Elizabeth Briden, M.D. is CEO, founder, and medical director of the Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Institute in Edina, Minnesota, a comprehensive dermatology, cosmetic, and dermatological-surgery clinic. The institute also offers personalized assistance in selecting cosmeceutical skin care products that have been evaluated and recommended by Dr. Briden. Dr. Briden is an adjunct clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota. She has been involved in skin care clinical research since the late 1980s.

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What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by women over 40 years of age in achieving healthy, beautiful skin?

There are so many products on the market that promote their effectiveness in reversing anti-aging, but very few support their claims with clinical studies. Patients are spending hundreds of dollars on products that are not effective and may even be harmful to their skin. For example, 70% of women report having very sensitive skin. One reason for this is that many of the products that they use dehydrate the skin and damage the barrier function, which protects the skin against moisture loss and inflammation.

What advice do you have for women roaming the shelves trying to select the best anti-aging products?

Basically, anything sold over the counter at department stores or cosmetic counters are by definition a cosmetic. Therefore, they cannot contain any active ingredients other than a sunscreen, and they cannot change the structure or function of skin. Medical skin care products, often termed cosmeceuticals, are available in physicians’ offices or medispas. They contain active ingredients that can improve your skin. It is still important with cosmeceuticals to look for clinical verification. Does the product have the power of science and clinical studies behind it? Has the product been independently tested, and are there publications to back up product claims? Also, carefully check the levels of concentration and the quality of the formulation. Many OTC cosmetics contain only trace amounts of the active ingredient—far too little to deliver beneficial results. I also suggest that women go to dermatologists for recommendations or to medical spas or knowledgeable estheticians.

What advice do you give patients who are intent on maintaining that “youthful glow?”

We tell patients that they need to protect against ultraviolet sun damage, stop inflammation, and improve the barrier function of the skin so it is more tolerant. We also tell patients that they must protect against glycation, free radicals, and pollution and take measures to stimulate skin growth and repair. By improving the barrier function, protecting the skin, and promoting normal exfoliation, we can improve that skin glow and give it a healthy texture and color.

Look over the horizon: What are the latest trends in skin care?

Improvements in sun screens—manufacturers are including broad spectrum and UVA in their products; decreasing inflammation in skin through the use of potent anti-oxidants; inhibiting glycation; improving the barrier function; and stimulating new skin growth and repair.

What are the effects of toxic sugar on skin health and wellness?

Toxic sugars bind and damage proteins, causing glycated proteins that accumulate in the skin. This cross-linking process causes decrease in elasticity, sagging, and inflammation, which degrades the collagen and elastin fibers. The result is sallowness, wrinkling, and even pre-cancerous lesions.

When a patient presents with inflammation, sagging and wrinkled skin, and sallowness, what do you recommend?

I recommend starting them on a good medical skin care regimen, which includes MEG 21 with Supplamine. It’s the premiere treatment for preventing glycation, for improving the skin’s texture and smoothness, for combating inflammation, and for improving sallowness. MEG 21 is also very hydrating and elegantly formulated to prevent the formation of toxic sugar in skin, improve the skin’s barrier function, and maximize skin health and beauty. There is extensive scientific research behind MEG 21 products to substantiate effectiveness.

Looking back over your career, have the skin issues or insights changed much?

There has always been an anti-aging concern. As we have conducted more research and learned more about how the skin functions, we have expanded our knowledge and treatments to improve skin health and beauty. No one knew about skin glycation 20 years ago. We did know about diabetes, but not its effects on every organ. We’ve discovered the pathways through which diabetes progresses and have made strides in developing prevention strategies. We’ve learned how to defeat toxic sugars and glycation. There’s an increase in skin cancer, but there has also been progress in looking at ways to prevent it, especially with new developments in sunscreen formulation. But we’ve also learned about the Vitamin D deficiency that comes from using too much sun protection.

Is there a Dr. Briden regimen for skin health and beauty?

For good basic skin care, I recommend a number of products: a good sun block with UVA and UVB protection; an anti-glycation medication like MEG 21; an alpha or polyhydroxy acid; and sometimes a retinoid These are proven ingredients that have many beneficial effects on the skin, including preserving the skin and stimulating skin repair. Of course, we tailor the recommendation to the specific patient need, but these are my main go-to products.

What’s your advice to younger women who want to achieve a similar level of success as you have achieved?

Follow your passion. If you’re passionate about something, then putting 100% into it becomes fun, not work. And acquire the capabilities, so you can turn passion into success.

Why do you continue to do what you’re doing?

I’m a people person. I like to help people and want to do something that makes a difference. Think about it: Skin is the first thing you see. If I can help improve their skin and appearance and prevent skin problems, whether it’s a teenager with acne, a patient seeking to avoid skin cancer, or women wanting to improve their appearance, then I’ve made a significant difference. I get tremendous satisfaction from conducting research and dealing with patients.