Dr. Caroline Robinson Skincare Q&A

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Dr. Caroline Robinson answers some of the top skincare questions she is often asked by her community, so we thought you’d like to know, too!

1. What is skin purging? Is it a real thing? Why does it happen?

Yes, purging is a real thing. The term “purging” is often used to refer to increased acne breakouts in response to a product or procedure. To understand purging we have to understand how breakouts form in the first place. The earliest type of acne bump, the micro-comedo, forms after dead skin cells and sebum fill up a pore. Certain skin active ingredients and procedures can cause an increase in skin cell turnover that brings these clogged pores to the surface, also known as purging. This process is important, however, because it allows the spots to clear away more quickly than they otherwise would have. My advice is patience. The purging effect is a temporary and often necessary side effect to see the skin benefits from the active being used. Slowly introducing the new active into your routine and ensuring that your skin is moisturized can often allow your skin to adjust better to the symptoms. All your skin goals are on the other side of consistency.

2. Is Vitamin C serum good for oily or acne-prone skin?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is beneficial to almost all skin types; the key is finding the right formulation that works best for your skin. For reference, there are well over 10 different forms of vitamin C used topically in skincare on the market right now and they each have different potencies, levels of stability, and tolerability on the skin. One of the most important things that vitamin C is known for is its role as an antioxidant. It can take a deep dive into the skin and help rejuvenate the skin and it provides extra layer of protection against environmental factors when worn under your sunscreen during the day. We all can benefit from this.

3. What are your tips for dealing with Melasma?

Melasma is a stubborn form of hyperpigmentation influenced by genetics, hormones, light, and heat which can worsen in the summer months.

You can help prevent the condition from worsening, you might try:

  • Adding a tinted sunscreen to your routine: Tinted sunscreens typically contain an ingredient called iron oxide which protects our skin against visible light. Visible light has been implicated in persistent and resistant hyperpigmentation.
  • Adding an antioxidant: Topical antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, green tea alpha-lipoid acid flavonoids, and others are great additions to any skin care routine in general but they are particularly useful for skin discoloration. Vitamin C specifically is a potent antioxidant that has a correcting and brightening effect.
  • Seeking skin care and prescription therapy from your board certified dermatologist: Multiple potent pigment-targeting prescription treatments are available to address hyperpigmentation.
  • Considering in office procedures with a board certified dermatologist: In office chemical peels, microneedling, and lasers can be very effective at addressing multiple forms of hyperpigmentation.

4. How do you treat a sunburn?

Avoidance is best, so wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen that is also water resistant to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays.

  • Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens are best for those with sensitive skin or acne prone skin
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid fragrance or perfumed products

To help soothe sunburned skin:

  • Apply cool water to the skin
  • Do not pick or scrub
  • Moisturize - an aloe based cream can be soothing but you do not necessarily need to have this ingredient in the product you use. NOW® Solutions Aloe Soothing Gel is a good choice, too.
  • Use a mild over the counter topical medicated cream with 1% hydrocortisone. I recommend mixing the medicated steroid cream with a moisturizer and apply over the area.

5. What key ingredients should you look for when shopping for a moisturizer for oily skin?

When shopping for a moisturizer for oily skin it is very important to look for ingredients that are light and truly hydrating. The best place to start is by thinking about what the skin loves which are the natural lipid moisturizers that it produces: ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids. The ideal moisturizer has a blend of all of these ingredients so that that skin recognizes it and soaks it up, rather than the moisturizer sitting on the skin. For oily skin types, I recommend avoiding applying oils directly to the face and opting for light lotions or gel moisturizers that blend ceramides with fatty acids and cholesterol that can be found in many oils or on their own. I am also a fan of hyaluronic acid based moisturizers for oilier skin types because these moisturizers help to attract water to the skin.