By Sarah Hamilton, R.N.C.N.

If I had one skin care product to choose from, it would definitely be a retinoid! I love telling my patients that if there’s “such thing as beauty in a bottle, it’s a retinoid.” Are you getting my point? I tell myself often I sound like a broken record. For the past 15 years, I have been a faithful retinoid user and have shared the good news with anyone who will listen. I’m forever thankful to a co-worker and aesthetician, Chris, who pulled me aside on my first day as a nurse injector at a plastic surgeon’s office. She said, “Sarah, we need to get your skin in better shape.” I can tell you my skin looks better and younger today than it did on that day 15 years ago. Both retinoids and retinols can transform your skin like it did to my pigmented, freckly, dull, and acne-prone skin. I’m a little obsessed. So why are they so amazing and what do they actually do? Are there different forms and strengths? When do I use them? Let me break it down for you.


Q:  What is a Retinoid // Retinol // Tretinoin?

A:  You hear all three of these being used interchangeably around our office and trust me, I know it gets confusing. There are definitely differences so let me help clarify. 

Retinoids, (tretinoins, and Retin-A) are prescription-strength Vitamin A derivatives that come in 3 strengths, .025%, .05%, .1%.

When applied topically, they cause skin cells to divide and die at a quicker rate causing skin cell turnover to happen more rapidly. They slow down aging skin and as well as many other great things such as … 

•   Boost collagen

•    Brighten complexion,

•    Prevent clogged pores

•    Control oil production (which helps with acne)

•    Evens out pigment like brown spots and melasma,

•    Reverses the early steps in pre-cancer cell formations

•    Increases blood flow to the skin. 

Generally, retinoids take 4-6 weeks or 3 skin cell-cycles to take full effect but there’s noticeable improvement in skin quality and texture in about 2 weeks.

Retinols are the baby version of retinoids, in a more natural and gentler form. They don’t penetrate as deep and aren’t as effective to its big sister because retinol needs to be converted into a retinoid in the skin. It still stimulates collagen but at a much slower pace. On the brighter side, you can have less irritation and peeling. 

Q:  Who should use a Retinoid or Retinol?

A:  Anyone who wants their skin to look and feel younger and healthier! If you have normal or oily skin, rosacea, larger pores, acne, hyperpigmentation, brown spots, poor texture, or wrinkles, your skin will love the effects of a retinol or retinoid.  There’s no other product that speeds up cell renewal like they do. Your skin actually acts younger. If you have dry skin (not dehydrated, but truly dry), sensitive, or you can’t tolerate the redness or peeling from a true retinoid, use a retinol instead.

* Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid all retinoid and retinol products.

Q:  When and how often do I use a Retinoid and Retinol?

A:  Always use at night after you wash and tone. Again, dose and strength can vary depending on a person’s skin type and comfort level with peeling (yes, you do have some peeling with retinoids until your skin acclimates to it (2-6 weeks)).

Q:  Can I use retinols on my neck, chest, and body?

A:  Absolutely! We encourage it! However, because the skin is much “thinner” and more sensitive in those areas, I recommend using half the amount and only 2x a week. We have an amazing Body Tretinoin that we love! Great for creepy skin on arms, legs, and chest.


Now do you get the obsession with these miracle Vitamin A molecules? My skin is healthier and more youthful than it was 15 years ago. I can spot a dedicated retinoid user from a mile away. Their skin just looks so radiant, smooth, and flawless. I have a patient who is 60 and has been using retinoids for 20 years. I’d put her skin in my top 10% of all my patients! Her skin looks better than 90% of the others. Please make sure you are under the care of a skin-care professional who will guide and help you with the proper product for your skin. Please do not buy any retinoids on Amazon! There are way too many fraudulent companies selling fake products. Lastly, don’t forget to ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear a sunscreen with at least 4% zinc or titanium oxide, 365 days a year!




