I’ve already mentioned Dr. Leslie Baumann a few times in my blog mostly in connection to her blog on The Skin Guru on Yahoo! Health. While for the most part I enjoy reading her blog I never liked the fact that Dr. Baumann continually disparages estheticians’ knowledge and expertise instead of realizing that doctors and estheticians can work well together and that their skills can complement one another.
If you read Allure magazine you are already familiar with Dr. Baumann’s name since she is quoted in that magazine almost monthly. They even named her one of their top “influencers” in the field of fashion and beauty this past year. Certainly when it comes to sharing her expert opinion on all matters connected to skincare Dr. Baumann is no stranger to fashion magazines. Her enthusiasm for sharing her opinion about products has even gotten her in trouble with the FDA.
Besides for her constant media and print appearances Dr. Baumann is well-known for her book The Skin Type Solution which promises to save you both time and money in choosing your skincare products. Since Dr. Baumann is both a practicing physician and a researcher (more on that later) she claims to have a unique perspective into knowing what products work well and which are a waste of money. Furthermore, one Dr. Baumann’s contributions to the field of skincare is her expansion of the whole idea of skin types upping that number from five (dry, oily, combination, sensitive and normal) to sixteen.
In order to figure out where you land on Dr. Baumann’s skin type assessment you need to fill out the questionnaire that is found at the beginning of her book. The questionnaire measures four different factors in the skin: oiliness vs. dryness, resistance vs. sensitivity, pigmentation vs. non-pigmentation, and tightness vs. wrinkles. For instance once I filled out the questionnaire and tallied my results I found that according to Dr. Baumann’s criteria my skin type was: OSPT or oily, sensitive, pigmented, and tight (though for the part when it came to tight vs. wrinkled I was really borderline). I thought that was a good assessment about my skin. Once you finish the questionnaire and determine your skin type you flip to the section of the book that corresponds to your skin type in order to learn more about your skin including numerous product recommendations.
Each different skin type has its own section that includes lots of information as it relates to that skin type exactly. The information in each section is then subdivided into categories such as: “about your skin”, “a close-up look at your skin”, “everyday care for your skin”, “daily skin care”, recommended products, “shopping for products”, “procedures for your skin”, and ongoing care for your skin”. All good things especially the daily skin care regimes which really explain how and when to use your products; I think is always valuable. You get a lot of information about your skin – a lot. What can be confusing is all the asides or ifs and differences. For example (page 69, paragraph two):
The OSPT Skin Type is quite common among people with medium and darker skin color, like Caribbean-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asians, and Mediterraneans. Lighter-skinned people from other ethnic backgrounds, like the Irish or English, can be OSPTs, as can a redhead with freckles, which are a form of pigmentation. If the questionnaire revealed that you’re an OSPT, but you don’t experience all the symptoms I’ll cover, your rest result isn’t wrong. OSPTs share many common problems, but there are some differences, so throughout this chapter, I’ll discuss the various symptoms, tendencies, and treatment options typical for dark, medium, and light-toned OSPTs.
Interspersed amongst the chapters are information about eczema, rosacea, acne, skin dehydration, sensitive skin, skin cancer, etc. If your specific chapter doesn’t contain information about something you are interested in learning more about you can always use the index in the back of the book to locate the chapter that does. Because of organization issues like that I found the book a bit choppy. Of course I read the book straight through and didn’t just read the chapter for my skin type maybe if I had done that I wouldn’t have felt that the book was so choppy.
Things That Made Me Say “huh?”
