You’ve probably heard the old adage “you are what you eat” hundreds of times by now. From laypeople, the phrase seems nebulous and unwarranted — I’ll be a flaky baklava if I want to! — but from board-certified Manhattan dermatologists and spouses Gary and Kristina Goldenberg, MD, it’s medical advice that could make a real difference in your skin.
The power couple takes a holistic approach to skincare, opting not to just treat their patients externally with the latest technological innovations and topical formulas, but also internally, via recommendations on diet and supplements. “We really are believers that beauty is from the inside out,” says Dr. Gary. Here, they share some of their suggestions for what not to eat for a clearer complexion, how food affects the skin, and even divulge the treatments they personally swear by.
Spotlyte: What’s your best advice for patients who want to make a change?
GG: Both of us are very much into nutrition, vitamins, and physical exercise. I counsel patients on nutrition, no matter what they have: acne, eczema, wrinkles. One of the most common questions that patients have is, "Is my concern something that'll change, or is it something that I'm doing?”
We really are believers that beauty is from the inside out. We have a vitamin line, so we really try to be at the forefront. Things like probiotics, vitamin D, and different diets that patients may be on may affect their skin, which is why they're coming to see us anyway. It’s part of the holistic approach.
Editor’s note Always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Spotlyte: What are the most common foods that you're telling people to cut out of their diet to get rid of their acne?
GG: White flour, sugar.
KG: It's not just sugar itself, actually, it's anything that causes spikes in your sugar levels. It doesn't have to be sweet: pasta, pizza, rice. Things that cause spikes in sugar levels, and anything processed, that comes packaged, are worse than something that comes fresh. I [also] tell patients to get rid of dairy, because dairy [has] hormones. A lot of my patients are vegetarian or vegan to begin with, but if they're not, I believe that cutting out animal products — especially meat and poultry that may have hormones — can also be beneficial to acne.
Spotlyte: What’s a common misconception about foods that are bad for skin?
KG: I have a lot of patients who cut out tomatoes because they see they’re red and they think that they get more red from the tomatoes. I say, "Eat them. You don't need to cut out foods that are red in color."
Spotlyte: Do you each get medical aesthetics treatments?
KG: 100 percent: injectable wrinkle reducers, fillers, lasers, PRP is a big one.
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.
I [get] injectable wrinkle reducers. I have three kids and during each pregnancy, obviously, I couldn't use injectable wrinkle reducers. I have to tell you: that was the most difficult part of my pregnancy. That really was the most difficult part. I couldn't have injectable wrinkle reducers.
I have suffered from melasma. I talk to patients about it all the time; I'm very open about it. The biggest problem with melasma is that our skin has memory, so no matter how well we can eliminate the pigment, any exposure to the sun will bring it right out [again]. After any vacation, I'm back and my skin is covered in [melasma] pigment. I do lasers and peels for that.
GG: I've had every injectable wrinkle reducer approved by the FDA. I've had fillers. I've had laser. I love Ultherapy®; I feel like it [helps] prevent your skin from getting stretchier. I get it once a year to make a deposit of collagen, a collagen bank account, so to speak.
I [also] do SculpSure®, which involves fat reduction. It's a [body contouring device] that we use — it works well for patients that we call "skinny-fat."
As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.