DERMAdoctor Breaks Down Your Must-Have Skincare Ingredients


Dermatologist turned beauty brand founder Audrey Kunin, M.D. knows what real women want when it comes to their day-to-day skincare. After all, she spent a fair share of her life listening to the most common concerns of her patients, from dry skin to wrinkles to acne, as a doctor who served as the Chief Resident at the Medical College of Virginia. In 1998, with the launch of her one-of-a-kind line, DERMAdoctor, Kunin took these problems into her own hands by creating a collection of clinically proven, patent-pending formulations aimed to tackle the headaches she found her clients fretted about most. In Glam's exclusive interview with the epidermis expert at Sephora, Kunin breaks down the products and ingredients key to one's skincare routine for better and brighter beauty.

Glycolic acid
According to Kunin, dermatologists tend to recommend glycolic acid when it comes to exfoliation. She explains that the epidermal cells are built like a brick wall held together with glue-like fibers. Glycolic acid dissolves that glue to help the cells fall apart from each other for a more complete exfoliation. As skin matures, it gets dull and drab looking as the epidermis thickens. By reducing these layers, skin will be more brilliant and youthful looking. Glycolic acid is helpful for that, as well as unplugging pores and fixing skin discoloration.

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Kunin: “We use a buffered glycolic acid product which means the pH is a little higher so that it's a do-no-harm principle. It dissolves that glue but it's not such a harsh acid that it'll burn and bleed. My analogy is that it's almost like a time release: it works slower and longer throughout the day to give you a more effective chemical exfoliation…”

Retinol falls into the vitamin A family. Retina is the prescription used for acne, proven to have anti-aging qualities. Retinol is the non-prescription formula with the same type of qualities: it clears the epidermis, restores radiance, reduces skin discoloration, helps with fine lines and wrinkles, and helps to thicken the epidermis. The University of Michigan ran a study and showed that a 1% retinol is as effective as a prescription retina, making the skin look more youthful and improving the appearance of aging.

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Kunin: “The downside to the vitamin A family is that it's drying and can be irritating and cause redness, roughness and peeling, so it turns off a lot of people despite being a great ingredient. So what I wanted to do was create a base that would make retinol more tolerable. This (Poetry in Lotion) is a patent pending formulation that in the patch testing, with 50 people in the study, nobody developed dryness and irritation. It's an every other night use. It's also a solo act so it's to be used alone, not under moisturizer. Moisture combines with vitamin A molecules which is one of the potential causes of irritation.”

Microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliation scrub that helps pull the skin's cells apart. Kunin explains that when patients ask if they should get a chemical peel (which breaks down the cells internally) or microdermabrasion (an external exfoliation) for their complexion, realistically they should do both, although that type of douple treatment is difficult to tolerate.

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Kunin: “We've combined chemical peel acids and microdermabrasion particles with a calming complex. Whether it's grounded seeds, or salt, or sugar, the problem with natural microdermabrasion particles is that they are like snowflakes. They have jagged edges and can abrade the skin and cause irritation and an entryway for bacteria. We use a self destructing synthetic particle that's totally round, based off of the idea that people are going to scrub a lot because they want better skin faster. Our particle starts to break apart so you dont over-scrub.”