Dr. Dennis Gross on a maximalist skincare routine, how to score a dewy complexion, and more

Dr. Dennis Gross on a maximalist skincare routine, how to score a dewy complexion, and more

Ace in the hole

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @baterandstreet

What makes a skincare professional? Some would assert that it has entirely to do with credentials, of being board-certified and the recipient of prestigious awards. Others claim clout in the form of an influential client list accompanied by a slew of glowing testimonials. It seems there are no set parameters as to what defines a luminary within the field — and yet, we can say with total confidence that Dr Dennis Gross is one of them.

You might recognise him for his award-winning skincare line sold in beauty empires worldwide, or perhaps his revolutionary take on chemical peels that have made converts of big names in the vein of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, and Constance Wu. That — coupled with 25 years of experience running his own practice — practically seals the deal as to his skincare savant status. Bearing in mind his stellar reputation, we decided to hit him with our most burning questions yet, from the secret behind a slick, reflective glow to the efficacy of collagen edibles.

At what age did you start taking care of your skin, and why did you start?
I hate to admit it, but growing up, skin wasn't my first priority. And I think it's fair to say that most guys aren't necessarily concerned with theirs when they are younger. It wasn't until I started my career in skin cancer research that I became more invested in my skin's health and appearance.

What was the first-ever skincare product you ever used?
Sunscreen! As a kid, my parents were diligent when it came to wearing SPF while at the beach. Now, I wear a physical SPF of at least 30 every single day.

How would you define a "healthy" complexion?
From a visual perspective, a healthy complexion appears smooth in texture, clear, radiant and glowing. But by being able to look at skin cells under a microscope, I have the unique understanding of what healthy skin looks like on a molecular level. They have a thick moisture barrier and their production of collagen and elastin is fully charged. I use my understanding of how healthy skin cells behave to create custom formulas with enhanced delivery systems that penetrate deep layers of the skin, to get a healthy glow.

The Internet is obsessed with sporting a damp, dewy glow these days. How can one achieve that?
Everyone should start with a cleanser that removes makeup and other impurities without stripping the skin or disrupting the moisture barrier, such as our Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel. Following your cleanser, immediately apply a gentle daily chemical exfoliant into your regimen. Our Alpha Beta Daily Peels remove the dead skin that accumulates on the surface every 24 hours — this not only gives you a glow but also allows for the rest of your products to absorb even better. Next, apply a serum that targets your primary skin concern — for example, a serum with licorice root extract and ferulic acid is ideal for hyperpigmentation; vitamin C is great for tackling dullness; and retinol is great for addressing fine lines and wrinkles.

A few of my favorites are the Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting and Refining Serum for enlarged pores and our C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C serum for brightness. Finally, it's essential to apply a moisturiser, even if you have oily skin. For those who tend to be oilier, I recommend a moisturiser that's oil-free. Our Hyaluronic Marine Moisture Cushion, for example, is oil-free and combines hyaluronic acid for a boost of hydration without clogging your pores and works wonderfully under makeup. Lastly, always wear SPF, no matter the weather or the season. Sun damage is the #1 cause of fine lines and wrinkles, thereby making your skincare routine essentially null and void if you forget this step! And don't forget that consistency is key in skincare. Once you've established a regimen that works best for your skin, it is crucial to stick with it every day and night.

In your personal opinion, would you say that dewy skin is a fad, or do you think it's here to stay?
I've worked in dermatology for over 25 years and glowing, dewy skin is always something people are coming into my office and searching for. I can confidently say it's not going away anytime soon.

Are you more inclined towards a maximalist (>10 skincare products) or minimalist approach (<10) for your skincare regimen?
I am a proponent of a minimalist skincare routine. When you use clinical skincare products that are properly formulated with multiple complementary active ingredients, you don't need 5 different serums. In other words, using one product that targets your primary skin concerns from a clinical grade skincare brand is more powerful than cocktailing products randomly at-home. With our products, the work has already been done for you — there's no need for guessing, so why risk it? Also, having a skincare regimen with less steps makes it easier to build into your schedule. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to skincare.

How frequently should one visit a dermatologist or an aesthetician for a facial?
I'd recommend booking a facial around once per month in order to maintain your skin health. However, it is still necessary to continue your at-home skincare routine. Think of facials as a boost to your regular routine.

For example, if you're using our Alpha Beta Daily Peels at-home, receiving a monthly facial is going to amplify its effectiveness and enhance your overall skincare routine. Overtime, this will lead to a more glowing complexion, less breakouts and stimulate collagen production. However, while professional treatments compliment and boost at-home skincare regimens, they cannot replace them. You must incorporate both in order to achieve long-lasting results.

What is a common skincare misconception that you'd like to clear up?
Ingesting collagen does not work — it will not stimulate your skin or body's production of collagen. When we consume collagen, it is broken down in our digestive system like any other protein. Also, collagen cannot be applied topically because it is too big to penetrate the skin barrier. With that being said, we stimulate collagen production by using other active ingredients like LED, vitamin C, retinol or niacinamide. When formulated with the proper delivery systems, these ingredients connect to our skin cell receptors and stimulate fibroblasts, increasing our own production of collagen.

Has there been a product you're really interested in developing, but haven't got around to yet?
Lately I've been hyper focused on the body, especially at my practice. From a brand perspective, we have some exciting news coming out very soon — I can't share too much about this just yet, though.... But we're noticing more and more that people are thinking about their skincare routines holistically and want to care for their skin beyond their face and neck.