When patients ask me about their skincare, my scientific wheels start spinning. I am first a scientist who happens to be a dermatologist, and I am secondly a consumer. This means that I always think about the why and the what in my skincare. If I am going to recommend a particular product, I want to be certain that it is actually doing the best job in the market at performing what it says it will do. I am also hyper-alert to the ingredients that provide that particular effect. If I understand the science behind what it will do, I can feel confident in recommending that to my patients.

When it comes to anti-aging, it is important to know about the key molecule associate with the science of anti-aging. Collagen is the #1 molecule when it comes to aging. As we age, our ability to produce enough collagen declines and thus the quality of the skin reverts to more fine lines, deep or coarse wrinkles and even discolorations in the skin such as brown spots or red blood vessels. In regards to anti-aging skincare, the most important question that allows us to compare apples to apples is this: does it build collagen? Does this product assist the skin in keeping up with our continually declining ability to produce new collagen. There are actual stains that can be run on skin cells to determine if this all-important protein is being increased in number within the skin. I know of very few skincare companies which actually test, using these special stains, as to whether their anti-aging product is actually producing more collagen. The best one to test and retest and retest and retest….SkinMedica®. Not only do they run tests on human skin cells, but they run literally hundreds of thousands of tests on the same product before it ever goes to market. What are they testing for in all of these tests? I will tell you! They are testing to see if the product actually does what they promise it will do once it is sitting in a bottle on a shelf in your bathroom. They are also testing to be sure they have the best combination of ingredients, and not a single unnecessary ingredient. If it is not doing something of value in the product, it does not belong. This is not my philosophy but the philosophy of the scientists at SkinMedica®. With the acquisition of SkinMedica® by Allergan, the research and development budge soared upwards towards $10 million and continues to be an area of emphasis for this growing company.

SkinMedica® was the first company to conceptualize collagen-stimulating growth factors. Dr. Fitzpatrick was, at the time, the laser expert on deep resurfacing techniques, and he built his product line on what would encourage the fastest and best wound healing time post-treatment. From there, the company continued to expand the line into new skincare products which contained these vital growth factors. It continues to expand into new areas, producing, on average, 1-2 new product launches per year. With the money being poured into R&D after the Allergan acquisition, the company expects to average 2-3 product launches per year since the massive amount of testing can be run using advanced technology. Just the computer data from running thousands of tests which are generated daily is something of a challenge for the IT experts manage. I believe when we are talking about products that are sold in department stores or drug stores, it is necessary to know this back information on scientific testing. Certainly, there is a small degree of testing performed on these types of products before they are sold to the masses, but to compare it to the leader in the science of skincare, would be similar to comparing a kindergarten student to a PhD candidate in biochemistry. There is no comparison. When patients ask me about the products, I want them to understand this. I point to the 11 clinical studies behind their hero product, SkinMedica® TNS Essential Serum®. No other company can beat this data when it comes to anti-aging. I also think it is necessary to know the level of education and skincare knowledge from the person who is guiding and directing you in your skincare needs.

I used to downplay moisturizers, stating that as long as patients are using the newer ceramide replacement products, they do not need to spend the higher dollar amount to get a decent product that does what it says. In fact, many products that are touted by their manufacturers as “anti-aging” in effect, are in reality, really good moisturizers, thus giving the consumer a nice immediate plumping effect which gives the illusion of less lines or wrinkles. The reality is a simple temporary fix. However, with the launch of SkinMedica®’s newest HA5, I can no longer say that moisturizers are “all the same”. This was is unique in that it accomplishes so much–hydration, but long-lasting hydration throughout the following eight hours after applying it. We are now learning so much about he top-most layer of the skin based on the work of SkinMedica® with this unique product. In the January 2016 Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, there was an article published regarding their findings titled “A New Approach in Topical Hyaluronic Acid: Going Beyond Instant Benefits to Restore Epidermal HA Homeostasis”. I found it fascinating reading, but I can translate it for my patients. Basically, the hyaluronic acid that we make within our skin only lasts about an hour before it is metabolized. This substance keeps our skin hydrated and plumped.

As we continue to age into our 40s, we lose our ability to create as much HA (hyaluronic acid). With this on board, we are effectively replacing a much-needed substance but it lasts throughout the day and night while normalizing oil production. Additionally, on stains, one can see how the two main layers of the skin–the epidermis and dermis–interact with one another, and this product can produce positive change in the deeper layers of the tissue as well in regards to collagen stimulation and, thus, anti-aging.

I could go on for hours, but I find it fascinating. Why? Because I am the skincare expert. Many patients simply want to know “what can I use to make my skin look its best”? I always educate my patients about sunscreen as the #1 priority, and then we move into a more customized skincare regimen based on their skin type and issues. I keep the science in my mind, and encourage my patients to use these physician-recommended products with confidence, as I am best suited to direct and guide them with their skincare needs as their dermatologist.