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As a beauty reporter in Los Angeles, I try out a variety of salons and spas for the sake of the experience, but being agnostic is not something I subscribe to for my skin — after learning the hard way. Testing too many products and receiving several abrasive treatments within a short time frame had my skin barrier crying for help. And that, friends, was not a pleasant experience.
Needless to say, allied green I needed some expert guidance when I met Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Nancy Samolitis several years ago. Her matter-of-fact approach and detailed guidance to help save my skin convinced me that she was the woman I was going to stick with through it all — melasma, acne, wrinkles, texture, and whatever else life (or my poor judgment) threw at my skin.
Samolitis cofounded Facile Dermatology & Boutique in 2016 with her business partner Daniel Nadick Levy in Los Angeles. She's one of the most in-demand dermatologists in the city, with her practice nestled on busy walkways of Melrose Place. If you've seen a famous face sans makeup on TV or in print, Samolitis has likely been the woman behind their glowing complexion. (Although, like any respectable dermatologist, you'll never know who her clientele is — unless they want you to.)
I personally knew Samolitis was The One to help get my skin on the right track due to her passion for reducing melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation that's notoriously difficult to eradicate, and something I personally experience due to my hormonal birth control. She's always been ahead of the curve on new treatments for skin conditions, including Sebacia for acne and oral tranexamic acid to help reduce melasma. She never wants to change how I look — instead, she introduces me to new modalities that get me excited about my own skin, face, and body. I've been a devout follower since my first visit to her office because of her personal skin-care philosophy: Good skin should be easy to navigate.
Samolitis's new brand Facile — aptly named, as the word is defined as "easily achieved" and "effortless" – hopes to end the confusion surrounding effective skin care. The line drops today, September 23, and will debut with products all under $40, starting with what is deemed as the "Core 4": The gentle hyaluronic acid-rich Bare Necessity Cleanser ($26), the intensely hydrating Dew You Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($25), the lightweight and soothing Barely There Daily Moisturizer ($32), and the conditioning Lip Jelly ($12).
Also on tap are four targeted serums you can integrate into your routine based on your personal skin-care goals. These include the calming, ashwagandha-containing Destress ($38), which helps with inflammation, tranexamic acid-rich Brighten ($38) to gently exfoliate and reduce brown and red spots, Clear ($38), made with salicylic acid to decongest breakouts, and Reverse ($38), which is formulated with retinol and niacinamide to give you firmer, smoother skin.
Each was developed based on the most common issues Samolitis sees in her practice: acne, pigmentation, disrupted skin barriers, and texture. While she certainly isn't the first dermatologist to create an at-home line, I've found that the marquee ingredients in the serums make light work of the afflictions they claim to correct.
Facile Skin Care Bare Necessity Cleanser
Facile Barely There Moisturizer
Facile Dew You Hyaluronic Serum
Facile Lip Jelly
"People are using a million different products from a million different brands. We wanted to create something that would simplify your skin care but was also effective — and there are a lot of overrated ingredients out there," says Samolitis. "For me, it's really important to look at ingredients that have science behind them and are known to be effective from my personal experience with seeing patients and from the science that I read in medical journals and in the medical literature."
Admittedly, when I first received the products to test, I didn't naturally gravitate toward the Core 4. I already have a face wash I use religiously (Fresh Soy Face Cleanser). Plus, ingredients like green tea and peptides, found in the moisturizer and hyaluronic acid serum, didn't necessarily entice me to crack them open first (despite enjoying both ingredients). However, now I keep finding myself reaching for everything from the Core lineup, especially the Dew You Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Yes, hyaluronic acid is a commonly used ingredient, but the performance of this serum stands out above the others in my opinion.
One thing you'll notice about Dew You is that unlike many other hyaluronic serums, it's easy to spread on the skin and isn't sticky. Krupa Koestline, cosmetic chemist at KKT Consultants, who evaluated the entirety of each product's ingredient lineup for Allure, says the formulation plays a big role in this. "Most hyaluronic acid serums tend to be sticky," she says. "This serum combines some polyglycerol-based emollients, which mitigate the sticky after-feel and add to the hydrating benefit of the serum."
As someone with melasma, I thought I'd be obsessed with Brighten, the serum focused on reducing uneven skin tone and dullness. It incorporates tranexamic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin E to help lighten discoloration and protect the skin barrier. I use it daily, but my personal favorite is Clear. It incorporates lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acids at high percentages (7, 10, and 1 percent, respectively) to gently exfoliate the skin and give an instant glow.
