The Premiere Site For Celebrity Plastic Surgery By A Real Plastic Surgeon

I'm a Michigan-based Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has been featured on Dr. 90210. The info here is my opinion alone and should not be taken as fact or as medical advice. I've not treated any of the celebrities presented here.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cosmetic Skin Care Products - Fact or Fiction?

Dr. Rob Oliver's Plastic Surgery 101 Blog has an interesting post on the boom in skin care products on the market today. There are many celebrities hawking their new elixir or lotion of youth, including Victoria Principal and Courtney Cox. Do any of these products actually work? What's the big deal with Copper, or Squalene, or whatever the heck is in Strivectin? From I've seen, there is no big deal.

According to a recent New York Times article:
“People are spending $450 on a jar of cream just because it is made out of something exotic like salmon eggs or cocoons,” Dr. Brademas said. “But the cheapest products work just as well as the more expensive ones.”

A study of wrinkle creams published last month by Consumer Reports concluded that there was no correlation between price and effectiveness. The study, which tested nine brands of wrinkle creams over 12 weeks, also concluded that none of the products reduced the depth of wrinkles by more than 10 percent, an amount “barely visible to the naked eye.”

The Consumer Reports study found, for example, that a three-step regimen of Olay Regenerist products costing $57 was slightly more effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles than a $135 tube of StriVectin-SD or a $335 combination of two La Prairie Cellular lotions.

“I am seduced by fancy packaging as much as the next person,” Dr. Brademas said. “But I have a theory that all these skin-care things come out of the same vat in New Jersey.”

Here's my summary of the whole skin care trade:
1. Any over-the-counter products do little except moisturize the skin. The FDA does not allow medically-active products to be sold in department stores. In addition, cosmetics companies are not rash enough to allow a product which actually changes the fundamental structure of the skin to be sold by someone not trained in skin care. It would be a liability nightmare.

2. Sunscreen is the most important skin care product, followed by a retinol product. Retin-A is the only skin care product I know of that is actually scientifically proven to decrease fine lines and reverse early pre-skin cancers. Hydroquinone can actually remove age spots and pigmented lesions over the span of several weeks.

3. I've tried and studied many different skin care lines, and the only one I have found to create visible results in the majority of patients is Obagi. It can be hard to tolerate, but it does actually work for those who stick with it.

4. I'm sure that there are products that people use which work for them, but I've found that many of the really expensive cosmetics, whether sold by a department store, TV show, or pyramid scheme salesperson, do little overall.

For more information on skin care, visit my skin care website at

Thanks for reading.
Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon
Anthony Youn, M.D.


Melpomene said...

I invest in skincare products madly - because with better skin, you need less makeup to cover your face. I used to vow in the names of Rubinstein, Clinique and LancĂ´me, but I switched to Dermalogica and I'm really happy with the results. Then again, I'm not waiting for my whole face to change shape... I guess it's just a matter of which product works best with your skin (protection, repair, those kinds of things).

Dr Hainer said...

In general, I agree with your comments. However,I think most physician dispensed, medical grade skin care lines are acceptable. There really is no reason to think Obagi is better than the rest. It clearly is one of the most costly. Biomedic, Jan Marini and many others are just as acceptable. The most important thing is really to be compliant with a daily skin care regimen, use a sun block like Total Block which is actually micronized zinc oxide, and avoid habits that damage your skin(ie. sun exposure and smoking). And above all,don't be lured by flashy ads, pretty models or celebrities ,or lofty claims. As with most things these days that relate to cosmetic plastic surgery or products-If it seems to good to be true,it usually is!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the props!

I have trouble sorting thru the marketing with so many products available. There is just really little evidence comparing results b/w product x vs Y.

Obagi (used with Retin A) is good, but it is near impossible to comply with their suggested regimine

Anonymous said...

i agree. my mom has tried every antiaging regimen out there, and it turns out drugstore olay regenerist is her favorite, along with a good moisturizer to make skin appear supple. you didn't mention alpha hydroxy acid products though, which i'm a big fan of. i found they help with minor scars and spots as well, even the drugstore stuff at 10%.

i'm a little surprised that you like hydroquinone though. i was under the impression that it wasn't very liked due to possible carcinogenic properties. its been banned in some of Europe and the FDA is undergoing review of whether otc products should also be banned. if i'm not mistaken, i believe it also can worsen the pigmentation in some people.

Akasha said...

I like the Olay line, regenerist and total effects. But I also never leave the house during the day without spf 15.

Thanks for the info. :)

Dr. Tony Youn said...

Hydroquinone is known to cause onchronosis, which is a skin darkening disorder that is extremely rare and usually seen in Africans. The 4% prescription strength has been used for a long time, and should be used under physician supervision. The over-the-counter 2% formulation is the one which has been reviewed for banning. It is possible that due to its active properties it should not be sold over-the-counter.
As far as carcinogenicity, it has been encountered in laboratory mice, to my knowledge. But so has many other products which are sold over the counter (even sugar substitutes!) There are no known cases of skin cancer due to hydroquinone in humans, as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

I've been using the Obagi line for the past 3 months, and I have to say after spending way too much on other products that say they are going to do this or that, this product line is amazing!! The difference in my skin has been a true miracle. Dr Hainer said that the cost in clearly one of the more expensive, but not nearly as much as the products in the upscale department stores. In response to Dr. Oliver's comments in regards to the regimine being hard to follow, clearly has no clue as to what women do on a daily basis to their face! This regimine is really no more to do daily then other products.Women usually have a routine for their face anyhow. But I guess if your a guy who only has to shave his face and brush his hair and teeth and go...this would seem to be a bit much! With that said...Im an Obagi believer and will never use anything else, and its all because of Dr. thank you!