Brides, grooms, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and BFF’s all want to look their best on that special day. So it’s not surprising that many of our patients come in to see us before an upcoming wedding or big event. Getting the best results from any skin treatment requires a little planning before that big day. We’ve created a calendar to serve as a general guideline for looking your best.


8-12 WEEKS BEFORE THE BIG DAY:  Time For Your Injectables

Botox and dermal fillers are the most common office treatments before a wedding because they do the best job giving you a more rested and refreshed look. Botox can take up to 2 weeks to take full effect and lasts 3-4 months. If this is your first treatment, we like see you 3 months before so that we have enough time to do touch-up to ensure it’s perfect. Ideally, plan your Botox 4-6 months ahead, but if that’s not possible, a minimum of 4 weeks will do. If your goal is to eliminate a deeper wrinkle, 2 Botox treatments, 3 months apart, is ideal.

Juvederm and Restylane are dermal fillers that can last 12-18 months, depending on the area treated. We recommend filler treatments 6-8 weeks in advance so we can ensure the best results and allow for any bruising to subside (if you get a bruise, it can last 3-10 days).  Dermal fillers are an immediate transformation, adding volume in areas of the face that have deflated due to aging. Popular areas that we treat with fillers are the lips, cheeks, smile lines, jaw line, marionettes and nasal labial folds. 1 month prior to your big day, we like to have you back in the office to see if you need a little fine tuning with both your dermal fillers and Botox.

Botox in the armpits is a very popular treatment for both men and women to stop that embarrassing  excessive sweating. Plan 2-8 weeks ahead for a Botox treatment. This treatment lasts 6 months.

Kybella is another popular treatment for unwanted chin fat. It permanently destroys fat cells under the chin giving you a sleek and slimmer profile. Generally,  2-3 treatments are needed, 8 weeks apart.  We highly recommend staring 6 months in

advanced if you want the best result for your big day.


4 to 12 WEEKS BEFORE THE BIG DAY: Time to Work on Your Skin

Imagine what you’d look like with soft, smooth, flawless skin. Rejuvenating your skin is one of the easiest and most effective ways to look your best. Healthy skin is beautiful skin.

There’s an art and science to skin rejuvenation. We must understand our skin’s cycle of growth. Skin cells are made deep down, and over a course of 6 weeks, they move up to the surface and then fall off. It takes about 3 of these skin cycles to get WOW results. So it’s best to start a skin-care regimen 3-4 months before the wedding. Over-the-counter products can only take you so far. High quality skin care products and laser treatments should protect your skin, repair damage, and stimulate cells deep down to make young, healthy cells. With the right customized skin-care products, you can have that glowing, clear, radiant skin.

Lasers and Photo Facials are the best way to clear up your skin by eliminating brown spots, veins, redness, unwanted hair and acne. We recommend doing a series of BBL or IPL treatments starting 8-12 week prior to your event with the last treatment 4 weeks prior. If you can only get one treatment in, make sure its minimum of 4 weeks before.

Micro-needling, or collagen induction therapy, works to decrease pore size and soften acne scars and pigmentation. We also recommend a series of 3 so plan accordingly.


4-8 WEEKS BEFORE: Facials and Peels

Closer to your event, our most popular skin treatment is our HydraFacial. It’s often called the red carpet facial as your skin is immediately radiant with no downtime. It rehydrates and deep cleans the skin, smoothing out fine lines leaving your skin dewy and glowing. This hydra-dermabration is similar in action to a microdermabrasion eliminating the dead and dull skin cells with gentle exfoliation.   

Chemical Peels can also leave the skin feeling smooth and refreshed. There are many different strengths of peels. Lighter peels can be done 4 weeks prior but heavier peels for more damaged skin are recommended 6 weeks out.


1 WEEK BEFORE: Pamper Yourself

Get a B12 shot, have another HydraFacial, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, eat well and avoid dairy, sugar, and processed foods as they contribute to skin problems, exercise, and meditate.


