David Colbert, Dermatologist to the Rich and Famous, on Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Skincare

From Hollywood A-listers like Michelle Williams and Sienna Miller to many a Victoria’s Secret model, David Colbert is the secret weapon behind the world’s most miraculously glowing complexions.

In the final days before this year’s Victoria’s Secret runway show in Paris, New York-based dermatologist and skincare expert Dr. David Colbert was running around the city, handling last-minute breakouts and fine-tuning the complexions of some of the show’s top walkers with his Colbert MD Runway Facial. The new 90-minute treatment is an updated version of his highly popular Triad Facial, which is a series of microdermabrasion, laser toning, and a chemical peel treatments to resurface the skin. This time around, he added an LED light massage (to deliver vitamins and nutrients more efficiently) and the eTwo Sublime radio frequency treatment (to lift and tone the skin) into the $2,000 process, resulting in tighter, brighter, and more luminous skin.

Before heading back to Paris, this time for vacation, the legendary dermatologist talked to us about this game-changing facial, the new skincare treatments he’s excited about, dying beauty fads, and more.

Let’s start out with the amazing facial you did for the Victoria’s Secret models. How many models got it before the show in Paris? Around 10.

It’s an update on the Triad facial you have been doing for a while. Tell me about the additions to the treatment you incorporated this time. We added a couple things to it. LED light with the Illumino Mask at the very end. Then we also added infrared frequency laser, which is basically the eTwo Sublime laser. Just to give more tightening to the skin, both in the face, neck, and sometimes the arms, stomach, thighs, and buttocks. It’s all the steps of the Triad—the microdermabrasion, the full body laser toning, then exfoliation with one of our own lavender glycolic acid-type peels, no down time. Then we added those last two things I mentioned.

How often do you recommend getting the Runway Facial? If you are a Victoria’s Secret model, you can do it every time you have a big event. For sure, most of the major models will do it before each big event, like the Victoria’s Secret show this year. Whether it is the day of or even a week before. Most of the models will come in and do variations of it. Now that we are adding those other things to it, most of them are starting to do the whole thing. They don’t do the whole body, but they will do the décolletage, the face and neck, and on a regular basis, like every two or three months. Anybody can do it if they have the time and the funds, it’s a bit expensive because it takes a lot of manpower, especially if we do the whole body. But there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t benefit from it. It’s mostly models, actors, actresses, people who are in the public eye, or someone who wants to look really great for their wedding.

Going back to treatments, what are some of the most popular treatments you are doing right now? I would say some of the newer things that are popular are the Sublime–that’s really popular, the Cool Sculpting, intense pulsed light IPL, Triad is always popular, Kybella is really picking up steam because we are finding you can do it for other parts of the body like bra fat or back fat… that’s really becoming popular. As I said, the Cool Sculpting, which is new, we are just adding that to our practice. It’s extraordinarily popular.

What is the big difference between what’s popular in New York and LA right now? New Yorkers seem to be more concerned with subtle improvements and changes. The Triad is probably more popular than body contouring, but to be fair, everyone just wants to look better. LA is usually more of everything. Someone in NYC will come in and it’s one, two, or three things. In LA, they might spend half the day or the whole day there and they will do a little bit of everything. New Yorkers have a more subtle approach to beauty.

Are there any treatments/procedures you are noticing a decrease in popularity lately? People in the LA area are starting to tone it down a bit. There was a brief time where people were doing a lot of fillers and trying to really build up their lips and cheekbones way too much. It was not very subtle. I have noticed people really pulling back on that. Even in New York were asking for really giant cheekbones and that is winding down now.

Why do you think that’s happening? There are always changes in the zeitgeist and who people want to look at. I think somebody like Ms. Jenner, who is very natural looking (pretty much) and thin and all that, I think most of the Victoria’s Secret models this year are pretty natural looking.

Speaking of Jenner, do you have a lot of people still coming in asking for the Kardashian or Jenner look? Oh sure, all the time. Just regular patients in the city will come in with pictures of celebrities and models asking for their cheekbones or lips. I think people are really big fans of Lily Aldridge and Elsa Hosk and Magdalena Frackowiak, the Polish model. People really like her cheekbones. One of the main things people ask for is a glow. They want their skin to be bright, fresh and luminous. That is possible, partly because of my products to be quite honest. Most of the girls are using a combination of my COLBERT MD tone control discs, stimulate serum, and illumino oil. They really will improve your complexion, no matter what. The fans of my skincare line are pretty varied, from Sienna Miller, Elsa Hosk, Magdalena… there is a pretty big following.

