Skin Care & Products

Parent Q&A

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  • Do you let your young girls use face lotions and other skin care products (not makeup) and if so, what are the restrictions you place, if any?  I have a 7 year old who asked to take all of my unneeded lotions and I'm wondering if there is a reason why I should not give it all to her.  I'm changing my skin care routine to one with creams/serums with a bit more active ingredients (with retinol, brighteners, and other stronger active ingredients) and going to stop using my current products.  I have quite a bit of products left that are mostly for moisturizing, sun protection, etc. (i.e. Clinique, Neutrogina, Olay, etc.) that are good products and many are still unopened (so I could save them for a bit till she is older)  but that are for younger skin and my aesthetician recommended for me to change products now that I'm a bit older.  I checked the products and none seem to have any strong active ingredients so seem to be ok to give to a 7 year old to use occasionally, especially since the day creams have spf in them, but I'm wondering if I'm overlooking something.

    I'm not sure that would be a good idea. I don't think it's been proved definitively that the ingredients in adult skin care lotions are dangerous, but there is enough evidence to suggest great caution. Ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, etc., encourage exfoliation, not a great idea for a young child's skin. Some ingredients (for example, chemical sunscreen) also act as hormone disruptors.

    The Skin Deep website is a good resource and if in doubt, I cross-check ingredients on

    As an example, here's what I found about a common sunscreen ingredient, oxybenzone:

    Why not buy some special just-for-your daughter moisturizers with a few low-hazard ingredients? The cost is relatively low and that way you'll have peace of mind, plus it's a sweet treat for a little girl.

    For some general ideas, start here:

    You can look up individual ingredients or products on the Skin Deep website as well; I try to stick with products that have a rating under 3.

    Fragranced products? Those are bad for everyone, but especially a young child. On her face would give her a rather high dose. Just throw them out. Give her her own special olive oil and coconut oil lotions to put on her face. 

    I have an 8 year old girl and I do not encourage her interest in my makeup or skincare routine,  or her own appearance. I would not give her my old products - I would never want her to think she needs anything to be beautiful exactly how she is. I tell my daughter that I wear makeup on my face for sun protection, which is of course true as far as it goes,  and we have kids sunscreen for her. I encourage you to think through the messages about appearance you are passing down, and also to discuss it with her father to get his perspective on her interest in her appearance.

  • Safe/effective skin care products

    (5 replies)

    I am 60 years old and trying to find a product for skin care that is effective and also safe.  Criteria:  moisturizer w/ min SPF 15 and anti-aging ingredients - but the hard part - scores well on the Environmental Working Group's rating for skin care products.  Bonus if it is not crazy expensive!  Thanks for any recommendations!

    I looked on the EWG website and there were 153 products in the facial moisturizer/treatment category, none of which I'd ever heard of, much less used.  My advice: for anti-aging, you need a product that contains retinol (I like "instanatural" serum but also use a prescription retinol cream, which is expensive) and a rich moisturizer. I like Kiehl's products and Fresh products (their Rose Deep moisturizer is my favorite, but probably mostly because I love its fragrance).  For sunscreen, I like La Roche Posay products, which you can find at Target. I think Cotz sunscreen is EWG approved, and it's good too.  You need a separate sunscreen product, BTW, that is at least 30 SPF - 15 SPF won't do much.  And put the sunscreen on your neck and arms every day - not just your face. 

    I'm early 50's with very sensitive skin, including a number of chemical sensitivities.  I've been using MyChelle products for several years now and find them to be highly effective and safe.  They are well rated on EWG - that's how I began using them.  They can seem a little pricey; however, MyChelle products are often on sale at Whole Foods and Pharmaca, as well as on the MyChelle website, and a little bit goes a long way.  My skin is in the best condition it's ever been in my life.  I rarely wear make up now other than mascara and lip gloss.

    For reference, I use the Fruit Enzyme Cleanser, Magnolia Fresh Eyes, G2 Instant Firming Serum, Fruit Enzyme Hydrating Mist, and Daily Defense Cream (SPF 17) every morning, increasing to the SPF 30 if I'm going to be outside more than just getting to/from work.  At night, I use a disposable make-up removing cloth if I've bothered to put on mascara, otherwise just splash my face with cool water, add Supreme Polypeptide Cream if needed (occasionally during the winter is about all), and I'm done.

    Check out True Botanicals:  They are certified "MadeSafe" which means absolutely no toxins.  They use oils and serums, which I have found to be the most amazing thing for skincare.  I've been using their products for several years and people regularly guess my age to be 10 or more years younger (I'm 55).  They also have sunblock that is great.  Make sure whatever you use is a sun BLOCK with either zinc or titanium oxide, not chemical suncreens.

    Hi There

    Have you heard of Beautycounter? Please check them out. They are partnered with the Environmental Working Group and the Breast Cancer Fund. Every product is scored at a 2 or below, many are zeros. They also do a lot of advocacy in DC to push safer legislation through for ALL personal care products. The product line is extensive and I think you would be interested in checking out the Dew Skin. It has SPF 20 and uses zinc (a safer physical block). It's a tinted moisturizer as well, so it helps even our your complexion, hydrate and has anti-aging ingredients. It is an Allure Best Of Beauty award winner for several years. I love this product and appreciate that it's lightweight and sheer so it doesn't feel like I'm wearing heavy make up on my face. If you have more q's about Beautycounter or want more recommendations feel free to reach out to me at rmprince77 [at] I'm a big fan! Best of luck! 

    I have no idea where they are on the EWG list, but I actually like the Trader Joes's sunscreen.  Their SPF15 Suncreen is scentless and can be used all over your body; I don't go outside unless I have it on my face.  No breakouts!

  • My nasal area often looks quite irritated: red, dry, and flaky, mostly around the tip and under the nose (area between nose and lips and directly above my lips). Recently, the skin flakiness has become more prominent and it is making me extremely self-conscious. Never a skin picker before, I now find myself doing it somewhat often.

    I have tried numerous topical oils and moisturizers with various healing herbs et al. in them and nothing seems to really help. Thought maybe people on this list might have some fresh insights. I'm really frustrated ~ I have tons of wrinkles and lots of other features that aren't in line with conventional notions of female beauty, and I couldn't care less, but this issue really bothers me and doesn't feel all that great either! Thank you.

    Maybe you’ve already tried this, but lanolin? I’m nursing, and have found it to be helpful for other areas as well. 

    I had success with taking Curcumin.

    It would help if we knew what you already tried; it's hard to tell if you have an allergic reaction, need more moisturizers, or have an underlying condition.

    If you just need a thicker moisturizer, you could use petroleum jelly or coconut oil, or a simple salve made with beeswax and olive oil (check etsy).

    If you have some sort of inflammatory condition, I suggest using either evening primrose oil or borage oil, both internally (capsules) and externally.  I know there's a borage oil moisturizer you can get at Whole Foods, and Aubrey used to make an Evening Primrose oil. 

    Also, avoid moisturizers with DMA and the parabens--I find they tend to cause irritation.

    Good luck!

    This may seem like an odd question, but do you have allergies?  If so and there is constant underlying slight congestion and/or runny nose, this could be a contributing factor.  In which case, I would suggest a daily sinus rinse with a neti pot or sinus rinse method of your preference.  At night, consider applying a layer of Aquaphor.

    I have extremely sensitive skin and spent years with red, irritated skin with regular bouts of eczema.  I have been using MyChelle products for a few years now and my face is in the best condition it's ever been in - it feels good, no itching, flaking, etc.  I wash my face only once a day with a MyChelle cleaner, followed by an eye and face serum and hydrating mist, sunblock as needed.  I add moisturizer only when needed in the winter or after excess sun exposure.  I do not wear make up other than on eyes and lips.  It's not a beauty thing for me, it's a heath and comfort thing.

    Good luck finding your solution!

