Tag Archives: photoaging


Follow these tips from the ZO® team of skin care experts for how to avoid the most common skin saboteurs.

Choosing the wrong products

If you’re looking for visible skin improvements, sticking with a routine customized for you by a skin care professional is where you should start. ZO® Skin Health develops clinically advanced products that work synergistically. Your ZO® doctor will recommend when to use each product, what order your products should be applied, and how much of each to use. They can make the process simple so you will see results.

Skipping vital steps

If you’re getting started on a skin care routine with active ingredients like retinol and glycolic acids, start slowly with only a few products at a time. This will allow your skin to adjust to new products. Once your skin begins to normalize and can tolerate more intensity in the active ingredients, your ZO® doctor may upgrade your regimen. Skipping steps, like not cleansing properly at bedtime or forgetting to use your sunscreen, or not being consistent is going to slow down your progress. Follow the plan designed for you and return to see your ZO® doctor periodically to check on how you are doing.

Not using sun protection properly

Sun protection is needed 365 days of the year, even in winter and when the sun isn’t shining. Most of us don’t use nearly enough sunscreen to get adequate coverage. Don’t get lazy about sun protection or you will reverse some of the benefits you have achieved by using ZO® Skin Health and ZO® Medical products. Sun exposure causes DNA damage that shows up as premature aging. Over time this damage leads to more lines and wrinkles and mottled pigmentation that will make you look older.

Missing out on the benefits of retinol

Beverly Hills dermatologist Zein Obagi is a huge proponent of adding retinol to your skin care routine. He believes that retinol is the cornerstone of every effective skin care program. Ask your ZO® doctor to recommend the retinol that is best for your skin type and concerns. You may start with ZO® Ossential Advanced Night Repair and move up to using ZO® Medical Retamax Active Vitamin A Micro Emulsion as your skin gets acclimated to it.

Giving up before you see results

If you get lazy or give up after a few weeks of consistent use of your ZO® plan, you will miss out on the real benefits. Stick with your regimen for 6-8 weeks and you will see your skin improve. Good skin care formulations are an investment in your skin’s future, and it takes time to reap the rewards. But it will be worth it when you experience the difference ZO® can make for your skin.

Skin Cancer Detection

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer, as it can spread quickly throughout the body if not treated at an early stage.

The good news is that early detection is the best defense against deadly skin cancers. Regular check ups and screenings every 6-12 months with your Dermatologist can literally be life-saving. Consult with your dermatologist immediately if you see any abnormal changes to your skin, such as new moles or irregular dark spots. And don’t forget to check the areas that get the most sun exposure, such as scalp, back of the neck, hands, feet, and the bridge of the nose. These parts of your body are most prone to sun damage and also skin cancer. The sooner you get diagnosed and treated, the better your chances of survival.

Another critical step to prevent actinic keratoses, and all types of skin cancers from forming, is daily broad spectrum protection with a high SPF. And by daily, we mean 365 days/year.

ZO Medical Oclipse-C Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 is a lightweight natural mineral sunscreen that offers a powerful UVA/UVB protection. This formulation shields your delicate skin from high energy blue-violet light that has been shown to induce premature aging. Oclipse-C goes on smoothly and blends nicely, and is so light that is indicated for sensitive skin types. Many ZO physicians also recommend this new formulation for post-procedure sun protection after lasers, peels and injections.

Dr. Zein Obagi’s vision for prevention when it comes to skin health is simple: Minimize UV damage, prevent DNA damage and protect skin from environmental aggressors to improve overall skin health.

The Skin Health Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection from free radical damage that causes premature aging. The most dangerous environmental factors for skin are sun, pollution and oxygen that compromise your skin’s health every day.

The benefits of vitamin C include the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, heart disease, eye disease, stress reduction, wards off colds, improves bones and teeth, and much more. While we cannot always get the required amount just from a healthy diet, doctors often recommend Vitamin C supplements year round.

In addition to Vitamin C working wonders for your body, other benefits of vitamin C include its ability to induce younger, firmer skin, fading sun damage, reducing discoloration, and preventing new damage from showing up.

Enter ZO® Medical C-Bright 10% Vitamin C Serum, a potent formula that provides a high dose of pure vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) that is stabilized to brighten and retexturize the skin. This water-free formula instantly self-activates upon contact with skin’s natural water content to reveal more radiant, even-toned skin. ZO® Medical C-Bright uses the power of pure vitamin C to rapidly exfoliate the skin’s surface. Advanced vitamin C ester goes one step further below the skin surface to prevent new melanin pigment from forming. The addition of coenzyme Q10, another powerful antioxidant, helps to defend against environmental triggers that cause inflammation. Natural occurring lipid hydrates and supports skin barrier restoration. It also minimizes the appearance of wrinkles.