Obviously, these are are not hard fast rules. Everybody has different needs and schedules. There are plenty of times when we need to speed things up because the wedding is just around the corner. Some treatments are safe to push a little sooner, others are not. Let a professional help you plan and customized a schedule that works for you to ensure you look and feel your best on your special day.


5 Tips For Winter Skin Blues



Winter skin can be a drag.  The temps go down, our heaters go up, and our skin starts to shrivel, right? Luckily, there are adjustments you can make to your skincare routine for these long winter months that will have you loving your skin once again.


* Hydrate. Don't Over-Moisturize

Moisturizers don’t always moisturize! If you feel like your skin is always dry and flaky despite slathering on your moisturizers, they're not working. You need to exfoliate and hydrate.  To effectively hold in your skin's own moisture (yes, healthy skin cells create their own moisture), you need a skin hydrator.  Over-moisturizing is like reapplying a chapstick over and over again to your lips and they just keep feeling drier and sadder. Turn that frown upside down with Hyaluronic Acid.   With its unique ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid is the most powerful and natural ingredient known to skin science. Replace your moisturizer with a hyaluronic serum like SkinMedica’s HA5 or our very own FACE custom formulated  HA serum. Applied topically, it increases hydration, improves elasticity, and reverses free radical damage. HA is safe and effective for every skin type and is unmatched in its hydrating ability to plump the skin, increased smoothness, and to soften and decrease wrinkles.  Can we get a Woop Woop for HA Serum? 

* Sunscreen? Do I Have To?

Do you know how irritating it is when your dentist tells you that you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep? Well, we hate to tell you this but you only need to wear sunscreen on the days you don’t want your skin to be aging! Don’t be fooled by shorter and cloudy days. Snow reflects the sun powerfully and clouds only filter out the burning rays, not the aging rays. Not to mention the radical damage we can get driving in our cars and even under indoor lighting. There are many varieties of sunscreens for every single skin type that will protect your skin all year long. Trust us on this one.  You need to be wearing sunscreen every darn day, even in the winter.  While we are nagging, don’t forget your neck, chest, and hands. Just look for the main ingredient to be at least a 4% Zinc Oxide. SPF if your new BFF!

* Take Advantage Of The Season

Now for some even better news to chase away the winter skin blues.  Because our skin tends to have less sun exposure in the Winter, it can be the best time to do a series of laser, IPL, or BBL treatments to tackle the sun damage spots, redness, acne, and unwanted hair.  Schedule a series of monthly treatments to make some significant changes in your skin. Say good riddance to sun damage, redness, acne, unwanted hair and hello to a new year and a radiant youthful glow! 

* Too Hot To Handle?

Splish Splash! Are you taking a bath, long about a Saturday night?  Rub-a-dub, just relaxin' in your tub, thinking everything is alright?  Cold days tempt us to take long hot baths or sing a little longer in a nice steamy shower. No matter how good it feels, long exposure to hot water strips away your own natural oils and increases dry dehydrated skin. Not so great for Winter skin! Turn down the temp a bit, shorten the time, and sing in the car instead.  *Bonus points if you pat, not rub, dry and apply your body oils and HA serum in the first few minutes out of the shower for best product penetration. 

* Pamper Yourself

So you want hydrated skin back and you want it yesterday?  Hydrafacial = Hydration and so much more! Our go-to monthly skin health treatment is the Hydrafacial.  It’s an “I want it now” treatment. It won “The Best Facial to Transform Your Skin” in NewBeauty Beauty Choice Awards in the “Instant Results” category. This skin-perfecting treatment removes dead skin and infuses your complexion with hydrating ingredients for a healthy, plumper and beautiful skin.  It also sucks out the blackheads with a hoover like a vortex extraction that is painless and downright awesome. The perfect treatment for a special event or just one of those days it is dark at 4:00 and you are googling “How to move to Arizona.”


So it turns out winter comes every year around these parts, and we’ve got you and your beautiful face covered.  No need for the winter skin blues.  Reveal your best skin all year long at Sarah Hamilton FACE.  Happy New Year!

-Kristen, Master Aesthetician