According to Melville, NY dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD, there’s one thing people often get wrong about their skin’s natural barrier. “People don’t understand the importance of retaining a balance of facial oils,” she explains. Due largely to misinformation and the need for more skin-care education she says, the typical practices promoted with skin care often result in oil imbalances.
“We can blame a combination of over-washing and the overuse of skin-care products such as retinol, astringents and exfoliation,” she explains. Dr. Papantoniou says we must relearn how over-washing can be harmful and how to maintain the right balance of oils for it to function at its best and to remain hydrated and youthful. Here she breaks down the best way to go back to basics based on skin type.
How can we restore our skin’s natural balance of oils?
“To restore the natural balance of we must understand what our skin is doing for us daily. It’s producing its own balance of natural oils every day and layers of healthy skin within a unique architecture that is working to protect our skin from the outside environment. Our balance of oils is ultimately very important for maintaining a healthy skin barrier.”
What’s the first thing everyone should do to improve their skin?
“Not over-wash it! You don’t want to remove those natural oils that your body has been trying to make for you. This can be accomplished by using a gentle or oil-based cleanser to remove grime from the day without stripping your skin of its natural oils.”
Are there certain ingredients you should look for?
“Look for natural oils as they contain naturally occurring antioxidants such as vitamin E which have anti-aging properties and are helpful in maintaining a healthy barrier. The oils I like are apricot seed oil, almond oil, rosehip seed oil, argan, marula and grapeseed oil. Natural oils provide health benefits which cannot be found in synthetic oils.”
What do you recommend for oily skin?
“For oily skin types, a cleanser that is hydrating without being too drying will always be best. Cleansers that remove too many oils can sometimes lead to rebound oil production, so this must be taken into consideration when selecting a cleanser. Cleansers made with natural clays, such as Kaolin clay, can also be helpful for maintaining a better oil balance. The important note here is that it is not only about what you’re washing with, but also about what you’re moisturizing with and the topicals that are being applied. For oilier skin it’s best to use lighter, more hydrating products.”
What do you recommend for dry skin?
“Dry skin types should use oil-based or ultra-gentle cleansers. Skin-care products can be richer, contain natural oils and be focused on retaining hydration within the skin. It is important to use your hands when you wash and avoid using cleansers that contain chemical or physical exfoliants. The idea is not to over-wash, which is always the best advice for somebody struggling with very dry skin. For chronic dry skin it might be wise to use a cleanser in the evening to wash off for the day, and then in the morning just a splash of water so as not to over dry and disrupt the skin care barrier and oil production. Finish with a moisturizer or a few drops of a face oil to help retain moisture and anti-inflammatory properties as well.”
And for compromised skin?
“For skin that is compromised such as eczema, psoriasis or chronic dry skin we really want to use super gentle skin care. This entails using a gentle cleanser, for example this could be an oil-based cleanser, and when washing it is best practice to just use your hands and then gently pat dry with a soft towel. Remember to treat your skin kindly and avoid harsh abrasive rubbing of delicate skin. Make sure to moisturize twice daily with a hydrating moisturizer and use a zinc-based sunscreen during the day. Most importantly, avoid over treating your skin and use skin care with a ‘less is more’ approach.”