In my year-end reader poll, one thing that came up again and again was readers’ interest in proper skincare. As a history major (hello research!) and former (very short-lived) newspaper reporter, my tendency is to interview people directly in the field, someone with a bit of expertise. So that’s why I thought it best to start this skincare conversation on DoSayGive with an actual dermatologist. I really think y’all are going to enjoy reading what she had to say.
I reached out to Dallas dermatologist Dr. Claire Reddick recently because not only is she a well-respected physician, but she is also my age. As my peer, I was interested to hear her opinion about skincare in my stage of life, but also going forward. (And don’t worry, I ask her advice for every generation!).
DoSayGive: Dr. Reddick, Thank you so much for letting me interview you! One of the reasons for this post is that I don’t think a lot of women in my stage of life realize that a dermatologist is a physician that should be in their regular rotation of yearly checkups. Is it true that we should go to the dermatologist once a year?
Dr. Reddick: In most cases, yes. Some people, depending on their skin, need to go more often, some less. But once a year for most skin types.
DoSayGive: Okay, my friend didn’t believe me when I told her during my year checkup my dermatologist looks at every square inch of my body, like between my toes and my behind;). What can be expected during a normal “skin check” – just so there are no surprises!
Ha! Well you are covered in skin from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. And you can have moles in between your toes, on your buttocks and other places that have never seen the sun. Yes, skin checks are thorough, but it’s also to your own comfort level. If you aren’t comfortable with a full skin check, just let the doctor know.
DoSayGive: My biggest fear when it comes to skin is, of course, melanoma. I know it affects people my age so, of course, I go to the dermatologist, and I make my husband go yearly. How do we know if we should be concerned about something with our skin?
The best advice I can give is just to be aware of your skin and protect yourself from the sun (i.e. don’t tan!). A lot of times someone will come in worried about one spot and it ends up being a totally different area that’s the issue. I tell my patients: if it’s new, if it changes or grows, or if it just doesn’t behave like it’s expected to, then it needs to be seen. For example, one patient came in and said she had a mosquito bite for months and it hadn’t gone away. Obviously, that needed to be looked at because mosquito bites don’t last that long. Also, moles don’t have to be raised in order to be problematic.
DoSayGive: Okay the question so many of us have is what should we doing to our skin at different ages. I felt like I didn’t do much in my 20s and now feel like I need to reboot my “anti-aging” efforts. Can you break down your recommendations for different decades.
A: Sure! In your teens and 20s, the best thing you can do is wear sunscreen everyday. And not tan! In your 20s/30s, a cleanser and moisturizer everyday along with a sunscreen. I also recommend an antioxidant/Vitamin C topical. Skinceuticals makes a great one. During this stage, I may also recommend a retinoid cream. (More on that below). In your 30s/40s/50s, all the same thing, but it’s somewhere in this age range that people start coming to me bothered about something with their skin. Then we may discuss options we can do in the office like microdermabrasion, Botox, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), chemical peels, and fillers.
DoSayGive: I recently read a Vogue.com article talking about that even with the multitude of products and choices out there, the consensus is still that the best product on the market for anti-aging is retinol. What are your thoughts on this and the last time I used it for acne as a teenager it just made my skin peel like crazy!
A. I agree that a vitamin A topical formulation such as prescription tretinoin or over the counter strength retinol has proven to be the best anti-aging product in a lot of ways. But tolerability (peeling and irritation) are definitely an issue with these products, making them not the best choice for a lot of people. While Retin-A (prescription name brand tretinoin) is the same that you remember from your teenage years, there are so many options and different strengths and formulations now that often one can be found that is not as drying and irritating as you remember. Both prescription and over the counter strengths help to do four things: 1) Boost collagen 2) reduce and reverse some effects of photo-aging 3) improve skin turnover and 4) reduce photo-induced pigmentation.
Many will tolerate use of a retinoid every night, some will not. I often recommend to more sensitive skin types to mix their retinoid with a moisturizer and/or use less frequently, like every other night or 2-3 times per week as tolerated.
Vogue.com’s top (non-presctipion) retinol picks:
DoSayGive: Okay good to know! Another question I have always wondered: is SPF in foundation good enough? Do we need to use a separate sunscreen other than what’s in our makeup?