There were a number of things that Dr. Baumann wrote in her book that made me raise my eyebrows. For instance in the chapter for my skin type - oily, sensitive, pigmented, and tight – under the category “skin care ingredients to avoid if acne prone” jojoba oil is one of those ingredients. I was very, very surprised to see that there since I feel (and I am not the only one) that jojoba oil is actually a great skincare ingredient for acne prone skin needing moisture. [See my earlier post Ingredient Spotlight: Jojoba Oil for more information] No explanation is given for including this ingredient in the list of ingredients to avoid. In addition, Dr. Baumann continually recommends copper peptides as great anti-aging ingredient. I found that really interesting in light of the fact that few other experts agree with her. Take for example what Dr. Ellen Marmur (also a dermatologist) writes about copper peptides in her excellent book Simple Skin Beauty:
Because copper is vital to enzyme function in the body, it follows that it’s also important to the synthesis of extracellular matrix in the skin. I sound like a broken record, but although the notion of applying copper cutaneously to assist skin function is interesting in theory, it many be ineffectual in practice. Is there enough concentrated copper peptide in an over-the-counter product, and is it stable? Can it actually penetrate the skin to have an effect on the enzymatic workings of the body? Personally, I would rather eat foods containing copper (such as sesame, sunflower sees, and cashews) to be sure the element is getting into my body to do its amazing job. I’m doubtful [about copper peptides] until stronger scientific data proves the claims.
Lastly, Dr. Baumann recommends using eye creams with Vitamin K in them to help undereye circles. Though many skincare companies have jumped on the Vitamin K bandwagon there is little proof that it actually does help undereye circles.
Issues like that made me wonder if I should believe everything written in this book. It made me want to take Dr. Baumann’s advice with a grain of salt.
But My Real Issue? The Product Recommendations
Dr. Baumann’s bio at the back of her book describes her thusly:
Leslie Baumann, M.D., is professor and director of Cosmetic Dermatology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and founder of the university’s internationally recognized Cosmetic Center. She is on the advisory boards or does research for many companies, including Johnson and Johnson (Aveeno, Neutrogena), Avon, Allergan, and others.
So guess how often Johnson and Johnson products (Aveeno, Neutrogena, and Clean & Clear) are recommended in this book? A lot. So I found it hard to believe when I read the following (page 9):
Instead of letting you waste your valuable time and money tracking down products that wind up in the trash, I will direct you to ones that will really help. I’ve reviewed the clinical trial date for the products, when available, to offer those proven effective. Finally, since my patients have used my recommendations, I’ve listened to their feedback and tracked their treatment results to guarantee the efficacy of the treatment approach and product selection for each Skin Type. All you have to do is take the test, determine your Skin Type, and choose from products in your chapter. And at least when you splurge on products and procedures, you’ll know you are getting your money’s worth.
The recommendations are independent of any relationships that I have with the companies that manufacture them. Of course, when I with a company, I know more about its products. However, I work with over thirty-seven companies and have approached many others for information while writing this book.
I don’t know – I guess I’m not buying her complete impartiality.
I was happy to see that Skinceuticals and Topix products were recommended since they are both great product lines.
Skin Type Solutions Website
Throughout the book Dr. Baumann continually reminds her reader that they can log on to her website Skin Type Solutions for more product recommendations, to share their thoughts about their skin type and skincare products, and to get more skincare information in general. The site even has its own version of her skin type questionnaire. So that made me wonder – why do I need the book at all if everything is online? Of course, someone had thought of that as well. While the online quiz will tell you what your skin type is according to Dr. Baumann’s criteria (it took me about 5 minutes to complete the online quiz) it will only give you the briefest of summarizes afterwards about your skin type – no recommended skincare regimes, no product information, and no in-depth information at all. You’ll need the book for that.
I would actually recommend NOT buying this book simply because most of the information in the book isn’t going to be relevant for you. That isn’t to say that I didn’t learn some new things from the book because I did. There is valuable information in the book, and taking an in-depth questionnaire that forces you to think about your skin is actually great. Having lots of detailed advice about your skin type is also extremely valuable in my opinion even if I don’t agree with lots of Dr. Baumann’s product recommendations. So I would recommend that you check the book out of your local library or take an hour to sit in the library, take the skin type quiz, read the section of the book that is relevant to your skin type, and photocopy just that section. I just don’t see a reason to keep a copy of this book at home. If you want to have a skincare book at home I will once again recommend the following books (see my reviews):