Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It reflects your health and your biological age. It can be glowing and smooth, or uncomfortably tight, itchy, flaky or sunburned, depending on how well you take care of it. In order to put your best face forward, we asked top skin care experts for their thoughts about celebrity trends, tried-and-true regimens, and how to keep our skin looking younger, longer.
Kathryn Barlow, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist • Dermatology Consultants, Eagan • dermatologyconsultants.com
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice to women over 40 on how best to protect their skin, what would you say?
A. There are three essential steps to protect your skin. First, use a moisturizer with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 daily. Choose a product that has either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as one of the ingredients. Second, use a topical antioxidant serum daily (like SkinCeuticals CE Ferrulic or Phloretin CF) in the morning under your sunscreen to help further prevent UV and environmental damage. Lastly, use a retinol-containing product nightly to help reverse some of the signs of skin damage like fine lines and pigmentation.
Q. What are your thoughts about the following skincare trends: Peptide treatments? Oxygen therapy facials? Bee venom facials?
A. Bee venom has been touted as a “natural” Botox, and claims to tighten skin and improve skin texture. Although there is a compound called melittin in the venom that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, there are no reliable scientific studies to support the use of bee venom at this time. Furthermore, repeated use could cause a severe allergic reaction, so I’d recommend skipping this trend for now.
Oxygen therapy facials use a device to apply oxygen under high pressure along with various topical serums (often containing hyaluronic acid) to help deliver these products into the skin. Although there are some studies that demonstrate the benefit of hyperbaric oxygen to improve skin quality, there needs to be more research as to whether or not these devices can actually deliver on this promise.
Peptides are small amino acids that—if absorbed into the skin—can stimulate collagen production, resulting in diminished fine lines and wrinkles. There are some promising studies showing benefits of specific products, and these are worth incorporating into your skin care regimen.
Q. What are ceramides and retinoids? Why are they important?
A. Ceramides are an essential protein component of the skin’s natural moisture barrier. As we make less of these over time, our skin gets dryer. People prone to eczema genetically make less ceramides in their skin. Using hydrating cleansers or moisturizers containing ceramides can be very beneficial to treating and preventing dry skin.
Retinoids are the prescription version of retinol. They are vitamin A derivatives that have many benefits to the skin. They help to increase skin cell turn over, boost collagen production, and help fade areas of hyperpigmentation (brown spots or freckles) all leading to improved skin appearance, texture, and tone. They can cause dryness and irritation with overuse, so use with a moisturizer. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid these products.
Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist • Clinical professor of dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School, and medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology, Eagan • crutchfielddermatology.com
Q. What, in your opinion, is the “Fountain of Youth” when it comes to skin care?
A. Well, we all know there really is no true “Fountain of Youth;” however, over the last several years there have been many new and effective treatments developed to rejuvenate your skin. I like to take a synergistic approach, using many little things to make a big difference. My goal is not to make patients look different than their age, but to make patients look great for their age. When it comes to rejuvenation of the face, we use a combination of things that we call the liquid facelift. This involves using filling agents like Selphyl, Restylane, Juvéderm, Perlane, and other products—such as Dysport and Botox—to relax dynamic lines of the face. Oftentimes we will combine these treatments with light alpha-hydroxy acid peels, laser treatments, and phototherapy treatments to even out red and dark spots.
Q. How does a consumer know they’re going to a qualified professional?
A. When you are considering any type of aesthetic medical treatment, make sure that you receive an evaluation from a physician who is a member of the Doctors for the Practice of Safe and Ethical Aesthetic Medicine.
Brian Zelickson, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist • Zel Skin & Laser Specialists, Edina • zelskin.com • Skin Specialists, Ltd. • Minneapolis and Wayzata
Q. Why does our skin become more dry as we age?
A. As we age we lose some of the barrier functions of our skin. The top layers of the skin become thinner, certain protective oils produced in our skin are diminished, and the blood supply of our skin changes. All of these changes give way to drier skin. Hormonal changes can also affect the skin in various ways including increased dryness. To combat this, it’s important to hydrate and use moisturizers and humectants that help hold moisture in the skin, such as alphahydroxy acids and lipids. Other way to avoid dry skin: pat your skin dry after you shower, then use a bath oil or moisturizer right afterward to trap the moisture in. Use a humidifier if needed, and drink plenty of water.
Q. What does the skin need nutritionally to get that ‘healthy glow’?
A. Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. It’s important to live a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a healthy diet, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and moisturize the skin. Aside from carrying serious health risks, smoking and sun exposure can age your skin.
Q. What else should we know?
A. The skin is a very important dynamic organ and needs constant protection and care. As noted above, limit harmful exposure such as UV light and tobacco use, and incorporate regular exercise, good nutrition, and hydration. After that, use a well-formulated simple skin care plan consisting of a good broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 (or more) in the morning, and use an antioxidant and retinol daily.
Jeremy W. Cook, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist • Dermatology Consultants, Woodbury • dermatologyconsultants.com
Q. With spring right around the corner, how should our skincare routine change?
A. Spring is the perfect time to re-evaluate your sun protection practices. Really, skin protection is all about the sun. We know that ultraviolet radiation alters skin pigment, induces the breakdown of collagen, and contributes to loss of elasticity, which ultimately leads to sunspots, wrinkles, and changes in skin tone associated with aging. Preventing the damaging effects of chronic skin exposure—or, when this fails, targeting the damage with specific therapies—is key to maintaining a healthy and youthful complexion.
Using a daily moisturizer or cosmetic product with built-in sunscreen is a great way to start your summer skin care routine. Outside of sun protection, the heat and perspiration that come with summer can exacerbate a number of skin problems, including acne and eczema. A good cleansing and moisturizing regimen can help refresh the skin during even the hottest summer days.
President and founder, StormSister Spatique • stormsister.biz
Q. How should we upgrade our skincare as we get older?
A. I’m 48 and I use much richer skincare products now than I could have used in my 20s or 30s. I’m a fan of using cleansing cream or cleansing milk or oil. Retire the “sudsy” cleansers.
Exfoliate once or twice per week and follow with a hydrating mask. Then follow up with toner (non-alcohol—rose water is great) and a serum while your skin is still damp. Finally, moisturize. I use a night cream before bed and then an anti-aging moisturizer during the day. (I ramp it up at night, when skin is repairing, restoring, and regenerating.)
Q. what brands do you recommend?
A. I use bits and pieces of three brands: Phytomer, Vie Collection, and Phytoceane, owned by the same parent company, Phytomer. I’ve used these brands for 20 years, with fantastic results. (The Mayo clinic in Rochester just opened their first spa, Rejuvenate. They chose Phytomer as their exclusive skincare brand. The most influential medical institution in the world picks Phytomer as their exclusive skincare brand? Enough said.)
I also think professional facials are really important for the overall health of your skin. At a bare minimum, get one as each season changes. If your wallet can provide for more, do it!
Dr. Malinee Saxena, M.D. & Dr. Jane B. Moore, M.D.
My Dermatologist • Inver Grove Heights • mydermtc.com
Q. What skincare line do you stand behind as being the most effective/having the best results? Why?
A. We recommend CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF from Skinceuticals, well-formulated vitamin C products made in the USA. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps decrease sun damage and helps improve wrinkles and aging skin. Retinoids, vitamin A, are used with these products to also improve skin texture and decrease aging skin. Our favorite sunscreens are sheer and contain titanium and zinc.