When I was offered a chance to meet dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad, whose name in skin care and beauty circles is as high profile as some of his red-carpet clients, journalistic duty called and -- hit me with a Hello! magazine -- so did that little bitty part of me that was curious to see how a skin guru with Hollywood cred stacked up in terms of the whole nip, tuck and injection thing. Would he look like he spent his time between appointments (his press package says he has 50,000 patients) in front of a mirror jabbing a Botox needle between his own eyebrows?
Interestingly, the highly renowned skin-care authority looked like a regular doctor of some prestige, in his 60s, with the natural expression lines of what he would call intrinsic aging, the kind you can't control that happens just from being, well, alive.
Having read about Murad for years, I knew that he was a big proponent of bringing a holistic approach to skin care. So, I wasn't too surprised when he handed me a little packet of dried goji berries, which he encouraged me to snack on for the rest of the day. It turns out that these raisin-looking anti-aging wonders with a slightly bitter bite contain 500 times the vitamin C of oranges, are packed with essential fatty acids and amino acids and are "the most nutritionally dense food on the planet," says Murad.
Goji berry extract, a potent antioxidant, appears prominently in Redness Therapy, Murad's newest skin care line, which he developed to combat rosacea-like redness and sensitive skin irritation (charming symptoms such as stinging, heat and overall tight-skin discomfort). According to Murad, it protects against inflammation and heals dry flaky skin. Although Murad, a trained pharmacist and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA, was in Toronto to promote Redness Therapy, he was also kind enough to give me a crash course on his theories of aging skin.
Aging skin theories
Skin ages, he explains, due to intrinsic aging, environmental stresses (pollution and lifestyle) and hormonal changes. All three are superimposed on one another. The common denominator, however, is the depletion of water in the cells and tissue. "My overriding philosophy is called The Water Principle," says Murad. "The aging process can be defined in two words -- water loss."
Intrinsic, environmental and hormonal aging all contribute to skin-cell water loss, which he defines as a decrease in water-holding molecules surrounding the collagen and elastin that keeps cells pliable. Ergo, wrinkles and lots of other skin-aging symptoms that most of us would rather not have to face.
So, must we guzzle a gallon of water each day and spend all our time in the loo? Rather, the water principle is about using the right skin-care products, including internal supplements, to get water "into the cells and keep it there so every cell can function at full capacity," he says. For more about Murad, go to www.murad.com, or check out Wrinkle-Free Forever: The 5-Minute, 5-Week Dermatologist's Program by Howard Murad with Dianne Partie Lange (St. Martin's Griffin, 2003).