I do love the trend of SPF being added to make-ups. However, I don’t think in most situations the SPF in makeup is enough. You simply aren’t applying enough makeup to achieve the level of SPF you need and want. I have tried a lot of sunscreens to wear under makeup and I continually go back to my Elta MD sunscreen. It feels good and light. And they have a tinted version for days you just want light coverage.
DoSayGive: What do you think of all the highly popular skincare lines sold as home-based businesses or on TV? I use several Beautycounter products and like them and I have several friends that sell Rodan & Fields.
A: I have not tried these products but this is what I tell my patients: If you’ve tried it and liked it, great! I have no problem with it. However, I will say that I am very skeptical of any line that says we have something for every skin type. In many situations the products are expensive, and it’s important to remember that they are not prescription strength.
I also feel that the method in which some are sold/promoted are not in the consumer’s best interest: you shouldn’t feel pressure to make skin care decisions (which are medical decisions) because you feel guilty about supporting a friend or are worried about affecting a relationship. That’s not fair to anyone involved.
DoSayGive: There is a lot of talk about using safe products without scary chemicals. Last summer I felt so guilty when I ran out of expensive sunscreen and bought Neutrogena for my children in a pinch. Like I was giving them cancer. It’s very stressful!!
A: It’s so very hard to filter all the information and warnings we receive every day. So I approach stories like that very critically. Things that seem too good to be true, or on the flip side, too outrageous, often require a second look and close examination of the facts to really determine true risk. In general, yes, I like products with no additives. But the hype/scare tactics/guilt are probably entire unnecessary. I think the Neutrogena scare was very unfair. Last summer I found this article written by another dermatologist who I felt explained it all beautifully. Remember: your skin is a wonderful barrier; that’s what it’s there for!
DoSayGive: Botox? I know a lot of women in their thirties, and even twenties, are getting it these days. What are your thoughts on it?
A: When people come asking about Botox, first I ask them what’s bothering them about their skin and their goals. There is no such thing as plastic surgery in a bottle (or syringe). Sometimes people will ask about Botox, but we’ll determine that a different product or procedure would actually serve them better. You have to have realistic expectations. Having said that, Botox is a wonderful product. If you start it, you are portably going to love it!
DoSayGive: What do you think about the “spas” that do Botox. It would make me nervous to buy something like that on Groupon…
A: I discourage people from going anywhere but a medical office; if there are any problems, you want to be in the care of a physician. Oftentimes at the spas, it’s not a physician doing the procedure. Anyone who has been trained and designated by a medical physician (in Texas, these rules can vary from state to state) can administer Botox in this manner. And, in many states, the supervising physician doesn’t have to be on site. Obviously I’m biased, but I’ve seen patients with complications from various procedures done at med spas that could have easily been avoided.
DoSayGive: Another product question – what do you use for eye cream? I can’t ever find one that seems to do anything!
There are a lot of really good eye creams, but reasonable expectations are so important. There is no eye cream out there that will make large bags and really dark circles under the eyes disappear. I like Elta MD’s Eye Gel, Obagi’s Elastiderm, and SkinCeuticals Eye Cream. Eyelid skin is very delicate and sensitive, and sometimes just an intense moisturizer like Vaseline or Aquaphor, or SkinCeuticals Eye Balm are excellent choices.
DoSayGive:Okay so can we recap what products are in your bathroom cabinet?
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Dr. Reddick!
You can find more information about Dr. Reddick and her practice below. Full disclosure: Dr. Reddick was not my dermatologist at the time of the interview, but because I was so impressed with she said in our interview that I did book an appointment with her several weeks later. (Also, Dr. Reddick did not sponsor this post. I reached out to her because I truly enjoy interviewing people!)
More information about Dr. Reddick:
Claire S. Reddick, MD, FAAD
Adult and Pediatric Dermatology
12740 Hillcrest Rd., Suite 200
Dallas, TX 75230
A Dallas native, Dr. Reddick is very happy to be home and balancing life between her dermatology practice and her husband and two kids. She graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. After her intern year at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, she proceeded to Texas Tech Health Sciences Center to complete her residency in dermatology. She served as chief resident her senior year, and has several research publications to her name. Currently she serves as an assistant clinical professor for Texas A&M Medical School in addition to her practice. She is accepting new patients!
Photos: Stephanie Drenka