The Beauty Code

by | Sep 1, 2020

This year, back-to-school season isn’t just for the kids! As Pioneers of Ageless Beauty we are excited to offer you fresh education in the art and science of beauty. Through this blog, we plan to arm you with the tools and information you’ll need for skin that shines from the inside out. As we like to say at Laser & Skin, healthy skin is beautiful skin!

The Core Four: Brittany's Picks

The Core Four: Chapter 1 – Your Core 4



We love them. Healthy skin requires them! However, with so many products on the market, it’s often overwhelming to choose the right ones for you. Products are, after all, an investment. You want to make sure they’re doing the job you’re paying them to do!

Our specialists are here to help you assemble an A Team of products, offering complimentary skincare consultations. We are always happy to feed you a proverbial fish, but we also want to make sure you’re able to go out there and catch that beautiful salmon on your own. The key to building a solid skincare routine begins with the Core Four: Mineral Sunscreen, Antioxidant, Retinol and a Specialty Product. (Fan of acronyms? Think MARS!).

The overall goal of The Core Four is to preserve the health of our skin and keep it in a healthy state. Our skin is a vital organ — in fact, it’s the largest organ of the body — and plays a key  role in both beauty and wellness. As Product Specialist (or, as we like to call her, Queen of Beauty Creams) Brittany Costarella explains, “We need to feed it and keep it healthy, so it can age gracefully along with us. You do what you can internally — eat healthy, exercise, take vitamins — but you have to meet those efforts topically to get the natural aging process we all desire. The Core Four is the ‘sun protection, eating healthy, exercising, and taking vitamins of skincare.’”

In your skincare syllabus, we don’t just want to teach you what Core Four products you should be using. We want you to understand why you should be using them — the intricate, scientific, fascinating details of the important jobs each one is doing to create healthy, beautiful skin.


Sunscreen is the non-negotiable product of The Core Four. If you want healthy, beautiful skin that ages gracefully, the daily use of sunscreen is imperative.

What do you look for when you choose your sunscreen? If your answer is a high SPF, you’ll want to give that bottle another read-through. Pay attention to the active ingredients. Brittany says the most important item to check off your list is making sure it’s a mineral sunscreen. These are physical sunscreen filters that protect against nearly the full spectrum of light. That’s where we get the term, “broad-spectrum.” The mineral will either be zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, with zinc oxide being the most important, as it’s best at blocking the longer, more deeply penetrating and damaging rays. Whereas SPF only tell us how our sunscreen will protect us from UVB rays — which cause sunburns and play a key role in developing skin cancers — mineral, broad-spectrum sunscreens protect us from UVB and UVA rays, which are longer wavelengths that penetrate deeper into our skin. UVA rays can cause skin cancers, including melanoma, as well as damage to collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles, brown spots, vessels and other signs of aging.

Brittany’s Pick: ColorScience Mineral Shield and Alastin HydraTint

Alastin Sunscreen and colorescience Face Shield

ColorScience Mineral Shield and Alastin HydraTint


We’ll start with a little clarification on the differences between retinol, retinoids and retinoic acid. Retinoids are the general term for a class of chemical compounds related to vitamin A. Not everyone can tolerate retinoic acid, which is the ingredient in the prescription drugs Retin-A, Renova and Tazorac, so many people do well with an over-the-counter retinol.

Retinoids are the ultimate multi-taskers and powerful weapons against the signs of aging and sun damage. Creams containing retinoids repair sun-damaged skin by stimulating hyaluronic acid and collagen production, while quickening cell reproduction. Brittany explains, “With age, everything starts to slow down. Retinol speeds up cell turnover, bringing your skin to life again.”

Retinol can be intimidating because there is often a period of adjustment where your skin looks worse before it looks better — dryness, flakiness and sensitivity can be common. That’s the product doing its work. Our team can help you choose the right retinol and regimen for you so that these effects are only temporary. 

Women who are pregnant should avoid using a form of retinoid.

