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Ask the expert: Dr. Dennis Gross

The space-age-y face mask creating a buzz through the beautysphere, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare's phenomenal {DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Face Mask} is gracing the faces of editors, A-listers, models and Cult Beauty customers. The ultimate investment in the future of your face, this game-changing gadget brings Dr. G's in-demand, in-office treatments direct to your doorstep. Want to find out what the fuss is about? We asked its creator - and Manhattan's sought-after youth-boosting specialist - all the whats, whens, whys and hows. Read all about it...

{Cult Beauty} The beauty world’s obsessed with the new, futuristic looking {FaceWare Pro} which grants at-home access to LED light treatment. Can you talk us through the benefits of LED light therapy?

{Dr. Dennis Gross} Nearly everyone can benefit from LED light therapy – it can stimulate collagen production in your own skin cells which diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, and eliminate acne-causing bacteria, which improves skin clarity. There’s also no discomfort or downtime, which is an added benefit.

Red light therapy stimulates collagen production to reduce visible signs of ageing and to restore healthy, glowing skin. It can also reduce age spots, sun damage and overall redness (it's particularly beneficial if you suffer from rosacea). Additionally, red light can decrease healing time as well as the appearance of bruising. In contrary, blue light is used to kill acne-causing bacteria to improve the skin’s clarity and prevent future breakouts. Blue light can also help purify the skin and stabilise sebaceous glands.

{CB}Does the frequency with which you use it make a difference? Is it a case of ‘more is more’ or can your cells’ reach saturation?

{DDG} Yes, your cells can reach saturation. We recommend you use the {FaceWare Pro} for the full three-minute session once per day, every day. You can use the device more, however just like other ingredients (like retinol or vitamin C), your body has a maximum threshold for LED light. Once all of your LED receptors have been activated, any additional LED light will not have an impact.

{CB} What are the expected benefits and, roughly how long should it take to observe them?

{DDG} With blue light, you’ll start to see improvement in acne within two-three days. For anti-ageing benefits from red light, you’ll start to see results in as little as two weeks, and optimal results in ten weeks.

{CB} Can you use both ‘red’ and ‘blue’ settings simultaneously? Or should you alternate them?

{DDG} Yes, the {DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Face Mask} has a setting that combines both blue and red lights, which will allow your skin to receive the benefits of both simultaneously. You’re also able to select either blue or red light if you’re looking to target specific benefits.

{CB} And we all know prevention is better than cure… for those who’re intrigued, what’s the best time to start using FaceWare Pro?

{DDG} Anyone, at any age, with acne-prone skin can benefit from using the {FaceWare} – to both treat acne and pro-actively prevent it. Regarding anti-ageing, I am a big advocate for prevention rather than correction, so I would recommend starting to incorporate the FaceWare into your regimen in your early twenties.

{CB} Can you use the treatment in conjunction with a product? For example, if you cleansed and used the Alpha Beta peel – or applied one of DDGs retinol serums – would this amplify the effects?

{DDG} We recommend cleansing and using the {Alpha Beta Peels} prior to using the mask. The chemical exfoliation from the peel will prime the skin, remove dead skin and allow the LED to penetrate most efficiently. After the LED treatment, continue with the rest of your skin care, layering products from lightest to heaviest.

{CB} And speaking of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare's bestselling treatments, can we talk ‘Alpha Beta’? Why does the signature cocktail of acids work better than one?

{DDG} Using a cocktail of alpha and beta hydroxy acids at low concentrations is ideal because it allows you to target multiple concerns more effectively - without the risk of irritation. In our {Alpha Beta Daily Peel}, step one exfoliates the skin while step two neutralises the alpha and beta hydroxy acids in that first step, while delivering powerful anti-ageing ingredients to soften lines and wrinkles, refine skin's texture and diminish dark spots, among other benefits. These anti-ageing ingredients can penetrate deeper into the skin after the exfoliation in step one.

{CB} You recommend using the peels in the morning. Some people might balk at the concept of acids and daylight – what makes them safe for daytime use?

