Fully Exposed


Posted on: March 10, 2020

Shampoo is quite a recent invention with the first synthetic shampoo, Drene, being introduced in the United States in the 1930s. Shampoo didn't become a household staple until the early 1960s when products like Breck, Prell, and Johnson & Johnson's Baby shampoo became popular. Prior to that, hair was typically washed with bar soap.

Traditional bar soap is made from animal fat and lye. When mixed with hard water, it left a difficult to rinse soap scum on the hair. This resulted in hair that felt rough and dry. It also left the hair unmanageable. And because traditional soap didn't lather well, there were plenty of marketing opportunities to promote new and improved hair cleansers.

Shampoo is a hair care product that is designed to clean, remove sebum, desquamating skin cells, oils, dirt and sweat from the scalp and hair. It is also designed to beautify. It is simple to formulate a shampoo that will removed unwanted oil and dirt from the hair and scalp but to formulate one that also leaves the hair soft, smooth and manageable is much more challenging. Formulating shampoo is a balancing act between removing enough of the unwanted oils and dirt so the hair appears clean while leaving the hair conditioned and aesthetically pleasing to the consumer.

Although there is no known overall health risk to shampooing with synthetic shampoos, there is little science studying the effects of daily exposure to shampoo ingredients. We do know that over washing the hair can damage the hair itself. 

So, if you have a healthy scalp, do you really need to wash your hair with shampoo? For some individuals the answer is a resounding NO. Proponents of the 'no-poo' method espouse that there is no medical reason to wash the hair with synthetic shampoos and that doing so is solely determined by cultural norms. Strengthening their argument is the fact that shampooing has only become a daily essential in the past half-century and the fact that there is little, if any, research proving the health benefits of shampooing as part of our daily hygiene.

Modern shampoos have made it easier to get cosmetic outcomes that are pleasing (clean, silky, manageable hair.) It all depends on how much you want to pay for it and how you feel about using synthetic products.

The selection of effective shampoos on skincare aisles that both clean and beautify is plentiful. Which shampoo you prefer and how often you shampoo is still mostly based on personal preference. Regarding the instructions on many shampoo bottles, Lather Rinse Repeat, personally I don't follow them. I just lather and rinse.


Posted on: February 06, 2020

The dry winter days are here. There are beautiful snowflakes. And with them come lots of skin flakes as well. Your skin is dry, scaly and may even show signs of cracking. 

Moisturizers come as creams, lotions and ointments. Petroleum based ointments tend to be more occlusive, limiting the evaporation of water from the skin. During the cold winter months, oil based moisturizers may be more effective. For very dry skin and for problem areas such as the elbows and knees, moisturizers containing urea and/or lactic acid may be beneficial as these ingredients draw moisturize into the skin. One caution when using these types of moisturizers: they may cause the skin to sting or burn when applied to irritated, cracked, or inflamed skin. 

Try these steps to alleviate dry winter skin:

  1. Moisturize more frequently (3 - 5 applications/day) to help keep the skin hydrated. Always apply moisturizer after a shower or bath.
  2. Take brief, 5 to 10 minute, showers with lukewarm water. Long showers and hot showers may strip the skin of its natural lipids and proteins that help maintain adequate hydration.
  3. Use a mild soap free cleanser to minimize the loss of the skin's own moisturizing proteins and lipids.
  4. Apply petroleum or wax based lip balm to help keep the lips smooth and prevent chapping.
  5. Apply moisturizers to your hands regularly.
  6. Cover up when exposed to dry cold winter air. Wear hats, gloves and scarves to help prevent dry skin and chapped lips.
  7. To increase moisturize levels in the home, consider using a humidifier. Humidity levels between 30% - 50% may prevent the skin from drying out.
  8. If dry skin is severe or if it persists, see a dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical cause of dry skin like eczema, psoriasis or other inflammatory process. Prescription products may be necessary.

You can select effective soap-free cleansers, moisturizers, hand creams and lip balms with the Product Selector tool.


Posted on: January 14, 2020

After 30 years of practicing dermatology, reading the medical literature and testing skincare product formulations it is clear to me that:

  1. There is no correlation between the cost of an over-the-counter (OTC) skincare cosmetic, including "anti-aging", "anti-wrinkle", firming, toning, and night creams, to name a few, and its efficacy. The ability of an OTC product to temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines depends on its ability to increase the water content of skin, to moisturize. And,
  2. There is no OTC skincare product that can reverse the aging process. As a matter of fact, science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can do that. Simply stated, there is no "Fountain of Youth" in a bottle, jar, tube or pump.

