How a Famous Skin-Care Expert Fights Aging

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Dr. Perricone. Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Not all doctors favor Botox. Just ask Dr. Nicholas Perricone, the dermatologist behind the wildly successful Perricone MD line, who famously asserts that the pricey treatment actually accelerates the aging process. He's more of a vitamin guy, with a daily dose ritual to prove it. The Cut talked with Dr. Perricone about his personal wellness regimen.

How I start my mornings: When I first wake up, I take a series of vitamins that work well on an empty stomach. They are better absorbed and they won't interfere with other vitamins. I take 4,000 milligrams of vitamin C powder — I make a water solution out of it. Then I take a dozen or so vitamins. After I do that, I usually use some peptides that I invented — transdermal peptides — and I just apply a small amount to my wrists and rub them together. These peptides go right through the skin and into the bloodstream. They have specific anti-aging, anti-inflammatory therapeutic effects.

After that I usually do about 30 to 45 minutes of meditation before I start my day. Scientifically, I started because of some studies out of Harvard that stated that in a really short time, meditation can actually increase brain cells. You can see this on tests such as an MRI. I started that about a year ago. It energizes me and also gets my brain organized for the day.

After the meditation I usually do my exercise, but before I exercise I take branched-chain amino acids. Those are really important for anybody who wants to have an anti-aging method, especially if you’re exercising, because it tends to replace the nutrients needed to repair muscle. There are three branched chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. I also take a little glutamine, another amino acid. Finally, I take two fish-oil capsules because I discovered several years ago that if I take fish oil with my branched-chain amino acids, it attenuates my appetite. It's a lot easier to stay on a regimen if you're not ravenously hungry. 

How I like to eat: Breakfast depends on how much time I have and what I have access to. I do a protein drink, which consists of liquid egg whites — I add a green drink to that and just mix it up together. The green drink depends on what fresh vegetables I have available, but it's usually kale, watercress, cucumber, celery, carrots, apple, and ginger. Then I'll take my next round of vitamins that are best absorbed with food. I also start the day with a tea that I kind of live on. It’s a white tea with jasmine. I add some honey and cinnamon to that. Then I’ll add a little bit of coconut oil, which gives it a creamy taste. Coconut oil is loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants and basically all of the good things that you need. The tea has a pretty good amount of caffeine in it, which gets things going for me for the day.

After I work out, I usually repeat my branched-chains supplements. I have branched-chains again for the third time of the day about 45 minutes before dinner. Another interesting thing about the branched-chains is that they act very much like resveratrol, which is that magical thing in red wine that helps you reverse the aging process. 

How I like to sweat: It depends on the day. Sometimes I use weights for weight resistance. That's about a 45-minute (if I'm going a little slowly, an hour) workout. On the days I'm not doing the weight resistance, I do a cardiovascular workout that usually consists of running. I strongly feel that overexercising is counterproductive and actually increases inflammation in the body and accelerates the aging process because you overwhelm your defense system. I keep my run down to about 20 to 30 minutes. Then after completing that, I usually do some stretching. Also on the days I run, I try to do yoga for about 20 to 30 minutes. Many times the yoga is actually placed before my meditation. And then at the end of the day if I have time, I like to get another meditation in for 20 to 30 minutes.

What wellness means to me: It’s the global approach to health and spirituality at the same time. It's very important to be a whole person. Of course there's the physical aspect, there's the mind aspect, and you have to be optimistic in your approach. Without the spiritual aspect, you're not balanced. Wellness is the total approach to life and that approach can also mean that you are devoting a part of your day to other people in terms of helping in any way that you can.

How wellness has changed for me: As I studied the science, the regimen has changed, but the basic approach has also been to target inflammation. I've always done everything I could in terms of supplements, foods, and the lifestyle approached to reduce inflammation.

How I eat when I'm alone: I eat less. I might take a piece of salmon and make a quick salad. 

My wellness advice is: In all cases, moderation is the key. Diet is critical and if you learn about the anti-inflammatory diet, following that is extremely important. Exercise moderately. If you exercise and do a two-hour workout, it's counterproductive. It's also important to have some down time and have a few close friends or family members you can talk to on a daily basis.

This interview has been edited and condensed.