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Simple tips for facial skin care

Back to school! This summer has been flying by for me and probably for you too! With getting back into the swing of fall schedules, this is a nice time of year to establish a good facial skin care routine. Here are two of my top recommendations on simple skin care habits:

  1. Wash your face twice daily (morning and before bed)

Cleanser does not = soap, though soap is a type of cleanser. Soaps tend to strip much of our natural skin lipids (oils) and leave the skin feeling “squeaky clean,” tight, and dry. Our skin cells are stacked like bricks (cells) and mortar with lipids serving as the key ingredient in the mortar. Washing with harsh soaps damages the mortar/lipid barrier and skin cells become less cohesive leading to escape of moisture with subsequent dryness. Chronic or severe dryness from soap washing can eventually cause skin inflammation (e.g., itch, dry skin eczema, and/or soap-induced irritant contact dermatitis). I recommend non-soap cleansers for the face (and often for the body) and fortunately there are many options.

Think of face washing like brushing your teeth—twice daily is recommended. We touch our face hundreds of times daily and with that can spread infectious organisms (especially by touching mouth, nose, or eyes) exacerbate acne, irritate skin, and deposit debris. Washing helps to remove the accumulated dirt, debris, excess oil, make-up, bacteria, and etc. from the skin. Wash your face AFTER brushing your teeth as toothpaste can sometimes be irritating to the skin—especially if it stays on skin overnight.

It only takes about a minute to wash your face: Give yourself a nice splash of warm (not scalding hot) water, apply a non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) cleanser for 15-30 seconds, rinse, pat skin dry, and then follow that with a moisturizer. Ideal products for you depend on your skin type, environment, activities (e.g., sun exposure), and your skin goals—among other factors—but gentle cleansers can get the job done for nearly any skin type.

Consider a gentle non-soap cleanser that won’t excessively remove the natural lipids (oils) from your skin. Look for “gentle,” “moisturizing,” hydrating,” or a similar descriptor on the label. Some of my favorite gentle cleansers are:

Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser. A no-fuss, non-foaming, unscented and easily accessible over-the-counter cleanser, this was my personal go to facial cleanser for years and is still a good option.

Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser. This is what I am currently using and I love it.  If you like suds but still want gentle, this is a great option. Salicylic acid from willow bark extract helps treat breakouts and even out skin tone while numerous additional botanicals like marshmallow root, lavender, and date fruit extracts soothe skin, calm redness, and provide antioxidants to the skin.

VibrantSkin Beta Enzyme Cleanser. Needing a super gentle cleanser that also helps fight skin aging and/or acne? Check! Infused with skin calming calendula, antioxidant green tea, and moisturizing panthenol (provitamin B5) and aloe, our VibrantSkin Beta Enzyme Cleanser relies on papaya fruit enzymes and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and purify the skin.

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser. Boosted with ceramides—a type of skin lipid—this wash helps replenish the skin’s natural barrier to the elements.

Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser. Extremely gentle and soothing non-foaming cleanser. Apple fruit extract serves as antioxidant that also calms redness.

If you have combination or oily skin, a cleanser that removes excess oils without leaving you feeling dry can be tough to find. Epionce’s Lytic Gel Cleanser is a favorite in my family and among my patients and is a regular winner of New Beauty’s cleanser award. This refreshing cleanser has the same key ingredients as the Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser (see above) with the addition of menthol from peppermint to cleanse and gently reduce acne-causing bacteria and excess oil while leaving a wonderfully cool and calm feel to the skin.

For acne prone skin Our VibrantSkin line has two effective options:

VibrantSkin Micronized BPO is a wonderful non-irritating benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Given its micronized form it quickly penetrates into pores to kill acne-causing bacteria. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, aloe, and provitamin B5, it packs the punch needed to treat acne and folliculitis without overly drying the skin. As with any benzoyl peroxide cleanser, bleaching of fabrics is a potential side effect so I always advise use of white towels, washcloths and pillow cases as well as taking care to avoid getting it on clothing.