Too many of my patients spend an astronomical amount of money on OTC skincare products with the hopes of looking many years younger. $50, $80, $100 per ounce. Up to $4800 per pound. Absurd! Save your money. Aging is inevitable. Embrace it. Don't let marketing and media hype convince you that you are somehow physically inadequate. You're NOT.

Optimize your skin health and appearance by living a healthy lifestyle. Magic potions do not exist. Apply a well-formulated moisturizer that you can purchase at your local pharmacy. Apply sunscreen daily. And remind yourself often, you're already awesome!


Posted on: December 01, 2019

Koala bears aren't really bears. Jellyfish aren't really fish. And moisturizers don't really add water to the skin. And it's a good thing the skin doesn't absorb water or we'd swell up like a sponge when we swam in the ocean. And we don't.

Built like a brick wall, the outermost layer of skin is an incredible barrier. It protects us from outside elements including bacteria, fungus, mold, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This barrier makes us virtually waterproof. One of the most important functions of skin is to prevent the body from losing water. Water is constantly evaporating from the skin into the environment. On cold winter days our skin feels drier as we lose more water into the air, on humid days we lose less.

Effective moisturizers do not add water to the sin. They create an environment where water loss from the skin is minimized. By decreasing the amount of water loss, skin water content can rise. Well formulated "moisturizers" contain occlusives, ingredients that prevent water evaporation by forming a film on the skin surface. Petroleum jelly is the gold standard occlusive decreasing water loss from the skin by 98%. Although it is extremely effective as an occlusive, it can feel greasy on the skin, not always cosmetically elegant for the user. Silicone derivatives like dimethicone are often used in lieu of petroleum jelly or in addition to it to improve the elegance of the product. These synthetic silicone derivatives, however, are not as effective in preventing water loss from the skin. Effective moisturizers contain other ingredients called humectants that help the skin hold onto water. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are common humectants.

So the next time you use your favorite moisturizer, do know that the product will not add water to your skin. If it is an effective product, however, it will prevent water loss from your skin and create an environment where your skin can hold onto it's own water. Moisturizers don't really moisturize. The skin does that on its own. 

By the way, fireflies aren't really flies. And strawberries aren't really berries.


Posted on: October 29, 2019

The word detox, used to describe a multitude of creams, lotions, serums, and masks, is often advertised boldly on product labels. There are expensive boutique "detox" potions and less costly drugstore products readily available today. These products purport to remove dreadful toxins that accumulate in your skin. What toxins?

As a graduate of an Ivy League medical school who had the honor of being taught by some of the greatest medical minds on the planet, I'm wondering why I can't name a single toxin known to accumulate in the skin. And exactly what is the end result of a "skin detox' and how do you confirm that these poisonous toxins are eradicated?

The word detox (short for detoxification) means to remove unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or addictive substances like opiates and barbiturates, from the body. It's a common expression used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers all over the world. However, during my four years at medical school, one-year internship and three years of dermatology residency, including a year as Chief Resident, I never once heard the word "detox" used in connection with the skin. So, let's be clear, from a medical perspective, skin "detox" isn't a thing.

The human body is amazing. Your skin is a barrier, and a very good one. It is very difficult for toxins to pass through healthy skin. There are no studies that show perspiration, or sweat, removes toxins from the body. The liver and kidneys have the primary responsibility for detoxifying the body. The bowel and urinary systems remove the waste. If toxins were to build up in your body, you'd likely feel quite ill.

The word "detox" on skincare products is used as marketing jargon, hijacked with the sole purpose of increasing sales. If the word "detox" is being used as a replacement for the word "cleanse" I recommend you simply use a cleanser, such as a bar of soap. Cleansing the skin also removes the most superficial layers of skin cells. If, on occasion, you'd like to use a scrub or exfoliant because you like the way it feels, do so. Just know that none of these treatments can be considered a "detox."

If you want healthy skin, live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Keep the skin hydrated by moisturizing when necessary.
  • Protect yourself from the sun and wear sunscreen 365 days/year.

And one last recommendation...laugh lots. Especially when you see the word "detox" on a skincare product label.


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​Hello, and welcome to FryFace!

I've been a New York based dermatologist for over 25 years. I love music. I love triathlons. I love chemistry. (I love petroleum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More

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