    I sympathize and empathize with what you are dealing with. :(  I have dealt with severe eczema and psoriasis-like dry flaky skin in several places off and on for years. It is hard to not "pick and peel" at dry flaky skin, no matter what the cause, when it is so bothersome! My first thought is that it would be helpful for you to get a diagnosis if it is possible for you to go see a dermatologist. It could be eczema, it could be psoriasis, it could also be fungal-related. The caveat is that dermatologists will probably just want to push a steroid cream on you and that it can be difficult even for experts to differentiate between skin conditions. Depending on how you feel about that, it may be worthwhile trying the prescriptions. I never had luck with most "natural" remedies either, like you... they just didn't do much for me most of the time. And, the "slather on petroleum jelly" treatment never worked for me either. BUT, honestly, I have to admit that the steroid cream/ointment treatments were never very effective for me either-- One would seem to work for awhile, then it would stop working and my skin would get worse, and I would have to try something different. What finally worked for me? As crazy as it may sound, a combination of 3 products finally seemed to make things better for me, along with using a less drying soap at all times (I use California Baby brand's "Super Sensitive" whenever I wash the affected skin, always): 1), a chinese medicinal treatment called "Yiganerjing" (you can find it on 2), "RashBlock" by Honey Colony / 3rd Rock (, and, 3) Forces of Nature brand "Eczema Control" homeopathic oil blend. I used the RashBlock and Yiganerjing together several times daily when my skin would get really bad and if I had any open sores that were bleeding, minorly infected or not healing well (I can't use Neosporin or other antibiotic ointments - I am allergic to them). This combination seriously worked miracles for me when my skin was really dry, flaky and irritated, in a way that nothing else and no prescription ever had. As soon as I had healed up my sores or cracked skin, I would use the Yiganerjing only once daily or once every other to every few days, and use the Eczema Control oil blend about once daily to keep my skin moisturized. It only takes a drop or two of the oil blend each time, so even though it is a little expensive it lasts for a long time. This is still the routine I follow. At this point, I mostly just use the Eczema control oil, and use a little Yiganerjing sometimes mixed with the RashBlock if I start getting an outbreak of worse dryness or itchiness.

    I'm not a doctor of course, but I hope that sharing my own experience and routine might help. I do still think that seeing a dermatologist first is a good idea if for no other reason than to try to get a diagnosis. Good luck, I hope it gets better soon! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to chat. Dealing with dry skin sucks, I totally understand the frustration.

    Sounds as though you have Rosacea. Many skin issues are due to gut issues. Try an elimination diet, for at least 30 days if not more, and see if it resolves, or improves. and reintroduce things 1 by 1. That way you can see what the root cause is rather than treating the symptom alone. 

    Former Rosacea sufferer

    After much suffering, I discovered that my seborrheic dermatis (around and on my nose) was caused by a food allergy. Specifically, in my case, to histamine. And by taking an antihistamine once a day it was cured.

    I don't think it's an external skin condition, which is why creams and lotions (although hydrocortisone and/or tea tree oil help a bit) don't do much. I think it's an imbalance from inside your body, acting out on your skin.

    I'd get a full allergy workup. Sometimes food allergies, in particular, don't present by your feeling ill or getting a runny nose -- they can present on your skin - i.e., hives, a rash, dermatitis. I'm convinced that rosacea is also an allergy of some sort. I started to get that, too, when I was taking prescription pain meds for my back. Stopping them brought back the pain, but the rosacea vanished.

    And further, I'd recommend going to a traditional Chinese doctor and getting some kick-ass Chinese herbs. If you aren't man enough to boil up the foul smelling tea (much less drink it), they have pill forms you can take. I am far from an alternative medicine-touting hippie, but in my despair I have found that tradition Chinese medicine is a treasure trove, particularly for hard-to-diagnose auto-immune, or allergy related ailments.

    When you hear the words, "Well, nobody really knows what causes that" from a western doctor, it might be time to consider a 4,000 year old medical science that uses many of the same herbs we put in our meds. Only from a more balanced perspective. Their m.o. is, balance the overall wellness of the body's systems -- not just attack the problem symptomatically.

    Hope this helps.

    It sounds like perioral dermatitis, which you can treat easily with antibiotics.  Good luck!

    I have also suffered from this and just finished treating the area. In my case it’s a precancerous skin condition and unfortunately the treatment is not very fun. I applied a prescribed cream to the area which essentially eats away the old skin in order to force new skin to develop in the area. It became raw and formed scabs for a while but is now healing surprisingly fast. I highly recommend my dermatologist, Dr. McCalmont in El Cerrito, if you don’t already have one. Good luck! 

    I believe I know what this is - I had this exact issue, and interestingly so did a friend on the East Coast. I was diagnosed when I was in my early 30s and it can still crop up occasionally (in my early 50s now). I went to 7 (!) highly regarded SF dermatologists before I found the solution. It is not actual rosacea and also not a food allergy or other allergy, or eczema. It's a kind of mold that grows on skin typically next to sides of nose and around mouth. If untreated it can cover the whole lower part of your face - it did mine after the 6th unsuccessful doc. The 7th doc explained the situ, said that skin is a barely understood organ to this day, and prescribed doxycyline antibiotic until it was gone. This was 20+ years ago and this is a very tough drug to take for a long time - but 2 months later I was completely cured for years. Every so often it would crop up and I would immediately take doxy for a few weeks. After MANY years of no outbreaks, it came again maybe 2 years ago and the drug they give you now is ORACEA - a very low dose of doxy that you can take for months or years with less side effects. This cured me completely and much more painlessly in about a month. The dermatologist I now use is - California Dermatology Care - Dr. William Ting in Walnut Creek. I found him very competent. I will also add that I use the Obagi Skincare System somewhat inconsistently, but I have also found that using this seems to eliminate the issue as well. Plus makes your skin look amazing!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Obagi Skincare Products?

Jan 2009

I met a forty something woman who raved about the Obagi products and got my attn since her skin looked fabulous. With a kid in college, I'm not in a position to spend big bucks on cosmetics but I'm fifty something and my skin is starting to hang a bit and the ''parenthesis'' around my mouth keep getting deeper and line between my brow make me look grumpy, even when I'm not. Is Obagi worth it??? Is there an affordable way to get started with Obagi for those on a budget? Will insurance cover the dr. fees? How much will it cost to get set up on the Obagi program? How do results using Obagi compare with Botox? Signed, Fifty Something and Curious About Obagi

I have used Obagi for years. The program is relatively easy to follow and the results are noticeable. My skin has many problems (hyper-pigmentation, sun damage, etc.) and Obagi is definitely the best I have used - and I've tried everything. The downside is that your face can look rather red and irritated because it is constantly shedding skin. I use more or less product depending on the events I need to attend. Obagi can be bought on-line. The last kit I bought was for $237 which is big savings compared to buying it in a doc's office. You will need to get a prescription for Retin-A. Be sure to factor in the cost of Retin-A too; it costs me $75 as my insurance doesn't cover much of it. Obagi doesn't do the job Botox or Juvederm can do but it does even out your skin tone and help with smaller lines. anon

I used Obagi for about a year and a half under the care of a doctor. I have thin, dry, ''mature'' skin which means I'm starting to get age spots. I noticed a slight improvement in my skin tone and overall color. But I finally stopped using it because I kept getting these tiny abrasions on my face where a tiny patch of skin just sloughed off. I had stopped using retin-a for this reason too. I switched to Cellex, after doing some online research and also checking the Cosmetic Safety Database by the Environmental Working Group (a good place to check ingredients in the products you put on your face). I used Cellex for a few months and liked it, but again, it seemed too harsh for my skin type. (It has a lot of vitamin C) I'm now using Olay Regenerist, partly because it's much cheaper, and partly because I haven't really found the right products yet, and Consumer Reports had info suggesting it actually does work for wrinkles. It is not too harsh, but I don't think I can see the results that I saw with Obaji and Cellex. If you want to try out some of the high-end products like Obagi and Cellex, I like this website (and delivery is free and super fast) Dry skin lady

I use most (not all) of the Obagi skin care line. I am 44 and spent way too much time in the sun as a younger person. I have fair skin and freckles galore. This product line really helps my skin as far as tone and smoothness. I have used Botox once and Restalyne twice and the results were good but did not last very long. Obagi products are meant to be used for the long haul. I don't believe you can get them anywhere except for a Dr's office and the prices are the same everywhere. On the plus side you just use a teeny bit of the creams daily so they last forever. I like Dr Elizabeth Lee a lot, she has the products and can recommend which ones to use etc. She is not pushy about a matter of fact she told me that i did not really need to spend the money on the cleanser since my current cleanser (DOVE soap!) works just fine for my type of skin. finally taking care of my skin

