Mott 50 had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Amy Taub, an influential and nationally recognized dermatologist. With an inspiring journey, we had so many questions about her mission, expert medical knowledge in skin care, preventative advice and enlightenment.
1. What inspired you to go into Dermatology?
I first became interested in dermatology because a friend of my parents, who acted as my family away from home while I lived on the east coast, inspired me to look into it. He was a happy person who seemed energetic and full of life. Once I took a clerkship, which is an elective rotation during medical school, I fell in love with it. It was medical and surgical, as well as involved all ages and genders of patients. It was fast paced and it was highly visual. I was trained as an artist prior to pursuing pre-medical studies, so just another reason why this is the perfect field for me.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about Skinfo and how you choose the products that you feature?
Skinfo is a cosmeceutical skincare boutique whose mission is to provide high quality physician dispensed products as well as professional skincare advice from licensed estheticians. The goal is to formulate a skincare regimen that is individualized for a person’s skin type, skin care goals, lifestyle and budget.
Choosing the products that are offered at skinfo is a complex process. We use many criteria for choosing our products with the first being safety and proven efficacy. We usually require a clinical study that verifies the benefit of the product. We examine the ingredients to make sure that they are consistent with the stated use, are in the correct formulation and at a sufficient concentration to produce the desired effect. Then, we decide if the product is useful from the point of view of price point, size, texture or some other attribute that would differentiate it from other products that we carry. If we decide it offers something unique or is just a better formulation with similar ingredients, we may choose to carry it. We are extremely selective about what we offer; we pride ourselves on picking the very best products from the various manufacturers’ lines.
3. What is the best way to prevent Skin Cancer?
The very best way to prevent skin cancer is to limit exposure to UV rays. This includes tanning booths and sun. Limiting exposure and increasing protection with adequate sunscreen, as well as sun protective clothing and hats are the next level of prevention. Using an antioxidant with a high concentration of active ingredients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and green tea polyphenols, in addition to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps reduce free radical damage after exposure. UV light causes free radicals which are highly charged molecules that can damages cells, DNA and proteins. Antioxidants absorb and neutralize these free radicals before they can do damage. There are some new products that can actually reverse DNA damage (cell mutations). These products are for someone that has had or is at a high risk for skin cancer. Finally, I am a big proponent of photodynamic therapy. This is a treatment that uses a prescription photosensitizing agent (Levulan) that is applied to the skin; the liquid is then activated by blue or red light or intense pulse light to destroy abnormal or precancerous cells. Photodynamic Therapy has been shown to decrease the number of skin cancers people acquire resulting from weakened immune systems. We administer this treatment multiple times daily in our practice to battle against severe sun damage.
4. Do you recommend Sun Protective Clothing to your patients?
Yes, of course I recommend sun protective clothing. For me personally, I greatly prefer sun protective clothing to sunscreen since it is total body coverage and I don’t have to reapply. When my family does drag me to the beach, you will find me in the water with a long sleeved sun protective shirt and hat. I love what Mott 50 represents because I think there are 2 barriers to acceptance of sun protective clothing: fashion and perception that you will be hot in the clothing. People want to look and feel cool. The best thing for summer clothing that it is sun protective and attractive, especially for young people! Mott 50 does a great job of achieving this.
In Australia, over 50% of the adult population has had skin cancer. They have a national campaign promoted by the government to wear hats, frequently apply sunscreen and avoid the sun. All school children are required to wear hats and sunscreen during outdoor activities. Being an accepted part of society, the children assume this responsibility as part of what they need to do to take care of themselves, along with good hygiene and a healthy diet. In the US, the love of the tan image hasn’t been overcome enough, but I believe that we are gaining in educating the public. For example, there has been a huge reduction of smoking due to public awareness of the habit’s harmful effects. I believe that sun safe habits too will improve with time, as awareness of skin cancer and sun damage increases.
5. What beauty products and advice do you give to patients for preventing wrinkles? Any suggested treatments to reverse the signs of aging?
Wrinkles are caused by UV light, facial expressions and smoking. After that, genetic variability is the main factor in how our skin ages. Due to the huge number of wrinkle creams on the market, I developed a system called the CORE 4 (Sunscreen, Antioxidant, Growth Factor and Exfoliant) to give structure to a skincare regimen for anti-aging. The first 2 products of the CORE 4 deal with prevention and protection. Sunscreen is the most important product, followed by an antioxidant. The other two elements of CORE 4 address reversal and the slowing down of the aging process in addition to increasing the metabolic rate of the skin. Growth factors are many biological molecules that are derived from either plants or humans, that have complex effects on skin. They are factors found in our bodies that stimulate production of collagen and elastin in our cells. These are this decade’s essential ingredients that were not available in the past. The last ingredient is an exfoliant, not a cleanser with beads in it or a coarse sponge but, rather a retinol, tretinoin (Retin-A) or alpha hydroxy acid. Our skin’s metabolism slows down and we need something that can accelerate it. Both retinols and alpha hydroxy acids make the skin metabolize more rapidly, as well as provide additional anti-aging and collagen boosting benefits. As skin matures, it often becomes drier, so some people cannot tolerate retinols which can be dehydrating. Alpha hydroxy acid creams are effective substitutions for retinols.
We have observed repeatedly at skinfo® that constructing a CORE 4 regimen for our clients, with adherence for at least 3 months, will give a noticeable visible improvement to the skin. Just as with a good diet and exercise, you will need to maintain your regimen to maintain the effects, but as time goes on this discipline will pay off as your skin is nourished and continues to improve.
7. Any other words of wisdom or slogans for our sun safe readers?
Make sure your sunscreen includes at least 5% zinc oxide as one of the ingredients; long wavelength UVA is blocked 90% by zinc oxide and by a much smaller percentage by other UVA blocking ingredients. UVA is present all year long and all day long and penetrates deeply; it has been linked to brown spots, wrinkles and melanoma.