NYC CELEBRITY DERMATOLOGIST and author DR. DEBRA JALIMAN discusses her artistic beginnings, her best trade SECRETS for glowing healthy skin, and her new skin care line.
She is the Da Vinci of dermatology. Her clients say that she has an artist’s eye. “I studied a lot of art history in college, and dermatology is very visual,” says New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. She has protected and preserved the world’s most famous faces for 25 years, has published a book called Skin Rules, and is now developing a new skincare line, Sea Radiance. This year, a select list of Oscar nominees and other A-listers will receive Sea Radiance in their gift bags. For those of us who may not have a gold Oscar statuette sitting on our mantle, we can still score Sea Radiance for our vanity, not to mention our good health.
“We are launching a transformation in natural skin care,” says Jaliman of Sea Radiance. Rapid Eye Lift, the Sea Radiance eye cream, contains a potent antioxidant formula (patent pending) with "Sea Elixir" that absorbs free radicals, builds collagen and repairs sun damage. “It rapidly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with one use and with continued use the wrinkles keep disappearing.”
The Manhattan dermatologist was inspired to focus on skin at a young age because of her own sensitive, problematic skin. Today, she practices at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, as well as at her own private practice on Fifth Avenue.
Evaluating each face as if it were an art form, the doctor insists that natural is the best look. “I see so many people on the streets who don’t look natural,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”
My introduction to Dr. Jaliman came in 2011, when my big shot New York City boyfriend sent me to her to undo the sun damage that caused the crow’s feet around my eyes. After The Big Shot swept me off my feet and into the New York City fast lane, my life became a frenzy of dressing for dinners, waiting for drivers, and standing steadfast by his side while he introduced me to Manhattan.
One evening at a lavish soirée, The Big Shot pulled me aside and gave me a good talking to. In the most gentlemanly way that a guy could break the news to the girl he loves, he told me that I wasn’t quite hot enough. “I know that it’s flip-flops and fancy free at the beach, but this is Manhattan and you are with me,” he said. “You need to look hot!”
Looking hot came with a price tag, and The Big Shot spared no expense in showing me the way. There were designer dresses by Zac Posen, Versace, Dior, Prada, and Proenza Schouler; shoes, bags, and jewelry.
Next came Botox and Juviderm mixed with endless spa treatments; massages, waxes, manicures, pedicures, plucking, pruning, and threading. He had plugged me into the circuit board of the city that never sleeps, and in no time, I was officially Manhattanized.
However, the greatest gift that The Big Shot gave me was Dr. Jaliman. While I was in her office one day, she found a suspicious mole that turned out to be melanoma. Her expertise and early detection ended up saving my life. Since then, I’ve taken the sun more seriously.
I recently sat down with Dr. Jaliman to discuss her life before dermatology, her own skin cancer scare, and her future plans in skincare:
Tell us more about your artist eye and the science of skin care.
When I was a teenager, I was into metal working and I also made jewelry. I was one of the first artists to use Plexiglas as a medium for design, back when Plexi was still in its infancy. I learned how to bend it and mold it. My parents gave me an electric sander for smoothing the edges of the acrylic. I made napkin rings and a dining room table and chairs.
After that, I took a class in jewelry making. I would sell my pieces to friends and one day I was asked to teach a course. We used a flexible shaft device to create jewelry, and when I started my dermatology residency, I discovered that the same tool that I had used to make jewelry was the instrument used for skin! In those days it was dermabrasion and you attached tools and would abrade people’s faces that had scars. I was one of the few residents who knew how to use the machine because I had used it as a jeweler. When I was a first year resident they let me use it. In working with jewelry because it’s small, I had very good dexterity and I had already mastered it as an art form. I was easily able to translate that art to skin care.
Is there a personal goal you have in your own life that you have yet to attempt or accomplish?
I’m developing a skin care line called Sea Radiance. I use natural botanicals with minimal preservatives. Many people can't use skin care products because they have sensitive reactive skin so I wanted to develop products that were safe, effective, and pure. I formulated these products with the best ingredients that are gentle but really work. If it's a cleanser, it gently cleans without stripping out the natural oils. It also adds additional hydration to the skin. If it's for anti-aging, you will see the lines diminish. Pure, gentle, yet effective.
Share your own experience with skin cancer.
You don’t have to be blonde to get a melanoma. Nobody is immune to skin cancer. Last year, I was for preparing a trip to Hawaii and found a melanoma on my leg. Of course, I’ve never spent much time in the sun because I’ve always been a dermatologist. I wear sun protective clothing and never go in the sun without a hat. The biggest lesson is to always have skin checks. The life you save may be your own and the life a dermatologist saves may be yours.
Jaliman’s book, Skin Rules, Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist, spotlights seventy-seven secrets for women that prove that it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin, whether it is maintaining its youthful appearance, checking for melanomas, or trying out new skin care products. When I’m ready to hit my favorite beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, I’ll make sure to follow these helpful excerpts to protect my skin from the sun:
It’s The Sun That Ruins Skin, Not Age
People think that crinkly skin, liver spots and wrinkles are all part of normal aging. They’re not – they’re just signs of sun damage. I’ll never forget the patient who came in with her elderly mother. My patient had the alligator skin that comes from baking on too many beaches, and she required many expensive treatments to repair it. Her mother, on the other hand, was a Southern belle who at the age of eighty-four still had porcelain skin with remarkably few wrinkles. She had avoided the sun all of her life, she had used sunscreen and big, beautiful hats to protect her face, and she told me, “I’ve always walked on the shady side of the street.” We’d all do well to copy her example. The American Academy of Dermatology now calls for a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30, so for daily use a sunscreen with SPF 30 is fine. Remember, sun damage is cumulative; even ten minutes of exposure a day over the course of a lifetime is enough to cause major problems.
Vitamin D Is Good, But Not When It Comes To The Sun
I spend a lot of time in my practice debunking the “sunlight is good for you” myth. I can’t begin to count how many patients have told me that they’ve heard on television that to get vitamin D they absolutely have to go out every day without sunscreen and catch some rays, even if only for ten minutes. What makes it worse is that some of these patients have already had skin cancers removed from their faces. Let me be absolutely clear: Everybody needs vitamin D and it would be very hard to get enough of it from food alone. But the best way to get an adequate amount of vitamin D is not through damaging your skin, but through a much cheaper, easier, and effective daily supplement. I recommend that adults take at least 1,000 milligrams a day. This is especially important for people with dark skin, but even the blondest, most fair-skinned person needs a vitamin D supplement.
Toss That Old Sunscreen and Get A New One
It has been my experience that sunscreens lose potency over time and even more quickly if they are left in bright sunlight. This is especially true of chemical sunscreens that contain avobenzone (Parsol 1789). So don’t leave your sunscreen out on the sand; put it back in your bag. As a rule, don’t keep sunscreens from one year to another. I’ve treated patients who got terrible, blistering sunburns because they used an old sunscreen they found at the bottom of their beach bags.
Discover Sea Radiance here: WWW.SEARADIANCE.COM
Credit: From “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, M.D. Copyright © 2012 by St. Martin’s Press.