“C-Bright 10% Vitamin C Serum delivers exfoliating and brightening benefits while inhibiting the formation of new pigmentation. The result is a brighter skin tone and reduction in lines and wrinkles,” said Dr. Zein Obagi.

The Brightening Brigade

Although prescription hydroquinone is still considered the gold standard in skin lightening by many physicians and skincare professionals, Beverly Hills Dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi warns that it comes at a price.

It fades many spots when used consistently and blocks the enzyme needed for creating new ones. Paired with a prescription retinoid or potent retinol, it can begin to lighten dark spots in four to six weeks, sometimes sooner. However, prolonged use of hydroquinone comes with some risks.

But today, there are some potent alternatives to hydroquinone that do not come with the side effects and potential irritation. “Skin becomes immune to the effects of hydroquinone after prolonged use,” says Dr. Obagi. “Alternative treatment options can reduce discoloration with powerful agents that are gentle on skin.”

Dr. Obagi believes that non-hydroquinone alternatives can be ideal for the treatment of skin conditions either when hydroquinone treatment is completed or contraindicated, or as a healthy maintenance system long term. He often recommends use after completing a course of hydroquinone for 4-5 months, or when skin lightening is not needed or desired. These novel treatments are also effective when an even skin tone is the main objective, and when texture and anti-aging benefits are part of restoring even color tone.

In the ZO family of products and treatments, the ZO® Non-Hydroquinone Hyperpigmentation System For Restoring Even Skin Tone includes 5 key products. These potent products will not cause the level of irritation and side effects commonly associated with hydroquinone, but are effective at improving skin tone and texture and reduces the signs of pigmentation.

    Skin Brightener & Correcting Crème, Non-Hydroquinone
    Soothing Recovery Crème
    Active Vitamin A Micro Emulsion
  • Ossential® Daily Power Defense
  • Oclipse-C Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50

Of course, Dr. Obagi strongly recommends daily liberal use of a broad spectrum SPF50 to guard against further UV damage that causes discoloration.

SOS for Aging Hands

Do your hands give away your age? Exercise and diet keeps your body in shape, and proper skincare (along with peels and microdermabrasion) maintains facial tone and radiance, but when it comes to our hands, we often forget to give them the care and protection they deserve. But we should; along with crow’s feet, laugh lines, and sagging skin, spotted, wrinkled, and sinewy hands can age us. In fact, a study conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) shows that most people can tell your age just by seeing your hands.

Aging hands show the signs of sun exposure and collagen breakdown just like aging skin on the face, hands, and chest. Because the skin on the hands tends to be very thin, sun damage takes its toll resulting in brown spots, slackening, and wrinkles. Plus with age, veins become more obvious—a further sign of aging.

But no need to fear, many options exist for turning back the hands of time; you just need to prioritize your main concern: bulging veins, brown spots, volume loss, thin skin, or slackening.

Discoloration, tone, and texture: Talk to your skincare professional about starting a series of chemical peels and/or intense pulsed light treatments (IPL). IPL addresses photoaging and sun damage and will lighten brown spots more and more with each additional treatment. If your spots are more highly pigmented, lasers can lighten them quickly and effectively. Generally for sun damage, non-ablative fractional laser devices like Fraxel® can dramatically reduce hyperpigmentation after one or more treatments. Healing takes about a week, but the redness and flaking you will experience won’t prohibit you from engaging in your daily activities. Skin tightening devices such as Pelleve® and Ultherapy® can also work wonders on hands to improve texture.

Thin skin, volume loss: Just as with lost volume in the face, injections and fillers such as Restylane®, Radiesse®, and Sculptra® Aesthetic can work to improve the appearance of knotty veins and loose skin. Injections of fat from your stomach or hips can also bring a youthful plumpness back to your hands. Even Botox® and Dysport® can be used off-label to soften the appearance of enlarged veins.

Maintenance: Given the small surface area of the hands, chemical peels, IPL treatments, and lasers are fast and easy treatments, but as the aging process progresses you will need repeat sessions. Be sure to wear SPF every day of the year to maintain your skin improvement or, even better, delay the need for professional treatments. An anti-aging hand regimen should include broad spectrum SPF30, overnight renewal cream, and regular exfoliation.

