3 Major Skincare Myths You Should Never Believe, According to Derm Dr. Jeanine Downie

Dr. Jeanine Downie

Board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, starts each workday by saying hello to about 14 people in her Montclair, New Jersey office before she’s even seen a patient. Office culture is important to her, and her friendly demeanor is infectious among employees. “When I come into the office, I always say ‘good morning’ to each person, because that's important to me for camaraderie,” she says. 

This is one of the many reasons that the employees at Image Dermatology®, Dr. Downie’s 1870s, Victorian-style practice, are so close. (Fun fact: everyone in the office also engages in a FitBit® fitness challenge against each other! Competition is fierce.) This friendship factor among Dr. Downie and her staff nicely balances her unwavering professional demeanor. Patients can feel comfortable and at ease knowing their skin is in good hands — after all, Dr. Downie’s credentials are impressive. 

The Tufts University® and SUNY® Health Science Center at Brooklyn graduate has published 52 scientific papers. She also has professional affiliations with various medical societies, including the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery® and American Academy of Dermatology®. Outside of her work endeavors, Dr. Downie is a philanthropist. She’s passionate about her involvement with the United Negro College Fund®, National Public Radio®, and several local charities.

With only 15 minutes to interview Dr. Downie (she’s smack in the middle of a patient-heavy day at her practice!), we cover everything from her own aesthetics routine to what she believes is the most underrated procedure in dermatology. Keep reading to learn all of her skincare secrets.

Spotlyte: You treat a ton of patients each day. What are the most common skincare myths you hear from them during consults?

Dr. Jeanine Downie: That any product from over-the-counter is equivalent to dermatology lines, which is simply not true. That [myth] makes me nuts because a lot of the products from dermatology lines have undergone clinical trials and have been scientifically proven. They're fabulous! All skincare products are not created equally, and you need to go for the ones with the science and the technology behind them. 

A second big [myth] is that you can buy the same quality products online for so much cheaper. And while cheaper, a lot of those products are fake, or they're mislabeled, or they've been expired and re-dated. So, I try to tell my patients not to buy stuff online.

The third myth, and this is a newer one, is that vaping does not affect your skin. Patients think it's so much better than cigarette smoke. No, it's not! It ages your skin. Now, I have to ask my patients, "Do you smoke?" and they say, "No." I ask, "Do you vape?" and they say, "Yeah, I vape." That's the same as smoking! I have to ask the question different ways to find the answer.

Spotlyte: What’s a typical day for you in the office?

JD: I've already eaten breakfast by the time I come into the office, so there's no eating or [downtime]. I don't drink coffee. I've already exercised, so I'm all energy-charged from that. We're pretty much running from 8:30 a.m. in the morning until about 1:30 p.m., and then maybe there's a quick break. Then, I start seeing patients again at 2:00 p.m. My days [also] involve [administering] a lot of injectable wrinkle reducer and filler

[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 kind of treatments do you typically perform every day?

JD: I treat a lot of broken blood vessels with [laser], and I [treat] a lot of brown spots, too. I do a lot of Fraxel® at the practice, as well. And radiofrequency microneedling. We use that for scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles around the mouth.

Spotlyte: Do patients come to you specifically for a certain type of treatment?

JD: Personally, because my skin has color, I do a lot of laser hair removal in my practice. I get a lot of patients with light and dark [skin] — it doesn't matter — for this. Especially my patients with [darker] skin come to see me, because they have gone somewhere else [for laser hair removal] and didn’t have a good experience. They’re concerned about getting burned, so now they see me instead.

Spotlyte: Can you tell me a little about your own treatment routine? 

JD: I get injectable wrinkle reducer every three months like clockwork. I do filler to lift up my [cheeks]. I get chemical peels once every four to six weeks, which is another popular thing that I do in my practice. I still, unfortunately, suffer from acne, even though I'm a grown woman. I do Emsculpt® on my stomach, and I do Fraxel about twice or three times a year. That helps to even out my skin tone.

Spotlyte: As a dermatologist, do you have an extensive skincare routine each morning?

JD: In the morning, I wash my face with the Senté® Daily Soothing Cleanser. Then, I will put on the SkinMedica® Total Defense and Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen. After that, I layer on SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream in my dryer areas. Then, in the middle of the day, I put on Colorescience® Sunforgettable® Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50. I'm a big believer that we react to indoor and outdoor lighting. I've had severe melasma from the time I was 20, so if I don't reapply SPF in the middle of the day — even if I'm inside or even if it's raining — my forehead and my upper lip will get darker. I don't wear foundation, I just put on that Colorescience powder.

Spotlyte: What is your nighttime routine like?

JD: At night, I wash my face with the SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. I put on SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum® first, and then over that, it depends. Sometimes I use the Sente Bio Complete Serum. That's the only retinol I can use. My skin is a baby! Otherwise, I'll put on a thick layer of SkinMedica HA⁵ Rejuvenating Hydrator on top of all of that. And by the way, everything I mentioned for night is [used on] my face and neck.

[Sunburn alert: The AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser contains an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Patients should use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week following.]

[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: You mentioned you have melasma and acne. Do you use any specific products to treat those conditions?

JD: I really like using Obagi® Professional-C® 10% Serum. And if I [have a pimple], I use a retinoid. I typically still use tazarotene.

Spotlyte: Other than treatments or products, are there other ways you ensure your skin is always glowing?

JD:  My patients are always remarking how good my skin looks, and they think it’s good genes. I might have good genes, but I've also got diabetes and high blood pressure in my family. Those things [and some medications associated with them] can take a toll on your skin. So, I exercise seven days a week to keep my blood pressure [under control]. And in terms of diabetes, I resist my chocolate monster demon. Because you know how some people have an addictive personality with alcohol, gambling, or shopping? My addiction is chocolate.

Spotlyte: Do you take any supplements?

JD: I take Nutrafol® every morning with breakfast. In two weeks, it will be four years of me taking Nutrafol, and my hair is three and a half inches longer. It's also a lot thicker than it's ever been. 

Spotlyte: What is one in-office treatment that you think everyone who is looking to rejuvenate their skin should try?

JD: If you're looking to rejuvenate your skin and you're worried about pigmentation, I like [chemical peels]. [They help] with tone, texture, acne, any possible [ingrown] hair bumps, and fine lines. Now, if you're looking for more intense rejuvenation, I recommend Fraxel

Spotlyte: What do you think is the most underrated procedure in aesthetics? 

JD: The most underrated procedure is currently skin tightening. A lot of people feel like they have to get [surgery] and get their faces lifted. But, with skin tightening procedures, they could save themselves from going under the knife for years. IntraGenTM and Thermage® are great procedures that tighten your skin. Also, a lot of my patients have used Ultherapy® and they like that, so that's underrated as well.

Dr. Jeanine Downie is a paid Allergan consultant. 

SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned product line.

SkinMedica® Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreens (SPF 34, SPF 34 Tinted, and SPF 50+) are over-the-counter drug products that are formulated and marketed pursuant to the FDA’s governing regulations set forth at 21 CFR § 352.

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