A Celebrity Dermatologist Shares Her Skin Secrets
Dr Natasha Cook on acne, anti-aging, the treatments her celeb clients swear by and her new skincare range that treats six key skin concerns...
Beautiful skin is a never-ending quest for me, and probably many women out there. I feel very lucky that I get to try out some amazing products that will definitely get me one step closer! So it's only fair that I share these skin secrets with you!
Recently I was introduced to Dr Natasha Cook and her new self-titled skincare range Dr Natasha Cook Cosmeceuticals. Once an acne sufferer herself, and having spent many years treating a range of different skin issues, Dr Natasha (who counts Roxy Jacenko as one of her high profile clients) spent eight years creating her skincare line because it was so important to her that the formulation of her products were pot on.
"After seeing people and fixing their skin I realised most people have more than one problem, so they need skin care with the right scientifically proven ingredients in the right amounts, but also one that can address the six key skin concerns: acne/breakouts, pigmentation, sensitivity, dehydration, ageing and sun damage," she says.
"To cut down on the clutter and using too many products which can lead to more skin problems, I looked at combining actives that were biocompatible," explains Dr Natasha. "So my serums have not only AHA but BHA in the one product. The other serum has not only vitamin C BUT B3 and Hyaluronic acid and Peptides. Each product is a true multi tasker with correct concentrations of scientifically proven active ingredients."
I recently added the Concentrated Clarifier, Concentrated Illuminator and Concentrated Moisturiser into my skincare regime morning and night and can already notice a difference in my skin - pores are definitely smaller, blemishes clear quickly and my skin looks more even and radiant.
In this exclusive Q&A, Dr Natasha explains why her skincare works, how to best treat acne, rosacea and scarring, her anti-ageing tips PLUS what treatments her celebrity clients come to her for and more. An insightful read. Hope you enjoy!
How did your own struggle with acne impact your life and career decision?
I actually grew up with an autoimmune skin condition known as Erythema Multiforme. It started at age 8 and fortunately I grew out of it by 20. My immune system would go into overdrive after getting a cold sore. It would make too many antibodies that would create a disfiguring and terribly itchy rash all over my body.
I think that helped me understand how people feel when they have a health problem that is visible.
I wasn’t conscious of this affecting my decision to study Dermatology after my medical degree, but I do think it was a subconscious driver for me.
The more conscious influence was meeting my friend’s Dad who was a Derma when I was an intern. He had just come back from working in the US and bought back a lot of new technology, such as lasers. I saw dermatology as a really dynamic and creative speciality, with cutting edge technology. That very much appealed to me.
What are the common misconceptions when it comes to treating acne?
Keep it simple. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser twice a day. Use a cell exfoliating product with AHAs and BHAs at least once a day to PREVENT congestion inside the follicle. You see acne is largely a condition of prevention. It we stop congestion we can effectively stop breakouts.
Don’t be afraid of moisturiser!!!! A little moisturiser helps to regulate the sebaceous (oil) glands. Calming them down, resulting in less oil output. Drying out the skin only makes them make excessive oil (see above).
Diet: really important. We have a “good skin” diet that we promote in the clinic. It works. Based on above ground, red, and green veggie, supplemented by good fats and protein. Cutting out carbs and sugar. This stabilizes insulin levels and hormone levels leading to more balanced skin.
Obviously if you’ve got hormonal acne you may need extra assistance with oral medication. Very inflamed cystic acne usually needs something like roaccutane to get it clear, then maintaining with the skincare tips and diet as mentioned above.
That are your top three skin tips when it comes to anti-aging?
1. Early intervention is prevention: Sun protection and sun avoidance from an early age and onwards is essential.
2. Consistent routine using effective ingredients daily. Think cell renewing AHAs (especially lactic acid) Vitamin B3 (repairs UV induced DNA damage and is one of the most potent topical anti-inflammatory / anti-oxidant ingredients you can use.) Collagen rebuilding Vitamin A and C. Wear your vitamins A,B and C.
3. Lifestyle: Diet and exercise and supplement. We know HIIT and strength training reboots cellular energy reverses the ageing process of our Mitochondria, the powerhouse of all our cells.
Diet is implicit in anti-ageing. Think anti-inflammatory diet: Above ground greens and plenty of tomatoes (contain lycopene the most powerful food group anti-oxidant a form of carotenoid. Tomatoes are believed to be the secret behind the anti- ageing effect of the Mediterranean diet. Make sure you cook them with the skin on! The skin contains the lycopene and you need heat to make it readily absorbed in the gut.
Supplements: Niacinamide (vitamin B3, the stuff that’s in vegemite), Coenzyme Q10, curcumin (powerful anti-inflammatory that’s in turmeric) fish oil, resveratrol (the stuff that’s anti-ageing in red wine, it slows down cellular ageing).
Can you tell us any famous faces you work with? What are their favourite treatments?
