Expert Skincare Tips & Tricks by Dr. Becca Marcus
Wondering what products are right for your skin concerns? We’ve interviewed dermatologist Dr. Becca Marcus, to get insight on what works best for each skin type. She even highlights new and exciting trends as well as buzz-worthy skincare ingredients. Read on to find out her recommendations!
To better understand what products are right for you, Dr Becca Marcus’s answers are below.
1. What are your patients most concerned about, and what do you recommend for them?
Some of the most common concerns I hear from patients include fine lines/wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes, skin laxity (especially around the jawline/jowls), and dark spots on the face and chest. In addition, I treat a lot of patients for acne, and not just teenagers - acne frequently occurs in adults too. I recommend a holistic approach that combines skincare, in-office procedures, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet. Sometimes prescription medication will also be a useful adjunct, especially when treating acne, rosacea, and melasma.
2. Can you explain the role of antioxidants in skincare?
Antioxidants are molecules that protect skin by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have an unpaired electron. They are a product of UV radiation, pollution, and other environmental stressors, and they basically wreak havoc on skin, causing DNA damage that results in collagen breakdown, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation.
Antioxidants come to the rescue, pairing with the unpaired electron and thereby stabilizing the molecule, rendering it harmless. An antioxidant serum is a perfect first step to any skincare routine, and in fact, I consider antioxidants to be essential to daily skincare. Vitamin C is the best studied topical antioxidant, and is an excellent choice for daily skincare. However, it is not the only option, as there are many potent and effective topical antioxidants that are used in skincare formulas. A few examples include Natura Bisse C+C Antiox Solution, Dr. Barbara Sturm The Good C Vitamin C Serum, and 111Skin Vitamin C Brightening Booster.
3. What do you see trending in skincare that excites or interests you?
The recent “no makeup” look is appealing to me because it encourages people to focus on nurturing and cultivating healthy, radiant skin, and as a derm I am all for healthy skin! This trend is related to the jello skin and glass skin trends, in which the goal is to achieve glowing, hydrated, plumped, bouncy skin. In order to achieve this look, a commitment to healthy skin habits, including nurturing it with the best ingredients and religious use of sunscreen, is essential. I like it because it encourages habits that maximize skin health. Also, I have to admit that I like the acne positivity trend. I’m glad that there is a skincare trend that embraces each human’s beauty by celebrating the reality of imperfections as well.
4. What specific ingredients would you recommend men/women to look for and/or avoid when their concern is:
Dryness/hydration: For dry skin, first apply a humectant, such as hyaluronic acid to draw water into the skin, and the top with an emollient cream to seal that moisture in. Those with dry skin should ideally try to avoid fragranced products as it can be irritating, especially when the skin barrier is already compromised.
Hyperpigmentation/dark spots: Best ingredients to look for include kojic acid, tranexamic acid, Vitamin C, and Niacinamide. Sunscreen is extremely important here as it will help to prevent worsening of existing spots and recurrence of spots that have been treated.
Elasticity: Peptides are chains of amino acids that have many functions in the body, including acting as building blocks for collagen and elastin. They are an excellent choice for those who wish to increase skin elasticity. Plant based stem cells such as Malus Domestica Cell Culture and Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract also support both collagen and elastin and enhance skin elasticity.?
Wrinkles: Collagen stimulation can help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol both stimulates collagen and prevents its breakdown, so I definitely recommend retinol for everyone who can tolerate it. One important exception to note is that retinol cannot be used during pregnancy. Bakuchiol is a retinol alternative that has become popular lately. Although it works in a slightly different way, bakuchiol has been shown in studies to improve wrinkles.
Dullness: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, and malic acid are exfoliants that can improve dull skin by gently exfoliating and clearing away dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Shiitake mushroom extract, licorice extract, and arbutin are commonly used for skin brightening.
Breakouts: Retinol may help, although for moderate to severe acne, it’s best to see a dermatologist for prescription treatments. Cleansers and toners containing salicylic acid are helpful in breeding down sebum and clearing pores. Niacinamide is known for normalizing oil production and helping to control oily skin. For those prone to breakouts, I recommend looking for the word “non-comedogenic” on the label. Although some oils qualify as non-comedogenic, it’s best to avoid heavier oils and butters such as coconut, palm, soybean and flaxseed oil.
5. What specific steps would you recommend as a standard skincare regimen?
We’ve often heard cleanse, tone, serum, moisturize and SPF - I recommend finding a skincare routine that you find pleasurable and will be able to stick to. For many people, this means keeping it simple, as too many steps often becomes unrealistic for many people’s daily routine.
Cleansing is an important first step. If someone has a specific concern such as oiliness, they may choose to add a toner, but many people can skip this step. As a general rule, products should be applied lightest to heaviest. If you have two products with similar textures, then apply the most active product first. Serum should be applied to freshly cleaned skin, followed by moisturizer if you need it (and this may vary from day to day or season to season), and then sunscreen as a final step.
At night, there are a few modifications. First, make sure that makeup, sunscreen and dirt are fully removed. This may require either micellar water as a first step before cleanser, or a double cleanse with an oil based product followed by a water based cleanser, or an enzyme cleanser such as Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder. Next, apply a serum and/or retinol. Finally, top off with a restorative moisturizing cream. I also like to treat my lips with either a balm or lip mask overnight to repair and prevent dehydration of this delicate skin.
6. How often should you exfoliate?
For most people, exfoliating twice weekly is sufficient. I recommend the Sisley-Paris Exfoliating Enzyme Mask and the Susanne Kaufmann Glow Mask. Physical scrubs can be too abrasive and can cause damage to the top layer of the skin, so I prefer to avoid these for the most part. It’s important to exfoliate gently, and not to overdo it. The goal is to remove dead, dull cells on the skin’s surface without disrupting the skin barrier!
7. There is so much buzz about certain skincare ingredients - can you explain the following ingredients we hear so much about – and what they do?
Hyaluronic Acid: A lubricating substance that is naturally found in the human body in the skin, eyes, and joints. It acts in the skin as a humectant, or a substance that attracts moisture into the skin. When used in skincare products, hyaluronic acid hydrates, smooths and plumps skin.
Niacinamide: An antioxidant also known as Vitamin B3. When applied to the skin, this powerful antioxidant helps to minimize enlarged pores, brighten skin tone, minimize dullness, reduce sebum, and strengthen the skin barrier. Niacinamide functions as an anti-inflammatory and helps skin to retain moisture.
Bakuchiol: This has been shown to act in a similar manner as retinol, working via the same receptors to help improve hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and skin elasticity. Bakuchiol is known for being better tolerated than retinol, and may be a useful alternative for those who cannot tolerate retinol.
Probiotics: They have been shown to decrease irritation and redness when applied topically to the skin. Probiotics help to balance the skin’s microbiome and fortify its natural defenses.
Thank you, Dr. Becca Marcus, for sharing all your helpful recommendations for different skin concerns. We trust your expertise and are excited to take the correct steps in our routine!
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