The ZO® Skin Health quartet of Oraser® Topical treatments for hands works beautifully at home to maintain the youthful appearance of your hands.

Environmental Skin Aging vs. Intrinsic Skin Aging

Dermatologists like to tell people what they can do to treat lines and wrinkles caused by UV damage, wind, smoke, etc. It’s easy. There are lots of good ingredients for treating environmental aging.

But intrinsic aging—meaning, you and your skin are just getting older—is different. Until recently, if you asked dermatologists what ingredient worked best, they wouldn’t be able to give you a straight answer because they didn’t know what ingredients worked for natural skin aging!

But now, that’s changed. We have something to say to people who are getting older—and look that way.

Intrinsic skin aging (aka natural or chronological aging) looks a little different from environmental skin aging. With intrinsic aging, the wrinkles are finer, and the skin gets thinner and more lax. Environmental factors, on the other hand, cause deeper wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

John Voorhees, MD and his team at the University of Michigan, did a test on the underside of the upper arms of older women—and found that high concentrations of retinol significantly reduced wrinkles and other signs of aging. The study was controlled (meaning that one arm was tested and the other was not) and double-blind (meaning that neither the researcher nor the subject knew what products were being tested). The underside of the arms have never been exposed to the sun, so it’s easy to isolate skin aged due to natural causes.

The conclusion: high concentrations of retinol successfully treat intrinsic aging due to retinol’s ability to stimulate collagen and retain water. As Dr. Voorhees said, “This is the first systematic, double-blind study showing that [retinol] improves any kind of aging—photoaging as well as natural aging. You can rub it anywhere, and it will help to treat the signs of aging.” The study was widely reported, but first published in the Archives of Dermatology.

That’s why we are so committed to ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair Plus. Whether you’re concerned about environmental or natural skin aging—whether you’re concerned about your face or your arms—retinol, if properly formulated, can make a true improvement.

Radical Night Repair – The Wrinkle Solver

When it comes to anti-aging, Dr. Obagi doesn’t mess around. Case in point, ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair Plus.

Typical drug store retinol products contain clinically insignificant amounts of retinol. Minuscule, in fact. Why? Because retinol is difficult to formulate with, and because when used in high concentrations, it’s extremely potent. So rather than produce a lotion or cream that really works, manufacturers put in just a little. The industry nickname for that is “fairy dust”—like a fairy sprinkled just a little powder from her magic wand. And if you believe in magic wands, you may believe the claims that those manufacturers make!

Here’s a tidbit that you may not know: it’s an unfortunate fact that the cosmeceutical industry is not regulated, and manufacturers are allowed to promote a product by claiming that a it contains retinol (or any other ingredient) even if it contains only a trace amount. That’s not fair to you, the consumer.

And at ZO, that’s just not our style. The concentration of retinol in Radical Night Repair Plus is 6x higher that the leading retinol product sold through drug stores, and 15x the amount of retinol sold through infomercials and home shopping channels.

The high concentration of retinol in Radical Night Repair Plus enables it to work hard to awaken your cells so that they start producing collagen and enable your skin to act and look younger. Radical Night Repair Plus could very well be the most effective over-the-counter anti-aging product.

Keep in mind, there is such a thing as getting too much of a good thing. It may take your skin days or weeks to tolerate the high concentrations of retinol present in Radical Night Repair Plus. Please begin by applying it only once or twice a week, and as pharmaceutical manufacturers say, follow label instructions carefully. Within weeks, you’ll be able to increase the frequency, and you should eventually apply it 7 nights per week.

Think You Don’t Need SPF On a Cloudy Day?

Absolutely wrong. When your mother told you that you need to wear sunscreen every day, she was right!

UV radiation from the sun comes directly through the clouds—not to mention through an office or car window—and 70% of all UV damage is from casual exposure or unintended sun on your skin. The odds of getting a sunburn are slight, as the UVB rays are short and will not have a direct affect on the skin. However, the UVA rays are very long and penetrate deep into the lower layers of the skin where new skin cells, collagen, and elastin are formed.

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference. For UVB rays, think “B” for Burning—these rays will burn or tan your skin. For UVA, think “A” for Aging—skin color won’t change, but the rays will cause premature aging. And that’s not all.

When the DNA in the skin cell is damaged by UVA radiation, you have the potential for many types of skin cancer and advanced photo-aging. Within each skin cell, on the DNA helix, there is a “damage receptor”. When the cell is struck by UVA radiation from the sun, the receptor tells the cell it is damaged, and the cell self-destructs and goes away. When the receptor itself is struck, there is no message back to the cell that something is wrong. The damaged cell now duplicates itself, and starts a chain reaction, producing many more damaged cells. This is when the signs of skin aging begin.

