FutureDerm’s Exclusive Interview with Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D.

Skin Care
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. is a true pioneer in dermatology and skin care. She wears many hats: she is an internationally renowned board certified dermatologist; NY Times best-selling author; media personality and lecturer; and CEO of the Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute. She also heads the advisory board of Skin Type Solutions, Inc.

Without her, I wouldn’t have a blog today:  It was Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology textbook that inspired me to create FutureDerm.com in the first place five years ago.  Now, I am glowingly excited to report that we have an exclusive interview with Dr. Baumann!  I don’t think I could be any more excited!

FutureDerm’s Nicki Zevola (FutureDerm):  What made you become a dermatologist?

Dr. Leslie Baumann:  I was always fascinated with female CEOs like Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden.  I collect vintage cosmetic ads and compacts.  This was a hobby. I wanted to be a doctor starting in first grade.  My uncle was the Chairman of Dermatology in Galveston,Texas.  He was very active in discovering the first antifungal medications.  He inspired me to do dermatology.  When I was a dermatology resident, people were starting to talk about Botox.  I realized that the two loves could come together.

I decided to dedicate myself to cosmetic dermatology research, even though at that time there was no such thing as cosmetic dermatology.  (They only had chemical peels and sclerotherapy at the time).

FutureDerm: What are your favorite beauty and skin care products?

Cover of "Cosmetic Dermatology: Principle...
The book that started it all for FutureDerm: Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology, the best-selling cosmetic dermatology text in the world.

Dr. Baumann:  There are 3 skin care products I tell my patients and readers of my book The Skin Type Solution: Sunscreen, Antioxidants and Retinols.  Those 3 products are crucial for everyone.  I have a one hour lecture to explain why, but it is very necessary.

My favorite antioxidant is Skinceuticals Phloretin gel. My favorite OTC retinoid is Roc correction night cream.  My favorite Rx is Ziana or Tazorac.  Sunscreens I love include Blue Lizard for sensitive skin, Purpose Dual Treatment Moisturizer with SPF and La Roche Posay Antelios.  Please tell readers to take the quiz at www.skintypesolutions.com to find out their skin type and what ingredients are right for their skin!  They will get monthly newsletters explaining their skin problems and new products that are right for them.

FutureDerm:  When you buy beauty and skin care products, what do you look for?  Ingredients, delivery systems, packaging, feel, etc.?

All of the above, but most important are ingredients – ALWAYS – you need to know if there are ingredients that you may be allergic to.  For example, Fragrances, Parabens, Holistic Extracts etc..

Dr. Baumann’s favorite antioxidant gel? Phloretin CF gel.

You also need to know if there are ingredients that could cause you to break out (Mineral oil, Dimethicone, Tints in Sunscreens and Foundations etc…) Rosacea patients need to be careful of ingredients that could irritate their skin, like Vitamin C or Acids.

According to Dr. Baumann, ingredients like oxygen, hyaluronic acid, stem cells, and peptides cannot penetrate the skin, rendering them useless.

Delivery systems – yes, these are important too, as are brands.  I know what brands do the best clinical testing. Many active ingredients that are used as “buzz words” in skin care cannot penetrate the skin, leaving them useless, for instance: Oxygen, Stem Cells, Hyaluronic Acid and Peptides.

You have to also be careful not to use a product that has ingredients that can render the active ingredient useless, Vitamin C ( L – Ascorbic Acid ), Glycolic ( AHA ), and salicylic acid and kojic acid can break down Retinols/Retinoids and vitamin C.

What products are layers over other products also matters. I love Vitamin C; however, it has to be packaged in a dark container as exposure to light breaks it down. Vitamin C used in the AM before your sunscreen is the best time to apply as it can slow down melanin production and protect from sun damage.  However, you have to be careful about what products you layer over vitamin C.  Waiting 15 minutes after application of a Vitamin C products can help the situation.  When I design skin care regimens for my patients- I take all of this into account.

