Before moving to L.A., I had never heard the word "ashwagandha," never tasted a matcha latte, had no concept of getting a shot for the sake of beauty, and I had a skincare regimen that consisted of washing my face (most nights). During my assimilation to the Southern California lifestyle, I've learned that good skin requires more than just removing your makeup nightly, and I've gotten on board with some of the holistic approaches that prioritize beauty from the inside out.
When I was offered the opportunity to experience an On the Glow facial from board-certified plastic surgeon John Diaz, MD—a triptych of three treatments I can only describe as "super L.A."—I was excited to try it. I had never had a facial peel, and my only introduction to B12 shots was hearing about "intravenous vitamin cocktails" in a British Vogue video on L.A., or the Wellness Capital of the World.
As for the third component of the facial treatment, I already had a few Botox sessions under my belt (and to my surprise, I'm an apparent anomaly among my L.A. friends and late-20s peers), but the treatments had always been administered by my emergency medicine–trained sister, who does Botox for fun on the side.
Visiting Diaz's office was my first visit to a plastic surgeon and my first time getting a real beauty treatment. Prior to my visit, I googled what I should do (and avoid) to prepare for my first facial peel, but the answers were mixed and even borderline intimidating (one noted to not wear nice clothes, as the chemicals could ruin them). Taking a seat for my facial treatment, my concerns and questions were quickly addressed. Diaz walked me through each part of the procedure, explaining not only what was at work but what benefits to expect in the following days and even weeks. The treatment took less than a half hour, and the process was much less intimidating than I had anticipated. As a newbie to the experience, I inundated Diaz with a series of questions. Keep reading to learn more about getting a facial peel, a B12 shot, and Botox.
BYRDIE: What should someone know before getting a chemical peel?
JOHN DIAZ: First of all, it's important to make sure they don't have any medical conditions that may prevent treatment with a chemical peel. Women who are pregnant, or are actively trying to get pregnant, for example, should avoid some of the more aggressive peels. Some medications, like Retin-A, or lifestyle factors, like excessive sun exposure, may also determine whether a peel is a good idea for you. We always recommend everyone get a thorough skincare assessment prior to undergoing a peel to make sure you will get the best results possible.
You will notice a visible improvement in your skin after one peel, but best results are obtained with multiple treatments over time.
BYRDIE: What are some common misconceptions about chemical peels?
JD: The most common misconception we hear all the time is that a chemical peel will require a lot of downtime. I have had patients say they are afraid they will look like Samantha after her chemical peel in that Sex and the City episode. Although some high-concentration peels will cause significant redness, we also have mild peels that work great and have minimal downtime.
Another misconception is that you should see a noticeable difference after only one chemical peel. Just as it takes time for skin damage to accumulate, it also takes time to reverse it. You will notice a visible improvement in your skin after one peel, but best results are obtained with multiple treatments over time.
BYRDIE: If someone has troubled skin, are there any treatments they should either avoid or seek out?
JD: This depends on which skin problem they have. For example, adult acne is a frustrating and difficult problem. In addition to standard therapies, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, some mild chemical peels can work great to help prevent breakouts.
One treatment people with acne should avoid, on the other hand, is self-extractions. It's tempting to try to pop your own pimples, but this often leads to redness, infection, and possible scarring. It's better to leave this to a professional.
One of the most common reasons patients come to us is to treat or prevent signs of aging like fine lines, pigmentation changes, and dull-looking skin. We have found that a gentle laser, like the Clear and Brilliant system, is great to improve and reverse these signs. Microneedling is another fantastic treatment to improve fine lines and skin texture.
BYRDIE: Can you please describe the On the Glow chemical peel and why it's an effective express option?
JD: The On the Glow treatment is our signature treatment for anyone who wants their skin to look refreshed with no downtime. It consists of three easy steps. The first step is our proprietary chemical peel. This gentle peel superficially exfoliates the skin and reveals smoother and more youthful skin below. The second step is the application of Red and Blue LED light therapy. LED light in the red wavelength has been shown to stimulate collagen production, skin cell growth, and blood flow. LED light in the blue wavelength kills acne-causing bacteria and prevents breakouts. The third and final step is a vitamin B12 injection. This boosts your body's metabolism and promotes a healthier appearance to your skin. Patients will do this treatment a few days before a big party or red carpet event to look their best.
