Archive for August, 2011

I’m always looking for the ideal facial.  Not infrequently, I leave the facial looking a bit splotchy and/or greasy  And the next moring  I wake up with… breakouts. But I still kept looking.  I wanted something that would  make my skin  look fresh, poreless with a  pink, not red glow.  And this summer I found it at the office of Park Avenue cosmetic surgeon, Dr Paul Lorenc. Famous for inventing the endoscopic browlift, Dr Lorenc is a  physician who believes in combining non-invasive anti-aging  tools like the Hydrafacial with surgical options.

 The Hydrafacial is considered the third generation of  microdermabrasion.   It  has about seven steps, each  one offering different but related benefits.  The Hydrafacial combines  a unique type of   tip with an array of products.  The spiral tip ( see pix) rotates on the skin as the suction  pulls up dead skin and  empties the pores.  After the skin  with wiped with a gentle cleanser, the first pass  uses  lactic acid to loosen  the top dead layer  of skin.  Next pass gets serious with a  15% glycolic acid combined with  2% salicylic acid to stimulate better skin growth and reduce brown spots. 

Then came the part of  facial we love to hate–extraction.   I tend to  get clogged pores on my  nose, and what the Hydrafacial is missed  was  now  eliminated by Carissa, Dr Lorenc’s beautiful  technician.    And then the Hydrafacial continued with  more exfoliation with a diamond tip for additional  cleansing and smoothing.   

Now that the skin  is cleansed of the top layer of dead cells and the pores emptied of old oil and dirt, the Hydrafacial applies  a peptide complex that has been shown to improve skin elasticity and reduce lines. This is followed by a serum of  antioxidants and  the super moisturizer hyaluronic acid.  Because the skin and pores have been cleared of debris, these anti-agers can be better absorbed by the skin.    

Carissa offered me an additional moisturizer ( which I passed on) and a zinc based sunscreen which I applied  happily.  Microdermabrasion, because it exposes fresh new skin,  is especially vulnerable to sun damage right after treatment. The whole procedure took about 45 minutes.  My skin looked beautiful– poreless, radiant, and  wrinkle free.  No splotches, no breakouts, just gorgeous.  On my  way home, I could not help catching glances of myself in store widows and mirrors. 

The Hydrafacial costs between $150 -275, depending on the number of steps.  Doctors recommend a series of 4-6 treatments, but with a single treatment I saw great results that persisted for weeks.  This is the “big night”  facial that I was looking for when my daughters got married.  Its also the facial of choice for those high school reunions type of situations when you want to rock the room.


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This week the host of Fashion Flash is Staness of Menopause Makeover. Menopause is more than  just the end of your period, much more.   This amazing site has the health, diet and fitness info you need to deal with these changes.  This  time of life can radically alter metabolism.  I’ve always had to  count calories and could only stare enviously as my skinny friends ate anything they wanted.  Menopause  now has made us equals. Formerly trim friends  now  have to learn  new ways of eating to  keep their weight down– and Menopause Makeover offers  the tools they need.

And when you’ve explored Menopause Makeovers (  try her Noble Prize worthy  recipe for low carb,high  protein waffles), check out a new beauty book by one of the most respected dermtologists in the world.  Dr Neil Sadick has written 12 text books, contributed more than 70 chapters to medical texts and  is listed year after year in New York’s” Best Doctors”.   His book, “The New Naturals” is a wonderful resouce explaining the newest  anti-aging techniques– and how to combine them for the best results.  In addition to the standard Botox and Laser options, Dr Sadick details  the pros and cons of cutting edge therapies including  stem cell therapy, the vampire lift and Thermage.  Dr Sadick also  believes that herbals  and supplements  have an important role in anti-aging beauty care and he devotes a chapter to explain his recommendations.

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Experts are split into two camps  when it comes to  potatoes.  The  pro-potato people  like that  it  has  some fiber, vitamin C and potassium.  They point out that potatoes are salt and fat free and a  4 ounce serving has only 100 calories.  Filling and bland, the pro-potato  people maintain that their bad rep  comes from the oil, butter, salt, cheese aand cream that are used prepare them.  Its these other ingredients and cooking techniques that  make potatoes such a bad actor.  This  means french fries, potato chips,  mashed with cream and butter, au gratin with cheese and my personal favorite the “fully loaded” baked potato.

The anti-potato  camp are concerned with potatoes’ high glycemic index.  In a scale of 1-100, potatoes are  about a 95.  Just about the only food higher is a loaf of french bread.  This means that potatoes spike blood sugar  to unhealthy levels. This  encourages the body to  produce extra insulin that is stored as fat.  At the same time, the swings in blood sugar levels  increase appetite– one of the reasons  you can devour an entire bag of chips or a mound of fries.  And keep in mind that high blood sugar levels are linked to increased skin aging.

The anti-potato crowd  got a big boost this summer from a new study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  Over 25 years this study   looked at the eating patterns  of 120,000 men and women to see which foods were associated with weight gain and which were associated with weight loss.  And the one food  with the highest link to obesity was, wait for it, the potato.   When I first heard this, I thought of course, its those chips and fries.  It turns out than even  plain baked and boiled potatoes  were associated with obesity.   Not good news for Idaho.

Happily, this info  packed study also identified the eight food that are associated with weight loss.  And there were a few surprises in them that I will be posting about them   in two weeks.

