What Real Dermatologists…And I…Use on Our Skin

Skin Care

Recently, I received an e-mail from a reader wanting to know what I use on my skin, and specifically, if the creams featured on the upper right hand corner of the page are my moisturizers. Unfortunately, no; those moisturizers are a stock picture from another site! However, I have listed the moisturizers I use daily below, along with highly recommended products and the dermatologists who recommend them.

…But First, Consider Your Type of Skin

I have fair, normal skin that tends to get oily in the T-zone. In addition, according to the 88-question survey in Dr. Leslie Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution, my skin is slightly dry and sensitive, pigmented and tight (DSPT). Dr. Baumann is the Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at the University of Miami, and her The Skin Type Solution book recommends specific cleansers, moisturizers, powders and sunscreens for each of sixteen different skin types. I recommend her book highly, as in the March 2006 issue of Allure magazine, it was said perfectly: “One [even great] skin cream absolutely doesn’t fit all.” Therefore, specific recommendations for you in The Skin Type Solution are most likely better than generalized recommendations, so please, keep that in mind.

Morning routine

Cetaphil cleanser. A very simple cleanser that removes make-up and oily residue without clogging pores. Many dermatologists recommend it; in fact, an extensive list of praises in the news from dermatologists is available here.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($95.99, Amazon.com). By far, the most expensive product I use. When I started using it at nineteen, I had three small sunspots on my face. Six weeks later, they were much lighter; within a year, they were gone. My story is validated by current research, which has demonstrated that a solution of 5% or greater of L-ascorbic acid eliminates the appearance of sunspots, although substantially less than 4% hydroquinone. The product’s other features are additionally backed by an independent 2003 study by Lin et. al. which affirmed that a solution of 15% L-ascorbic acid and 1% alpha-tocopherol (such as that found in Skinceuticals CE Ferulic) increases photoprotection against damaging UV rays and free radical formation. A recent 2007 study in Dermatological Surgery further established that L-ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol (the most potent form of vitamin E) synergistically enhance one another in cosmeceuticals for enhanced collagen production, inhibition of the acute ultraviolet (UV) damage of erythema, sunburn, and tanning, as well as chronic UV photoaging and skin cancer. I talk about this product all the time, but just because it is one of my favorites.

In the fall/winter: NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($55.00, NIA24.com). The product contains 5% Pro-NiacinTM, which has been shown to have effects similar to that of niacinamide, which, according to Bissett et. al., reduces fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing), and increases elasticity. NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 also contains 9.4% micronized Titanium Dioxide and 3.6% Zinc Oxide. Although I would prefer it to be more zinc oxide than titanium dioxide, the product is an excellent way to get the effects of niacin with a sunscreen everyday. One caveat: for the first few applications, I experienced a bit of the “first blush, initial breakout, or dryness” talked about on the NIA24 informational brochure, so I gradually worked up to everyday use.

In the spring/summer: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 70 ($18.49 for two, Amazon.com), which is arguably the best UVA protection on the market. Although Mexoryl, an ingredient found in Borba Age-Defying Skin Balance Water, absorbs UVA at a higher wavelength range than Helioplex (found in Neutrogena sunscreens), Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 70 has been reported to have a PFA value (a measure of UVA efficacy) of 23.3 or 26.5, interestingly higher than the reported PFA value of 10 for Mexoryl. I like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 70 because of the high UVA and UVB protection, although it is oilier in consistency than NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30.


Cetaphil cleanser. See above.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15 ($24.23 for two, Amazon.com), which contains a fairly high concentration of retinol and antioxidant green tea. According to dermatologist Mary Lupo in the October 2007 Allure magazine: “With regular use, this cream improves skin’s brightness, color, and texture, and softens existing lines and crepiness. If you start using it in your twenties, before you see these changes, you could push them off further.” One caveat: you may want to avoid the product if you are pregnant or nursing (although, based on current scientific evidence, this is not necessary).

What Additional Products Dermatologists Often Recommend

Relastin Eye Silk. Revance Therapeutics has developed Relastin, a moisturizer (or eye cream) with a patent-pending Zinc-Firming Complex that actually causes elastin levels in the skin to increase. This is largely unprecedented, as other formulations, of which there are two main types, only attempt to preserve current elastin levels in the skin. The first of these formulations feature matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors (MMPis), which inhibit matrix metalloproteinase 2 (and the other nineteen matrix metalloproteinases). Matrix metalloproteinase 2 is significant because it degrades elastin (Baumann). The second type of formulation features plant-or-animal-derived elastin as an ingredient. Unfortunately, application of elastin topically has never been demonstrated to increase its production in the skin. In skincare formulations, elastin is only an effective water-binding agent.

Quintessence Under Eye Serum ($65.00, BaumannStore.com). The product contains retinoids and vitamin K, which have been shown in a study by Elson et. al to be effective against undereye circles.

…Happy shopping!

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2 thoughts on “What Real Dermatologists…And I…Use on Our Skin

  1. Beauty411 says:

    I completely agree with Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. It’s an excellent product, well worth the money. I believe you get an additive effect if you pair that with the Hydrating B5 Gel (hyaluronic acid). I apply that after the CEF and then sunscreen on top.

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