That would be breaching my confidentiality agreement with clients as their treating specialist…. What I can say is they love the Hollywood Laser Peel for an instant pick me up pre-events. The BBL once or twice a year. Botox 2-3 times a year. Fillers maybe once a year no more than twice.
What’s your advice / tips for making sure cosmetic procedures like botox or fillers look natural?
Don’t over do it!!!
Start early and look at is as preventative. Lower doses less frequently.
Leave some movement. Especially the forehead. If you can’t raise your eyebrows it’s a massive give away.
Don’t overfill. Smaller volumes to correct the areas lost by the ageing process. Keep it in line with your natural face shape looking like a fresher version of yourself not different. Just because you don’t have lines doesn’t mean you look any younger.
Why did you want to create your own skincare line – what sets it apart from others?
I realised that skin care is cluttered and confusing. Many products claimed to have an active ingredient in them BUT were not putting them in the “right” concentrations / amounts to make the product actually work. Using pseudo science to make people feel “fearful” and needy. Selling them products that over promised and under delivered.
I simplified it to 3 steps morning, 3 steps evening and once a week treatment peel. All you need to sustain healthy youthful skin. Our range is “boosted” with niacinamide also known as vitamin B3. The stuff that’s also in vegemite. This was an Australian discovery that showed topically it protects the skin’s immune system from UV induced depletion. At the same time it repairs DNA from environmental damage and slows cellular ageing. It has the added benefit of enhancing even skin tone and preventing pigment by blocking the enzyme inside the pigment production cell. It restores the outer barrier layer and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, calming sensitive skin. So our range is boosted throughout with this multi-tasking vitamin. Its becoming one of the most studied and topically beneficial active ingredients since vitamin A. A must have in anyone’s skin care routine.
What are the key ingredients in your newly released skincare range and why do you believe they work to promote beautiful skin?
Cell exfoliating AHAs, mainly lactic
Lactic is my favorite AHA as it not only cell exfoliates and makes new skin cells it also acts as a humectant so it binds water into the skin and hydrates at the same time. Its also more gentle than other aha’s like glycolic. So tolerated by sensitive skin. We combine 13% aha, predominately lactic but also manderic, tartaric and a bit of glycolic, with 5% BHA (salicylic acid) in the Concentrated Clarfier serum. This is truly a powerhouse by combining AHA and BHA together. The AHA’s cell renew and over time increase collagen and elastin levels in your dermis. The BHA (aka salicylic acid) cell exfoliates deep inside the follicle refining pores and removing and preventing congestion. Ultimately leaving you with radiant flawless skin.
Our range is “boosted” with niacinamide also known as vitamin B3. The stuff that’s also in vegemite. This was an Australian discovery that showed topically it protects the skin’s immune system from UV induced depletion. At the same time it repairs DNA from environmental and UV damage and slows cellular ageing. It has the added benefit of enhancing even skin tone and preventing pigment by blocking the enzyme inside the pigment production cell. It restores the outer barrier layer and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, calming sensitive skin. So our range is boosted throughout with this multi tasking vitamin. It's becoming one of the most studied and topically beneficial active ingredients since vitamin A. Our Concentrated Illuminator has “extra” strength of B3. It Combines 10% B3 with 10% vitamin C, AND hyaluronic acid and peptides. It evens skin tone, hydrates, reduces redness and repairs environmental induced cellular damage.
What are some of the treatments you recommend to reverse scarring and why are they effective?
Depends on the type of scar and how old it is.
A fresh scar, ie a number of weeks old, it is important to dress the scar with a compression dressing. Either duoderm or cicacare leaving them on 24/7 for a good month or so. Then the texture of the scar be improved by fractionated laser resurfacing. Between 1-3 treatments is usually required. This improved the texture by making more collagen.
For indented scars we can use fillers to raise them up.
For red scars we can use vascular lasers to fade them back to normal skin colour.
We often use a combination of the above treatments.
What about rosacea sufferers? How do you recommend they treat their condition?
Lifestyle: Avoid anything that makes you hot / flush in the face. Stay out of the sun. Avoid Bikrum yoga!
Skincare: Gentle cleansing and moisturizing
Treatments: Laser out the redness and the capillaries. Not only does this even the tone and improve the skin quality, but it improves the rosacea by getting rid of the capillaries. Vascular laser like the Cutera Excel V is safe for treating Rosacea.
What treatments and also skincare routine would you recommend for anti-aging? Why do they work together so effectively?
Anti-aging skin care needs to have ingredients that renews the skin cells, fades pigment and works on maintaining the collagen and elastin levels in the deeper layer known as the dermis.
You also want ingredients that are anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory as inflammation is ageing.
So I like cell renewing AHA’s and BHA’s, Vitamin B3 for its cellular repair capacity as well as helping with even skin tone. Vitamin A and C to support collagen levels. You also need quality moisturising ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid and cocoglycerides and ceremides to hold in moisture.
Don’t forget a quality sunscreen to prevent ageing due to UV damage. Look for zinc. Its safe and it works.