Archive for September, 2010

I’m happy that the summer heat wave is over, but my skin seems parched, dazed and well, somehow older.  According to my amazing derm Dr Ellen Marmur, the change in weather  has sent my skin into shock.  After months of sun, heat, sweating, chlorine, from the pool, and summer allergies, my skin is dull dry and tired.   Even more troubling, a few dark patches on my nose  that had been removed by laser,  have made a comeback.     I was all set to slather on my new stronger Retin A to jump start a better complexion, but  Dr Marmur  had a different two prong approach:

Step 1:  Take off the old dead layer of dead, dry and discolored  skin cells with a mild  office glycolic peel or microdermabrasion

Step 2:  Add  moisture, moisture and more moisture.  To this end  during the day I am to use a rich sunscreen such as NIA 24, MD SolarSciences SPF40, or   Chanel Serum with 50 SPF.  At night  I am to use an even richer moisturizer such as Terralina Face Cream.   ( If your skin tends to break out from rich moisturizers, use an oil-free one like Neutrogena Healthy Skin. 

I’m going to try home microdermabrasion and I’ve choosen the  DDF Revolve 400X.  Its available for $95 and it got great reviews at Sephora.  The Clarisonic is reportedly more powerful  but its $250.  Its not that I am not worth it– I don’t know  if the Clarisonic is.  Has anyone tried these home devices?  Is one better than the other?

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 On Day  6 after the YAG laser treatment, the  spots on my hands are totally painless, a bit less red, but still  attract shock and awe.  ( I  think its part of the fear of bed bugs thing)  The big boy bandaids that I bought at CVS covered my hands, but the adhesive edges irritated the lasered areas.  The dressings provided by  Dr Marmur after the procedure did a much better job, but turned out to be  hard to find. Finally located them at a local surgical supply store. Dr M had tried to give me a supply of  these Telfa dressings, but I choose that moment to go macho– and waved  off the need for a covering.  Memo to me:  if a doctor offers a supply of  fresh dressings after a treatment, don’t be stupid– just take them.

I am going to the HBA, an international cosmetic and beauty conference in New York this week and my hands are still pretty lurid.  Once the spots fade I am going to use a 100SPF Sunscreen on  the tops of my hands during the day, and apply Retin A at night.   My hands are going to look  young and beautiful– just not this week. I think that as a rule of thumb you should not schedule a laser treatment less than two-three weeks before an event.

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The day fter the laserering of my hands, the spots feel totally healed.  They still look pretty red, but  they are not at all painful.  Rather than cover them  up with the dressings Dr M gave me, I decided to  use the same concealer that worked so well when I  lasered the age spots on my face– and off I  went for the day.

The no- bandaid decision was probably not my best idea.  The concealer quickly wore off and I realized that my raw laser treated hands  were getting way to much exposure to UV rays.  I ducked into Hampton Chutney, an UWS restaurant for lunch and was halfway thru my sandwich and perfect Indian ice coffee when  a preganat woman stopped by my table.

“Excuse me, but this is the only empty table ” she said hesitantly, gesturing to the table next  to me. ”  And well, I am wondering, are your contagious ?”  she stammered  pointing  in the  direction of my red spotted hands.”

“No, I’m not contagious, just vain”  I tried to explain.  She looked unconvinced as  she kept scannning the room for another table.  Fortunately for the both of  us, a table opend up across the room, and she hustled to claim it.

My red spots continued to attract unwanted attention.  On line at Zabar’s, the iconic  food store, a man with a Yankee cap asked “are those  bed bug bites?” I gave up and headed to the closest pharmacy to buy the biggest bandaids I could find.  Tomorrow I am going to start out the day with a dressing covering the spots.  When they are no longer so much attention getting, I am going to protect them  with a physical sunblock like  Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin Sunscreen.  It is free from all chemical sunscreens which can be irritating to laser treated skin– and  gets it sunblocking abilities from zinc oxide.  Skin treated with lasers  is especially vulnerable to UV damage and I’ve worked hard to make my hands young and smooth.  Skin treated with Retin A or Tri-luma  also has increased sun sensitivity -especially  when you just start  using them-  and might be happier with a physical, rather than chemical sunscreen.

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When it comes to lasers, by this time I know the drill.  If I had been using Retin A or Triluma on my hands, I would have had to stop 2-3 days earlier.  One hour before the treatment I dabbed on a numbing cream made with lidocaine. ( Its available only with a prescription).  Dr Marmur slipped on a pair of  red goggles, gave me  a pair to put on  and aimed a YAG laser at the top of my hands. I hardly felt a thing.  I’ve got a pretty low tolorance to pain, so if I say somethings doen’t hurt, trust me, it doesn’t hurt.

As I sat  in the treatment chair, the spots turned white and crusty.  Dr  Marmur gave me  tubes of Aquaphot to put on the fried spots and  a packet of  large, self adhesive  bandaids to  cover the tops of the hands.  By the time I was at the elevator the lasered skin started to feel raw and burned.  I looked forward  to putting on a soothing swipe of Aquaphor gel.   As soon as I  treated the spots and topped them with the Telfa bandage, the discomfort disappeared.

I  had forgotten that I had agreed to go to a cocktail reception that night.  Too bad little white gloves are out of fashion.  I pulled the sleeves of my sweater over my knuckles  and off I went.  Nobody commented on  my hands, but covering my hands with a sweater certainly slowed  my nibbling at the buffet– which was probably not such a bad thing.

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When I was just starting out as a beauty writer, a very elegant Conde Nast editor told me that ” hands give away  your true age”.  Back then, her mark went right over my head.  Today I get it. While Retin A and IPL have polished my skin smooth, my hands are wrinkled, veiny and dotted with brown spots.

I have been fairly diligent  about using sunscreen on my face, but pretty much forgot about my hands.  Like a textbook description of sun damage, the back of my hands  have wrinkles and age spots. According to my derm, Dr Marmur,  the spots  may fade in a bit over the winter, but will come roaring back even darker  in the spring.  Best treatment?  Another date with a laser .  I will get them zapped off this week and post my progress.

While it might seem vain to care about wrinkled hands, until the day  age and wisdom are as valued as young and sexy, I’m going to explore all  my beauty options.

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Sometimes an airbrush tan is too much for  special event.  Out of season, a sunny glow may seem out of place, especially if they saw you the day before  without one.  If you’re not showing a lot of skin, it  may not  be as appealing  or worth the time  and money.  And if you’re in  wedding party ( the bride or her  attendants) a tan can photograph as sweaty and shiny.  Not good.

To still get a dewy ” red carpet” complexion, my stylist friend swears by  a mild, store bought glycolic peel .  It takes about 3 minutes and leaves your skin rosy and poreless for hours. I love the peels that come in individually saturated two step pads.  The first  pad has the glycolic acid and the second has the neutralizer.  The pads are a perfect form of portion control.  You don’t get too much acid  that could burn or too little that won’t do a thing. Patricia Wexler, Dr Denise and Kate Sommerville all make affordable and excellent glycolic peel packs.  Look for them at  Bed Bath and Beyond and Sephora.

Glycolic acid is a type of   alpha hydroxy acid, (AHA) that is made from sugar cane.  Used as part of a daily beauty routinue it has been shown  to have anti-aging powers to  increase circulation and stimulate production of collagen and elastin– sort of Retin A light.  When used as a peel, it removes top dead dry surface skin cells , leaving the skin soft and clear.  However it cannot be used close to the eyes, and  does not help under eye  dark  shadows,  A spray-on  tan does hide these bad boys, which  is one reason it makes  you look younger and more rested.  When you do use a glycolic  peel for a big event, you could use Triluma  for several weeks or  hide the dark circles with concealer.

I would not recommend using a professional glycolic peel on the day of an event.  While I love these procedures,  a full service peel  may leave your skin  pretty red and raw for  24 hours– not the look you are aiming at for a big night.  Stick to the home version for a risk free party glow.  Home peels are also one of the great beauty bargins– a package of  30 peels is  about $45, which turns out to be $1.50/peel.   When you use it as  part of a “red carpet” routinue– hair blow-out, tooth whitening, and a mani,  your prep cost drops to $41.50.  Nice.

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Its award season in Hollywood and every week there seems to be an endless parade of perfect people on the red carpet.  While its certainly true that many  of these celebs are winners of the lucky gene pool– and they have a pit crew of people to work on their hair, make-up and gowns.  But according to my actress friend and her stylist, red carpet perfection rests on four easy, quick and  best of all, affordable steps.  And I found it really cool that three of the four were steps  I had  already tried out in my anti-aging  journey. 

Total costs for the home grown Red Carpet Routine is about $100 in NYC– and probably less in other parts of the country.  And you don’t have to save it just for weddings and Bar- Mitzahs.  These four steps  are a great prep for  a  job interview, first  date, blind  date, high school school reunion or  even when you  just feel like looking gorgeous. 

The Red Carpet Routinue:

1.  Air-Brush Tan—  the road to perfection starts with a very light spray tan.  Its like a perfect make-up for the whole body.  It creates an even glowing skin tone that hides flaws, fine lines, dark circles  and even makes  you look thinner and firmer. Its the secret behind creamy, perfect arms and shoulders in a strapless dress  If you don’t belive  me I have just one  word– Kardashian.  The light tan should be applied the  the morning of the day before the event. Cost: $60

Blown-out Hair:  Even if you have short hair, a trip to a salon for a professional blow-out will give you  an essential polish.  A good blow out will make your  hair look full, smooth and shiny.  I am addicted to this step and my friends tease me that every time they call I am on my  way to get my hair blown out.  A great tip I learned from a soap star that I  interviewed for my book on accessories- don’t use products before the blow-out.  It makes the hair too soft and the style goes  flat by the next day.  Cost: $30

Whiten Teeth: The gleaming white smiles on the red carpet  are the happy results of intensive tooth whitening.   If you’ve had professional tooth whitening, use the bleaching tray on the day of the event.  If you have not taken the BIG step yet, use the strongest whitening strips you can find for 2 weeks  before a special day or event. C0st:  from $2-$15 depending  on your method.

Manicure:  A fresh manicure is the perfect finish,  and you  no longer need to have long perfect nails to justify a manicure. Short pale polished nails  are more youthful and just as elegant.  If you bite your nails  down to the nub, think about acrylic tips for graceful grown-ups hands.  Cost:  $12 for basic manicure

Red Carpet Timetable:

Day before the event– Airbrush tan ( one hour)

Day of the event —  Blow-out hair ( on hour);

                                        Bleach teeth ( one hour),

                                         Manicure (one hour)

The main goal of the N0-Nonsense Beauty Blog has been to explore ways to look younger and prettier and the Red Carpet Routinue certainly does that.  But  as you can see from the celebs on the red carpet, it works for any age. 

Total Cost: About $100; Boost in Self-Confidence: Priceless!

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