Skin Care Blog

Sunscreen vs. Covering Up

By: Catherine McGinty MSN, FNP-BC

After what seemed like another long winter, summer is finally here! Before you head outside to soak up some of that Vitamin D, we wanted to go over some facts about sunscreen and covering up, and explain the benefits and challenges of each.


To start, everyone should be wearing sunscreen at least on their face every day, no matter what. But how much protection are you getting from daily sunscreen use? That all depends on the sun protective factor (SPF) and if the sunscreen is “broad-spectrum,” which means that it protects against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens that are less than SPF 15 and are not broad-spectrum are able to prevent sunburn, but they are not protective against skin cancer or skin aging. So, it is important to look for sunscreens that are at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum. With that, no sunscreen is 100% effective. This is because it acts as a filter and cannot block all UV rays, even if used correctly. For example, sunscreens with a SPF of 100 only filter out about 99% of UVB rays.

Sunscreen is also not as effective if you are not applying enough, which is a common mistake. The recommendation is at least one ounce (about a shot glass worth) to all exposed areas of the body and reapply every 2 hours to maintain protection. If you are swimming or sweating excessively, you should reapply even sooner. That amount of sunscreen application can be tough when you are on the go!

Lastly, most sunscreen products are only good for 2-3 years, and those that have been exposed to extreme heat conditions (e.g. your car’s glovebox) can become less effective. So, make sure you are not using that BB cream from 4 years ago that you got on sale at Target, it likely is not providing the same protection it once did.

Covering Up

Most clothing can provide some level of UV protection, so if you are unable to wear sunscreen on exposed body parts, it is recommended to “cover up.” The most effective types of clothing are those that are dark colored and tightly woven, which are not usually the types of fabrics one likes to wear during summer months. Some companies have started to make sun-protective clothes that are light-weight and provide protection even when wet. These types of clothing can get expensive, but if you are planning to go hiking on a sunny day, for example, and do not feel like reapplying sunscreen every 1-2 hours, it could be a good investment. As a rule, you can get an idea of how much protection you are getting from your clothing if you can see light through the fabric. If light can get through, so can UV rays.

Other ways to cover up when outside is to wear a hat and sunglasses. Sunglasses protect not only your eyes, but also the skin around your eyes (warding off crows feet just a little bit longer). Baseball caps can protect the top and front of your head, but leave your neck and ears exposed, so consider also wearing a bandana around your neck (Madewell has some cute ones in their stores right now!). Straw hats are also not usually as protective because they are not tightly woven, so it is better to wear a hat with tightly woven fabric that has at least a 2-3 inch brim, or a “shade cap” with fabric on the sides and down the back for better protection.

In summary, neither option provides 100% protection against skin cancer, so you should do your best to use a combination of both. You should wear sunscreen on your face every day, weather it is underneath your make up or if you have found a moisturizer that contains at least an SPF of 30 in it. Add on a cute wide brimmed hat and some sun protective clothing and you are ready to head outside and protect yourself from skin aging and cancer!

Tis The Season For Skin Cancer

This time of the year is a good time to remind ourselves about skin cancer. There are three main types of skin cancer: squamous cell skin cancer, basal cell cancer and melanoma. I will review the most important information about each of these types to help increase your awareness.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is very common. It is the second most common type of all cancers. Occasionally it can be aggressive and cause metastasis. The common areas that may contribute to reoccurrence include cancers that develop around the lips and ears. Immunosuppression, tumor diameter and nerve involvement may also contribute to reoccurrence.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is another common skin cancer, but the lesions are rarely metastatic. On the other hand, they do tend to invade/destroy the surrounding tissue. It is much less common in African Americans, and men are 30% more likely to develop BCC than women. The likelihood of occurrence increases as you get closer to the equator. The likelihood also increases with age, specifically between the ages of 55 to 75. Genetic and environmental risk factors are very important contributors in developing this type of cancer. Frequency and intensity of sun exposure are also big factors. Tanning beds can increase the likelihood of developing BCC. While exposure to psoralen plus ultraviolet light (PUVA) does increase its’ incidence, it is not as high of a risk as SCC. Medications that cause increased sun sensitivity also contribute to developing BCC. Chronic immunosuppression is too a contributor.

Melanoma is the most serious of skin cancers. Patients with stage I disease are likely to be cured. The other stages of Melanoma may develop metastatic disease.

Risk factors include:

1.    When the lesion, or a change in the lesion was noticed

2.    Personal/Family history of melanoma

3.    Severe sunburns in childhood

4.    Personal history of cancer-prone syndrome

5.    Immunosuppression

6.    Prolonged psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy

Patients tend to have red or blond hair; light eye color; a fair complexion; and increased number of melanocytic nevi.

