Top Secrets for Younger Skin

Written by Lauren Long

With so many products available to win the fight against visible signs of aging, you'd be surprised that some dermatologists reach for just three products.

Most anti-aging products promise a veritable fountain of youth into which we toss enough spare change to make the dreams of at least 10 cosmetic companies come true.

We moisturize this, dab at that and still find plenty of lines to obsess over. It makes you wonder: Does any of this stuff actually work?

To find out, we asked five dermatologists from around the country for a peek inside their medicine cabinets. We're here to tell you, it's pretty bare in there. The doctors we talked to believe that less is more when it comes to caring for your skin.

More Skin Care Secrets:
"The primary aging factors are sun, smoking and gravity," says Klein. "Since we can't walk around on our hands, the most important thing is to apply sunscreen."
Klein favors European sunscreens that contain mesoryl — a sun blocker that he says "is a much better formulation than you can buy in this country."
Use sunscreen on your face, hands and ears - and don't be skimpy.
Jaliman uses Vitamin C serum at night to stimulate collagen production. She finds it less irritating than Retin A.
When shopping for a topical Vitamin C product, read labels: The product must contain L-ascorbic acid, the only form of Vitamin C that penetrates the skin.
While Retin A stimulates collagen and cell growth, it's also drying. To avoid dry skin, Burgess applies Kinerase like a moisturizer over the Retin A at bedtime.


Their anti-aging arsenal is comprised of just three things: Sunscreen, cleanser and exfoliate.

Sunscreen: You may be sick of hearing it, but a broad-spectrum sunscreen is your best anti-aging agent, according to all five dermatologists. "The daily use of sunscreen prevents further sun damage and even reduces previous sun damage," says Dr. Seth Matarasso of San Francisco. "Don't leave home without it."

A broad-spectrum sunscreen includes both UVA and UVB protection. Select one with an SPF of 15 or higher that is right for your skin type: Oily skins can tolerate a gel-based formula and dry skin can benefit from a lotion.

"The most important thing in my medicine chest is a sunscreen with micronized zinc oxide," says Dr. Debra Jaliman in New York City. Called Z-cote, zinc oxide blocks as much of the full spectrum of the sun's rays as possible. Ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide offer the same level of protection: Both are physical, rather than chemical, sun blocks.

Cleansers: "People think their face is the floor, and everything has to do with dirt," says Dr. Arnold Klein in Los Angeles. "They use all these abrasive agents on the face, but the skin is a protective organ and is not meant to be abraded off. Abrasion makes acne." Time to drop the deodorant soap and pick up a mild cleanser. Klein recommends Dove, Cetaphil and Aveeno non-soaps.

Exfoliates: These are products that cause the skin to regenerate. Dr. Sheri Feldman of Los Angeles says that Retin A, approved in 1971, remains the gold standard in this category. Feldman doesn't use it, however, because it can promote blood-vessel growth — something to which she is prone. Instead, she uses Kinerase, an anti-aging product with plant protein.

Dr. Cheryl Burgess of Washington, D.C., also uses Kinerase, which she alternates with alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and topical Vitamin C. "What these products do is to give you a controlled exfoliation, and that causes renewal of skin," she says. "Whenever the skin thinks it's damaged, it will regenerate and form new layers."

Burgess also uses Retin A once or twice weekly to smooth her complexion. It helps to make the skin more uniform in color, she says, adding it's "something that women of color have problems with."

Matarasso, a believer in exfoliating agents, applies a topical Vitamin C in either a lotion or cream base. He prefers this to the serums or liquids with an alcohol base. Matarasso also uses a glycolic-acid product and he applies Retin A to his crows' feet, neck and the backs of his hands. "I want my regime and my medicine chest to be user-friendly," he says. "I have no masks, no toners, no astringents and no special instruments."

Klein's medicine chest is the sparest, to which he credits his sensitive skin and a relative lack of sun damage as a boy. "I tend to be a minimalist," he says. "Patients come in with a laundry bag of products, and I always try to reduce the number of things they use."

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