When it comes to skincare do you really get what you pay for? From the newest ingredients to the latest in-office procedures we connected with Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Margarita Lolis based in Northern New Jersey with her insights on how to tell a skincare zero from a hero.
Here’s what is certain; there are no firming or tightening products whose results can duplicate what you derive from in office procedures such as dermal fillers, Botox, lasers, or cosmetic surgery. Dr. Lolis explains that while there are anti- aging products or ingredients that do perform significantly better than others and can make a profound difference in the skin’s appearance while others are simply “false hope in a jar.”
Why don’t most products work the way they claim? Almost without exception, when you buy a product claiming to tighten skin, its effects, if any, are due to ingredients such as film-forming agents. Just like the name states, film-forming agents form a film on the skin, and that can make the skin “feel” tighter. The effect is temporary and you won’t see noticeable lifting of sagging skin, but the sensation is often enough to convince women that the product is working. Dr. Lolis stresses that, “Skin just feeling tighter is not the same as making a real change for the better in the tone or laxity of your skin. Using what really works will get you closer to the results you want.”
Dr. Lolis says, “Sunscreen of an SPF 30 or above is the best antiaging cream you can use. It prevents skin cancer as well as UVA rays that cause loss of collagen and wrinkles in the skin especially when reapplied every 2 hours. My favorite base sunscreens have titanium or zinc oxide in them as active ingredients.”
- Retinoids & Glycolic Acid
“Retinoids are the go-to option to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and help boost collagen production,” says Dr. Lolis.” She adds, “Over the counter retinols are good, Neutrogena makes a good one, or prescriptions such as Retin- A.” Glycolic acid also reduces fine lines and wrinkles and helps fade pigmentary damage from the sun. “I often have patients alternate nights with retinoid and glycolic,” says Dr. Lolis.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a great antioxidant which reduces free radical damage and is great for anti-aging and helps brighten the skin. Dr. Lolis often recommends it in the morning, underneath sunblock, or at night if patients are too sensitive to tolerate retinoids and glycolic acid.
Ceramides are a type of lipid found in the membrane of cells. Dr. Lolis states that, “They help hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture. Ceramide levels decrease as we age which leads to loss of hydration, less skin turnover and dryer, more damaged skin. Replenishing the skin’s ceramide levels will help restore moisture and fortify the skin’s natural barrier, helping skin look and feel younger.” Lolis recommends using a moisturizer containing ceramide moisturizer for your whole body daily.
Hydroquinone works to even out sun spots, blotches, and mottled skin. A little hydroquinone goes a long way. “It’s the most effective ingredient for bleaching skin,” says Dr. Lolis. Hydroquinone fades hyperpigmentation by blocking the enzyme that triggers melanin production in the skin.
- Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is loaded with nutrients called polyphenols, which have been shown to fight free radicals. Studies have found that ingredients in green tea can reduce sun damage and may protect against skin cancer when applied topically. Dr. Lolis offers that, “Using green tea extract under sunscreen can provide an extra dose of protection. Polyphenols in creams and lotions may help slow signs of aging, reduce sagging skin and decrease wrinkles.”
The majority of anti-aging creams are still based on moisturizers such as mineral oil. Wrinkles look worse when they are dry, so any kind of moisturizer helps, but its only temporary and doesn’t address the root cause of the wrinkles such as collagen loss, free radical damage, sun damage and environmental factors. Don’t be fooled by the antiaging labels. Unless there is an actual “active ingredient” such as retinol, the benefit is just moisture but nothing else.
- B Vitamins
Many forms of vitamin B (like B12) can only be absorbed in the small intestine, so no matter how much is loaded into your moisturizer or serum, it’s not going to make a difference. “Vitamins like niacin can have an effect on the skin’s texture and color, but your skin can’t absorb them,” Dr. Lolis explains. If you really want to tap into the power of vitamin B to improve your skin’s glow and appearance, stick to eating leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, beans, and peas.
Much like a Starbucks latte for your brain, caffeine in skin creams can give a boost to your skin, too; until it wears off. “Caffeine can temporarily reduce puffiness, especially around your eyes,” explains Dr. Lolis. “But don’t expect permanent results.”
- Botanical Extracts
These are ingredients extracted from plants (flowers, roots, stems, trees, etc.) used in skin care for everything from healing blemishes to reducing fine wrinkles. They have been used for centuries and have anecdotal purposes in many cultures. Botanical extracts need to remain on your skin in order to work. Dr. Lolis explains that, “In cleansers, there is simply not enough contact time on your skin for any true anti-aging benefit to take place. Another issue is that most botanical extracts are water soluble, which means that the moment you wet your skin and begin to wash your face, they’re watered down losing efficacy.
- Collagen and Elastin
“Collagen and elastin in skin-care products can serve as good water-binding agents, but they cannot fuse with your skin’s natural supply of these supportive elements,” explains Dr. Lolis. “In most cases, the collagen molecule is too large to penetrate into the skin,” she adds.
It’s very important to do your research because there’s a lot of packaging and a lot of hype. The best thing to do is visit your dermatologist and aesthetician who can develop a skin care regimen that works to address your skin concerns based on skin type.
About the expert:
Dr. Margarita Lolis, M.D. is a board-certified cosmetic, medical dermatologist and a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon with over 20 years of experience. In her practice, she addresses common skin concerns such as acne prevention and treatment in both teens and adults, sun-damage, skin discoloration, wrinkles, changes to skin texture and loss of volume. On the medical side, she is a trusted expert in melanoma and over-all skin health.Dr. Lolis prides herself in honoring facial symmetry to deliver a natural look to her clients. She always recommends a healthy skin care regimen plus lifestyle habits that are aligned with her holistic approach to beauty. Dr. Lolis is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery, and the American Society of Anti-aging. Her practice, Skin, Laser, and Surgery Specialists is in New York City and Bergen Country, New Jersey.