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Archive for July, 2011

I’ve been using the Clarisonic Opal for a week  and at first I was all thumbs.  I  had to read the instructions several times before I felt comfortable to try it.  It is not  like any other device that I had used and I’m especially anxious about using anything around my eyes.

The oval device  has a little nubbin that you fill with serum. This pale amber gel  had a number of interesting ingredients which had  some good science behind them.  These included world class antioxidants including green tea and resveratrol and marine peptides, vitamin C to brighten the skin and glycosaminoglycans ( what a mouthful)  for firmness.

The Clarisonic instructions were very specific to follow the rim of the eye socket  and not to use the device on the soft tissue  right below the eye.  As per directions  I put a few drops of serum on the infuser, turned on the moter and started to move the tip in little overlapping circles. After 30 seconds the machine turns off.

The procedure  should be done twice a day– in the morning and before going to bed.  According to instructions, I was to wash my face with the Clarisonic brush on my face, then use the Clarisonic device on the eyes.  It felt a little self-absored to dedicate so much time twice a day, but I am a sucker for a science project.

After a week, I felt that when I woke up in the morning, my eyes were clearly less puffy.  I looked fresher and more rested even if I had stayed up late. I’m so  pleased with these quick results after just one week, I’m going to continue for a month.  I would love to hear about you experiences with  the Clarisonic  Eye device.  Did your eyes look  less puffy?  Were dark circles reduced?

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It’s Fashion Flash Monday

This week the host of Fashion Flash is Kari of Fab Over 40.  Over the past few months I have become addicted to this amazing site.  Now I don’t  buy any  make-up before checking out her recommendations.    I have discovered wonderful products that I would have missed and avoided  a few  that would have not worked.  A good friend to  have. 

If you’re waiting on line at the supermarket pick up the August issue of Woman’s Day for a good article on summer beauty issues.  It features my favorite dermatologist,  Dr Ellen Marmur whose advice is always  new and useful.  In this article she focused on  dealing with  rosacea in  warm sunny weather.  I get at least two questions a week about this common skin condition and it was wonderful to get her recommendation on the best type of sun screen for that problem.  Dr Marmur also offers guidence on using  glycolic acids in the summertime.    And moving to my other my other favorite topic-food– this issue has a wonderful quartet of  summer salad recipes that are packed with anti-aging nutrients.

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I love peaches– white ones, yellow ones,  big ones and  very big ones.  Looking at their deep gold color , I was sure that they were bursting with a smorgesbord of vitamins and fiber.  Not really.   Delicious and low in calories, they have  some vitamin A , a drop of vitamin C and that’s pretty much it.  I was certain that their shaggy sweet pulp  would  have a truck load of fiber– but no such luck.

July and August are peak peach months and I really enjoy eating a ripe peach on a hot day.  But from an anti-aging perspective, there are other fruits with a heavier nutritional payload.  One final thought-  peaches are one of those foods that tend to be heavier in pesticides.  If you eat a lot of them ( eg every day)  you might  want to choose organic peaches.

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I was so happy with the sun protection from my Tilley straw hat that I decided to explore other types of sun protective clothing.  My first stop  was a New York City institution, Paragaon Sports.  Located near Union Square, Paragon has a seemingly  inexhaustable selection of  of equipment for just about every sport you can  name.  I wandered into  their hiking section and started thumbing through their racks.  A really hot thirty something salesman came over and asked if  he could help me find what I needed. When I explained what I was looking for, his eyes  lit up in admiration. ”  Oh, I understand, you’re going on a safari.”

I really loved  that image, but I had to admit I was planning a hike on a mountain near Kingston, New York.  “It gets very sunny  there and the bugs are vicious this time of year”  I added weakly.   I could  see  ‘hot guy’ struggling to  hide his loss of interest. ” Well, just let me know if you need a anything”  he muttered as  he waved his hand  in the general direction of the  hat section.

I found the perfect pants from Columbia and shirt from Royal Robbins.  I was not so lucky  with the hats and eventually ordered  that item  online from Tilley.  So here I am, dressed  up in my sun protective clothing that has a 20 SPF and   a  hat that offers  a 50UPF and  an insect repellant treated fabric– ready for a safari,  hike up  a mountain or in this case, trying them out  in a walk  in Carl Schurz Park.  Despite the 90 degree temperature, these clothes actually kept me cooler and more comfortable than my friends  dressed in shorts and tees.   The pants and shirt definately deflected the suns rays. 

The hat turned out to be truely wonderful.  Not only did it offer  cooling sun protection, the fabric was treated with  the FDA approved insecticide  permethrin and bugs definately stayed away.   All  kidding aside, New York State can be really buggy, making it  hard to sit outside.  Wearing this hat, insects were a non-issue and  I wore it to plant an herb garden, read in a hammock and chat with neighbors  while our legs dangled in the pool.