VibrantSkin Clarifying Cleanser is infused with 15 botanicals including clary sage, licorice root extract (known for reducing discoloration), vitamin B3, provitamin B5, and citrus fruit oils including orange, grapefruit, lime and bergamot to nourish and moisturize while decreasing excess oils, fighting acne-causing bacteria, and gently exfoliating the skin. Depending on the extent and type of acne, it can be paired with the Micronized BPO (one for morning and other for evening) or used on its own. I also love it for keratosis pilaris (e.g., bumpy skin most commonly on upper outer arms).


  1. Apply a moisturizer with (or followed by) sunscreen to your face, ears, and neck after washing in the morning. Apply an evening moisturizer after washing your face at night.

Even if not planning on being outside, applying baseline sun protection is a great way to not only lower risk of burn and help stave off skin cancer, but it also can slow skin aging by inhibiting free radical damage. There are too many good sunscreens to name them all, so I recommend readers aim for a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. As virtually no one gets the SPF written on the sunscreen label—because not enough is applied—I prefer SPF 50 or higher if possible especially if fair-skinned. I recommend non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) moisturizers. My current favorite moisturizing sunscreens are:

Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50. The winner of Shape Magazine’s “Best Under Make-Up” category last year, most love the tint for a tiny bit of cover-up or a light primer. It blends in smoothly with virtually any skin color—including mine.  This workhorse sunscreen has both zinc and titanium to block UV from your skin and these are paired with antioxidants from apple fruit extract, rosemary, and vitamin E as well as the moisturizers sunflower oil and argan oil to help your skin feel smooth and protected.

Beauty Counter Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30. This zinc-based barrier sunscreen moisturizes with aloe and also contains antioxidants like green tea and orange fruit extracts to help protect your skin from free radicals. It also smells wonderfully light and fruity when applying—not at all like a typical sunscreen.

If not using a combination moisturizer with sunscreen in the mornings, you can use your favorite moisturizer and just apply a sunscreen on top. I often do this myself. As you might expect, I use a lot of products on my skin to harness the many benefits of various ingredients! However, you can keep it simple and still help your skin remain hydrated and healthy. Here are some of my favorite moisturizers without sunscreen that can be used in the morning and/or evening:

VibrantSkin Intensive Recovery Cream.  If you’re using a topical retinoid and/or alpha/beta hydroxy acid(s) (AHA/BHA) to fight skin aging changes or combat acne, this may be the moisturizer for you. Formulated with cactus and coconut fruit extracts, our VibrantSkin Intensive Recovery Cream has been shown to soothe skin and increase moisture levels to fight the irritation and dryness that can develop from the above topicals.

Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream. This stuff is amazing for extremely dry or compromised skin. It contains sucralfate, an ingredient that coats and protects the skin. Other formulation components help to reduce appearance of scarring, soften and calm skin, and speed recovery of damaged skin. I even love it for diaper rash!

Epionce Renewals: Epionce has Renewal moisturizers for every skin type and season. They include the Epionce Renewal Lite Facial Lotion (very light-weight), Renewal Facial Lotion (light-weight), Renewal Facial Cream (medium-weight), and finally the Intensive Nourishing Cream (very hydrating). All contain botanically derived antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 oils to moisturize and fight aging. The Intensive Nourishing Cream also has shea butter for more hydration, peptides to replenish, and additional antioxidants for an anti-aging boost. It serves as a great night cream for many, though I sometimes use it in the mornings too.

Many of the topical agents I’ve mentioned this month are available at our office. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about what we carry. Other agents listed can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy.

I hope these tips serve you well! Enjoy the month—fall will be here before we know it. Check out our August specials below.


Kesha Buster, MD FAAD (board-certified dermatologist)

August 2018 Specials


CoolSculpting plus Zwave:  Buy 3 cycles, get one free!

Plus get a $200 rebate* with purchase of 6 or more cycles.

*Number of available rebates is limited; schedule today!

20% off when you buy an Epionce Cleanser and Renewal product*

*Must be purchased in office. Does not apply to online purchases or past purchases.

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