Tips For Keeping Your Skin Healthy

Couple doing skin care routine

Taking care of your skin can help prevent skin cancer, among other benefits. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) designates each November National Healthy Skin Month, so it's a great time to make sure you have an effective skin care routine in place.

Having a routine in place can help make caring for your skin just another part of your day. An effective routine can help prevent acne, wrinkles, and skin cancer, all while helping you feel refreshed and energized. 

Build a routine

There are three main steps in any skin care routine.
1.    Cleanse—Wash your face with soap and water to clear your skin of dirt, oil, and other debris.
2.    Moisturize—Hydrate and soften your skin with lotion.
3.    Protect—Protect your skin from harmful sun exposure with sunscreen.

Other steps include toner, masks, spot treatments, eye creams, serums, and more. With so many options and trends to keep track of, it can take some time to find the products that work best for you. 

What to look for in your skin care products

When buying products, we suggest looking at the formula for harmful ingredients including artificial fragrance/parfum, phthalates, and parabens. Mobile apps like Yuka and Think Dirty can scan product barcodes to tell you what impact it may have on your health.

“Looking at ingredients gives me a greater sense of control over the products I purchase and consume or use on my body,” says Blue Cross member Jordan Heiden. “I pull up the app every time I go shopping.” 

If you have more questions about your skin-care routine or what products to use, you should talk to your pharmacist or dermatologist. Find a dermatologist using our Find A Doctor tool.

Trending in skincare

We spoke with Pharmacy Intern Kenna Hausler about retinol, a popular skin care product, to learn more about what it is and how it works. 

What is retinol?

Retinol is a derivate of vitamin A and can be found in over-the-counter products like creams and gels. As a skin care product, it assists in maintaining the top layer of your skin by increasing the production of collagen and preventing its breakdown. Collagen is a protein found in the body that plays an important role in cell processes. 

Another derivate of vitamin A is retinoid. Retinoids are more potent, with increased risk of side effects, and will require a prescription from your provider. 

How does retinol work? 

Retinol works by speeding up the production of new cells in the top layer of your skin (the epidermis) to provide a stronger and more protective layer of skin. Benefits can include the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as the improvement of skin tone and texture. 

Side effects of retinol

Rapid production of new cells can make your skin susceptible to unwanted effects that include dry skin, itching, burning, and sun sensitivity. These side effects can typically be prevented or managed. 

Dermatologists recommend using retinol sparingly when first introducing it to your routine. For example, you could start out applying every other day and slowly work up to once daily. 

It is important to use a moisturizer along with retinol due to its drying effects. Moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid can be a great option since it is a natural chemical in your skin that promotes moisture. 

Don’t forget sunscreen 

While retinol has some benefits, the best thing you can do for your skin is wear sunscreen daily. (You can also find SPF (Sun Protection Factor) in some moisturizers and makeup!)

“Sunscreen is a crucial part of my skin-care routine every morning to help prevent sunburns and skin cancer,” says Kenna. “Even in the winter months, you can benefit from sunscreen application.”

Preventive skin care

In addition to wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends visiting a dermatologist once a year for a full-body preventive screening, or more often if you are at higher risk.

It is also important to perform regular self-exams to be aware of any new or changing spots. Taking pictures of these spots over time, leading up to your appointment, can be helpful as well. When you visit your dermatologist, be sure to point out any concerns you may have and ask questions. 

Like any cancer, early detection is the best path to a successful treatment, so don’t forget to schedule your next screening!