Archive for October, 2010

I don’t hate my  neck– I  just would be happier if  it looked fresher and smoother.  I had been using my DDF hand held exfoliator on my face with good results and wonderered what it would do for my neck? After all,  its  made of skin,  like  my face. Using the foam sponge with the Polishing Crystals gel, I worked it around my neck for one minute.  It gave me  a warming sensation that was stronger than I felt  when used on my cheeks.

When I rinsed off the remainder of the polishing gel, I was delighted to see that my neck looked pinker, fresher and the lines  less obvious.  Even the dreaded “chicken skin” bumps were softened.  Clearly the exfoliator had removed the dry, dead, skin cells  to reveal a healthier and fresher complexion. 

The changes  weren’t permanent and I need to exfoliate my neck my neck on a regular basis.  I  found that 2x a week was the absolute max that this thin delicate skin could tolorate– and could not use RetinA on the area for 24 hours.  Its not a perfect fix, but  it so nice to have a simple and affordable alternative to turtlenecks.








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When I started exploring anti-aging options a few months go, I had  just three go-to products.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care — I just didn’t know what my skin  truely needed. Too many times  I would be vulnerable  to  great sales pitch and find that the expensive “miracle cream”  either did nothing or  made my face break-out.  Now that I am testing out wrinkling fighting tools and techniques, I had to try out  an endless buffet of skin care products.  Trial and lots of error  has resulted in a group of cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens that deliever on their  promises.  I call them my “Fabulous Fourteen” and today I have uploaded that list in the blog tab ” Beauty Tool Kit”.  I explain  how to use  them, how they  work and  how much they cost.  I have only one face and can’t try out everything, so I would love to hear about your go-to products.

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IPL laser treatments are one of the fastest growing anti-aging  office proceedures.  When I  had IPL and posted the before, healing and after  photos, I received more questions than on any other topic.   IPL is often described as the “lunchtime laser”, but its really a bigger deal than say,  a manicure.   What I learned from the experience should  give you the tools to get the beautiful results  you want

1.  Can I have IPL while pregnant?

It’s not recommended.  IPL has never been tested during pregnancy and few if any dermatologists would do the procedure during these critical nine months. If anyone says they will do  it at this time,  run.

2.  Can I have IPL on my hands?

Yes, it works beautifully  on the hands and probably heals faster than the YAG laser I used on my hands last month.  However IPL is more expensive than the traditional laser treatment on the same area.

3. Is it true that you can get  even more dark patches from IPL?

Women whose skin is rich in pigment (   eg Hispanic, Asian, Indian and African American) should avoid IPL!!  This device “grabs”  onto melanin and can produce  splotchy, irregular  skin color.  In fact, even the  naturally palest skin, if suntanned, can get disappointing results with IPL.

4.  Any  special skin care care tips  for  IPL?

My favorite question!  Two days before the procedure, take a  Retin A holiday, and  wait 5-7 days before  resuming regular Retin A use.  For the healing week, use a very mild cleanser  (eg Cetaphil) and avoid exfoliating scrubs and glycolic acid products.  To soothe and protect the skin use a very plain moisturizer ( eg Aquaphor)  and avoid  ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C  and Alpha Hydroxy Acids. During  the day use a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide ( eg Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin).  Standard  chemical sunscreens  are potentially more irritating on just  treated skin,  but you never need a sunblock more than after  any  type of laser treatment.

5. How many IPl treatments should I have?

Most dermatologists recommend a series of two-three treatments over  a three to six month period.  I was  very happy with one treatment, but I had already my biggest, baddest  freckles removed with a YAG laser, before I was introduced to IPL.  I think it would be  wonderful to have a yearly IPL to refresh skin color and tone.   It’s a great birthday  present to a 50 plus wife and Mom  who, trust me, does not need another fruit bowl or bracelet.

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Readers of  The No-Nonsense Beauty Blog have sent in some really interesting questions about Retin A and you may  have missed the answers in the comments.  These questions showed that  there are  so  many details about Retin A that can spell the difference between getting the results you want and  just giving  up using it. 

1.  Can I use Retin A on my neck?

Absolutely!  It will take longer to  see improvement and it won’t be as dramatic as on the face, but it certainly will help.  Use a little pea size dab, about the size you use on  your face.

2. Can I use both hyaluronic acid and Retin A?

Again, yes.  There are actually two forms of hyaluronic acid– one that is injected into lines  to smooth out the face and the other is added to creams as a super moisturizer.  Both can be used with Retin A.  In face,  hyaluronic acid is one of my go-to moisturizer ingredients. Its highly effective in attracting and holding moisture and never irritating.

3. Can Retin A stop working?

It can seem like that.  The skin actually needs to get used to Retin A in order to be able to use it every night.  Over time you won’t see the more dramatic differences you did in the first few months of use, but trust me, under the skin good things are happening. Retin A  will still be  stimulating collagen, thickening the skin layers, and encouraging circulation.  If you stop using it, you will  see that you will   start  losing the benefits.

