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Professional Q&A: A Dermatologist’s Take

  • April 13, 2016
  • By Brittany
Professional Q&A: A Dermatologist’s Take

Hello! Welcome to another installment of Professional Q&A!  In Professional Q&A, I get a seasoned professional to answer your burning questions about healthy living and fitness. So far we’ve had: a health coach, a personal trainer and an athlete!

In this installment, we are talking about the largest human organ: the skin!  We don’t often think about our skin when we think about health and fitness but they are actually quite related and quite important.  Many people lead healthy and fit lives to look and feel great and part of that is taking care of your skin.  So, please give a warm welcome to my friend and dermatologist Becca Marcus Fernandes.

The healthy living community is often very focused on food and fitness in relation to a healthy lifestyle, however, healthy skin is paramount to healthy living.  What are your top skin tips for people to help live healthier lives?

Skin health is fun to think about because the healthier our skin is, the better we look, and who doesn’t love to look great? Our skin really is an outward reflection of our overall health, so it’s important to take care of our bodies from the inside out in order to achieve a healthy glow. A diet rich in antioxidant-filled fruits and veggies, healthy fats such as avocado, walnuts and salmon, and plenty of water will help keep our skin in top form. Avoiding sugar, simple carbs and alcohol will minimize inflammation and help to prevent premature aging. And of course I can’t stress enough how important it is both for health and beauty reasons to protect our skin from the sun and other environmental toxins such as pollution and cigarette smoke.

We are bombarded with so many products on the market promising better and more beautiful skin.  What should consumers look for when shopping for skin products?

I like to keep my skin care routine simple. The best routine is one that we will realistically be able to stick to and enjoy. Taking a few minutes each morning and night to cleanse our skin and apply a few carefully curated products should be a pleasant ritual. My skincare routine aims to protect during the day and repair overnight by using an antioxidant serum and sunscreen each morning, and a retinoid at night. When you’re using more than one product you can layer lightest to heaviest to maximize absorption of each one. For example, you would apply a serum first, then a lotion, and a heavy cream would go on last. Lately I have been focused on products that do not contain parabens, sulfates or phthalates as these ingredients can have some nasty side effects and are thought to disrupt the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating hormones. Fragrance is also on my naughty list as it tends to cause irritation and sensitivity. First Aid Beauty is an excellent choice for safe and effective products.

[bctt tweet=”What are the best steps for skin care? Hear from a dermatologist! #professionals #skin #dermatologist ” username=”MyOwnBalance”]

We hear a lot about laser treatments, injections like Botox, fillers and so much more.  How do we know if one of these treatments are right for us?  Is there a point where we should be concerned we are going overboard with procedures?

There are so many exciting devices and injectables on the market, and it seems like there’s always something new popping up in this area! These modalities can be useful for erasing and even preventing wrinkles, restoring youthful fullness to the face or correcting an undesirable shape in a particular area, tightening sagging skin, improving the texture of aging skin, diminishing pigmentation and redness, and even zapping away unwanted fat. My personal philosophy is that the best cosmetic work is that which is undetectable. I aim to use small adjustments to help my patients look healthy and rested, and I recommend starting slowly and taking time between treatments in order to accurately assess what the full effect will be. With injectables you can always add more product, but it is difficult and often impossible to take product away (other than letting it wear off over time), so I start with a little and then have patients come back for adjustments if needed two weeks later. 

A lot of people, myself included, are huge fans of staying active outdoors.  While wearing sunscreen outside is obviously important, what else should we consider doing to keep our skin healthy when we workout outdoors?

Outdoor exercise is an important part of keeping our bodies and spirits in top form, but it can certainly take a toll on our skin if we’re not vigilant about sun protection. I recommend using an antioxidant serum on the face and neck every day, but especially on days when one will be outdoors. It adds an extra layer of UV protection and also protects the skin from other free radicals such as polluted air. For outdoor sports we should apply a sweat proof sunscreen with SPF 50 and reapply every two hours, or more frequently in case of swimming or excessive sweating. I am a big fan of UV protective clothing, and I have been known to go to the beach in a high-necked, long-sleeved swim shirt and a big floppy hat! The UV protective swimwear is especially useful for babies and kids, who are notoriously difficult to wrangle for repeated sunscreen applications. It’s also very important to protect our eyes with UV proof sunglasses as excessive sun exposure can lead to macular degeneration and even ocular melanoma.

It seems like the more we age, the more we hear about “preventing aging.”  While no one can truly prevent aging, what are some steps we can take to measurably reduce the signs of agin in our skin?

In order to age as gracefully as possible we should aim to protect and repair our skin on a daily basis and then add periodic in-office treatments for a more dramatic effect. The most basic necessity is making sure that skin is clean twice a day. Dirt, oil, and pollution can build up on the skin and cause oxidative stress, which we want to avoid at all costs! Antioxidants are key, both applied topically and ingested in the foods we eat and also by drinking tea. An anti-inflammatory, low-sugar diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats combined with plenty of hydration will keep us glowing from the inside out. Although it varies tremendously from person to person, probably at some point in our thirties it’s worth considering injectable neurotoxins for improving the appearance of existing fine lines and helping to prevent the development of more. Energy-based devices such as Ulthera or Thermage may be a good idea beginning sometime in the late 30s or early 40’s especially for tightening the eyelid/brow area and around the jawline. These are very general recommendations, though, and each individual will have very different needs based on their genetics and lifestyle. An appointment with a board-certified dermatologist to come up with a customized plan of attack is essential! 

Thanks so much Becca!  These are really informative answers and I know I’ve learned a lot!
Readers, what’s your biggest skin concern?  Are you an avid sunscreen wearer?

By Brittany, April 13, 2016
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  • GiGi Eats
    April 13, 2016

    My skin care regime consists of…. Eating healthfully! I always get complimented on my skin… And my CLEAR eyes – and I always say: ITS DIET PEOPLE! Sure I moisturize and I make sure to wash my face every morning and night. But I don’t do facials, I don’t do masks or peels or any of that crap. I just use one cleanser and one moisturizer and DONE!

    I actually have recently found VASELINE to be the absolute BEST THING EVER!! I put it under my eyes and around my nose – SOOOO GOOD!

  • Sam @ Barrister's Beet
    April 13, 2016

    Thanks for this great interview! It’s refreshing to hear a doctor talk about the potential endocrine disruption role parabens and phthalates may have. I’ve been using more and more oils (coconut, jojoba, argan, etc) and less harsh chemicals. I also fell in love with Acure organics line. They make awesome face wash! I actually have a post going up in the morning about skin care chemicals : )

  • Holly
    April 18, 2016

    What a nice blog from a dermatology perspective. I have never heard of Energy-based devices. You are so spot on, Becca — we all look better, healthier, fitter, happier, younger, springier when we get enough sleep !

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