dermatologist Lily Talakoub
dermatologist Lily Talakoub

The Rx Pad: An Interview with A Top Derm

Q & A She’s smart, she’s beautiful, and she has perfectly glowy skin, which is to be expected from one of the country’s top dermatologists. McLean, VA dermatologist Lily Talakoub, MD, follows a 360-degree approach to beauty and preventing the signs of aging, and she isn’t one to shy away from testing the newest and trendiest beauty products—she always has something new in her rotation. Her chic, ultra-glam office, which is bedecked with Instagrammable neon lights and Beverly Hills Hotel-esque wallpaper, offers up shelves of perfectly merchandised luxe products, including Hush & Hush, Drunk Elephant, and Eve Lom, amongst others. We sat down with Dr. Lily (as she goes by) for some beauty banter.

1. On the best new beauty product release

“I would say that the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield is my new favorite beauty product of the year. Most women that wear sunscreen say that their sun protection comes from their makeup (in the form of makeup with sunscreen), but those products don’t usually contain the right UVA/UVB coverage. Makeup with sunscreen is not the same thing as tinted sunscreen, which this product is. The problem that so many women face is that once they apply their sunscreen, and then their makeup, it’s really hard to reapply sunscreen over the existing makeup; that’s why most women do not reapply their sunscreen throughout the day. But this product is kind of like makeup, although it’s not true makeup, because it’s tinted, but it is a true sunscreen. It’s mineral-based and broad spectrum so it provides protection against UVA and UVB rays, and it’s waterproof, too. I love that it is small enough to throw in my purse, and I can easily reapply it as needed throughout the day. There’s also a new vegan skincare line packed with probiotics called Orveda that is so good, but it’s so expensive. I test a gazillion beauty products and you can get a sense of the time they put into this—the way it smells and feels—it’s so good!”

2. On the three products she can’t live without

“Retinol, sunscreen and glycolic acid. Retinol is great for preventing wrinkles and spots because it’s vitamin A. Glycolic acid really exfoliates, unclogs everything and it also makes my skin look glowy. And sunscreen because there’s no point in wasting any money on injectables if you don’t use sunscreen.”

3. On her best kept beauty secret

“I put oil, either from Eve Lom or Drunk Elephant under my eyes before I take a shower. In the shower, the skin under the eyes can get dry because of the heat and moisture. When this area is dry, it can easily become crepey and wrinkled. When you are in the shower you need to create a barrier so that the skin stays intact and doesn’t dry out, and that’s what applying oil in the shower does.”

4. On the best makeup tip she has learned

“Over the years, I’ve learned some really good makeup tips. But the one that’s super important is to use a concealer that is two shades lighter than your skin color. Also, most women don’t know the proper way to apply concealer. You should always use a color corrector first; I use a peach-toned one to take out the blue in the skin under my eyes. When I apply concealer, I always apply it in a V shape starting at the inner corners of my eyes and extending out towards the temples. The point of the V hits right in the middle of the apples of my cheeks. I use my fingers to blend it all in—I always use my fingers when applying my makeup and save the brushes just for smoking out shadow under my eyes—and then add foundation and bronzer. In my opinion, it’s really beneficial to learn how to put makeup on so that you don’t end up emphasizing what you are trying to conceal and play down.”

5. On the in-office innovation she’s most excited about

“In my practice, I am most frequently asked about hair loss. It’s mostly women who are 40-years-old or older and experiencing major changes in their hair due to pregnancy, hormones or their genetics. Right now, I’m doing all the buzzy treatments that target hair loss. PRP (platelet-rich plasma, in which your blood plasma is drawn and the PRP is separated and injected into the scalp) generates results that are pretty amazing. Women can go without great makeup, but not their hair.

6. On the anti-aging gateway product

“I would probably say Orveda’s Biotic Eye Duo. I like it because it not only hydrates, but it’s like a cement of sorts for the eyes. All the creases under the eyes magically disappear, especially if you put makeup on over it.”

7. On her skincare routine

“My skincare routine is very complicated because I’m constantly testing out new products. Almost every week I use something new. But regardless of what I’m trialing, I always use glycolic acid at night to exfoliate and retinol. I like to mix my products. I add retinol and vitamin C to my moisturizer and, in the morning, glycolic acid to whatever sunscreen I’m using. I don’t like layering too many products because they can easily roll off the skin. I always do Botox, but I only do fillers every once in a while because I don’t want to look unnatural, and they can sometimes do that. I also don’t chase wrinkles. Instead, I like to say that I chase facial structure instead. Symmetry and proper fullness is more important than chasing a wrinkle to get rid of it. Plus, when you follow up on the results of good structure with the right laser, like a fractional laser, the results are really impressive. The one treatment that I advise my patients against is CO2 resurfacing, especially around the eyes and lips. Initially, it looks really good. But the laser thins the skin and wrinkles appear later on in the treated area. It’s a harsh treatment that can cause burns and the long-term benefits aren’t worth it. 

8. On ingredient hype

“I think peptides have more hype behind them than they do fact. Theoretically, they’re a great ingredient because they help to build collagen in the skin. But because they are such a large protein, they don’t penetrate past the top layer of skin to make much of a difference.”

9. On her hair

“I’m really diligent about caring for my hair. I don’t wash it daily—only two to three times per week max. I also don’t use dry shampoo because I have seen it cause hair loss. Dry shampoo can clog the pores on the scalp and the hair can fall out because of an inflamed follicle. Hats can clog hair follicles, too, because of sweat and oil build-up, so I avoid wearing those. I don’t over-process my hair because, in the past, it has caused a lot of breakage. Dark hair (like mine) is riskier to color because there’s not as much leeway with it like there is with lighter hair, so it’s more prone to breaking. I also use a leave-in from Kerastase once a week that helps keep my hair moisturized. I take a lot of hair vitamins—I look like a grandma with my pill box and everything that’s in it. I use prenatal vitamins and have been taking Hush & Hush DeeplyRooted for the past few months. I will not leave the house without my hair vitamins.”

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