Let’s talk fillers, specifically undereye fillers, which can be a good non-surgical option for people who struggle with dark circles/puffy undereyes . When should people start looking at getting them? Or, what should people be looking for to know it’s a good time to start thinking about getting them? A lot of people have under eye circles from the time they are little kids. They start to show up in the mid-twenties to late twenties. They will show up and ask for it because they have educated themselves and they know what their options are. The average person who doesn’t have that problem will show up in their mid-forties when they naturally start to age and there is more hollowing in the under eye. It’s just natural.

For aging everywhere: Colbert MD Illumino Brightening Mask, $110 for 5 masks,

Walk us through the undereye filler treatment in your office. What do people need to do before and after? People will sometimes come in separately to do a consultation, or just do it all in the same day. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to do the procedure. Depending on how big their face/eyes are, that will determine how much Restylane or Belatero we use. We do multiple little pin pricks around the undereye, it’s not really painful. Some people get absolutely no bruising, some get a complete black eye. We usually give them arnica before and ice afterwards and have them use arnica for two days after the treatment. You don’t see the result right away because when you do the injections because it stimulates collagen production. The next morning you can see significant swelling and that can happen for a few days after. Then it will go away.

And you sometimes suggest people come back a few times more to build up that filler? Right. To get a really good result, whether they have experienced loss or volume or they were born that way, I like to do three treatments about four to six weeks apart and build naturally. You body accepts it more easily.

Have there been any interesting advancements with undereye fillers? Yes, there’s Belatero, which is a lighter version. A lot of fillers are not approved for undereye but Belatero is allowed. It is really about who does it and how much they understand anatomy. If your facialist is doing it, that’s probably not the move. You could end up in big trouble.

Moving on to your product line. How many products do you have in your line total right now? 11 products.

Which ones are the most essential for people looking to improve their skin? The basics are always the same. The tone control discs, the Stimulate serum and the Illumino face oil, they will help anyone’s skin. That can help you look like you have had the Triad facial, but at home. You will see the change in your skin immediately. Michelle Williams the actress always says to me, “When I use those three products, my skin feels like it’s 16.” It’s so true.

Do you have any new products coming out? Yes, we just launched Reintensify, a firming cream for the face/neck and it contains hydroxyproline, which is a precursor for pre-collagen. We have a mask we launched about six months ago called the Illumino Face Mask, it was really big before the Victoria’s Secret show backstage. It gives you a really dewy glow really fast.

On the subject of products, what is your favorite sunscreen that you recommend to people? Mine. I have one that’s being developed in the laboratory right now and it will be out in January. The main ingredient is micronized titanium dioxide, which is a completely non-chemical sunblock. It’s like a million little umbrellas in front of your face.

I know nutrition and how you feed your skin is a really important part of your method. What is really important and what’s total bullshit? Sugar can actually seep into your blood vessels and your collagen and actually make it harder. There’s a term for that called glycation. So, I recommend people eat green leafy foods, my favorite is kale because you can do anything with kale. Cook with olive oil, eat any kind of white fish and white meat (turkey or chicken), eat plenty of nuts (like almonds or anything in that family, it can actually lower your cholesterol). Then, of course, I am a big fan of eating the non-acidic Greek yogurt, or anything of that type, which provides you with plenty of calcium. These foods really help your skin and it’s the diet that most of the Victoria’s Secret models are on. Rachel Weisz, Adriana Lima, they all follow it and believe in it. See my book The High School Reunion Diet.

Are there any big health food trends right now, specifically ones touted as being good for your skin, that you think are BS? I usually stick to scientific journals so that’s usually very factual. Plus, there is almost something good to everything. I think the thing to be wary about is fad things, things that are done in extreme ways. Like the juice fad two years ago…there is nothing wrong with it but if you do it for too long you get sick. There is nothing wrong with fasting for a few days, but do it for too long and it’s not good for you.

Is there anything new, in terms of food that are good for your skin/beauty, that you have heard or read about that you are excited about? One thing I read about that was packed with scientific evidence was about glucosamine, which we have all been hearing about for a while now. People take it for the joints and skin, but the new studies show that if you take it enough times per day, it actually increases the collagen and cartilage that your body makes. That is scientifically real, but it requires taking larger amounts than people thought. You have to take it about four to five times per day to make a difference, so the question is, is it worth it? Probably not.

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