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Archive for May, 2011

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This  week the host of Fashion Flash is Catherine of Obsessed with Shoes.  After   six months of winter  surgically attached to my boots, I am so ready for sandels– and this site  has all the latest.  This week  she asks ” Do you like designer  shoes, but not their price? — and offers  amazing budget friendly look alikes.

And after you have all the great Fashion Flash  posts, check out  the new book” Makeup for Ageless Beauty” by Linda Mason. This celebrity stylist has worked on some very famous, very beautiful  faces including Brooke Shields  and Kim Alexis, but in this book Mason offers  makeup advice  for real women.  I  especially liked her makeup options  for women  with grey hair.  Most of the models in the book are 40 plus, making the advice   relevant and useful to me.   I have a  drawerful  of lipsticks, eyeshadows, and blushers  that seemed   like a good idea at the store– but  never seemed to work at home.   Reading  Make-Up for Ageless Beauty, I saw that my color choices were good, but I was not using them properly. Mason’s  makeup “maps”    showed me  much better ways to use what I already owned.

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When I go out to dinner with my daughters,  wherever we go,  they always order the same thing– salad and salmon.  I, on the other hand, see the words PORK CHOP and I’m in.  They like  salmon because  its lower in calories and cholesterol  and roll their eyes at my choice.  And there is  so much evidence that they are on the right track.  No only  is fish so  much lower in calories than my beloved  pork chop,  its omega3 fatty acids  have been liked to  lower rates of heart disease,  better blood pressure and  even  less depression. In addition,  The NHANES study  that compared  dietary habits  with a wide range of health factors  found that people who ate more fish had fewer wrinkles.  This makes very good  sense.    Research has shown that the omega 3  oils in fish reduce inflammatory compounds called cytokines.  Not only do these evil doers increase risk of disease, they destroy collagen which is  so necessary for smooth firm skin.   All good news, but I am still  a little concerned about  mercury levels in fish– and I am not  the only one who’s worried.

Mercury is used in the manufacture of a wide range of products including  thermometers, and thermostats.   During manufacturing, mercury is released into the air and  settles in waterways and oceans where it accumulates in the fish we  will later  eat. Mercury is absorbed by little fish which are eaten by bigger and bigger fish.  Thus the largest of the fish like sharks and swordfish,  have the highest levels of mercury.  Higher levels of mercury in adults are linked  to high blood pressure,  memory loss and  in some cases  heart disease.   Prenatal  exposure  is even worse and is linked to  deafness,cerebral palsy and developmental delays.  Not good  news.

So  should we  eat or avoid fish?  The current consensus is that we should  have two weekly servings of  fish which are low in mercury .    The healthiest fish with  low levels of mercury  include wild salmon, clams, flounder, scallops shrimp and flounder.  The fish highest in mercury also include  orange roughy, tuna and grouper.  Lobster, canned tuna, monkfish  and striped bass  have moderate mercury levels.    THe NRDC ( Natural Resources Defense Council)  have a wonderful  chart  on  mercury levels in fish that you can download and  keep in your purse when shopping for dinner.    This chart also includes a sobering table on how much tuna  you can safely eat.  For example  at 120 pounds  you can eat tuna  about 3x a month.  Since I was  eating  tuna on whole wheat  at least twice a week, this was sobering info.    For a child, at around 50 pounds,  the NRDC recommends eating   tuna no more than once a month.

I’m ready to  eat my two weekly servings of  low mercury wrinkle-busting fish– and this time without gobs of butter or tarter sauce.  The truth is, I don’t  really know  how  to cook it properly. Anyone have some easy, low fat fish recipes?

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Since I started   my anti-aging journey I think that  the most frequent problem which my friends and  co-workers  shared with me  for was the freckles and sun damaged skin on their chest, AKA the  decollete.  Often their chests seemed permanently sunburned and a few had developed  skin cancers which needed to be surgically removed.  Polling my all-star team of dermatologists for a solution, I got a range of different answers.  Some suggested salicylic acid peels, while other suggested Fraxel laser, CO2 lasers  or skin lightening cream.  

Before I vounteered a friends’  chest freckles for science, I decided to try out some of these options  on a large brown spot on my chest.  First approach– a laser.  The series of photographs show  this bad boy freckle before and after treatment.  First photo show that  that its not  that  bad, but in a strapless dress or cami top,  it does look out of place. The second photo is the day after my freckle  met a laser.  The area  was red and aw  but the procedure was not uncomfortable and over quickly.    The  shiny stuff is Aquaphor for  healing.   I wore a bandaid over it for the first week to protect the area from infection and to protect my clothes from the  ointment.

The last photo is 10 days after the laser treatment .  I’ve still got some healing to do.  The brown spots that were removed on my neck and face  healed quicker than on the chest.   I wonder if chest discolorations are more resistant to treatment than those on other parts of the body.  This particular brown spot is in the medial line in center of the body and I know that this  area tends to produce scars  more easily.   I’m really glad that I’m testing out different methods on myself before I involved a friends’ freckles.  Have you ever treated your decollete?  I’d be really interested to hear what worked as well as what didn’t.

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This week the host for Fashion Flash is Kari  at Fab Over Forty. She  has, IMO, the best  makeup picks on the web.  Recently she reviewed the new Burberry colors for Spring.  Too many make-up colors are either too bright, too brown or too pale for me.  Kari   profiled the Burberry  shades that  work for women  who find  most brands  miss the mark.  She spots new colors and trends  and puts them into context with 40 plus beauty needs. And the Glam Gals at Fabulous After 40  offer incredibly timely fashion advice on trench coats.  Apparently it is never going to stop raining– and good  looking rain gear is  now as important as the right shade of lipstick.  Reading the Glam Gals advice this week, I am definately going  out to buy that red raincaot I saw on sale at Filene’s.