Also- I do research on skin care products for over 55 companies so I have a great knowledge of peculiarities of particular skin care products and formulations.

FutureDerm:  How did you devise your 16 skin types?

Dr. Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution classifies all skin into 16 different types, each with specific recommendations for care, maintenance, and products.

Dr. Baumann:  I realized that the standard oily, dry and sensitive type system was not specific enough to help aestheticians, dermatologists and consumers choose products.  At that time, I had already been involved in hundreds of skin care product research trials and I realized a better system of categorization was needed.

I also needed a better phenotypic classification system to use in my genetic research of skin types at the University of Miami.  We were (and are) looking for genes that play a role in determining skin type.  In fact, the web site skintypesolutions.com was developed as a way to collect research data.  That is why I offer all of the information free of charge.  When people take the quiz- it gives us data.  We need all the data we can get!

FutureDerm:  What is the biggest mistake you feel men and women make on their skin?

Dr. Baumann:  Not wearing sunscreen daily and lifestyle choices : Smoking, alcohol, tanning, lack of sleep.  Also they spend too much money on incorrect skin care products.

FutureDerm:  Do you feel there is a “right” age to start Botox, peels, fillers, lasers, etc.?  Is someone ever too old – or young – to start?

Dr. Baumann:  Peels can start in the teens, as they may help acne. Botox, fillers and lasers can start in mid twenties. It really depends more on the skin’s condition than on the age.  I practice in Miami so we see photoaging at an earlier age here. I have done lasers for stretch marks in people as young as 13.  You want to treat these early while still red to get the best results.  The vascular laser is the best to treat pink stretchmarks.  Botox and Dysport can prevent lines.  These should be used as soon as fine lines occur with movement.

FutureDerm:  What are your thoughts on natural, organic, or holistic products?

Dr. Baumann’s take on organic product: If an ingredient is good and you find it organic, go for it. But if you cannot find a key ingredient in an organic product, consider broadening your options.

My rule of thumb is this: if a certain ingredient is good for you, and you find it in an organic product, go for it. On the other hand, if you cannot find the key ingredients that your skin needs in organic products, then I would advise that you consider broadening your options. Even if you use a majority of organic products, you can always make an exception for a natural or conventional product of true benefit. A good example is retinoids- they are great and are not organic.  Also- the organic antioxidant options are not good at this point nor are the sunscreens.  So the most important categories of skin care do not have good organic choices.  See this blog post on Yahoo!:  Do Organic Sunscreens Work?

FutureDerm:  What are your thoughts on parabens?  Sulfates?  Phthalates? 

Dr. Baumann:  If you are sensitive to those ingredients, then find products that achieve the same results without them. Studies have yet to prove that applying these ingredients through skin care products are harmful as their content is minimal. Sulfates can strip the important lipids skin needs, so finding a great cleanser without sulfates is beneficial. See this paraben blog post.

FutureDerm:  Tell us about your partnership with Skincarerx.com.  How do you feel it improves the way people buy skin care products?

If you don’t see the Skin Type Solutions kaleidoscope logo, it’s not actually Dr. Baumann.

Dr. Baumann:  I believe it’s the best way you can care for your skin in regards to your skin type. I typed each and every product according to The Baumann Skin Typing system as well as sub typed for each sensitivity . Once you take the questionnaire, have your skin type, then the store works for you.  We are licensing the skin typing system to several stores.  It is important to know that it took years to validate the questionnaire and the skin typing system is patented.  Other copies have not undergone the rigorous testing. People have been trying to copy me.  If you do not see the Skintypesolutions kaleidoscope logo, or the name Leslie Baumann, it is not me.  There is actually a line of skin care products called Dr. Baumann Skincare with a SkinIdent system.  That is not me.  I do not have a skin care line.  I always try to use the name Leslie Baumann MD so that people will not confuse me with the German chemist (not a dermatologist or medical doctor!) who sells products under the name of Baumann.

FutureDerm:  What has been your greatest success?

