Local expert: How to avoid ‘maskne’ and take care of your winter skin

Taryn Pemberton Schmidt asked medical aesthetician Amanda Reed to help bust a few skin care myths.
Photo courtesy of Taryn Pemberton Schmidt
Taryn Pemberton Schmidt talks to a local expert to debunk a few skin care myths.

“Be good to your skin. You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life.” -Renee Rouleau

Over the years, you’ve likely heard skin care advice that’s made you raise an eyebrow (or two), like “toothpaste is a great treatment for acne” (please don’t do this) or “oily skin doesn’t need a moisturizer” (all skin types need a moisturizer). We are all unique, and so are the needs of our skin. However, there are some skin care myths that need to be either debunked or validated to help you figure out what works best for you.

For expert help in this area, I reached out to Amanda Reed of Amanda Reed Skincare Medical Spa who helped me key in on a few myths. With 20 years of experience as a licensed medical aesthetician, Amanda is passionate about results-oriented skin care tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Amanda Reed Skincare is located at 2984 Triverton Pike Drive in Madison. For appointments or questions, call 608-212-8099.

MYTH 1: Sunscreen is only important on sunny days in the summer months.
Skin is the largest human organ, which makes skin care below the neck just as essential as taking care of our faces and necks. One of the best things we can do for our skin is protect it. Sunscreen is an obvious necessity in the warm and sunny months when many of us are outside and exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, but easing up on sunscreen in the cloudy and gray winter months is a mistake. Here is why: There are two ultraviolet offenders: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). While UVB is lessened by clouds, UVA is present year-round and can breach glass and clouds. UVA rays comprise 95% of the rays that reach the Earth and can reach deeper levels of our skin than their UVB counterparts. UVA rays are also more likely to initiate skin cancers and are largely responsible for signs of aging such as wrinkles and dark spots.

So, what do the experts say about how and when to apply sunscreen as a part of your skincare routine? There are several differing opinions on whether to apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer, or whether a moisturizer with SPF will suffice. The general consensus: If SPF is a regular part of your skin care routine, you are doing it right. “People want to know they are doing their best in the least amount of steps, so using a moisturizer that contains SPF will work just fine for the majority of people” Reed says.

While we are on the subject of light, let’s not forget about the impact of “blue light,” part of the spectrum of visible light, and closest to UV light. Blue light is a high-energy, short-wavelength light that comes from the sun, but we also receive a sizable dose of it from our computers, cell phones and other digital devices. Most of what we hear about the effects of blue light pertains to the impact on our eyes (hence the popularity of blue light glasses), but did you know that blue light can also damage your skin? While research into the effects of blue light on the skin remains ongoing, many skin care experts have good evidence that blue light triggers certain skin conditions such as melasma and hyperpigmentation, as well collagen breakdown which can lead to wrinkles and skin laxity. Bottom line from Reed – “turn off the blue lights when possible.”

MYTH 2: Junk food (including chocolate – gasp!) can contribute to acne breakouts.
If chocolate is wrong, I don’t want to be right … especially not in Wisconsin, “America’s Dairyland!” We’ve all surely heard “you are what you eat” many times over, and chocolate has certainly received a sizable proportion of the blame for cranky skin, but alas, to say chocolate is solely to blame for acne breakouts is largely misguided. In truth, researchers have found that high glycemic diets (meals high in carbohydrates and refined sugars) can certainly spike insulin and trigger inflammatory responses in the body — both of which can increase the risk of breakouts. As is the advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in all aspects, maintaining a well-rounded diet rich in leafy greens and low-glycemic foods is also a safe bet for clear and balanced skin. That said, we are all human, we live in Wisconsin and chocolate is practically a major food group. If you find yourself halfway through a box of CocoVaa chocolates or neck-deep in a pint of Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.’s This S&@! Just Got Serious™ ice cream, don’t stress – just be sure to remain hydrated, get a few extra steps in, and don’t lose sleep over it. Seriously, “beauty sleep” is not a myth! Lack of sleep can promote stress in the body which causes a spike in the hormone cortisol and then, in turn, triggers an inflammatory response — and we find ourselves back in breakout city.

MYTH 3: Your skin doesn’t know what time of day it is, so no need for night creams.
When it comes to daytime versus nighttime skin care routines, using the same products day and night will not hurt your skin, but also may not provide the greatest benefits for your complexion. Put quite simply, our skin is exposed to different things in the daytime versus through the night and may require a different regimen.

During the day, our skin is on the defense against exposure to countless contaminants including makeup, dirt, airborne pollutants and bacteria. Even seemingly mindless activities like talking on your cell phone or texting and then touching your face can expose your skin to hoards of harmful bacteria. Most basic daytime skin care routines should consist of a gentle cleanser, sunscreen (see Myth 1) and a moisturizer. It is perfectly fine to use more products depending on what your skin requires, and to be honest, I enjoy using a nice exfoliator or Vitamin C serum to give my skin a fresh jumpstart on the day!

By contrast, sleep is a time for rest and renewal for our minds, bodies and, surprise, our skin has the same overnight need! Your evening skin care routine should focus on nourishment and deep cleansing. This is the time to use the rich moisturizers and different treatment serums (especially those are typically photosensitive) while your skin is already working to repair itself while you slumber.

While we are on the subject of changing skincare routines, let’s chat briefly about a changing of the seasons. It’s finally cooling off in Wisconsin (although I don’t think anyone was complaining about the few extra days of late summer temperatures) and as the weather changes, so might the needs of our skin. As we move into the winter months, the lack of moisture in the air can affect the way our skin looks and feels. If you find that your skin is dehydrated or feels tight, try shifting to a moisturizer that is more emollient. Some might even suggest switching from a moisturizing cream to a facial oil or using a nourishing facial serum that supports the skin barrier and makes it more resilient in colder and drier conditions.

MYTH 4: “Maskne” (acne caused by wearing a mask) is inevitable.
“Maskne” is a real thing, and it occurs when sweat, oils and bacteria become trapped on the skin while wearing a mask or facial covering. Face coverings can also cause irritation to the skin by friction from fabric movement while talking. Either way, while maskne is not inevitable, it is common. If you’ve found that your skin has become fussy from wearing a mask, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent more skin irritation:

1. Skip (or reduce) makeup. Wearing too many products under a mask or facial covering can cause buildup on the skin, and let’s be honest, it’s all about the “smize” these days, anyway!
2. Wash your face regularly with a gentle cleanser, both in the morning and at night, and apply a moisturizer to prevent dryness.
3. Choose a face covering that is gentle on the skin (like one made of soft cotton, if possible) to reduce friction and skin irritation.
4. Don’t forget to wash your mask frequently. This is important to further reduce the spread of COVID-19, but also to remove any bacteria buildup from the mask itself. Launder your mask or facial covering in hot water and detergent. Some experts also suggest adding a bit of white vinegar to the wash, which has natural antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties.

To combat existing maskne, most experts recommend following regular acne treatments which may include:

· Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatments
· Retinol creams
· Exfoliation and hydration

The most important thing to understand is that your skin is as unique as you are. If you have specific questions on skin care regimens, products or treatment for certain skin care conditions, talk with a licensed skin care specialist or dermatologist.

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