Excerpt: Six Weeks to Sensational Skin

Hello Campers. Welcome to my Camp! It's the culmination of twenty-five years of examining and treating thousands of women and men who have come to me with high hopes of developing a plan for better skin.

I love what I do -- dermatology is my job and my passion. Give me a skincare problem and I want to solve it. Ask me what I think of your overall appearance and the quality of your skin, and I can't help but be honest.

I've written this book as a way to offer a fun, reinvigorating approach to good skin care -- and to share my many experiences and insights along the way. This book combines my playful and serious sides. Everything that I'll share with you has a solid medical and scientific foundation.

Uninvited Elements -- All Those U.E.s

I genuinely believe that so much of appearance is making the most of what you've got -- of putting your best face forward. Have you ever gathered a little bunch of flowers or run an iron over the cloth dinner napkins, trying to put your best foot forward for last-minute company? That's how I feel about appearance. I'm more comfortable and relaxed if I've made a little effort.

When I say "little," I am thinking smart and simple changes. It isn't about undergoing dramatic alterations to look 20 years younger. After all, you wouldn't rush out to buy new wine glasses when friends are dropping by; the ones you have will do just fine.

The same principle applies to personal appearance. A smile brightens up a face like a bouquet of flowers does a room. Actually, quite a few studies been done on this effect in recent years: Smiling women (of all ages) were perceived as vastly more attractive than non-smiling women, irrespective of other facial features or even body type. One study discussed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that older women shown smiling are perceived as more attractive than younger women who are not. A smile turns out to be the real face lift!

As for my face, it's still pretty youthful, but seasoned -- a little like some old wine glasses I love. (My kids would say that my face is "vintage.") It's the same face I've always had, with the addition of a few (as I call them) Uninvited Elements. If your cheeks have started to sag a little at the jaw line, then those sags are Uninvited Elements. Droopy eyelids and laugh lines are Uninvited Elements. Thinning lips are Uninvited Elements, along with double chins and liver spots.

I have a funny nickname for my own Uninvited Elements. I call them my U.E.'s. Some U.E.'s add character and beauty to your face, while others detract.

Here are some UE's that many of us battle, and my suggestions for helping to minimize and improve them:

Uninvited Element, "UE" 1: Thin Lips:

For the vast majority of us, lip plumper products may do the trick to improve thin lips. Some lip plumpers work because they contain irritating ingredients which swell our lips and give a burning suggestion. I'd like you to shy away from these kinds of products, and instead be sure to look for the following of my "Favorite ingredients" in a lip plumper.

Hyaluronic Acid

This is a "humectant" that holds one thousand times its weight in water. I like to describe hyaluronic acid as being like a wafer sponge that fills and plumps out the skin. Since the lips have excellent penetration of topically applied skincare, most women are thrilled with the results they see when they use topical hyaluronic acid to plump up their lips. (Restylane, the injectable filler, is made of hyaluronic acid.)


You might be noticing all kinds of Peptides in skin-care products lately. They are quite the rage -- but with good reason, mostly because they are small molecules that can penetrate the barrier of the epidermis and have an impact on the dermis, or deeper layer of skin. These have the advantage of producing rapid, visible changes in the appearance of the skin. Specifically, they can cause tightening and the appearance of firming in the skin.

When a peptide is applied to the skin, there are binding sites on the cells of the epidermis as well as the dermis which will pick up the ingredient. This seems to help explain the peptide's range of activities, which include an increase in cell turnover, increased firmness, and increased collagen synthesis. Use of products with this ingredient can lead to an appearance of increased smoothness, moisture, elasticity, and fullness of the skin.

"UE" 2: Droopy eyebrows

Again, you can always consider going to the extreme of having a surgical browlift or a so-called "Botox Browlift", but here is my suggested at-home remedy for droopy brows:

Start with shaping your brows. They can be made to nicely frame your eyes and even help distract from any under-eye puffiness or crow's feet by drawing more attention to the top of the eyes. See what happens if you emphasize them a bit. After grooming them with a little shaping, I suggest you consider either eyebrow gel (I love the one at Victoria's Secret), or a light layer of eye shadow brushed into the brows. Since an arched brow enhances the facial aesthetic, you can use the gel and/or powder to enhance the brow arch ever so slightly.

