Skincare secrets to live by: A Q&A with Dr. Barney Kenet

Ok, I resisted the 10-year challenge as long as I could. Here you go…

Us in 2009

And us in 2019

Ahh, how fresh-faced and well-rested we looked before having three kids. If we only knew then what we know now…we would have savored sleeping in so much more! If we’ve learned one thing over the past 10 years, it’s that being a parent certainly does keep you humble. When I compare them side-by-side, I can’t help but think that we were babies – complete with baby faces – back then. Now, life looks more full of love than I thought possible – even if we aren’t so fresh-faced any longer.

The incredible moments we’ve experienced over the past decade have been worth every laugh line—but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t mind erasing a wrinkle (or two). My current beauty go-to to hide tired eyes: First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol Cream. I’m a long-time fan of the cruelty-free brand and this new formula is amazingly gentle—which I love because I’ve always been a little intimidated by retinol creams. It also has these micro-pearls that instantly help brighten dark circles—a godsend after a late night with the kids.

I wanted to dig a little deeper to learn how these products work and the best practices to keep my skin looking fresh. So I called up my favorite dermatologist, NYC-based Dr. Barney Kenet who graciously answered all of my questions and then some.

I feel like I aged 100 years after having a baby—and it seemed to increase exponentially with each kid. Can children really give us wrinkles?

The stress of childcare can’t be underestimated. One big factor is sleep loss or interrupted sleep. There are many studies that show our appearance can be drastically affected by even one or two nights of poor sleep. The daily stressors of being a parent can cause us to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which can interfere with the production and maintenance of elastin and collagen. Also, having children often results in our skincare and self-care routine taking a back seat. We don’t have time to moisturize, use sun protection or eat nutritious food…and it shows.

What are some lifestyle changes we can make to help reduce or slow skin aging, particularly eye wrinkles?

Wear sunglasses that have UV protection and use a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, and avoid first-hand and second-hand smoke (this includes vape-ing and e-cigarettes). Get enough sleep and maintain a de-stress practice, such as meditation, yoga or Tai-Chi.

Are retinoids worth the hype? 

It’s not hype: It’s been verified that retinoids improve the appearance of your skin, reduce the appearance of pores, and can even out your skin tone. I’m a big fan of retinoids when they’re used correctly. Tretinoin was patented in 1957 and approved for medical use in 1962. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. It was approved initially to treat acne and then was approved (about 20 years ago) for its anti-aging effects. Retinoids work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by generating collagen and new blood vessels. The results are great when it is used properly. Some people may experience redness, flakiness and irritation, but this depends on the formula and is a temporary situation that can be modified by using a small amount, sometimes on alternating days, until you get more tolerance. Formulas using micro-encapsulation, like First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol Cream, allow for sustained release over time, making them less likely to cause irritation.

I also advise my patients to avoid creams or lotions that have a strong drying effect and contain alcohol, astringents, lime, sulfur, resorcinol or aspirin as these may interact with tretinoin or exacerbate its side effects. Even washing too much with soap or a scrub brush can dry out skin.

As someone who tries to use all-natural products as much as possible, I’ve been a little intimidated to use retinol. Are retinoids safe?

They are very well studied and are safe in most circumstances. However, out of an abundance of caution, we do not recommend retinols for women who are pregnant (or are planning to be pregnant) because there’s a possibility that they could interfere with fetal development.

Any advice for how to use them in the most effective way possible?

Anyone using retinoids should use a daily facial moisturizer with SPF. Also be aware that your skin might be a little fragile when it comes to waxing, so if you are planning on a facial waxing, forego the retinoid for about a week before. Just listen to your skin and follow its lead.

Can retinoids help with dark spots or melasma from pregnancy? Asking for a friend. (Me.)

Yes, retinoids and alpha hydroxy acid as well as hydroquinone products are the cornerstone for lightening dark spots and melasma.

Last but not least, do you have any tips for making eyes look less tired? Especially for all the over-stressed moms out there…

Use a compress that’s half cool water and half milk for three and a half minutes, then moisturize. It will hydrate the skin and give you an immediate boost.

Thank you First Aid Beauty for sponsoring this blog post. 100% of proceeds from this partnership have been donated to Random Acts to fund programs that help women in need.

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  • Antoinette

    Though you guys look great in the first pic..you look awesome in the second! parenthood suites you both very well.

    • Antoinette

      Oh, just so you know ..I don’t just say that to flatter you both, I realy mean it, you guys age very well!

  • Hailey Owens

    You guys look amazing in both pictures. In the second one your eyes are glowing! You can tell you are joyful. I use first aid beauty and I love it.

  • Erica Mendez

    You two look great in both! Love your blog. You remind daily it’s ok if I only finished 99 of the 100 things on the to do list. Sometimes not even that! You also remind me that self care is a must. We put our family and children in the center of our life…but sometimes forget about ourselves. I just love following you! Thanks

  • Sammie Laine

    As the mom to a special needs child I always have dark circles, I’ve found nothing to fix that. I do not have lines around my eyes yet though. I’m 43. I’ve never smoked or been much a drinker. Always wear sunblock. I’ve always coconut oil around my eyes to remove make up and before bed at night after washing my face. If my skin gets took dry I use Clinique moisture surge.

  • Ashley Cornely

    What a beautiful family you have here! Thanks for the tips about using Retinols as I’ve been very curious since I’m getting older. Love ya Gen! ?


    I just ordered the eye cream. Ill let you know how I like


    Love the eye cream, Thank you


    I’m looking for a good facial moisturizer. What’s a good one

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