Dr. Baumann:  Personally, my family of course.  My two sons are fantastic and I have been married to a great guy for 20 years. Career wise- doing the trials that led to the FDA approval of major blockbuster treatments like Botox, Dysport, Juvederm and others is very exciting.  My Cosmetic Dermatology textbook is now in 12 languages and is the best-selling cosmetic dermatology book in the world.  That is very gratifying.  However, my biggest accomplishment is that I have 6-8 million unique visitors a month and I know that my skin typing system works and has helped so many men and women in regards to anti aging, acne, rosacea, melasma and other skin issues.  I get thankful emaisl every day and that makes it all worth it.

FutureDerm:  When did you finally feel that you had “made it”?

Dr. Baumann:  Wow- I don’t feel like I have made it yet.  There is so much more I want to do! I want to help more dermatologists use the skin typing system in their offices.  I want to identify the genes I am looking for. I want to set up a formal educational system on skin care.  So much to do! It is hard to do everything with 2 kids and a husband that I love spending time with.  I love to cook and I cook almost everynight.  I think that in one way that I have made it is I have learned how to prioritize and balance my life so that I can spend time with family and have a great career.

FutureDerm:  What do you feel is the biggest question in dermatological science right now?

Dr. Baumann:  The role of genetics in skin condition.  I am interested in skin type genetics but genetics in general is so interesting.

FutureDerm:  Do you enjoy research or clinical medicine or business most?  And why?

Dr. Baumann:  I like the combination of all three.  I need a challenge to keep things interesting.  I get bored the 3rd week of vacation if I do not have a project.  *laughs* The mix of the three is best.  Research helps me do a better job recommending procedures to my patients and blog followers because I get to have experience with the products before everyone else.  Teaching other doctors helps me know who to refer people to.  The business side is challenging because I care much more about science than money!

Please help Dr. Baumann collect research data about your skin by logging onto SkinTypeSolutions.com and contributing your information today.  It’s free, anonymous, and helps support the future of dermatological science.


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  • Britney E Taylor

    Enjoyed the interview and great to hear advice on what creams and treatments Dr Baumann uses.Thought the section on Botox was particulary interesting.

  • @Josephine @Lucy – I will ask Dr. Baumann about this, and get back to you!

    For now, I refer to the studies that show that certain peptides (i.e., palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, palmitoyl oligopeptide) have effects when applied to the skin twice daily, as well as niacinamide.

    As for hyaluronic acid, I believe Dr. Baumann meant that it is still hydrating, but it lays on top of the skin, so it is not as effective as if hyaluronic acid is injected into the skin as a filler.

    Hope this helps! I’ll be in touch if Dr. B responds. 🙂

  • Lucy

    I’m with Josephine – what about peptides and niacinamide? Help!

  • josephine

    OK…now we really need your input on Peptides, Nicki! Dr. B really is awesome, but, she says “peptides cannot penetrate the skin, rendering them useless”. Help! Isn’t there a ton of research suggesting that peptides do wonders for the skin? Lot’s of posts on FD about peptides: Olay Pro-X, Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Turbo, Hydropeptide, combining various peptides, Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 and Matrixyl, etc.

    Any new thoughts on peptides?

    It’s kinda interesting she didn’t mention niacinamide.

  • Wow. What a great interview. Several years ago, I read Dr. Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution. The book was so helpful to be able to start purchasing the *correct* skin care products! Thank you to Nicki and Dr. Baumann!

  • NeenaJ

    Excellent post! I recently read her book and it is an amazing resource! Following her guidelines for my skin type, I have reduced redness, dryness and general inflammation which led to less breakouts. It’s worth noting that I’m 38 and her book has been the greatest resource I’ve ever found for getting to know my skin and the ingredients it can tolerate. I’m considering buying her textbook so I can learn more – and I’m not even a student!

    Thanks to Leslie Baumann, MD for her work and thanks to Nicki for this amazing interview!

  • Angela

    Fantastic! Thank you Leslie & Nicki for this blog post!

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