Be sure to use an SPF 30, which is considered maximum protection. Choosing a sunscreen that uses physical blocks (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are excellent ways to protect your skin from UV damage. ZO Skin Health by Zein Obagi, M.D. uses not only zinc and titanium, but also adds melanin—a natural, photo-protective agent with antioxidant properties.

Retinol for Sensitive Skin

Many people think that sensitive skin means that they have delicate or fine skin. In reality, sensitive skin is weak skin. No one is born with sensitive skin. Rather, skin becomes lazy from the use of too much moisturizer, and intolerant from the use of products with perfumes, dyes, and additives.

In order to successfully treat symptoms—redness, itching, and bumps—we have to improve overall skin quality and reduce the reactive nature of sensitive skin. The best treatment for sensitive skin is a program of skincare products with retinol, which strengthens and enables skin to renew itself. A skin-strengthening product such as ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair  is an important step toward resolving sensitive skin issues. Retinol increases cell turnover, which forces the damaged surface cells to slough off, allowing the new healthy cells to emerge. Because Radical Night Repair contains 1% retinol—a natural form of Vitamin A—it replaces what the skin has lost over time: the ability to stimulate the retinoid-receptor found on every cell.

The use of retinol, in some cases, can increase skin redness. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, that is why Radical Night Repair is especially great for sensitive skin. ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair uses an encapsulated, time released delivery system that gently delivers the retinol load over a 6 to 8 hour period while you sleep. We recommend initially using Radical Night Repair only one night a week. This will gradually increase skin tolerance and will prepare the skin so that the treatment can be used more often. Long-term regular use of retinol will provide the skin with the vital nutrients it needs to be healthier and less reactive to the environment.

Products with high concentrations of retinol will cause peeling, and make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays, so be sure to wear a full spectrum sun protection!

Night Skincare Rituals

Unlike your body, your skin doesn’t go to sleep at night. It could even be argued that nighttime products are more important than daytime, because that’s when the skin repairs itself. In fact, there are many reasons why skincare products should be applied before bed.

  1. Nighttime products are different from daytime products, because the skin’s needs are different. During the day, skin is bombarded with wind, makeup, pollution, and sweating—all of  which exhaust the cells. Why? Because the sole purpose of skin is to protect our bodies from outside insults and contaminants. So during the daytime, the skin is busy defending itself from these environmental factors. That’s why, during the day, we apply products that strengthen, hydrate, and protect with skin with antioxidants and UV protectors. At night, your skin is ready to prepare for another day. That’s the time when the cells renew themselves, and they need to be activated with key ingredients like retinol, surface repair agents such as ceramides, and anti-inflammatory agents such as botanicals. These all work together to create skin that is brighter, more even-toned, and hydrated.
  2. Many active ingredients in skincare products have a relatively short “lifespan” and are deactivated by sunlight. So the really important ingredients—the really good stuff—is rendered useless. By nighttime, there’s no residual value. Products need to be reapplied.
  3. During the daytime, skincare products are rubbed off, sweated off, washed off, and wiped off, or else completely absorbed. Moisturizers last only 3-4 hours. Medical treatments require application 2-3 times every 24 hours. At ZO, we’re proponents of saturating the skin with active and powerful ingredients so that it’s nourished throughout the day and night.
  4. Nighttime products are heavier, to restore essential moisture, reduce wrinkles, and repair the skin. They provide what we call barrier protection—to prevent transepidermal water loss (dehydration). In the morning, your skin is supple, revitalized, and smooth.
  5. The active ingredients used in nighttime products are better able to stimulate and up-regulate cell turnover so that fresher, brighter, healthier skin can emerge.
  6. Nighttime is a perfect opportunity for controlled release of active ingredients over a 4-6 hour period. It is also a good time to layer products which may not be possible during the daytime if makeup is to be applied overtop.
  7. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of cleansing as a part of a nighttime skincare program. Many people take the short-cut of not removing their make-up before retiring. Our faces are never covered, they’re always exposed to all kinds of environmental pollutants. Cleanse your skin faithfully and thoroughly to remove the dirt and surface oils. It’s important for everyone, but critical for women who wear cosmetics.

You may be tired, you may be stressed. But nighttime skincare is important, and it only takes a few minutes.