Archive for June, 2011

Now that I have embarked on  an  all out attack on my puffy eyes and dark circles  I charged the  Clarisonic Opal treatment disk and  per  their directions, prepared to patch tested the serum  on the inside of my arm.  But when I squeezed out a few drops, it was a sludgy amber colored  goo rather than the clear gel that I had seen  in the samples.  In addition, the container seemed practicallyempty, although I had  just opened it.  Something was wrong. 

I went back to Sephora to buy a replacement.  But when I explained the situation  to   sales associate and asked  which one  I should get, she  went to speak to her manager.  After looking at my  serum, the manager  went to a drawer and replaced the cartridge  free of charge.  I was blown away.  When was the last time a store stood behind their product like that?  I  was already a frequent flyer at Sephora.  I  like their large selection, the ease of shopping  and their policy of refunding your money  if a product  just doesn’t work  for you.  But this type of customer service  deserves a special shout-out.  I think both Sephora and Clarisonic deserves extra credit  for  taking so  much pride in their products.   It makes me even  more confident in them and comfortable about  my selections.

Back at home, my  patch  test went smoothly.  I had no problem with the serum and prepared to use it tonight under  my eyes.  Rereading the brochure, I saw that I was to avoid the soft tissue directly under the eye and focus on the skin around the occipital bone.  This means  that I can’t treat the dark circles as well as the lower pouch areas, but I will take what I can get.

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This week the host of Fashion Flash is  Shawna  of Female Fat Loss after 40.  And  I am so delighted to announce  Fab Over Fifty has joined Fashion Flash.  If you’ve never visited   this site, you’re  in for a real treat.  It is a large, beautiful site  that offers daily advice in a wide range of subjects  including health, beauty,  diet, fitness finance, travel– all aimed at  women  who no longer have to do homework.  She has  the biggest crew of highly qualified  experts on the web and if you have a question, this is the place to go.

This week I looked at The Dukan Diet Book, the current “diet du jour”. The book has been appearing on  best sellers lists for more than a year.  Created by Dr Pierre Dukan, a Parisian physician, the  book  is a world  wide sensation– particularly in Korea and Bulgaria.

Its basically  low carb diet and a VERY strict one at that.  Not only is it low  carb, it is low salt and VERY low in fat. In its first “attack”phase  only lean protein is permitted.  No bread, no potatoes, pasta, rice, sugar in any form, no vegetables, wine or fruit.  No additional fats are to be added to the food.  According to Dr Dukan this phase should  last 3-5 days.  Even he admits that its going to be 3-5  rough days with fatigue, bad breath, and constipation.

The next step is the “Cruise”  phase where 1-2 servings of vegetables  are now allowed.  This is to followed until you lose the necessary weight, or you can’t take it anyone.  ( His concept, not mine). The third and final phase is called “transition”  when other foods are  added back albeit in very limited quantities–eg two slices of whole wheat bread and one fruit per day.

So far the Dukan Diet is  a pretty familiar very  low carb diet, but  it does have  a really interesting ( strange?)  additional concept– you can increase weight loss when you are cold.  About  half way through the book he recommends drinking cold liquids , eating cold foods, sucking on six ice cubes a day,  taking cold showers, lowering the heat in the home, and even wearing fewer sweaters and blankets.  Dr Dukan claims that following  all these suggestions  can burn an additional 500 calories a day.  Maybe its worth a try–  you can lower your carbon footprint and  lose weight at the same time.

From a beauty  point of view  the Dukan Diet gets a mixed report card.  The high protein and low sugar means that you’ll avoid skin- aging glycation and the low sodium helps avoid under eye swelling.  However  because of its very limited servings of fruits and vegetalves, it is woefully low in vitamins A and C– the collagen building nutrients.  The absence of oils makes the Dukan diet seriously  low in linoleic acid- a true beauty nutrient.

The Dukan plan is a tough-love low carb diet and I bet if you can stick to it, you will indeed lose weight. Have you tried it? Did you lose weight? Was it as hard to stay on as it seems? And most importantly, did you try the ” freeze yourself thin” concept?

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I’m working my way through the vegetable aisle, picking out items in no particular order.  Recently I added  big bunch of curly kale to my cart  and started to explore its nutritional profile.  I was blown away!  This common, affordable leafy green is so high in nutrients its ridonkulus.  One half cup of cooked kale,  which clocks in at just 21 calories, is practically bursting with a boatload of the strongest  antioxidants.  Its got twice the RDA for both vitamin A and vitamin C–both key anti-wrinkling nutrients.  It even has respectable  servings of calcium, iron and fiber.  But wait there’s more.  There is evidence that  kale is anti-inflammatory, offering a healthy dose of cancer fighting indoles.  Even better, Kale preserves these nutrients   after steaming, a stint in the microwave  or stir fried.

