Since we are closing up the last week of Acne Awareness Month we wanted to get advice on the best ways to treat skin and the do's and dont's. We sat down with Fatima Fahs, MD also known as @dermy_doctor on Instagram for special skincare advice on how to improve clearer skin.
purlisse: Tell us about yourself and why you chose your profession...
@dermy_doctor: My name is Fatima Fahs, I’m a dermatology resident physician in Detroit, Michigan. I chose dermatology because I LOVE the combination of art and medicine. I grew up wanting to be an artist but fell in love with medicine when I was in high school. For me, dermatology combines both of those passions! A good dermatologist is one who is detail-oriented, has an astute eye and also creative. I’m passionate about skin care and equipping my patients with the understanding on how to best care for their skin. I love being able to take care of a range of patient populations including infants to the elderly. The greatest joy in my profession is being able to actually witness a patient’s skin condition improve right before my eyes because of my diagnosis and tailored treatment!
purlisse: What is your best skin advice and tips for avoiding acne?
@dermy_doctor: people are under the misconception that acne only affects teenagers. This is wrong! Acne can affect people of all ages, including those well beyond their teenage years. Adult females often suffer from acne, classically around the mouth and chin, which flares with their menstrual cycle. My number one tip to avoiding acne is to NEVER EVER sleep with your makeup on, no matter how late it is or how tired you are feeling! Always go to bed with a clean face. In addition, wash your pillow case at least once a week—a common breading ground for bacteria—yuck! If you suffer from acne on your upper back and shoulders, make sure you wash your body right after a sweaty workout and quickly change out of your damp shirt.
purlisse: Do you recommend any particular products for acne?
@dermy_doctor: Instead of recommending one particular product, it’s important to understand why a product may or may not work for your skin. This is one of the things I love to break down on my Instagram page, @dermy_doctor !
An anti-acne staple product I often recommend is a morning cleanser that has salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient. Get used to the idea of flipping a product over and checking the “active ingredients” section on the back label! Another important ingredient for treating acne, discoloration and scars is a topical retinoid. See your dermatologist to see if a prescription-strength retinoid is right for you. A newly available over the counter retinoid gel (that was previously prescription-only) is differin (adapalene 0.1%). Lastly, exfoliating one to several times a week can be helpful to unclog pores, remove dead skin build up and improve overall complexion. Glycolic acid as a chemical exfoliator is a personal favorite of mine! It’s important to see a dermatologist in person if you have acne that is not responding to over the counter treatments to avoid permanent and hard to treat acne-related scarring!
purlisse: What should you do if you have a zit? How can we get rid of it faster?
@dermy_doctor: If you have a zit, avoid popping it with your fingers! Oftentimes, the horizontal pressure of trying to pop a pimple just pushes the inflammation deeper and worsens it! One of my favorite remedies is benzoyl peroxide or salicyclic acid drying spot treatments. Dab directly on the spot of concern to quickly dry it out by the morning. Larger, painful cysts or nodules are usually deeper in the skin and don’t respond well to topical treatments. These can be shrunken quickly by visiting your dermatologist for an intralesional steroid injection. We often joke that this is the “emergency acne treatment” before big events like a wedding! Contrary to popular belief, toothpaste over a pimple is NOT recommended. Individuals with recurrent acne should consider seeing a dermatologist for long term management to avoid frequent breakouts.
purlisse: Can what we eat lead to acne?
@dermy_doctor: Yes and no. Acne is not directly caused by the food we eat, but some dietary adjustments may help improve acne. Studies have shown a connection between foods with high glycemic index and acne. High glycemic foods are those that are high in carbs and high in sugars—causing your glucose level (blood sugar) to quickly spike when consumed. A rapid spike in blood sugar promotes inflammation and also increases hormonal production which can trigger more oil production, leading to worsening acne. Examples of high glycemic foods include chips, white bread, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, French fries and cookies.
purlisse: We heard you love our BB Cream. What do you love about it?
@dermy_doctor: I don’t just love this BB cream—I’m obsessed! I’ve been using it daily for almost 3 years and have gotten most of my friends and lots of my Instagram followers to “see the light” and switch over. Traditional foundation is often too heavy for daily wear and leaves the skin angry, oily and more prone to breakouts. The purlisse BB Tinted Moist Cream is light enough for every day wear while also providing adequate coverage. The bonus is that SPF 30 is already built in! I absolutely love the smooth, matte finish. My morning schedule with a toddler does not offer me the luxury of spending an hour in the mirror getting ready. This BB cream is often the only thing I run out of the house wearing and I absolutely love it!
purlisse: Do you recommend face masks for acne?
@dermy_doctor: Masks can be very helpful for acne! Clarifying masks containing alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid) can help address breakouts as well as overall complexion. Clay and charcoal masks can help with oily skin by drawing up excess oil and dirt from your pores.
purlisse: What is your best advice for a must have product for summer
@dermy_doctor: Sunscreen! It’s astonishing to me how much people are willing to spend on botox to treat their wrinkles while simultaneously working on a tan in the summer! The sun is a huge contributor of skin aging, including wrinkles! It’s so important to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen every single day and reapplying when outdoors as frequently as every one to two hours. If the risk of skin cancer doesn’t scare you enough then hopefully the thought of more wrinkles will!
purlisse: Any other tips or advice you would like to add about skin or anything else in general.
@dermy_doctor: It can be really confusing to navigate the skincare world. There are so many products promising so many things and it can be overwhelming to find the right product for your skin concern. This is why it’s so important to understand the role of active ingredients and how they work on your skin so that you can make informed and educated decisions. Lastly, I see patients daily who have hesitated to see a dermatologist in person because they felt they could get their acne under control by themselves. Acne should be treated as early and aggressively as possible. A good dermatologist will help you tailor your over the counter routine with prescriptions!