We sat down with Dr. Zelickson for expert answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about skin radiance.
Q: What causes skin to look dull and lifeless?
Dr. Zelickson: Most describe radiant skin as skin that glows or that has a bright appearance. Clinically, it is something that we, as dermatologists, recognize when we see it.
Skin radiance is actually a result of a complex interaction between light and the skin.
The reflection of light off of the skin is what we describe as radiance, and the color or tone of that light can greatly influence what we see as a healthy, warm radiance. Light interacts with different components of the skin, including the:
- Stratum corneum—the top layer of dead skin cells tend to absorb light. A build-up of old skin cells will result in dull or ashy-looking skin.
- Epidermis—the second layer of living cells tend to reflect light. As we increase the cell turnover with ingredients like retinol, we tend to see a much more radiant and attractive complexion.
- Dermis—the third layer of skin is comprised of collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, blood vessels, etc. Proper blood flow can positively influence the healthy, warm glow that is often associated with radiance.
- Skin Hydration—moisture content can also positively influence skin’s radiance.
Collectively, these components will determine the amount and quality of light and tone that is reflected, thus affecting the radiance and brightness of one’s skin.
Q: How do you see radiance change through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond?
Dr. Zelickson: Generally, as skin matures it loses its radiance due to external factors like sun exposure and smoking, as well as internal factors that tend to slow your cell turnover rate. But, that doesn’t mean there’s not a solution for you as your skin matures. We continue to see beautiful radiance in our clients who are 50+. You can restore a much healthier, warmer radiance with in-office laser procedures, routine skin peels and topical ingredients like retinol.
In the 20s and 30s, the biggest challenge is sun exposure and tanning. Sun exposure damages many parts of the skin, including the surface of the skin which is called the moisture barrier. This leads to duller skin that tends to be more sensitive and prone to blotchiness. Tanning also tends to dull skin, absorbing light rather than reflecting.
Skin in the 40s is skin in transition. This is often when we start to see the most visible signs of aging, like hyperpigmentation (dark spots), fine lines and uneven skin texture. All of these factors interfere with the skin’s ability to reflect light, resulting in less radiance. The solution is to add targeted skincare treatments that address the specific concerns you’re facing.
Q: What are you go-to’s for restoring radiance?
Dr. Zelickson: Sun protection (UVA + UVB) and retinoids are my top two recommendations. Both have a long clinical track record, with substantial clinical evidence that they play critical roles in maintaining and boosting radiance.
Sun protection is pretty intuitive when it comes to maintaining your skin’s radiance. UV damages many layers of the skin, which ultimately results in a variety of issues that inhibit radiance like dehydration, dark spots, uneven skin tone and fine lines. I believe the benefits may also be more than prevention. By protecting the skin, it enables the skin to do what it’s supposed to do without the burden of inflammation and oxidation resulting from UV exposure. As a result, your skin should look healthier.
Retinoids supercharge cell turnover. Over particularly extended periods of time, this has a dramatic effect in boosting radiance and skin tone brightness. You can see it almost immediately, within 7-21 days, if you haven’t used a retinoid before. But, these results will only continue to improve over time, which is one of the wonderful attributes of retinoids. In our clinical experience, long-term use (10-20 years) results in skin that looks more polished, refined and healthy. We often see patients who first began using retinoids as a teenager to clear acne and continued using retinoids later in life because of its aesthetic benefits.
Q: Do you offer special in-office treatments to improve the brightness of skin tone?
Dr. Zelickson: Yes, predominantly peels and fractionated resurfacing lasers. Both treatments help to improve the structures of the skin, which ultimately improves the appearance of skin radiance.
Q: If you can’t make it to the dermatologist, what skincare treatment do you recommend?
Dr. Zelickson: Retinol would be my go-to recommendation. Well-formulated Retinol products can deliver dramatic improvements. These products require high levels of pure Retinol, not derivatives or Retinol alternatives, and very careful formulation to be effective.
MD Complete’s Wrinkle & Radiance Remedy PLUS and Retinol regimens have been clinically proven to match the results of dermatologist treatments. It is the only line of professional skincare to do so, with a variety of Retinol products to match your skin concerns and skin type.
Q: Once you achieve radiance, how do you maintain it?
Dr. Zelickson: Protect your skin from sun exposure by routinely using a broad-spectrum SPF between 30-50. Support the health of your skin by keeping it hydrated with the use of Retinol and antioxidants.