Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Your skin is as unique as you are, simultaneously affected by your genetics, nutrition, stress, age, emotional well being, gut health, environmental factors and sun exposure. Understanding that the aging process is affected by a myriad of various factors - some in our control and some not - it stands to reason that skin care solutions should be tailored to meet our individual needs.
There are, of course, basic skin care guidelines that are standard for all individuals. So let's mention those really quickly to lay the foundation. First, hydration is the key to health for all body systems, including the skin. Drinking plenty of water is a must to maintain plump, healthy skin, since the skin literally needs water to be present between the cells. Second, sunscreen is a must for all skin types. Photo-aging (aging caused by the sun) causes free radicals to be released from skin cells, breaks down collagen, causes thickening of the outer layer of skin and stimulates discoloration. Finally, proper nutrition is absolutely vital to ensure that our body has the necessary nutrients to fight free radicals, build collagen and maintain moisture.
As we age, our hormone levels fluctuate wildly between pre-puberty, puberty, adulthood and late adulthood. Hormone levels greatly affect the skin causing sweat glands to develop, hair growth on the body, acne, collagen production and blood supply to the skin layers. The reduction of hormone production in late adulthood has a significant impact on the aging appearance of both men and women. It is reported that after menopause in women, we lose about 2% of collagen every year!
Skin care concerns vary based on age, lifestyle, gender and medical conditions. There are SO many products out there for the skin, it is overwhelming! How do you choose the right skin care routine for your needs, and how do you keep it simple? This is where compounding solutions for skin care can be a great treatment option for those that are interested in a personalized routine.
Working with a provider to create compounded skin care products, along with a compounding pharmacist, allows you the benefit of simplifying your skin care routine and ensuring that you have therapeutic levels of each active ingredient. Your provider can literally formulate a cream, serum or gel that has only the active ingredients needed for your skin type. Imagine the significant time and cost savings for individuals who are using multiple washes, toners, eye creams, acids, retinols, day time products and night time products.
A common issue for those with sensitive skin is intolerance to a cream base. For example, many skin care lotions or ointments have a vaseline or mineral oil base. Even though a person may need the active ingredient in a product, they may not be able to tolerate what that ingredient is mixed with to create the cream. Compounded formulations can be mixed into different cream/gel bases - and you can even get a sample of the base to take home and try on your face to see if your skin tolerates it!
With compounding, the possibilities are endless. If you have acne, compounded formulations can be adjusted each month based on how you are responding. If you have aging skin it is possible to put a number of active ingredients into a single cream including hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, retinols and peptides. If you have melasma there are safe skin lightening formulations. If you have rosacea or chronic rashes - again, specific formulations can be made based on your needs and what you tolerate.
When you find a provider that works with a compounding pharmacist, you get the benefit of two brains working together to make something unique for you. This is not a commercial for compounding pharmacies, I promise! It's just that as a provider who works with compounding pharmacists, I can honestly tell you they are a huge asset to the care team. Unlike a large cosmeceutical company trying to mass produce products, a compounding pharmacist wants to get each formula right for just one person - you!
When considering a personalized skin care routine, communication is key. Your provider should complete a full health history in order to determine both the internal and external issues that may be influencing your skin. Some testing may need to be ordered to determine your biggest issues. Your current skin care routine should be discussed and your issues/goals clearly established. When a formulation is developed for you, it is important to maintain communication with both your provider and compounding pharmacist. Once you are satisfied, then things are smooth sailing!
Another benefit to compounding is that your skin care needs may change over time. When that happens, your formulation can change and adapt to your next issue. You will need to contact your provider to discuss your changes, but again a solution will be geared toward solving your problem.
Compounding for skin care is a novel approach that offers benefits for many people of any age.
Gina Ditta-Donahue is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Anti-Aging Medicine provider with clinical experience working in Family Practice, Gastroenterology and Aesthetics. She is also co-owner of Elevate Functional Medicine.