I started Obagi in December and so far I am loving it. That being said, I think I am too new of a user to comment on if it's worth it or not. I hear you need to give the product a full three months to see true results. So far so good though! It cost me around $600 to get up and running on the program. I am told I can expect to pay around $300 every quarter to replenish the line. I have heard that sometimes people can get reimbursed through Flexible Spending Account programs if the skincare regimin was ordered to treat an illness or trauma/accident. I have never heard of Obagi being covered under any medical plan though. Fresh faced hopeful

My 2 cents: You will see an improvement using the prescription strength products but it's slow going and a little on the subtle side, in my opinion (I'm 48 and holding). If you want faster results you need Juvederm, if you want to go the fillers route. It works best on the nasolabial folds (the folds which run from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth). They will disappear, and my lines looked like someone had drawn them on my face. I had deep lines between my eyebrows and looked like I was scowling all the time. Botox was what got rid of those. The Juvederm hurts while it's being injected, the Botox was nothing. Signed: Went the fillers route

Just a heads-up if you are thinking about using Obagi. I tried it and my face broke out in sores all over and just kept getting worse as time went on. I discovered after I had this awful reaction that you can run into trouble with Obagi if you have an allergy to sulfur which I do. I know that many people love this product, but it did not work for me. I was fortunate and purchased this from a skincare clinic which gave me my money back. Disappointed and still searching

Oct 2006

Based to some degree on positive posts I saw here on BPN, I've been using Obagi products for almost 4 months now, and will need to get more soon if I decide to, but frankly, I'm just not sure they're worth the high price. My skin was in pretty good shape to begin with for someone in her mid-40s, a few lines here and there, but after all the rave reviews, I thought I'd see some improvement. Unfortunately the only real difference I've noticed is that I now break out like a teenager; other than that, no real change. Anyone have feedback they could share? same old skin

About Obagi, I too was using all those Obagi products and found them too greasy for my already oily skin although I love the retin-A formula Dr. Lee prescribes. According to my dermatologist, retin-A is the only thing that really slows the aging process of your skin and according to her, the Obagi products are over-priced. I also had safety concerns about the hydroquinone (sp?) in many of the Obagi lotions. It is a skin lightener associated with some very bad reactions, although it's a common ingredient in a number of over the counter products. It just seemed like something I didn't really need, was potentially dangerous, and cost a lot. I would like to say that Dr. Lee was very nice about taking back the products I didn't like and reimbursed me with no questions asked Also not an Obagi fan

I tried Obagi and did not find any improvement in my skin. It took extra time to put all the stuff on my face and my skin was a bit shiny looking too which bothered me. Dr. Elizabeth Lee recommends Obagi and all of her services. Has anyone actually seen her? I am just wondering after reading all the postings from her and her office staff anon

I too started Obagi products based on lots of positive feedback and I love it. I am in my early 40's and was bothered by the increase of wrinkles. I had a large wrinkle starting on one cheek, continuing underneath my chin and coming up the other cheek. I also had wrinkles around my mouth & 2 deep lines in between my brows. I started about 7-8 months ago. It took a while to really see the effect, so you might need to give it some more time. I did get some breakouts in the beginning, and they actually take longer to clear but now I don't get them anymore. My skin looks beautiful. I have lots of people, even strangers commenting on how my skin looks like ''peaches & cream.'' I feel a lot better about my skin so for me, it is worth the money. However, I just started ordering from ebay now that I know what I need and it does save you a whole bunch of money. I also ordered from regular websites offering free shipping but it it doesn't beat ebay nice skin again

If you are breaking out, you should talk to your dermatologist. My doctor helps me figure out which products to use and on return visits we discuss the efficacy. I use two Obagi products and really like them. The skin lightener has been especially effective in reducing my sun/age spots. I am in my early 40s and have pretty good skin, too. I look to the products to help me maintain my skin and slow down the signs of aging. Also, topical products tend to take a while to be effective, like 8-10 weeks sometimes. Again, if your skin is reacting badly, go back to the dermatologist you bought them from and discuss it

Obagi products are good, but if you read up on skincare products that have proven efficacy, you will find there are cheaper alternatives. Do a Google search and look at some scientific studies, rather than marketing fluff. The big beauty names (Lancome, Revlon, Clinique, etc.) look good, smell good and are generally pretty safe but their efficacy is pretty minimal. In other words their effectiveness has not been studied in placebo-controlled double blind clinical trials.

Obagi's nonprescription regimen is based on three components: sun protection, antioxidants (vitamin C) and exfoliation (AHA products such as glycolic acid). These three components are all an important part of good skincare; they won't necessarily make you look 10 years younger, but they will improve your skin and sunblock in particular will help prevent future wrinkles. You need to be religious about applying sunblock. Apply every day rain or shine.

For suncreen, pick a product not only with SPF 15-plus but one with UVB and UVA protection (zinc oxide offers good protection from aging UVA, as does titanium dioxide).

For exfoliation, glycolic acid is good. Look for concentrations of around 10 percent, but if you're a newbie start lower. Neostrata is one of the cheaper products.

For antioxidants, try Cellex-C. There are others around, but I can't remember their names. Remember the products you see in Macy's or Walgreens aren't especially effective, although their marketing team does an excellent job(!)

Moisturizer, contrary to popular opinion, is kind of optional. Both sunblocks and exfoliants contain moisturizing agents, you might not need another cream and it's always best not to slather on all kinds of stuff if you don't need it. But if your skin feels tight and dry at night, something like Nivea or Walgreens Baby Lotion is just fine. If it feels this way during the day, you might need a sunblock that is more moisturizing. MOISTURIZER DOES NOT PREVENT WRINKLES -- SUNBLOCK DOES!!

Where do you get these products? You can go direct to the company Web sites, but it's cheaper to obtain them from (Personally I buy industrial-sized containers from E-Bay from suppliers I know, but if this is new to you I wouldn't recommend it.) Candace

I've pretty much tried it all -- having had bad skin since puberty. I've done microdermabrasion, plain old Retin-A, Clinque, Sheseido, Thalgo, La Mer, you name it. I recently decided to give Obagi a try after seeing the results of a friend who has been using it for about five months -- her skin looks glowing and amazing (although, she may beg to differ -- I see a difference!). I've only been using Obagi (the whole six step system) for about three weeks -- and despite the unsexy peeling I'm going through, I must say that my face is starting to look more even-toned. It's definitley not for a no-frills instant gratification kind of person -- because it is time consuming and there are a lot of products. But overall, I like it and am seeing it as a good preventative measure for my thirty-something acne scarred skin. Also, after knowing what products I'd be using -- I get my stuff from Anon

I've been using Obagi for about 5 months now. I have dry, sensitive skin that was blotchy and red in patches, with lots of wrinkles (I'm 53). My friends have remarked that my skin looks better now but to me, the change is subtle. The main things I have noticed: I used to always need concealer on and around my nose to cover red and purplish splotches and I don't any more. I can actually get away without concealer or foundation. My skin feels smoother and there are no rough patches. I don't have to use moisturizer. My face doesn't look dry and creased when I wake up in the morning. The downside is I have to spend more time putting on the product. I am very lazy about cosmetics and I hate spending the 5-10 minutes in the morning and at night before I go to bed. But given the results, I guess this is not such a big price to pay. It costs me about $75 a month. I could get it cheaper online but it's convenient to get it at Dr. Lee's office.

As to the question ''has anyone actually seen her''. I have actually seen her. I saw Dr. Lee originally about a cosmetic procedure which I am very happy with. She is a wonderful and skillful surgeon, who put me at ease right away. She is very straightforward. After we got the surgery stuff out of the way I asked her about the Obagi products because others have recommended them on the BPN and I thought I should try to pay more attention to my complexion. She told me that they are all available over the counter except the Retin-A but the combination and amount in the Obagi products are what makes the difference. I decided to try it. I think that what sold me was: 1) the expertise of Dr. Lee, 2) her own beautiful complexion 3) her openness and straightforwardness. So far, so good.