Brittany’s Pick: SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream (ask and make sure that’s the right product)

SkinBetter - Retinol

SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream


It’s common knowledge that we should incorporate antioxidants into our diets and skincare routines — by why? What exactly do antioxidants do for our skin?

Think of antioxidants as sacrificial vitamins, protecting us from free radicals. A free radical is an unstable molecule because it only has one electron. Electrons like to be paired up, so free radicals go around like a ravenous Pac-Man, looking to rob other cells of their electrons. When these free radicals come after the electrons in our skin’s molecules, it directly causes damage to our skin’s DNA, speeding up the aging process. From there, it becomes a chain reaction: when a free radical takes an electron from a molecule in our skin, that molecule then becomes a free radical itself, looking to steal an electron from another molecule in our skin. This abundance of free radicals and cellular damage is known as oxidative stress. Enter the antioxidants.

Antioxidants, our skin’s sacrificial warriors, offer those free radicals their much-desired electrons so they don’t have to take them away from the molecules in our skin. So as these free radicals in the environment settle into our skin and start breaking things down, antioxidants come in and mop up that garbage, leaving us with stronger, healthier skin. How cool is that?

Brittany says a lot of companies are starting to recommend using antioxidants twice daily (morning and night) so our skin is constantly protected from these free radicals.

When it comes to skincare, you have a lot of choices in antioxidants. Vitamin C is the most common and comes in two forms in our products: L-ascorbic acid and THD Ascorbate. THD Ascorbate is a more stable version of Vitamin C that easily permeates our cells, making it ideal for products. 

Antioxidants also come in the form of green tea, resveratrol (which can be found in the skin of grapes), caffeine, Vitamin E and more. 

Brittany’s Pick: Alto by SkinBetter and Lumivive by SkinMedica

SkinMedica - Lumiviv System

Alto by SkinBetter and Lumivive by SkinMedica


At Laser & Skin, we prioritize individualized care and treatment. That’s you will never hear us talk about a one-size-fits-all skincare or treatment plan — even when it comes to the Core Four. The speciality product, as Brittany describes it, is the cherry-on-top product that’s personalized for your skin’s specific needs and concerns. It’s a specific item that offers the extra refinement for completing the daily care you need. This could be a hyaluronic acid, a growth factor, an eye cream, a pigment regulator, a product that helps with redness — it’s all about what your skin requires.

Brittany says if you don’t have any serious, specific skincare concerns, a great choice for a specialty product is a growth factor.

She describes growth factors as wound healers — aging skin is wounded skin. Your skin is an incredible organ, and when it’s injured, it’s able to heal, regenerate and produce new cells. Growth factors are messenger proteins that regulate cellular growth and the activity of skin cells, and they play a major role in the skin’s natural ability to repair the damage caused by aging and too much sun. However, through normal aging and photo-aging, the production and level of growth factors decrease, resulting in wrinkles and fine lines. Adding growth factors in your skincare routine restimulates that tissue growth.

When asked if she would ever recommend a moisturizer as a specialty product, Brittany said moisturizers are great, but you need to make sure it has a bigger job than just moisturizing. “A non-functional moisturizer,” as she calls it, “is like a fresh coat of paint on the house. It looks nice, but if you’re not doing anything to support the structure of your house underneath the paint, it’s not doing much good.” She says to look for ingredients that help support the barrier of skin, like peptides, ceramides and fatty acids.

If you do have specific skin concerns and need an extra-special specialty product, we are always here to help you choose it, along with any of your Core Four products!

Brittany’s Pick: SkinMedica’s TNS Advanced+

Specialty Product - Skin Medica TNS Advanced Serum

SkinMedica’s TNS Advanced+

Now that you know the building blocks of good skincare, it’s time to assemble your own dream team of products! Through September, when you buy your Core Four, take $40 off your purchase! (Must mention the Core Four promotion to receive offer).


  1. Jana Du Bois

    I’d like to make Ann appointment with Brittany to identify the appropriate Core 4 and specialty product.

  2. Debra LaVoi

    Helpful information/ education. Thank you.


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