Important predictors of skin lesions likely to be melanoma are known as the ABCDE criteria (asymmetry, border, color, diameter >6, evolution). In addition, the ABCDE criteria was enhanced to include change (preexisting lesions, modification over time or new lesion, especially in individuals over 40).

It is very important to observe changes of the skin on your feet, hands and nailbeds. Unfortunately these are common areas that patients tend to skip when applying sun screen.

Obviously prevention is key for all of these different cancers. It is best to apply sun screen 20 minutes before being exposed to the sun. Tanning is not recommended. Since it is difficult to recognize skin cancer, make sure that you see a dermatologist for whole body skin checks. This significantly decreases the likelihood of developing any of these cancers.   While we as primary care physicians are trained to detect skin cancers, because of the complexity of some skin cancers and the lack of availability to technology that dermatologists use to help detect these cancers, these exams are best done with a dermatologist who can biopsy any lesions.

Laser Hair Removal

By: Shireen Mustafa, Aesthetician

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the DermaCenter.  It's fast, convenient and affordable.  Laser hair removal targets the hair follicles melanin with bursts of intense light energy. This damages the hair follicle, reducing unwanted hair. There are a handful of different effects included with this treatment; therefore it is important to consult with a certified laser technician to provide you a safe and effective treatment.

There is a common misconception that people believe that laser hair removal is permanent. It provides hair reduction, but not permanent hair removal.

Clients should expect to have treated hairs fall out in one to three weeks. Clients can expect to lose 10% of hairs in each treatment session. The melanin of your skin varies and determines how many treatments you should sign up for. Most clients require 6 to 10 treatments spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart to see a 70% to 80% reduction.  Typically, annual maintenance treatments are needed for a few years. Every client is different; some may notice regrowth in a few months, while others may never need to shave again.

The question I am commonly asked is if facial hair removal and body hair removal are the same. Facial hair is very different than hair on the body.  The body will yield faster results.  Keep in mind lasers cannot completely prevent more hair growth because our bodies are constantly changing as we age, some people will lose body hair and some may grow more in new places. Lasers can destroy your hair follicles but cannot prevent new ones from developing.

Results vary by hair color, eye color and skin type.  Red, white and grey hair cannot be removed with laser treatment as they lack pigment that the laser needs to be attracted to. Laser hair removal works best on fair skin and dark hair because the laser can target the melanin of the hair follicle. A simple way to find out if you’re a good candidate for the treatment is to pluck your hairs to determine if your hair follicles are dark. If you find this in more than 3 to 5 follicles in the area you’re interested in, then you are safe to book your appointment. However if you are not sure, you are always more than welcome to come in for a free consultation.

To get the most effective laser hair removal results is to:

1) Stay out of the sun 4 weeks prior to treatment.

2) Shave as much as you can to give the hairs a chance to grow through thicker and more pigmented.

3) Shave the area 24 hours before treatment so the laser/light will focus on the follicle underneath the skin and not the hair shaft

3) Stick with intervals 4 weeks to 8 weeks apart in booking your next appointment.

4) Lather up on sunscreen for protection and to prevent discoloration or irritation.

5) Exfoliate the area to prevent ingrown hairs.

Winter Skincare

By: Maria Daly, Practice Manager

Skincare doesn’t end at the end of the summer! Your skin is a huge organ which protects you from the outside elements. Whether this is heat, cold, wind, water, a butter knife or a single bacterial cell - your skin has the capacity to protect you from all of these items and more.

In exchange, as with any item you value - your skin does need to be treated a certain way to ‘hone’ its protective properties and this treatment is a year-round process.

Depending on your climate, winter cold can be drying on the skin, so using a moisturizer on exposed areas such as your face, ears and hands can keep your skin from over drying and cracking in the cold - a process that exposes it to further damage.

Some people get cold rashes all over their body - this skin also needs to be moisturized to prevent the same consequences - overly dry skin can crack and bleed leading to further damage and possible infections.

Another skincare procedure many people opt out of in the winter is using sunscreen! The UV rays that can cause not only skin cancer but also simple ‘skin aging’ changes such as wrinkles affect our open skin whenever the sun is up, so using sunscreen is a vital part of keeping your skin healthy and protected.

At the DermaCenter we offer many types of Sunscreen, including Environ, Avene and La Roche Posay.  Our aestheticians can consult you to see which type of sunscreen is best for you. Please call the office to set up a free consultation to see what products are best for your skin!

The Link Between Your Heart and Your Skin

By: Jayme Hudson, Aesthetic Director

Did you know February is heart health awareness month? Many people are not aware that having a healthy heart and normal blood pressure can aide in the fight against premature aging and other adult skin issues. Elevated blood pressure can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and under eye bags. These problems may occur for a few different reasons. High blood pressure causes lack of oxygen to vital organs, such as the skin, and sleep disorders (lack of sleep). When the skin cells are lacking oxygen, the skin becomes dry leading to pronounced wrinkles and lines while lack of sleep does not allow the skin to naturally heal and repair itself.

