Say No Thanks to Wrinkles
When we found Dr. Herrmann, a cosmetic dermatologist who practices in Beverly Hills and a friend of PRÊTE, we were pretty excited, not only because she is beyond pretty/fun/nice, but also lets us ask her a million skincare questions.
Dr. Herrmann practices at Rodeo Drive Dermatology, which is made up a select group of world-renowned dermatologists that specialize in not only medical dermatology but also pre-juvenating dermatology including cosmetic treatments like lasers, Botox, fillers and facials.
In a recent chat with Dr. Herrmann at her office, we wanted to find out how we can protect our skin from environmental and sun damage during the sunnier days of summer, so we can sip our rosé at the beach and not have to worry about getting dark spots or wrinkles.
See below for all of her helpful and useful insight so we can all stay looking (and feeling) young, forever. Because that is the goal, right?
Q: What is environmental damage and how does it effect the skin?
A: Environmental damage takes many forms, from ultraviolet light to gases from waste to myriad modern day chemicals. Environmental damage can directly damage the skin’s DNA, and over time this accumulation of damage can lead to premature aging, pre-skin and skin cancers. Pollutants can also damage skin by acting as oxidants. Oxidants are inherently unstable molecules that damage skin structures, including collagen and elastin as well as DNA. Although our skin has tremendous repair capabilities in place (from DNA repair enzymes to natural antioxidants like Vitamin C), these systems become overwhelmed, if environmental damage becomes too great.
Q: When does sun exposure become damaging (how long do you have to be in the sun for)?
A: There are two main types of UV rays: UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays are more intense and cause pinkness and sunburns, while UVA rays are responsible for promoting a tanning response. Importantly, both types damage DNA. Although sunlight is important for growth and vitamin D synthesis, it paradoxically damages skin. When skin is exposed to short doses, the skin’s native repair systems are able to “fix” the damage and skin health is maintained. But, overexposure overwhelms these systems, leading to unrepaired structures and more permanent damage. The amount of sun required to induce this type of damage depends on how much native protection a person has (his or her skin color) and his or her genetics. Those with darker skin types have more innate protection, so more UV is blocked at baseline than those with very pale skin. And those with certain genetic make-ups have more or less robust DNA repair systems in place that affect how well damage is repaired and skin health is maintained. How do you know when you’re getting too much sun? If your skin turns and stays pink or you develop a tan, these are signs that you need less exposure or more sun protection.
Q: What is blue light and how is it damaging?
A: Blue light, also known as photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a method for treating precancerous spots and rejuvenating the skin. A chemical is applied on the skin, which is preferentially absorbed by cells that are dividing more actively (think precancerous cells). After an incubation period, visible blue light is shined on the skin and in the presence of oxygen, the chemical is activated and destroys the precancerous cells. The skin heals and becomes smoother and healthier after the treatment.
Q: How do you repair past damage?
A: There are multiple ways to repair past damage. The first step is starting with a good topical regimen. Key ingredients include antioxidants that squelch damaging free radicals (unstable molecules that damage skin structures), DNA repair enzymes that fix damage, and growth factors that help stimulate collagen regeneration. Treatments can also help restore youthful skin more dramatically. Radiofrequency devices tighten the skin by inducing collagen synthesis and resurfacing lasers like the fractionated erbium or carbon dioxide lasers can generate collagen synthesis by creating micro-wounds in the skin that also induce collagen synthesis.
Q:What steps should you take to prevent sun and environmental damage?
A: A multi-step approach is prudent. First, protect your skin with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 daily. No ifs, ands, or buts here! Second, protect and repair your skin’s DNA by taking nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that aids in DNA repair. Third, eat a diet rich in antioxidants (leafy greens and fruits) that neutralize damaging pollutants. Fourth, apply a topical DNA repair enzyme daily that augments skin repair. And finally, remember to wash off make-up every evening. Make-up holds pollution and chemicals that continue to damage skin if they sit on its surface.
Q: What ingredients should you look for in skincare?
A: Key ingredients include DNA repair enzymes, growth factors, a retinol or retinoid if your skin can tolerate one, and a form of UV blocker. Depending on your skin type, additional ingredients may be appropriate. For instance, if redness is a problem, niacinamide can be helpful; if your dry, ceramides and hyaluronic acid add moisture; and if you’re plagued by pigmentation, kojic acid, arbutin, and tranexamic acid can fade unwanted brown.
Q: What treatments help photo damaged skin?
A: For significant photo damage causing wrinkles and severe dyspigmentation, resurfacing lasers yield beautifully rejuvenated skin. The fractionated erbium and CO2 lasers produce microscopic holes in the skin, which stimulates a wound healing response. This leads to collagen synthesis, smoothing lines and folds in a very natural way. In addition, but removing the top layers of skin, these lasers lessen pigmentation and broken blood vessels, improving skin tone and texture. If photo damage is minimal, using a light device like intense pulsed light (IPL) or a laser like our piqo4 picosecond laser is perfect for targeting brown discoloration and evening tone.
Q: What treatments help pigmented skin (brown, sun spots etc.)
A: The piqo4 picosecond laser is the latest generation of lasers that specifically target pigment. Because energy is delivered to target brown spots so quickly (in picoseconds), surrounding skin suffers very little damage making this laser very safe for multiple skin types.
Q: What is SPF and what does it stand for?
A: SPF stands for sun protection factor and is reported for UVB protection only. It measures how much sun is blocked by the product. For example, if your skin normally starts to burn in 5 minuteswithout protection, with an SPF 30, it would take 30 x 5 = 150 minutes for that same reaction to occur. What’s missing in the SPF label is mention of UVA protection. Because UVA causes premature aging and is linked to some forms of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, it’s equally important to look for the words ‘broad spectrum,’ which usually indicate good UVA coverage.
Q: What number should your SPF be? How often should you reapply?
A: For daily use I recommend an SPF 30. To get adequate protection, it’s important to use the correct “dose.” It takes about a shot glass full to cover the face, neck, arms and legs for appropriate protection, and regrettably, most people use much less than this. If in direct sun, it should be applied at least every 2 hours. But, if you’re swimming or sweating, it should be applied more frequently. Sunscreens aren’t waterproof!
Q: What’s the difference between chemical and natural SPF and which one should you be using? Are they both safe?
Natural sunscreens use minerals–zinc oxide and titanium dioxide–to protect against UV, while chemical sunscreens use a variety of “chemicals” to achieve this. More specifically, the very small metallic particles in natural sunscreens reflect and scatter UV rays, so that they don’t penetrate your skin. In contrast, chemical sunscreens contain compounds like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate, which absorb UV rays to help protect your skin in a different way. Many people worry about the title “chemical,” believing that this class is less healthy ore even dangerous compared to their mineral counterparts. But, classifying all chemicals as “unsafe” isn’t scientific. Clearly water, chemically depicted as H2O, isn’t the all-evil of your skin regimen. And the same applies to most sunscreens. Just because “chemicals” may serve as their active ingredients doesn’t categorically make them problematic.