Summer Skin Care -- Howard Murad, MD -- 05/22/03

Last Editorial Review: 10/19/2004

By Howard Murad
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Summertime can be a bad time for skin. The dryness of winter is gone, but the damaging sun has returned. Before you soak up the sun, see what skin care expert Howard Murad, MD, says about protecting your skin, avoiding burns on the beach, and other tips for keeping your skin smooth and healthy.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live Dr. Murad. Let's get right to our questions.

Member: Are sunless tanning products safe?

Murad: If you mean agents that are self-tanners that contain DHA, then they are safe; however, it does not protect you from sun damage. All that you're getting is the appearance of a tan with no protection from the sun.

The truth about being in the sun is not just to look at the SPF, since there are many factors involved in damage from the sun. One is free radical damage, one is inflammation, and another is dehydration. An ideal sun product should contain antioxidants, such as vitamin C. The one I like the most is pomegranate extract. I was able to prove within an independent study, that if you took pomegranate extract by mouth, you could increase the SPF of sunscreens by 25%.

It is also important to have agents that attract water to the skin in your sunscreen. Look for antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and hydrating agents in your sunscreen and self-tanner. Don't just look at the SPF. There's more information on this if you look at my web site,

Member: Is it true that green tea extracts and grape seed extracts protect from cell damage from the sun?

Murad: Antioxidants, in general, are excellent. Studies have shown pomegranate extract has more antioxidants than a similar amount than green tea or even red wine. I do believe it's important to take antioxidants internally as well as applied topically to help with sun damage. I like to use a combination of antioxidants, including green tea and grape seed extract, but I believe the super hero is pomegranate extract.

Member: I read that you don't think drinking eight glasses of water a day is important for skin care. Is this true?

Murad: Yes, this is absolutely true. I have what I call the water principle. I have discovered a way to utilize the water that you drink. The end result of aging, regardless of the cause, is water loss in your tissue. An infant's body weight is 75% water; an adult is only 50% or 55%. In the Murad Method, I talk about ways of increasing the water content of your tissue.

This is not about increasing extra cellular water, which causes edema; it's about getting it right into the tissue. It's simply taking supplements. The one I use is called Youth Builder. And another is Wetsuit. It's as simple as taking supplements in the morning and evening, a total of three tablets each morning and night. Also it's important to apply appropriate products to the skin that attract water to the skin. The Murad Method is a scientific approach to increase the water content of your tissue in a simple five-week program.

So the myth of eight glasses of water is incorrect. You need to drink water, but you need to get it into your cells where it will help repair and reduce the aging process.

Member: Is there a makeup line that you like better than others?

Murad: I believe the ideal is not to need makeup. The important thing is to have healthy skin so that you don't need as much coverup, and if you do wear makeup it's important to cleanse it when you take it off and remove it every night.

Member: I have very fair skin and lots of freckles. What is the best thing I can do to keep my skin healthy and skin-cancer free?

Murad: Daily application of antioxidants, which would include Vitamin C -- and I like pure Vitamin C such as my Essential C daily renewal complex -- using a sunscreen that has my recipe of SPF, along with antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and hydrating agents. I recommend also using pomphenol sunguard, which is a pomegranate extract supplement, every day, and once a week applying a high concentration of Vitamin C in an infusion system, called Vitamin C Infusion Kit. You can do this at home once a week so that you have high concentrations of Vitamin C applied right to the skin to reduce freckling and pigmentation, as well as improve the overall health of your skin.

Member: What is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

Murad: The difference is the sunscreen contains chemicals such as cinnamates, whereas sunblock contains titanium or zinc. The block blocks the rays of the sun, and the sunscreens absorb the rays. You are less likely to be allergic to the zinc or titanium.

Member: What are the lasting effects on my skin from sunburns?

Murad: Studies have shown that the more blistering sunburns you have the more likely you are to develop melanoma skin cancer. The blister from the sun kind of explains my water principle. You have caused aging by damaging cell membranes and releasing water, which is the blister, and ultimately causing aging. Therefore, I recommend daily intake of supplements with antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and agents that repair cell membranes, such as lecithin and water-attracting agents, such as glucosamine, and essential fatty acids, as are found in my Youth Builder supplement.

Moderator: I have heard that the collective sun exposure over a lifetime, even if you don't "burn," can increase cancer risk. True, or do you need to blister-burn, or burn so that you peel to increase risk?

