22 Things I Learned from My Dermatologist

22 Things I Learned from my Dermatologist

I recently went to a new dermatologist in the DC area. I went in for something specific, but I also had a ton of questions and needed an evaluation on A LOT of things. I’m almost 35 — tell me what I need! I learned that it’s time for me to do things involving lasers and peels, and I will gradually move on to other things as well. And yes, I’ll be telling you all about it.

If you’ve ever had anything done and are willing to talk about it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you did and what you thought of it, how it worked or didn’t work for you. OR if you are thinking of doing something, what is it? What’s holding you back? Would love to start a conversation about all of this stuff!

I arrived with my list of questions and Dr. Lina Naga was game to answer them. Besides giving me a look over and confirming the fact that I have a tiny bit of melasma lining my upper lip, and telling me I had very minor rosacea (my mom has it so I wanted to see if I had it yet) we took a look at the wrinkles forming on my face and talked about what we could do about them, what we could do about my skin texture (it’s pretty good, but I always want to make everything better!), and she took a look at my varicose veins on my legs (not too big of a deal yet but soon enough) and my scalp (for my hair). Let’s just say it’s time I start getting scientific & medical about these things.

Being someone who does a lot of beauty research online, and tests a lot of beauty products — I had a lot of other questions too, and I thought that you all might be interested in the answers, so here we go!

COLLAGEN

I’ve seen so much about oral collagen supplements online (and on Instagram), but we all know that the beauty and supplement industry is lightly and loosely regulated. A lot of the hype that you see around certain products is really just marketing and BS. So I wanted to know from a doctor, should I be taking collagen? And if so, what kind?

Dr. Naga said no — don’t take collagen. In layman’s terms, she said you don’t absorb it, you break it down in your gut. So all of you spending money on collagen products…maybe you should stop. If you have a link to some scientific evidence that says otherwise, please leave me a link in the comments!

BLACKHEADS

I showed Dr. Naga some blackheads that I perpetually have on my upper lip. They aren’t visible at all and I can barely see or feel them, so instead of irritating my skin and trying to do something about them myself, I usually leave them be whenever I have them. I asked her what to do about them and the best way to get rid of them.

She said that retinols can help prevent the development of blackheads, but sometimes extraction is the best way to remove existing ones. She recommended a hydrafacial to basically suck them out. So I’m going to get one at her office from a master aesthetician and I’ll let you know how it goes. I wanted to get it it at my doctor’s office versus just at a spa. I want the facial to be derm-approved!

TONER

Basically I wanted to know WTF is toner, do I need it, and if so, what kind should I use.

Dr. Naga said that if I feel like I need it or just want to use it, it’s better to use a micellar water, or a toner without alcohol.

Personally I like using a micellar water on days where I have a lot of makeup on. I’ll cleanse my skin with a cleanser and then use a toner or micellar water and I feel like it helps get the rest of my makeup off. Or if I only have a little makeup on, or even none, I will just use a micellar water to cleanse my skin at night. Even if I’m not wearing makeup, I like to get the pollution and anything off my skin that could irritate it or cause allergies.

EXFOLIATION

Learning that I had minor rosacea, I asked what type of exfoliating I should be doing because my mom’s derm told her not to exfoliate (her rosacea is worse than mine, although I never notice it on her). I had a product I loved but they changed the formula a little recently and it’s not as good as it once was so I was in the market for something else.

Dt. Naga said that a lot of exfoliating products create micro tears in the skin which isn’t good for you (she recommends NOT using textured cleansers). She recommended that I use my Clarisonic with the sensitive/gentle brush head, and that I should only use it once a week at first, and work up to twice a week. I already had a Clarisonic so that was an easy switch for me to make and I love it. I used to use it all the time, then started using that product I liked, and now I’m back to my Clarisonic. I leave it in my shower and am already up to using it twice a week. I use it with my Easy Does It cleanser.

RETINOL

It’s finally that time. The time for me to use retinol. Dr. Naga suggested that to start off, I should use a mild dosage (SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5) and only use it once a week and work up to using it nightly over time. I learned this the hard way and used it 3 days in a row, forgetting I was supposed to work up to nightly, and my skin was so dry and peeling for a few days, so make sure you work up to it!

