BUSTED! Skin Care Myths

Are you being flooded with beauty ads filled with unrealistic and sometimes blatantly false claims? It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction with so much information out there. Every cosmetic company is vying for your attention and precious dollars in this highly competitive industry. What can we really expect from the skin care products we choose?

With expertise grounded in science, we have weeded out some of the common misleading information to help choose wisely.

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Myth: Natural ingredients are better for skin than synthetic

The terms “natural” and “organic” mean derived from nature. Unfortunately, these words are purposefully misleading and unregulated in advertisements, so buyer beware. Just because an ingredient grew out of the ground does not automatically make it safe or good for your skin. Take for example poison ivy, a plant that would be considered a natural product and is well known for causing extreme skin reactions. The reverse is also true, synthetics and chemicals are not all bad. Some lab synthesized “chemicals” are actually naturally occurring compounds like Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Many effective cosmeceuticals are a combination of naturally occurring and man-made ingredients.

Myth: Hypoallergenic products are better for sensitive skin

The term “hypoallergenic” is another unregulated advertising term that has no factual scientific basis. It implies that the ingredients are better tolerated and gentler on sensitive skin. Because we are all unique, there is no way to accurately test products for how our skin may react to them. Trying out different skin care products is the only way to know your tolerance to the ingredients. Sample sizes are a good way to trial a product for yourself.

Myth: The more expensive the product the better it will work

The effectiveness of the product is determined by the formulation, not the price. Unfortunately, labelling of cosmetic ingredients is not mandatory but most brands will label for active ingredients such as Vitamin C, retinol, and AHA/BHA. Fancy packaging and expensive ad campaigns do not mean better quality. Good products can be found in every price range. With the guidance of a trusted professional, search out the products with the right active ingredients for your needs.

Myth: “Anti wrinkle” and “spot” creams should work within days

Don’t buy into the hype. The majority of ingredients in topical skin care products simply sit on the surface of the skin, plumping it temporarily. By nature, the skin is a protective barrier. Only the smallest of molecules can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. Recent trends in beauty promote hyaluronic acid in creams to fight wrinkles. The truth is that the while the hyaluronic acid molecule can absorb a thousand times its weight in water making it an excellent surface hydrator, it cannot penetrate the skin barrier to make any structural changes unless injected into the deeper skin layers.

So what does work? Retinol, derived from Vitamin A, is one product that has scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness at treating acne, reducing fine lines and wrinkles and reversing sun damage. It does this by penetrating the deeper skin layers and increasing cell turnover. Some peptides and antioxidants like Vitamin C are also small enough to penetrate into the deeper skin layers where they are effective in providing building blocks for collagen, elastin, protection against damaging free radicals, and lightening of pigmentation.

Those active ingredients which benefit the skin do so when used consistently over months and years. Regrettably, there is no magic potion to make wrinkles disappear or to prevent them.  Shielding your skin from the sun and daily use of sunscreen are the two best things you can do.

Myth: Some skin care products work like cosmetic injections

Topical skin care products cannot work like cosmetic injections because the ingredients cannot reach the targeted areas. Regardless of the claims, it just isn’t possible. With cosmetic injectables, the fillers or neuromodulators are delivered into the deeper skin layers where they are almost immediately effective.

Myth: A pea sized amount is all you need

Don’t skimp! While a few drops of serum may be enough to get adequate coverage, when it comes to creams most people need more than this. It is also important to apply products to your neck, décolletage, and backs of your hands. When marketing and packaging creams and serums, cosmetic companies often promise enough product in the purchase size to last 3 months. This is rarely the case and if you are stretching your products beyond 3 months you are not likely applying enough to be effective at all.

Myth: Always choose products from the same skin care line

Active ingredients are what is important. It is fine to find a cleanser you like in one brand, a Vitamin C serum from another, and a moisturizer with SPF from yet another.

Many brands promote kits as simple and straightforward regimens for targeted problems (e.g. acne, rosacea, pigmentation, anti-aging). Most people have multiple skin concerns that may not be addressed in a focused kit. Kits may be cost effective if you need to use all the products they contain and if they all run out at the same time. However, some kits may include extra steps and products such as toners which may be drying, irritating, and unnecessary.

Myth: The more products the better

Adding more products to your skin care regime will not guarantee better results. Don’t fall prey to FOMO. The more products that you apply to your skin, the more likely you are to react unfavorably to the combination and the more difficult it will be to sort out the irritating culprit.

Take for example eye creams. While you may wish to choose a product labelled specifically as an eye cream, it is not necessary. Your selected fragrance-free moisturizer or serum should be just as effective when applied around the eyes.


There is something to be said for a minimalist approach to skin care, where a few select and targeted products are used consistently over time to provide the best results.  Focus your search on the active ingredients that you need. Do your research or rely on the guidance of a trusted professional. There is no magic fix. If respecting a budget, purchase well-formulated inexpensive brands and consider saving your dollars for injectables which will provide more immediate and dramatic results.



Bridal Beauty: Planning for your Big Day

Weddings take months of planning and it’s easy to get caught up in decisions about gowns, venues, and guest lists that a good beauty plan is forgotten or postponed. It is becoming more popular for brides, parents, guests, and even grooms to seek out cosmetic treatments before the big event. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy the day, relaxed and confident in knowing that they look their best?

So if you are considering cosmetic treatments, particularly injectables, what is the best timeline to ensure you are picture perfect?

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It's all in the planning

If you’re new to cosmetic injections, it’s best to start at least 6 months before the big day – ideally as far ahead as 9 to 12 months. Start by searching for the right cosmetic physician who will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

What are my options?

Botox Cosmetic

Like doing a trial for your wedding day hair and makeup, a trial of Botox is always a good idea! Because Botox lasts 3-4 months, booking a trial treatment should be done 6 months prior to your big day. This gives your injector time to develop your specific Botox treatment map and make adjustments to achieve your desired look. You will also enjoy looking great in the months leading up to the wedding!

If you’re on a shorter timeline, we recommend booking treatment at least 4 weeks before your wedding day to allow time for the treatment to kick in and for touch ups if necessary. Botox results always look best at the 4-week mark.



There are so many options for filler treatments! Your cosmetic provider can help you decide which option aligns best with your aesthetic and vision for your day. Cheek and lip enhancement are popular for younger brides. More mature brides and mothers of the bride or groom may seek to achieve an overall rejuvenation. Fillers can be used to enhance features or create a more vibrant and refreshed look. The latest Skinbooster hydrating fillers are injected superficially to absorb water and give a smoother, more radiant complexion. Fillers can be used in many areas including backs of hands, neck, décolleté, and earlobes. Depending on the area that is treated, and the type of product used, hyaluronic acid fillers last from 6 months to 2 years. Aim for 6 to 8 weeks prior to the big day to allow the filler to “settle in” and for any hint of bruising or swelling to completely resolve.


Botox for Excessive Sweating

For years, celebrities have relied on Botox injections to ensure completely dry underarms for their red-carpet events. So too can the bride, groom, and members of their wedding party! After all, who wants to be self-conscious about sweating knowing all eyes are on you. Best of all, when used to treat excessive sweating, Botox used in the underarm takes only a week to become effective.

But wait… there’s more!

Other cosmetic treatments such as Belkyra for double chin, microneedling for improvement of skin texture, IPL for pigmentation, and laser hair removal all require a series of treatment sessions over months. The timelines for these cosmetic treatments vary so it is recommended to consult your cosmetic provider early as they will be the best resource to help plan these treatments.


Reduce Stress and Enjoy the Day

There are plenty of details to stress over when preparing for a wedding. Planning well in advance with a cosmetic physician in whom you trust will help reduce anxiety you may experience when unsure about pre-wedding treatments.

We are here to help you feel confident in your beauty and ensure the captured moments will be ones you will forever treasure.

Need a Boost? Skinboosters are IN!

You may have heard about one of the latest trends designed specifically to target skin hydration, smoothness and elasticity from within. Restylane® SkinBoosters™ are a unique form of hyaluronic acid light filler that is injected in tiny droplets into the superficial layer of the skin. It naturally integrates into the skin, absorbs water and disperses like a thin layer of fondant icing. SkinBoosters™ are hydrating and work by improving tone and elasticity and boosting your body’s own collagen production. This exciting product reaches where topical creams cannot. Any age, gender, or skin type can enjoy the benefits of Restylane® SkinBoosters™. This treatment option may complement an existing aesthetic treatment plan or be used on its own.

Katriina, 54 years    Photos courtesy of Restylane.com

Katriina, 54 years

Photos courtesy of Restylane.com

Areas treated: face and forehead Products used: Restylane Skinboosters Vital & Vital Light

Areas treated: face and forehead
Products used: Restylane Skinboosters Vital & Vital Light

With Restylane® SkinBoosters™ we are now able to treat more areas safely with a natural looking result. It is particularly good at treating fine lines around the lips and smile lines. It can also be used on the neck, décolleté and backs of the hands where crepey skin often shows the first signs of aging.

Done in a series of 2-3 injection sessions, it only takes about 20 mins. A topical numbing cream may first be applied for your comfort. The product is gently deposited with a very small needle and clients report minimal discomfort. After your initial series is completed a single maintenance treatment about every 6 months is recommended to preserve that smooth natural radiance.


Restylane® SkinBoosters™ are ALL the rave! And with good reason. See for yourself with these before and after photos! For more information visit www.restylane.com/.


Reflecting on 10 Years in Medical Aesthetics

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Ten years passes so quickly. Though, looking back, so much has happened during that time. I have often been asked why I chose to pursue a special interest in medical aesthetics. Well, in truth, I have to admit it was a selfish curiosity that lead me down this path. One morning during the ritual of preparing to go to hospital rounds, I looked in the mirror and was startled by how tired I looked. There were deep furrows developing between my eyebrows. Now that I know the industry lingo, those were “11” lines. I like to think that I earned them from years of intense concentration while studying.  I had reached middle age and it seemed to have happened all of a sudden. It was 2007, just 5 years after the approval of Botox for cosmetic use in the US and Canada. I began noticing media articles about Botox and fillers. Friends were whispering about new options to look more youthful without going under the knife. I was not alone. What was all the buzz about? Perhaps there was an easier solution to appear refreshed. I didn’t mind being middle aged. After all, I was thankful I had the opportunity to reach this life stage happy and healthy. But I didn’t feel that the tired and angry look on the outside matched how I felt inside. I wanted to explore.

I went into physician mode, extensively researching the products available. I scrutinized the medical literature about how they worked, side effects and results.  Like anyone, my primary concern was safety. After all, as a physician, wife, and mother, I was not about to risk my health for the sake of my appearance. Armed with the scientific data, I sought out an accredited training program in Canada and in September 2007 I was off to Toronto to dip my toe into the world of medical aesthetics. I was unsure of where this would lead for me professionally but I wanted to expand my knowledge and try it for myself.

The needle felt like an extension of my hand, just like an artist’s paintbrush.
— Dr. Andrea Hickey

I smiled as the course instructor commented, “you are very comfortable with a needle in your hand”.  The preceding years of experience as an ER and family physician had allowed me to hone my fine manual skills by performing minor surgical procedures. The needle felt like an extension of my hand, just like an artist’s paintbrush. Then, it was my turn to be the recipient. Placing my trust in another injector, with just a few pinpricks it was over.  The result of the filler was instant and remarkable. But with the Botox- I would have to patiently wait to see the effect. Returning to Fredericton, each day I checked my reflection in the mirror as the muscles gradually relaxed on my forehead. It was smooth and I no longer looked angry and stressed. I thought to myself, “Botox is wonderful”. I wanted to share it with others. I wanted to eliminate all the frowns in Fredericton. And that is how my journey began.

At the time, Medi-spas were all the rage in the urban centres. One stop shopping with hair stylists, estheticians, massage therapists, lasers and injections all in one place like a big box beauty store. While this appeals to many, I chose to offer my medical expertise and skill with a different vision. I set out to provide my clients with a premium experience where they received personal service in the safety and security of a confidential medical office. I designed the clinic space to reflect a sophisticated boutique atmosphere and adjoined it to my medical practice to assure my accessibility. Although always staying abreast of the latest technologies in the growing beauty industry, I chose to concentrate on those treatments requiring regulated medical expertise. This became my niche.

As the 10 year mark approaches, I recall that initial course in Toronto.  Cosmetic treatments and outcomes have come so far. Thankfully, the “cookie cutter” or “one treatment fits all” techniques for injectables has evolved to a more individualized approach.  A natural looking result can be achieved. Interest in all cosmetic procedures has grown for both women and men. In the early years, the focus was anti-wrinkle and anti-aging driven by women, like myself, in their 40’s-60’s seeking to slow the hands of time. Uncertainty about product safety and fear of being judged by others as frivolous or vain deterred many from trying aesthetic procedures. With time and many scientific studies, confidence in the safety of Botox and fillers grew. The big shift came with social media. It then became commonplace to “snap and share”. We were seeing more of our own images- and so were others! The demand for aesthetic services has soared with the evolution of technology and changes in societal attitudes. Lead by the millennial generation, it is now more openly discussed and acceptable to consider cosmetic (surgical and non-surgical) treatments to improve one’s appearance.

I have not lost sight of my original goal; I remain determined to erase all the frowns in Fredericton!
— Dr. Andrea Hickey

As a pioneer in medical aesthetics specialty in Fredericton, I have had the pleasure of forming long term relationships with my clients built on honesty and respect. I appreciate their trust and loyalty. To me, it is this personal connection that makes providing a cosmetic service so enjoyable. I am passionate about this dynamic field of medicine and look forward to sharing further advancements. Yet, I have not lost sight of my original goal; I remain determined to erase all the frowns in Fredericton!

Melt Away That Double Chin with Belkyra™


Have you ever been bothered by the appearance of fat under your chin? If so, you are not alone. In reality, up to 70% of men and women share this concern.

A chiseled jawline is as paramount to the ideal masculine face as the defined svelte neckline is to a feminine profile. Even those persons at their ideal body weight find that this pesky pad of fat under their chin is resistant to weight loss. Blame it on your genes!

Until the approval of Belkyra™ by Health Canada in 2015, surgical liposuction was the most common way to remove the fat and improve the appearance of a double chin. Now, with a series of injections performed in the comfort of the physicians’ office it is possible to permanently dissolve the fat collection under the chin and reveal that contoured profile you desire.

Fall Means Back to Routine

As the hours and intensity of sunlight diminishes, fall is the perfect season to begin a number of rejuvenating treatments for your skin. Over the summer months the UV rays from the sun lead to tans and pigmentation of of exposed skin, particularly on our faces, chests and hands. Medical peels, IPL photorejuvenation and laser hair reduction must be performed on untanned skin and usually are performed in a series of treatment sessions. These treatments combined with a specialized skin care routine will restore your skin to a healthy balance, remove imperfections and protect your skin as we transition into the colder and drier months ahead.

The Importance of a Professional Skin Care Consult

Invest in your skin. It is going to represent you for a very long time.
— Linden Tyler

Have you ever left the cosmetic counter feeling overwhelmed by the choices available? If so, you are not alone. With so many different brands, ingredients and price points it is easy to get confused. You may have asked yourself: What is a cosmeceutical? Which creams would work for me and in what order should I apply them to get the best result?

Finding the right products for your skin type and aesthetic goals is challenging. Finding quality advice from a trustworthy practitioner, even more so.

Professional skin care consultations provide an excellent opportunity to get to know your skin care specialist and the clinic in which you will be treated. Building a relationship with your cosmetic professional over time allows you to develop trust and confidence in their recommendations.

Be wary of clinics offering free skin care consultations. This is a strategy used to attract customers, but it doesn’t necessarily ensure the depth and thoroughness that you deserve. Often a clinic will charge a modest fee for a professional consultation, redeemable in products or treatments, making it well worth the investment.

What to expect from your Professional Skin Care Consultation

Before you arrive at your appointment, consider a few questions you may be asked by the professional consultant. What bothers you about your skin? What would you like to change? What level of commitment are you prepared to make both financially and with regards to your time? Are you open to exploring other treatment options to reach your goals? By reflecting on these questions prior to your arrival, your consultant will be better able to advise you on how you can incorporate an effective skin care regime into your lifestyle.

A skin care consultation with a qualified professional will last approximately 30 minutes. Your specific concerns should be discussed in the context of your medical history and past treatments. An examination of your skin under magnification is essential to evaluate your skin and prescribe appropriate regimes that are both safe and effective for you. With your skin specialist, you should be able to ask questions openly and feel at ease.

Your consultation is all about developing your individualized treatment plan. No two patient’s goals or circumstances are exactly the same. Perhaps you just want to begin with information about maintaining healthy skin and minimizing aging. Recommendations emphasizing a healthy lifestyle and education about main active ingredients will allow you to make informed choices.

Skin care routines needn’t be complicated or fussy. The best and most long-lasting results can be achieved with a few quality formulations used consistently. The key is determining which scientifically proven active ingredients are right for you. Your skin care consultant should be able to advise you on how to simplify your routine while maximizing your results. Your individually prescribed home skin care system should be clearly communicated and supported by easy step-by-step written instructions. Over time, your regime may require reassessment and adjustment to meet new goals.

With the rapidly advancing field of medical aesthetics, your skin care consultant should also be knowledgeable and open to discussing other treatments available to help you achieve your goals, even if not offered in their clinic.

Dr. Andrea Hickey and her professional skin care consultant, Courtney Smith-Jones, RN, BN, have many years of experience in aesthetic medicine. With the foundation of general medicine and surgical nursing, they are able to understand skin health and how it reflects ones physical health, lifestyle choices, and psychological wellbeing.

Dr. Andrea Hickey personally selects products after researching the scientific evidence supporting the key active ingredients. Careful consideration goes into choosing only quality skin care products that are specifically formulated to treat certain skin types and conditions. We have done our homework to simplify your experience.

You can be assured of our confidentiality, professionalism, and honest advice.

For more information on topics related to skin health and antiaging, please subscribe to our newsletter and like our Facebook page.

National Sun Awareness Week: Sunscreen vs Sunblock

June 6th to June 12th is National Sun Awareness Week! Choosing a sunscreen can be overwhelming as store shelves across the country stock up on hundreds of different kinds of sun protectants. Sprays vs lotions, SPF 20 vs SPF 60, Ultra Sheer vs Ultra Defense… the list goes on and on! Although it is common to interchange the words sunscreen and sunblock, there is indeed a difference between the two: chemical vs physical protection.

Sunscreens protect our skin from harmful rays by absorbing UV radiation using carbon-containing chemicals. These chemicals go by a variety of names: avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, oxybenzone, octisalate, ecamsule, etc. Sunscreens are absorbed by the skin and should be applied 20-30 minutes before exposure. It is not uncommon for your skin to develop a sensitivity to one or more chemicals found in sunscreens. If this is true for you then consider using a sunblock instead!

Sunblocks protect our skin by reflecting the sun’s rays. The active ingredients in sunblocks are minerals – Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Sunblock is also known as physical or mineral sunscreen. It is effective immediately after application. Recall the vibrant white nose of the lifeguard at the beach? Sunblocks have gotten a bad rap for being thick, greasy, and unappealing as their formulas rest on the skin’s surface. Nowadays, technology has enabled the micronization of the active minerals allowing for a sheer application and matte finish.

At Dr. Andrea Hickey’s Medical Aesthetics we are happy to offer both sunscreens and sunblocks. The ProDerm™ Cosmeceutical line provides two excellent sunscreens – a Facial Day Cream and a Daytime Fluid. In addition to providing an SPF of 20, each daily protectant also contains natural soothing agents and high quality moisturizers.

The newest addition to our sun protection collection is the TiZO Mineral Sunscreen. Both tinted and non-tinted formulas are gentle on even the most sensitive skin. These sunblocks have an SPF 40 and are free of chemical sunscreen filters, dyes, fragrances, oils and preservatives.

All of our sun protection products guarantee broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays!

The Science of Gift Giving

Imagine its Christmas morning. You wake from a peaceful sleep as the morning glow shines through your window. A blanket of fluffy snow covers the ground. The smell of brewing coffee lifts you from your warm bed. Gathering around the sparkling tree, you smile with joy at the sight of your loved ones. Excitement fills the air as the gift opening unravels.

The most wonderful time of the year would not be so without a great deal of planning. Staying in tune with current trends and our kids’ ever-changing wish lists is not a simple task. But what really motivates us to put in all this effort? The answer lies in research from the fields of psychology and sociology.

There are various mental and emotional benefits which fuel gift giving. One of main reasons we give gifts is to show that we care. “A way to express feelings, giving reinforces appreciation and acknowledgement of each other” writes Darice Britt in an article titled The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving. Taking the time to select a gift and see the expression on the recipient’s face upon unwrapping provides a psychological lift. It also creates a deeper sense of connection between the giver and recipient. Giving altruistically – giving without expecting anything in return – has been shown to improve psychological health (1).

Another emotional benefit of gift giving is to reduce guilt. In the advent of globalization and with the convenience of online shopping, we can easily send thoughtful presents to loved ones at a distance. This can make us feel better about our absence as well as strengthen an emotional bond.

We give with the best of intentions, but how can gifting sometimes go so awry? One reason may be that our own preferences influence our gift purchases – we have a tendency to give what we would like to receive. We know how excited we would be if we received that new gadget or beautiful gown and we want others to feel that same enjoyment. However, what makes us happy may not be what pleases the recipient. An example of this disconnect can be seen with gift exchanges between partners. Men tend to go for more practical gifts and are price conscious, whereas women are more inclined to purchase gifts with sentimental value.

As we consider gifting this holiday season, we must remind ourselves that it’s the thought that counts!



(1) Brown, S. L. (2003). An altruistic reanalysis of the social support hypothesis: The health benefits of giving. New Directions For Philanthropic Fundraising, 2003(42), 29-57.

Can Botox Treat Depression?

Major depressive disorder, simply known as depression, is a serious mental illness. About 1 in 10 Canadians will experience an episode of depression during their lifetime1. Interestingly, women are more likely than men to experience depression (1).

Research is suggesting a novel approach to treating depression: Botox®. One theory highlights the fact that when we look good we feel good. Looking into a mirror and being happy with our reflection is an uplifting experience. Feeling good about our appearance makes us feel more confident as we go about our day.

A second theory focuses on the way we express our emotions. Our facial expressions show others how we are feeling. When we are happy, we smile. When we are sad, worried, or angry, we frown. Recent studies explore the concept that the expressions we wear on our face actually influence our mood. These preliminary studies show that by selectively relaxing the muscles that cuase us to frown we may be able to improve our mood from the outside in. Over the past 20 years, Botox® has been found to treat a number of different medical conditions (migraines, strabismus, dystonias, spastic muscles, TMJ, bladder dysfunction) in addition to its cosmetic use.

While more scientific research is necessary to reach a definite conclusion, perhaps, in the future, Botox® will also be used to treat depression.

(1) To learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression and how you or a loved one can get help, please visit www.depressionhurts.ca.