The Anti-Inflammatory Skin-Care Pioneer

Photo: Mauricio Velez

When Dr. Nicholas Perricone burst onto the beauty scene in 1997, warning us of the dangers of inflammation to bodies and our skin through what we ate, many laughed, including myself (not directly to his face, of course). But despite the eye rolls, he held his ground.

“I felt very strongly about the mechanism of the inflammation I was seeing, and the literature did support what I was doing, so it seemed very odd that this hadn’t been translated into practical uses of medicine,” remembers Perricone, chairman and founder of skin care and supplement brand Perricone, MD. “Of course, the resistance I received from academia was tremendous, and I realized it was an emotional reaction, not one of cognitive function. It was a road and a half, but I knew this was the way to go.”

Three years later, he followed up his skin-care line with a book. He dictated his findings and thoughts into a tape recorder, then sent the tapes to his editor, the result being The Wrinkle Cure.

“I discovered that I have an audiographic memory,” he explains. “After I was drafted during the Vietnam War, we were given general intelligence tests, one of which involved listening to an explanation of Morse code, then writing it out in a really short amount of time. I did extremely well, so when I went to medical school, I recorded everything. Whatever I didn’t get the first time, I’d listen to again on the way to exams, and the answers would jump out at me.”

With the school’s approval, he sped through his courses at his own rate and graduated a year early.

After a residency in pediatrics, he switched to dermatology, eventually returning to his hometown of New Haven to be an assistant clinical professor at Yale. The abstracts that he began publishing on the effects of alpha hydroxy acid and lipoic acid on various skin issues became the foundation for his line.

Perricone spoke with the Cut about the benefits of brightly colored vegetables, New Haven pizza, and the calming effects of his dog.

Whats your definition of beauty?
True beauty is radiant health.

What do you think when you hear the term clean beauty”?
Since true beauty is radiant health, it begins with the foods we eat, avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and beverages (i.e., sugary, starch, or processed foods) and drinking pure spring water, preferably infused with hydrogen. This will give us clean, clear skin and a healthy body.

Are there any old-school elements that you just cant quit?
Chocolate. It has health benefits, but unfortunately it does contain sugar.

What is the opposite of “beautiful”?
Seeing the results of the pro-inflammatory diet, which robs skin of radiance and youthful contours.

What is your morning grooming routine?
In the shower, Perricone MD Nutritive Cleanser and Pantene shampoo. My topicals are Perricone MD High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum on my face and Perricone MD Cold Plasma Sub-D on my neck.

Whats the last product you use every night?
Same as morning, but I apply a topical like Perricone MD Intensive Brightening Regimen 15% which contains a new 15 percent vitamin C ester.

Fragrance of choice:
I don’t typically use fragrances, but on the rare occasion, I do like Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais.

Razor of choice:
A Braun 900 series.

How do you like your bed?
Impeccably made every morning.

How do you like your living room?
Bright, uncluttered, open area with plenty of windows overlooking the water.

What do you splurge on?
When traveling I splurge on beautiful, classic or boutique hotels for their elegance, comfort and outstanding service.

What do you scrimp on?

What is your classic uniform?
Custom tailored Tom Ford suit and white shirt, Zegna, Tom Ford, and Charvet ties.

What shoe are you usually wearing?
For dress, Tom Ford; casual, Cole Haan.

What do you own too many of?
Suits and cars.

What are the first three things you do when you get home from work? Change into really comfortable clothes — soft, loose jogging pants, a T-shirt such as one from Lululemon, white athletic socks and comfortable athletic shoes. Comfort is key. Then I take my evening nutritional supplements with Hydrogen Water, and pick up the latest book or journal that I am reading.

What is your own personal definition of misery?
Being somewhere not able to read.

What is your own personal definition of glee?
Inventing, i.e., coming across a great idea that can positively affect beauty, health, longevity and well-being.

What was the most recent interesting conversation you had?
With Dr. Peter Puglaise discussing the biochemistry of energy production.

What book are you currently reading?
Aquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan.

What would the name of your autobiography be?
I Have to Know.

Who would star as you in the film adaptation?
Russell Crowe.

Favorite smell?
Natural florals, such as tea rose.

Least favorite smell?
The anatomy lab.

What do you think Pantones color of 2020 should be?
The varied greens of nature.

What do you most often disagree with others about?
Conventional ideas on beauty, health, and longevity.

What can’t you leave alone?

Favorite CBD product:
Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ CBD Advanced Serum Concentrate (launching in December).

What calms you down?
Meditation or petting my Yorkie, Remy.

Favorite cheese:
Aged goat cheese.

Comfort food:
Sally’s Pizza in New Haven.

Most impressive dish you make:
Grilled salmon with my own constantly changing mixture of spices. Right now, I use either Tamari gluten-free soy sauce or The Spice Hunter Seafood Grilling Blend.

What food would you never eat?
Anything processed or made in the lab and not in nature.

Right after salmon and hydrogen water, what is the most important food we should eat?
Salads with vegetables of multiple colors. The more color, the better: radishes, broccoli, red peppers, carrots, green beans, cabbage. With a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

What do you foresee as the top beauty/wellness trends for 2020? 
Mitochondrial repair agents. The mitochondria portion of the cell is critical to youth and health, and it controls energy production and repair. Topical ingredients high on the list include alpha lipoic acid, DMAE (Dimethylethanolamine) and acetyl carnetine.

What product in your own product domain is misunderstood and should be a best seller? 
Our DMAE Firming Pads. They contain incredible antioxidants that have the ability to firm and tighten pores and increase radiance, firm the tissue beneath skin, and reduce inflammation. They provide an incredible natural mild cleansing action, removing makeup and leave skin with natural moisture with no irritation or dry peeling. Even for those in TV or theatrical productions who normally use heavy makeup.

If you won the Power Ball tomorrow, what are the first five things you would do? (after, of course, donating the majority of it to your top charities…)
Donate to my foundation dealing with children’s issues in third-world countries such as South America, Africa, and India. I would fund clinical research into areas such as hydrogen therapeutics and longevity strategies. A flight into space, hopefully round trip. A trip to ancient mid-east historical sites with world famous archaeologists. A month in Tibet meditating with the monks.

The Anti-Inflammatory Skin-Care Pioneer