MELASMA

Because Dr. Naga confirmed the melasma on my upper lip, she told me to make sure that I use SPF on my upper lip — an area a lot of people forget to be diligent about applying and reapplying SPF — and to also use an antioxidant product on my upper lip. So the Ursa Major Vitamin C Serum or SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic product would be good for me to concentrate there.

When I’m ready, she suggested doing a micro laser peel or chemical peel to lighten the melasma. She also suggested making sure that my SPF is zinc or titanium based (a mineral sunscreen) since those are better than chemical sunscreens for melasma.

ANTIOXIDANTS

The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and the Ursa Major Vitamin C Serum are antioxidant products (Dr. Naga recommended SkinCeuticals but I also have the Ursa Major serum and use it as well). Antioxidant products are best to be used in the morning. Dr. Naga told me that there is little benefit from using additional Vitamin C products when I’m using the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic because the products are similar.

Another tip, she said to not use C E Ferulic near my eyes, but using the SkinCeuticals Hylaronic Acid (H.A.) Intensifier near my eyes is fine.

My next question — what is the SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier and why do I need it?

Dr. Naga said that the H.A. intensifier is part of a new class of moisturizers called hydrators. These get fully absorbed and draw water in and plump the skin. The SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier has been shown to increase the skin’s hyaluronic acid content by 30% which is pretty significant. SIGN ME UP.

THINNING HAIR

Because I have thin hair in general I asked Dr. Naga to take a look and see what was going on with my hair. She confirmed that my hair root is showing the early signs of miniaturization (insert bawling emoji here) I’m now in the market for anything and everything hair growth (I mean I already was in that market after my hair incident, but now I am in the market again).

I asked Dr. Naga what I should do and if I do one type of treatment, should I not do another? What she said was surprising to me. I don’t know why, but it was. She said, use it all. The more the better.

I asked about Rogaine for women and she said if I’m not planning to get pregnant (I’m not) then it’s fine to use (Rogaine is not safe to use during pregnancy). She said that it works well for a lot of people, but you do need to commit to using it forever, you can’t stop using it once you start or everything you grew because of it will probably stop growing. She also mentioned a few new types of technology like low level light therapy and PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy), both of which which she offers at her practice. I’m not quite to PRP level by any means but it’s all good to know!

SCABS

The first time I went to see Dr. Naga, I showed her the large scab on my elbow from my biking accident. By the way, the scar is still pink and tender 2 months later. She told me that I should have kept it moist with Vaseline or Aquaphor, never let it dry! More on that in this post.

WHAT NOT TO USE

I asked her to give me the low down on ingredients I should look for to avoid.

Dr. Naga said no alcohol (dries out the skin), oil free (can cause clogging of pores), non comedogenic (to make sure it doesn’t clog pores), no perfume or fragrance/nothing scented (can cause irritation and allergies), no parabens (preservative that many people are allergic to), and no sodium laureth sulfate (jury’s still out on this but it may be an irritant).

The fragrance might be a problem for me considering I love perfume, but I think I’ve figured out my irritation to it. Anything with fragrance, I don’t use in certain situations. Anytime I will be in the heat or sun, or right after heat or sun, and anytime right around shaving. Those are the times I’ve gotten rashes. Otherwise it doesn’t really bother me.

BEWARE OF FAKE PRODUCTS

As I was checking out the woman at the front desk was giving me some samples of products to try and asked if I wanted to purchase any. Being a blogger I can purchase items online and get a discount and/or can usually connect with a PR company to test products out. So I wasn’t going to buy the products right away and told her I’d probably buy them online later. She warned me that there are a lot of SkinCeuticals knockoffs that are NOT the same and that I should only get them online from reputable companies like Dermstore. I thought you all should know that.

Because of her telling me that, I started looking up info about knockoff cosmetics and WOW. Yuck. The most popular ones are expensive brands or really popular things like Kylie Lip Kits and MAC. SkinCeuticals is really expensive and so they just told me they knew of people who bought some that wasn’t real and didn’t have the same formula. So just beware. Don’t by skincare or makeup from anywhere that you don’t trust and make sure to look at the packaging really carefully.

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Obviously this is just what my dermatologist told me, for me. I think a lot of it is general advice that I thought you might find interested and helpful (don’t worry, I passed all of this by her before publishing).

If you are looking for a good dermatologist in the DC area (right off the Rosslyn Metro) with all of the latest technology — Dr. Lina Naga is your gal.

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Photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash