At the recommendation of Vogue‘s Beauty Director, Sarah Brown, I started visiting Dr. Wechsler two years ago. Featured on television shows such as the Today Show, Dr. Oz, and The Tyra Banks Show, as well as in the New York Times and nearly every reputable women’s magazine and website. One of only two physicians in the country with a degree in psychiatry and dermatology, Dr. Wechsler’s grounded and refreshing approach makes her the best, in my opinion, in her field. Recently, I asked Dr. Wechsler what every woman should do and what she’s most looking forward to in the future.
Louise McCready Hart: What skincare rules do you follow?
Dr. Amy Wechsler: Number one is daily sunscreen. I wear sunscreen even when it’s not necessary—when I go to work when it’s dark and leave when it’s dark in December. But I never want to be caught unprotected from the sun. Also, I moisturize my face and body every single day after I take a shower because I tend to have dry skin and it’s sort of sensitive. My skin stays moisturized because I’ve had this routine since high school. Because I’m also a psychiatrist, I believe so strongly in the mind body connection, and I think it’s so important to minimize stress levels as much as possible. One of the key ways is to try to get enough sleep.
LMH: What are the best ways to stay looking young?
AW: Adopt a mindset where you always want to protect yourself from the sun. It’s not just sunscreen, it’s sun avoidance. I have sun shield films on my car windows. I walk on the shady side of the street. I’m outside and I’m an active person—I dive, bicycle, play volleyball—but I when I’m out there I’m very mindful of trying to minimize the amount of sun exposure I get. I wear a rash guard (I try to get cute ones) over my bathing suit. I think my skin looks younger because I’ve been so committed to that for so long. I wasn’t as a kid, but since I was in medical school, in my early 20s.
LMH: To play devil’s advocate, I know vitamin D is important…
AW: I get it orally. I take a vitamin D 3 supplement every day. My level was almost too high when it was checked. It gets stored in the liver, and you can overdo it, so I just decreased my dose. People use that as an excuse now, “Oh, I’m getting my vitamin D”—and creating skin cancer and wrinkles.
LMH: So to reiterate your rules: You don’t need to be in the sun—just take a supplement, moisturize, and get enough sleep.
AW: Dry skin appears wrinklier. If someone doesn’t moisturize and adds moisturizer, their skin will look that much healthier.
LMH: If you could only use five beauty or skin products, what would they be?
AW: Chanel UV Essentiel 50 is number one. Number two would be Cetaphil lotion. Number three would be Vaseline lip therapy. Number four would be prescription Retin-A. (The one I use is .025 percent, the mildest one.) Number five would be a body moisturizer. I’ve been using Cetaphil Restoraderm lately.
LMH: I find it interesting that four of those are drugstore products. So there’s no excuse that you can’t afford to take care of your skin.
AW: If you’re going to spend money on one skincare product, it should be good sunscreen.
LMH: What innovation or improvements in dermatology are you most looking forward to?
AW: Potential stem cell technology. Not in skin care, but in harvesting ones own stem cells and then injecting them back into the skin. That’s really cool and right at the beginning stages. There’s only one company in the US doing it now, and hopefully there will be more soon. I also think I’m seeing a shift, although it’s slight, in the US mindset of the mind-body, mind-beauty connection. France has always had a much more holistic approach to taking care of oneself, which is why I work so well with Chanel. Coco Chanel has this great quote: “The face is a mirror that reflects the movements of your inner life. Take great care of it.” That was so long ago and what impresses me about her was how ahead of her time she was. That’s a very French thought, but it’s really starting to catch on in the US, which is great.
LMH: Anything else you’d like to add?
AW: I wrote a book a few years ago called the Mind-Beauty Connection. It has a lot of information in there about my theories of stress and aging.
LMH: Do you do yoga or acupuncture?
AW: Yoga kills my joints. I’ve tried it so many times, but it just isn’t good for me. For me, Pilates works great. We have to individualize our approach. Mindfulness is so important. Take some time to think by yourself, about yourself. What’s good for you? What lowers your stress level? It’s ok to think about yourself, and take time to figure that out. It’s healthier. A great study just came out showing older people who have active sex lives, live longer, which makes sense.
LMH: A lot of times in the US, and especially in New York, people abide by the work hard, play hard philosophy and don’t take the time to take care of themselves until it’s too late.
AW: You don’t want to wait for a wake up call.