Refresh for May Day #29: My Favorite Facial Supplement

Supplements are big in today’s market. Countless patients come in on an array of non-FDA approved vitamin supplements purported to have some key, typically not scientifically proven, health benefits. Whether it’s for sleep or joints or weight loss or staying young there’s a supplement for you. But, facial products are less often thought of as supplements. As it turns out though, while I loathe daily pills for any reasons, I am quite beholden to Vitamin C in my facial products.

Topical Vitamin C, or ascirbic acid, has a number of reported benefits related to collagen stimulation and diminishing free radicals. While the facts about Vitamin C’s role in these two biologic pathways are correct, I must admit I haven’t scrutinized the studies linking these to better skin. But I do know that my skin is less dull and the dark patches less pronounced when I use Vitamin C containing products.

The array of vitamin C products one can find in the beauty aisle of the drug store or at places like Spehora and Ulta will make your head spin. Some are fairly pure and others a combined with other reportedly face rejuvenating Vitamins. I haven’t tried most but these are my top three:

1) Origins High Potency Night-a-Mins: “Put dullness to rest. Wake up radiant & refreshed. Now nature’s famed night cream is newly fortified with a system of time-released resurfacers plus Vitamins C, E & H, minerals & moisture-rich replenishers. While relaxing aromas lull you to sleep, skin sloughs away dry, dead layers. Deletes dullness” according to the manufacturer.

NightaMinsI have a serious allergy to sunscreens so for years this was my daily morning moisturizer. I will confess that this was during my surgical training and so I didn’t have a nightly routine. If I made it home it was an event. If I ended up not asleep on the couch in a pool of my own drool it was a miracle. So primping before bedtime was not even on my radar. But I had started residency with no routine at all except for washing my face with Neutrogena anti-acne face wash so coming upon Origins and starting a routine was a big deal for me. I settled on Origins because the staff took the time to learn what I was allergic to and what kind of skin type I had and helped me choose a face wash, a lotion (their name for toner), a moisturizer, and an eye cream. And so for the next decade or so, I used their Checks & Balances, United State, Night-a-Mins, and Eye Doctor. In recent years, I have changed up a little and today I use Origins Brighter by Nature line for my daytime routine (from wash, to eyes, to moisturizer) but I still use the Night-a-Mins at night (still not great at nightly but so much better) because it has an amazing smell, a soothing effect, and does result in a more wide awake look the next day. I don’t think I will ever stop using this stuff.

2) Tarte Maracuja C-Brightener Eye Cream: “Refresh, renew and recharge tired eyes with our eye treatment enriched with C-brighter™ technology. By harnessing the power of maracuja fruit, vitamin C and advanced botanicals, this skintuitive™ eye treatment visibly hydrates, firms and brightens the delicate eye area” according to the manufacturer.

tarteeyecreamI have used various other eye creams from Origins in the past. But a few years back, I was over the lingering disco effect of the GinZing eye cream and started to look for another. I did eventually decide on the Brighter by Nature which, as noted above, I use daily (over RoC’s Retinol Correxion Eye Cream) in the mornings. However, I expanded my search beyond Origins accidentally. When searching for a new concealer for my under eye baggage, I learned that Tarte does not use any chemical sunscreens. Thus, knowing that spending time at the Tarte counter would not leave me incapacitated for days beholden to oral steroids and topical anti-inflammatories (and I have had a few horrific events at beauty counters despite my clear statements of the exact chemicals I am allergic too) I stumbled upon the Maracuja eye cream while I was looking for safe make-up. The packaging is super cute. There is no discernible scent. The texture is luscious and I have found that it is a perfect evening companion to the Night-a-Mins. I am pretty sure my dark circles are here to stay but the intensity of the under eye marks of fatigue are lessened by the product for sure. And, as it turns out, I don’t have the patience to add something like concealer and make-up to my daily routine (I tried it for like 3 days and the extra time and effort just was not worth it for me to look better at work) so having products that diminished the appearance of tiredness without make up is a necessity for my aging face. [But if you want to use make up to look wide awake, check out this post.]

3) Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM: “Maximum results. Minimal irritation. Potent concentration of microencapsulated Retinol at 1.5% helps to encourage the skin’s renewal process. Moisturizing formula, infused with Vitamins C & E, suits all skin types. The appearance of tone and texture is enhanced. The look of fine lines and wrinkles is visibly reduced. Skin looks renewed, refreshed, restored. Oil-free. Fragrance-free” according to the manufacturer.

