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Answers to seven crucial questions on skin care

1. What is the number one mistake that women make when it comes to anti-aging skincare?

Following “tradition”. Tradition is not necessarily based on science or experience but rather a set of rules that may no longer valid. Clean your skin? Yes, but be careful not to remove valuable lipids that make up the skin barrier. Toner? Why? Toners used to contain alcohol to dehydrate the skin and make it feel taut. Now we know better. Then, moisturize to try and replace the valuable skin components that you removed by following the first two rules? Silly!

2. Which key ingredients should a woman look for in an anti-aging product?

Epidermal growth factor, essential fatty acids, antioxidants (low molecular weight and proteins).Vitamin A is also a messenger/signal, like EGF. You need to give the skin the nutrients it needs to follow the instructions given by EGF or vitamin A, etc. And remember that when it comes to messengers, there are good and bad messengers. Don’t use an ingredient that may damage your skin just because it is popular. Popularity may be fueled by advertising and then you end up with sponge spiculae (don’t ask!) in your skin!

3. How long should a woman try a skincare product before she decides whether or not it is effective?

If it hurts/inflames, stop at once. A good product should not hurt. It may be possible to use it later, after you correct the problem that makes the interaction skin/product, painful. Or maybe never. If you are allergic (or become allergic) to an ingredient, you are very unlikely to get over this allergy but very likely to make the symptoms worse.

If the product does not hurt and the ingredient list make sense to you, give it time. You are trying to modify the biochemistry and physiology of your skin and that takes months, not minutes. Any fast (5 minutes) result is a make-up-like and will be washed away, like a polysaccharide or protein that dries up like a film and stretches your skin with it.

It took decades of sun, pollution and life to age your skin, it will take months to reverse some of that structural and functional damage.

4. What breakthrough ingredient/s are you most excited about?

All the proteins that we can now make and afford, like epidermal growth factor and antioxidant proteins. Until recently they were not available commercially and we are very fortunate that now they are. We are so much better off than our mothers were!

5. Are there ingredients that are commonly used in skincare that should be avoided?

Yes: benzoyl peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, they will accelerate skin aging and modify the DNA of our own skin stem cells and you don’t get to reverse that. And natural ingredients that are highly allergenic, like Balsam of Peru.

6. Describe an ideal skincare regimen for a woman over 40 (example: cleanser, antioxidant serum, etc.).

Clean with a cleanser that does not contain detergents or alcohol, rinse well with water (you can use floral water as long as you are not allergic to the flower from which it is extracted). Then apply serum containing epidermal growth factor plus every nutrient your skin needs, followed by an oil-based serum that contains essential fatty acids and antioxidants. I would also use a vitamin A cream twice a week.

Don’t forget lips, eye brows, eye lashes and scalp!

7. What skincare treatments and procedures do you consider the most effective?

I avoid anything that includes using high energy tools, unless the objective is to kill cells (like removing facial hair). You can improve much with topical treatments but it is important to remember that treatments can harm too. For example, before doing blepharoplasty I would first try a good serum with epidermal growth factor.