Top 10 Skincare Secrets from Dermatology PAs
Sunscreen to Smoothies: Tips Promote Healthy, Glowing Skin
May 1, 2021
By Jennifer Walker
PAs who practice in dermatology are able to literally see conditions on the skin and the results of any treatments they prescribe — a reward that may be the biggest benefit of working in this specialty, along with the opportunity to work a regular schedule and earn generous compensation.
“I can look at someone’s skin and tell what’s going on internally. The skin really does tell a story if you’re paying attention,” says Archana Sangha, MMS, PA-C, who works at Anne Arundel Dermatology in Vienna, Virginia, and serves on the board of directors at the Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA), a specialty organization comprised of PAs in dermatology.
Jane Mast, MPAS, PA-C, regional medical director of dermatology Southeast at Novartis in Melbourne, Florida, has treated teenage patients with acne who are down and depressed during their first visit; then, when these same patients come back for follow-up visits, “we look at their before and after pictures, and I see their happiness come back,” she says. “That’s very rewarding.”
Gina Mangin, MPAS, PA-C — a PA with SandLake Dermatology Center in Orlando, Florida, and Immediate Past President of SDPA — says, “We may not be able to cure our patients’ diseases, but we can make their conditions better [so] they can live happier and healthier lives.”
Sangha, Mast, and Mangin have more than 36 years of experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology between them, and they’ve treated skin conditions from acne, eczema, and psoriasis to skin cancer. Here are their top 10 tips to achieve healthy skin.
1. Wear SPF 30 or higher daily.
Every year in the U.S., more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all of the other cancers combined. But using SPF daily can reduce a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Also, when it comes to sunscreen, “there’s no better anti-aging tip,” says Sangha, who is also the secretary and treasurer for SDPA. Thus, Sangha, Mast, and Mangin say using sunscreen is their top skincare tip.
- Consider BB or CC creams. For women who are worried about how sunscreen will sit under their makeup, Sangha recommends purchasing a tinted BB cream or CC cream that will provide coverage as well as sun protection.
- Choose physical sunscreens. Chemical-based sunscreens have played a role in the decline of coral reefs, so Mast, who is the immediate past president of SDPA, recommends choosing a physical sunscreen made with zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide.
- Don’t forget the neck and chest. SPF should be used daily on all exposed areas of the skin, including the neck and the chest. “That’s where we often start to see premature aging to the skin,” Mangin says. Using sunscreen on these areas can also help prevent conditions like poikiloderma, a red and brown discoloration on the neck and chest caused by years of sun exposure.
2. Use Retinol at night after the age of 30.
Retinols are pure Vitamin A products that can aid in cell turnover, which can help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “For women, if you’re looking to enhance your skin and decrease premature aging, you should be using a retinol every single day,” Mangin says. Retinols are available at drug stores, but Mangin recommends purchasing them from a physician’s office to get the highest concentration of retinol. Physician’s offices also have studies to prove the efficacy of their retinol products.
3. Cleanse properly twice a day.
Sangha is often surprised to learn that many people don’t know how to properly cleanse their skin. “Most people are throwing on the soap and moving it here and there for a second or two,” she says. “But you really need to massage the skin so you’re properly getting the debris out and to help with your circulation.” Sangha recommends massaging the face for 30 seconds morning and night then rinsing. “That’s one easy step everybody can do and it can really change their outcomes with the same products.”
4. Tone and exfoliate.
Toning helps balance the pH of the skin, can strengthen the skin and, for those with oily skin, can help minimize breakouts, says Sangha. Exfoliating is essentially a deeper cleaning; it helps remove the dead skin cells and debris that cling to the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer. These steps help bring forth healthy skin underneath and can also help clear up skin issues. Toners can be spritzed morning and night after cleansing, while exfoliators can be used a couple of times a week.
5. Moisturize daily.
Mast says a daily moisturizer at night can help for those who are starting to get dry skin; for those who have eczema, she recommends moisturizing several times a day with products like Vanicream or those in Aveeno’s Eczema line. “People with eczema have a broken-down skin barrier, so they need extra moisture for their skin,” she says.
6. Add products with antioxidants.
Mast tells her patients to consider adding a topical antioxidant to their skincare routine around age 30. “Antioxidants help with free radicals on the skin. So anything that is damaging to the DNA of the skin, [antioxidants] can stop that in its tracks,” she says. She recommends a line called Airelle Skincare, which was developed by Kasey Drapeau D’Amato, a dermatology PA, and her husband, Stephen D’Amato, and which uses Berrimatrix™, the company’s formulation of highly concentrated blueberry extract, as its antioxidant.
7. Clean up your diet.
Although Mangin says it is difficult to perform studies that prove a connection between diet and skin issues, she adds that the medical community does think diet is a contributing factor to conditions such as acne. Her office promotes a low-glycemic, whole-foods diet centered on slowly digested foods that cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels.
8. Drink a green smoothie daily.
Sangha tells her patients to try drinking a green smoothie daily to improve their skin health. Her typical recipe starts with two cups of spinach, which is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, all of which contain antioxidants to help keep the skin clear; one cup of coconut milk, which has Vitamin C to help prevent premature aging; one cup of fruit—Sangha recommends pineapple, strawberries, or blueberries, which all have benefits for the skin—and one tablespoon of chia seeds, which contain antioxidants to help fight free radicals that can contribute to premature aging.
9. Consider IPL for sunspots.
Mangin sees many women who would like to reduce the appearance of sun spots or freckles on their skin. Along with using sunscreen and retinol daily, patients who want to be more aggressive in treating those spots can consider Intense Pulse Light (IPL), which is offered at some dermatology offices. This 30-minute laser-light treatment attracts pigment, pulling it to the surface of the skin. About a day or two after the treatment, the sunspots will darken, and it will look like coffee grounds were dusted on the face; then, within a week of the treatment, the spots slough off. Mangin says that some patients might be happy with the results after one treatment, but they will see the best results after two to three treatments.
10. Be diligent about a skincare routine.
Sangha tells all of her patients, regardless of age, to take the time to follow the basic skincare regime of cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing with SPF. “The skin is your largest organ,” she says. “You have to take care of it.”
SDPA’s mission is to advance the care of patients through the education and empowerment of dermatology PAs. Learn more about the organization.
Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer in Baltimore, MD. Contact Jennifer at [email protected].
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in November 2018.