This article appears in the January 2015 issue of ELLE magazine.
“Acid is not a four-letter word,” insists New York City dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD. But this was not always the case. Before Gross created his DIY two-step anti-aging Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel in 2002, dropping acid outside the derm’s office was still considered risky. But Gross’s gentle formulation makes it virtually impossible to abuse the high-potency ingredients found in his products. Next up: a foolproof face wash and mask hybrid that changes color when skin has been sufficiently scrubbed. “I’m a huge believer that you have to do homework in addition to in-office treatments,” he says.
In the U.S., we sometimes think of cleanser as the least important step because it’s washed down the drain. Why is face wash important?
Your whole anti-aging regimen starts with cleansing. For ingredients to really penetrate, you need clean, bare skin. If you have oil and dirt, there’s a barrier to the treatment ingredients. Second, people often scrub a little bit too hard. It’s easy to go overboard, and once skin gets dry, red, and flaky, products that were tolerated before might not be well received.
Everyone is using coconut oil and home remedies at the moment. Do natural cures actually work?
Yes! I’m a huge believer. Whenever I can use a natural ingredient that truly improves the skin, it’s in my products. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer.
Beyond retinol and sunscreen, what should we all be using?
I think weekly and daily peels are huge. Doing a peel on a regular basis keeps the cells turning over and prevents creases, unevenness, and large pores. With a two-step peel, you have the opportunity to deliver anti-aging ingredients, as well, so it’s not just exfoliation. The damage from the free radicals that the sun produces is delayed.
Is there anything that you love specifically for undereyes?
I’ll do the Alpha Beta Peel and combine it with the Sublime laser, which stimulates collagen and firms the skin. When you couple the two, in 12 hours’ time any puffiness is gone.
What do we know about skin today that we didn’t know last year?
Acne can be tied to yeast issues in the case of perioral dermatitis, also known as acne rosacea. The red, itchy bumps may be related to an imbalance or reaction to yeast in hair follicles. This is different from conventional acne that is related to oil chemistry.
Are there any other conditions that you’re seeing more now than ever before?
Skin cancer and precancers among younger people, specifically those under 45. I think this is because of poor sunscreen application, especially around the hairline and the nose. People don’t realize that if your skin becomes pink, it’s your body’s way of telling you it’s being stressed by the sun. Pink is unacceptable. I like to say “Pink is the new red.”
REVITALASH Advanced Eyelash Conditioner “lengthens lashes without any risk of changing your eye color”; DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Color Smart Cleanser & Mask cleans without stripping, then works overtime as a balancing mask; DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution improves the look of hyperpigmentation; BADGER Damascus Rose Beauty Balm “hydrates and moisturizes the skin” with essential oils; DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Alpha Beta Medi-Spa Peel is the next best thing to an in-office procedure; HOURGLASS Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil “defines and contours brows, which takes years off the face.”