If you’ve passed through our doors at Smooth Skin Health Centre, you have no doubt noticed our vibrant royal blue and chrome colour theme. It’s no coincidence that Smooth’s colors match those of our favorite medical skin care line, ZO Skin Health by Dr. Zein Obagi. Beyond the welcoming and stylish colours, in my professional opinion ZO provides consistent results time and time again — which is the key to success both for me as a skin health expert and for you as a consumer investing in your skin’s health.


That said, I don’t follow the philosophy of one product being superior to another — at least not in the medical skin-care world. When it comes to medical skin care, it is pretty straightforward: use active ingredients in a delivery system designed to effectively and safely transfer through the skin’s barrier to cause an anticipated reaction within the skin to change its behaviour. There is nothing overly fancy, nor will you encounter a wide range of exaggerated products to blindly choose from. There are several great medical lines available in a medically based skin clinic.


So. What makes a medically based skin clinic different from a medical spa or a day spa? Medically based clinics have medical directors and advisors that are on staff or on a board that supports the clinic’s operators. Without these doctors available, the clinic would not be allowed to carry true medical skin-care lines such as ZO Skin Health, PCA, SkinMedica and Elta MD. This is for the safety of both the client and the clinic, not to mention the reputation of the product line. These products are pharmaceutical-grade, and are prescribed to clients to create a change in their skin, just like medicine. Some of these lines use strong medicines such as Hydroquinone in a 4% preparation. Like prescription medicines, these products need to be prescribed correctly and monitored by a professional to ensure proper usage and safety. Similarly, retinols create reactions in the skin that need to be monitored and followed. Many people don’t realize that with retinol, more does not necessarily mean better — and you can do serious harm to your skin.


I have many clients who disclose their current product use to me and are frustrated with the amount of money they’re spending on products that are being sold by “skin care experts” at cosmetics counters and spas. I have to admit that I was once one of those “experts” in my career. We all start somewhere, and in the beginning most of us follow what the sales reps want us to believe in order to sell their product. The cosmetics industry is a multimillion dollar business for a reason — it plays on our most-exposed vulnerabilities. We all want to look and feel our very best, and acne and aging really do affect how we see ourselves. So, there’s a lot of room in our lives that we often try to fill with a jar full of promises. As consumers, we rely on the individuals who are supposed to know what’s best for our skin’s health. And as professionals, it’s up to us to ensure that we continually educate ourselves on the advances in skin care and understand what we’re recommending.


The first rule of thumb is this: if you don’t feel anything or don’t experience anything when using the products, they are probably not active. How can something that is inactive create that change in your skin that you’re seeking? It’s an important question to ask yourself. The next important point you need to consider is whether the product is being recommended by a medical expert (or an expert supported by medical professionals). Seeing that medical expert who specializes in skin health behind the product is key. Finally, and very importantly, ask yourself whether what they are recommending makes sense. Did they explain it in a way that you can understand and see clearly that this will benefit your skin? Stick with your gut. Make sure you’re going to get full support from your skin-health expert. With corrective products, you need a little hand holding as your skin begins to truly correct itself.


Having great skin is not an unreachable goal. You just need to investigate and use judgment when searching for the change you need. Don’t fall for a product’s fancy and stylish packaging — that is only there to entice you. Look into what is inside that packaging. At Smooth, we are lucky to have our royal blue and chrome style, but what’s behind that look is the truly remarkable and — most importantly — effective part.