Your Skincare Questions: Answered, From Dr. Dennis Gross' Experts

By Sam Negrin

When it comes to skincare, there are a few major hitters in the game that you just TRUST. One of those expert brands is Dr. Dennis Gross. You've definitely seen Dr. Gross' products in the 'most popular' section of Sephora, peppered into various Into The Gloss top shelves, and endorsed by celebrity estheticians like Shani Darden.

Dr. Gross' product line essentially helps every skin type find that radiant complexion that we're always looking for. All of the products are serious multi-taskers, incredible for beating acne, fine lines, pigmentation and general dullness. (What more could you want?!) I've been using a few of Dr. Gross' products for the last 2+ months and I can honestly say that my skin feels so freakin' smooth and I haven't thought about dullness, even in the midst of winter, at ALL. In fact, I've been told I'm glowing more times recently than in my entire life!

Dr. Dennis Gross
credit: LEAFtv

The original reason I wanted to try Dr. Gross was because of the Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads recommended to me by someone who has glowing, acne-free skin. I was dealing with a lot of blackheads, pustules, scarring, and felt like a chemical exfoliator would be of good use. I also got to try the One Step Acne Eliminating Pads, C+ Collagen Eye Cream, Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster and Hyaluronic Marine Moisture Cushion. Let me tell you... game changers. I also got to pick the brain of Courtney Brooks, Director of Aesthetics at Dr. Dennis Gross, on her top skincare tips.

Let's get started with my experience:

Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads: There are very few things that can compare to this, IMO. Each treatment comes with two pads, the first is to "exfoliate and smooth", then you wait two minutes and do the second which is the "anti-aging neutralizer." After just a few uses I noticed the difference in my complexion, I use them in the morning (and apply sunscreen liberally, too). After 30 days, my scars have definitely lightened and my acne flare ups are few and far between. "They were formulated with daily use in mind so we can get in consistent exfoliation, and to kill bacteria, which is key in treating/preventing acne, " says Courtney. These can be beneficial to ANY skin type, if you want a smooth, even skin tone that is. They're 100% the holy grail of at-home chemical exfoliation on the market. ($88, Sephora)

Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster: This is a unique product that you simply add to any other serums or moisturizers you're applying, or directly onto skin for a stronger treatment. I add it to my Truthful Serum and make sure to do a little face massage if I have time. My entire face immediately brightens up, I'm not kidding. And this isn't paid. This is absolutely a must in the winter... it's full of antioxidants that actually feed your skin. They also recommend massaging it into any troubled pigmentation for a potent treatment. ($68, Sephora)

Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion: This is so great for acne-prone skin because it's full of hyaluronic acid (which holds 1000x it's weight in water) and is oil-free. I was struggling with dry skin in November and this totally changed the game. I use it in the morning before the gym, when I go outside and it's super cold and dry. ($58, Sephora)

One Step Acne Eliminating Pads: OUCH. These babies burnnnn. But, in the best kind of way. If you've ever gotten a chemical peel (coming soon) you'll know the kind of burning/itchy feeling I'm talking about. But, no pain no gain! I use these very sparingly before my period or after traveling, and they definitely help to "shrink" any zits that might have popped up or prevent new ones from ever forming. ($38, Sephora)

Q&A with Courtney Brooks:

Q: What is the proper order in which to apply skincare?

A: We always do the peel on clean skin and then post peel you apply topicals from "thinnest to thickest" – always a good rule of thumb when going through the skincare steps. Example:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Peel
  3. Face serum
  4. Eye cream
  5. Moisturizer
  6. SPF
  7. Makeup

Q: If you're very acne prone, how should you treat your skin without completely drying out (especially in the winter)?

A: Keeping your skin balanced is very important while treating acne, and in the winter this can be quite tricky. I recommend using a really hydrating oil-free moisturizer. The Hyaluronic Marine Moisture Cushion is perfect for this because the ingredients are super hydrating and plumping (hyaluronic acid holds 1000x its weight in water) without actually clogging any pores or oil glands!

Q: Can pores actually shrink? What's the best way to deal with enlarged pores?

A: We cannot actually change the size of your pores but we can certainly make them appear smaller! Keeping your pores as clean as possible will cause them to tighten up and look tinier. The best way to do this is consistent exfoliation (by using Alpha Beta Peels!) and of course regular facials.

Q: How early should one start incorporating retinol into their routine?

A: Do not fear Retinol! Retinol has a stigma of being ideal for anti-aging, but it is actually really great at treating acne as well. There have been so many advancements with this wonder ingredient, so you can even find formulas to treat the most sensitive of skin. Our ferulic + retinol brightening solution is my absolute favorite for those just getting into the world of retinol. It is a very gentle blend of super fab and super effective ingredients without over-treating or over-drying.

Q: Should you be treating various types of acne, differently?

A: Yes, although the ideal ingredients used to treat various types of acne can be the same, the way you treat them can vary. Remember, all acne starts with a blocked oil gland so first step is to properly cleanse skin and be sure to remove all makeup before bed. To treat acne most effectively yet gently, start out by using over-the-counter anti-acne remedies that contain either pore-clearing salicylic acid or bacteria-banishing benzoyl peroxide. If neither works well enough independently, try using them both together. Sulfur is also a fantastic spot treatment to draw out the oil and kill bacteria. Most importantly I like to tell clients if the breakout "looks angry" it probably is, we don't want to upset the skin anymore, so be mindful to not irritate with product application - nice and gentle can help alleviate redness and inflammation.

Q: How many products per morning or night is too many products?

A: Personally, I can never use TOO many products 😇 But the truth is, you don't want to over-treat because that can throw off the balance. Ideally I think using a cleanser, exfoliation, serum, eye product, moisturizer and SPF is the sweet spot of products. I also recommend a mask once a week for that extra oomph. Anything more than that could overdo it.

Q: What are the main ingredients every 20-something should make sure are present in their skincare routine?

A: It is so hard to narrow this down!

  1. AHAs (glycolic, citric, lactic acids, etc) - These will promote cell turnover to brighten the skin
  2. Vitamin C - Brightening and tightening… I mean what else do we need?!
  3. Hyaluronic Acid - this ingredient holds 1000 times its weight in water which makes is super hydrating but miraculously lightweight!

Q: Biggest acne myth?

A: CHOCOLATE! Of course, people have sensitivities and certain foods can trigger a specific bodily response… but with that being said, do not deprive yourself from this treat just for skin benefits. Like everything, it's totally fine in moderation 😉

Q: What is your recommendation for pre-gym skin?

A: Exercising with clean skin is key! When we sweat and our temp rises, our pores can open up (just like steaming in a facial) and we don't want any make up/dirt etc to settle into those open pores.

Q: If you workout at night, do you wash your face after your workout?

A: When you exercise you sweat and lose a lot fluids. While you should wash your skin, you have to remember to 1) not use harsh cleansers or toners that will strip away your natural oils and 2) replenish all of the moisture to rebalance your skin.

Keep in mind it is best to avoid application of both moisturizer and makeup immediately upon washing (after a workout). Skin has yet to equilibrate so putting anything on right away may block the pores. To avoid this, wait for skin to cool to room temperature. Products are generally designed to be used under certain physiologic conditions. When skin is overheated, it can exacerbate redness even when skin is normally not prone to this condition.

Do you have other skincare questions we missed?! Let us know via Instagram @leaftv and we'll do our best to answer! Learn more about Dr. Dennis Gross' practice and products right this way.