Based on my experience with Obagi, the results have been amazing but not overnight. I have struggled with acne since I was a teenager and Obagi is the only stuff that has ever worked for me in a consistant manner. It does take extra time in the morning and evening, but no more than a few minutes, my skin was irritated, and I peeled quite a bit in the first few weeks but all that subsided after some adjustments made to my program by my doctor, Elizabeth Lee. Obagi is not a program that you can do yourself over the internet, you need supervision by a physician, and there are also other prescription medications that accompany the program, ie retin A and in my case a topical antibiotic. What I want you to know is that Obagi is great but takes some commitment in the early stages, and Dr. Elizabeth Lee is a fantastic physician, give her office a call (704 2170) and find out for yourself Happy with Obagi and Dr. Lee

Obagi is not a cosmetic. It is a highly active medical treatment program that will induce changes in the histology of the skin. Use of the program involves the use of prescription strength tretinoin, and hydroquinone. Prescription strength means that the FDA has determined that products require the supervision of a medical care provider to minimize possible injury from improper use. As the products contain prescription strength medications, Obagi does not sell its products for online or over the counter sale, only for sale through physician offices under physician supervision. The product available on the internet is not authenticated or guaranteed by Obagi, and Obagi states they do not know the origin of such products. While it is possible that physicians are purchasing from Obagi and then selling the product on the web, Obagi maintains that they will stop supplying product once that physician is discovered. Where the web sale products come from is not clear but there is a significant chance that it is not from Obagi's manufacturing plant. Obagi is absolutely not for everyone. It does improve hyperpigmentation, acne, wrinkles, correct moisure imbalances, and improve skin texture. The program should be tailored to the needs of each patient, and patients should be followed for treatment response and possible side effects. Most of my patients experience improvement in their skin. Most physicians would not advocate a patient prescribing their own blood pressure medication and ordering it over the internet. Medications available by prescription only are so restricted to ensure the safety of the public by requiring physician supervision for their use. Obagi is prescription only. It is not an over the counter cosmetic and should not be treated as such Elizabeth Lee, M.D.

June 2006

Recently, there have been several posts recommending the Obagi products for skin care, especially the Clear cream with hydroquinone. However, according to a recent article in the New York Times, hydroquinone is linked to leukemia in rats, and has been banned in European cosmetics. I'm interested in hearing from others as to the safety of this product. Thanks Wondering

I also researched this before using an Obagi product containing hydroquinone because I had heard similar things. Here is what I found:

This is from the Paula Begoun site, She has a great dictionary of ingredients on her site. She explains what they do and any problems/ controversies surrounding them. In short, she says tests on hydroquinone were done (1) on in vitro cells in a test tube and (2) on animals in which the animals were fed the hydroquinone. She further notes that epidemiological studies have been done on the workers that manufacture products containing hydroquinone and they actually had lower death and reduced cancer rates. She cites the actual studies and dates in the dictionary entry I noted above Mary

May 2006

I would like to get advice from either a dermatologist (preferably one who doesn't have an interest in the product) or someone educated in these types of products on the effectiveness of using the Obagi skincare line. A friend of mine is currently using it and suggested I also get it, however,I am highly skeptical of something so expensive (starting price is around $400/set), plus it has both retin A, and skin lightening cream. Is there a chance that it's just one of those gimicky items and that consistent soap, water and moisturizer works just as well? -slightly skeptical

I use the Obagi skin lightening cream for some sun spots on my face. It does work (although it takes a while before you see results and you must use it everyday). Also, it has twice the amount of the lightening agent (hydroquinine..sp?) that regular products have, which is why you have to get it from a dermatologist. My dermatologist didn't recommend the entire line, just that one product, so maybe you can pick and choose which products to use for whatever skin issues you're trying to address. Spotless

Help for Troubled Skin

Jan 2008

Can anyone recommend an aesthetician in the Oakland/Berkeley area? I've never been, but recently a friend said a lactic acid chemical peel really helped her problem areas. My skin is congested, starting to get fine lines and little brown spots, and overall it's just dull and looking old (I'm 35). How frustrating having to think about acne and aging at the same time! My friend also mentioned glycolic acid toner as an important part of a skin care regimen. News to me. I know I'm not cleansing/moisturizing correctly. What has worked for you?

Oh- and the dark circles under my eyes are getting worse everyday. Granted I have three small children and my sleep isn't what it should be, but the puffs and bags and circles are probably aging me more than anything else. Can an aesthetician do anything to help in this area? Has anyone successfully beat the bags?

I would greatly appreciate any ideas, names and/or recommendations for products! feeling frumpy

I am a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner and I have worked with women who have hair and skin issues (everything from simple dry skin to eczema to radiation burns). Jin Shin is similar to acupuncture but without needles - instead of placing needles along the energy pathways in the body, a light touch is applied. Balancing the energy in the body that effects the skin can improve the health and look of the skin. Donna

I was feeling just like you, and having similar problems. I didn't see a trained professional: I've read up on stuff and watched TV to get my regime together. Women who are younger than I am tell me I have great looking skin and ask what I do (I'll be 40 in July). Here is what I do. It ain't cheap, but science is a wonderful thing:

1) I use Dr. Denese Firming Facial Pads (like Stridex, only they exfoliate) and the SPF 30 Day Cream. I saw her on PBS, and went hunting her products down. You have to exfoliate to keep making colligen and to reveal healthy skin and keep pores clean enough to keep acne at bay. The day cream is tinted, so it gives an airbrushed look to the skin. When I don't use the Day Cream, I use Neutrogena's SPF 30 moisturizer with no tint, but I get compliments whether I use tinted or not. The exfoliating facial pads can be drying, especially when you first start using them, so I got one of her Hydroshield Moisturizing Face Serums, too. Here is her website so that you can see how FABULOUS she looks and so that you can read a little about her philosophy on skin... Here is where you can find her products... IMPORTANT TIP: when you start using the facials pads, make sure you put moisturizer onto the lower and upper eyelids right afterward. The potion on the pads will seep onto the eyelids and dry out the skin. This happened to me, and my undereye area was wrinkly-looking for about a week.

IMPORTANT TIP #2: You MUST use suncreen EVERY SINGLE DAY. That is the best thing you can do to keep your skin from looking wrinkled. The other stuff helps lift off the superficial damage, but you will be doing it for naught if you don't protect your skin. It has to be a broad spectrum sunscreen. Neutrogena is cheaper and has a higher level SPF.

2) Hylexin Cream for dark circles: it costs (gulp) $100 a tube, but it WORKS for dark circles. You will see results immediately, and the darkness will go away in a few weeks. It also reduces puffiness. You may be able to find it cheaper someplace else, but DO NOT buy the generic version or the imitations. I haven't tried those, but I know for sure that this works and the tubes last a long time. I've had mine for about 6 months, and there is tons left. You are supposed to use it sparingly. I bought mine at Pure Beauty, but here is the site: Getting old and dried up, too

Try Esther Torres at Au Natural in Montclair, 339-1152. She has a variety of options, does not penetrate the skin and she is very experienced. Stu

Skin care for African American skin

Sept 2005

I have a 15 year old neice and have been trying to figure out a nice gift for her - I never know what to get her anymore, she has no time for shopping outings and giving money is so boring. The other day I notices she has some acne bumps on her forehead and I thought that some skin care products would be a good idea. I love Clinique but I'm very pale and I know dark skin often requires different kinds of products. any suggestions in terms of brand names and specific products would be appreciated. thanks
mixed race family

I haven't tried it, but I know people who have used Proactive & really likes it. It works on all types of skin. Shelly

I have found that the Bobbi Brown skin-care line is much better for my African American skin than Clinique: Clinique often uses mineral oil in their products which often causes breakouts for African American women. Moreover, Clinique cosmetics often contain titanium dioxide which can make darker skin tones look ashen.

Bobbi Brown tends to stay away from mineral oil and titanium dioxide.

For a great pressed powder, try Prescriptives brand ''virtual skin'' ''Level 5'': many young girls who do not wear makeup nonetheless would like a translucent powder to take care of oiliness -- another issue with African American skin. Prescriptives is very light and the pressed powder does not contain titanium dioxide.

You can buy Prescriptives and Bobbi Brown at Nordstroms in S.F.

A final recommendation I have that so many african American women swear by -- and I love it myself -- is the ''oil mattifier'' by Mary Kay Cosmetics: if your neice puts a bit of this stuff across her forehead, breakouts and oiliness will diminish. Of course, you'll need to find a Mary Kay dealer to obtain the product since it's not sold over the counter.

Check out the Mary Kay website: they have a great skincare line in general; products designated for oil-prone skin work best for African Americans.

