One of my favorite sayings is especially on the top of my mind as I think about my New Year’s goals: What could you do today to improve your life tomorrow? It’s echoed in the new book by a fellow Denison graduate, James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits that I just read and LOVED. This is the 1% better idea—just make little changes today; they add up!
Becoming a Habit Stacker
I have made a number of resolutions, including laying out my clothes the night before to streamline my morning crazies, and bigger ideas, like holding the putter in my hand 10 minutes a day before I eat dinner. That is the habit stacking part from James Clear—I am going to drink some chardonnay and putt in my family room. And some bigger ideas, like a couple of marathons and a triathalon … Here’s to 2023!
Continuing My Fair Skin Care Regimen
But back to plastic surgery and aesthetics. Quite frequently patients ask me about my skin. How is it that I have avoided the wrinkles that most of my peers are experiencing? The short answer is to pick your parents right—and by that, I mean genetics does play a large part in this equation. My parents are Irish, English, and Swiss descendants and have fair skin. So the nature part of the equation was actually working against me. The fair skin people know that they burn more easily and therefore have more fine lines and sun damage.
Stay Out of the Sun When You Can
For me, it was the nurture part of the equation—I learned that UV rays damaged the skin and caused wrinkles early on in my med school years. And since I was inside studying or, later, at the hospital working 80 hours a week, I didn’t have the opportunity to get much sun through my 20s.
Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat
When I finally had some free time after residency, I was already in my 30s, but I started wearing a hat whenever I was outside. And not just a baseball cap—a wide-brim hat! This habit probably had the biggest effect on my skin. I protected my face religiously, and have made the Helen Kaminski hat my trademark. I buy a new one every year, and keep the old ones in my car and scattered everywhere so that I am never tempted to go without!
Wear Full-Coverage Clothing
Later in my 40s, I noticed how the skin on my arms and legs was not tanning evenly but was “spotty.” And when the tan faded, the spots were still there. This was worse, or more pronounced on the skin that got the most sun. And when I checked the skin on my bum, well, it was spot-free since it never had seen the sun! This was an “aha moment.” From then on, I started a freakish avoidance of the sun. This required long sleeves during running and golf and full leggings—no more golf skirts without leggings.
Watch Your Vitamin D
But do not forget we all need little vitamin D for our bones. I found out the hard way, breaking my wrist last year when I tripped on the concrete patio while feeding the birds. It is a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement even if you get some sun!
Use Quality Skincare Products
Now on to the rest of the equation for good skin. START AS SOON AS YOU CAN to use good products. When I started my first private practice in Columbus, Ohio, in 1996, I started using top-quality skincare products, including Obagi®, mybody®, Skinceuticals®, and SkinMedica®. Over the last 25 years, I have habitually used excellent products, because I had the “insider information” about them. But today, everyone knows these facts.
The Beauty of Retin-A
The most important step in my skincare regime is using Retin-A. I believe Retin-A is the MAGIC! Retin-A or tretinoin increases the skin’s elasticity—which is the holy grail for skin. Since I have the dry, fair skin of my ancestors, I can only use the Retin-A once or twice a week, or I get itchy and flaky, but over the long long long run of 25 years, it has been working.
My advice is to start as soon as you can and never stop. If it wasn’t so expensive, we would rub the Retin-A all over our whole bodies … but since it is around $100 a tube, I suggest the face, neck and back of your hands. I even rub it on my face using the BACK of my hands to not waste a single drop. Currently, I am doing the Obagi Blender (step 5) with the Retin-A because I am a believer—whatever is in this cream helps the Retin-A do its thing.
BOTOX® Is the Best Treatment for ‘Prejuvenation’
When it comes to wrinkle prevention, I would be amiss if I did not mention the importance of BOTOX. If you could only choose one treatment to get to rejuvenate your looks, it is BOTOX. This is because BOTOX can actually prevent wrinkles from forming. And if your “11s” are just starting but visible when you are not frowning, starting right away helps your skin remodel over time, and the superficial dermal wrinkles will go away. You do have to stick with this and get the treatment every 3 months or so, but it works. And listen, if BOTOX was dangerous, I would be dead—I am here to tell you that you just gotta do what you can—and this is one way to have fewer wrinkles.
Assess Your Starting Point & Make a Plan
The summary is this: Take an assessment of where you are starting, including your genetics and your previous sun-worshipping habits, and plan your path forward. It does not matter what age you are. You can start today and improve your tomorrow.
If you need help making a skincare anti-aging plan, we’re happy to help. Use our online form to request a consultation or call us at (614) 569-2649 to schedule an appointment. We offer a variety of treatments to address the signs of aging, from dermal fillers and laser skin treatments to facelift surgery. If you’re wondering whether it’s already too late for nonsurgical intervention, check out our related blog post that explains how to know it’s time for a facelift.