Overall, maintaining a healthy heart and normal blood pressure is not only important for your overall health but also plays a big role in your appearance. Having a well balanced healthy diet, exercising daily, and reducing your sodium and alcohol intake are things you can do to improve your blood pressure which will leave you looking and feeling your best!

Healthy Skin Awareness Month

By: Melissa Kohler, Aesthetician

If you didn't know, - November is Healthy Skin Awareness month. Maintaining healthy skin starts from the inside out. A well balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and hydration are critical. Diet combined with proper skin care,which includes in office treatments and at home regimes, will keep you looking your best.

A well balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables provides your body with the vitamins and minerals necessary to combat free radicals which can lead to premature aging. Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that prevent damage to the molecules that support your skin cells. It is important to ingest these vitamins as well as apply them topically to provide the ultimate protection against these damaging free radicals.

Along with fruits and vegetables, it is very important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated will not only leave the skin glowing but also rids the skin and body of harmful toxins. Staying hydrated with water can also minimize fine lines on the face by keeping the skin looking plump and firm. It is recommended  to drink 8 full glasses of water as a daily minimum.

Lastly, a consistent skin care regime that includes in house medical spa treatments and at home products, are the finishing touches in keeping your skin looking its best. A basic regimen consisting ofat least a cleanser, moisturizer and spf is recommended. There are many other products you can incorporate into your regimen to keep the skin healthy and address specific problems such as rosacea, hyperpigmentation, acne, fine lines and wrinkles. Two treatments that we offer here at the Dermacenter that will keep the skin healthy and glowing are chemical peels and microdermabrasions. It is important to exfoliate the skin with these treatments because it rids the skin of old dead skin cells so new healthy ones are able to generate. When the skin is not exfoliated old skin cells pile up on the surface leaving the skin looking dull and dry which can also lead to acne or more visible fine lines and wrinkles. At the Dermacenter Medical Spa, we carry cosmetics by Environ which has a product line geared to every skin type. Check out the link below to find out more information on Environ or come in for a consult to meet your Dermacenter aesthetician and discuss which products are best for you to get your skin back to being healthy!

Taking Care of Teenage Skin

By: Jayme Hudson, DermaCenter Aesthetician

We all love the Fall!  Warm days, cool nights, great sweaters, and cute boots! With the summer behind us and the school year underway, we need to focus on getting back into routines. Whether we’re getting up earlier for the school week, planning our weekends to get the maximum relaxation, or just getting back into the swing of things! As adults, we know the importance of a routine and the importance of instilling routines into our children’s day.

An important routine that we can teach them when they are young is a good skin care routine. Teenage skin can be very unpredictable and those years are really important because this is when acne scarring as well as most premature photo damage can occur. By teaching our kids good, consistent skin care routines from an early age, we can help them avoid and manage those untimely breakouts. Teenagers tend to have oilier skin which can lead to acne, and acne scarring, if not properly treated. (For our older patients we offer treatments for acne scarring such as, eMatrix or Micro Needling)

To start, you just need the basics; cleanser, toner, moisturizer and sunscreen. With all the activities, sports, and socialization that occurs throughout the school day, it’s important to clean skin thoroughly at night to remove dirt and oil from  pores.  For oily skin, you could get a toner such as our Environ’s Sebutone. For normal skin, a nice rose water is good to bring the skin back to its optimal pH level. Encouraging teenagers to moisturize and use sunscreen is incredibly beneficial for young skin!  Applying sunscreen is the number one thing they can do to prevent premature skin aging. 

At DermaCenter, we can help by performing treatments such as light acid peels which help to gently exfoliate the skin and helps to control oil production as well as aide in reducing breakouts. We recommend using medical-grade products such as our acne-line from Environ that contains Salicylic Acid and tea tree oil which will exfoliate the skin, kill bacteria and help with inflammation and irritation.  

Aging Gracefully

By: Dermacenter Aestheticians

When it comes to skin care, a major goal is aging gracefully. There are many ways to go about taking care of your skin over a lifetime, and we will highlight some things you can do daily at home, and regularly in our medical spa.

Regarding aging, the main concerns are wrinkles, hyperpigmentation from sun exposure, loss of laxity and diminishing collagen. A well balanced diet, including plenty of water, a consistent at-home skin care regime, along with non-invasive medical spa treatments, is the best way to ensure healthy glowing skin from the inside out.

