This feature was written by Studio MSP writers. While some of our advertisers were sourced, no advertiser paid to be included.
Making it through another #BOLDNORTH winter always merits a bit of celebration. Your skin, on the other hand, might need some spring freshening to undo the damage from our notoriously harsh climate. Not to worry! There is plenty you can do—all year round—to make sure your skin thrives despite the upper midwestern weather rigors we experience.
Some of the most important steps you can take to pamper your skin and prepare it for our varied seasons start with the basics. Then dermatologists and medi-spa providers can provide those extras that restore skin to a fresh, healthy appearance. They have many ways to rejuvenate skin while eliminating fine lines and wrinkles, redness, brown spots, and other troubles.
Building Blocks of Good Skin
First, the basics. The most important thing you can do to keep your skin looking good no matter the weather is to wear sunblock every day, even in the winter. Annika Crosby, MD, owner of Physician Skin Services in St. Louis Park and Woodbury, sees evidence of the sun’s damage in her patients. Many have more wrinkles on the left sides of their faces, thanks to the sun’s rays shining through their car windows.
Slather on sunblock daily, regardless of the forecast, says Phillip Keith, MD, a dermatologist at Dermatology Consultants in St. Paul, with locations in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, and Woodbury. It should be at least SPF 30, have UVA and UVB protection, and contain titanium or zinc oxide. “The sun can still be intense, even when the air temperature is not very warm,” he adds. “I’ve seen patients who are sunburned off the snow and ice, or on overcast days.”
Then pick the right product to clean your skin, both morning and night. Research studies have shown that not washing your face at night can accelerate the aging process, explains Elizabeth Hagberg, MD, owner of Skin Rejuvenation Clinic in Edina. Morning cleansing is important for removing oil and bacteria that developed overnight.
Don’t use just water or harsh soaps. Look for a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip away the natural, moisturizing oils in the skin. Hagberg recommends cleansers with glycolic acid, a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the skin by dissolving pore-clogging oil and dead skin cells.
“The sun can still be intense, even when the air temperature is not very warm. I’ve seen patients who are sunburned off the snow and ice, or on overcast days.” — Phillip Keith, MD, Dermatology Consultants
Right after you wash your face or finish bathing, dry off and then generously use moisturizer every day, says Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, of Crutchfield Dermatology in Eagan. Your skin absorbs water when you take a bath or shower, and the moisturizer will seal in that hydration and help keep your skin from getting dry, cracked, and irritated.
Crutchfield has a few favorite brands, including CeraVe, Eucerin, AmLactin, and Vanicream, a hometown moisturizer developed by pharmacists in Rochester.
[ D Y K ? ] Research studies have shown that not washing your face at night can accelerate the aging process.
Finally, consider adding antiaging products to your routine, like antioxidants and retinols to protect the skin from free radicals, which break down collagen in the skin, Hagberg says. Collagen gives skin that supple, fresh, and youthful look. From your 20s on, use a serum-based antioxidant to get ahead of sun damage and ensure that your body is a collagen-manufacturing machine.
Look for medical-grade products with growth factors, Hagberg says, because they actually contain an effective amount of the ingredients they claim to have. “You will get what you pay for,” she says. “If you want results, invest in a good product.”
Taking Skin to the Next Level
With these basics in play, the next step is to repair any troublesome skin issues and prevent future damage. There are so many options depending on what concern you’re trying to address, from lasers and lights to platelet-rich plasma and more.
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From your 20s on, use a serum-based antioxidant to get ahead of sun damage and ensure that your body is a collagen-manufacturing machine.
For simple treatments that don’t require downtime for recovery, Hagberg suggests HydraFacial or microdermabrasion.
After the skin is exfoliated in a HydraFacial, it’s typically treated to serums with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, a gel-like substance made in our bodies that retains water and keeps skin hydrated.
“They [HydraFacial and microdermabrasion] are both painless and super easy to do,” she says. “It’s vacuuming those dead, dry skin cells that build up over the winter and keep hydrating and antiaging products from sinking in.”
Shoring up collagen is often the goal of many treatments, because the protein gives skin a suppleness and elasticity that wards off wrinkles and fine lines. Crosby favors microneedling. It creates microscopic injuries to the skin that rev up the body’s healing process and prompt the formation of more collagen and tissue.
To boost results, Crosby suggests applying the individual’s platelet-rich plasma, or human growth factors, to the treated areas.
“It really ramps up the treatment by several factors, and people are happy with that,” she says. “It stimulates collagen to grow, and then it tightens the skin and makes it look plump and firm.”
“They [HydraFacial and microdermabrasion] are both painless and super easy to do. It’s vaccuuming those dead, dry skin cells that build up over the winter and keep hydrating and antiaging products from sinking in.” — Elizabeth Hagberg, MD, Skin Rejuvenation Clinic
One of Hagberg’s favorite treatments involves using BroadBand Light (BBL). It corrects brown spots, redness, and acne with short bursts of intense light.
The light’s heat then stimulates the growth of new skin cells. On top of the improvements to the skin’s appearance over short-term use, research has shown that regular BBL treatments will restore more youthful looking skin cells over time, Hagberg says. Achieving that result, though, requires at least two treatments a year.
When it comes to acne, dermatologists note that it’s not just a rite of passage. People of all ages should take advantage of topical and oral medications that improve the condition, such as a two-to six-month course of oral antibiotics.
“The antibiotics have anti-inflammatory properties that calm inflammation associated with scarring and decrease the bacteria that is associated with acne,” adds Keith.
If antibiotics aren’t working, there are options like Retin-A or, as a last resort, Accutane. Both are vitamin A–based medications that reduce oil production and turn skin cells over more quickly, preventing them from blocking pores and causing acne, Keith says.
When medications don’t work, Crutchfield suggests combining laser and light treatments to help clear up flares and ease scarring.
Among the laser treatments available on today’s market is the FDA-approved glass erbium laser. It works effectively to clear up acne and oily skin by reducing bacteria production in the sebaceous glands. It takes eight weekly treatments for the best results.
With these basic steps, along with some add-on treatments to help your skin look and feel its best, your complexion will be prepared to withstand the challenges of our Minnesota climate.
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Your sunblock should be at least SPF 30, have UVA and UVB protection, and contain titanium or zinc oxide.