Spring Complexion Care

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen is a collaborative physician who writes a weekly Medical Monday” column for Women’s Voices for Change.  (Search our archives for her posts, calling on the expertise of medical specialists, on topics from angiography to vulvar melanoma.)

This week, Dr. Pat turns to a frequent Medical Monday contributor, Anetta Reszko, M.D.,  Ph.D., a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon in New York City,  for advice on how to rejuvenate skin that has become dry, rough, and flaky after long exposure to winter winds and warm, dry interiors. 


Dear Dr. Pat:

My complexion is dry and I have red, smooth, flat areas on the surface of the skin, along with more broken capillaries than ever before. The air in my apartment is dry all winter long.  I never remember to buy a humidifier and then it is spring again.  The winter here has been really long with blasts of cold air destroying my complexion. I have fair skin, and I never know what product to buy or try. What do you suggest?



Dr. Pat Responds:

Dear Joan,

The seasons have become so very odd.  March 21st was the first day of Spring on the calendar but it is now the end of April and there is very little “spring-like” weather around.  We still have temperatures in the high 30s on some nasty gray days.  You are right to ask for advice about how to treat your delicate complexion since those of us with fair skin do not tolerate many of the products and procedures that work well with other complexion types.  Dr. Anetta Reszko will address your question.

Dr. Pat


Dr. Reszko Responds:

Dear Joan,

The arrival of a new season is the perfect time to reassess your skin care and beauty regimen. Spring is the season of new beginnings and regrowth, re-evaluation, and cleansing.  Same could be applied to your daily routine. Incorporating new products adapted to your skin’s constantly developing needs is essential in order to deal with shifts in climate, sun exposure, and external aggressors. Here are some tips for the best spring skin care tricks, plus a review of some new technologies that will leave you looking and feeling fresh and rejuvenated.


1. Why spring skin cleaning?

Proper spring skin care helps to bring your appearance back to life.  Winter’s cold temperatures and strong winds, combined with the lack of humidity and dry indoor heating, strips the skin of its natural moisture, leaving it dry, dull, and more prone to wrinkling.  A proper spring skin care routine can help to revive winter-damaged skin.

2. Moisturize

The most important step in spring skin care is moisturizing. In the winter, we often neglect to properly moisturize parts of our body that get covered up, like the feet, knees, shoulders, chest, and elbows.  Spring is the perfect time to restore the lost moisture and heal the thickened, dry, flaking, and irritated skin of these areas.

Switch to a light humectant hyaluronic acid–based moisturizer for your face, but still consider thicker, ointment-like products for feet, elbows, and knees.  Optimal hydration helps to repair signs of aging such as crepiness, lines, and wrinkles, and it repairs skin structure thinning and loss of elasticity.

3. Out with the old!  In with the new!

“Spring clean” your makeup case.   Go through your products and throw away anything that you no longer use, products that changed their smell or consistency, dirty or damaged makeup brushes, and any products that might be expired.  Makeup brushes should be cleaned with a mild soap every month.

Dr. Reszko’s Tip: Note that vitamin C and retinol preparations are inherently unstable, especially when exposed to direct sunlight, and may have shorter expiration dates than other cosmetics.

Dr. Reszko’s Tip: To extend the shelf life of all your skin care products, consider refrigerating them immediately after opening.

For treating extra-rough areas, like cracked heels, elbows, or cuticles, use plain Aquaphor and then cover the area. For instance, apply Aquaphor to your heels right after your shower and before bed, and then sleep with cotton socks on to seal in the moisture.

4. Gently exfoliate

Exfoliate to reveal a new, healthier, radiant, and more even-toned complexion. Exfoliating two or three times a week helps to remove dead skin cells that leave skin looking dull and dry. Spend 1 or 2 minutes massaging your exfoliator in upward circular motions to clean deep into the pores, focusing especially on areas of any congestion (commonly nose, medial cheeks, and chin).   Exfoliating isn’t just part of spring skin care for your face—it’s useful for body skin care as well.

If your skin is very sensitive and prone to rosacea/eczema,  mechanical scrubs with microbeads might be too harsh and lead to micro tears and skin irritation. Consider chemical exfoliators with lactic acid, glycolic acid, and/or retinol.  Chemical exfoliators dissolve protein “glue” between dead cells, releasing them for more controlled exfoliation without damaging lower layers of the skin.

Appropriate exfoliation will allow your moisturizers to work more efficiently.

5. Optimize your sun protection

Sun-damaged skin is the leading cause of premature aging and skin cancers; be vigilant about sun protection to ensure that your skin stays healthy and looks youthful.

Wear mineral sunblock with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide with SPF of at least 30 and reapply every two to three hours.  Protect your lips with UV containing lip balm.  Invest in sun-protective clothing (hat,  rash guard) with SPF of 100 and above and a pair of oversized sunglasses with UV filters.

Consider putting UV fillers on your car windshield and windows if you spend over 1 hour driving every day.

6. Trend alert!

Avoid wearing heavy, pore-clogging makeup. Go for fresh, light coverage; that will promote a dewy, younger-looking skin that is right on trend and a definite must to boost your skin’s appearance.

7. Visit your dermatologist for in-office skin rejuvenating treatment

Consider gentle resurfacing treatments like mild chemical peels or fractional lasers to strengthen skin’s natural structure and stimulate new collagen synthesis.

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Clear and Brilliant Laser Treatment (Courtesy of Solta Medical)

Dr. Reszko’s Tip:  Fractional resurfacing laser, like mild Fraxel or Clear and Brilliant, is a gentle laser treatment that addresses early signs of skin aging to refresh and help achieve a more even tone, smoother texture, and reduced pore size.

8. Visit you facialist for spring cleaning of the pores and muscle toning treatments.

Yasmine Djerradine famed New York City skin care guru, advises combining her signature intraceutical oxygen facial that simultaneously infuses moisture, vitamins and antioxidants into the skin via a cooling and calming hyperbaric oxygen-delivery system.  The Remodeling Face Treatment involves three types of gentle electric currents (high-frequency, galvanic, and low-frequency) to activate circulation while toning the skin.

Dr. Reszko

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