Exclusive Interview With Dr. Jeanine B. Downie

June 24, 2009

To answer some of your skin-related questions, I did a brief interview with Dr. Jeanine B. Downie, a board certified dermatologist with medical licenses in the states of New Jersey and New York. Dr. Downie is also a frequent contributor to The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View etc. and has been quoted on numerous magazines like Glamour, Allure, Elle and more.

Question: A lot of my readers are in their 20s. When would be a good time for them to start using anti-aging products and what are some good picks?

Answer: I recommend to start using them today! Most important is an SPF of at least 30 which you should apply rain or shine, everyday, January through December, on your face, neck, ears and hands, regardless of ethnicity. If used regularly, it will lead to less wrinkles, a more even skin tone and less risk for skin cancer later in life. Secondly, stop rubbing your eyes! This will stop the stretching of your eye tissue. Also start with an over the counter eye moisturizer three times per week, such as Olay. You should also use a good moisturizer with antioxidants (RevaleSkin with 1% coffee berries and Thermage MD with Idebenone). Other advice is to stop using tanning beds and if you smoke, quit! And start exercising!

Question: What is your take on keeping a simple skincare regimen vs splurging on expensive products and facials?

Answer: I believe in a bit of both. Some things are worth it, like TNS by SkinMedica to decrease fine lines and wrinkles and even out the skin tone. Some things are not worth it, like $200 department store brands with no science or research and true active ingredients. For simple, always use sunblock and wear sunglasses. For expensive, I do not recommend facials and think people’s money is better spent on chemical peels which are more effective.

Question: I always get e-mails from readers asking about acne and scarring. Any advice on what they can do to clear up their skin and get rid of scars?

Answer: Over the counter products include ProActiv and Oxy5 as long as you are not benzoyl peroxide allergic. I also like some of Clean and Clear and Neutrogena’s acne products. However, if over the counter doesn’t work, go to a board certified dermatologist for a prescription topical, oral antibiotics and possibly Accutane. A lot of readers and my patients confuse scarring with the dark marks left when acne is fading. Acne scarring is deep indents to the skin (much like what my golf swing does to Astroturf!). Scarring needs Fraxel laser but masks can be lightened by not picking and using prescription fade creams like Tri-Luma Cream, although this is not its FDA approved use. Use sunscreen when you see dark spots too.

Question: How can you minimize pores and keep whiteheads/blackheads at bay?

Answer: Pores are not like doors! They don’t open and close! Pores are genetically predetermined. You can minimize them by starting to use sunscreen. Sun damage and genetics play a big role. To keep whiteheads and blackheads at bay, prescription retinoids such as Differin, Retin A Micro and Tazorac are the three best on the market.

Question: What are your absolute must-have skincare products?

Answer: Sunblock, antioxidant moisturizers like Revaleskin and Thermage, TNS Essential Serum, Cetaphil cream for my body, sunblock sprays, Neutrogena Norweigan formula for hands and feet, Vaseline for lips and Clean and Clear blot pads for oily days.

Question: I am Asian and my biggest concern is hyperpigmentation. Other than wearing a sunscreen with at least SPF30 every day and trying to stay out of the sun as much as I can, is there anything else I can do?

Answer: Reapply sunscreen every two hours, wear a wide brimmed hat and when you can, walk on the shady side of the street. Also try to avoid sun exposure between 12 – 2 in particular. If you do get hyperpigmentation (irregular brown patches, a condition called melasma), it can be treated with Tri-Luma Cream which is the only FDA approved fade cream for this common skin condition (it effects 6 million women!) and has to do with hormones (e.g., birth control, hormone replacement therapy), sun damage, exposure to heat and family history. Studies have shown that Tri-Luma Cream can be used once daily intermittently for over a year (I myself have been using this cream for years!)

Remember to also check out Dr. Downie’s first book, Beautiful Skin of Color for a comprehensive skin care guide for Asian, Olive and Dark Skin.


  • Reply Cattie June 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    This is so interesting. Thanks for interviewing her Phyllis! I’m thinking about looking for her book ^^

  • Reply Catherine June 25, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    That was a very interesting interview! I’m happy to know I’m doing most things right (except the exercising and reapplying sunscreen thing – but I’m working on both!!).

  • Reply ashley June 28, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for posting this! It definitely helped clear up a lot of skin-related issues for me 🙂

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