This Harvard educated, board-certified derm’s best advice for you

December 19, 2023

Welcome back to Well Connected’s Skincare Seven, where we pull back the curtain on some of our favorite creators to learn their deepest, darkest skincare secrets in just seven questions. This month, we hit up one of our favorite IG- and TikTIk-famous dermatologists, Dr. Charles, MD. With his ultra-real tips (not to mention to his Harvard/Duke background), we’re addicted to his fact-based content, from dispelling ingredient myths to spilling skin health tips. Here’s your skincare crash course with Dr. Charles’s Skincare Seven.

You spend your life analyzing people’s skin. In your expert opinion, what’s the one skincare product that everyone needs, every day, regardless of their skin type?

As a board-certified dermatologist, I tell my patients that retinoids are a “forever medicine.” They help with everything from acne and dark spots to anti-aging and wrinkles. Regardless of skin type, a retinoid is critical. Today we have retinoids of varying strengths, so finding the right one for your skin type is possible—whether that’s a gentle over-the-counter option or a stronger prescription.  

You have a huge following on TikTok. If you could tell us one truth behind TikTok skincare routines, what would it be and why? 

I wish people would realize how long it takes for a new routine or product to be beneficial. It takes about 4 weeks for your skin cells to travel from the bottom layer of your skin to the top, so once you introduce a new product or routine, it generally takes 2-3 months to reach maximum efficacy. The bottom line? Skincare takes time, so be wary of people on TikTok claiming a miracle product changed their skin overnight. 

Dr. Murad believes that skin health is tied to whole body health. What are your top 3 non-product related tips for healthy skin? 

I’m a big proponent of integrative dermatology. I always recommend daily zinc supplements, which are proven to help boost immunity, fight inflammation and reduce acne.

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) supplements are second on the list. A recent study found that 500 mg of niacinamide daily reduces the incidence of skin cancer by 25%. It also boosts NAD levels (think of NAD as energy for your cells).

My third favorite non-product tip for healthy skin is the right sleeping position. It’s challenging for some, but training yourself to sleep on your back (so as to not squish your face) helps with wrinkles, volume loss and acne.  

As a top dermatologist with access to the most cutting-edge products and gadgets, what do you predict will be the next big trend in skincare?

I predict that 2024 will be the year of the peptide. We’ll start to see skincare brands come out with peptides targeting common skin concerns, like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Beyond topical skincare, we’re going to see more non-invasive skin tightening rejuvenating procedures. In my private practice MOMADerm in NYC, I create custom treatment plans for my patients with the goal of stimulating collagen while hoping to avoid surgery/facelifts

Dr. Murad believes stress can have a negative effect on your skin. Have you seen this in your practice? And how do you manage your own stress levels?

Stress can absolutely have a negative effect on your skin. We know that it raises cortisol levels, which leads to immunosuppression. I see common skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and hidradenitis flare up when patients are stressed. For me, a fitness routine is essential for managing my stress levels.  Daily exercise and weekly yoga help to keep me grounded.  

We’re fascinated by the science behind skincare, but it can be really confusing with so much misinformation out there. How can skincare fanatics make sure they’re getting real, fact-based advice?

I love this question! First thing to note is that board-certified dermatologists are the true skin experts. We spend years studying every aspect of the skin, hair and nails. It’s important to be cautious of anyone who isn’t a board-certified dermatologist.

Furthermore, always question your information source, and watch out for “white coats.” There are a lot of people—including some doctors—masquerading as dermatologists on social media. 

What’s the most common avoidable mistake you’ve seen your patients make? If you could go back in time and tell them to change something, what would it be?

The most common skincare mistake is skipping sunscreen. Many of my patients will tell me they “don’t go outside,” so they don’t use it. The reality is that windows let in damaging UV rays, so get in the habit of applying SPF to your face, neck and hands every single day. It’s the best, cheapest anti-aging medicine out there! 

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

More from our Skincare Seven series:
7 questions with this self-made TikTok skinfluencer

References for this information:
Sage Journals, May 2022
Healthline, March 2019

About the Author

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Sheela Soskin is a beauty editor and copywriter who has written for luxury and lifestyle brands such as Tom Ford, The Honest Company and Ipsy. She currently lives in London, where she spends her spare time exploring every corner of the Victoria and Albert Museum and obsessively searching for the perfect red lipstick.