Back in 1983, a seven-months pregnant Dr. Loretta Ciraldo packed up and moved from New York to South Florida along with her husband and 20 month year old daughter when her husband, also a doctor, accepted a fellowship in heart surgery at University of Miami School of Medicine. It was among palm trees and ocean views that Dr. Loretta and her family fell in love with the easy breezy Florida lifestyle, and we all know love makes great things happen: this is where her dermatology career took off.  She started her award-winning dermatology practice, began teaching in the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at The University of Miami School of Medicine (she’s been there for almost 30 years now!) and just recently launched her powerful and proven skincare line, Dr. Loretta Skincare.

I got a chance to chat on the phone with Dr. Loretta last week. She is such a friendly, relatable and knowledgeable woman! We talked about skincare and lifestyle and how making the right choices for yourself, whether it be choosing the right product or the right food, make all the difference when it comes to visible skincare results. Throughout her critically acclaimed success, Dr. Loretta has been privy to some of the most cutting-edge advancements, procedures, equipment and ingredients straight from the laboratory. She told me about how she has access to all types of fillers, injectables and potent chemical peels that can create drastic skincare transformations. Even with all of these synthetic options,  Dr. Loretta continually chooses to opt for a more natural and balanced approach to skincare. She believes the key to looking your best is making smart lifestyle choices and, first and foremost, using products before procedures. Here’s what she stresses to her loyal clients, including:

Dr. Loretta’s Top 3 Holistic Skincare Tips for Anti-Aging

1. Maintain a set weight range

Weight fluctuations and the stress it brings can cause skin to stretch, sag and thin. You don’t have to be super skinny by any means, but try to be within 10-15% of your ideal healthy weight (as determined by your doctor) and work to maintain that weight.

2. Make time for exercise

Fitting exercise into your lifestyle is very important, even if you never get to a gym.  Dr. Loretta’s favorite exercises include:

  • Walking: (even in place): “It really helps me to de-stress. I love walking in the beach or though a beautiful park. Seeing the beauty of nature affirms that keeping my life as natural as possible is really beautiful way to live.”
  • Gum chewing: “This mindless act can help tighten muscles in your neck and jaw line. Watch yourself in the mirror and check out all the muscles you’re working out. No gym required!”
  • Hand weights: “Walking with weights or doing weight lifting repetitions not only keeps arms toned (which is super-important to looking young), but it is a great way to increase bone density, which is very important because as women get older, we loose bone mass and are more prone to fractures and injury (I keep mine by my breakfast table).”

3. Products before procedures!

Products cover every square millimeter of your skin, so using products is the best approach to having a healthy skin tone and texture.  Work at devising a product routine that causes visible improvement in your skin.  You can always see if you need a peel or other procedure after you are on regime of the best products for your skin.  “And, remember,” Dr. Loretta said to me, “you can’t undo the results from going under the knife. Many people come to me after a peel that stained them, or overdone injections and there is nothing I can do for them. They’re stuck looking like that, waiting months until they recover.”

She suggests you start a skincare routine that incorporates products with peptides and antioxidant and superficial peeling agents, like Salicylic and AHAs/Glycolic Acids. Dr. Loretta also says you should take your own before and after photos to prove to yourself that the products are doing their job. “But at the end of the day,” Dr. Loretta says, “beauty does come from within so having a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle does 100% show on your face.”

At the end of our chat, I asked Dr. Loretta for her number one beauty secret, and she sweetly replied, “Don’t leave home without the right skincare system and a smile on your face.” What a great answer… I couldn’t agree more!

Read on for more of my interview with Dr. Loretta (and check out the video, too!):

Stephanie: What makes the Dr. Loretta line of skincare products special?
Dr. Loretta: It is a direct reflection of my philosophy: Products before procedures.  No one wants to look oddly altered. We just want to make small but effective tweaks in our appearance to allow us to put our freshest face forward every day.  My products are a reflection of my holistic approach to beauty and aging; one that addresses beauty inside and out because attractiveness is more than skin deep.  My products are most effective when they combined into systems and used together.  I often hear, particularly from young women, that they don’t stick with a skincare routine long enough to find out if it is even an effective system for their skin.

Tell us about the development of your proprietary formulas…
I start by looking for solutions to the problems that bother my patients most. I develop formulations with high concentrations of the beneficial active ingredients, being sure to omit problematic preservatives and other ingredients that may cause potential reactions. I exclude some ingredients that you may not even think are harmful, like wheat, because so many women are allergic to it (and they might not even know it). I put formulations together into systems that are specifically designed to effectively address the biggest problems, like aging, acne and pigment changes.

Tell us about peptides and naturally occurring antioxidants…
Peptides are considered messenger ingredients. They are tiny, easily-penetrating, naturally occurring molecules that signal the skin to act in certain ways (to make collagen, relax muscles, stop blood leakage from capillaries the cause of under eye circles etc). Antioxidants help our bodies maintain optimal health. We need to eat a diet high in antioxidants to keep our organs healthy and fight off aging and disease. But dietary antioxidants don’t get absorbed in the skin, so we have to apply them topically.  For example, in the case of Vitamin C we know that applying it topically results in 20 times higher levels of Vitamin C in skin as opposed to with a diet and supplements.

Why aren’t parabens and phthalates in your products?
I take a holistic approach to life so I believe it is important to avoid harsh chemicals and preservatives. It is important to me and my patients that my products avoid these ingredients because they have the potential to do more harm than good.

Why is it import that your product line is customizable for each skin type/condition?
I see so many different problems in my practice and obviously not everyone shares the same skin concerns. When I created my skincare line, I set out to design customized skincare systems that could be easily used every day to help resolve even the most difficult of skin challenges.  For instance, my new Green Tea serum, Tea-rrific, is a holistic way to resolve post-acne damage. In fact, I found that when this type of damage was treated this highly concentrated serum it was more effective than treating it with a laser.

What is environmental skin damage?
Quite simply, environmental skin damage reflects the sign we dermatologists see in patients beginning around their 40’s. We look at their exposed skin and compare it to their non-exposed skin, like on their buttocks.  With one glance you realize that most of the changes we don’t like… age spots, wrinkles, loss of firmness, redness and splotchiness, are all from exposure to the environment. We used to blame one major culprit, the sun, as the leading cause of all these unwanted changes (or, as I say in my book UE’s or Unwanted Elements, which appear as we get older).  Now we are recognizing another culprit, nitrogen emitted by smoke, like cigarette smoke and smoke stacks from factories, as another major cause of environmental skin damage. It becomes an aerosol when combined with Oxygen and this fine film essentially infiltrates our surroundings and becomes hazardous to our skin and (our health in general) with prolonged exposure.

What are Nitrogen and Oxygen free radicals?
Nitrogen and Oxygen free radicals are destructive molecules that can be found naturally in our skin. When produced in small amounts, our skin can control them by producing enzymes that counteract their destructive effects.  But factors like stress, smoking, and other toxic damage cause excess free radicals in the skin, so much so that the body cannot “neutralize” them, and cell aging, cell death, DNA damage, and other unwanted reactions, including cancer, are possible effects of free radical damage.  Antioxidants help resolve free radicals by acting as shields.  The problem with some of the most commonly used antioxidants (including vitamin C, coffeeberry, green tea, idebenone) in popular skincare products today is that they only protect us from Oxygen free radicals and not Nitrogen free radicals.  Our proprietary Age Change Complex is the first product on the market to specifically protect skin from both Oxygen and Nitrogen Free Radicals.

Tell us about your book 6 Weeks to Sensational Skin
My book is formatted as a fun and highly effective “beauty boot camp.”  It takes you through a six week program to address and hopefully resolve the things that bother you about your own skin. The book has been a fantastic experience for me, especially when I talked about it on Good Morning America. That exposure engaged readers from all over the country many of whom remain very loyal and have turned on so many of their family and friends to my philosophy and my products!

For more on Dr. Loretta visit her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.