Say Hello To The Skin Superheroes

At HintMD, we believe the most effective treatment plan should encompass everything from injectables and medical-grade facials, through to an awesome, at-home skincare regime. By signing up for a treatment plan with a local, board-certified provider – and there’s more on treatment plans here if you need it;) – you’re guaranteed to reach your aesthetic goals and maintain your best skin all year round. And when we say ‘guaranteed,’ we mean it.

While everyone’s skin is different, and treatment plans rarely the same, there are certain ingredients and treatments that nearly all skin types can gain something from – veritable skincare superheroes, if you will.

In our humble opinion, these are those superheroes…

Glycolic Acid

Skin naturally renews itself by shedding millions of cells every day, but alas, like most good things in life, this natural exfoliation process slows down as skin ages. If cell turnover is not helped along with some gentle exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells and boost circulation, the result is exactly what you’d expect – a dull, lifeless complexion. And nobody wants that.

So, what’s the best way to maintain that healthy glow without damaging your skin or causing irritation along the way?

By regularly exfoliating.

When it comes to boosting cell turnover and maintaining fresh, exfoliated, healthy-looking skin, glycolic acid is a total no-brainer. A true radiance provider, glycolic acid is one of the most effective and highly researched alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Far superior to harsh scrubs, its main purpose is for breaking the bonds between dead skin cells and sloughing them clean away to help repair photodamage, smooth fine lines and fade dark spots.

Glycolic is used in many chemical peels at the doctor’s office, so next time you’re there, ask about including one in your treatment plan. You could also try adding something like Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser or SkinMedica GlyPro Renewal Cream into your regime for awesome results at home.

Retinol

We’re happy to admit, retinol is one of our favorite, skin-transforming powerhouses. Visit any derm, doctor or plastic surgeon and they’ll tell you it’s one of the most trusted anti-aging ingredients in skincare and, no matter your skin type, it has the ability to work for you.

A derivative of vitamin A, retinol is a precursor of retinoic acid and has to go through two steps before it becomes retinoic acid. As a result of this processing, retinol doesn’t create as many side effects as retinoic acid – if any at all – and this is why it’s the darling of many anti-aging products. And has more benefits than we’ve had hot dinners.

Benefits of regularly applying some form of retinol product include reducing sun damage, treating acne, minimizing fine lines, adding radiance and, well, the list goes on. HintMD partner and Walnut Creek-based facial plastic surgeon Dr. Haena Kim calls it: ‘the Photoshopped effect.’ Says it all, doesn’t it?

Ask your skincare expert about medical-grade retinol options that could work for your skin. There are many available at the doctor’s office, but we can personally recommend PCA Skin Retinol Treatment for Sensitive Skin and ZO Medical Brightenex 1.0% Retinol.

Botox

Not to be confused with fillers, neurotoxins like Botox, Dysport and Xeomin temporarily reduce wrinkles by altering the nerve impulses of targeted muscles, which in effect ‘paralyzes’ them.

Historically, Botox was used to benefit patients suffering from involuntary muscle spasms associated with illnesses such as cerebral palsy. It was developed in the 1970s by an ophthalmologist in San Francisco while searching for a cure for crossed eyes, and in 1989 the FDA approved its use for treating not only crossed eyes (strabismus), but also for twitching eyelids and involuntary blinking (blepharospasm).

As muscle-relaxing botulinum toxins were used by more and more doctors, it became obvious they had multiple capabilities within the human body, and when post-procedure patients began to report unexpected but very positive side-effects from Botox – including less headaches and smoother skin – the industry started to get very excited indeed.

Today, botulinum toxin type A is the most widely used injectable toxin in non-invasive cosmetic procedures. It’s made from a purified nerve poison produced by the bacteria that cause the muscle-paralyzing disease, botulism, and has become an industry go-to for the treatment of wrinkles – in particular those annoying frown lines known in the biz as glabellar lines. Why is it so effective? Because injections of Botox act like microscopic, poisonous darts when injected into the skin, temporarily blocking chemical nerve impulses to specific muscles and glands to control their movement and restrict their activity.

“We see it as a molecule that keeps on giving,” explains Dr. Mitchell F.Brin, neurologist and chief scientific officer at pharmaceutical company Allergan, producer of Botox.

“As we understand it more, it gives us new ideas of how to use it,” he adds.

In actual fact, botulinum toxin injections are now being used for around one hundred different uses in practices nationwide, and Botox, Dysport (Galderma) and Xeomin (Merz Aesthetics), are seen as some of the most important treatments in our partners’ anti-aging arsenal.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan, or it’s salt derivative, sodium hyaluronate) is found naturally in the skin’s structure where it acts as a powerful humectant, meaning it ‘holds’ moisture to keep the skin soft, firm, plump and hydrated. Studies have shown that HA can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, which means just one gram can hold up to six liters of water. This makes it the superhero of the moisturizing world because it’s also been proven to promote collagen production, reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Mind. Blown.

Not only is hyaluronic acid a must in your moisturizing routine, but it’s also the basis of some of our favorite dermal fillers, such as Juvéderm and Restylane. These all play an integral part in the correction of visible skin aging and are most often administered to the lower half of the face to correct nasolabial folds and marionette lines, or to plump thinning lips or sunken cheeks.

HA has been shown to form a gel consistency at even low concentrations and when water is drawn into the HA matrix, it creates a swelling pressure or turgor that enables it to withstand compressive forces. This is why it’s proven to be such a great filler. Oh, and because hyaluronic acid is a natural substance already found in the body, reactions to HA fillers are rare. Double bonus.

Sunscreen

While we all know better than to subject our skin to sun torture on a daily basis, our love-hate relationships with that big, beautiful ball of fire in the sky is a far more complicated one. Like drinking our weight in white wine and eating takeout leftovers for breakfast (what do you mean, you NEVER do that?), warm, sunkissed skin is irresistible. We know it does no good in the long-term, but the instant gratification is so worth it.

Or is it?

While the case for getting your daily fix of vitamin D (the ‘sunshine vitamin’) might be tempting, the case against the sun is a much stronger one. Two words: UV radiation.

Even though it’s invisible to the naked eye, UV is like an invisible assassin – damaging the DNA of our skin cells on a daily basis. In particular, UVA is responsible for more than 80 percent of skin aging, and we don’t know about you but that’s enough to make us immediately run for cover and slather on our medical-grade, broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Present all-year round – NOT just on sunny days – UVA radiation penetrates glass and goes right down to the dermis of the skin, releasing free radicals, and damaging collagen and elastin. Skin is able to repair many of these mutations, but if the damage is too great, impacted cells may die or mutate, resulting in visible aging like fine lines, wrinklesdiscolorations and poor texture, as well as the far more serious subject of skin cancer.

The answer, thankfully, comes in the form of medical-grade sunscreen that protects you equally from both UVA and UVB (UVB rays are the ones that burn your skin, btw). Because the SPF (sun protection factor) on your bottle of sun cream only protects your skin from UVB, always choose a high, broad-spectrum formula that contains ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, oxybenzone and Mexoryl which all offer UVA as well as UVB protection.

Some of our current favorites are: SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 and NeoCutis Micro Day Rejuvenating Cream Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30.