We fell hard for Natalie Alcala last fall, when the LA-based writer and blogger spent a week guest blogging for us. In fact, we loved her posts so much that we asked her to be a contributing editor. In addition to blogging for us once a week, she’ll also be writing for the Birchbox Magazine and keeping us up to speed on all things fashion, beauty, and fun.
Photos courtesy of BHPS
Ever since Halle Berry’s go-to esthetician Olga Lorencin-Northrup of Kinara Spa first turned me onto SkinCeuticals, I can’t get enough of the skincare line’s anti-aging and UV protection products. With that said, you can imagine my delight when the line’s West Coast flagship, Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, invited me to their practice to try the SkinCeuticals Micropeel and chat with major celebrity plastic surgeon, Dr. Gabriel Chiu.
Now, don’t be alarmed—BHPS offers more than just plastic surgery. Their facility also features a medispa for facials, microdermabrasion, peels, and more. The treatment I received by senior clinical esthetician, the impeccably flawless Sophia Phan, included three phases: 1) Dermaplaning, which is a manual exfoliation that removes dead skin cells with a tiny blade (it’s not as scary as you think!), 2) an Alpha Hydroxy Acid exfoliation to clear clogged pores, and 3) Cryogenic Therapy, which was my favorite part of the process because Sophia applied this cool frozen carbon dioxide slushy stuff to my skin that instantly made me feel fresh-faced, tightened, and glowy. After the treatment, I sat down with Dr. Chiu for an info-packed Q&A:
Natalie: It seems like plastic surgery and skincare treatments target a younger demographic these days. What are your thoughts on that?
Dr Chiu: With the emergence of reality shows, plastic surgery is no longer a hush-hush topic and you’ll find that younger people are getting specific surgeries done. However, you want to make sure that they’re both physically and mentally mature for the procedure, which is why an evaluation by a doctor beforehand is extremely important. Regarding skincare, a patient of mine said that her mother used to always tell her to take care of her skin because she’d appreciate it later. The patient remembered being the only one in school interested in skincare. Nowadays, you can’t find a teenager who’s not. Young people aren’t waiting until they have a problem anymore—they’re starting beforehand and taking preventive care.
N: What types of preventive care do you recommend?
Dr Chiu: To me, preventive care starts the day you’re born. You have to use sunscreen to decrease your chances of skin cancer and to prevent aging. People are more educated about skincare now. For example, around 20 years ago, you probably only found people in their 60s and older who were using Retin-A for wrinkles. Now you’re finding patients who are in their 40s and even 30s using it. I mean, I started when I was 25. Vitamin-C is the gold standard for anti-aging serums. I recommend it for people getting into their late 20s or even sooner—there’s no harm in starting it sooner.
N: What are the differences between West Coast and East Coast skincare patients?
Dr Chiu: Contrary to popular belief, the West Coast isn’t the only place where skin is a major focus—you’re seeing it across the board. I have patients flying in from the East Coast all the time.
However, because of Hollywood and the beach culture, LA is openly obsessed with every part of their bodies—including their skin. We have great specialists out here because people aren’t scared to go and see them. On the East Coast, they don’t have a significant beach culture, so they solely focus on their skin. It’s more of a secret that no one really talks about, but believe me, they’re doing it.
N: What are your top tips for skincare at every age?
Dr Chiu: Everyone knows that sunscreen is a very important step, but let’s talk about things that people don’t know about. In your 20s (especially late 20s), start using anti-aging serums and look for formulas that contain Vitamin-C. By the time you reach your mid-30s, start considering some type of retinol or retinoid—you don’t necessarily have to use Retin-A. What this does is help increase the turnover of skin to keep it looking fresh while reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. If you look at people approaching 40, you’ll notice that they start to have more lines and texture to the skin, which is why you need to start taking care as early as possible.
If you’re looking to add vitamin C into your skincare routine, try a serum like June Jacobs’ Elastin Collagen Serum.