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10 Skincare Facts You Wished You Learned in Health Class, as Told by a Dermatologist

Right off the top of my head, if I was standing in front of a dermatologist and I could ask them whatever I wanted, I would ask what I should do about this new patch of eczema I have on my leg. Then I would ask them why the heck the skin on my eyelids is so damn dry. Then I would ask for the tenth time how many times per day I should be applying sunscreen. I can think of dozens of others things I would ask, but unfortunately it wasn't my turn to visit the derm—it was yours.

Last week we collected 10 of your skincare questions for Bubble's in-house dermatologist Dr. Efrat Solomon Cohen. Here are the answers, right from the mouth of the specialist (and not WebMD, where I get my answers).

1. How do I find my skin type?

"First clean your face and pat it dry, wait approximately 45-60 minutes. Then examine the way your skin appears and feels. If it looks red & irritated, stings or burns, or feels dry, then you may be suffering from sensitive or dry skin, which could also be slightly peeling. If your skin feels shiny/greasy, or partly greasy, accompanied by mild flaking around the T-zone, then you may be suffering from an oily or combination type skin. A normal skin type is usually non-flaking and not irritated, and basically as smooth as a baby's skin."

2. In what order should I apply my skincare products?

"In the morning, it is usually advised to begin with a cleanser, followed by a toner or serums, then a moisturizer and very important—an SPF. In the evening, we recommend to use a makeup remover and cleanser, then toner, spot treatment when necessary, serums, a moisturizer, and finally oils when applied, should be applied last."

3. How do I get rid of acne scars?

"Acne scars are hard to treat, therefore it is best to try and avoid them, by avoiding picking/itching of active acne, and using SPF. There are various mild peels that can assist in mild acne scars treatment, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid and vitamin C based products. Retinols can also help in mild peeling of the scars and improving the skin texture. Hyperpigmentation can be reduced by products that have some brightening abilities such as hydroquinone and azelaic acid (some are prescription-only products). More severe cases can be treated with energy-based devices such as lasers, radiofrequency devices, IPLs, microneedling, and injectables."

4. What’s the difference between AHA and BHA?

"Alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids are both water soluble acids, derived from sugary fruits. Both are used for exfoliating the skin surface, however beta-hydroxy acids can penetrate deeper into the dermis, into the pores (pilosebaceous units inside the hair follicle), therefore it has an active role in acne treatment as well, and not only in treating post-acne scars."

5. Why is sunscreen so important and how much should I be applying?

"Sunscreen has a VERY important role in protecting our skin from the sun's damaging UV rays. Sunscreen helps to avoid sun spots, freckling, moles and of course, skin cancer. It also has a role in preventing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring, therefore is very important in acne treatment. Some ingredients such as retinols and Accutane are exacerbated by the sun, therefore sunscreen is an important complementary treatment when using these medications. You should apply a thin layer on all sun-exposed areas, mostly your face and neck area."

6. When should you seek professional help for acne?

"If you are suffering from bad breakouts it advised to seek professional diagnosis, since sometimes there are causes for acne that can only be modified through prescriptions medications. In addition, if you had tried many over the counter products, and are still finding no relief, then perhaps a professional dermatologist can be of assistance."

7. Does drinking enough water really help hydrate your skin?

"Of course! Drinking plenty of water is crucial for your skin's integrity and wound healing, therefore has a tremendous effect in treating acne and post-acne scars."

8. How do I protect my skin barrier?

"Our skin barrier should be protected by applying a moisturizer 1-2 times per day, keeping it well hydrated, and maintaining a suitable pH level. Ceramides, cholesterols, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids help keeping your skin barrier intact."

9. Is alcohol good for acne prone skin?

"Alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is a known disinfectant however there is no evidence that alcohol-containing products help reduce acne, and in general they can be irritating to the skin so harsh rubbing is not advised for acne-prone skin."

10. How do I add new products into my skincare routine without breaking out?

"When using new products, it is always advised to start using only one product at a time and not mix several new ones all at once. Also, it is advised to first apply a small amount on a focal area on the skin to test it for a few days, before applying it on your entire face, in case there are allergic or irritating reactions."

Follow Bubble on Instagram and join us tonight, Friday March 19th at 7pm EST for a live event with Bubble Ambassador Colin Ford! Be sure to check out Bubble's Skin School for more info on all things skin you wished you learned in health class.

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