Good Luck Antoinette

I'm not sure I'd bring attention to pimples for an adolescent but you may want to check out Carol's Daughter products. I can't vouch for their skincare regime but I love the haircair products. They smell yummy and are really good for my daughter's hair. I've also used some of their body lotions and lip gloss - all very yummy. The website is anonymous

You really should try Shelly at alexander Pope in Oakland. Her specialty is our skin. She is very well trained and knows what she is doing. Her products rock and i could not reccomend her more. Danielle

Inexpensive Moisturizer with SPF 15

October 2005

Neutrogena recently discontinued the facial moisturizer I've used for many years (Healthy Skin daytime creme with SPF 15) and I'm having a hard time finding a good replacement. Can anyone recommend a moisturizer they like that isn't loaded with fragrance, includes at least SPF 15 sunscreen, and doesn't cost a fortune? I'm looking for a product that's thick enough to dab on (not that runny stuff) and doesn't leave your hands greasy. It would be nice, too, if I didn't have to go to a specialty store to buy it. Thanks!!

I'm very happy with ''Olay complete defense daily UV moisturizer.'' It is thick -- comes in a small pump bottle and has no fragrance (only the faintest ''sunscreen'' scent). My bottle is ''SPF30 for sensitive skin'', but they may make a SPF15 as well. Olay makes other fragrance-free, sunscreen lotions that aren't greasy, but so far this is my favorite. Longs sells it and I'm sure other chain drug stores do too.
sun lover in Walnut Creek

I love Alba's sea moss moisturizer, which has an SPF of 15. It's available at Wholefoods and runs between $10 and $13 for a 2oz tube (It's been on sale a couple of times.) I'm with you on consistency--this stuff is nice and thick but not greasy.

I've been really happy with Olay ''complete all day moisture cream'' for sensitive skin. It is spf 15 and it's unscented too. It's a thick cream in a small jar. I have dry skin and I've paid 4 or 5 times more for moisturizers but finally got tired of schlepping to a department store. I like this one. I get it at Albertsons or Longs or

Oil of Olay has a moisterizer with SPF 30! Its called Complete Defence Daily Moisterizer with SPF 30, I get it at Target, and wait for it to go on sale and buy a few.

I'm very happy with Olay Regenerist Enhancing Lotion with UV Protection. It has a light but substantial feel which is important for my oily skin. You can get it at any drug store (I get it at Target). I often get comments that I don't look my age or I look like I'm wearing make-up when I'm not.

I like the daily moisturizers that Eucerin makes. One of them is Sensitive Facial Skin Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15. They are available at drug stores and groceries.

I also used to use the Neutrogena. I switched to The Body Shop Grapeseed hydrating moisturizer SPF 15 & think it is great. I order it in bulk off the website so I don't have to go to the store & shipping is not too bad, but there is a Body Shop in the new Emery Bay mall.

I've been using Oil of Olay ''Complete'' all day moisture cream spf 15 for *sensitive skin* (i.e. no fragrance) for years, and I love it. It's usually available at any drugstore or Target, etc, although sometimes it's not, so when I find it, I usually buy two or more jars.

I use Olay moisturizer with SPF 15 protection. It's available at Walgreen's for about $10, I think. I've had good luck with it. Not sure how ''runny'' is too runny for you, but for only $10, it's worth a try.

Olay total effects 7x, uv protection, fragrance free It's available at most any drugstore for about $18 - you can often buy it on sale.

Oil of Olay Complete is the perfect moisturizer - SPF 15, extremely light fragrance, non-greasy and cheap. I used to use that Neutrogena moisturizer, too, but when I tried this one I actually preferred it. My dermatologist likes it because it contains an ingredient that is effective at blocking both UVA and UVB rays.

There is a Eucerin product that meets all your criteria. I don't remember the exact name, but it comes in a white bottle (pump top) with a pink cap. You can get it at most Longs/Walgreens, and it costs about $7, which is less than the Neutrogena stuff. No fragrance, not greasy, wear it every day. I've been using it for several years and have never had problems (breakouts, etc.) with it.
Need my SPF every day

I like Neutrogena's Healthy Defense SPF 30 (different than Healthy Skin...confusing, eh?). Although, sometimes my skin isn't dry enough for it and the moisturizer doesn't absorb totally. In warmer months, I just use Neutrogena Dry Touch SPF 30 on my face. It isn't greasy at all and is totally inperceptible on my skin. Sometimes, if my skin is a tiny bit dry, I mix the two together and they blend really nicely.

Whatever you do, make sure you use a face creme with good sunscreens that block UVA and UVB. A good resource for products and infomation about sunscreens is - Paula Begoun's site. Go to the Learn section on the lower left side of the screen to read up on ingredients. Also, she is big on pointing out the lower-cost products that do every bit as good of a job as the high-priced ones.
Block Those Harmful Rays!

Re: a protective face lotion - Eucerin now makes one called ''Sensitive Facial Skin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion'' that I really like. It's SPF 30, the highest I've seen for a daily facial moisturizer, and it feels going on like a regular moisturizer rather than a sunscreen. Runs $8-10 for 4 oz, at regular drugstores.
Fair-skinned too

I like Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer. You can find it at any drugstore.

Try Cetaphil moisturizer. I buy it at Target.

My dermatologist recommended ''Olay Complete defense'' daily UV moisturizer. It has SPF 30 and I really like it. I have sensitive skin and I didn't have any bad reactions.
Happy with Olay

We use Johnson and Johnson's Purpose. You can find it at any pharmacy, Target, and I think even Safeway. It is light, not greasy and has almost no fragrance. I can even get my husband to use it, which speaks volumes!

Another product my entire family uses is No-Ad suntan lotion with 30 SPF for the rest of our bodies. Same features as Purpose and it's waterproof. When we are swimming or going to be outside all day, we also use it on our faces and have had no problems with skin outbreaks.

Try Zia Daily Moisture Screen. It sounds exactly like what you're looking for -- SPF 15, creamy (it's in a jar), and light. Zia stuff has no chemicals in it, and it's great for sensitive skin. I get mine at the Berkeley Bowl, but you can find it at many health food stores and natural pharmacies.

I highly recommend Eucerin Extra Protective moisterizer, which I've been using for a few years. It's SPF 30, very light and doesn't leave residue on your hands. You can find it at most drug stores, though you might have to search the shelves a bit. It's under $9 for a bottle that lasts me about 6 months.
Moisturized and UVA/UVB Protected Mom

La Mer Skin care products

March 2005

I'm wondering if anyone out there has had any experience using the La Mer skin products? Are they as good as they claim? Thanks. just wondering

I've tried the main product ''Creme de la Mer'' and did not think that it made that much of a difference. It's a rich cream so if you want lots of moisture, it's good. However, it's not the miracle cream that it is hyped up to be. Also, a beauty insider discouraged me from buying the other products offered by La Mer because other than the original ''Creme de la Mer'', all the other products were produced by Estee Lauder Company after they bought La Mer about 5 years ago. (These products are not the originals created by the founder scientist using the 6 month fermentation process). I tried La Mer because I'm in my early 30's and wanted to get a jump start in preventing further wrinkles. Having talked to several dermatologists, they all said that the only miracle cream they know of is a good sunscreen. Anonymous

I used Creme de la Mer when I was working and didn't have a child. I can't justify the expense now, even though I still think the results are excellent. I can't really speak to how it works on aging or wrinkles, but my skin never felt more ''even'' or hydrated than when I used the stuff. It really makes your skin smooth and there is a definite glow. I also used the eye cream which worked wonders on eye bags and dark circles. Kiehl's has a product that's supposed to mimic CDLM, called Cyrste Marine. I'm personally using their Abyssine cream and am very happy with the results, and it's under $40. former user

Serious Skin Care Advice Needed!

Feb 2005

I have some major complaints about my facial skin and am looking for some advice...and tips for improvement

My primary complaints: shallow acne scars, broken capillaries, enlarged pores

I have tried a range of different over the counter beauty products, microdermabrasion and glycolic peels...with little improvement.

My facial skin is so distressing to me that cost is much less of an issue than finding something that REALLY works.

Any advice? Any prescription products that might help? Any dermatologist recs? Anybody been in the same boat and found a solution that really made a difference?

