Do you need professional help?
Yup, we're talking about therapy ... for your skin, that is. Your friend swears that her monthly facial is a must-have for perfect skin, whereas some hot celebrity says all she needs is a dab of moisturizer with SPF. Who to believe?
In our DIY Or Not series, we go straight to the source by getting professionals to tell us when we really need to see them and when we can save the cash for our organic peaches.
This month, we talked to Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist in New York City who has been featured in publications like InStyle, Allure, Vogue, Glamour, W and Redbook and is the author of Forget the Facelift, for her honest opinion on when she can help and when you’re better off saving your money.
Call Me If:
It’s been a year since I’ve seen you.
You should come in once a year for a skin cancer screening to make sure you don’t have any precancerous moles. It’s important to have a professional do this for you, as you might not recognize something that needs attention. You also won’t be able to see every area of your body.
I turn down patients every day who ask for Botox ... I haven’t seen anyone who has needed Botox before her late twenties.
You see a spot that looks new or like it's changing.
Do this soon! The sooner you make the diagnosis, the better the success rate for treating it, which is then better for your overall health.
You have a scratch or cut that seems like it should have healed already.
If a cut seems like it should have healed after a couple weeks but hasn't improved, it could indicate something more serious.
You’ve been unsuccessfully self-treating a skin condition.
If you're using over-the-counter products for something like a rash or psoriasis but not seeing any improvement, visit a dermatologist to see if more aggressive treatment is in order. If your acne has gotten worse—especially if it's scarring or changing the texture of your skin—it may be time to get prescription-strength treatment.
I’m paid to be a worrier. So I would never tell anyone that something “isn’t a big deal.” Your skin reflects your internal health as well, so if you have a rash, it could be due to overexposure to the sun, or it could be indicative of something more serious like lupus. Don’t cut costs by ignoring a problem.
Don’t Call Me If:
It went away.
I sometimes have patients who come in and say, “I had a rash, but it went away.” If what you are doing is working, and the problem has cleared up, then by all means, save yourself some time and money.
You’re a little too excited about Botox.
I don’t think of Botox as controversial at all. It’s tried and true—and safe—but it isn’t for everyone. I turn down patients every day who ask for Botox, either because they don’t need it yet or because they are past the point where it can do anything. And I haven’t seen anyone who has needed it before her late twenties.
You’re super stressed.
If you have mild acne and find yourself stressed all the time, there could be a correlation. Stress is the most significant trigger for any skin condition, so working to reduce your overall stress may actually help your skin. You can also help your skin—for free—by quitting smoking and refraining from drinking too much alcohol.
You would like some professional-grade exfoliation.
I'm a fan of the Clarisonic, which exfoliates in a way similar to a gentle microdermabrasion treatment. It gently exfoliates the outer layers of the skin for a healthy glow.
(For celebrity-approved beauty products you can get from the drugstore, click here.)
You want a facial.
Many places offer facials that aren’t worth it. Their “extractions” (forcing blackheads out of the pores) involve poor practices, like using fingernails and tissues! If someone knows what she's doing, it can make a big difference, but you really have to know the practitioner well to make that determination.
Find out which products are worth the cost
If your main goal is relaxation and general skin benefit, you can make yourself a facial out of ingredients you have right in your kitchen like mushed bananas, honey (for its antibacterial properties), olive oil and oatmeal. Sugar with peppermint oil makes a luxurious scrub, and baking soda and Epsom salts provide lovely exfoliation.
Maybe Call Me If:
You’ve got a cosmetic procedure on your wish list.
These are elective procedures (so please don't take out a loan to pay for these!) but if it is within your budget, a professional can administer effective procedures like laser hair removal, Botox, fillers or a chemical peel. However, because these procedures are not without risks, it’s important to have someone who is board-certified and trained—don’t cut corners!
You have a big mosquito bite or poison ivy.
These types of problems will clear up on their own. But if you have a big event coming up or that poison ivy is out of control, I could give you prescription-strength cortisone to make you more comfortable.
That little red dot won’t go away.
You know, the one that has been hanging out on your otherwise unblemished cheek for a year? That’s probably a broken capillary, and while not serious, it might be banished by a laser treatment.
You tend to furrow your brows a lot and/or are in your thirties.
If you spend your day perpetually worrying and making those “11” lines between your brows, Botox is FDA-approved to address that. Fortunately, once you start with treatment, you don’t have to keep doing it forever. Botox can actually prevent you from making those negative expressions in the future and save you the additional stress of wrinkles.
And the Beauty Never Ends ...
For more ideas to make your own at-home spa treatments, check out these ingredients.
A dermatologist tells us what to look for in drugstore beauty brands. Click here.
Considering Botox? Here's how to figure out if it's worth the cost for you. Read this.