PTR_retinolPMGranted this product has a lot of other key ingredients but I came upon it after searching for a Vitamin C serum to supplement the two products above which I have been using for more than a decade and over two years, respectively. My eyes were better so I wanted to have the same betterment for my entire face (especially since adding any make-up, BB, or CC product was out of the question for the reasons noted above). I found the Tarte Maracuja oil to be just too oily and the Mario Badescu Vitamin C serum’s Lavender smell was migraine inducing for me. (I shop for these things at Ulta because I have one within 2 miles of my house and its return policy for these products is one of the best in the industry–if the product [non drug store brands only] doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, you give it back no matter how much you have used). So given that the Retinol Fusion PM had the Vitamin C that I was looking for along with the retinol my derm and plastics friends say I should have started in my mid-20s, I went for it and I really like this product. I confess that I don’t use it often enough as many nights I just collapse into a ball without a night time beauty regimen but when I have gone several nights in a row applying this product before applying the two products above, I have definitely noticed that I look younger and more refreshed. The drops come out almost like water. I take a few in the palm and them apply all over my face. It’s a new skill but I think I have got it down now and I have no desire to return this product.

So yes, I love Vitamin C for my face. It is without a doubt my favorite facial supplement.

10.1 Travel Tips From a Surgeon on the Go


I was traveling for work again last week. While I am not the typical business traveler, I do fly about once per month. It’s taken me a while, but over the years I have become a smarter traveler. Here are ten tips on what you need to do prior to take off.

1) Lose the 1-Quart Ziplock bags.

tumi_toiletry_bagI used to hoard Costco size cases of these because I would take several on each trip as the original one inevitably failed. I now travel with a Tumi split toiletry kit (sold as the Laval or the Lima or the Alpha 2 Split travel kit) that has a clear quart size half where I store all of my 3oz or smaller liquids and gels and two smaller clear zip pockets on the opposite side to store my tooth brush, cotton squares, razor, etc. I have been through security over a dozen times with this. No issues.

2) On the subject of travel size liquids, ditch your body lotion when traveling.

It’s easy fill said quart with all the liquids and gels a gal like me needs while away. If you aren’t planning to check a bag, this can be a problem. Luckily, while I am unwilling to part with many of my lotions and potions for hair, skin, and hygiene, I have found the perfect solution for moisturizer that saves me 3 ounces of room in my toiletry kit. Basin’s solid moisturizers don’t need to go in a 1-Quart clear bag but still smell amazing and relieve dry skin. Basin_lotion_sticks

3) Bring along dry shampoo.

When I travel, I want to look my best. For short trips (this one was just two nights), I use my full size tools to show my wavy hair who’s boss before leaving (the index blow out). Once I have put in all this effort, I don’t want to just wash it out with the next shampoo so I extend my style with a travel size Batiste dry shampoo. The cherry scent doesn’t give me migraines and I get multiple days of shiny locks without an oily itchy scalp. Plus, I can travel with less shampoo and conditioner (yah, more room in the Tumi!).batiste_dry_shampoo

4) But the blowout will need a little maintenance, so bring a mini flat iron.

Luckily most hotels these days have 1875 watts hair dryers so I don’t need to lug one with
sephoraminiflatironme. Of course, if I am extending my blow out I don’t really need all that power and I don’t want to take up lots of cargo space with my full size barrel brushes, 2 in curling iron, and 1 in flat iron.  But I do have some waves and curls that spring back against the index blow out. To touch up these spots I use my Sephora mini flat iron to control the wayward strands after dry shampooing. The heat resitant bag is awesome for packing up on the last day right after getting ready.

5) Speaking of looking your best, no matter what make-up you choose to pack, you must pack the right make-up brushes.

I typically don’t wear make-up at home, but, like I said, I tend to try harder when I travel. After all, I am not wearing my OR mask or taking overnight call. I’m not rushing for a 6am meeting or rounds. The commute from the hotel room to the conference is so forgiving that I can put a little bit more effort into my appearance. I don’t travel with all my make-up, just a few go to items that allow me to put on my business face (Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, Philosophy Supernatural Airbrush Canvas, Origins Liquid Lip Color, and Clinique Water Resistant Cake Eyeliner) or glam it up for evening events (Nars Eye and Cheek Palette and DiorShow Iconic and Blackout Mascara). Of course none of thesesmashbox_travel_brushessephoratravelbrushes will work if applied with crappy brushes. I have found the perfect set of travel brushes in the Smashbox trio that I have paired with a Sephora travel brush set. They all travel together in the Sephora case.


