Miami-Based Dermatologist Dr. Janelle Vega Debunks Common Skincare Myths

By Kathy Buccio | April 20, 2018 | People

The peak of summer is swiftly approaching and for those Floridian sun worshippers, that means endless afternoons frolicking at the beach, taking the boat out for a spin, or lounging poolside while trying to snap that perfect selfie. It also means extra UV rays that can burn you to a crisp, which is not on-brand with the Miami lifestyle. How much damage are you really doing without SPF? Which begs the question, how much do you really know about skincare in general? From sun damage to fillers, we are constantly bombarded with questionable facts—or are they fiction? Alas, I give you a reason to rejoice. We’ve asked board certified and one of Miami’s most sought after dermatologists, Dr. Janelle Vega, of Mayoral Dermatology, to debunk some of these myths. Her answers will have you lathering up in face cream.

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My skin doesn’t burn. It tans. I don’t need sunscreen.
Dr. Vega: There are different wavelengths of ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun; some burn the skin and some penetrate deeper into the skin, activating deleterious cycles, which result in “sun damage,” wrinkling, and destruction of collagen. So, just because you don’t have bright red skin as a result of the sun, does not mean that you wont develop wrinkles and thickened, leathery skin.

Simply using creams and topical will bring elasticity and/or collagen back to your skin.
DV: There are creams that trigger new collagen production, such as retinoids (or what people famously call “Retin A”, or variants thereof.). This is clinically proven to have a benefit for fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production—however, when someone has deep enough wrinkles and folds originally caused by dynamic movements at rest (frowning, smiling), or volume loss oftentimes creams are not enough to correct this. I always say you have to replace like with like—if you have fat or bone loss then you need fillers; if you have wrinkles from movement then you need wrinkle relaxing injections!

Teenage acne is caused by what you eat and hormones.
DV: It can be a combination. Definitely hormones play a part as they rev up during the teenage years. There are dietary factors that can make it worse including skim milk, chocolate, foods high in glycemic index (bread, pasta, refined sugars), as well as whey proteins (in protein shakes). I usually advise my teenage and adult acne patients to stay away from these.

I don’t have to worry about getting fillers until I’m in my 40s.
DV: Peak facial volume for women is about at age 24—that is when you will have the ideal fat and bone proportion for your skin. After this, it will steadily decline. Things such as accelerated weight loss or gaining and losing weight (with childbirth) will make this process appear faster. I am a big believer in maintenance, so I like for my patients to address changes as they appear, since this will be easiest to treat as well as appear the most natural. So you don’t have to “worry” about fillers per se, if you are interested in aging gracefully, the best way is to address issues as they appear (i.e. mid to late 20s, early 30s).

It’s better to buy organic or ‘natural’ products when it comes to skincare.
DV: I do believe in avoiding harsh chemicals when it comes to your skin, but just because something is “natural” or organically derived, it does not mean it is effective or safe. I see allergies to many naturally derived compounds on a daily basis in my clinic—one of the most common being tea tree oil. I also think people forget that many of our most effective treatments for anti-aging are naturally occurring, the most revolutionary of which is Botox (which is derived from a bacterial byproduct). So I believe in a balanced approach where you avoid things that are bad for you, but don’t completely close your eyes to the benefits of things that aren’t labeled “organic.”

The more you wash your face, the less breakouts you’ll get.
DV: This is definitely not true—acne is multifactorial and is a combination of oil production, buildup of extra skin, as well as an inflammatory reaction to bacteria. In some patients if you overdry the skin from excess washing, your body will increase the production of oil to compensate, creating a vicious cycle. I don’t recommend washing more than twice a day for this reason.

Aging is genetic, so if my mom and grandmother have aged gracefully, so will I.
DV: This is an interesting one. On one side, most people will age similarly to their family members in terms of the speed of aging (this is your intrinsic tendency towards aging), but this is given that there are no other external factors playing a role. That is, if you smoke, drink, and get sun excessively, these things will speed up what you will look like at a certain age. So your protoplasm plays a role, and the rest is up to you.

Expensive face products are better than drugstore ones.
DV: I think you can’t necessarily judge a product by its price. Just because a product is extremely expensive, does not mean that it will achieve a clinical change for your skin. I see a lot of glorified moisturizers out there in the range of upwards of $300. I also think that just because a product is not an exorbitant price does not mean it doesn’t work! I love drugstore face washes and some body moisturizers, you just have to know which ones are the good ones—and that is what your board certified dermatologist is for.

Facials don’t actually work. They are not proven to improve your skin and are a waste of money.
DV: Facials are not miraculous, so if by “work” you mean they will keep your skin exfoliated and clean of buildup, give you a glow, and help keep your tweakments on track, then yes, they work! But if you think a facial will replace loss of volume, get rid of your wrinkles, and make your pores invisible, then they will not “work” for you.



Photography by: Photography courtesy of Dr.Janelle Vega