Tag Archives: dermatology


Acne is something that plagues a lot of us–Anna suffers from teenage acne and even I, at the ripe old age of 25, have suffered from the joys of hormonal acne. It’s a tricky thing to deal with, it’s often resistant to treatment and can flare up at a moment’s notice thanks to lack of sleep, hormones, drinking–even just every day life.

You already know dermatologist Dr. Sheetal Sapra from our post on skincare for aging skin, and he’s back to answer all of our questions about acne-prone skin. He is a dermatologist that specializes in cosmetic dermatology and is constantly seeking out new methods and technologies for treating his patients’ skin.

How do you feel about the Clarisonic?

I am definitely a big fan of the Clarisonic. Whether plagued with acne, dry skin, oily skin or even normal skin, almost everyone benefits from this addition to their cleansing regime. Many people can be impatient when it comes to getting results from their skincare; but Clarisonic is a great addition because you’re instantly going to see that glow that everyone is looking for.

What is the best way to treat teenage acne?

Acne is a hormonal genetic disease which in result plugs in the skin and an increase in the size of the oil glands. I always recommend a good cleansing regime with an active acne cleanser that isn’t going to dry out the skin. I also recommend using the cleanser with a Clarisonic. We have had excellent results in terms of better penetration of products, enhanced exfoliation and the unclogging of pores. Topical anti-acne products should be used that contain ingredients such as Vitamin A, benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid. Prescription therapies may also be suggested.

How can acne around the hairline be prevented?

A proper cleaning routine is important, which may include the use of a Clarisonic. It’s important to reduce the amount of irritation and friction on this area caused by helmets and hats. Also, try to keep your hair products off the skin along your hairline; because unless they’re non-comedogenic they could clog pores and lead to breakouts.

What is the best way to treat hormonal acne?

The first step for most females is starting on birth control pills. For both males and females, systemic antibiotics, topical therapies including effective skincare and Accutane may also be suggested.

What is the best way to treat/prevent body acne?

Body acne can be difficult to treat as it doesn’t respond to many types of treatment. Some topicals like benzoyl peroxide can be used, as well as systemic therapy, Accutane and/or antibiotics. Just like the face, a proper cleansing regime is needed for the body as well. I will often recommend the Clarisonic PRO with the body attachment to deep clean these hard to reach areas. In terms of skincare, one of the most effective products I have found is the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque for these hard to treat areas.

In terms of prevention, try to cleanse with a gentle cleanser after sports or exercise and let the area breathe as much as possible instead of covering it with clothing.

What is the best way to treat cystic pimples?

Accutane is one of the most effective therapies for these types of breakouts.

What is the best way to remove/reduce blackheads and whiteheads?

A combination of Clarisonic and Vitamin A is one of the best treatments for clogged pores. In terms of treatment, Smoothbeam is an excellent laser to reduce these types of blemishes.

What ingredients should we be looking for in acne-fighting products?

Some of the most effective ingredients are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and Vitamin A.

What is the best way to reduce redness?

Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial skincare products are some of the most effective products for treating redness. Whether caused by acne or rosacea, products such as the Vivier Redness Relief Kit contain Hexamidine which kill the mites on the surface of the skin that can contribute to irritation and redness. The Cynergy and VBeam lasers are extremely effective at treating redness caused by acne, scarring after the acne has cleared and rosacea.

How can oil be controlled on extremely oily skin?

Oiliness can be difficult to treat since stripping or over-drying of the skin can contribute to increased oil production. Topical skincare products such as Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask can be used to absorb excess oil; however, this will need to be repeated 1-3 times weekly to maintain results. A powdered salicylic acid such as Colorescience Let Me Be Clear is also a great way to keep oil at bay. In terms of treatments, Smoothbeam laser can be used to reduce the amount of sebum production.

What products do you recommend for combination skin?

Start with a gentle foaming cleanser that will absorb excess oil but not strip any areas of dryness. Secondly, most active products, especially topical antioxidants like Vitamin C can be used on both dry and oily skin so be sure to use this on the full face. Lastly, find a lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen that will moisturize the areas of dryness but not contribute to excess oil on the skin. If the areas of oiliness are particularly bothersome, a mask such as the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask can be used only on the areas of concern.

