Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed having several ‘official’ new years. Of course, we all share the calendar year, but there’s also the September start of the school year, the winter solstice, March equinox, the July 1 start of the medical training year and many others associated with different religions and countries. I think about this now as the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is here. Apples with honey symbolize a sweet new year and are delicious. On a deeper level, I’m grateful for time to reflect on the past year and ponder how to be a better me in the year ahead, beyond just being a better cosmetic dermatologist. It’s my personal ‘reboot’.
Speaking Of Resolutions…
As an adult, how do we keep a new year reset for sweetness, kindness, forgiveness, health, and happiness from being another ‘new year’s resolution’ set to fail? I’ve actually stopped doing ‘resolutions’ in January or any time of year. They are always too grand and would take an entire change of lifestyle, career, stress level and overall circumstance to keep. So instead, I try to focus on me the doctor, friend, family member and human. What does that mean?
Oui For Me
I’ve written before about my ‘oui for me’ philosophy in life and work. That means that to be the best me for my patients and staff, I need to be the best me for me. I’m working on my innate lack of time management (with the active support of my staff and friends), learning to delegate (because I am not the only one who can get things done right), to let things go (if something is hung a few inches too high or low it is not the end of the world) and to not overschedule my downtime with work time (a vacation can actually be just a vacation). All of that gives me more energy for my teaching, training, and learning at home and with friends and colleagues around the globe and to make my office the serene haven of cosmetic dermatology in which my patients can put their trust.
Keeping Up With Healthcare
The other area that comes up for me and my patients is keeping up with our healthcare. At every different new year celebration, I make a list of the appointments I must make. As a breast cancer survivor, I’m good about my annual mammo/ultrasound, breast MRI and biannual visits to the onco, but I don’t want to forget the annual internist, gyno and at least twice a year dental cleanings. And what about all the things that ‘just come up’? Wear and tear is a project whether it’s our homes, offices, cars or bodies.
Tips From Your Cosmetic Dermatologist
So we are now several paragraphs into the blog of a cosmetic dermatologist and you have heard nothing about dermatology. Ta da! What does a skin reboot entail? The answer depends on what you’ve been doing and what your skin needs.
- Increasing Moisture
At the very least, the move from summer to autumn means increasing moisture to counteract the reduction in outside humidity and the increase in forced internal heating. If you generally need minimal or no moisturizer to be comfortable in your skin then just add a light lotion or serum to your regimen. Look for a powerful humectant like glycerin or hyaluronic acid to pull moisture into the skin without feeling greasy. My dad, Dr. Donald Waldorf, introduced me (and at least 4 generations of patients) to Glytone Conditioning Cream, which is a staple for our acne patients. Caudalie Vinosorbet keeps it light but with more sensory enjoyment. SkinMedica HA5 provides the perfect high-tech moisture with 5 different hyaluronic acids in a serum-like silky base that can be layered above or below anything. And, for those of you looking for luxurious, deep moisturization with anti-aging ingredients, I love Caudalie’s Premier Cru Crème Riche, which I keep in a small jar in my carry-on for airplanes. For basic body care, using a Dove body wash or bar in the shower followed by a moisturizer like Caudalie Body Butter keeps the skin barrier intact and your outsides feeling soft, supple and smooth.
- For Damaged Skin
So what if you weren’t that kind to your skin? Too much sun? Even if you didn’t burn, a tan means damage. Time to sweep those bad cells and pigment away!
- First, we bring out the Alastin Regenerating Skin Nectar with its proprietary peptide that helps gets rid of old damaged collagen and elastin. It’s great on its own, as prep for skin resurfacing and/or to speed healing after peeling.
- Using an over the counter retinol like Biopelle or Alastin’s is a great entry to retinoids which are the gold standard for improving photoaged and aged skin. If your skin can tolerate a prescription-strength retinoid like tretinoin or tazarotene (Renova, Retin A, Avage, Tazorac), we’ll give you specific instructions on how to incorporate it into your regimen without irritation. Personally, I can’t tolerate a retinoid – yup, I’m a delicate flower with a tendency toward atopic dermatitis (eczema) – so I stick with second and third generation alpha hydroxyl acids like our patient and staff favorite Neostrata Skin Active Cellular Restoration and Neostrata Skin Active Triple Firming Neck Cream.
- And please don’t forget the body – there are no giant containers of retinoids, so alpha hydroxyl acids are my mainstay here – Neostrata Lotion Plus (15%) or, for the worst areas, Neostrata Problem Dry Skin Cream (20%) — marketed for psoriasis and thick scaly feet but it’s an anti-aging dream cream!
- For Smokers, Or Former Smokers: Stock Up On Antioxidants
Do you smoke or did you? If you haven’t already, please, please, please speak to your internist about all the medical ways to quit. And add a topical antioxidant to your regimen to quench those nasty free radicals formed as a result of your body trying to fight the bad stuff. Think of them as fingers quashing the wick of a lit cartoon bomb. Caudalie’s Polyphenol C15 serum is our entry anti-oxidant great for the 20-something former lifeguard, surfer, or Floridian, Texan, Californian or shore kid. The Spanish dermatology company ISDIN’s Flavo-C ampules provide concentrated vitamin C that absorbs quickly (and the ampule packaging makes them easy for travel).
- Resurfacing To The Rescue
Have you been using good topicals but just don’t see enough change? Or did you have an ‘aha!’ moment the last time you saw the leather-skinned folks in Florida or Arizona (or the UK and German folks who flock to the beaches in Spain and Dubai)? Here are two options for you:
- Clear & Brilliant or ‘baby Fraxel’ is a great way to both see improvement directly from the treatment and from the added penetration of your topicals from your treatment, without any downtime. A series of Clear & Brilliant will brighten skin and tighten pores.
- And if you’re a ‘one and done’ kind of person with light damage or trying to play catch up with years of skincare denial? Then the Fraxel Dual is for you. Three to five days of dry sandpaper or bronze peeling for 1 to 4 treatments and you’ll start getting compliments on your peaches and cream complexion… and it will be healthier!
So let’s reboot together! And don’t try to get everything done right now… there’ll be some other new year’s celebrations before you know it! My Heidea summary: as you work on being kind to others, be kind to yourself too… Make a little improvement now and then ramp it up when you can. If you can’t get everything done you want because of time, money or stress, don’t beat yourself up. Just dust yourself off, congratulate yourself for what you’ve been able to do (even if it’s just moisturizing after the shower!) and move forward!
Wishing all of my patients, staff, friends, family and colleagues health, happiness, prosperity, peace, forgiveness and great skin in the coming year!