Dermatologist Dr. Gervaise Gerstner Talks Sun, Skin, and Aging

Photo courtesy of Dr. Gervaise Gerstner
Dr. Gervaise Gerstner.

What could be more exciting for beauty and skincare enthusiasts than to get recommendations from Dr. Gervaise Gerstner? Dr. Gerstner is a world-renowned dermatologist based in New York City and was recently tapped to be a consulting dermatologist for L’Oréal Paris. A regular contributor to magazines like W, Harper’s Bazaar, and Allure, Dr. Gerstner is a proven expert on all things skincare.

I recently had the opportunity to ask her a few questions on how to enhance and protect our skin.

What helped you make the decision to become a dermatologist?

I decided to become a doctor because I had been given the choice by my father, a vascular surgeon, to be a “doctor or a doctor.” I found out he had been given the choice to be a doctor or a preacher by his mother, so he decided to keep it more direct to me. If left to my own devices I would have become a hairdresser, a manicurist or spa owner, as I always wanted to make women feel beautiful. So I found a way to be a doctor and do both--and to save lives! Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode where he doesn’t think a dermatologist saves lives? I always laugh at that episode! I find melanoma on people all the time—and SAVE lives!

Can you tell me about your beauty regimen throughout the day? Has it changed through the years?

My beauty regimen hasn’t changed much over the years. I still use glycolic pads at night, still avoid facials, and occasionally use a little Retin-A to prevent wrinkles. But I didn’t use it during pregnancy.

How does our skin change from decade to decade?

Well, of course more wrinkles pop up! Our skin tends to get drier especially as women go through menopause, so I definitely suggest to moisturize.

The skin is just as vital an organ as the brain and yet we mistreat it consistently with sun damage. Why do you think that is?

It encompasses not only skin but hair and nails! But people are getting savvier about protecting their skin. They realize skin cancer is a killer.

Photo courtesy of L’Oréal

L’Oréal's Sublime Sun products.

Lets be franksuntan lotion: how much and how often?

New FDA guidelines take effect this summer. The max sunscreen will be SPF 50. One should apply every morning, even on the face in the dead of winter. When on a Hamptons, Caribbean, or Miami vacation, you should use more and apply your entire body.  A shot glass of sunscreen is a good measure. Re-apply every two hours especially after the pool, the ocean, or sweating. Hats, rash guards, and sun protective clothing like Parasol are great. I love L’Oreal Sublime SPF 50 which comes in four formulations: two fabulous sprays and a face and body lotion. The sheer silky formations are loved by all, especially my girls who hate thick sunscreen!

So when you go to the beach you never sit in the sun?

When I am at the beach, I do tend to sit under an umbrella and always have a hat or visor on. I also love waterskiing so then I make sure to use the L’Oreal Face sublime in SPF 50. I just recently took my kids to Costa Rica, so there was intense sun and I didn’t want to just hide inside so I made sure I had the good sunscreen and also wore the sun protective clothing.

Your skin is always glowing—what's your secret?

I am obsessed with the clear and brilliant laser! I have done it seven times on my own skin.

How early should women start using anti-aging products and what are some that you can recommend?

I am a big fan of using glycolic pads at home three times a week. Give yourself an at home peel!

Photos courtesy of L’Oréal

L’Oréal's Youth Code products.

A lot of women still experience blemish problems even into their twenties and thirties. Why is this?

These breakouts are usually hormonal based. Sometimes a birth control pill can help, but in general it is good to avoid extra caffeine, extra sugar, and extra white flour. However, acne is not caused by food.

Does covering blemishes and acne with foundation only enhance the problem? What’s a good alternative?

Look for makeup that is non-comedogenic. Also, a green concealer stick can cover up a red pimple.

Rory McDonough is a freelance stylist and fashion editor. His styling work has appeared in indie mags like Oyster and Russh. He is the fashion editor of the Plum Network where he worked with celebrities such as Naomi Watts and Christy Turlington-Burns. Most recently he worked with stylist B. Åkerlund on Madonna’s halftime performance at the Superbowl.

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