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How to Get “Perfect” Skin

Posted Nov 19 2009 10:02pm

Dr. Ellen Marmur, chief of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and author of “Simple Skin Beauty” and Cynde Watson, a celebrity makeup expert, shared tips on how to achieve — or fake — flawless skin.

What is perfect skin, exactly?

According to Marmur, perfect skin is young, clear, radiant skin at any age. Perfect skin, she said, is free of sun spots and blemishes. She added “perfect skin” could also be defined as perfectly lined with years of smiling.

“Perfect skin makes you feel beautiful,” Marmur said.

Marmur says perfect skin is achievable by anyone. Marmur said her mantra for gorgeous skin is, “Protect, enhance and troubleshoot.”

“You can do that for 100 bucks a year,” she said. “That’s less than 50 cents a day. My philosophy is you don’t have to be rich or high-maintenance to have beautiful skin.”

If you spend the most time on any one thing, Marmur said, you want to go heavy on the protection end.

“It might not be sexy, but it is true,” she said.

Protection, she said, means moisturizing and sun protection. Marmur recommended multi-tasking your products to simplify your life. Use moisturizers and make-ups with SPF, she said. Use lotions to remove make up, not soaps. Massage your skin with creamy exfoliator to smoothe, stimulate, and moisturize all at once, she said.

Marmur said the main thing that stops people from having “perfect skin” is overdoing skin care by ‘over-enhancing” and “over-troubleshooting.”

“Many women and men use too many products, like exfoliating way too much,” she said. “It’s best to keep it simple. I have patients who bring a big sack of potions to me, pour it out on the table, and cry ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’”

If you don’t understand the purpose of the potion, Marmur said, you should read the ingredients, and cross check with her book.

“(My book) will spell it out for you. If in doubt, don’t use that product until you know exactly how it fits in with your routine,” she said. “If anything stings or turns your skin red and flaky, it’s not for you.”

She said the exception is “the retinoid family.” Marmur’s recommendation is to ask your dermatologist for tips.

Marmur said lasers are also another way people are striving to achieve “perfect skin.”

Fractional laser resurfacing, she said, is one of the latest lasers used to help in anti-aging. She said the laser works with aging prevention and building collagen, as well as resurfacing, exfoliating, and firming skin.

The downside to lasers, Marmur said, are that they can be expensive and “are a bit painful.”

“In the old days, dermatologists would give deep chemical peels, like the Samantha peel in ‘Sex in the City,’ or carbon dioxide resurfacing, which totally ablates the skin leaving red, raw skin for weeks, sometimes months,” Marmur explained. “The side effect profile was significant, like infections or white discoloration of the skin, plus people are too busy now to hide for a few weeks to heal. The fractional laser resurfaces a fraction of the skin at a time. So what was once one or two treatments, but intense, is now four to six treatments but much more manageable.”

Marmur said the laser drills thousands of tiny microscopic pinholes into the skin in a pegboard pattern. These columns of sun damaged skin — the deep collagen and elastic that dissolve with sun damage and are the filler and tightness of the skin, plus the epidermis which is the color and complexion of the skin — get kicked out about three days after the laser treatment, making your skin feel sandy for a day or two. The normal surrounding skin, she said, heals the lasered microthermal zone, also known as a “column,” very quickly leaving new collagen, new elastin, and new epidermis.

“I’ve done this twice to my own skin and noticed a huge difference,” she said. “I am ready for my third.”

Marmur added that there are many other lasers available that are can fix many other specific issues, such as freckles or red spots. However, she added, fractional resurfacing is her favorite way to invest against future sagging and aging skin and to reverse sun damage.

Botox is a popular procedure, but a new treatment called Dysport, Marmur said, is also available. Both Botox and Dysport, she said, relax muscles using homeopathic doses of a toxin that temporarily blocks contraction.

Many people, she pointed out, confuse this with filler, which is only to fill wrinkles at rest or to add volume to the cheeks. Dysport, she said, relaxes dynamic wrinkles of expression.

People can have these relaxers placed in the frown lines between the eyes, the neck, the jaw to lift up the corners of the lip, and the eyebrows to give a lift of the upper eyelid.

“We’ve noticed something unexpected with Dysport,” Marmur said. “It seems to change the complexion of the skin too. My patients are ecstatic saying, ‘You’ve given me back my look.’”

Celebrity makeup expert Cynde Watson also appeared on  “The Early Show” with ways to fake that perfect skin.

“Believe me,” Watson said, “these celebs that are gracing magazines and red carpets do not all have perfect skin.”

But how can you get the appearance of flawless skin?

Watson shared these four steps:


The first thing Watson said she likes to do is apply a base of foundation before she begins correcting the skin.

“You need a base of something to adhere the corrective makeup to,” she said.

Watson pointed out the difference between a corrector and a concealer. She said a corrector is a concealer with a peachy/pink hue.

She said, “The peachy/pink color helps contrast the blue, green, purple or ruddy tones on the skin common in dark circles, hyperpigmentation/pregnancy mask, age spots/sun spots, acne scars and ruddy/red patches on the skin.”


Using a small concealer brush apply light strokes then tap a corrector directly on the discolored area of your face to balance out your skin tone and avoid making the blemish appear more obvious, Watson said.

Watson said, first apply corrector in discolored areas then layer your foundation or a concealer in the shade of your foundation over the top of the corrector until desired coverage is achieved.

Step 3

Apply a translucent finishing powder to set makeup. It’s important to use a translucent powder because it is invisible and won’t change the shade of your makeup. If you set your makeup with your regular face powder, Watson said, the areas that you used corrector will appear darker.

Step 4

To keep your makeup from melting or disappearing during the day, Watson recommended spritzing on a makeup finishing spray.

CBS Early Show, NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2009

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