Kale can be strongly flavored, a bit tough  and is usually eaten in soups or stirred into potatoeto or beans.  Tasty, but these dishes  not really part of a modern daily meal plan.  But there’s a new way to eat Kale that makes it quick and easy to get  daily servings of this true beauty food.   Called Kale chips, these are  bits of kale that is tossed in a drizzle of olive oil and crisped in an oven.  Martha Stewart website has a great super easy recipe:

*Preheat oven to 300F

* Wash and dry one bunch of kale and cut out the tough stem

* Break kale into 2 inch pieces and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil and  a sprinkle of sea salt

* Spread the kale out on a baking sheet and cook for a total of 35 minutes.  Every  10 minutes  turn the  kale bit over to brown evenly

To store, pack them in a lidded plastic tub.

These chips have practically zero calories.  Not only do they deliver a delicious payload of nutrition, they’re an amazing substitute for the salty crunch of potato chips.    

FYI- if you want to take them  with you to snack on during the day, pack the chips in a little plastic container.  They’re too fragile to travel in a plastic baggie.

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Apparently in addition to genetics, stress, age, salty foods, sunlight and skin type, allergies  can also trigger  dark under eye shadows.  I  had brought my dark circles under control with Triluma, a combo of Retin A,  hydroquinone and a steroid to keep things calm.  After three months of  use, you could see a real change.  However  Triluma can only be used for three months at a time and then  you need take a three month holiday before it can be used  again.  Its that strong.

In the meantime, I made sure to use a 20SPF sunblock under my eyes and avoided  pizza  and chinese food– two high salt foods– that were big dark circle triggers for me.   When my  three month Triluma holiday  was over, I  didn’t need  to  use it again.  

 I was feeling  pretty smug about  by under eye managemnt when the worst allergy season  in a decade hit the New York area.  And along with coughing and congestion,  allergies bring on  under eye shadows.  After  a few weeks of sneezing, my shadows came back in force.   ( see pix above)  Allergies cause blood vessels to swell, and under the eye,  swollen blood vessels  increase the red/blue   skin tones.  And  allergies are the gift  that keeps in giving.  In addition to  shadows that look like I haven’t slept for a week, the extra fluid  is causing  under eye bags.  If these  continue, the skin will become stretched out and the bags will be permanent long after the last grain of pollen has drifted away.  

Not to panic, I popped a Zertec  for allergies and plucked out  my trusty tube of Triluma.  But when I opened the tube, the once white  cream had turned a lurid yellow and it smelled like rotten eggs.  According to  my pharmacist,  sulfur is used as a preservative and the color and ssmell  indicated that the Triluma  had “expired” — their word not mine.  These things happen, but Triluma is $300/tube and  according to my calculations, I  had wasted about $270.  Instead of getting a new tube of Triluma I decided to try another  approach to dark circles.  Clarisonic which makes an incredible facial brush also has a serum in a unique delivery device. Called the Opal Sonic Infusion System it  promises to reduce puffiness and dark circles.  The serum contains a host  of effective antioxidants, vitamin C  and caffeine–the later known to constrict blood vessels.  Allergy induced dark circles are due to swollen blood vessels and caffeine  should encourge  these vessels to shrink back to normal.    Sounds plausable.

I am going to  try the device for a month and post  the before and after pix.  I’m asking alot  of  this little device to deal with under eye shadows  in an allergy season, but  I hope we’re both up to the challenge.

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Its Fashion Flash Monday and this weeks’s host is  Jodell of Black Cat Plus.  Today  she is featuring Simply Silk, an online-label that  has a totally useable collection of simple tunics and pants topped with eye-catching  tops.   The Glam Gals at Fabulous After Forty are exploring  how to wear summer white. I’ve bought several  white pieces, but   felt I looked  huge, like a  nurse or like a huge nurse.  Now I get  it– just add color!  Hot AND exhausted?  Over at Menopause Makeover, Staness offers  great tips on dealing with sleep problems during  menopause. 

Now that bare arms  season is  here for real, I am especially aware of what I eat.  This week, I looked at The South Beach Diet.  I am really impressed by the  design of this plan  for three  key reasons:

1.  It was designed  by a well -respected cardiologist, Dr Arthur  Agatston who  earned his stripes for  important research in invasive cardiology.   It makes me trust his ideas and approach.

2.  Its a low carb diet that  contains all the  things you should eat and none of the sutff you shouldn’t.  Because its low carb you will avoid  the glycation problems that  has been linked to earlier skin wrinkling. 

3. The affordable meals plan can be easily followed both at  home, on the road and in restaurants.    Basically you can stay on the  South Beach Diet  with a rotisserie chicken and salad bar.  Its that  easy. 

