Skin Doc Confidential

If you saw the faces of these MDs, you’d assume they shunned the sun and drank their weight in water every day. However, while they are certainly conscientious about tending to their skin, they’re also refreshingly real women who lead supremely busy lives. And most break at least one skin rule. Here, the straight scoop on what they do (and choose not to do) for their own complexions.

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Jessica Wu, M.D. 44

Wu is a dermatologist in Los Angeles and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California.

WHY SHE BECAME A SKIN DOC “As a kid, I had cystic acne, eczema, allergic hives. This was in addition to being nearsighted, chubby and unathletic! I became a doctor to help people with skin like mine,” says Wu.

THE UPSIDE OF AGING “I’m grateful for my oily skin now because it’s resistant to wrinkling,” she says.

HER AT-HOME MUSTS Face cleanser is quickly washed away, so Wu admits to scrimping on it. Her pick: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser ($7; drugstores). She also buys drugstore sunscreen and swears by Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunblock SPF 50 ($13; drugstores). Four or five nights a week, she applies Renova (a retinoid, i.e., an Rx-strength vitamin A cream) to help shed dead skin cells and smooth fine lines. And every night she lines her upper lashes with Latisse, a prescription-strength
serum that accelerates lash growth.

HER IN-OFFICE ROUTINE “I inject Juvéderm into my smile lines,” Wu says of the plumping hyaluronic acid filler. She started about five years ago and gives herself a refill every six months. She also began doing “a little bit of Botox” in her late twentiesand now relies on four-month refreshers. But she injects it sparingly “so I can still raise my brows.”

SURPRISING SKIN STRATEGY “I’m convinced you’ll see [skin changes] pretty quickly if you alter your diet,” notes Wu, who put red meat back on her plate after discovering she had a significant vitamin B12 deficiency, which caused her to look and feel tired. She also avoids dairy, believing it promotes skin inflammation and breakouts.

WHO-KNEW TIP Wu says gum chewing can deepen the little lines around your lips and accentuate jowls.

CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT-IT PRODUCT Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets ($5; drugstores).

Cath Riley

Susan C. Taylor, MD, 54

Taylor is a dermatologist in Philadelphia and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at both Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. 


HER SKIN-CARE SPECIALTY “Being a woman of color, I feel strongly about addressing hyperpigmentation,” says Taylor. For darker skin, she explains, spots and uneven tone are more of an issue than fine lines and sagging.

HOW SHE EVENS THINGS OUT She cleanses with Glytone Gel Wash ($28; to speed up skin-cell turnover and minimize discoloration. Then she keeps spots at bay by applying either her own Rx for Brown Skin Naturally Flawless Botanical Brightener or her Rx for Brown Skin Absolute Radiance Intensive Exfoliating Serum ($35 each;, both of which slow production of excess pigment. To keep discoloration from deepening, she tops her serum with Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55 ($11; drugstores).

HER GRAVITY DEFIERS Although she battles spots more than sagging, she does inject herself with Botox two or three times a year and fills her nasolabial folds (smile lines) and cheeks with a touch of Juvéderm or Resty-lane yearly.

GLOW-GETTING TRICK “Honestly, I hate exercise,” Taylor admits. “But it keeps me in shape and increases blood flow, so my skin looks better. I work out two or three times a week.”

Cath Riley

Tina Alster, MD, 52

Alster is a dermatologist in Washington, D.C., and a clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical School.


HER EMPATHETIC APPROACH “I’m the working woman’s dermatologist,” she says. “My patients are busy and can’t be slaves to their skin care. I feel the same, so many patients just mimic what I do.”

SO WHAT DOES SHE DO? “As little as possible. And most of my routine is done in the shower,” says Alster. Her regimen: cleansing with a Clarisonic Mia brush ($119; and d.Stress Soothing Wash AM/PM, one of four products in the Skin Is In d.Sensitize Kit ($160; she created to streamline her routine. Plus, she uses the kit’s three other products: d.Fuse Anti-Redness Tone Diffuser AM/PM; d.Oxidize Anti-Oxidant Physical Sunscreen SPF 30; and d.Thirst Hydrating Complex PM.

WHAT’S WORTH THE BIG BUCKS “I don’t have time for surgery, and fillers are not my look,” says Alster. She does, however, swear by the Fraxel Re:Store laser to tighten pores and plump the skin, as well as Intense Pulsed Light, an in-office treatment that zaps broken blood vessels. “Invest in those two treatments annually, and you will have glowing skin,” Alster says. She is also an advocate of Botox and Dysport, and she injects one or the other into her brows, eye area and neck two or three times a year.