It's meant to combat breakouts and to decongest, but I love how it makes the texture of my skin look and feel, and it's done wonders helping fade a post-breakout mark on my lower cheek. "Scientific studies have shown the benefits of these ingredients when used together," says Koestline. "There are also great delivery systems and humectants included (in Clear), which add to the effectiveness of these ingredients."
Brighten is a gentler exfoliant compared to Clear, but includes ingredients known for helping lessen pigmentation. Koestline confirms that tranexamic acid has shown promising evidence as a plasmin inhibitor, making it effective for treating UV-induced discoloration, dark spots, and redness. Notably, Brighten doesn't contain vitamin C, which is commonly found in many brightening products, due to how the ingredient can affect certain skin types — some are sensitive to it.
Facile Clear Acne Serum
Facile Brighten Pigment Serum
Facile Reverse Serum
Facile Destress Serum
Ingredients like cysteamine and hydroquinone are also popular in brightening treatments, and according to Birmingham, Alabama-based board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, they are great for treating pigmentation quickly. However, they aren't recommended to be used during pregnancy. While the risk isn't outright, due to how powerful these ingredients are when absorbed into the skin and the limited amount of studies done on their safety for pregnant women, they're commonly avoided. They may also require a prescription. Because of this, Samolitis wanted to ensure Facile's brightening offering was accessible to everyone.
"We love that tranexamic acid is super safe and not irritating. When it's used topically, it's also safe in pregnancy," she says. "We wanted to make sure that Brighten was pregnancy-safe because I think there's not a lot of effective pregnancy-safe brighteners out there for people."
Azelaic acid, notes Samolitis, is also a great ingredient for anyone who's expecting and dealing with pigmentation, and the combination of both tranexamic acid and azelaic acid work in harmony together to help with discoloration. Azelaic acid specifically is known for treating acne and rosacea, and its inclusion helps with red post-inflammatory marks left from acne as well. The Brighten serum also has a slight shimmer to it, which acts as a glowy primer pre-makeup.
Destress is for the person who has damaged their skin barrier or has super sensitive skin that needs a little extra TLC. It incorporates soothing ingredients like phytosphingosine, an anti-inflammatory that protects from allergens and irritants. Samolitis discovered it after a trip to the vet with her dog. "(Phytosphingosine) is actually very commonly used in veterinary medicine. This is a little weird, but I learned about it from a veterinary dermatologist," she explains. "Dog skin and human skin are definitely not the same, but my dog had allergic eczema on his face. I used a product that (my vet) recommended, and it cleared up in like two days. And I was like, why don't I have something that works as well for all my patients with eczema?"
Samolitis did research and found that there's substantial data for Phytosphingosine and human skin for conditions like eczema but also for acne, which is why she recommends using Destress as an addition to your acne regimen because it will help reduce irritation. "Phytosphingosine is a type of lipid that strengthens the stratum corneum and increases the lipid bilayer that traps in hydration and prevents transepidermal water loss," says Hartman. He also notes that coconut water is anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant benefits, and ashwagandha, which is also found in Destress, is an ayurvedic adaptogen and has antimicrobial properties.
Then there's Reverse, the serum for those who want a firmer, smoother complexion. It contains 2.5 percent retinol — higher than you would normally find over the counter — as well as vitamins C and E. "I like that the formula also contains comfrey, niacinamide, and sodium hyaluronate, which are all great soothing agents and help diminish any adverse effects of retinol," says Koestline.
Overall, what I love about this particular brand is that I can use the products without doing too much thinking. It isn't taxing on my brain to figure out which product to use when, and I don't experience any irritation despite the combination and percentage of activities included. Of course, it was created by a person I trust wholeheartedly, which helps. I see results with none of the pain, which makes me want to use them consistently — a cornerstone when looking to achieve visible results. I have a complete routine that doesn't feel like rocket science to figure out.
I've been mixing up the serums throughout the week: Clear two to three times a week to exfoliate, Brighten and Dew You during the day to hydrate and protect, Destress after at-home treatments, and Reverse one to two times a week in the evening to get my retinol kick. I'll be anxiously awaiting Facile's sunscreen, which Samolitis assures me in the works — it's a crucial skin-care step she's looking to perfect.
Facile is available September 23 at facileskin.com for $12 to $38 for individual products and $86 to $129 for the sets. Head over to the website and grab yours expeditiously.
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