For Ulla Gaudin, consultant for Rodan+Fields Dermatologists (the minds behind Proactiv), beauty has always been an interest. “My mom says she can’t remember a day that I wasn’t interested in this,” she joked. “She says the only thing that has changed in the last forty years is that I transitioned from doll heads to human heads. So this really was a natural career choice for me.” Gaudin recently took the time to answer some of our most pressing skincare questions for late summer in New Orleans.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in cosmetology?
I’m originally from Finland, and beauty school there is quite different from beauty school here. You actually have to go to college. It’s a 3-4 year degree, depending how much you wish to study. Besides the obvious subjects, we have to study math, chemistry, history, anatomy - you name it! You also have to complete several different types of internships before you graduate. If you’re not into it, you’ll drop out. And this really is a career where you are never finished learning. With new technology, ingredients, and techniques, you have to keep your eyes and ears open daily and be willing to jump on every opportunity to learn. That’s one of the things I love about my career!
You mentioned that you have a background in theatrical hair and makeup. Has that changed your view on skincare?
Not really. Theater actors and actresses wear heavy makeup, but only for a few hours a day, and that’s not even every day. It’s my years of experience in film, television and commercial shoots that really opened my eyes to the importance of good skincare. We work a minimum of fourteen hours, five days a week on movie set. These actors wear makeup the whole time and are under hot, bright lights and extreme conditions. And I get it - the last thing you want to do after working seventeen hours is to spend more time cleansing, toning, treating, and moisturizing. But if you skip this important step, you’ll pay for it with clogged pores and prematurely aged skin.
New Orleans stays hot and humid long into the late summer and even the fall. What would you say are the best products for ultimate skin protection during these months?
The best way to protect your skin in summer months – anywhere! – is to stay out of the sun. The next best thing is to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, a hat, and tons of sunscreen. I can’t stress enough the importance of using sunscreen. Not only does it protect you from possible skin cancer, it will prevent premature aging of your skin. The sun is the number one cause of aging!
The FDA recently changed their regulations on how sunscreens need to be labeled. You should always look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, not just ones with the highest SPF value. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects from both UVB (burning) and UVA (aging) rays. The FDA also altered their advice for reapplying sunscreen. Now, most packaging will recommend reapplication every 40 or 80 minutes. While these are suggestions, it is important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to the sun.
This goes for all ethnicities! People with darker complexions tend to think that just because their skin has higher concentration of pigmentation cells, they are less likely to burn. This is not true. No matter what your skin tone, you need to protect your skin from the sun. Whether you burn or not, the real damage is underneath, where you can’t see it. My recommendation for the best protection against sun is any R+F sunscreen. They all have Skin Cancer Foundation seal of approval for daily use and often have other great properties, like anti-aging or oil control.
If you suspect you have gotten too much sun and have an impending burn, take two aspirin immediately. Aspirin interrupts the inflammatory pathway that produces the signs and symptoms of sunburn. If you are already beet red, remember to stay hydrated and to moisturize. Don’t forget to stay out of the sun until you are no longer red!
As many women know, there are countless products out there that claim to be the magic solution to wrinkles, aging, dark spots and various other blemishes and processes that are just a common part of life as women get older. Is there any truth in these advertising ploys by major skincare and cosmetic companies? Is there any hope in alleviating the signs of aging skin?
We hear from all kinds of sources how this or that is going to make you look ten years younger in five days. Unfortunately, there is no one ingredient or product that will do that. Caring for your skin is a continuous process. It is never too early to start preventing aging nor is it too late start reversing. Years of untreated sun damage, or any other skin issue, will take months, if not years, to reverse, but there is hope. Despite what is commonly thought, we are in charge of 80% of how our skin looks like. Genetics is only 20%!
Skincare is not an exact science, either. We all react differently to different things. But you do need a regimen (more than one product) to see real results. My general recommendation would be to use at least a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer + sunscreen on daily basis. Exfoliating is really important too, to get rid of those dead skin cells that we start to accumulate at faster rate when we turn 30. Exfoliating should be done one to three times a week and can be done instead of cleansing. And never, ever, ever sleep with your makeup on!
What sort of products do R+F offer?
The reason I actually joined R+F is that their products are the first ones that I can truly stand behind. They do exactly what they say they will! We have four “lines” of products: Reverse (for sun damage and dullness), Unblemish (for acne and post acne marks), Soothe (for sensitivity), and Redefine (for aging skin). All lines have full regimes, but you can work individual products into your own regime if you wish.