Listener Question Series Part 1

Do nose strips work on clogged pores? What is toner? When should you start using anti-aging products? How can you prevent blackheads? What is preventative botox? Finding answers to questions like these can be challenging, considering all the misinformation and incomplete information circulating online. However, The Skin Report has the answers to even the toughest skincare questions!

The Skin Report is a podcast created to educate listeners on methods to improve skin health for people of all ethnicities and ages. On this episode, host Dr. Sethi addresses hard-hitting skincare questions submitted by listeners! These commonly asked questions involve topics like anti-aging ingredients, blackhead treatments, and chemical exfoliants. She also discusses whether toner is necessary for skincare routines and shares her thoughts on Preventative botox.

As the founder of RenewMD Beauty Medical Spas and a woman of color, Dr. Sethi knows the importance of properly caring for your skin. So check out this episode to hear her science-backed skincare expertise on these hot questions. Also, follow on TikTok at @SkinByDrSethi for more skincare content!

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This transcript was exported on May 9, 2023 -view latest version here.

Skincare can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether it’s finding the right products, ingredients, or treatments. There’s a lot out there, but not always for people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Eastern South Asian descent. That’s why I set out to educate myself and others so that we can all feel beautiful in our skin.

Hello and welcome back to The Skin Report. I’m Dr. Simran Sethi, an internal medicine doctor, mom of three, and CEO and founder of Skin by Dr. Sethi and Renew MD medical spas. In this episode, I’ll be reviewing the top skincare questions I’ve seen from my patients, the internet, and you, my listeners. This will be part one in a two-part series from ingredients to procedures and more. Let’s get into it.

As we’ve said on the show before, there’s a lot of information out there and misinformation, and while there are great products and routines available, it can be difficult to track them down. Today, I want to talk on the big questions, like whether blackhead nose strips work or what really is toner for. First, the age-old question, what age should I start using anti-aging products?

Anti-aging ingredients can be incorporated into your routine at any age, but the earlier, the better. The skin renewal cycle, the natural process of your skin creating new cells, does not begin to slow down until you are in your mid-20s. However, it’s still pretty rapid. For example, when you’re 20, your cell turnover takes about three weeks. By mid-30s, it takes about four weeks, and in your 40s and 50s, it can take 45 to 60 days. If you’d like to learn more about the skin renewal cycle, which is the basis of my skincare line, check out our very first episode of the show.

When our renewal cycle slows and so does our collagen production, we can apply ingredients topically to help nourish and encourage our cell turnover so that we are always making new skin. Remember, when you compare the skin of a younger person in their early 20s to someone in their 40s or older, they’re getting exposed to exactly the same environmental insults, but why does their skin look different?

Younger skin repairs and erases skin damage at a much faster skin renewal rate. If you want your skin to look healthy and younger, you need to optimize the skin renewal cycle. The great thing about ingredients that help reduce the look of fine lines, for example, retinol, vitamin C, and peptides, is that all of these ingredients are great for your skin. Healthy skin will always look fresh and bright at any age, and a healthier lifestyle with a balanced diet and moderate, consistent exercise will always boost the appearance of skin as it is a measure of health.

Whether you’re concerned with looking younger, staying smooth, or preventing the formation of wrinkles in the first place, what you really want to accomplish is skincare that nourishes and feeds the skin renewal cycle, or the process of making new skin. The perfect time to start is now. Even if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, it’s never too late to take your skin care more seriously. The earlier, the better, but because our skin is a living organ and it’s continually regenerating, it’s also never too late to start. No matter how young or old you are, you will always benefit from properly using anti-aging skincare products.

But say your primary focus is less anti-aging and more clarifying the skin. Our next question is calmly asked when it comes to dealing with blackheads. You want to help clear your skin, especially your nose, of blackheads. Do these strips work? First, what is a blackhead, and how does it form exactly? This will help us understand how to address the issue at its root. Blackheads form when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin, dirt, debris, and oil or sebum. This makes the hair follicle appear more dilated and visible. Products like the Biore strips don’t work unless you have a very superficial blackhead that has been pushed out by the skin’s natural sloughing process. In fact, poor strips will likely remove only the superficial part of a blackhead and leave behind the deeper part. This does not accomplish much at all and makes users believe that their pores have been cleaned. What should you do instead?