What is the best way to clean your face well without stripping it of oil?

Many people like the feel of a foaming cleanser that will remove excess oil and makeup. Luckily, there are so many excellent cleansers that will foam up nicely to rid your skin of pore-clogging bacteria, without ingredients such as alcohol which may cause excessive stripping of the skin for normal/dry skinned patients. The Clarisonic is also a positive addition to any cleansing regime as it will remove dirt and bacteria without stripping the skin of natural oil. Unlike some other similar technologies, it’s gentle enough for even sensitive skin.

How often should you exfoliate?

If you’re using a manual sonic-cleansing system like Clarisonic it can be used every day for most people. I find this to be one of the best ways to give a healthy, clean, fresh, glow to the skin. Depending on your skin-type and the percentage of active ingredients, chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or Vitamin A can be used anywhere from 2-5 days a week. If it is a safe physical exfoliant (something with round, gentle beads) it can be used approximately 1-3 times a week.

How often should you switch your products? Is it true that they should be switched every few months because your face gets used to them and they stop working?

I often recommend switching up your products seasonally to accommodate the natural changes in your skin due to the changes in the environment, especially between the summer and the winter months. Switching your products every 6 months or so ensures that your skin “remains on its toes” so to speak. I don’t feel that the products will ever stop working, but you may not see the same outstanding results you saw at the beginning.


Thanks again to the wonderful Dr. Sapra for taking the time to answer our many questions!


Image source: Vogue Italia


“Taking care of your skin, body, and health as teens, will set you for your adult years”
–Cindy Miguens, Make Up Artist for Pretty Little Liars

One thing that most women want to avoid is an aging face. We’ve heard from many readers who feel clueless on what products to use, when to start using anti-aging products and most of all–how to get rid of lines.

To answer your questions, we spoke with Dr. Sheetal Sapra, Dermatologist at the Institute of Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Oakville. He is a leader in the field of dermatology and a pioneer of new technologies.

Just so you know: We are in no way promoting plastic surgery to you, this is just Dr. Sapra’s honest opinion about fixing lines/puffy eyes whatever (there are things that lotions and potions just can’t fix). He’s giving it to you straight. If he is mentioning those as solutions, then it’s not because you should do it, it’s just because he’s being realistic. There isn’t a magic cream out there that will fix everything. Aging happens naturally, and of course, you should be encouraged to do that exactly as it is. Let you do you! But for those of us who want a little help, we’ve got the answers for you.

Dr. Sapra graciously answered our many questions pertaining to aging for you, so here we go.

What order do I put my skincare products on (i.e. serum, eye cream, moisturizer, acne products, etc.)?

It definitely depends on what products you’re using. However, the general rule-of-thumb would be to apply any active acne products first; followed by any serums you’re using. The only exception would be if you’re using a topical Vitamin C serum, in which case you’d want to use this first. Next apply your eye cream. Finish up by using a quality moisturizer with sunscreen in it. If you choose to use them separately use your moisturizer first.

How many products is too many products?

I like to tell my patients to keep it pretty simple. I recommend starting with an effective cleanser. Then use at least one strong active product (such as an antioxidant serum, repair serum, Vitamin A/Retinol, or AHA product etc.). The good thing about many of the physician-only brands is how these products combine multiple active ingredients to address multiple concerns. And last but definitely not least, a good moisturizer with sunscreen.

How can I reduce/get rid of the lines around my mouth and forehead?

Unfortunately these lines are typically caused by movement and cannot be easily addressed by topical skincare. However, Botox can be used effectively on the forehead to soften these lines. Treatments such as resurfacing, fillers and/or Botox can help to soften the lines around the mouth as well.

What SPF should everyone be using?

Everyone should be using at least a minimum of 15 SPF, but I will usually recommend at least a 30.

What can women do to prevent wrinkles?

The most important thing is definitely using an effective sunscreen. Even if you’ve done damage to your skin in the past, it’s never too late to start. You can prevent further damage and improve the skin’s tone and texture. I also recommend treatments such as Botox which will soften the movement and ultimately reduce and prevent future wrinkles from developing.

