Dermatologist Dr. Kristel Polder on Acne, Postpartum Bodies, and Why She Loves Working in Texas

Dr. Kristel Polder

Two things you might not believe upon meeting Dallas-based, board-certified dermatologist Kristel Polder, M.D.: She is a mom to three kids under the age of 8, and she has acne-prone skin. While you’d think these factors would pave a fast track to a compromised complexion, Dr. Polder manages to stay enviably aglow. The Texas native credits a medley of self-care practices, a series of laser treatments, and, of course, an army of derm-approved concoctions.

Dr. Polder’s days are unthinkably busy. In addition to mothering a trio of tots, she also juggles three distinct departments on the job. “We have medical, cosmetic, and research [departments at my practice] and I devote time to all,” she notes. She also teaches dermatology residents — a gig that she calls “rewarding and fun.”

Amazingly, Dr. Polder maintains an equally impressive personal life: Her idea of fun is running half marathons. She gave birth at the age of 40. And, should you ever find yourself in Thailand or Shanghai, she’d happily share recommendations from her most recent trips. 

Below, Dr. Polder gives us a peek into her multifaceted life as a dermatologist and mom in Dallas. Plus, her secret sauce(s) to glowing skin, her journey with injectables, and the workout she never skips — even when she’s pregnant. 

Spotlyte: What do you like about working as a dermatologist in Texas?

Dr. Kristel Polder: Being a dermatologist in the great state of Texas is a privilege; it is an honor to serve the people of north Texas, and I do not take it for granted. Every day, I feel grateful to be able to practice medicine in this community and state. I have traveled all over the world, but Texas will always be home.  

Texans are known to be friendly and warm. We love our outdoor time — whether that be on the lake, playing outdoor sports such as golf, or going to sporting events. As a result of this lifestyle, skin cancer and sun damage are prevalent, and I feel it is important to constantly educate Texans [in particular] on the dangers of the sun and UV radiation. 

Spotlyte: Have you had personal experience with injectables?

KP: The day I started dermatology residency, I was told, “You should get injectable wrinkle reducers!” At first, I didn’t know what to say. But then I realized that my crow’s feet were getting more pronounced, and I needed to do something about it! I [also] started getting filler around age 30 in my cheeks and around my mouth area. 

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.] 

Spotlyte: What is your approach to cosmetic injectable consultations for your patients?

KP: I examine the patient’s bone structure and [muscle] support, fat and soft tissue position, and overlying skin to determine the precise placement of different types of filler and neuromodulator. 

Spotlyte: Have you noticed any trends when it comes to cosmetic injectables?

KP: I have seen a steady increase in inquiries regarding cosmetic procedures since I joined [my practice] nine years ago. Millennials and men are the two groups inquiring at a higher rate than in prior years. 

Spotlyte: Do you have an opinion on fat-freezing? 

KP: CoolSculpting® is a great, non-invasive way to [contour your body by reducing fat in certain areas]. I have personally [been treated], and it definitely helped [me]! 

[Editor’s note: The CoolSculpting treatment is a non-invasive fat-freezing treatment that effectively reduces fat in certain self-proclaimed “problem spots” in the submental and submandibular areas, thigh, abdomen, flank, and upper arm, along with bra fat, back fat, and underneath the buttocks (you know, those bulges that just won’t go away, regardless of how much you sweat it out on the treadmill). While it isn’t a weight loss solution, fat-freezing can reduce pouches of fat. As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects, so talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you.]

Spotlyte: What does your morning skincare routine consist of? 

KP: I am a confessed product junkie, as I am sure many dermatologists are. In the morning, I cleanse with the Revision Skincare® Papaya Enzyme Cleanser. Depending on the season, I moisturize with either SkinMedica® Replenish Hydrating Cream or La Mer® Moisturizing Cream. Then, I apply Elta MD® UV Clear SPF 47 sunscreen.

Spotlyte: What does your evening skincare routine consist of? 

KP: After cleansing, I use prescription tretinoin cream. Then, I apply moisturizer and Neocutis® Lumiere® Riche eye cream, which is thick and hydrating for my tired eyes! 

