To many of us, the words “skin care” evoke images of an older woman buying some exorbitantly priced cream from a department store cosmetics counter. Built into that image is the assumption that unless we are both female and nearing our golden years, skin care doesn’t apply to us. Dermatologist Chethana C. Gottam, who founded the Art of Dermatology — a clinic with five locations across metro Detroit — says this is entirely inaccurate.
In some respects, she says, skin care is just like brushing your teeth to prevent them from rotting or falling out. “It’s not just about preventing wrinkles,” she says. “The skin is the largest organ in the body. It protects you from everything outside, whether it be free-radical [unstable molecules produced in the body that can cause illness or cancer] damage or the harmful rays of the sun causing skin cancer.”
But even the visual results of proper skin care can have added benefits, Gottam say. “Clear skin is attractive in terms of the confidence it gives a person,” and that confidence can make a significant difference in one’s day-to-day life. “Nobody can tell if you’re walking around with diabetes or high blood pressure or a medical history of heart attacks, but the flaws of skin can be seen by everybody.”
And contrary to popular belief, skin care doesn’t have to be complicated. “There’s a lot of the skin care industry that is fluff,” Gottam says. For skin care novices and those reluctant to commit a lot of time, Gottam recommends a simple routine using products whose benefits are backed by science. “And it doesn’t have to take more than 10 to 15 seconds.”
She suggests a total of three products to carry you through both your morning and nighttime regimens. After waking up, use a vitamin C product — the powerful antioxidant reduces redness, evens out skin tone, and fights free-radical damage — followed by a sunscreen. And before bed, she says, apply a retinol product. Though best known for its ability to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, retinol can also help with a number of other skin problems, including acne, prominent pores, and milia.
Although she would love for everyone to adopt a full-fledged skin care routine, Gottam knows some people won’t be willing to commit to that. For them, she stresses that at least one product is a must. “If we can convince someone to do only one thing, it should be to wear sunscreen daily,” she says. Most of us are aware of the sun’s role as a primary contributor to premature aging, but Gottam notes that the negative effects of UVA and UVB rays go much further.
The sun’s harmful rays can cause deep freckling, unwanted growths, and skin cancer — much of which could be prevented with the consistent use of a sunscreen. Without it, she says, all the creams, retinols, antioxidants, and laser treatments in the world won’t do any good.
“If you’re not preventing sun damage, you’re basically negating any positive effects you might have seen.” That’s because trying to repair years of wrinkles and sun damage is much tougher than preventing them in the first place. As Gottam puts it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
For more from Dr. Gottam, visit theartofderm.com.