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This month I’ve invited Eileen Slutsky to share her wisdom.  Eileen is a Registered Nurse and Aesthetics Director of Aesthetics By Eileen located in Raleigh, NC. She is a well-known and highly regarded expert in the industry. Her knowledge about skincare is priceless.  Her contact information is located at the bottom of this post.

Understanding Beauty Basics to Simplify Your Routine

Beautiful skin is always in style. Women around the world, young and old, have great interest in the health of their skin, their daily skin care routines, and the “fountain of youth”. However, the best practice to achieve desired skin is far from common knowledge. It may seem confusing with all the skincare hype, pyramid marketing, and department stores filled with so many choices and options – you can buy skincare products just about everywhere. And once you buy them, there’s even more confusion – are they really right for your skin type, how do you use them, etc.?<

Basic Skincare Guidelines

There are some basic guidelines that are consistent across age, ethnicity, and type of skin. All women should focus on three key steps as part of their daily beauty routine: ProtectExfoliate and Renew. If you have a drawer or two filled with products that you have been told “you need,” now you can separate them into these three categories to make them easier and more effective to use.

    • Protection is number one. Do you have a sunscreen you love? If not, that is the first thing you must purchase. Do you know what UVA and UVB rays are? UVA are the AGE rays; too much exposure to UVA rays from the sun can cause premature aging, sun spot damage, lines and wrinkles. UVB are the BURN rays; exposure to UVB rays promote basal and squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. See skincancer.org for more information. Sunscreens with micronized zinc oxide have a more elegant feel for the face, like a BB cream or silky moisturizer. Adding an L-Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C that is stabilized in a serum form  (e.g. Anti-oxidant serum) will give you eight times more sun protection with your sunscreen. Everyone needs a Vitamin C serum with their sunscreen as it will prevent free radical damage (bonus: it may also increase collagen production!). Not all Vitamin C products are of the same quality; we recommend Skinceuticals and IS Clinical, which are two of the best science-based products currently on the market. Clinical studies have shown use of long-term daily Vitamin C is associated with more youthful skin during the aging process and less UVA/UVB damage.
    • Exfoliating can be done using a facial scrub with or without a rotating brush or washcloth. Exfoliating products which contain AHA (Glycolic acid) and/or BHA (Salicylic acid) scrubs are most effective. Small amounts of a scrub in a circular motion with your fingers under the shower will help get rid of the buildup of dead skin cells. It also will help your skin care products penetrate deeper. You can exfoliate in the morning and/or the evening.
    • Renew is the night time regimen. The most common products are the retinols: Retin-A and Tretinoin. They help by turning over skin cells and penetrating deeply to renew all layers of the skin. Most have an exfoliating feel with daily use. It is recommended to start with the lower strength (e.g. 0.25%) until your skin gets use to this type of product. Renew products can be used daily or every other day; however those with sensitive skin should limit use to three times a week. As tolerated, the strength of product can be increased overtime; however this will largely depend on the thickness of your skin. Starting with over the counter retinols and moving into a prescription brand will give you the best results. If retinols are not tolerated well, Glycolic products also have renewal properties, but you will want a glycolic with a lower pH (i.e. pH of 2-4).

Additional Skincare Basics

    • Skin Brightening. Sun spots, age spots, and melasmas are darkened pigmentation that come from sun, hormones, and age. Many women look for skin lighteners and we recommend prescription Hydroquinone products and natural skin brightening products. It is best to use the prescription grade products first and then maintain with natural skin brightening products once the desire result is achieved.
    • Don’t Forget the Neck. Neck products with peptides will help tighten the skin and improve the elasticity. There’s a new buzz word product: “Hyaluronic Acid (HA)”. Do we really need it? Actually, we do. Soft tissue filler injections, such as Juvederm and Restylane, are replacing the vast amount of moisture we lose as we age. Now we have a topical version to keep that skin looking subtle, soft and youthful. The combination of an HA filler under the skin and a topical application of HA is recommended for best results.
    • Sensitive Skin. If you have sensitive skin, PABA-free products will be your best choice. Additionally, fragrance-free products are ones that are non-toxic with no artificial synthetic ingredients. The use of these products may be a personal choice or may be necessary if your skin cannot tolerate additives. Check your skincare products to see if they have Propylene glycol. This is an ingredient commonly used in skincare with a moderate hazard alert — it is also used in antifreeze!

Recommended Skincare Routines

Basic Skin Care Program For Women Ages 18-35:

  • Morning-Protection: Cleanse/exfoliate, Vitamin C, sunscreen, apply make-up (optional)
  • Midday: Reapply sunscreen if working or playing outside (sunscreen powders are great for reapplication!)
  • Evening-Renewal: Always remove makeup, cleanse/exfoliate, Retinol/Retin-A/Glycolic, moisturizer if needed

Advanced Skin Care Program For Women Ages 35+:

  • Morning-Protection: Cleanse/exfoliate, eye cream, Vitamin C, moisturizer (growth factors), sunscreen and neck cream, apply make-up (optional)
  • Midday: Reapply sunscreen if working or playing outside (sunscreen powders are great for reapplication!)
  • Evening-Renewal: Cleanse/exfoliate, eye cream, serums, growth factors, Hydroquinone/skin brightening agents, Tretinion, HA, neck cream

There is a “rule of thumb” for layering your skincare products that should be followed for best results. If your skin type is normal, apply your Retinol product first, than apply the other products in order of thin (serum) to thick (moisturizer). The retinol/Retin-A will allow the other products to more deeply penetrate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, apply your products in order of thinnest to thickest and then add your retinol product last. This will lessen the chance of retinol/Retin-A skin irritation and will allow the retinol to drive the other products deeper into the skin. Note that each individual is different and that you may not need all of the product categories listed above.

Skincare Shopping List

When it comes to skincare, the endless number of products can cause confusion for almost any shopper. Below I’ve put together a good-better-best shopping list options for great skincare routines, regardless of your budget.


  • Sunscreen that has a stamp from the Skin Cancer Foundation on the box
  • Moisturizer and eye cream from Neutrogena, Oil of Olay
  • Retinol from Roc
  • Exfoliating scrub with BHA/AHA
  • Found at drugstores, food stores, big box stores (e.g. Costco)


  • Combination of “Good’ and “Best” Shopping lists
  • Visit a skin care center and buy 1-2 items such as a Vitamin C product that is supported by clinical research (this is a great start!)


When shopping, it is important to remember that many department stores carry skin care products that are as expensive as medical grade pharmaceutical products without having the support of clinical research behind them. However, department stores are good resources for buying make-up.

For additional skin care information or to schedule an appointment with Eileen [North Carolina] call (919)881-2100 or visit my website.
Many thanks to Eileen for sharing this information with my readers. When organizing your skin care routine keep Eileen’s tips in mind. In addition, I’ve added a few of my own organizing tips.

  • Check expiration dates at least twice yearly as this helps declutter products that are taking up shelf and drawer space.
  • Many products are heat and humidity sensitive. Monitor the heat and moisture levels in your bathroom. When buying products, check if they are sensitive to these conditions and if so,  store appropriately.
  • Use a label maker or Sharpie to custom-label items that are too hard for eyes “of a certain age” to read. First thing in the morning, it’s too easy to mistake “PINK” colored eyeshadow for one in a much more subtle “MINK”

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