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]

Spotlyte: Any other skincare products you’ve been experimenting with?

KP: I have been trying to find a topical antioxidant that does not break me out. I have sensitive, acne-prone skin, so it's tricky finding the exact product [that works] in the heat and humidity of Dallas. Topical antioxidants such as SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum® or Revision C+ Correcting complex are thought to [rejuvenate the skin]. 

Spotlyte: Do you believe that radiant skin depends on lifestyle factors, as well as products used? 

KP: I absolutely believe the better you take care of yourself, the better the skin appears. I have never smoked, and I don't drink — at all. I almost went vegan last year. My skin looked great! But that was before I found out I was pregnant. It was difficult getting the protein I needed, so I incorporated fish and other lean proteins. 

Spotlyte: Where does exercise fall in your priorities? 

KP: I do Peloton® workouts every day. My name on Peloton is #kungfuhustle, which pays homage to my Asian roots. (My mother is Chinese.)

Even throughout my pregnancy at age 40 with my third child, I [exercised] until the day I delivered. Working out during all of my pregnancies helped labor to go easier and the recovery to be quicker. I was up and running 10 days after my first child, and I got back on the Peloton bike four days after my third child. I wasn't going very fast, but at least I was going! 

Spotlyte: If you could impart one piece of skincare advice to everyone, what would it be?

KP: Always wear sunscreen! Sunscreen is the biggest preventative measure against skin aging and skin cancer. SPF will [protect] your aesthetic outcomes from lasers and chemical peels!

Spotlyte: What are some of you favorite sunscreens?

KP: I like Elta MD UV Clear for skin that’s prone to acne and rosacea. Aveeno® just came out with a nice mineral sunscreen, Aveeno Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50. For the body, I love the La Roche-Posay® Anthelios® 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk. It glides on effortlessly and protects me while I sit for hours at my son's swim meets.

Spotlyte: Any skin treatments you swear by? 

KP: I am a big fan of Hydrafacial®. I use this treatment prior to an event to freshen things up. I have had about six Fraxel® laser treatments over about a decade. It’s a nice collagen-building laser which can improve acne scars, surgical scars, wrinkles, and sun damage. I have performed clinical trial work on this device over the years. 

Spotlyte: Are you a makeup person? What are some of your favorite products?

KP: Cle De Peau Beaute® Concealer SPF 25 is the best concealer, hands down. [For foundation], I like Chanel® Vitalumiere® Aqua and Chanel Les BeigesTM. I also rotate Laura Mercier® foundation.

Spotlyte: Any must-haves for eyes and lips?

KP: For eye pencil, I use Lancome® Le StyloTM Waterproof. It lasts all day — through seeing 40 patients, and then out to dinner afterwards — and it never smudges. For eyeshadow, I use the Urban Decay® NAKED 2TM palette. For lips, [I love] Tom Ford® lipstick in CasablancaTM, YSL® Rouge Pur Couture Stain, and Dior® Lip Glow.

Spotlyte: What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?  

KP: I have been a runner for about 20 years and I’ve completed several half marathons. I am also an avid traveler. In the last two years, [my family and I have] traveled to Barcelona, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, and rural parts of Thailand. I have a trip to France coming up this year.  

Spotlyte: When do you feel your most beautiful? 

KP: On lazy Saturday mornings, with my two older boys snuggling up to me as we watch morning cartoons, and my little baby in my arms.  

Spotlyte: Any advice for new moms?

KP: Having a baby at 40 has definitely taught me to take it slow and savor the moment. These tender moments are fleeting, and it's important to take a pause and relish the quiet time with family.  

Allergan® may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.

SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned skincare line.

CoolSculpting® is an Allergan®-owned non-invasive fat reduction treatment.

CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information 


The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank (love handles), along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll), and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.

Important Safety Information 

The CoolSculpting procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.

Tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions including recent surgery, pre-existing hernia, and any known sensitivities or allergies.

During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment.

Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.

Ask your doctor if CoolSculpting is right for you. To learn more about what to expect, visit the CoolSculpting website and comprehensive Important Safety Information.