An effective cleanser and a consistent routine, as well as a chemical or mechanical exfoliant, will help. Pores are microscopic and require deep cleansing. If you have a tendency to form blackheads, you likely collect a lot of debris in your pores. This could happen because of poor exfoliation, either mechanical or chemical, excess oil production, or both. To prevent poor enlargement and blackheads, it’s essential to clean with an AHA or BHA cleanser and also consider some exfoliation a few times a week.

In fact, we just did an episode covering the best and worst cleansing habits and trends, which you can check out in episode seven of season two. When it comes to finding the right exfoliant for you, I would highly recommend listening to season 1, episode 14. With a proper cleanser and exfoliant, you can prevent the formation of blackheads in the first place.

TikTok can be a great source of information and a way to find your favorite creators. In fact, I’m on TikTok, and you can find me at Skin by Dr. Sethi. When it comes to skincare, however, there can be misinformation and incomplete information, and that’s why I want to bring up preventative Botox. A term I’ve seen spoken about on TikTok a lot this past year. Preventative Botox is a TikTok terminology, and I personally believe it’s a rebrand of Botox in general to encourage more women in their early twenties to get it. Botox is a neurotoxin that arrests muscle movements in the face to help prevent the formation of wrinkles.

Think of your skin like paper that sits on muscles. As the muscles move, the paper folds and forms creases. Botox stops the muscles from moving and form creases or wrinkles in the skin, but muscles also have muscle memory. There are certain facial muscles that move involuntarily throughout the day and even at night. By using Botox regularly, you will help make these muscles unlearn to move movements such as frowning at the computer screen.

Farrowing our brow when we read, et cetera, are examples of facial muscle movement that is frequently done involuntarily and is most amenable to Botox treatments. By freezing the muscle’s ability to move, we can unlearn these movements. We actually have a beginner’s guide to Botox, which I like in the show notes. In it, we discuss everything you need to know about the different types of Botox, where it’s injected, and how many units are recommended. How does all this relate to preventative Botox?

In reality, preventative Botox is really just the same thing as regular Botox, but it is a marketing rebrand towards women in their early 20s. You can receive Botox at any adult age, though the younger, the more effective usually, as you are preventing wrinkles before they become deep lines. Botox also wears off every few months, so the frequency at which you use it is equally, if not more, important than when you start using it. When we return, I want to talk about a skincare step that seemed so important even just a couple of years ago but now isn’t popping up in your routines. We’ll touch on this more when we return. Before we wrap up today’s episode, I want to talk about toners. What is the purpose of toner, and is it necessary? Where in your routine would you use it, and why?

Toners were historically used to remove soaps, gum after cleansing the face when most cleansers used to be lye-based. They also helped remove any excess oil off the skin if the cleanser did not. This meant that toners were used to clean the skin surface enough to improve the penetration of serums and other products applied. However, facial cleansers have come a long way since. In my opinion, a toner is no longer a necessary skincare step. Regardless, there are so many toners on the market, and the most popular ones are actually glycolic or lactic acid-based formulations. These are simply chemical exfoliants, and unless you have very oily skin, you really don’t need that level of chemical exfoliation after washing your skin with an effective cleanser.

The short answer is that no, toner aren’t necessary as long as you’re using an effective cleanser. If your skin is acne-prone and oily, use a glycolic acid chemical exfoliant in addition to your cleanser to deep clean pores, remove dead skin cells, and improve the penetration of your skincare products.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of our listener question series. If you’d like more of this content, let us know. We are a woman of color owned brand, and any likes, reviews, ratings, and shares truly help to boost the podcast and get in front of others like yourself. Thanks for listening, and until next time, love the skin you’re in and celebrate your beauty.If you’d like to learn more about science-backed skincare or medical aesthetic treatments, please subscribe to and turn on notifications for The Skin Report, so you always know when a new episode is up. We have a newsletter that you can sign up for on so that you can stay up-to-date on all our latest podcasts and more. Additionally, if you have a skincare question or want to make an episode topic recommendation, please message me at, which is linked in my show notes, and I’ll be sure to answer your question in an episode soon. We’ve received some great questions so far, and I will try and answer them at the end of every episode, so keep them coming.

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