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Full disclosure: I am the founder of Dr Elaine’s Advanced Skin Treatment clinical skin care line, which I formulated and developed based on my assessment of the merits of various botanical extracts and cosmeceutical advances for an optimal anti-aging, acne, sensitive skin and body skin treatment program. Dr Elaine’s skin care is sold in my cosmetic dermatology practice and online at our web site, Of course, I am biased toward our skin care products, and use many of them daily, especially since I developed them exactly the way I wanted.

When I talk to patients about skin care, cosmetics and hair care, they often ask “what do you use?” and “why do you use what you use?” Because I am a female cosmetic dermatologist, I am expected to have a rigorously scientific analysis of the merits of each product I use. And to a large extent I do. However, there are additional factors that I use to determine which skin care, cosmetic, nail care, hair care, beauty equipment I purchase and use.

My choices are dictated by the following factors:

  • Scientific evidence favoring effectiveness in prevention of skin aging, acne, and skin cancer. Since I know preventing skin aging is easier than reversing it, I am willing to use products that may only have benefits down the road. Luckily for me, I have used a sunscreen and retinoid (first Retin-A, then Renova and now Refissa) daily for the past 27 years.
  • Scientific evidence favoring effectiveness in treatment of skin aging, acne and sensitive skin. I’m not impressed by the marketing “story”—you know, “this amazingly potent antioxidant, previously unknown to the world, from the fruit of the Friscascucia plant, found only in a remote region of the Himalayas, harvested lovingly by hand by barefoot, chanting Tibetan monks, who even at 90 have beautiful, radiant, unlined skin because they apply Friscascucia fruit daily was discovered by celebrity dermatologist Dr. Special when he met the monks during the pilgrimage to Tibet that was part of his voyage of personal discovery. And now, brought to you!”
  • I want to know the actual science, even if it’s boring. It’s unfortunate that often the “story” is used and accepted as a substitute for the science. There are a lot of ingredients that have a long history of safety and effectiveness. On the other hand, some of the new discoveries, optimization of existing compounds and new uses for older therapies are exciting and backed by science. It’s just that the “story” shouldn’t trump the science. And by science, I mean controlled, double-blind scientific studies of real effects on real live skin. As any scientist will tell you, an experiment can be designed to give any result you want. So I want the real science, not the marketing story science.
  • Ease of purchase. I hate to shop. Thank God for the internet. And Walgreen’s.
  • Cost/benefit ratio. I don’t mind paying more, if there is an actual benefit gained. I tend to avoid skin care products at both ends of pricing, the very cheap and the very expensive. Since we produce Dr Elaine’s clinical skin care line, I know how much it costs to include appropriate, quality ingredients in concentrations large enough to have a skin benefit, not just to include them in low concentration for their marketing value. And skin care at the very high end often uses that high price point as a selling point—“if people pay so much for this it must be worth it” without any real increase in value. However in make-up and cosmetics that is not necessarily true. For certain cosmetics, such as mascara, the inexpensive drugstore version is just as good as one that costs 10 times more.
  • Sensory effects such as scent, color, texture, stickiness, etc. If I am going to pay for it and use it, I want to enjoy it.
  • Persistence of result. If I take the time to put it on, I want it to stay on. I don’t want to put on lipstick more than once, twice at most, a day. I don’t want my nail polish chipping by the next morning. If I cover a pimple, it better stay covered.

I compute the above factors in a complicated mathematical formula, which remains in an undisclosed location in my brain, to determine which skin care, cosmetics, nail care, hair care, and beauty equipment that I purchase and use on a daily basis.

Next: My top skin, hair, nail care and cosmetic choices.


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