Taking care of your face is not a periodic activity. Cosmetic surgery or clinical procedures can make you look years younger, but daily skin care is the foundation for maintaining a youthful, glowing appearance.
“There is a lot that can be done with home care,” says Jennifer Bloss, a licensed esthetician with Dr. Judith Gurley Plastic Surgery in Chesterfield. “There are great products, such as Retin-A and hydroquinone, that can make real change.”
Most clinicians swear by the rejuvenating effects of Retin-A, one brand of a topical prescription retinoid that reduces wrinkles and pigmentation when used consistently over time. Hydroquinone is another prescription product used to lighten sun spots and other types of skin pigmentation.
“We carry Obagi, and it does a fantastic job of changing the texture, pores and laxity,” Bloss says. “I absolutely love Obagi, so much so that I wouldn’t work anywhere that doesn’t carry it. It’s the gold standard for making skin look great, I’ve found nothing that comes close to touching it.”
Bloss admits that the Obagi program may seem like it requires using a lot of products in the beginning, “but if managed properly by the esthetician, it isn’t that way ongoing,” she says. “The maintenance phase of Obagi requires only three products in the morning and three or four products in the evening, one of which is the same cleanser.”
Obagi offers some items that contain hydroquinone, and the program is often augmented with Retin-A. Bloss likes the ability to tweak aspects to fit individual needs. For instance, some people may not be able to tolerate daily Retin-A, so that could be used less frequently or in smaller amounts.
“I haven’t seen a single product that alone rectifies skin issues,” she says. “One or two products can make minor changes to the skin, but to see a true transformation, it takes more than that. But there are ways to work with a few items and still to make real changes to the skin.”
Joanne Hetlage, a licensed esthetician who works with Dr. Michele Koo at the Aesthetic Surgery Institute, notes that different product lines offer different benefits. “We carry four lines, and each recommendation we make is individualized and includes only what that patient really needs,” she says.
Koo sees each patient for an initial evaluation and then follows up in six to eight weeks to adjust the program as needed, Hetlage says. “We’re mindful of what people are spending and of what’s really effective. Women who are busy want to cleanse and moisturize in the morning, then cleanse again and treat their wrinkles and brown spots in the evenings.”
Hetlage is a fan of Tri-Luma, a prescription cream that contains a corticosteroid to calm irritation, a retinoid to fight wrinkles and a bleaching agent. “Retin-A is great, but Tri-Luma is a three-in-one product, so you get more benefit from it than you would from Retin-A alone,” she says. “Also, Retin-A can cause irritation, and Tri-Luma is a bit less irritating.”
The biggest problem Hetlage sees in skin care is that women often go to department stores and buy very expensive products that have no medical basis to back up their claims of effectiveness. “If you want good skin care, go to a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist who really knows the product lines,” she says.
Also, she notes that patients who seek consultations from physicians receive the additional benefit of having their skin assessed for any suspicious lesions that require further evaluation.
“The best things you can do for your skin: wear sunscreen, stop smoking and drink lots of water,” Hetlage concludes.