"UE" 3: The Yellowing Smile:

There are loads of pricey ways to whiten your smile, but, in the true spirit of Dr. Loretta's Beauty Camp, I suggest you consider following my lead on this one:

To keep my smile looking white, I use a whitening product called Rembrandt Whitening Wand. I picked it up at a drugstore on Christmas Eve several years ago, when I was in a last-minute rush for stocking stuffers. It whitens and has a great mint taste, and it fits easily into my purse. I've carried it with me ever since.

To combat a bunch of UE's, from big pores, to acne, to discolorations from pregnancy or age spots, to fine lines:

I suggest another of my favorite ingredients, Glycolic Acid. What is glycolic acid? Technically, it is the acid of sugar cane. As such, it is often marketed as a "natural" rejuvenator. Truth be told, the most common source of glycolic acid is the laboratory rather than sugar cane -- but that isn't meant to take anything away from its value as an ingredient.

Glycolic acid is one of the great ingredients in today's skin rejuvenation business. It decreases the stratum corneum, or dead epidermal layer. It builds the thickness of the living epidermal layer, as well as increasing collagen, elastin, hyaluonic acid, and skin hydration.

Most Campers are probably going to want some kind of glycolic acid product in their daily regimen. But not all glycolic acids are created equal. This is why you'll need to learn how to read an ingredient label -- and not just believe the claim on the front of the jar or bottle. A reasonably strong solution of glycolic is necessary in order to be effective. Otherwise, there's little point in using it at all.

Some Labels Are Designed to Be Confusing!

I once saw an ad campaign in which a major skin-care company offered a 10% glycolic acid formula for under $10. This amazed me. A 10% glycolic acid formula is a terrific strength. But I'd never seen one for under $25 or $30. Then I figured it out: The so-called 10% solutions aren't equal either.

Many physician offices, including mine, dispense pure glycolic acid. This means that the acid hasn't been neutralized in any way. The product is very acidic, with a pH of about 3.5. (The so-called pH level is a measurement of acidity; the stronger the glycolic acid solution, the lower the pH level.) But only a doctor's office or website can sell these stronger formulas of pure, un-neutralized glycolic acid. This protects consumers from misuse that could cause irritation and a rash.

All the glycolic acid products that you'll see in drugstores and department stores are gentler than a doctor's formulation, with a pH level that is close to the pH balance of the skin -- around 6. The higher the pH, the less stinging and redness you'll experience.

Also, the results will be a little less dramatic with use of these products compared to lower pH products from the doctor's office. I'm not saying the mass marketed solutions can't do the trick. They are simply less strong and therefore results can take longer to see.

Besides the pH of a glycolic product, you should also be aware of trends with the percentage of the glycolic depending on the marketplace. You need to be aware: Any glycolic product that is marketed at a store or pharmacy as a "10% formula" is not 10% pure, undiluted glycolic. It means that the formula contained 10% acid before being neutralized.

The more accurate and useful way to measure the strength of a solution is be to describe the amount of "free" or "available" glycolic acid once the product is converted to meet safety standards. Because consumers could have considerable irritation and peeling from pure glycolic acid at 10%, glycolics sold in stores generally have been diluted so that the final amount of "free" or "available" glycolic is in the range of 2% to 3% ( even when the label reads 10%). So, the percentage listed on the label isn't reflective of the amount of acid that is going onto your skin when you use the product.

One of my patients learned about "free" glycolic the hard way. She came to my office recently with a small bottle of a "50% glycolic peel" that she'd purchased for $170 at the cosmetic counter of a major department store. She said that she was very surprised that this product actually tingled much less than the products she had purchased in doctors' offices before this. So, she asked for my analysis of the product. She wasn't too happy when I explained that the amount of actual "free" glycolic in the bottle was surely less than 10% she had in the doctor's products.

So it's worthwhile to keep this in mind: Non-neutralized physicians' products (available at the doctor's office or on-line) are generally several times more concentrated than their drug and department store counterparts.

Beauty Campers Review:

-- Ramp up, don't give up, on your skin-care regimen

-- -Commit to regular, consistent use of products you believe in

-- Study your most stubborn UEs. Which ones do you want to fix, and which ones can you live with?

-- Get more sleep!

-- Learn to love your face, no matter what