I appreciate any help you can provide! Holgie

re: skin care help needed.
A year and a half ago I sought the same advice on Berkeley Parents. I had sun damage, redness, acne scars, and continuing acne flareups. I ended up visiting Dr. Elizabeth Lee in Berkeley, and starting the Obagi Nu Derm prescription skin care regimen. I cannot believe the difference it has made. I went to her wanting a laser peel and now I don't need one. I just religiously use these products. My skin looks beautiful and friends are always asking what I've done. My husband, who is generally skeptical about ''beauty products,'' says I look ten years younger. I agree. joyful

I started having some pretty serious complexion problems two years ago, and tried a lot of things, including multiple trips to my primary care physician. She actually told me to do things that exacerbated the condition, and I finally went to Dr. Warren Dotz , a dermatologist whose office is right next to Alta Bates. I was very impressed by him. He was absolutely scrupulous in looking over my skin, inquiring about my history, and coming up with a diagnosis. He is unhurried and thorough during appointments. My skin looks quite nice now! Elizabeth

You might want to check out the laser clinic at UCSF, which is part of their Dermatology Department. I've had treatment there for facial spider veins & noticed a great improvement. I know lasers can also be used for acne scars. My dermatologist is Cam McCalmont in El Cerrito, who referred me to UCSF. Cam is great, but it can take months to get an appointment with her.

Don't bother with over the counter stuff. Go see a dermatologist. Tell them you want Retin-A and the non-generic brand. It did wonders for me for both shallow acne marks,large pores, and is great preventative for wrinkles. It improved my skin dramatically! If you have freckles or sun damage ask for Triluma which has a bleaching agent and retin-A. In just three weeks my sun damage has lessened substantially. It is fantastic! amy

Go to and fill out their questionaire. They have professionals that will review your submission and send you samples of recommended products. You will see from their site that they cater to the stars-- lots of models and people with beautiful faces.... they package their stuff in cheap bottles so their prices are totally acceptable. I have been using their products for about 6 months now and am happy with pretty much everything!! I have referred quite a few people and they are happy too!!! LogicalMama

I have been seeing an esthetician monthly for about 5 years. Every time I see her, she tells me how dry my skin is acting and how I need to take better care of my skin. I recently was told about the Beauticontrol Skincare line from a friend who lives out of state. I tried the products and then fell in love with the whole line. On my last visit to my esthetician, she told me (without knowing what products I was using), that my skin has never looked so great! That sold me! Now I sell them. Chris

My dermatologist is Cam McCalmont in El Cerrito, who referred me to UCSF. Cam is great, but it can take months to get an appointment with her.

Natural Advantage skin care line

June 2004

Has any one tried the informercial ''Natural Advantage'' skin care line & gotten results?I recently saw the commercial & being in the midst of feeling in serious need of skin SOS! I am tempted to purchase this stuff asap!!! Post baby I am feeling very aged & my skin has changed dramatically! Otherwise, anyone have an affordable dermatologist they might recommend? Thank you!

I'm not familiar with Natural Advantage skin care, but I wanted to recommend Proactive Solution to you. You have probably seen their infomercials before. I'm skeptical of products I see advertised on infomercials, so it took years and a friend's recommendation for me to try Proactive Solution and I'm so glad I finally did. My skin looks great, I rarely break out, and the scaring from my previous acne has disappeared. I have encouraged several friends to use it and everyone loves it. It really works! Former Acne Sufferer

Which anti-wrinkle cream really works???

Oct 2004

Having recently turned 50, I find myself spending more and more time at Long's gazing at anti-wrinkle products. There's only about a million to choose from! I'm wondering which, if any, you've had positive results from? I'm looking for a product that will lessen the little wrinkles appearing on my face and something that might possibly help firm up the loose skin on my neck......Ha! But the array of products is pretty overwhelming. Or is it all just a big joke and the hands of time can't ever be turned back? Thanks! 50 and counting

There are certain ingredients that are known for anti-wrinkle properties. Retinol is one of them. I use the M.D. Forte Skin Rejuvenation line. I think it's only available at dermatologist's offices. You can do a search on Yahoo. Also, for moisturizing, La Mer, available at Nordstrom, is amazing. I have had the eye cream for 3 days and have noticed a change. These products are expensive but I believe them to be well worth it. Feel free to email me if you would like. Jackie

i suggest looking into n.v. perricone. you can purchase it at either nordstroms or sephora. it's a higher end line of products but it does work. it's been developed by a dermatologist. their website is if you're interested.

I've been using an anti-wrinkle cream called Eucerin Q-10 for about a year now. (I'm 50.) It was recommended to my sister by her 50-yr+ female dermatologist. The cream comes in a small white glass container and I've found it mostly at Walgreen's. Don't confuse it with the sunscreen with Q-10 by the same company. It costs about $10 or so; it's a thick yellowish cream. Feels like you're spreading butter on your face. Made in Germany by Pond's Company. I've found that it really helps with the fine lines. I usually spread it on right after I shower or bathe when my face and neck are still really moist. puertazl

The only anti-wrinkle creams that ''really work'' are those with a chemical like Retin-A in them (the prescription versions). Some of the things at Long's make decent moisturizers (some don't), but pretty much none of them reverse the effects of aging.

For a really good review of current products, what they do and don't do, costs, and potential harmful effects, check out the book ''Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me'' by Paula Begoun. Whatever you think of her personal approach, line of products, etc., her analysis of cosmetics is pretty objective, because she bases it ONLY on their ingredients, and their known chemical effects.

See the following page of her website for further information: Karen

My understanding is that the anti-wrinkle cosmetics industry is one of the biggest frauds there is. I've yet to find ANYTHING over the counter that truly reduces wrinkles. From what I've read, Retin-A is the ONLY thing that is truly effective at this, but it's expensive and you have to get a prescription (I assume through a dermatologist). Perhaps there is some UCB Parent's Network subscriber who has had a different experience and knows of an over-the- counter product that IS effective, but I have serious doubts.

The problem is, nothing much can actually penetrate your skin to affect it. Your skin, the biggest organ you have, is DESIGNED to KEEP THINGS OUT of your body. Not much gets past it (most of the things I know of that *do* are bad for you). So, all that stuff is really just bunk. I'll be interested to learn if some one knows something different. Living with lines

I am a plastic surgeon practicing in Berkeley. Although I am a surgeon, in my practice, I see many people who are not interested in surgery, but are concerned about the aging of their skin with the accumulation of wrinkles, age spots and the development of skin laxity. I work with Obagi NuDerm skin health system, This is not a superficial, feel good program. It restores health to the skin by stimulating the deeper layers to correct damage from aging and sun exposure.

The products available over the counter in department stores, or in Longs are not as effective as this line, and Obagi is only dispensed in physician offices because it requires appropriate training in its use. But don't be frightened, it is skin care, not surgery. It is the only skin care product I use in the office, because it helps my patients, unlike most of the other lines out there which are expensive and feel nice to use, but don't make any permanent improvements in skin health and appearance.

Yes, it is possible to turn back the clock, probably not back to age 18, but certainly by a decade or so, at least.

You can research the products at

Feel free to call my office with any questions. 510 704-2170 Elizabeth Lee, M.D. elizabeth AT

You are right, shoopping for an array of antiwrinkle products can be overwhelming, I've been through it. I am currently using Obagi product and it does work. It is not an over-the-counter beauty product. I get mine from a plastic surgereon Elizabeth Lee, M.D. in Berkeley. You need to first have a consultation with her before you can purchase the product. You may want to give that a try. She's at 2999 Regent Street, phone # 510-704- 2170. Hope this helps. M

Anti Aging Skin Products

Feb 2003

Has anyone used any anti aging skin products which you have found to be successful? Alpha Lipolic Acid? DMAE products? Perricone's stuff? Others? Is this just the latest fad or can it reduce lines and under eye circles etc? anon

I have used Imeedeen Tablets for a couple of years with good effect on my skin. I started to use the Imedeen Tablets as my skin became easily upset, read, and irritated. As I am also aging, I decided to try Imedeen. Imedeen seems both to make my skin less irritated and also improve the texture. Anne. Anne

I use a skincare product called Obagi and it has done wonders for my skin. It has reduced my lines and dark spots. You will need to obtain this through a physician because it has stronger ingredients than normal over-the-counter products. You can contact Dr. Elizabeth Lee, MD in Berkeley for this, her number is 704-2170. I'm sure you will like her and this product as well. Maria

I recently started using skin care products by a company called Artistry. Out of all the companies out there that make claims, they are the only ones that guarantee significant results, or your money back.