And after you’ve read through the Fashion Flash posts, pick up a copy of Consumer Reports which  has a fascinating article on comparison of diet plans– a favorite  topic of mine.  It compares the nutritional profiles of Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, Weight Watchres, Zone, Ornish, Atkins, and Nutrisystem.  It reviews four factors- nutritional breakdown, calories, short term weight loss  and long term weight loss to come up with an overall score.   And the winner was …. Jenny Craig!  This finding was backed up  by a study published in  the uber prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)   that found an awesome 92% of  participents stuck to the Jenny Craig program for two years– and that  on average they lost 8% of the weight.  Nice numbers, but keep in mind that Jenny Craig paid for the study.  Still I am curious  how it works and I am really tempted to try it to lose those last ten pounds — which have been around since my last child went to high school  She is now a college graduate, married and expecting her first child.  Its time.  Jenny Criag is pricy with an annual membership of almost $400/year  plus the  cost of the food.  Has anyone tried Jenny Craig?  How did it work for you?

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This week the questions  concern  antioxidants.  They seem to be everywhere  and in every type of beauty product:

Question 1— Which is more important for anti-aging skin care- antioxidants or Retin A?

Answer — These two wrinkle fighters work in different ways.  Antioxidants  act to reverse  cellular damage caused by UV rays.   Retin A works  by  returning skin cell growth  to youthful levels, promotes exfoliation of old tired skin cells and encourages growth of new strong collagen.  Its not a matter of which is better– you really need them both, especially in the long  sunny summer days.  What’s really good news  that they are an excellent tag  team  for reversing skin aging.   Each offers unique benefits and they don’t interfere with each other.   At night top  your Retin A with an antioxidant rich moisturizer.  During the day, anti0xidants in a sunscreen  add extra protection.

Question 2– There are so  many antioxidants– which one should I choose?

Answer 2– Green tea, soy, alpha lipoic acid, coenzymeQ10, vitamin A, vitamin C, coffee berry, and idebone– how is a girl to choose?  You don’t have to.  We need different types of antioxidants to deal with different types of free radicals. It makes good sense to combine different types of  these age- fighters  in a skin care product, and you can use  different formulations  at night and in the morning.  Another way to get full  advantage of antioxidant benefits is to switch off products.  For example use  a night cream with  coffee berry on Monday, Wenesday and Friday and  another moisturizer with CoQ10 on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. That being said,  studies have shown that vitamin C and vitamin C are especially powerful and work even better when used together.

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Now that  sun filled days are here, I am wondering  how much sunscreen do I really need to use.  Many expert recommend one tablespoon for the face and  a total of two tablespoons for  both face and body.   To test  it out, I  measured out one tablespoon  of sunblock and dumped it on a small plate.  Then I went to work, dabbing it  on my checks, nose, and chin. I avoided my bang covered forehead.   At first, things went fine.  My skin seemed very happy  with the  extra moisture  of the sunscreen.  But as I applied more and more, it started to pile up on the surface until it looked like frosting — or clown make-up.

One of my biggest concerns when using sunscreen has been wearing make-up over it.  Not infrequetly, foundation, powder or blush would turn dark and orangy when applied over sunscreen treated skin.  Looking at this photo, I can’t imagine where I would actually put the make-up.  Clearly this one tablespoon idea is not something that too many experts  have personally  tried out. 

Other experts  are suggesting a teaspoon or nickel size  blob of sunblack for the face. Moving on, I measured out one teaspoon of sunscreen and started  to put it on my face.  Starting near my eyes, I applied the cream to the sides of my nose and smoothed it over my chin and cheeks– and there it  sat.  And sat.  Rather than looking like frosting, it was more like mime make-up–  a hard look to  carry off.  I decided to see how long it would take to absorb.  After about 30 minutes, I still  looked a bit shiny but no longer like a mime wanna be.  I tissued off the excess and brushed on some mineral make-up.   It turned a bit darker,  but not something anyone else would notice. 

Maybe I’ve got a smaller than average face or my skin is not dry enough to absorb that much product, but one tablespoon for the face is ridonkulous.  One teaspoon  seems reasonable, if I  allow 30 minutes for absorption.  How much sunscreen do you use on your face?  Any appliction tips?  I’ve worked hard  to erase years of  sun aging and  I want to keep those gains.  Any  suggestions?

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Its Fashion Flash  Monday and the host is Staness of Menopause Makeover. Read her post on Yoga to learn  how to integreate this elegant execise into your life  and understand  the benefits you can expect.  Yoga is considered the”beauty exercise”  because  the movements are fluid  and gentle– no straining  and grimacing involved.  In fact according to Dr Ellen Marmur of Mount Sinai,  the effort  of weight bearing exercises make us contract  the muscles in our face that over time  can contribute to wrinkling. With yoga  your face  is serene as your spirit. 

After you’ve  clicked through our other fashion and beauty blogs check out  Simple Skin Beauty, a  great beauty book  from Dr Marmur.  It’s my #1 go to reference  on all things skin.  Simple Skin Beauty is written  in a clear friendly tone.  It breaks down  complicated scientific info into facts you can use in daily skin care.  Dr Marmur is a  beautiful40 year old Mom with four children– and she looks  about 27.   She totally gets our needs for beauty care  despite  both time and budget issues.  For example, while  most  beauty routinues call for a multi-step  nighttime care, Dr Marmur  knows that after putting four kids to bed, the las thing you want is a complicated  program.  Her solution? Swipe your skin with alcohol-free baby wipes to remove  make-up, dirt and oil.   Done.

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