How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions?
Right. Yeah, me, too.
I’m here to help.
This month, I’m focusing on all aspects of wellness — the best workouts, the best way to lose weight, your mental health, financial health, and skin health.
Let’s start with a question: do you wash your face twice a day?
If the answer’s yes, then you’re ahead of the game.
But that’s only half of it.
What's in your moisturizer? Should you consider Botox? And how is sex good for your skin?
You heard me.
I sat down with my good friend, Dr. Macrene Alexiades, for some answers.
Dr. Macrene is known as the Michelangelo of dermatology. She has three Harvard degrees. And just won the equivalent of an Oscar for leadership in her field.
Full disclosure: she’s my longtime dermatologist.
And has a patient roster that includes numerous A-List celebrities.
In other words, she’s the best of the best.
And what she says about skin health should be taken as gospel.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Skin is the largest organ. It serves as the interface between our bodies and our environment. And the thing about the facial skin that people need to understand is that's our barrier to toxins, pathogens, and environmental stressors. So, the skin care you use on your face can serve as protection between you and the environment.
ALINA CHO: Wow, I never thought of it that way. What can the average person do on a daily basis to have healthy skin?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Consistency is key. Having a regimen and sticking to it, even if it's a product that may not have the level of efficacy of [my skincare line] Macrene Actives, it’s going to make a difference.
I think the problem that people have is they're jumping from brand to brand to brand. There's no consistency. And that lack of consistency is preventing them from ever getting results.
ALINA CHO: So, what should you look for in your skincare products?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: So, there's three classes of ingredients that everybody should look for: antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and peptides.
ALINA CHO: Got it.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Antioxidants are like vitamin C and E, perillic acid or plant extracts that have antioxidant potential. Like olive leaf extracts or green tea extracts, which are phenomenal. I'm really a fan of the tea extracts. And pomegranate and resveratrol.
These are antioxidants that work, and they work to, again, help with your skin defense.
ALINA CHO: Second, hyaluronic acid.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Next class is the hyaluronic acid, but not all hyaluronic acids are the same. And I don't want people wasting money on cheap hyaluronic acids that don’t make their way into the skin. So, you have to do a little homework, but you can find [them]. They do exist from companies, like L’Oréal, for example.
ALINA CHO: And then, there’s the peptides.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIDADES: Peptides are the fanciest of the anti-aging ingredients, but they're the ones that actually build the skin and make collagen thicker. And you can, sometimes, find products that contain peptides that are not super expensive.
ALINA CHO: And so, these are the ingredients you should be looking for in a cleanser, a toner, a moisturizer?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: In a moisturizer.
ALINA CHO: When you say, "Develop a routine and stick with it," what should that routine consist of?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Morning and night. What I tell people is, “Give the same attention to your skin as you do to your teeth.” You brush your teeth twice a day, great. Wash your face and put a moisturizer on twice a day. I know it's been a little bit tasking for people lately. As much as the lockdown seems like people have more time to themselves, they don’t. I really reject this notion that people have a lot more time for self-care. I think in the past two years, we've had far less.
ALINA CHO: Well, and let's be honest, stress is a time suck, too.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Right. So, let's refocus. Let’s recalibrate, let's get back to basics and tell people that when you brush your teeth, you're going to wash your face and put your moisturizer on.
ALINA CHO: If you can afford it, at what age do you think it’s a good idea for women and men to start thinking about [seeing a dermatologist]?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: So, in your 20s, you're talking about prevention. Starting in your 30s, you're talking about reversal. And starting in your 40s and 50s, you're talking about curing things that have gone awry.
ALINA CHO: So, in your 40s and beyond, that's when you start to think about…
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: That's when we start to double down and do corrective actions for people who have come late to the party.
ALINA CHO: Such as?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: For example, by then, people may have brown spots and broken capillaries. [For brown spots], add whiteners like amino acids, which are in Macrene Actives. And then for the broken capillaries, it's things like coffee seed extracts, tea extracts.
ALINA CHO: But if you need to do something more…
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Then you've got to go to the dermatologist. I will add either Botox or injectable filler or lasers to reverse the damage that I see.
Then with jowls, I use tightening devices like radio frequency to tighten jowls. I know J.Lo relies on that. So, I'm telling you the stuff really does work. And then some people end up going for surgery and that's their prerogative.
ALINA CHO: Has there been a situation where you've said to a patient, "It's time for a facelift." What is your feeling on that?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: I have a select number of patients for whom I've done little, not lifts if you will, but skin incisions to get rid of excess skin so that they wouldn't have to go for plastic surgery.
ALINA CHO: Do you classify that as a mini facelift?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: I would call it a micro mini facelift. But honest to goodness, if they need surgery, I send them.
ALINA CHO: So, you're not opposed to it?
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES: Not at all. But they still have to come back to me for the artistic finishes on a regular basis. They just do. Otherwise, if the skin quality isn't there, a face lift doesn't actually make you look more beautiful.
ALINA CHO: So, bottom line it for me, for everyone.
DR. MACRENE ALEXIADES:
· MORNING WASH: When you get up in the morning, wash with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer that has antioxidants.
· EVENING WASH: In the evening, that's when you're going to wash with a cleanser to take toxins and pollutants off the face. Use a gentle cleanser that also contains antioxidants. Then, [moisturize] and that's when you can put your peptides and hyaluronic acids because that restoration happens overnight.
· LASERS: Next, in terms of procedures, judicious use of procedures in the hands of an artist to keep you looking your best. Lasers and light devices to get rid of brown spots and pigment issues. Or a laser treatment that will plump up your collagen and restore youthfulness to your skin.
· BOTOX: Or you can go the injectable route, which is if you have had a very stressful 2021 and you see frown lines, Botox will eliminate those. It’s actually been proven that Botox between the eyes makes you feel less depressed. It's in the psychological literature. So, it physically makes you look better and mentally, psychologically, makes you feel better because you can't frown.
· SLEEP: At least once a week, carve out a morning where there's no alarm and there's no getting up so that you can get eight-and-a-half hours of sleep, because studies have shown that growth hormone is released in the last stage of deep sleep. And if you don't get your full uninterrupted eight-and-a-half hours, you never get that well-slept look.
· SEX AND EXERCISE: Sex, exercise, and sleep gets the blood flowing to the face and makes the skin look beautiful and plump and lovely. If you can't get the sex, do the exercise and the sleep. It's getting the blood pumping to the face that makes a big difference.