10 Essential Dermatology Terms to Jump-Start a New Skin Regimen

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Masks, winter weather and regular old aging can take a toll on your face. Here’s a primer on how to heal, rejuvenate and refresh your skin.

Ablative Resurfacing

This procedure removes old skin cells to produce newer, more youthful cells. “It also heals the skin layers underneath to promote collagen production, which stimulates skin in the treatment area to heal and create a smoother, more even appearance,” says Dr. Lynn Klein, a dermatologist and laser surgeon with Schweiger Dermatology Group in Bala Cynwyd. Expect a two- to three-week healing process.


These good fatty acids bind skin cells, forming a protective layer against environmental harm from sun, wind and more. “Ceramides act like sponges and pull moisture into skin,” says Paoli dermatologist Dr. Michele Ziskind. “Ceramides should be part of your at-home skincare products. If you have dry skin, they’re great for that, too.”

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For this procedure, a sharp blade removes the top layer of skin, eliminating dead cells. With that layer gone, anti-aging products, moisturizers and sunscreen can properly penetrate the skin. Dermaplaning also keeps pores clear and removes the “peach fuzz.” “Bacteria that normally adheres to hair follicles is eliminated—and you’ll see a beautiful, smooth finish with your applied makeup, as well,” says Bryn Mawr plastic surgeon Dr. Brannon Claytor.

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Fractional Lasers

Ablative or non-ablative fractional lasers are used for anti-aging procedures and acne scars. True to their name, they treat a fraction of the skin. “They break up the laser energy into thousands of tiny zones,” says Klein. And that reduces healing time.

Glycolic Acid

Infused into many skincare products, this gentle product exfoliates while it hydrates. “Stronger acids and peels are available with in-office procedures,” says Ziskind. “But glycolic acid can— and should—be part of your at-home skincare routine.”

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Used to treat active inflammatory acne and reduce the appearance of redness, IPL eliminates blood vessels commonly seen in acne, explains Klein. “They’re a popular treatment for improving skin tone,” Claytor added. IPL treatments can eliminate brown and red spots in the skin. “This treatment, in combination with the fractional laser treatment, is an incredibly effective treatment on the hands, creating tighter skin and no more age spots.”


Dermatologists use lasers to treat active acne, redness due to acne rosacea and acne scars. In order to remove thickened skin, or scars from previously treated acne, a dermatologist may use laser resurfacing to repair depressed or raised scars.


To avoid acne, redness and other forms of irritation, choose facial coverings made of breathable fabric. Medical-grade masks are a good option, as they’re lightweight and durable. If you have to wear a mask for a prolonged period of time, makeup is a surefire pore clogger. “No one can see what’s under the mask anyway,” Ziskind says.

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How can micro-injuries be good for your face? “They stimulate the body’s natural wound-healing process while minimizing cellular damage,” says Claytor. A healing wound naturally stimulates the growth of collagen and elastin. Microneedling also reduces the appearance of acne scarring, dark spots, large pores, and fine lines and wrinkles. A series of three treatments is recommended for optimal results.


A crucial anti-aging weapon, peptides come in various forms and perform a few different functions. “They’re pieces of protein that mimic collagen and stimulate more collagen production,” says Ziskind.


A poly-L-lactic acid, this complex sugar is injected into the second layer of the skin to gradually restore volume over time. “It stimulates the cells in your skin to make more collagen to fill in facial folds and lines,” Klein says. “The reinforced collagen provides a foundation that restores the look of fullness that’s been depleted over time.” In some patients, Sculptra even produces a glow—from “thickening of the dermis,” says Klein.

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