Skincare Secrets with Dr. Smeena Khan, M.D. - Part I
Posted on 14 November 2018
You asked, we answered. Today on Zeena Uncovered, we went straight to the pros to tackle some of your toughest skincare questions. From what to expect on your first visit to the dermatologist, to anti-aging and how to maintain a youthful, natural glow. In this 2-part series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Smeena Khan, M.D. from the Dermatology Center of Loudon, a board-certified practicing dermatologist who specializes in anti-aging, cosmeceuticals and auto-immune skin diseases to acne. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Khan is an expert in her field and is changing the way we think about our skin with her thoughtful approach to preventative care.
Dr. Khan, unless there is an embarrassing breakout, uninvited bumps or sudden redness, many women wait until their 30’s to start visiting their dermatologist on a regular basis, why do you think that is?
While the average age for women to start noticing their first wrinkles is 36, younger women, including women in their 20’s, are starting to visit the dermatologist for aging prevention. How we care for our skin in one decade will impact how we look in the next. Although what we see in different age groups really varies, the younger you begin a preventative skincare routine, the better. We encourage people to be very proactive in preventing skin damage from environmental causes. If nothing else, use a daily facial sunscreen. UVB is the biggest type of sunlight responsible for cancer and aging, whether you wear makeup or not.
UVA rays are damaging to the skin as well and can seep through clouds, glass windows, even car windshields. I see a lot of patients with UVA damage on the left side of their faces, from driving alone. My recommendation is to use sunscreen SPF 50 or above, starting a prevention routine is the foundation of anti-aging.
What should I expect on my first visit?
First, I tell my patients everything I see. I make a visual assessment by dividing the face into 3 zones, the upper face (from the eyes up), the mid-face (cheeks and nose), and the lower face (around the mouth and chin). We are generally looking for:
- Upper Face -- Dynamic lines, such as forehead lines, crow’s feet, and sinkage around the eyes.
- Mid-Face -- Volume loss. Your skin loses volume generally staring in the late 20s and it progresses over the years. Bone loss occurs in the face too, along with fat and collagen depletion, and loss of muscle. Once you lose your support system, you begin to see the signs of aging.
- Lower-Face -- Smile lines, jowls, volume loss and small lines around the lips.
Next, I look at the entire surface of the skin, what we call "the carpet", to address the pores, red or brown spots from sun damage (freckling), and the texture of the skin. Younger faces reflect light and an older face tends to build up a lot of dead skin cells. They may also have more pigmentation from sun damage, which makes the skin appear less radiant. After the assessment, we design a skincare routine that suits their individual needs and budget.
How often do you recommend someone see a dermatologist?
Everyone should come in at least once per year for a consultation. The number of visits ultimately depends on your age. For a younger woman, we may only see her once a year. An older woman might come every 3-4 months.
What is the absolute best thing I can do for maintaining clear, healthy skin on my own?
Most of us started out with healthy, blemish-free, radiant skin. If you are young enough that you haven't acquired a lot of sun damage, you can begin an easy over-the-counter prevention treatment with a good sunscreen SPF 50 or higher. Add a plan to maintain your natural look and general softening of the skin as well, such as exfoliation or daily moisturizing. After visiting the dermatologist, you will walk out with a skincare regimen that is tailored to you. However, whatever we set up for our clients, they have to be able to maintain on their own, with their level of motivation.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that is really low on carbs and sugars, really high on vegetables, will also improve your skin by reducing inflammation. Carbs and sugar spike your blood sugar, causing a breakdown down in collagen and prevent your body from removing harmful free radicals and UV rays.
Stress management and using moderation in exercise are also important. Excessive exercise will quickly break down muscle and fat inside your entire body, including your face.
Can we talk anti-aging? I know this is a loaded question, but are there any signs I should pay attention to?
Every single person over the age of 20 should start looking for signs of aging. Some of the most visible signs are:
- Deflation of the apples of your cheeks.
- Sinkage under your eyes.
- Lines between your eyebrows or smiles lines around your mouth.
- Freckles, sun damage or old acne spots that won't fade.
- The appearance of new moles.
I workout and drink plenty of water, but I don't see my healthy efforts reflected in my face. Can a dermatologist make me look less tired and more refreshed?
We are very fortunate to be living in times when dermatologists have so many tools at their disposal. We can absolutely help everyone achieve more refreshed and radiant, smooth, younger-looking skin.
If you are following an exercise regimen and drinking plenty of water, you should continue to do so for your overall health. Water is essential to removing toxins from your body, proper kidney function and balancing your metabolism. However, don't believe the myth of 'beauty water' as a skincare remedy. Your dermatologist will tell you, there could be a lot more going on.