There are three  stages to the South Beach Diet.  The first one is a very strict, very low carb plan and I could not stay on it more than two days.   No prob.  Its designed for more rapid weight  loss to motivate  us and  you will still drop pounds on stages two and three.  The low carb, low salt, low cholesterol meals are also packed  with  anti-aging nutrients including anti-aging omega-3 unsaturated fats.  You will more than meet the 5 recommended  servings of fruits and vegetables that  are linked to  younger looking skin.

This diet  meets all  my requirements.  It’s controls heart healthy, controls weight, reduces diabetes risk and follows the NHANES recommendation for  fewer lines and wrinkles.  The original book came  out in  2003.  He has now extended the brand with   cookbooks, with recipes provided  by some of the coolest chefs in South Beach Florida.

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I tend to distrust new guidelines.  They are often painfully bureaucratic and tend to makes  things less understandable and  more expensive–eg food pyramid to food plate  But these new FDA sunscreen guidelines  make good sense. Whoever came up with these revisions, decided to focus on five important areas:

1.  The term “Broad Spectrum”-  this means that the sunscreen   protects against against both UVA rays ( which cause skin aging) and UV B rays ( which produce tanning)– and both cause skin cancer.  Currently there are no guidelines as to what this has to mean for a product.  The new guidelines  requires thatfor a sunscreen to be broad spectrum it must  contain agents that provide  protection against both types of rays and to state that degree of protection on the label.  So you might see a label that says SPF15 for UVA and 20SPF for UVB.  I thinks its more likely that the manufacturers will provide equal protection against both rays. 

2.   Sunscreens will now have to  provide  at least a 15 SPF in order to make sun protection claims.

3. A suncreen cannot  have more than a 50SPFplus  since  these  higher numbers   may not offer more protection and can give consumers a misleading sense of security  in the sun.

4.  Suncreens can no longer claim they are water resistant, sweat-proof and waterproof without studies that demonstrate its effectiveness.  ( and I had thought they had already had done that)

5.  Products can no longer call themselves sunblocks because  it can convey  a too strong sense of protection.

Keep in mind that these regulations won’t  go into effect for 12 months.  I don’t think that the upcoming regulations will effect what  you are currently using.  However it has made me more aware that I need to try to use more sunscreen and apply more frequently.  In the morning I apply sunscreen on  face, hands and neck.   I also  now carry a small tube of  Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defense SPF50 in my purse. Its oil and fragrance free and I slather  it again on my neck and hands  sometime during  the day.

I’m probably not the poster child for sun protection, but I am certainly more mindful in my daily useage.  How often do you reapply sunscreen?  Do you  reapply  it  to your face and then redo make-up?

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It sounds  like a plot of a new Steven Spielberg movie, but its real.  Turns out that our fat is loaded with stem cells  and  that when injected into the face, stem cells actually encourage regrowth  for  healthy fuller contours.  I learned about this and other anti-aging techniques that are  just on the horizon  at a press event hosted by  cosmetic surgery expert Wendy Lewis.  One of the smartest women I’ve ever met,  she assembled a blue ribbon panel  of dermatologists and  surgeons to explain these new wrinkle busters at Waldorf Astoria press conference. 

Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr Z. Paul Lorenc explored new fillers that  actually stimulated the growth of new healthy collagen.  So when the filler is gradually absorbed, the skin stays smooth and young because of  strong fresh skin cell growth that restores youthful contours.  Dr David Golderg, director of Laser Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine discussed the role of lasers in cellulite control.  He explained that the lasers don’t destroy the cellulite, but rather tighten the skin, making the cellulite far less obvious– eg less jiggle; Dr Sidney Coleman who is associated with NYU-Langone School of Medicine focused on the benefits of fat grafts to aging, sun-damaged and scarred skin.  Not only do the  grafts restore normal skin  appearance, the benefits become better with time.  Research  indicates that the stem cells in the fat injection are stimulating the regrowth of  healthy tissue.  I was especially impressed by the use of fat grafts to cover up dark undereye circles. Dr Coleman has a grant  from the Department of Defense and he is  using these techniques to repair wounds that soldiers suffered  in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Its amazing to see  once flattened and distorted faces returned to normal.  And  just a side note-  cosmetic surgery techniques that we use today  to turn back time, were originally developed  after World War I  as doctors struggled to repair disfiguring wounds.

But keep in mind that NONE of these new anti-aging developments are legally approved in the US and are still waiting for FDA approval.  ( They are found in other parts of the world and that’s a topic  for another post)  And be aware that non-MD’s are pouring into the field offering   all sorts of anti-aging injections and a wide variety of unapproved techniques.   To avoid dreadful complications ( there were some pretty awful photos at the conference)  make certain you  get treated by a certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

And speaking of treatments, today I am actually going to Dr Lorenc for his  super cleansing hydro-facial.  I will post  before and after pix  next  Wednesday.

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