4. What type of moisturizer should I use with Retin A?

Short answer, the richest one your skin can tolorate.  In the first six months on Retin A  avoid a moisturizer with AHA’s like glycolic acid, peppermint and  vitamin C, all of which can be too irritating on skin  just starting to use Retin A.  As time progresses these ingredients can   actually work with Retin A to deliver more results.

5.  Which should I apply first– moisturizer or Retin A?

After washing your face, wait at least 10 minutes, then apply your Retin A. Then wait another 10 minutes for  it to absorb, then spread on   your moisturizer.  You want to  give the Retin A full access to your skin  and a layer of moisturizer can interfere with absorption.   

Got more questions abou about Retin A?  Please  email me and I’ll find the answers.  Success or failure with Retin A seems to depend on mastering details that doctors often don’t mention.

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I went to a high-powered beauty panel and demonstration at the MORE magazine Reinvention Convention at Chelsea Piers in NYC.  The speakers included top tier dermatologists, a style director from Frederick Fekkai, and Tim Quinn, the legendary make-up artist from Giorgio Armani.

All the presentations were  packed with  new information, but it was the demonstration of fillers ( eg Radiesse and Juvaderm) that made my day.  These FDA approved substances are injected into  both fine  and deep lines to erase years of stress and sun damage.  Fillers are  in my anti-aging game plan and the More Beauty  Master Class gave me a much better idea of wht was in store for me.  For example, to lower risk of after injection brusising ( its very commen), I should stop avoid aspirin, alcohol and  caffeine for 5-10 days prior to the injection.   Afterwards, I should not get dental work, facials, or other skin procedures for at least a week.  I can however continue with Retin A.

Watching the volunteers get fillers, I could see that they were not in pain.  Some fillers like Radiesse are mixed with the anesthetic lidocaine which numbed the face. I saw that their faces became pretty swollen and lumpy– and learned that it can take 2 weeks for the face to settle down.  The worst of the side effects subsides within 48 hours, so I plan on doing it on a Friday.  I found out that I’m  not that original.  When I shared my plan with a dermatologists nurse, she told me that they call the end of the week “Filler Friday”.  To be on the safe side, I’m not going to get fillers less than three weeks before a big event.

Have you had fillers?  Did you have bruising?  Swelling?  I’d love hear about your experiences.  Do you have  any before and after photos to share?

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As I’m sure your know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And  given this current focus, I think its the right time to raise  concerns  about a popular underground beauty treatment that going around on the internet.

Reading other beauty and lifestyle blogs, I’ve come across posts  recommending  the use of estrogen based vaginal creams  to deal with facial aging.   Its actually not a new idea.  Decades ago, research  showed that estrogen creams encouraged the growth of collagen, relieved dryness and  lessened lines and wrinkles.    For a while estrogen creams were even available without prescription on drug and department store shelves.

Then  the research took a troubling turn when  estrogens were  linked to increased risk of breast cancer– and the hormones were quicky removed  from beauty aids for more than 25 years.   Today estrogen creams are  making an unwise comeback as  some women are using  vaginal estrogen creams  as wrinkle fighters.  In healthcare, this is known as  “off label use”   a term often used in malpractice suits. 

While estrogen creams  may smooth and tighten the skin, the concerns of breast cancer  should put it in the never use category.  The current wisdom about the estrogen /breast cancer link even includes concerns about weak estrogen like substances   including paraben preservatives and soy– much less a cream that includes actual estrogen. 

There are many so much safer age fighters including Retin A , Tri-luma, alpha hydroxy acids, IPL and lasers  that estrogen creams should not be  even a blip on your beauty radar.

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Looking  at my facial imaging photos  ( posted on Oct 8), I saw that that there were two  dark patches under my eyes–  also known as  under eye shadows.  It showed that this was not from indentation creating dark hollows, but true accumulations of sun damage and melanin.  That’s the bad news.  The good news?  This  is the job that Tri-luma was  born to handle.

I had  used Tri-luma last  spring and was pleased with the results, but  this triple powered crem cannot be used indefinately, so I had stopped using it for several months.  I also realized that dealing with  hyperpigmentation under the eyes is not a short term problem.  The cells which produced so much melanin have a very long memory.  They are born to make melanin and given  the right circulstances  — sun exposure and stress– the cells again fill up with  dark pigment.   

But this time, I have another tool.  I am  going to start using Tri-luma  again– first every other night, then slowly move up to every night.  I will use  this first facial imaging photo as a baseline and   over the next three months with Tri-luma, take  additional photos to see if the darkened areas have lightened.  I am so tempted to use Tri-luma under the right  eye and a non-prescription eye brightener under the left eye, but I think that sounds too much like a high school science project.

In my last go around with Tri-luma, I thought that I had seen real improvement and  the standard photos seemed to  show a  lighter, tighter area.  But these  are subjective impressions and I couldn’t say that there had really been a clinical improvement.  In other words, facial imaging will show if the under eye areas are truly lightened, or I am just delusional.

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