Murad: The truth is it is a cumulative effect; you don't need to blister in order to get the damage. It's very important on a daily basis to protect yourself from the environment. Many of my patients tell me they don't go out in the sun, and I ask them, "How did you get to my office?" We are probably all exposed to the sun at least an hour a day by incidental sun exposure. I recommend daily internal, as well as external, protection.

Member: Dr. Murad, I have mild acne. What is the best way to keep my skin clear?

Murad: Acne is a multi-factorial problem. Depending on the cause, whether it is hormonal, stress, or genetic, the treatment can vary. At a very minimum, I recommend using a product that will exfoliate with a salicylic acid as a cleanser and, very important, to apply agents that reduce inflammation. I like an ingredient such as zinc. After all, what bothers you about acne are the red bumps. I believe internal intake of Vitamin A, zinc, and other agents can be helpful.

I was able to prove, through independent research, that if you took a supplement that contained zinc, Vitamin A, and other agents, which are in the Pure Skin supplement, that we could reduce acne blemishes of grade I and II by 55% in just six weeks.

Member: Is there anything you can do for breakouts caused by hormones?

Murad: There are two types of hormones that aggravate acne. One is called DHEA. This is produced when you are under stress and it stimulates oil production, causing more acne. The other is androgen, or male hormone, that can come from abnormalities in the ovaries. In severe cases these two hormone problems require prescription drugs given by your doctor. However, if you could reduce stress, you could reduce some of the problem. And zinc, while it is an anti-inflammatory, has properties that do reduce the androgen problem.

Member: Can you address what a good skin regimen would be for a 55+ woman who is seeing fine lines on the face and a feeling of dryness? Oil-laden skin products break me out. I've tried the Mary Kay line but to no avail. I'm retired and cannot afford the high cost of some of the products. Just need a simple yet effective method.

Murad: Yes. I believe in the Murad Method that internal skin care is as important as external. Utilizing the Youth Builder supplement daily, as well as applying a moisturizing sunscreen every single day, as well as a nightly exfoliation with a product I call Night Reform, is a minimum requirement that will help enormously.

Member: How do you know when to use SPF 15 or SPF 30? Which is better for your skin?

Murad: SPF 15 blocks 93% of the sun. The 30 blocks 97%. There is very little difference. More important than 15 or 30 is reapplication of the sunscreen every two to three hours. I recommend a minimum of 15 and if there is a history of skin cancer or sun damage, I recommend a 30. However, it's important to reapply. Also it's important for the sunscreen not only to have SPF, but also to contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and hydrating agents. I recommend the internal approach, as well, utilizing pomphenol daily.

Member: Do you have any products for adult acne that I can use?

Murad: Yes. We have a new product, Anti-aging Acne Treatment. It contains salicylic and azealic acid, along with a new peptide as a wrinkle fighter. The approach is not to dry the skin, but to address wrinkles and acne in the same product.

Member: How can I get rid of my wrinkles?

Murad: Wrinkles are a process of aging. Many factors are involved in aging. The end result is water loss in your tissues and in your cells. Increasing the water content is the best that you can do. Do that internally with Youth Builder and Wet Suit, as well as apply appropriate products that increase the water in your skin, such as Essential C Daily Renewal Complex. I recommend in my book, The Murad Method, a five-week program, which is a daily five-minute program to wrinkle-proof, repair, and renew the skin. This is a proven method. I was able to prove through independent scientific research a 34% reduction in lines and wrinkles in five weeks, as well as 18% increase in elasticity of the skin in five weeks.

Member: I'm 60 and have never taken care of my skin. Is it too late to try?

Murad: It is never too late, and it is never too early. I have patients of all ages. Just the other day an 82-year-old lady came to see me with severe sun damage and wrinkles; she had not taken care of herself. I was able to improve her skin significantly in just five weeks.

Member: Is a facial important? How often should you get one?

Murad: The last chapter of my book is called Inclusive Health. Independent studies at Harvard University have shown there is a strong connection between touch therapy and the overall health of your skin and body. Having a facial is something that improves not only your skin, but overall your health. How often you should have it depends on your needs and your pocketbook. But I recommend at least one every four to six weeks.

Member: My daughter has very dry skin (eczema). I noticed that it kind of aggravates if she stays long in water or sun. Since she loves to swim and enjoys outdoor activities, I was wondering if you could suggest some tips on how to keep her skin safe this summer. She will be 3 years old in September. I would really appreciate any suggestions.

