Beverly Hills-based celebrity dermatologist Harold Lancer is one of the main men behind the faces (and bodies) of Hollywood’s elite, but the latest flux of technology into his Rodeo Drive clinic is about to put him on the map, again. Here, he walks us through the Lancer Method, the future of cosmetic surgery, and more.

I love your products. I’ve been using the Polish and Cleanse after removing my makeup every night, per your system.
And make sure you do the Body Polish, Cleanse and Nourish as well.

Oh, I should. I’m very face-focused. In meeting with different facialists and dermatologists, I found that everyone has a different take on exfoliation. Why polish every night per the Lancer Method?
Here’s the thing, all people that we see (in the world of beauty or otherwise), if they already use a skincare program, we try to wean them off of whatever it is. We want to get them on the Lancer program. Once we get them off whatever brand they’re using, we start them on Polish once a week. You get into the shower, get a little bit of steam, and the Polish is used first, one night out of the week for maybe one or two weeks. You rinse the Polish you do the Cleanse and get out. Maybe you use some Advanced C Radiance Treatment or the Retexturing Treatment and the Intensive Night Treatment Eye Contour Lifting Cream.

And then?
The second week you go to twice a week, and the third week, three times. You work your way up. Once you get to nightly use, you’re at a set point because nightly exfoliation is the ideal treatment. Now, I’m 63. I do the polish morning and night. For athletic people, which I am not, it’s a good thing to do. You can do it twice daily.

Like someone who is new to retinol?
Same kind of thing. The retinol replacement is Younger. The Younger product is a multi-keyed retinoid to all three receptors. You know Retin-A is only one receptor, and Tazorac is only one receptor. There are three retinoid receptors, the Younger has three herbal and one synthetic that attracts to all three. You start it once a week, at night. So you might do the Polish on a Monday. And then on Tuesday, use the Cleanse and the Younger.

In terms of the three cell receptors, why do prescription strength retinoids only target one?
Because they’re patented. The companies that make the various retinoids have patents and they don’t share well. So if you get a prescription strength retinoid, no matter what the strength, it’s a retinoid for one receptor. It’s sort of like you only buttoned this shirt with one button, but the proper way to wear it is with all three buttons.

And what’s the effect on the skin by hitting all three receptors?
The advantage is (in this form) number one, it doesn’t interfere with pregnancy or breastfeeding. It doesn’t make you sun sensitive and it’s non-irritating because the concept of using all three is better than beating the hell out of one receptor. That’s why people using Retin-A often get a retinoid dermatitis or redness, scaling and irritation. Because the company that has that one patent goes, ‘Well you know, if we really beat the hell out of that one receptor, maybe the others will behave better.’ But that’s not the way skin cells work, which is why people get irritated from Retin-A or the other knock off brands. You need to be targeting all three, and gently. Retinoids are used to change the signaling for the cell so it produces more collagen elastic tissue.

Would that also help with the patients who are using it for acne purposes?
Yes. Even the sensitive patients, we’ll start them on the retinoid maybe once night a week, and mix it 50/50 with the night sensitive nourish. To cut it a little bit. That retinoid will slowly repair the flawed reproduction mechanism in sensitive skin. In blemished skin, also, we start them once a week at night. Working them up from every other night, to nightly.

Dr. Harold Lancer and Kim Kardashian. Photo by @kimkardashian.

What are some of the biggest differences in skin concerns between East Coast and West Coast clients?
I see people from 5 continents, 80 different countries. It’s very interesting, different ancestries, from different parts of the world, have different concerns. So olive people care about color clarity. I have about 1000 patients who are New York-based.

That’s a lot of New Yorkers. What do you notice?
In terms of intensity, usually the East Coast as group is a little bit more lax in their skincare. They’re a little bit more forgiving in terms of flaws. They’re not as fixated by smaller imperfections and as a result; usually the East Coast consumer is less critical of results compared to the West Coast consumer.

That’s interesting! What are the West Coast clients like?
Well, I see mostly the entertainment people. They make a living by being flawless. The West Coast level of what is called perfection is more intense that what other people would think. I’ll give you an example; Michelle Williams has been on record using our products. If you look at her skin, absolutely flawless. She’s been our friend since she was 16. That’s a Lancer face from the beginning. Whether she’s living in New York, which she is, her mentality is still Los Angeles, … the need for that flawless. So do I treat them differently? It’s a matter of need. I try to equal the bar in terms of having people understand what is a realistic expectation.