HER GUILTY PLEASURE “I am a sweets fiend. Sugar is what makes me run: gummy bears, spice drops, Junior Mints. Sure, glycation [a cellular aging process linked to sugar intake] is an issue. But the sun is worse. You have to choose your battles.”

BETTER THAN AN EYE CREAM? “My skin is more reactive now, and so are my eyes,” Alster says. Her strategy: She takes a daily 24-hour Claritin pill. “After a month, this antihistamine reduced puffiness around my eyes and made me look less tired.”

HER PRODUCT OBSESSION Newly rereleased by popular demand, Lancôme Nutrix Soothing Treatment Cream ($45; is Alster’s cure-all for dry skin—and she loves the smell. “Nothing else comes close,” she says. “I buy six tubes at a time and always have one with me.”

Cath Riley

Katie Rodan, MD, 57


Rodan is a dermatologist in Oakland and an adjunct professor of dermatology at Stanford University.


HER HONEST APPROACH “In my practice, I do to my patients only what I’m willing to do to myself or a family member,” says Rodan.

WHAT SHE’S WILLING TO DO “I started using Botox 20-plus years ago, preventively,” Rodan says. Today she injects it every four months around her eyes and in her neck bands. She also gets Restylane or Juvéderm in her nasolabial folds and at the corners of her mouth once a year, and she’s tried Thermage, a treatment that uses radio frequency technology to tighten skin. “It took me a long time to add Thermage to our office services—but now I’m convinced it works,” she says.

HER SKIN-CARE PHILOSOPHY “Skin looks much more luminous when you exfoliate,” she says. “It’s as essential to skin health as exercise is to maintaining a strong body.” Her method: She used Retin-A in her twenties but says she has since switched to over- the-counter retinol “because I’m drier now and Retin-A became irritating to my skin.” In the morning, she uses a skin-sloughing cleanser she developed as a direct result of her passion for exfoliation: Rodan + Fields Reverse Deep Exfoliating Wash ($41;

HER SUN-CARE STRATEGY “I love to be outside, and I’m not going to give up my life to avoid the sun,” says Rodan. “But I am laughably careful and can get inventive—like the time I tied a long-sleeved T-shirt around my head when I was exercising outdoors. But I’m fine with looking silly in public if it means I’ll have good skin for the rest of my life.”

ON STAYING HYDRATED “I don’t drink lots of water. I do live for my cappuccino every morning, though. And the liquid counts!” she says.

CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT-IT PRODUCT Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($6; drugstores). “When I’m super dry, I put it all over before bed—my hands, cuticles, even my face,” says Rodan.

Cath Riley

Patricia Wexler, MD, 60

Wexler is a dermatologist in New York City and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University.

ON SHUNNING THE SUN “I’m a true redhead; I burn,” says Wexler. “The outdoors is not my friend. You have to take the sun seriously, or you’ll look like a Raisinet when you’re old.”

SUN-CARE MISTAKES WE MAKE “You must reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re outdoors. The formula degrades and stops working,” she explains. “And wear it every day, even rainy ones.” She does admit, however, that repeatedly slathering on heavy white sunscreen is unrealistic, especially if you’re just going to and from work. “But you can brush on a micro-ionized powder with SPF,” she says. Try: Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen SPF 30 ($46;

HER DEFLATION MISSION Shrinking her eye bags runs a close second to applying UV protection on Wexler’s skin-care-obsessions list. Four years ago, she went under the knife to have her lower-lid fat pads removed. Today she maintains the results with her own Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Intensive 3-in-1 Eye Cream ($33; “It tightens everything and works even better when it’s been chilled in the fridge,” she says.

HER SMOOTH-SKIN SECRETS Wexler isn’t afraid to experiment on herself; she started doing Botox back in 1990. She still uses it in her neck and between her brows. “I never do my crow’s-feet,” she says. “I like expression.” She also likes Fraxel Re:Store to improve texture and tone, and three years ago she tried Ultherapy, a skin-tightening treatment. She was so pleased with the results, she did it again this year. Finally, she injects Restylane twice a year into her tear trough to plump the area and reduce under-eye darkness.

REDNESS-REDUCING TRICK To neutralize her frequent flushing (the bane of many redheads), Wexler places an iced-skim-milk compress against her face for a few minutes. The coolness, combined with the milk proteins, calms irritation.

CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT-IT PRODUCT Natura Bissé Diamond Ice-Lift DNA Cryo-Mask ($155; “I use it when I’m puffy or need to look extra special,” she says. The 20-minute mask peels off like plastic wrap and “sucks in everything.”


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