Whenever the Los Angeles-based Dr Harold Lancer sees a new patient walk through his clinic's doors, he always recommends that these patients adopt a simple skincare regime — polish, cleanse, and nourish. Three steps, that's all they need.
To Lancer, the world of beauty and skincare has been, for too long, swamped with marketing. Consumers buy into "quick fixes and false promises", only to end up with truckloads of products in their bathroom cabinets. "It is a scene from Hoarders," wrote Lancer in the preface of his book which is befittingly titled, "Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method For Radiant Skin".
"Nothing seems to give them the results they want, but they cannot resist the new products and magical ingredients that hit the market with great fanfare so frequently." Lancer went lengths to even dedicate an entire chapter on what he calls "The Beauty Trap".
So when patients go to him in seek of better skin, Lancer takes them off whatever skincare regime they are on. Instead, he prescribes three simple steps which entail three products: a polish which exfoliates the skin, a cleanser which dislodges the above debris and balances the skin's pH level, and a nourishing cream. Psychologically, it's a hoarder's rehabilitation. Physically, it's a rehabilitation for the product-battered skin. "You do it at home in less than ten minutes a day," he wrote.
These three steps are based on a very simple law of nature — healing. Although Lancer has been practising this for decades, the concept of stimulating the skin's regenerative abilities has recently come into trend in the wider beauty industry with the onset of cosmetic treatments such as platelet-rich plasma injections (more commonly dubbed Kim Kardashian's vampire facial), and polydeoxyribonucleotide injections (or salmon sperm DNA jabs).
Unlike the newer minimally-invasive treatments, Lancer's method is a daily skincare regime for the disciplined individual. By repeatedly sloughing off the layer of dead, horny (it's a legitimate term) skin cells on the topmost surface of the skin through polishing and cleansing, the nourishing cream is more readily absorbed into the skin's deeper layers. The skin, too, is stimulated to grow and regenerate. One could liken this logic to a paper cut on the skin — when a certain part of the skin is missing, the body works hard to heal itself by growing that skin back.
It's a simple concept of renewal that can be achieved by three simple steps. "Polish, cleanse, and nourish," he continually repeats throughout the book. Yet, if these three steps were all there is to skincare, why write a 215-page book?
From top left anti-clockwise: the polish (S$120), cleanser (S$89), and nourishing cream (S$200) from Dr Harold Lancer.
It turns out, skincare is more than exfoliating, cleansing and moisturising. There is daily sun protection which comes in the form of sunscreens with SPF 30. There is, too, your family heritage which dictates your genetics, skin type and treatment strategies (if your ancestors lived near to the equator, chances are you'll have more melanin and darker skin. Select treatments like laser won't be ideal for you).
Then, there are dietary cautions when it comes to acne-prone, rosacea-prone, and sensitive skin: Obesity is linked to acne. Carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cookies etc), dairy and sugary foods cause inflammation. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods worsen rosacea. Raw vegetables and fruits improve sensitive skin types. For general skin nutrition, Lancer recommends "four to six mini meals" of non-processed, protein-rich foods which keeps the body's sugar levels in balance throughout the day.
Chronic stress messes with your skin's equilibrium, causing all sorts of skin issues from dullness, wrinkles, to redness and itchiness — so much that Lancer dedicated an entire chapter to de-stress techniques and sleep advice.
Finally, exercise. "Exercise is a must if you want to be radiant. Physical activity increases circulation and delivers nutrients and oxygen to the skin, which greatly improves skin health," he wrote. "Cell renewal speeds up, and the natural production of collagen increases." You're looking to exercise to the point where you start sweating, eliminating toxins that might pollute your body and skin. Lancer, however, warns to remove all makeup prior to any workout lest they clog pores, and to shower thoroughly afterwards. It seems like Lancer is a fan of Pilates — there's a 10-page guide to a Pilates workout.
Lancer may have pared back on the number of products used, but he demands a lifestyle change in every other aspect of your life. It seems like there isn't really a simple way out when it comes to great skin. As Lancer has it, "Looking your best is serious business."
Dr Harold Lancer's products are now available in Singapore at escentials.com.
Subscribe to our newsletter