Are you really a doctor?
I am. I’m a dermatologist. I did my undergrad and med school at Ohio State and Medical College of Ohio and an internship in Detroit at Henry Ford Hospital and my dermatology residency at Medical College of Virginia. My husband and I settled here about 16 years ago.
Did you have a dermatology practice here before you started this business?
I had a practice for five years and then my daughter was born, and I had some medical complications, so I cut back the practice. Simultaneously, before my daughter was born, I had started the online portion of our business. The online part quickly went from being a sideline thing out of a spare bedroom to a full-time thing. At the high point, we had three apartments we were running the business out of.
Where are your products manufactured?
We have different factories around the country, but all the formulations are my own, and we do the product development here in Kansas City. The products are also shipped from here.
How does women’s skin change with age?
There are four distinct layers of the skin. The epidermis, or outermost layer, is where you start to see blotchy skin discoloration, fine wrinkle lines, dryness or oiliness.
Then you have the dermis, where collagen fibers actually tent up the skin and give us that nice firm appearance.
Below that is the fat layer, and finally there is the muscular layer.
Aging causes changes in all those layers.
What’s going on with skin when we’re in our 30s?
That’s when most of the issues are happening with the epidermis. The epidermis is thickening, which causes us to lose that dewy glow of youth, so exfoliation is important to thin the skin back down. Women also start to see blotchiness mostly due to hormonal changes, but your skin is still looking pretty good.
What happens in our 40s?
You start losing 1 percent of dermal collagen every year. The skin loses its taut texture. You begin to see sagging and lines deepen. Age spots appear. The fat starts to disappear under the eyes, which makes blood vessels more visible under the eyes, so you see dark circles.
And in our 50s?
Women’s skin stops making as much oil, so it looks dull. The muscles of expression — smile and frown lines — bulk up, so you’re seeing deeper lines.
In light of those changes, what is the most important thing women should focus on in their skin-care regimen in each decade?
Sun protection is the most important thing across the board. Now that we have sun protection for children, it will likely change the future of what aging looks like. Beyond that, I would say in the 20s you want products that build collagen with retinol, and in the 30s continue that and add exfoliation. In your 40s, you need to add antioxidants.
What role do genetics play?
Some, but not as much as people think. Sun damage is huge, so if you’re fair and your skin ages faster, it might seem genetic, but it’s really sun damage.
What are other lifestyle things people can do to keep their skin looking good?
Don’t smoke. Smoking deprives the skin of oxygenation, and it accelerates the destruction of the collagen fibers.
Remove your makeup at night. If you don’t, it smothers the skin and expands the pores and exaggerates fine lines.
What about diet?
Diet doesn’t play much of a role. People are surprised by that.
What about water?
Water is overrated. It’s important to drink eight glasses of water a day to keep your kidneys healthy and your appetite down, but it doesn’t make your skin look more youthful.
If you get too thin when you are older, that’s not good — you can look very gaunt and old. One of the areas where you want fat is the fat pads under the cheeks and under the eyes. A French actress once said at a certain age you have to choose between your face and your body. Because if you get too skinny and your body’s looking good, your face and hands look really old.
What should women who can’t afford premium skin-care products look for in drugstore products?
Look at the ingredient list. For exfoliation, you want to look for glycolic acid, salicylic acid, folic acid. For antioxidants, look for vitamin C, copper peptide, alpha lipoic acid and kinetin and amino acid peptides in anti-aging creams — those will help firm the skin. Retinol is an important ingredient for building collagen and exfoliating.
What skin-care product is the least necessary?
Moisturizer. Anything you apply to the skin is going to moisturize it — your sunscreen, your acne treatment, your anti-aging products — so a straight moisturizer tends to be the most overused, least necessary product.
Why did you decide to take on the headaches of retail when you had a successful online company?
It’s a whole new portion of my life. We’re clearly doing things in a backward way compared to other people. Most of the time, it’s bricks and mortar to the Internet. We’ve always been education-based, and so we’ve created this interactive system within the store where people can learn about their own skin and be active in their skin health decisions.
Your daughter is 10 and your son is 15. What do you tell them about skin care?
Children of dermatologists are all in the same boat — we’re always running after them with the sunscreen, never letting them get a suntan or sunburn.
Do you talk to your son as much about protecting his skin as your daughter?
Absolutely. But (laughs) they’re kids, you know?
Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Cindy Hoedel, firstname.lastname@example.org.