What’s In My Cabinet?

Written on: Feb 19, 2019
By: Shari Hicks-Graham

I have a responsibility as a dermatologist to make recommendations that I believe will help my patients with the issues they are dealing with. Whether the issue is common or rare, medical or cosmetic, I want all of my patients to have confidence in me as a physician. Inevitably, patients look to me not only for expert advice but they also want to see me lead by example. So, it helps if my face, scalp, hair, nails, etc. look healthy! I have suffered from acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation at various times in my life, and must use products to keep those issues in check. So, I thought I would give you a peek into my bathroom cabinet and share my three-step daily facial routine. I stand by these products!


Step 1: Cleansing

My favorite twice-daily cleansing product is the CeraVe Foaming Wash. I use it in the morning to freshen my skin and prep it for a morning serum (read more in step 2). In the evening, cleansing with this wash is key for removing debris that come from everyday activity and the environment like oil, perspiration and makeup (I also boost the effect around my eyes with the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for gentle makeup removal). Most people can use Cerave Foaming Wash because it leaves the skin feeling clean and balanced from a moisture perspective. However, for more dry or sensitive skin types, consider using the CeraVe Hydrating Wash to prevent that tight skin feeling that coincides with dryness and can lead to discoloration.  I appreciate this line because it contains ceramides which act to support a healthy skin barrier,  hyaluronic acid to boost water retention in the skin, and calming anti-inflammatory niacinamide. Overall, these ingredients help keep the skin barrier healthy and calm, without leaving a filmy residue behind that could promote acne.  

Step 2: Treating

I typically apply a high-quality serum to treat any trouble spots and help keep my skin looking fresh. Full disclosure - serums are expensive at times and are not a necessity. However, I believe that they can play an integral role in smoothing out discoloration and preventing fine lines - gently. Serums are effective, but they do take a bit of time to act, so allow for at least 3 months to see results. In my opinion, skin care is a marathon, not a sprint. The goal is to look healthy for life, not just the next big event. My favorite products have antioxidants like vitamin C, growth factors, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to help enhance the natural ability of the skin to repair itself after being exposed to the environment or having acne breakouts that lead to discoloration. I find myself reaching most for SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex (a luxury powerhouse of all things good for skin preservation), Lumivive Day and Night (a newer product for environmental defense), Alastin Restorative Complex (respected for maintaining skin’s firmness and moisture balance) and SkinBetter Alto Defense Serum (packed with antioxidants to fight the skin’s stressors). For a more modest price point, I love the Olay Regenerist line, and the full Neutrogena Hydroboost product line as well. These products add a level of smart hydration without clogging pores and creating unnecessary shine.  

Step 3: Protecting

Last but certainly not least, I rely on a daily moisturizer with sunscreen to protect my skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Even during the winter, everyone should use SPF, regardless of skin color! I have been thrilled with Neutrogena Visably Even Daily Moisturizer and the LaRoche-Posay Toleraine Double Repair Moisturizer. These two often vye for first place in my routine because of their attributes - the Neutrogena moisturizer is great to help power away discoloration from acne, and the LaRoche-Posay product is a nice and lightweight formula that disappears and doesn’t make me feel greasy while effectively moisturizing. They both are broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 30 which help protect against UVA & UVB rays, preventing premature photodamage (aka - the look of aging skin). They also don’t make my skin look ashy and blend in well. Other active ingredients include soy, ceramides, and niacinamide to help protect the skin and fade blemishes gently. During summer months or when on a hot vacation, I recommend boosting the SPF well above 50, even to 85-100, for the best protection.  

As much as I love beauty products, I love an easy and simple morning and evening routine just as much so my cabinet reflects that. The products mentioned within this post work great for my skin type, which tends to be normal to oily, but sensitive at times. For more detailed and personalized suggestions, I recommend seeing a board-certified dermatologist or health care provider in your area. Feel free to let me know what you think about this or if you have any other topics that you would like me to review.


Live free and clear,