Skin doctors making skin-care products — it’s kind of a no-brainer.
Demanding a bit more of our cerebrum, however, is the task of analyzing the countless physician-fronted potions that cross our desks at Allure every day. While touted as the ultimate inventions of world-renowned dermatologists and plastic surgeons, not every MD-emblazoned bottle boasts the actual blood, sweat, and tears of its famous founder. For some doctors, “it’s more about PR than science,” says Wendy Lewis, an international cosmetic-surgery insider, and a virtual Who’s Who of aesthetic pros.
“There’s a distinct difference between a doctor who has a personal vision and is directly involved in every step of the formulary process and one who simply slaps their name on a manufacturer’s existing formula.”WENDY LEWIS, COSMETICS INDUSTRY INSIDER
To create a standout brand, she adds, it takes a village — and an abundant budget, because designing even a single original formula can be a six-figure proposition. Since it’s nearly impossible for even the savviest shopper to distinguish between a true expert innovation and the skin-care equivalent of fool’s gold, we asked Lewis for the inside scoop. After debating the merits of dozens of doctor brands — new and old, widely acclaimed and more obscure — she singled out two worth investing in. Who’s up for a house call from some of the world’s most beautiful minds
#1 : Zo Skin Health
Star Product No. 1 : ZO Instant Pore Refiner
ZO Instant Pore Refiner
Lightweight serum that reduces surface oils and surface shine for an instantly matte finish. The ZO Skin Health Instant Pore Refiner features a dual-action formula to eliminate surface shine and minimize the appearance of pores. This amazing lightweight product gives your skin an instant matte finish and smoothes the skin texture so little imperfections are less visible.
- Minimizes enlarged pores
- Reduces the amount of oil on the skin’s surface
- Removes shine and gives the skin a matte appearance
- Smoothes skin texture and minimizes the look of skin imperfections
- Helps to exfoliate dead skin around pores
- Helps to prevent congestion to minimize breakouts
- Contains antioxidants to prevent free-radicals damage and premature skin aging
Star Product No. 2 : Zo Daily Power Defense
ZO Daily Power Defense
Powerful antioxidant serum designed to improve the appearance of lines + wrinkles and promote overall skin health. Defend your skin against environmental damage. The ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense peptide-rich lotion contains highly stable retinol, antioxidants, and specialized DNA repairing enzymes that help minimize UV damage, uneven pigmentation, skin function, and elasticity. Moisture promoting ingredients soothe the skin and help restore the skin’s barrier function.
- Provides antioxidant protection to combat free radical damage
- Helps tighten and firm the skin
- Promotes skin health
- Helps support skin’s natural mechanism to repair damage and protect against future skin damage
Star Product No. 3 : Rozatrol Normalizing Serum
Behind the Brand
Zein Obagi, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, specializing in pigmentation disorders and chemical peels. He developed one of the first MD skin-care collections — the original Obagi Nu-Derm System — in the 80s.
“For years, I saw women coming into my practice with melasma, acne, and sun damage,” says Obagi. “I’d fix their skin with chemical peels and laser resurfacing, but then they’d go back to department stores and buy the wrong product for the wrong reasons, and I’d see them back again in a year with the same issues. So, I wanted to create a skin-care collection that would enable physicians to keep their patients’ skin healthy for the rest of their lives — a line of products that would offer solutions for all skin needs.”
“I first met Dr. Obagi at a plastic surgery conference in the late 1990s,” says Lewis. “The auditorium was packed, but you could’ve heard a pin drop as he took the podium. The before-and-after photos he presented blew the audience away— such dramatic improvements from topical treatments and peels. He was considered quite a renegade in the early days. I’ve since seen him lecture in London, Paris, and Monaco, where he’s followed by crowds shouting questions and taking pictures. This doctor practices what he preaches: In fact, he and all of his family and staff members have fresh, baby-soft skin. Over the years, his skin-care empire has grown to include huge clinical research and product development teams, but Dr. Obagi remains very involved in the process, and is just as sharp as he was when I met him 20 years ago.”
Lancer Skin Care
Star Products: The Method; Omega Hydrating Oil with Ferment Complex
Behind the Brand: Harold Lancer, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist famous for tending to Hollywood royalty — Oprah, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian West, and Victoria Beckham among others.
#SkinGoals: “Over three decades of patient care has provided me with phenomenal opportunities for direct observation and creative solutions,” Lancer says. “My skin-care philosophy is rooted in a holistic approach — it’s meticulously following a daily program and also employing great self-care. I believe using high-quality products and integrating lifestyle practices — exercise, clean eating, stress reduction, proper sleep habits — can go a long way in achieving glowing skin and overall health.”
Inside Scoop: “Dr. Lancer is a derm legend — the original ‘red-carpet ready’ man to see on Rodeo Drive,” says Lewis. “He’s an innovator who adds his personal twist to new treatments and emerging technologies. His original The Method: Polish — a daily exfoliating scrub, and step-two in his signature Lancer Method product trio — is renowned for giving A-listers that ‘Lancer glow.’ He recently partnered with his patient, Ryan Seacrest, to create Polished, a men’s grooming line that’s equally results-driven.”
Behind the Brand: Macrene Alexiades, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University, and an adjunct professor at Sigros Hospital at the University of Athens. She runs a private practice on Park Avenue in New York City.
#SkinGoals: “To create an all-in-one, toxin-free, truly effective treatment for my patients, many of whom were layering on products with trendy, but unproven ingredients, and loads of preservatives,” says Alexiades. “I aimed to simplify and maximize each product with 37 active ingredients. Now we’re up to 50 scientifically proven, plant-derived ingredients in each bottle, all designed to improve skin health and reverse the signs of aging.” The brand is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, fragrance, animal- and human-derived ingredients; all of the plant extracts are USDA-certified organic. “I envision active ingredients ultimately replacing in-office procedures, and believe 37 Actives is already doing just that, with my lip treatment replacing injectable fillers, and my décolletage cream obviating the need for IPL of the neck and chest,” she says.
Inside Scoop: “Dr. Alexiades is considered a ‘doctor’s doctor’ by her peers,” says Lewis. “Her scientific knowledge is head-and-shoulders above most lifelong researchers, and she slaves over her formulas — each of which is an original, patented creation. She’s launched only one product per year, because she is such a perfectionist, and really takes her time getting her formulations just right before debuting them. 37 Actives is a high-performing, luxury skin-care line, and it’s all Macrene, all the way.”