From a functional point of view, this outfit  is a winner.  However the style and color made me look  like  a very mature Dora the Explorer.  I’m going to look for  other sun  protective items in brighter  colors  and patterns.  Anyone know of a good source for this type of clothing?

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This week  Staness of Menopause Makeover is the host of Fashion Flash. This is such an info packed site.  With a focus on lifestyle issues  for women over 40, I especially  value  her support  for the emotional and social changes  that come at this time.  I also  love the recipe section which provides uber nutritious recipes that are easy and delicious.  Yesterday I made  her apricot and blue cheese apptitizers  to wild acclaim  from  my daughters.  There is no shortage of recipes on the web, but I know that the  ones on Menopuse Makeover will be wonderful as well  as figure friendly.

Last week I went to the Health and Beauty Expo in NYC and  got to hear Dr. Howard  Murad discuss his book, The Water Secret ( John Wiley). Dr Murad was one of the first to use Alpha hydroxy acids ( one of my favorite ingredients)  in a skin care line.  Over the years  he has looked deeper into  the causes of aging and this book explores the role of water in lines and wrinkles.  While all of us  have heard about those  eight daily glasses  of water, Dr Murd  has a new and much more interesting  take  on hydration.  He maintains that  we do not need to force water down our  throats,  but rather get  our water from fruits and vegetables.  Most produce is over 85% water and this water is much more readily absorbed by the cells.   Water is essential for growth and development and you guessed it, as we grow older, our water levels drop– and we actually lose the ability to hold onto water.  Lack of water impairs growth and metabolism of the cells– and the age related dry skin you see on the ouside  reflects the internal struggle of the cells throughout the body. 

Dr Murad  make a powerful case that we get   better hydration  throught diet  rather than gulping down quarts of water.  He points out that  the moisture in fruits  and vegetables also contain  a vital payload of vitamin, minerals and phytonutrients that are better absorbed by the body.  In fact, it has been suggested that one of the reasons that supplements don’t  seem to have the same health benefits as  nutrients rich  foods, is that the cells  are better able to absorb them from the water  and fiber of  the real thing rather than from  a pill or capsule.   It just all gets back to eating  those 5-7 daily servings fruits and veggies.

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I get frequent questions about individual anti-aging  ingredients. Can it REALLY reverse aging?  Is it natural?  Dangerous?   Last time, I reviewed idebone, a powerful antioxidant.  Today I’m evaluating ceramides.  I’ve seen it advertised  on a number of products and  thought it was finally  time to do a little research.

Here’s how it works: The cells of the top layer of the skin are held in place by fatty ceramides, a substance  which kind of acts like glue to keep the cells in order.  In addition ceramides hold onto water  molecules,  helping to attract and retain moisture in the skin.  And it will probably come as no great surprise that ceramide levels decrease as we get  older.  By age 60, we  have lost so much ceramide that the upper layer of the skin is 30% thinner.

Ceramides are used  lotions, creams and cleansers formulated primarily for dry skin, but there is some debate about how effective it actually is.  Conventional wisdom holds that it is very difficult for ingredients like ceramide to travel through the layers of the skin.    However  new research indicates that substances can travel down  the hair follicles and pores to reach the growing levels of skin  and make a diffference in  the health of skin cells. 

Loss of ceramides  is just one of the age related changes that occur to our skin– so  this ingredient  can’t do all the heavy lifting in anti-aging skin  care. However if dry skin is  constant problem a ceramide-rich product  can work effectively.

Ceramides are  expensive ingrediets and are usually found in higher end lines such as Elizabeth Arden Ultra Cold ( $60)  and Elizabeth Plump Perfect Ultra Night Repair ($65).  Now they are  also used in the very affordable line of CereVe products that includes CereVe Facial Moisturing Lotion PM and CereVe Daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ( $12 for 3 ounces). 

Dry skin was not a daily problem  for me until I started using Retin A products.  Then flaking  and redness became a real issue. I was  standing in a drugstore looking for something, anything that would help when two separate women asked the sales person for CereVe.  Curious, I saw that it was fragrance-free, did not clog  pores and contained one of my all time favorite moisturizing ingredients– hyaluronic acid.  I didn’t know what ceramides were, but the other ingredients made it worth a try.  That night I  smoothed CereVe over my Retin A treated skin and  by morning, my skin felt better than it had in months.  I went back and bought the  daytime product  with sunscreen and now  use  both frequently in  by day and night routines.  I don’t know if its the ceremides or the hyaluronic acid, or maybe  the combintion of the two, but  CereVe products really delivered for me.   

If you have tried other ceramide products, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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