Some key ingredients to look for when concerned with anti aging are Vitamin A (Retinols), Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, AHA/BHA’s, and sunscreen (SPF). These ingredients all help with the anti-aging process by means of exfoliating, hydrating and protecting the skin. Medical grade products that you can only receive through doctors offices and medical spas contain higher percentages of active ingredients, have less fillers and more effective delivery systems. Using professional grade products in combination with aesthetic procedures, such as laser and peels, will not only enhance your results but will also extend the life of your treatment.

At the Dermacenter, we have treatments geared to improve all aspects of aging for all skin types. Non-invasive aesthetic treatments can minimize wrinkles, vanish hyperpigmentation, and tighten the skin with minimal downtime and without the risk of going under the knife. Non-invasive treatments are becoming more and more popular because the appearance of the face can be significantly improved without feeling fake.

We can set you up with a consultation to review your current skincare routine and also the results you are looking to achieve to customize the perfect mix of aesthetics treatments and medical grade products to achieve the lasting results you are looking for. Please contact our office to set up your complimentary consultation for the fall!

Summer Skin & UV Protection

By: Dermacenter Aestheticians

It’s that time of year again! Summer is upon us, so as you're soaking up the sun rays and enjoying vacation time, it is a must to take special care of your skin. The summer sun can do a number on the skin including damage such as sunburns, hyper pigmentation, and the dreaded PREMATURE AGING!!!  Make sure you protect yourself and preserve your skin for another year! We all love that sun kissed glow so consider a spray tan (From one of our partners) instead of laying out in the sun baking the surface of your skin. Now we all know we are not going to stay inside this summer season so make sure to you wear sunscreen DAILY! Using a higher SPF in addition to your normal skincare routine will help protect those nasty UVA (Aging) and UVB (burning) rays. Sunscreen is your number one first line of defense in the anti-aging war and is vital in protecting the skin. At the DermaCenter we carry a few different options for your sunscreen needs, for all skin types from oily, acne or just aging.

In addition to using a higher SPF you may also switch out the heavier moisturizers for something lighter and water based to help combat oily skin on hot and humid days. Environ's AVST moisturizer is a great summer moisturizer being that it is light, water based and has Vitamin A which is crucial protecting the skin. Also adding in a "treatment" product in the evening is huge in the summer months since the sun is damaging the outer layers throughout the day. Using something with a higher level of Vitamins and Peptides is beyond beneficial in helping to restore the skins surface.  Environ's C-Quence is a boost of Vitamin A, C and additional peptides to help the skin look younger and more refreshed.

Through the month of June 2016, at the DermaCenter, we are offering Skin Tightening and Ematrix treatments at a discounted price. Skin Tightening is a treatment that uses Radiofrequency to stimulate collagen below the surface and give you an instant tightening effect. This treatment is known as the lunchtime facelift, have a big event coming up set up an appointment feel instantly tighter and more firm. EMatrix is a treatment that also uses Radio Frequency but actually stimulated Collagen but putting "micro-traumas" into the Dermal tissue, creating cell turnover and regeneration. This treatment is wonderful for fine lines, wrinkles and acne scarring. A combination of these two treatments results in a more youthful looking appearance that will last,

Please contact the DermaCenter at (215)735-7990 to set up a free consultation to see which treatments would be right for your skin.  

Battling Dry Winter Skin

By: Dermacenter Aestheticians

The holiday season has passed, but the cold weather remains, these extreme temperatures can be wreaking havoc on your skin. With more cold months ahead, it is important to adjust your daily skin care routine and switch to a winter regime which includes staying hydrated, exfoliating, bumping up the moisturizer, and continued use of SPF.

Combating dry, dehydrated skin in the winter starts from the inside.  Dehydration can make the skin appear dry therefore wrinkles will be more prominent.  
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Also, incorporating professional treatments such as Chemical Peels, Micro Planning, Microdermabrasion and Micro-needling allows for greater penetration of at-home products. These treatments work by exfoliating dead skin cells and creating micro channels in the surface, which in turn helps to create a healthier more vibrant complexion.

It is also important to switch out your moisturizer. It is common to use a light, non-oil based moisturizer in the Summer however, when the temperatures drop, it is a bit harder to keep moisture locked in the skin. Therefore, using a creamier, heavier textured moisturizer will be beneficial in keeping your skin smooth and hydrated. 

For ultimate results, combining professional treatments with your at-home regime will help protect your skin from these harsh winter months. For the month of February we will be featuring the Avene product line at a discounted rate. These products are proven to be excellent for soothing, calming and hydrating the most sensitive skin. 

Last but not least, the continued use of an SPF is always recommended. We are continuously being exposed to sun rays which can potentially cause sun damage and premature aging. UV rays reflected by snow increase these risks.

The skilled Medical Aestheticians at the Dermacenter Medical Spa can help customize a treatment plan and at home regime to battle the effects of winter skin. Please call us with any questions or to set up your complimentary consultation.

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