{DDG} As mentioned above, the peel is two steps: the acids and the neutraliser. Having two steps is imperative – the second step neutralises the acids in the first so you do not need to worry about acids being leftover on the face and coming into contact with the sun or other ingredients in your other products which could cause irritation.

In addition, the combination of acids at a lower concentration allows the peel to be effective without harming the skin. Using the peel as the first step of your skin care routine allows all products following to be more effective and penetrate more efficiently. You should always be wearing SPF, but of course this is especially key after using a chemical exfoliant in the morning.

{CB} At this time of year, many of us are looking decidedly lacklustre. What are the best ingredients to restore misplaced radiance and keep skin feeling dewy?

{DDG} For dull skin, I always recommend the {Alpha Beta Daily Peels}. You’ll see the best results in radiance if you exfoliate daily, with a strong but gentle chemical exfoliant. This will ensure that you are consistently removing the dead skin cells, which accumulate on skin’s surface and create a dull look, while stimulating cellular turnover. After exfoliating, apply a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient that tackles several skin concerns – it reduces inflammation, uneven skin tone and promotes collagen production. My {C+ Collagen Brighten + Firm Vitamin C Serum} is perfect to apply post exfoliation to get a deeper penetration and glowing results mimicking post-facial skin.

{CB} And for lips that feel decidedly Sahara-esque, what are the best ways to counteract chapping and shield against dehydration?

{DDG} A lip treatment with a form of hyaluronic acid is key. My new lip product – {Hyaluronic Marine Collagen Lip Cushion} – utilises a special form of hyaluronic acid; sodium hyaluronate. This humectant holds 1,000 times its weight in water, and is a smaller molecular weight than hyaluronic acid, so it can more easily penetrate the skin on the lips.

Lip skin is a unique and delicate bridge between the skin inside of your mouth and the skin on your face – lip skin is comprised of a thin stratum corneum and epidermal layers so it’s more susceptible to collagen loss. It also cannot lubricate itself, so you’ll need a lip balm that addresses the production of the essential proteins that naturally diminish, especially in harsher weather.

{CB} Many people think their skin is dry when really, it’s just dehydrated. Can you explain the difference for us and advise how best to tackle each concern?

{DDG} Dry skin is seen on the surface as light white scale and is due to water loss from the moisture barrier i.e. the top layer of skin. Dehydration is the loss of water internally inside the skin to include the dermis and the remedy is hyaluronic acid which holds 1000x its weight in water inside the skin. Dehydrated skin not only looks dry and scaly but also has a thinned out look.

Some people have dry skin as a skin type, and others may have dehydrated skin from harsh weather, not drinking water or simply not moisturising enough. People who have dry skin genetically and people who have dehydrated skin situationally can treat these concerns the same way. Apply a moisturising product regularly, I’m a big fan of creams specifically.

The {Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturizer} includes seven hydroxy acids that work synergistically to replenish actives to aid cell turnover for a smooth and glowing complexion, all while providing powerful hydration. Because the acids gently remove dead surface skin, the active ingredients in the moisturiser are delivered directly to the new skin cells for maximum benefits. And, drink water!

{CB} And finally, for those whose skin is starting to betray the signs of ageing, what are the best ways to minimise fine lines and postpone the onset of wrinkles?

{DDG} Retinol is a powerhouse anti-ageing ingredient. Incorporating retinol into your skin care routine in your early 20s is a great way to begin prevention. If you’re fighting fine lines that are becoming deeper, we often treat patients at my practice with Botox preventatively. Freezing those muscles prevents fine lines becoming deeper as you age.

But don’t forget the major key pillars of anti-ageing ingredients. In addition to retinol look for ferulic acid (we always include both as standard), vitamin c, hyaluronic acid, alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Use a regimen that uses at least two of these ingredients beginning in your late 20s or sooner. Of course, also always use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.


Verity Douglas
Verity Douglas Writer and expert
Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...

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