BYRDIE: Are there any steps one should take before coming in for a peel?
JD: There are a few general things we encourage everyone to do before and after they have a peel for best results. For example, if you are on Retin-A for severe acne, you should avoid having a peel altogether. This medication thins the outer layer of the skin and makes it more difficult for your skin to heal after a peel. Some other medications, like certain antibiotics, make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage and should be avoided before getting a peel. Sun exposure, in general, should be avoided after a peel. Your skin will be more sensitive to damage from UVA and UVB rays after treatment, so using a lot of sunscreen will be essential.
Patients who get vitamin B12 injections often report a boost in their energy level. They will say they feel more focused and productive at work, in addition to feeling more stamina in the gym.
BYRDIE: What exactly is a B12 shot, and how does it help with one's health and appearance?
JD: Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins our body needs. It is instrumental in helping your body make DNA, nerve cells, and red blood cells. The overall effect is stimulation in cell growth and improved cell function. When someone is deficient in vitamin B12, it can cause fatigue, forgetfulness, and pale skin, in addition to more severe symptoms. Patients who get vitamin B12 injections often report a boost in their energy level. They will say they feel more focused and productive at work, in addition to feeling more stamina in the gym. Lastly, many patients will tell us they see an improvement in the appearance and health of the skin.
BYRDIE: I'm all for Botox, but I feel like so many of my friends (especially under 30) are hesitant—what are some common misconceptions?
JD: The most common myths I hear about Botox is that it's somehow dangerous and that if you stop using it, your wrinkles will look even worse than before. Both of these are completely false.
Botox is a medication that decreases muscle contraction and has been available for over 50 years. It was initially used as a treatment for people who suffered from severe muscle twitching of the eyes. Eventually, doctors noticed patients' faces looked younger on the side where the eye was being treated. This led to its use in cosmetic medicine.
It's ideal to start Botox before you have wrinkles. It will prevent you from forming them in the future.
They figured out that Botox was not only stopping the twitching, but it was also weakening the muscles that normally cause skin to bunch up. Since skin will form wrinkles only where it is bunched up, the Botox was preventing wrinkles from forming. If the person already had wrinkles, it made the wrinkles look better. If the person was younger and didn't have wrinkles yet, it stopped the wrinkles from forming in the first place. This is why it's ideal to start Botox before you have wrinkles. It will prevent you from forming them in the future.
Since its introduction over 50 years ago, Botox has been extensively studied and has developed a proven safety record. It is now the most commonly performed non-surgical treatment in the world. Over 7 million treatments were done in the U.S. alone last year.
In addition to being safe, there are no harmful effects from stopping it once you have started, contrary to some people's misconceptions. I have had some patients worry that somehow their lines and wrinkles were going to get more severe than they used to be if they stop using Botox. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once you stop Botox, your muscles will begin contracting just like they did before treatment. The muscles will eventually start bunching up the skin just like it used to. Your skin will never look worse. In fact, it will look better because it was protected from wrinkle damage the whole time you were using Botox.
BYRDIE: How often would you recommend someone to get each of the three treatments offered in the On the Glow facial? Does it differ depending on age or skin type?
JD: What is great about the On the Glow facial is that it is gentle and can be done on a regular basis. We recommend having it done once a month to maintain a fresh and youthful appearance to the skin. In fact, repeated treatments will stimulate new collagen and skin cell formation so the results are cumulative. We also recommend you have the vitamin B12 injection only once every three to six months. This is all you will need to maintain top cellular function.
BYRDIE: How do you suggest clients care for their skin between facials? What does an ideal skincare regimen look like?
JD: This is another common question. We created a foolproof skincare system that is easy to follow if your concern is to prevent signs of aging. We call it the Honor System, and it consists of three of our signature products from Honor MD Skincare. The first is Cleanse. This is a gentle hydrating cleanser, which is safe to use pre- and post-peels. Four to five days after having a peel is the ideal time to add the second step called Tone. Tone consists of a rich combination of botanicals, peptides, and essential nutrients. It works to neutralize and balance the skin's pH. Not only will this help your skin recover after each peel, but it will also create the ideal skin conditions for optimal cell growth and renewal. Once you have started using Tone, you can then add the third product called Renew. This is a powerful blend of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. Renew stimulates collagen production and provides powerful antioxidant protection. This product will work synergistically with the peel to correct hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines, and prevent wrinkles.