6) Since traveling will wear you out, no matter what make-up you bring and how awesome your brushes are, you must never leave home without a highlighter.

touche-eclat_Alt1YSL Touche Éclat is hands down the best beauty product I have ever known. While I could pair it with multiple other products to give me a slept like a baby look after a red-eye or a long night at the hotel bar apres meeting, what I really love about this product is that it is also a stand alone miracle worker. When my entire morning routine falls apart and don’t have time to hit the make-up bag, I can still almost fake sleep by just dabbing a little under my eyes and on my brow bones, along the sides of my nostrils, and around the upper lip. No other products necessary. Love this product. I wouldn’t both trying the competitors out there. YSL created this genre of beauty product and nothing else compares.

7) Unless it’s tropical on both ends of your trip and over all land masses in between, carry a packable coat with you.

packable_jacketA few years ago, I made the mistake of traveling during winter from the east coast of the US to India without a winter coat. Yup, I just sucked up a slightly chilly ride to the airport leaving my coat at home figuring I didn’t want to lug it around India for a month with temps in the 80-90 degree F range. But I got stuck in London along the way due to a snow storm. No flights in or out for 3 days and I didn’t have a stinking jacket. So now, I have a packable down coat. If it’s cold at home when I am leaving, or if the destination is chilly or if I get stuck in another unexpected storm, it keeps me warm. When I don’t need it, it weighs nothings and takes up nearly zero space in my luggage. Plus, it can also double as a cozy little pillow during layovers or oLandsEndPackableCoatn the plane when compressed. I got my Active Basic Packable Jacket from Bob’s stores for a steal and it continues to serve me well. The pix of the more expensive one from Land’s End below show the packability and pillow effect better though.

8) Along the lines of portability, never travel without ballet flats.

carolineI love my heels for non-scrubs work attire and since I always workout when I travel a also bring a pair of cool kicks with me. For years, I would just throw on the sneakers for rambling through the terminal. Quite frankly, while I am totally embracing the sporty chic look on my weekends at home, I have decided that sneakers with quasi-professional travel attire is not the look I am going for. So now, I travel in my Tory Burch Caroline Flats. I honestly love these shoes so much that the biggest hassle these days is which color of the 5 pairs I own I should take with me. As a bonus, I can toss them in my work bag as a high heel rescue if ever needed in case of emergency during the business meeting.

9) Speaking of quasiprofessional attire, travel in comfortable pants.

athletapantduoI fly coach (I am in academic medicine after all).  While lots of professionals travel clad head to toe in the suits/dresses they are intending to wear on the other end, I just won’t subject myself to that kind of discomfort. But, keeping the blazer or cardigan out of the luggage is a huge space saver. I used to travel in jeans but honestly I am just not in love with that look (though lots of men pull of jeans, button down, and blazer with aplomb and I don’t begrudge that eye candy). I have found that Athleta’s In Fusion pants and herringbone Chaturanga Leggings (both in black) pair exceptionally well with the black blazer or cardigan that I inevitably take on these trips with me worn over any one of my casual or more formal tops.

10) Invest in a layering top that works for work and for play

adea_promoI have already declared my love for Adea layering tops in this forum before. Nothing is more versatile or comfortable. I never travel without a white 3/4 sleeve scoop neck Adea top (but as you can see, there are other colors and I own 20 of them in various shades and shapes) I can wear it under short sleeve or sleeveless dresses and tops. I can wear it as the base layer under a suit. I can wear it as an undershirt under a blouse or button down. I can even work out in it if in a pinch and then hand wash it quickly. It dries in under an hour.adea_colors

10.1) And finally, since you don’t want to risk running out of juice when your trying to follow this blog on the WordPress mobile app, get yourself a portable battery charger.

jockery_chargerI have only had my Jackery portable charger since October and I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to get one. For years if would run out of power on my mobile phone in-flight (out of luck) or mid-meeting (need to hunt the periphery for an electrical outlet). I have even had to seek out post-meeting dinners based on weather or not I would be able to eat while having my phone plugged in. The solution to these battery life problems is simply having a back-up charger that is super portable, reliable, and matches most of my accessories. Bonus, I keep it with me on call too so I also no longer worry about running out of juice at an inopportune time in the midst of a 36 hour stretch at the hospital.

What are some of your travel must haves?