The skin we live in is critical—not only for our physical well-being, but emotional, too. Each woman’s skin-care regimen is deeply personal. It is perhaps one reason why, for many, a trip to the dermatologist is generally reserved for a critical, medical issue—the suspicious mole, the unshrinkable zit—while the daily upkeep is left in their own delicate hands.
Yet now, more women than ever are seeking out a good derm and making that one-on-one time a part of their routine. According to New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, her clientele skews younger and younger each year, driven by social media awareness and, to some small degree, that airbrushed Kardashian effect. But when you have the youthful advantage on your side, what exactly is there to be done? Turns out, plenty. Here, five ways a dermatologist can help you in your 20s—and set you up for your 30s.
Build a Smarter Skin-Care Routine
Sitting in Engelman’s office, the first act on the checklist is to rattle off your skin-care routine for meticulous review—cut through the insane clutter of a medicine cabinet. For instance, a gentle reminder to begin exfoliating in your 20s, as skin cell turnover begins to turn down, and add an antioxidant-rich serum to fight stress-induced dullness, are key.
Stop Breakouts for Good
It is an unfortunate truth that adult acne tends to plague women long after their teens, and many women in their 20s suffer with breakouts when there’s an easy solution. An emergency cortisone shot at the dermatologist’s office remains a several-second solution to shrinking particularly bad zits. Chronic acne, which can be the result of anything from genetics to a crazy schedule or frequent travel, can necessitate a bigger picture game plan. Think a topical prescription gel like Aczone, which acts as a medicated, mattifying skin primer, or a pore-purifying series of laser treatments like Isolaz.
Define Your Anti-Aging Game Plan
Because your skin is so personal, it can be hard to fairly scrutinize its exact condition. In the late 20s and early 30s, Engelman says, the first fine lines or spots begin. “[My patients] know that they’re showing signs of aging, but they need me to translate what that is,” she explains. A series of collagen-boosting, resurfacing Fraxel could be one pre-emptive measure, as could a more tailored long-term game plan of retinoids, microdermabrasion, and regular peels. Here, restraint is essential, and having a trusted doctor as your sounding board is invaluable. “There’s a fine line between anti-aging and looking older than your age; I actually talk a lot of girls out of doing stuff early,” Engelman adds. “Just because you see everyone else doing it, doesn’t mean you need it. I’ll back them up and say, ‘Let’s talk about products; let’s talk about eye cream.’ ”
Tackle Thinning Hair
As it turns out, the dermatologist is your go-to source for hair issues—the general thinning that tends to occur with age and can be rooted in scalp issues or hormonal shifts. Instead of stressing endlessly over a widening hair part, a dermatologist can closely examine the scalp, diagnose the problem, and prescribe a treatment pill like Minoxidil, a course of supplements like omega fatty acids, or targeted laser, bringing your lengths back to a more healthy, youthful state.
Personalize Your Sunscreen Strategy
A dermatologist will always underscore the importance of using a good daily sunscreen—SPF 30-plus with broad-spectrum protection. What’s more, a regular skin checkup can scan for any existing sun damage—not to mention skin cancers, which can surface as early as your 20s—and make subtle adjustments, whether that means switching to a different cream or fine-tuning your application to cover everything, such as a swatch of skin by your nose you keep missing.
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