Radmila said...

I used Obagi products to correct sun damage with fabulous results.
I concur that Obagi products are fantastic.

Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with what you're saying, but I do have to admit that I splurge on the entire line of Origins A Perfect World antioxidant face products, a) because I'm obsessed with antioxidants, and b) they have made a visible improvement to my skin. But I also think that the drugstore Olay Regenerist and Total Effects lines are excellent, too.

Anonymous said...

I've always been skeptical of skin care products claims. But I swear by Estee Lauder. This article doesn't mention if any of their products were included in this study, but I swear their stuff is awesome. I have a job that requires me to be outside for a large part of my day, and I never thought sun screen was very important. Now at the age of 35 I've developed a very prominent set of crows feet! I heard from a friend that Estee Lauder makes a patch that you apply to the skin around the eye area that helps reduce the fine lines and wrinkles. She said they really worked well, and so I tryed it. I swear they really reduced the look of my wrinkles! I was amazed! Now I'm a huge fan of their products. My skin has never looked more healthy and radiant. I'm terrified of needles and surgery, and will only go through that if it is absolutely necessary. So I highly recommend this product for anyone out there like me.

Dr.Youn's Esthetician - Brooke :) said...

As an Esthetician in the business for nearly 5 years, I have had the pleasure of being exposed to the "clinical" side of the business. I have worked with several "medical grade" skin care lines (also non-medical grade") and I have seen the best results with Obagi. Not only with my clients, but with my family, and myself! Granted getting yourself into a skin care routine is beneficial, but if you want results going "medical grade" is the ONLY way. :)
For more information please feel free to call Dr. Youn's office for a complimentary consultation with myself, Brooke! #248-650-1900

Anonymous said...


I found this great site with lots of weekly competitions, any anyone can easily enter. competitions


Anonymous said...

Would you recommend these products for people with rosacea?

Dr. Tony Youn said...

Rosacea can be best treated with pulse dye laser treatments and very mild skin care creams.

Anonymous said...

The first thing that has to be stressed is there are two catagories of skin care. OTC (which has to prove nothing under the FDA guidelines, except safety) and Medical Grade. The Consumer Reports findings are on OTC. Medical Grade includes many lines and those companies have numerous patient profiles, photo's, follow-up, pure and superior quality ingredients that are studied for effacacy and safety, which make them extremely costly to manufacture and educate physicians (the most skeptical group-with reason) and continue clinical studies and trials. Recently, there are competitors to Obagi from companies that have been forced to find alternatives to hydroquinone (those company's in Europe, England, Australia, Africa, Japan and others)-yet while achieving similar or better results. For those patients that like what Obagi achieves, yet do not like hydroquinone or the dredded white face, photosensitivity, the "peeling like a snake", there are new products to achieve ultimate skin health. When skin is at its best health, all procedures and enhancements are better. Many European plastic surgeons believe in skin's total health, with that anything is possible, whether you're combatting acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, etc...incorporating lasers, oral medications, TCA peels, etc...One company just entering the physician dispensed market is Modus which is botanically based, few parabens, a stable pure Vitamin C (Clinical Medical Studies show collagen synthesis occurs with pure L-ascorbic acid--yet mosts Vitamin C's are fragile--) to achieve the healthiest skin possible. Six years of study and patient profiles shows decreased lines, pore shrinkage, color balance and rejuvination. It's hard to find being so new to the U.S. physician market, but many Obagi customers have converted and love the difference. It's especially a great system for those that love to be outdoors and athletic. Watch for more and more dermatologists to begin the dialogue about Modus. New Beauty even listed it in their Daily Beauty blog from the executive editor/beauty director. Whatever one chooses, just compare apples to apples--single items OTC, like an eye cream or full regimens, like Obagi and MODUS in a doctor's office. Too many medically driven and dedicated companies are truly committed to "real" science and proving claims with medical teams and scientists--allowing open discussions on pro's and con's.

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Anonymous said...

Great work! thanks for these skin care tips or it's better to say advice:)

lmm3215 said...

Hi Dr. Youn,

Would it be safe to use Retin-A and Hydroquinone within the same skin care routine or would that be too harsh on the face? I have moderate acne which I have been able to keep somewhat under control through the use of oral minocycline, and have recently begun using Retin-A. However, I also have some hyperpigmentation from prior breakouts that I would like to get rid of.

Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

My mom is 48 and has been using the Kinerase ultimate night cream and Kinerase spf 20 moisturizer and got an irritation but i'm not sure which of the the products or which ingredient in them could have caused it. She has sensitive skin I believe because she started using the Dermadoctor poetry in a Lotion to get rid of her traces of malasma and aging skin, and she started getting dry irritated skin as well. What is most likely the cause of her sensitivity or irritation or how can we find out? And what do you recommend her use?
She used to use Kinetin Ultra and liked it and thats why she started with Kinerase.