Their products are a combination of nature (organically grown plant ingredients) and science (no animal testing).

They have basic skin care, and a line of products to help with various aging issues such as wrinkles, lines, dark spots, sagginess... from my own experience - my skin looks and feels much better.

One more thing - you will not find Artistry products in the store. It's kind of a word of mouth product line (so they have to make sure the products are real good or no one will tell anybody...). I'll be happy to give you more information via email or phone on the specific products you are looking at. Leigh

About the post recommending Artistry products, I just want you to be aware that you will be dealing with AMWAY. The goal is not only to sell you products but to get you to become a representative. Buyer Beware

I didn't want to go the painful route which I heard sometimes occurs with those other products, so I looked for a product that contained none of the acids, etc., and claimed to get rid of wrinkles. I found L'Oreal's RevitaLift Complete to work very well. It took a few weeks to really see the changes, but my lines have nearly disappeared and it feels very nice on my skin. Plus the sunblock is an added bonus for me. Hope this helps! anon

My skin is drier since I became a mother

Jan. 2003

I am wondering if anyone else has had this experience. Since becoming a mother my skin is a lot dryer, to the point where sometimes I feel I'm wearing a mask. I looked at a close up photo of myself recently and was astonished by all the new wrinkles. I think this has two causes, 1)less sleep, and 2) we use the heater more at night to keep the baby warm and its drying my skin out. Who knows, it may be a post-natal hormone thing too.

I have a great moisturizing cleanser and a face cream (clarins) I use during the day but I have now been told that I need to use a night cream. I am loath to walk up to a dept store make up counter and buy something expensive when I don't know how effective it will be.

So here's my question...does anyone use a night cream that they really like? Or have any other tricks to keep their skin hydrated. Also, I have read the recommendations in the archive on estheticans but if anyone has a good up to date recommendation of a skin care specialist in the East bay who could help me I would appreciate that too.

I highly recommend a Camocare cream called Facelift. They usually carry it at Whole Foods $18- $20 a jar that lasts a long time. Camocare makes creams with different strengths {amounts of AHA's) The one I prefer is Facelift with 12% alpha hydroxy stuff. It's light absorbable etc. Also, something my grandmother taught me is to spray a fine mist of water on my face before moisturizer day or night. Dana

I think Clarins is a VERY good brand. It's expensive, but once you start using it and you get your skin back, you won't have to buy another jar/bottle and the oils/creams smell really good, too. There was a significant difference in just one night... I used the lip stick, too, and I got my soft supple lips back in a few minutes (I can't remember the name of the oil, this happened seven years ago, but I'm sure the Clarins representatives can help you out). Just be careful to not make it an addictive habit! Also, drinking lots of water always helps, I'm sure you've heard of that one. I know I need to drink water when my lips start to chap.

Some valuable information in this area can be obtained by reading ''Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me''; the author (Paula Begoun) does a very intelligent analysis of most cosmetics, including face creams, based on their ingredients -- pointing out things like some of the ''plant-based'' ''natural'' extracts included in many face creams are actually irritating. It's interesting to find out that many expensive products are not worth it, and that even some of the ''dermitologist-recommended'' products aren't that great. She also sells products, including a morning and night regimen, on a web site ( -- I like them. They are no-fragrance, no-coloring, no animal testing, including only what is necessary and nothing more, and also decently priced. Might be worth a look. Karen

I had a problem similar to yours after having my daughter, and found that my skin had just changed-- skin and hair changes after childbirth are mainly due to increases in stress hormones circulating through the body, and developmental changes. The female body does not completely mature until after pregnancy & lactation (i.e., breast cells do not fully differentiate until lactation, indicating a new stage of adult development).

Here are my inexpensive suggestions for combating post childbirth skin and hair problems:

Drink lots of water and horsetail tea (avoid caffeine as much as possible for a while, as it is dehydrating)

Change hair & skin products (to replenish lost nutrients that might be deficient in your current line if you have been using it for a long time, or alternate days with different products---helpful to reduce possibility of developing allergy to a long-used product)

Use warm (not overly hot) water in your shower

Rub Olive oil on your body after shower, or add to your bath--I keep a bottle in my bathroom.

Exercise if you can, to work up a sweat (sweating is good for the skin)

Use an exfoliator once in a while, like a wet washcloth, or a loofah pad on the face

It is really (really) expensive, but I absolutely love the AnneMarie Borlind line of cleanser/day/night creams. They are the eighth wonder of the world--you can learn about them online at . You can also buy them at Whole Foods. Moisturizing creams run about $40.00 per jar, but you need so little that they last about 4 months. I have found that using the whole line of products (cleanser, toner, and day & night creams) works best together. If you can afford to treat yourself (or know someone who wants to spoil you with something) this is the way to go. I am using the ZZ line for sensitive skin, but have also used the ''Regeneration''line for aging skin, and both are excellent. Also the Intensive Capsules are wonderful, instant relief (I swear, I don't work for this company!) Good luck. elizabeth

I love Mary Kay Advanced Moisture Renewal Cream. I put it on at night and I can immediately feel my skin drinking it up and looking 100% softer. I am a bit biased since I sell MK. You can try samples before you buy with your local MK Beauty consultant. If you don't have one, go to to locate a consultant near you. Or, if you like, email me and I'd be happy to work with you on finding the right products that work with your skin. Brook

Here are a few that my friends and family swear by: 1. Z. Bigatti Re-Storation Vitamin and Antioxidant Skin Treatment $150 (my favorite whenever I need an overnight quick fix)

2. Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Elasticity Repair $55 (my husband and mother both love this one - the eye cream works wonders too)

3. Juvena Q10 Night $55 (my grandmother's favorite)

If you hate the department store like I do, you can read up on the products and purchase any of them online at

Osmotics and Juvena are both good choices too if the Z. Bigatti is too expensive. I've used all three and there are all GREAT. anon.

I use a 2% salicylic acid wash once a day all over my body, including my face. (Neutrogena acne wash, for example even though I don't have acne- I've used salon versions but didn't notice any difference). The salicylic acid exfoliates your dry skin. You really need to moisturized afterward. I use a great day cream and a thick night cream. I get them at the salon where I get my legs waxed and really like them-by Paul Scerri. I used to use Murad products and liked them too- (you can get them at a beuty supply store) They use something different to exfoliate- but exfoliating is key to getting rid of dead skin and make the skin open to the moisturizing. Good luck. lsg

I don't have a recommendation for a certain name brand, but my husband is an MD, and he has always told me the best time to apply lotion or moisturizers is right after a shower or bath, while your skin is still wet. Don't even dry off with a towel (but I usually wrap my wet hair in a towel first); let the lotion mix into the water on your skin, and it will do a much better job of moisturizing. Heidi

You should start with a visit to a dermatologist, to avoid trendy and often worthless skin regimens. My dematologist is wonderful, and very thorough (she'll look you over for any pre- cancer moles too!) Dr. Pessoa has prescribed very helpful retin- A products that make my skin look better. That may not be right for you -- she'll know. Cornelia Pessoa, 2500 Milvia St. #104 Berkeley 94704, 510-486-1700. Anon.

