Over the years, I've become a bit jaded by “doctor beauty brands”. All too often, the doctor, however reputable in his or her practice, seemed all to willing to slap their names on a set of white-label products with questionable and/or mediocre ingredients. At Truth In Aging, my quest for interesting, innovative, independent (oooh, I do like a good alliteration) beauty brands, has uncovered some members of the white coat brigade that have been worth getting to know. So, the other day, when someone asked me what I thought about the Dr. Brandts and Murads of the beauty aisles, I had to shrug unhappily. Then I brightened up, remembering that there are a handful of beauty brands that are just what the doctor ordered.
Dr. Kraffert and Amarte
Believe it or not, Dr. Kraffert was the founder of the e-commerce giant, Dermstore.com. Selling it to Target enabled Dr. K. to go back to his dermatology roots and also pursue his passion for land preservation. Along the way, he was hooked up with Korean skin care company, Amarte, and worked on reformulating the products.
Proving that there’s more to Korean skin care than BB creams (although Amarte does do a good one, Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream ($57), Amarte’s real shtick is retinol and they specialize in a retinol "trifecta". A stabilized retinol is prepared in proprietary vehicles that promote penetration and tolerability. This means that my favorite Amarte product, the Eyeconic Eye Cream can deliver retinol at 3.8% without irritating my sensitive skin. See more from Dr. Kraffert and Amarte.
Kenneth Mark, MD.
Specializing in skin cancer and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Kenneth Mark is relatively low profile. Sure, he gets some media attention, but mostly he focuses on his practices in New York, the Hamptons and Aspen.
He caught my attention by having created one of the few serums with the antioxidant astaxanthin (there are a few more of them these days). Astaxanthin is one of those ingredients that we all deserve to know—it leaves other antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and green tea standing. Kenneth Mark MD Antioxidant Hydrating Cream ($120) is a potent creation that has astaxanthin, along with copper peptides, minerals, vitamin A, two forms of vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid and superoxide dismutase. Dr. M doesn’t just go for the complex formulas—his other serum, Hydrating Serum AM & PM ($90 in the shop) is super simple and laser focused on sodium hyaluronate.
Dr. Dennis Gross
New York dermatologist and dermatological surgeon, Dr. Dennis Gross, actually treated me for rosacea about 13 years ago when I had a particularly bad flareup. The Rx worked and since then, with careful skin care choices, it has only ever been mild to barely there. Dr. Gross is noted for his research-based, data-driven approach and this informs his skin care line with, in my view, some really well-chosen ingredients.
Although known for his Alpha Beta Daily Peel (the body towel version is pretty cool), I am personally impressed by his championing of vitamin D as a skin care ingredient. In fact, Active Vitamin D Serum Oil ($65) is one of the few items on the market to put this important vitamin as an active front and center. And then there’s Ferulic Acid and Retinol Brightening Solution ($88 in the shop), which combines a buffered retinol to smooth wrinkles and lines with ferulic acid, a supreme antioxidant.
Dr. Teri Dourmashkin and La Vie Celeste
With a Doctorate in Health Education from Columbia University, Teri Dourmaskin created La Vie Celeste because she wanted skin care that was as natural as possible while still embracing cutting-edge technology. The line also successfully combines luxury with affordability, as well as organic with highly effective. A relentless researcher, Dr. D. digs deep into ingredients and comes up with formulas that live up to her criteria and are always unique.
I still think her clay-based exfoliating cleanser with mother of pearl, La Vie Celeste Exfoliating Cleanser ($40) is a simple work of genius. While her most recent addition to the line, La Vie Celeste Eclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop), is a multitasking serum designed to reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles and large pores.
Dr. Friedman and MD Solar Sciences
Dermatologic oncologist Dr. Robert J. Friedman, a Clinical Professor at the NYU School of Medicine, founded and created MD Solar Sciences with a group of experts who vet all ingredients. The backbones of the line are sunscreens with formulas that include antioxidants, anti-aging actives, pigment modifiers and collagen repair peptides.
For example, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme SPF 50 ($30 in the shop) has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, while rounding out the formula with green tea, cranberry, pomegranate extracts and vitamin C. Yep, there’s silicone, but this is one of the few (if not only) heavy-duty sunscreen that I find cosmetically acceptable. See more MD Solar Sciences sunscreens.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Qahtani and AQ Skin Solutions
Dr. Al-Quantani has worked extensively in medical applications of epidermal growth factors (GF) for healing wounded tissue and creating artificial skin grafts. He continues to research medical breakthroughs for regenerating diseased organ tissue. This background is the backdrop for one of the most effective skin care lines that I know and it has been a Truth In Aging bestseller for several years now, with loyal, repeat buyers.
I myself frequently return to the AQ Eye Serum ($99 in the shop). The line’s signature growth factor formula in particular focuses on GF-Beta, GM-CSF and PDGF. These signal the cells to do a myriad of things, including repair wounds, stimulate collagen and glycosaminoglycan production and inhibit matrix degradation. This clever stuff has also been put to creative use in such diverse applications as lengthening lashes and repairing dry and torn vaginal tissue. See the AQ Skin Solutions line.