Skin Care Products Demystified!
Are you on product overload? Me too. Growth Factors, Antioxidants, Retinoids, shows like Dr. Oz and The Doctors, stores like Sephora, infomercials of skin care ‘systems’—It’s crazy and confusing! Everything promises the world but which is right for you? Well I’ve tried to simplify the “playing field” to the products with the most “bang for your buck”, those with the best science/efficacy working for them, and those that have actually worked for my patients and myself. Full Disclosure: I trained in a very medically focused dermatology residency program and am extremely skeptical of claims by cosmetic companies. However, after four years in a private practice that sells several product lines, I’ve had the opportunity to test products myself, see their effectiveness in different patient skin types, and grill pharmaceutical reps and their scientists on claims of safety/efficacy. Are there other great products out there that didn’t make my list? Of course. But since I’m a self-proclaimed skeptic, I chose to only include the products which have yielded great results in my personal experience. I’ve also indicated the ones that I personally use every day.
What is all this about GRRASS?
I’ve found that GRRASS is a good mnemonic to discuss skin care regimens. It is also for most people the order in which products are generally meant to be applied.
G= Growth Factors: Apply 1st and 2x daily. Growth factors are proprietary blends of cultured fibroblasts that cause cell signaling to regenerate collagen and elastin and thereby minimize fine lines/wrinkles.
R= Retinoids: Apply pea sized amount at night at least 15 minutes after washing face. Retinoids help regulate cell turnover, diminish breakdown of collagen, and stimulate collagen growth thereby diminishing fine lines/wrinkles, reducing brown spots and uneven pigmentation, minimizing pores, and improving skin texture.
R= Repair Cream: Apply twice daily. For me, the most worthwhile repair cream is Senté. Several companies have repair creams that are basically glorified moisturizer +/- antioxidants. Senté however, uses a key molecule, Heparan Sulfate, that is involved in many biological processes of the skin and essential in skin renewal and repair. This amazing product, diminishes fine lines, evens out pigmentation, profoundly moisturizes, and even helps with wound healing/scar fading. I recommend it to anyone interested in antiaging products and to all of my post surgical skin cancer patients to fade their new scars.
A= Antioxidants: Apply in AM. Think of these products as a ‘topical multivitamin for your skin’. They stabilize and help eliminate free radicals that lead to oxidative stress responsible for the visible signs of aging. Therefore, antioxidants can prevent further damage from the environment and promote cellular repair. They also enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens in preventing sun damage.
S=Specialty Products: Apply as directed. These are the ‘Extras’ or possibly priorities depending on your needs (Eye creams, acne products, neck creams, pigmentation/redness helpers).
S= Sunscreen (SPF 30+): Apply in AM . We all know these block damaging UV rays that lead to skin cancer and aging.
What if I can’t afford or remember all of this?
The bare minimum/non negotiable pieces of the puzzle are Sunscreen and a Retinoid. In my opinion, the next priority is Senté for its profound moisturizing, antiaging properties, and ability to improve skin tone and texture. Then add Growth Factors/Antioxidants for antiaging and added protection. Finally, additional products are icing on the cake depending on your specific issues/needs (pigmentation, acne, rosacea, undereye circles, etc). Initially, the price points may cause sticker-shock, but keep in mind that these products have real science behind them. I can (and have!) easily wasted a ton of money on less expensive ($40-$60-and not necessarily effective) products at makeup counters or Sephora, but these physician-dispensed products have actual clinical data to support them.
Keep in mind, this list is only a starting point for understanding the wide world of cosmeceuticals. It is generally tailored toward women 30 years and older and not meant to be a substitute for a thorough consultation and tailored regimen with a dermatologist or licensed medical aesthetician. All of these products are physician-dispensed but non-prescription. Please buy only from approved offices/retailers.
* indicates products that Dr. Anderson-Dockter personally uses as part of her skin care regimen
|Growth Factor||*TNS Essential Serum (SkinMedica– also has antioxidants)||Bioserum/Biocream (Neocutis)|
|Retinoid||*Avene RetrinAL (0.1% or 0.05%) cream|
|Repair||*Senté (Dermal Repair Cream with Heparan Sulfate)|
|Antioxidant||*CE Ferulic (serum by SkinCeuticals)
Protects against free radicals/brightens skin
|Phloretin CF (SkinCeuticals)
Protects against free radicals/brightens skin
|Rejuvaphyl rejuvenating complex (MDRejuvena-also has small amount of retinoid)|
Lumiere and Lumiere Riche (Neocutis)
Hydrates, reduces puffiness, and undereye darkness
Lytera Skin Brightening Complex (SkinMedica)
Lightens brown spots and evens out blotchy pigmentation
Senté Neck Firming Cream
*Peche Redness Control (Neocutis)
& Rejuvaphyl Redness Recovery (MDRejuvena)
|Sunscreen||Elta MD UV daily (tinted-SPF 40), UV Clear SPF 46 or UV facial SPF 30||*SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair (tinted or untinted also has antioxidants)—SPF 34|