Regarding a good night cream, I have been using a great alpha hydroxy night cream from the Body Time store for a few months. I tend to like Body Time products because they are all natural, made in small batches and made locally. My skin looks smoother and healthier than it has since I became a mom almost a year ago. Also, I recommend Lavera products, as well as Murad. Hope this helps. --skincare happy mom

There's another alternative to getting advice on skin care. Try the Beauty Center on College Ave. (Berkeley) or the one on Solano Ave. The salespeople are not on commission. They are especially knowledgeable when it comes sensitive dry skin, talk to Barbara at the College Ave. store. Products by Murad, Lange, and Dermalogica are formulated for sensitive skins. joy

You might want to try one of the heavier creams at Body Time, which is a local company with several stores in Berkeley and SF. They sell very reasonably priced skin, hair and body products. I have dryish skin, too, and have used their creamy facial wash, unscented moisturizing cream, AD lotion and eye cream (and shampoo, etc., too) for years. FWIW, people often tell me I have pretty skin (I know, I know, I sound like a creep, but they DO). Good luck. Wendy

Are you nursing your child? There's another reason your skin is dryer: more of the fluid you take in goes to the child. It's really important to drink enough water during the day. Though I must admit that it's hard to do with a baby or toddler. Anyway, I've had the same problem with dry skin--all over. For hands and elbows (because you're probably washing your hands more, too) I like Body Shop Vitamin E hand cream. It's a bit expensive, but worth it since it seems to keep working even after you wash your hands. For face, I found a nice rejuvinating face cream at Body Time here in Berkeley. It costs about $25.00, which is not too bad. You might also treat yourself to a facial somewhere like Elixir or Azul. No doubt you deserve the pampering. Carolyn

I know that dry skin feeling all too well. Between heaters, weather changes and stress, I got to the point where I literally ''cracked'' a smile due to dry skin. After trying dozens of high priced facial creams, I had the best luck with Cetaphil, which is around $7 at Longs. I now use it day and night. I have very sensitive skin that easily dries to the point where I feel as if I've been on a cross-universe plane trip. Cetaphil works great around my eyes, too, which is great for all the new wrinkles that like to sneak in there. It's fragrance free, goes on very lightly and provides instant relief. And for $7, what do you have to lose? You can even splurge on a massage with the savings, something we moms deserve -- regardless of our skin savings! Moist, And With Money To Show For It!

I too have had trouble with dry skin after my son's birth. 2 suggestions, 1 internal treatment and 1 external. If your dry skin is due to dehydration, either heater related or not - a strong likelihood - try to drink more water. I started drinking 2 - 16 oz bottles of water throughout the day. In addition to beverages with meals, it really helped me. Besides helping hydrate your skin, water is great for your organs and digestion. Secondly, try applying a little vasoline (petrolium jelly) to problem areas for added moisture. When my son has a cold and gets the red, raw area around his nose from my rubbing with a tissue, a little vasoline applied when he goes to sleep gives him supple skin when he wakes in the AM. I discoverd it works for me too around my nose, lips or other problem areas. Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth. anon

Instead of trying to just moisturize the surface of your skin, you may want to contact Elizabeth Lee, M.D. in Berkeley who does cosmetic surgery and sells Obagi skincare products to her patients. I personally have experienced great results. MS

Dry, cracking skin on fingers and feet

May 2003

I have lived in Northern California for 5 years now and every April my skin starts cracking from dryness, mainly at the finger tips and my heels. It cracks, then bleeds, then heals and cracks again. I do moisturize every day but with all the diaper changing I do wash my hands quite often. Has anybody have the same problem? How did you solve it? cracking mom

Sounds like eczema to me. I've had it since I was a child, but it got worse when I moved to a dryer climate, then REALLY got bad since becoming pregnant and having my son 4 years ago. When my son was young and I was washing my hands a lot, my hands were horrifically cracked. Generally, my feet and hands get worse during the winter when the air is so dry. I get huge painful cracks primarily on my thumbs and heels. Here is what I have done to keep the cracks on my feet to a minimum. If I followed this regimen consistently and always wore covered shoes, I probably would be practically eczema-free. At least every other night I soak my feet in hot water and baking soda for about 15 minutes. Then I gently try removing some calluses (not too much at once or it makes the cracks worse). Then I dry my feet off thoroughly, and before I put some clean cotton socks on I slather them with utter balm. That's right utter balm. It is the same stuff that they use on cows when they get chaffed teats! It works so well that it is sold in stores for human use. It's great because it is not only a strong emollient; it also is an antibacterial. If you adhere to this regimen as much as possible you may be able to keep your feet eczema free. I also have found that my eczema gets worse in the summer when I wear sandals, or when I go barefoot, which is most of the time. I abhor wearing closed shoes in the summer, so it is a problem for me. Sometimes I wear sandals with socks. As for my fingers, I read for a couple of hours every night and I've gotten so many books greasy even with gloves on, that I tend not to take as good a care of my fingers. I have a nasty cycle of letting them get bad and then taking drastic measures to heal them. I'll wear gloves at night and forgo the books for a few nights, and you'll find me walking around during the day with Band-Aids on most of my fingers - very attractive. Word to the wise If you are one to walk around outside barefoot with cracked feet, find out when your last tetanus shot was, and get another one if necessary. Good luck. Marianne

I've never had the cracking on my hands, but I have on my heels and what seems to work best is Lansinoh (the ointment used for newly nursing moms on the nipple) and/or A Diaper Rash ointment. Go figure. Good Luck. Curious to see the other tips you get! Smooth footed mama

Sounds like you have eczema! I have the same exact problem and my doctor has diagnosed eczema. You may want to see what your doctor says about this. amy

I have the same problem on my feet, and have found that a product called ''Heel Softening Cream,'' by Miracle of Aloe, available online at, has been very helpful. (I think it even comes with special little socks to keep the cream from rubbing off of your feet at night.) Gretchen

For a crack on the heel of my foot, when it gets deep and painful (i.e. in the summer after walking on beaches a lot) I put a good dab of zinc oxide on and cover with a bandaid. This has always healed up the crack in a few days to a week or so. I also find that using something to rub the extra tough callused skin off on places like my heels during or after a shower really helps keep them from cracking. Susan

I've got the same problem with cracking skin on my hands, and I don't think it's excema - it really is just from having delicate skin and washing hands too much, since it only happens when I either wash my hands a LOT during the day or during the winter when it's really dry. I usually just sort of let it go during the day, using a little lotion if I remember and it's handy, but at night (I take a night shower, so my skin gets really well hydrated before bed. You might want to see if it helps you too - if not, just soak your hands in warm water for a few minutes) I slather a good teaspoon or so of ointment into my damp hands to seal the water in - it feels really oily, but keep rubbing until it absorbs in. Farmer's Friend hand salve from Restoration Hardware is my favorite, with Aquaphor (any drugstore, I think) running a close second. Vaseline also works just fine. Sometimes when it's really bad, I'll put some on, then about 10 minutes later when it starts to feel dry again, I'll wet my hands and put more ointment on. I do this at night so that my hands have a chance to heal and rejuvenate with more time between washings. This is what works for me, so no promises, but good luck! amy

I got eczema on my hand after I gave birth (18 months ago). A couple months ago, I discovered a product made by Dr. Nicholas Perricone called Phosphatidyl-E. The eczema went away within days and so far has not returned. My father, who has had painful cracked heels for years, also found that it worked on his heels when nothing else has been helpful. Perricone's website is . You can also find his products at They're not cheap but for me, the relief was definitely worth the price. Anon

I also had cracked bleeding hands while doing frequent diaper changes and lots of handwashing. My mom sent me a product called ''acid mantle'' which ''restores and maintains protective acidity of the skin.'' It instantly absorbs into the skin, no greasiness whatsoever. I don't know where she got it, she said it is expensive, but it lasts a loooong time. the package has a website I also would put aquaphor on my hands at nighttime when I would have a longer stretch without handwashing and found that to be very helpful. eve

I've had trouble with cracking skin, especially when I had two kids in diapers and washed my hands all the time. My advice in the daytime, Body Cream from Bath & Body Works; at night, Bag Balm. This is a lanolin product and some people are allergic and it STINKS! I made the mistake of bringing some to work to use the first time I opened it - never again! But if you slather it on at night it helps (not with your love life, maybe, but at least you'll have smooth hands.) I got mine at a tack store, but I'm sure other places carry it. Good luck! Susie

My mom suggested 12% Amlactin lotion for cracking skin, especially feet and elbows. You can find it at Costco and it does not require a prescription. I've used it and it has made a huge difference. Doesn't smell good, but it isn't that unpleasant either. Diana

I garden a lot and my hands get very dry and sore. I've used Gardener's Hand Repair by Earth Therapeutics for a long time and like it. Just recently I found sample size tubes of a product called Working Hands Creme at Walgreen's next to REI on San Pable Ave, and like it even better. I also use Weleda's Calendula Baby Creme as a hand Creme- very good and it smells great. But the best I've ever found is Beauty Without Cruelty's Maximum Moisture Cream. It's actually a face cream and quite pricey but I indulge in it when my hands get really bad. The best way to get your hands to absorb the cream is to put it on thickly at night and wear thin cotton gloves. I think Vermont Country Store sells them (I haven't found their hand creams very effective) and I have seen them around. Cecelia

Feb 2010: Some reviews on this page were removed per this policy: