Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Just in Time for Summer: Sunscreen Facts vs Myths

We all know that sunscreen is important. We slap it on our body every summer. It's in our moisturizers and our makeup. But are you really protecting your skin? Here are some surprising myths and facts about how to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays.

Myth: People with dark skin can spend more time in the sun without harm.
Fact: Melanin, the compound that colors one’s skin, provides a SPF of about 1.5 to 2, which lowers the risk of skin cancer in people of color. However, this does not eliminate the risk. Because people of color tend to assume they’re naturally protected, they’re often diagnosed with skin cancer when it’s more advanced and potentially fatal. It is essential that people of color use sunscreen to protect themselves from skin cancer, sunburns, and aging.

Myth: If you're not burnt, your skin is OK.
Fact: If your skin changes color at all, you're experiencing sun damage. Sure, a burn is worse for your skin, but both doctors agree that chronic sun damage (through a tan), can also have lasting results

Myth: Using sunscreen lowers vitamin D levels in your body.
Fact: In order to get your daily Vitamin D, you need to be exposed to the sun for about 15 minutes a day, depending on latitude and season. After the needed amount of time, your body’s production of Vitamin D stops. We do not continuously make and produce Vitamin D every time we are exposed to the sun. If you are unable to get those 15 minutes of exposure a day, some foods with Vitamin D are salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese, and fortified milk.

Myth: 80% of my exposure to damaging UV rays occurs before the age of 18.
Fact: Only 25 percent of total UV exposure occurs before the age of 18, according to research conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation. You’ll protect your skin at any age when you start applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

Myth: If you sit under a beach umbrella, you don’t need sunscreen since the beach umbrella blocks the sun’s rays.
Fact: Actually, the sand reflects 17% of UV radiation. You still need to wear sunscreen and protective clothing if you’re relaxing under an umbrella on the beach.

Monday, October 28, 2013



It often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people.
The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest, and back can be red all the time. If these signs sound familiar to you, you may have Rosacea.

Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:

  1. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels.
  2. Papulopustular rosacea: Redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts.
  3. Phymatous rosacea: Skin thickens and has a bumpy texture.
  4. Ocular rosacea: Eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen, and person may have what looks like a sty.  
Rosacea is common. According to the U.S. government, more than 14 million people are living with rosacea. Most people who get rosacea are:

Between 30 and 50 years of age.
Fair-skinned, and often have blonde hair and blue eyes.
From Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry.
Likely to have someone in their family tree with rosacea or severe acne.
Likely to have had lots of acne — or acne cysts and/or nodules. Women are a bit more likely than men to get rosacea. Women, however, are not as likely as men to get severe rosacea.

While some people are more likely to get rosacea, anyone can get this skin disease. People of all colors get rosacea. Children get rosacea.

To treat rosacea, different signs and symptoms need different treatments.
Treatment for the skin includes:
  • Medicine that is applied to the rosacea.
  • Sunscreen (Wearing it every day can help prevent flare-ups).
  • An emollient to help repair the skin.
  • Lasers and other light treatments.
  • Antibiotics (applied to the skin and pills).
  • Removal of the thickening skin that appears on the nose and other parts of the face ie: Dermabrasion (procedure that removes skin).  
  • Electrocautery (procedure that sends electric current into the skin to treat it).
When rosacea affects the eyes, a dermatologist may give you instructions for washing the eyelids several times a day and a prescription for eye medicine.



There is no cure for rosacea. People often have rosacea for years.
In one study, researchers asked 48 people who had seen a dermatologist for rosacea about their rosacea. More than half (52 percent) had rosacea that came and went. These people had had rosacea for an average of 13 years. The rest of the people (48 percent) had seen their rosacea clear. People who saw their rosacea clear had rosacea for an average of 9 years.
Some people have rosacea flare-ups for life. Treatment can prevent the rosacea from getting worse. Treatment also can reduce the acne-like breakouts, redness, and the number of flare-ups.
To get the best results, people with rosacea also should learn what triggers their rosacea, try to avoid these triggers, and follow a rosacea skin-care plan.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Some common ingredients to avoid if possible...


Here again  is another post about harmful substances in our everyday lives. I tell you it's not easy living a toxin-free life, but ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to our health. This is the latest "quick" list of ingredients to avoid in our beauty regiments...

Benzalkonium chloride: Biocide, preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies, benzalkonium chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions like eczema. It is found in many household disinfectants and cleaning supplies. Regular use of products containing antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride could lead to development of resistant bacteria.

BHA: The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance. It is found in food, food packaging, and personal care products sold in the U.S.

Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine): Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen , according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.

DMDM hydantoin & bronopol (2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol): Cosmetics preservatives that decompose and release formaldehyde , which the International Agency on Research on Cancer lists as a known human carcinogen. The preservatives and their decomposition products, including formaldehyde, can trigger allergic reactions. About one-fifth of U.S. cosmetics and personal care products contain a chemical that releases formaldehyde. Not surprisingly, more Americans develop contact allergies to these ingredients than Europeans.

Formaldehyde: A potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer. Formaldehyde, also an asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant, was once mixed into to many personal care products as antiseptic. This use has declined. But some hair straighteners are based on formaldehyde’s hair-stiffening action and release substantial amounts of the chemical. Many common preservatives also release formaldehyde into products (like DMDM hydantoin, quaternium, and urea compounds).

Fragrance: It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but do you know what’s in it? Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant to lotion. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance free.

Hydroquinone: A skin bleaching chemical that can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps. In animal studies, hydroquinone has caused tumor development. The National Toxicology Program is conducting reproductive toxicity and dermal carcinogenicity studies of this chemical.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: Preservatives, commonly used together in personal care products, among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

Oxybenzone: Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber, found in nearly all Americans , according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In human epidemiological studies, oxybenzone has been linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. A study of 404 New York City women in the third trimester of pregnancy associated higher maternal concentration of oxybenzone with a decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls but with greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.

Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens): Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives, found in breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans surveyed. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

PEG/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probably human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. Cosmetics makers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from ingredients, but tests documenting its common presence in products show that they often don’t.

Petroleum distillates: Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients, commonly found in mascara. They may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.

Phthalates: A growing number of studies link this chemical to male reproductive system disorders. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates.

Resorcinol: Common ingredient in hair color and bleaching products; skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function. The federal government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but its use is not restricted in personal care products.

Retinyl palmitate and retinol (Vitamin A): Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, but excessive amounts can cause severe birth defects if women are exposed during pregnancy New evidence shows that when applied to sun-exposed skin, for instance, in sunscreens, lip products and daytime moisturizers, these compounds can break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause skin cancer. Recent date from the federal Food and Drug Administration indicate that when retinyl palmitate is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions.
Toluene: Volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing and causes nausea A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. In human epidemiological and animal studies, toluene has been associated with toxicity to the immune system. Some evidence suggests a link to malignant lymphoma.

Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment. often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leave off Petroleum Jelly

I know it has been quite awhile since my last entry, but because there has been so much conversation in my office as of late about "Vaseline" or petroleum jelly, I thought I would post something in it's honor. As you may or may not know, there has been much controversy about the safety of petroleum  by products in skin care. If nothing else, leave petroleum based products off the lips especially. Here is a blurb from good ol' Dr Oz:

"Lip Gloss the shine in lip-gloss comes from petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of oil drilling, and when you spread it on your lips, you end up eating it, which is essentially the same as drinking gasoline. Add up the amount of lip-gloss the average woman uses (and consumes) over a decade, and it equals 7 pounds. The European Union has banned many petroleum jelly products, and experts are concerned they could be linked to cancer. Women with breast cancer have twice the levels of hydrocarbons (substances found in petroleum jelly) in their breasts than women who haven’t had breast cancer.

Steer clear of any products that list petroleum jelly or mineral oil on the ingredient list. Choose Lip Treatments that look more like lipstick and avoid any that advertise lip “plumping” capabilities, they contain products that irritate your lips to make them swell and look larger. Instead select products with sunscreen to protect your lips from the carcinogenic effects of the sun (look for zinc oxide on the ingredient list), and glosses made from beeswax, or organic lip treatments which is completely non-toxic. If you are deeply attached to a petroleum-based gloss, save it for special occasions and use a sunscreen under it to protect your lips."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Aging and Antioxidants

Antioxidants are all the rage these days in cosmeceutical skincare products and are generally natural substances made up of vitamins and minerals. They have the ability to fight "free radicals" (unstable compounds that attack human cells and damage DNA). And we know that damaged skin cells can lead to accelerated aging in the form of wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under eyes, dull skin, and more.
Free radicals are in the air we breathe, the foods we eat, sunlight, and pollution -- basically, just about everywhere. Eating foods rich in antioxidants is one way to ward them off.  Another is to apply them on the skin, where they can seep underneath to strengthen skin cells and keep them healthy.
The antioxidants most shown to repair damage and slow the aging process include your vitamins A, C, E, Beta Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, and Seleneium just to name a few. The following list is a just a few ingredients that are now popping up in skincare products to help you stay on top of your game :

Acai Oil

You may have heard all the buzz about the role that the antioxidant acai plays in a healthy diet. The new "superfruit" -- blue berries, native to Central and South America -- are filled with antioxidants, more than those found in other berries. Cold-pressing acai berries extracts the oil, which may fight aging by healing sun damage and smoothing wrinkles. Antioxidant levels in acai oil remain high, even after it's stored. While studies have yet to confirm the benefits of acai oil on the skin, it is being used in masks, creams, cleansers, exfoliating scrubs, body butters, and serums.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid has been called a "universal antioxidant" because it's both water- and fat-soluble. That makes it able to penetrate skin-cell membranes at all levels to protect them from free radicals, keeping the body and its skin strong. Promoted as a primary ingredient in many skin-care products, alpha-lipoic acid can erase fine lines and wrinkles, diminish pores, and give skin a healthy glow.


A 2002 study showed that caffeine applied to the skin of mice may fend off skin cancer, attacking tumors before they fully form and healing the skin. Since then, skin-care companies have worked furiously to add it to their products, and it is now available in lotions and creams.


Vitamin A and its derivatives are powerful and proven antiaging antioxidants. Retinol is a topical ingredient proven to promote collagen production and plump out skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin tone and color, and reduces mottled patches (hyperpigmentation) on the skin.
Many dermatologists prescribe retinol's stronger counterpart, tretinoin, or similar products to slow skin aging, improve irregular pigmentation, and clear up acne. Over-the-counter products containing retinols may be weaker, but are still effective in improving skin appearance.
Although retinol hydrates the lower layers of the skin (the dermis and hypodermis), it sometimes causes the top layer (the epidermis) to become dry and flaky. Be sure to wear moisturizer when using it or speak to your dermatologist about alternatives.

Vitamin C

As you age, your body slows down its production of collagen and elastin, which keeps skin strong, flexible, and resilient. Evidence suggests that the antioxidants found in vitamin C may stimulate the production of collagen and minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and scars.
Vitamin C is being added to skin-care products such as creams and lotions. This is one ingredient that may work best when eaten, so stock up on oranges and broccoli. If you want to use a topical vitamin C lotion, ask your dermatologist which one would be right for you.

CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10)

Your body naturally produces CoQ-10 to neutralize free radicals in cells, but as you age, the levels of CoQ-10 go down. That may make skin cells more susceptible to damage by free radicals. That's the rationale behind the use of the antioxidant in skin-care products such as toners, gels, and creams, to be used alone or with a moisturizer. One study shows that CoQ-10 helps reduce wrinkles around the eyes (crow's feet).
CoQ10 is bright orange, so products containing it will be orange or yellow.

Other Popular Ingredients

More and more, skin-care and cosmetics companies are incorporating natural components such botanicals into their product lines. The following are some of the most common new ingredients.

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

This group of natural-based acids found in a vast number of skin-care products includes glycolic, lactic, citric, and tartaric acids. Glycolic acid was the original AHA and remains popular for its ability to remove dead skin cells and leave skin smoother, softer, and more radiant.
AHAs are used to exfoliate the skin, reducing fine lines, age spots, acne scars, and irregular pigmentation. Peels with higher concentrations of AHAs are usually administered by an esthetician or dermatologist, but you can use lower concentrations -- between 5% and 10% -- in creams or lotions on a daily basis. To help avoid irritated skin, start with a low concentration and apply every other day, gradually increasing to every day. Even at lower doses, however, the acids may irritate and dry skin, as well as increase sensitivity to the sun. Doctors recommend using moisturizer and sunscreen when using any products that contain AHAs.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is used in many over-the-counter and prescription products to treat acne. It penetrates pores and reduces blackheads and whiteheads, with less irritation than may occur with alpha hydroxy acids. Like AHAs, salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, which can reduce signs of aging.
If you are allergic to salicylates (found in aspirin), you shouldn't use salicylic acid. And pregnant or nursing women should ask their doctor before using any product with salicylic acid.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is incorporated into skin-care products to reduce the effects of aging. Your body produces hyaluronic acid naturally, keeping tissues cushioned and lubricated. It's found in skin, joint fluid, and connective tissues. Age, smoking, and an unhealthy diet lead to drops in production over time.
Products containing hyaluronic acid may help smooth out skin. It's especially effective when combined with vitamin C products.

Green Tea Extract

Like antioxidants, the polyphenols found in tea also have been shown to fight free radicals. Drinking green tea may help ward off cancer, infection, and cardiovascular disease.
Early studies have found the ingredients in tea can reduce sun damage and may protect skin from skin cancer when applied topically. Using green tea extract under sunscreen may yield a double dose of protection. An anti-inflammatory, polyphenols in creams and lotions may also slow signs of aging and reduce sagging skin and wrinkles.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Botox for you?