In terms of realistic expectations, are your Lancer faces able to go without makeup?
For HD and performance reasons, the less makeup they wear, the better life is. Because you see you have to re-take, re-film, and when you have to start using lots of makeup, matching the face from 30 seconds earlier to 40 seconds later in editing is difficult. So makeup artists, lighting directors, cinematographers, and directors, … they all want less and less makeup. The people I see need to function with bare minimum cosmetic use, and that heightens the bar in terms of what is needed to look good. The Dani is a finishing product, perfecting product that reduces the need or cosmetics.

Looks like it blurs too?
It has multiple gold and other mineral diffraction so it changes to a more uniform color. It’s ethnicity blind. It blends all ancestries.

I can’t wait to try this.
So you need to try the Younger. See the lip volumizer? You should try because that was created by patient request to reduce the need for volume injections. It makes the lips a little more plump and shapely. So the Younger, the Dani, the Volume Enhancing Lip Serum, and the sheet mask. The sheet mask is an anti-inflammatory that came out of my office for after chemical peels, lasers, facial treatments. People walk out of the office wearing it because it’s a status symbol to be a patient in the office. So they’ll walk around Rodeo drive with a mask on. Common! Sometimes the tour buses will strop and say, ‘See that face walking? That’s a Lancer face.’

How can skincare stand to improve?
Newer ingredients are going to have to do with three subjects: stem cell protein delivery, anti pollution damage control, and probably the DNA repair component of aged and environmentally damaged skin. Those are going to be new ingredients. Skincare will improve with ingredient upgrades, and it will also improve in terms of vehicle; foam, lotion, serum, paste, etc.

What are you most excited about in terms of procedures?
In the world of lasers, the faster the laser delivers energy, the better. PicoWay is now the ideal laser. It delivers in a trillionth of a second as opposed to its predecessor that was a billionth of a second, which makes it both faster and more precise. The introduction of more ultrasound lifting devices like Ulthera will advance to other brands with a more focused ultrasound for heating tissue. Radiofrequency machines will be far more precise in their focused fractionated radio wave heating delivery. So lasers, ultrasound, RF.

Anything else?
I think in terms of the newest thing, in an effort to replace cosmetic surgery, it will be lifting with threads and strings. The Silhouette Instalift and some newer advances include PDO microthreads under the trademark name of Noba Threads. And that’s using smaller insertional threads to do this. This is where the world is going [gently pulls his face up slightly]. Do you see how little I’m doing?

I like that!
Hardly any pressure! Now why would you cut away a hunk of skin to do this in a facelift? And the same techniques will be advanced a bit to bring up the breasts a little big, bring up the thighs a little bit…

Knees?!
Bring up the knees a little bit, bring up the elbows. Microthreads! There was an Italian actress, I just did her thighs. Put in three threads, three drops of local antithetic, both sides. I thread in this direction [motions up] and it brings firmness to the thigh. When she’s back I’ll do the inner thigh, and then I’ll do a little bit more around the knee. But a little bit at a time using threads to elevate the tissue instead of cutting it away and stitching it up because it always scars. That’s the future of lifting tissue, microlifting.

Well, I’m excited to get older. It’s not as scary.
No, no. It’s all pushed by public demand, and the reason is today is selfie day.

It’s changed the world hasn’t it? Everyone is so self-aware.
That’s right. It’s those selfies that push people, because it’s either your own or a photo of you that someone is showing you online and saying, “Jesus. Why did they post that?” I have a 23-year-old daughter and a 28-year-old daughter, so I’m very aware of this concept. Social media has changed medicine in the cosmetic arena.

I know that feeling.
Let me tell you something, I’ve had 12-year-olds who have come in and I’m treating their blemishes asking me about, “Dr. Lancer, when you get rid of all the pimples, what are we going to do about the scars? I want to make sure the scars are gone. I want to make sure there’s no discoloration. And I want to make sure I’m smooth as can be.” That’s an anti-aging thing because in the old days, 20 years ago, people were happy to get rid of their pimples. Today, because of social media, people are thinking ahead.

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