Eastern and Western approaches to skin care. (Photo: Getty Images)
I’ve been blessed with many lovely qualities — I have long limbs, I can carry a tune, I’m a good listener — but effortless, glowing skin? Not my strong suit. For a while it didn’t seem to matter. In fact, I barely noticed. In college, everyone had zits, and besides, I was probably too tipsy to care. After college, I lived a slightly less unhealthy lifestyle, but it nonetheless involved drinking on the weekends and consuming greasy food the following mornings. “Whatever,” I thought, as I caked on concealer.
Fast-forward ten years, I’ve changed. I’ve become a healthy eater, a less-than-moderate drinker. I’m living the clean life, I tell ya. I have a family. A mortgage. And yet, I’m still tormented by my skin, globbing on the Retin-A like it’s 1998.
Let me be, ahem, clear. My skin isn’t terrible. For the most part it’s actually fine, with the exception of my chin region, an area that’s often connected to hormonal issues. My yogi friend told me I need Ayurvedic massage. Someone else mentioned acupuncture, while a dermatologist friend suggested I “hit the Accutane and get it done.” With every facial, a new set of recommendations. Use toner. Don’t use toner. Exfoliate. Use salicylic cleanser. Try Cetaphil. It’s enough to give someone stress acne! So in my quest for clear skin, I figured I’d enlist two of New York’s finest in both Eastern and Western philosophies to help clear this issue up, once and for all.
My first stop was the office of Dr. Frank Lipman, a doctor of integrated medicine whose Eastern-inspired regimens are favored by the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Donna Karan. I sat down with Katrine Van Wyck, one of his lovely health coaches and reviewed my diet, habits, stress levels, and general lifestyle. A lot of what she recommended was unsurprising. Eat more organic fruits and vegetables. Get more sleep. Drink more water. While I’m a healthy eater by nature, Van Wyck advised against a few of my go-tos, like wine, for example. Her suggestion? A dirty martini, as vodka won’t flush the skin, while wine contains tannins and triglyceride, which can also pose negative effects. She also advised eating more fermented foods, like sauerkraut and pickled vegetables that will eliminate toxins as well as a daily probiotic to encourage healthy bacteria in the gut. A vodka soda and a heap of sauerkraut? Done and done.
But it was at the New York office of Wexler Dermatology — where Dr. Patricia Wexler tends to million dollar faces like Iman and Tory Burch — that I felt like the biggest changes were upon me. While I can appreciate subtle organic shifts in my diet, I realized I also needed a strong dose of technology and medicine that can only come from a dermatologist. There, Dr. Shereen Idriss administered a weekly treatment of IsoLaz, during which she went over my face twice with a laser that sucks up the skin and emits light deep into the pores to kill bacteria. Between each pass, she would extract any comedones and then finish up with a salicylic infusion over my skin that went deep into my pores. “It’s a double whammy,” said Idriss. “First you’re killing bacteria with light, but the salicylic helps with the pores.”
According to Idriss, 70 percent of patients experience remission after eight treatments. Two months later, I certainly did. Whether it was a combination of my updated lifestyle paired with a strong dose of acne-fighting technology, I’ll never know. But here I am, sitting pretty, martini in hand.