How can puffy eyes/ bags under the eyes be remedied?
This can be quite difficult, especially if it’s caused by pockets of fat in the under eyes. Many of these concerns can only be remedied by a surgery known as Blepharoplasty or Eyelid Lift which should be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. However, if caused by tiredness or fluid retention, one of my favourite gadgets is the Clarisonic Opal. It almost instantly depuffs around the eyes and helps to get your active eye products deep down where they need to go to be effective.

At what age should you start using anti-aging products?

I would consider sunscreen to be one of the most potent and important anti-aging products and should be started by children of a young age. When it comes to topical antioxidants such as Vitamin C, late teens is an excellent time to start a regime that consists of cleanser, topical Vitamin C and a moisturizer with sunscreen. Other products become more common in your 20’s to aid in prevention and correction.

What is the right age to start using a retinoid?
It is more dependent on the reason for use that will determine the appropriate age for starting on a retinoid. For example, someone who suffers from acne can really start any time in their teens; whereas someone concerned with sun damage/anti-aging should be starting somewhere in their twenties.

What anti-aging ingredients are most effective?

Definitely, sunscreen! Also, think about using Vitamin A (Retinol), AHA’s like Glycolic Acid, and antioxidants such as Vitamin C. There are many ingredients that get a lot of hype, but the most important factor is that you actually get results. Many patients say that a cream feels good on their skin or doesn’t cause them to break out. That’s great, but are you ALSO getting the results you’re looking for?

What ingredients should we avoid (harmful/too abrasive)?

Every patient’s skin is different. However, anything that causes your skin to react negatively such as a rash or irritation should be avoided. It is important to use effective skincare products that are recommended by a specialist that you trust. Physician-grade products often have rigorous standards; and the goal is to have a very minimal reaction rate.

Are Botox/fillers effective/safe? Would you recommend it?

Botox is very safe and can be used effectively to prevent and correct wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid fillers are also very safe and are most effective when treating volume loss in the skin.

What is your opinion on facials? Should women get them? How often?

Facialsare an important part of a woman’s beauty regime. Just like hair care and manicures, it is as much about the social experience as it is about looking beautiful. Facials should be used as a means of deeply cleansing the skin and may give you glow for that special night out. In the long-term they are not going to prevent aging or change the structure of the skin.
There are so many new non-invasive technologies that have such minimal downtime that can truly impact concerns related to aging. Therefore, as long as your expectations are set going into a facial, then you should be satisfied with the outcome. If anti-aging is your primary concern, there are other options that should likely be considered.

Do high end products make a difference?

The short answer is no. Some patients come in and complain that they have spent thousands on products at the luxury department store. Sometimes we assume just because it’s expensive, it must be worth it because it must work. Unfortunately this is not always the case. The most important thing is ensuring you are getting high-quality, ACTIVE, and penetrable products, and this all starts with the ingredients. Serums are often very effective, but it’s important to look for ingredients that have proven effectiveness instead of just fancy names. Active ingredients tend to be more expensive, but should not break the bank when you’re using them appropriately. Many effective Retinol creams and antioxidant serums can last 5-6 months when used once a day.

What are the most common skincare mistakes mature women make?

Thinking that creams and serums will make their wrinkles disappear. Unfortunately, this is not the case and requires intervention of Botox and/or Fillers to achieve the look that they desire. However, a Vitamin A cream should definitely be used to improve the look of wrinkles either alone or ideally in combination with treatment. The other common mistake is spending too much money on skincare that is not going to yield effective results.

Are there any non-invasive procedures to lift the eyelid?

Procedures like Thermage use radiofrequency to lift and tighten the skin. Even more recently we have seen outstanding results from Ulthera on the brow, which can be used to lift this area and ultimately open the look of the eyes.

The main takeaways:
-Use an SPF from birth, and always use a minimum SPF 30.
-Choose active ingredients for results (Vitamin C, Vitamin A/Retinol, AHAs, Glycolic Acid)
-Just because products are expensive, doesn’t mean they always work
-Creams and serums cannot fix everything.

-Facials are a great way to deep clean the skin.
Thanks again to the wonderful Dr. Sapra for answering our many questions! Look forward to another round with the doctor regarding all things acne.
Image sources: Vogue Paris