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I recently went to the summer meeting of the Americn Academy of Dermatology in NYC.   There were  a number of new areas of research on the horizon, but frankly at my age, I am looking  for new anti-aging tools I can use right now.  And I got  just that type of  info at presentation on skin  of color by Dr Wendy Roberts of Loma Linda University. 

Most of Dr Roberts presentation  focused on the pros and cons  of different types of lightening agensts– all good info that I will be using to answer  related questions on an upcoming Question and Answer post.  But the BIG IDEA   came up when Dr Roberts   addressed ways to prevent pigmentation.  The audience of mostly female derms  shared their  concerns that patients were just  not  using and or not reapplying their sunscreens.  Dr Roberts suggested  adding mineral based cosmetics  to increase sun protection.  Although  they often offer a 10-15SPF,  women are more likely to reapply a mineral based bronzer or blusher during the day than  a traditional gooey white sun block.  So true!  I now put on my moisturizer/sunblock as  routinely as I brush my teeth or smooth on lipstick.  But once I’ve put on my make-up , I’m not going to add more sunscreen  over my foundation and blush. Its just not going to happen.

Mineral make-ups  contain healthy amounts  of zinc oxides ot titanium oxides– the same ingredients that are used  many traditional sunscreens.  They are also the ingredient of choice when a product is formulated for sensitive or laser-treated skin. There are a number of mineral based product lines but the derms at this meeting  suggested that I visit the Jane Iredale booth in the AAD  exhibit hall.  Good call.   This extensive  fragrance- free  includes foundations, concealers, lip sticks, and blushers,   all formulated with a  20 SPF.   In addition to providing  sun protection they are designed to elegantly hide undereye circles, redness and dark patches.   They are so effective that three products  have been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.   In short  not only do  they hide dings and dots, they protect the skin from further sun damage. 

Jane Iredale is available from  physicians, sold at some Saks and Nordstroms and on line t www.janeiredale.com.

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Its Fashion Flash Monday

Its Fashion Flash Monday, hosted this week by Shawna of Female Fat Loss After 40.  I’ve always  struggled with my weight, so the after 40 slowdown in metabolism  is just another challenge in the battle of the bulge.  I’ve found that my  skinny friends who for years could seem to eat everything and still stay svelte, are finding  weight control after 40  a HUGE  problem.  Here’s where Shawna’s  great site and blog  provides  targeted info on  how to lose weight and stay fit at this time in their lives.

After clicking on Shawna and picking  up  yet another great tip,  you’ll want to check out ” The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” by Karen Karbo.  She brings  her novelists eye to a book on the fashion icon that weaves  a personal bio with the back stories for the Chanel   styles that we are still wearing today.  The little black dress, fake pearls, bell bottom pants, twin sweater sets, black tipped  shoes, ballet flats for streetwear,and striped tees were all  introduced by Chanel as she freed women from restrictive fashions.  Chanel created  many of her classic styles when she was over 40 and  many of  her ideas were especially flattering to women who weren’t born yesterday.

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Question:  I went to buy a glycolic acid cleanser and  was told that  something called  “MMP”  is  much better.  Its also much more expensive.  I can’t afford to keep buying a skin care  product and  then  learn that  there are better ones.  Is MMP   a good ingredient to look for?

Answer:  MMP  is an umbrella term for enzymes  ( eg collagenase) which break down old proteins ( eg old collagen).  The  body  produces them naturally and as we get older or are under stress, the  body produces  more of them.  Sunlight, alcohol and smoking  also increase MMP levels. We need MMPs to avoid build-up of   old damaged tissues– but too much MMP can increase  aging and skin wrinkling.

I think that the product you were offered had an anti-MMP compound that actually blocks MMP activity.   A lot of ingredients can act as an MMP inhibitor– something that prevents MMP from attacking the skin.  Retin A  has strong anti-MMP activity, as do antioxidants, aloe and chamomile.

Anti-MMP’s could be a nice additional ingredient, but alone this appraoch  doesn’t have the juice that other anti-agers can offer.  For example, glycolic acid removes dead dry skin cells,  and stimulates circulation as well as growth of new collagen and elastin.    Glycolic acid is a skin care  basic  and I would put my money on the best one I can find.

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Back to Biotin

This past winter my nails became very soft and started  to peel and break. They were so fragile that there was nothing to file.  I started to take biotin and within a few  weeks   my nails did a big turn around.  They became  hard and strong and I  no longer looked like I bit my nails down to the nub.  ( Not a confident  look).  It wasn’t that I wanted to sport a set of talons, but   the fingertips would become painful as the  weak nails  tore   off below the tip.  

I stopped taking biotin out of sheer laziness and all was fine until last month when   I saw the tell tales signs appear again.First  the tip of the nail would start to flake off.  Then  they became  so soft  and ragged that I was constantly catching them in my sweaters. This time I didn’t wait until  they all were shredded.  I   started to take biotin again.   I  had been trying to lose weight and I cut out egg yolks and  ate smaller portions of protein.   That may have been enough to  drop my biotin levels below what is necessary for healthy nail and hair growth.

There is no RDA for biotin and the suggested  levels are all over the map. When I went to  a vitamin store, the salesman tried to sell me biotin complexes– biotin  mixed with a stew of other amino acids and minerals.  I’m wary of these combo’s and they were about $30/bottle. There were also super high doesages of biotin and I’m not a big fan of mega doses either.   I settled on 60mg/day and  a bottle of 100 capsules cost me just $6.99.  Last time I used them they worked beautifully in a few weeks.

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