Skincare can be confusing, complicated, and sometimes a bit of a headache. With misconceptions and marketing tactics galore it’s difficult to find a routine that is right for you. We asked for advice from Jessica Wu, M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face about some common skincare misconceptions, along with what her go-to’s in skincare and beauty are. Who better to get our skincare on track than a celebrity dermatologist, right?
Tell us how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been obsessed with skincare for as long as I can remember, having suffered from eczema as a child and cystic acne as a teen/young adult. After I graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed dermatology training, I opened my own private Cosmetic Dermatology office in Los Angeles in 2000. Shortly thereafter, I developed my first line of skincare products which launched at Nordstrom, followed by my second line, a few years ago, which was sold at Costco stores. In addition to helping my patients achieve healthy, clear skin, I also give them advice about diet and healthy lifestyle choices which can affect their complexion. In the winter, you can find me on the slopes, where I am a certified Ski Instructor, and in the summer months, I’ll be on my paddleboard, wearing my SPF.
What is the most common misconception about acne/skincare?
The most common misconception about acne is that it’s caused by dirty skin and that you can scrub it off. Flaking skin doesn’t always mean your skin is dry. For example, seborrheic dermatitis can cause flaking around the nose and eyebrows, and it’s due to an overgrowth of yeast. Flaky patches on the cheeks can be a sign of eczema, which we treat with anti-inflammatory creams. If your flaky skin isn’t responding to moisturizer, it may be time to see a dermatologist who can diagnose the condition and suggest a more effective treatment.
Do you have any advice on how to treat fungal acne?
To treat fungal (yeast) acne, you need to target the yeast. This includes avoiding starchy, sugary foods and drinks, and using antifungal topical treatments such as Nizoral shampoo, rather than acne washes, which can make the condition worse.
What is the difference between oils and serums in terms of what they do for your skin?
The ingredients are what’s important, rather than what form it comes in. Some ingredients are more stable in an oil, while others are water-soluble, so you’ll find them in a serum.
What is the most important step in your skincare routine?
Nighttime retinoid 2-3 times a week. I’ve been using tretinoin since medical school, nearly 30 years ago. After all these years, it’s still the best-studied, most reliable collagen builder and skin-brightener—IF used correctly.
What does your morning skincare routine look like? Walk us through it!
I still have eczema from time to time, so I have to be very careful about my products. In the morning, I cleanse with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, followed by my Dr. Jessica Wu Cosmeceuticals AntiAging SunCare SPF 32, which contains zinc oxide and anti-inflammatory Chinese botanicals. If I have dry patches, I use my Dew Cream which contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate without leaving me greasy. It also acts as a primer for my makeup (though I’m wearing much less nowadays since I’m behind a mask).
How is your nighttime routine different?
As soon as I get home, I use Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water to remove makeup, followed by CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser with a muslin cloth. I also wash my nostrils and rinse out my mouth to help protect from Covid. Then I apply my own custom blended formulation of tretinoin 2-3 nights a week and Lytera 2.0 the other nights to keep brown spots away. I also use Latisse most nights; I’ve been a big believer ever since I was an investigator for the FDA clinical trials.
What is something you avoid in your routine?
I never scrub. I don’t want broken blood vessels on my nose and face.
Do you think that diet and water play an important role in skin health?
Yes! We know instinctively that what you eat and drink affects the skin. And now we actually have research confirming that. My book, Feed Your Face, summarizes the scientific studies showing that diet does affect your complexion, and also debunks some myths.
Has being indoors because of Covid-19 changed your skincare routine?
I’ve been spending more time outdoors, walking, and hiking, so I’ve had to be more careful about sunscreen above my mask to avoid sun damage and a mask tan line which can happen even in the winter here in Los Angeles.
What does your beauty routine look like?
My makeup routine is much simpler now that I’m in a mask most of the day. Many days I skip foundation. If I’m doing a Zoom call or (virtual) TV interview, I use L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Foundation to even out my skin tone, with Cle de Peau Concealer under my eyes. Eyes are even more important now since that’s what you see above your mask. I use Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner and eye shadows, followed by Essence Lash Princess Mascara and elf Wow Brow Gel. For lips, Chantecaille Lip Tint Hydrating Balm.
Is there something new you are working on?
I’m working on an exciting new line of wellness & nutrition products with a celebrity patient. Look out for the launch next year!