Because as a people, we have been in search of the fountain of youth from the beginning of mankind, we venture high and low to find treatments and products in "reversing the ravages of time". One of the most successful so far is Botox.  I am sure everyone knows someone who has had Botox injections from one time or another, and or who is even considering it themselves. (Who hasn't looked in the mirror and actually been disheartened by the development of character lines and said,"gosh, I need a face-lift!") Although, we are not all completely convinced by the idea of injecting foreign toxins into our skin, there is much debate whether or not the long term effects of constant injections is actually beneficial or not. So, let's just look at some facts:
  • Botox is a substance which is derived from that of botulism toxin, which is the same type that causes food poisoning, however the amount used here is simply a fraction of the amount that is able to cause food poisoning; this works by preventing nerve impulses from reaching the muscle, thus causing the muscle to 'relax'.
  • Side effects include feeling sore and bruised around the area where the doctor injected the Botox, and in a minority of cases there may also be minor hemorrhaging. (There may also be some pain initially during the injections). It is possible to experience recurrent headaches or nausea in the week following the procedure, and in the worst case scenarios, people may also develop flu-like symptoms. These side effects are believed to affect less than 10 percent of those treated with Botox, with the more severe side effects being much less common.
  • Rare complications of Botox injections include ‘drooping’ or muscle weakness. The problems vary according to where the injection was administered and are mostly caused by being the dose of Botox being too great. For instance, if a high dose is injected into the crow’s feet around the eyes then the patient may have problems blinking. About 1 percent of patients having Botox treatment to correct frown lines experience drooping of the eye lid or, where injections were given above the lips, they may have uncontrollable drooling from the side of the mouth. As the results of Botox are temporary these unpleasant side effects should wear off over a period of 3 to 4 months.
  • There are a number of people who are at greater risks of complications resulting from Botox injections who should therefore avoid treatment. This includes people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, bleeding disorders or people taking certain forms of medications. There is a lack of conclusive studies into the effects of Botox treatment on pregnant women or on breastfeeding mothers. Therefore, it is considered best to err on the side of caution and avoid treatment during this period to avoid harmful effects to the mother or child.
Although the term Botox is quite common and well-known, surprisingly then is the fact of how very few people actually know much about the details regarding and surrounding it. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration in regards to Botox, such as who can use Botox for example, and so even if you are not considering having a procedure done such as this, it is still important for you to know as much about this for your decision making in the future.

And remember, a qualified medical practitioner should always be consulted if you are considering Botox treatment. Be sure to advise them of any pre-existing medical conditions or if you are taking medication, as you may be precluded from the procedure for safety reasons. Your doctor should also thoroughly explain the risks you are undergoing so that you may weigh up the benefits against the dangers. Botox is a prescription treatment and as such is best administered by a licensed professional for your own wellbeing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Time to Exfoliate

Recently, I have had many people complain about their skin "suddenly" breaking out and having issues with an increase of "acne-like" pimples and cysts. Unfortunately, there are so many factors that could contribute to this problem, that if I were to address them all, I would be writing a book at this point. However, with the onset of this remarkably hot and humid weather, it seems that a course in exfoliation might be just the key to controlling some of these pop-up breakouts.


The many benefits of exfoliation

The primary function of the epidermis is “to keep the insides in and the outside out”, and without proper exfoliation, dead skin cells(and whatever bacteria that comes in contact with) can get trapped on the skin’s surface. When they’re trapped, they build up, and keep all the nastiness IN. Mild daily exfoliation enables the skin to shed this unwanted layer more effectively and better absorb additional daily cosmeceutical ingredients.


The life of a skin cell

From beginning to end, the life cycle of every skin cell you have is about 28-30 days. During the last week of this cycle, cells become flaky and dull. Our skin works hard to shed these dead cells, but this process takes longer and longer as we age. That’s why using a product to exfoliate skin is key.

Life of a skin cell

Week 1:
A cell is “born” – bright, new and healthy. This layer is regenerative (it is closest to blood flow in the dermis) and provides color to the skin.

Week 2: Here, the skin cell still maintains a healthy color. Its shape becomes more irregular as it begins to accumulate toughening proteins — preparing to become part of your body’s most protective barrier.

Week 3: The mature cell has now broken down a bit with age. It is wider, flatter, and adheres strongly to other cells. This cell is tough and protective.

Week 4: It only takes a few weeks for this once healthy skin cell to become flaky, dehydrated and colorless. This final stage consists of about 10 to 30 sub-layers of dead cells. Two to three of these layers are shed daily. Exfoliation will help the process.


Chemical vs. physical exfoliation

Physical vs. 
Chemical Exfoliation

What part of the skin do you exfoliate when you exfoliate skin?

A. The top “protective” layer of skin, A.K.A the epidermis. It’s made up of both living and dead cells, and they’re always growing and dividing. When this happens, cells are pushed up to the top layers of your skin, where they eventually die and flake off. BUT – did you know that as you age, your ability to shed dead skin cells decreases? So they pile up and cause problems like clogged pores and an overall dull tone, and the more build-up, the harder it is to keep your skin hydrated, moisturized, and clear. Time to exfoliate skin with the right skin care product!