Murad: Eczema is a hereditary condition. It is aggravated by dryness. Also people who have eczema also tend to have very sensitive skin. It's important to find an appropriate lubricant that the 3-year-old can use frequently without irritation. While she may enjoy the sun and water to mitigate the dryness, she should be in the sun as little as possible, but whenever in the sun, reapply appropriate sun protection and lubrication frequently.

Also, ideally a waterproof sunscreen, SPF 30, would be a good idea. When you get home there is no need to use very much soap on her skin, but use a very gentle moisture-rich cleanser.

Member: What foods are better for skin care?

Murad: Appropriate diet is always good. Ideally to help repair cell membranes, soy, which contains lecithin, the essential fatty acids, such as the GLA 3 fish oils, which come from cold water fish, along with flax seed, olive oil, and a source of amino acids which can come from gelatin, along with the traditional green leafy vegetables or the B vitamins. I love pomegranates for their antioxidant benefit. Since it is hard to eat these on a daily basis, I recommend taking them in supplement form to get the appropriate nutrition that your skin needs.

Member: Do you recommend laser for removal of sun spots and freckles on facial areas, or does the resulting damage to the skin make it more difficult to prevent future sun damage?

Murad: Lasers have their place. Before I use laser I recommend Vitamin C infusion to help remove some of the pigmentation problems, and also using sunscreens and sunblocks every day, along with internal agents that help reduce sun damage. If that fails, I would go to a superficial peel, such as glycolic acid. If that fails, I would consider the laser.

The type of laser I would suggest is what is called nonablative, meaning it does not remove any of the surface tissue from your skin. The patients that don't respond to the one respond to a combination of Vitamin C in high concentration applied every week, along with a nonablative laser every three weeks.

Member: Does ultrasound on the face help produce collagen or provide any benefits or is this just a way for aestheticians to make money?

Murad: Nothing that is applied to the skin will increase collagen. New agents, for example, the thermolase that was just approved by the FDA only remodels the collagen that you have. The ideal is to take a supplement that contains amino acids and glucosamine to encourage more collagen production. This is found in Youth Builder.

Member: Are their any supplements I can take internally for psoriasis?

Murad: Psoriasis is an overproduction of cells. Normally cells turn over every 30 days. In psoriasis they turn over every three days. Vitamin A helps to normalize the cell turnover. Utilizing Vitamin A along with agents that reduce irritation and inflammation, such as zinc, will be very helpful.

Member: I was exposed to a lot sun as a child, what can I do now to undo the harmful effects on my skin?

Murad: Many of my patients come to me with severe sun damage. My recommendation to them to try to reverse some of the problem is to work internally and externally. I recommend to repair and renew the cells and connective tissue with supplements containing amino acids, glucosamine, essential fatty acids, and lecithin, such as Youth Builder, on a daily basis; I recommend pomegranate extract on a daily basis; I recommend sunscreen on all exposed areas of the body on a daily basis, along with daily applications of essential C, and weekly application of Vitamin C infusion, which is 30% pure Vitamin C. I find that these patients, within a short period of time, between a month and two months, to significantly change in their skin for the better.

Member: Other than surgery are there any skin care products that can help hide or even get rid of stretch marks?

Murad: Yes. Through independent research I was able to develop a supplement that is called Firm and Tone, which in eight weeks reduced the length of stretch marks by 40%.

Member: I have brown skin, is there a difference in skin care for people of color?

Murad: Skin is skin. People of color have more tendency to hyperpigment, and causes of hyperpigmentation are sun, so I believe people of color should be using sunscreens, just as anybody else. People of color also tend to be a little more sensitive and should be concerned about agents that may be irritating their skin.

Member: How can a white, blonde, green-eyed man can get a cool tan? I don't want to be all white on the beach this summer. At what time of the day or with what products can I get a tan and not burn?

Murad: I recommend using a self-tanner to get the appearance of a tan without going to the beach. That way you look tan without getting the damage from sun exposure. There are salons that apply that to your whole body and you can maintain it yourself every three to four days.

Moderator: Dr. Murad, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap up for today, do you have any final comments for us?

Murad: Yes. As a dermatologist, I believe that skin care is healthcare. I have been able to prove that if you take care of your skin, that you are also taking care of your health, and I would suggest to anybody interested to read my book, The Murad Method, which explains

this philosophy.

Moderator: We are out of time. Our thanks to Howard Murad, MD, author of The Murad Method: Wrinkle-Proof, Repair, and Renew Your Skin with the Proven 5-Week Program. And thank you members for joining us today.

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