5 Questions With... Dr. Howard Murad

DAYSPA talks with the pioneer of antiaging skin care.

Dr. Howard Murad is a board-certified dermatologist, trained pharmacist and associate clinical professor of medicine (dermatology) at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)—but spa practitioners know him as a pioneer of antiaging skin care whose work has contributed to such breakthroughs as alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants and, most recently, his trademarked Science of Cellular Water (which explores cell membranes’ water-holding capacities as a marker of healthy youthfulness).

In the late ’60s, Murad, who grew up in Queens, New York, served as a general medical officer for the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star for his service as a battalion surgeon. By the early ’70s, he had completed his dermatology residency at UCLA and opened his first practice. By 1995, he had a patient base of nearly 50,000 and moved to his current location in the Southern California community of El Segundo.

Today, Murad maintains a practice devoted to principles of inclusive health, and he continues to add to his wide range of successful skincare product lines, treatment plans and books. When not working or spending time with his family, he indulges his creative side by painting. —Linda Kossoff

Related: The Artsy Side of Dr. Murad | Dr. Murad Hosts the Art of Giving | DAYSPA Video Channel: Dr. Murad on Cellular Health
Other 5 Questions With... Interviews: Barbara Panagos | Linda Nelson | Boldijarre Koronczay | Linda Appel Lipsius | Tony Cuccio | Lisa Crary | Zvi Ryzman | Ken Simpson

You’ve introduced your share of discoveries since coming on the skincare scene 40 years ago. What can we expect to see next?
There’s still so much going on! We’re looking at osmolytes (agents that seem to help with hydration), and the new keratinoids—such as vitamin A with lutein—which have super anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. But remember, before there was medicine, there was food. I think the extracts of koji berry and yum berry, for instance, are key to healing and protecting the skin. Think about why certain fruits and vegetables thrive in certain areas of the world, and you have clues as to what they can do for the skin.
What is your personal skin regimen?
I don’t have a specific one; I alter it depending on what’s needed at the time. However, I stick with a basic three-step plan: cleanser, antioxidant treatment (I have some sun damage) and something for genetic or environmental aging. And I always use sunscreen, and a moisturizer at night.
Are men starting to get the message about taking care of their skin?
I think they’re more receptive these days. But men still aren’t accustomed to getting this type of advice—they’re more focused on medical, not beauty, solutions. Picture a 75-year-old farmer who’s been working outdoors for 60 years. If you tell him, ‘Use this product because it’ll improve your skin’s tone and texture,’ he’s not going to listen. But tell him he has sun damage and using a product will help him live longer, and he’ll do it. You have to speak Russian to the Russians.
You seem like such a healthy person—do you have any weaknesses?
I love pizza. I could eat it every day. But I abide by the 80/20 rule, which allows for moderation. Maybe I’ll eat the pizza, but I won’t get the fatty meat toppings. I think if you do this, you’re less likely to fall completely off the wagon. We all tend to want to be perfect. I say, be imperfect!
What was the last good book you read?
Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager. It basically says that happiness and fun aren’t the same thing. Whoever we are, we tend to ‘spot treat’ (focus on one thing we think needs fixing) rather than see ourselves as whole people. It’s hard to be happy when you do that. The same is true of good health; whatever issue you have, it’s a whole-person issue.