, but the thing about hair serums is that you have to use them forever.
Meanwhile, RevitaLash is an eyelash serum people swear by, but Dr Spierings notes that concerns over its drug content might soon push it out of the market. I’ve had micro blading done on my eyebrows and use the REFY brow gel.
I hope this helped you understand your skin better. Reach out to me with more questions and I will get you credible answers.