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Archive for July, 2012

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week the hosts of Fashion Flash are the Glam Gals of Fabulous After 50.   I love their staste and style but  what  makes  Fabulous After 40  unique is that they create wonderful looks at reasonable prices.  In so many magazines the recommended outfits clock in at over $2000 a look.  It bothers me that  many ourfits cost more than a months take home pay.    Without using thrift shops or big  box stores, The Glam Gals put together amazing looks with affordable and currently available items. 

When it comes to style I’m a “nice girl”.  I love simple classic clothes, and accessories, but I’m all too aware that its  a very fine line between quiet elegance and just plain drab and unfinished.  And as  the decades have gone by  the minimalist styles I choose can look especially dull rather than chic. 

I try to crank up my style with some bling but most of  my attempts to walk on the fashion wild side  stay in the store dressing room.  The few I take home live most of their lives in the closet.  Afraid that I’ll look like Snooki, I fall back to my pearls and sweater sets.   Naughty Makeovers for Nice Girls was written for a women like me. 

In a friendly upbeat tone, author and make-up artist Demetri James demonstrates how a “nice girl” like me  can crank up  her style to be less invisable. In other books,  makeovers show a  before  woman in sweat pants and a pony tail– and then transformed  wearing a cocktail dress ad full hair and make-up.   James shows how a nice girl can amp up her look in a wide range of real life  situations including workplace, first  date, travel and weekend wear.  He even offers styling advice for online dating photos.  Hint- don’t  upload a pic holding a baby.

James offers  make-up tips that I can actually follow.  For example  he recommends pairing  a smoky eye with plae lipstick and  simple liner  and mascara with bright lips.   James recommends his own  line of Skinn  cosmetics ( sold  on QVC), but not at the expense  of providing  dozens  of  practical tips.   

I’m always looking for books that drill deep into a topic  to come up with original and helpful advice– and Naughty Makeovers for Nice Girls is  just my type of book.  It is  just about the nicest self-published book I’ve seen.  The illustriations are  charming and  clearly illustrate his make-up and fashion advice.  Its available on Amazon ( in hardcover and Kindle) and in Barnes and Noble book stores.

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Trying to put together anti-aging  diet menus I realized that I  had examined very few sources of protein.  Since the NHANES study of 17,000 Americans  showed people with higher  protein intakes had fewer wrinkles, I decided  to  take a close look at everyones favorite protein, chicken.

Americans eat 57 pound of chicken a year. Affordable and  available everywhere,  chicken is high in protein and much lower  in fat than beef, lamb  and pork.  Its  full nutritional profile is pretty impressive.  Three ounces of grilled or roast chicken breast clocks in at a mere 165 calories and a whopping 31 grams of protein.  There aren’t too many vitamins in this bird but the list of minerals is quite respectable.  That three ounce serving of chicken breast  offers a  nice payload of potassium, calcium and iron. 

Most of the fat in chicken is embedded in the skin.  Skinless breasts  have 3 grams of  fat and 70 grams of cholesterol.   By comparison, a chicken thigh has 210 calories, 15 grams of fat and 80 grams of artery clogging cholesterol.  Do the math and you’ll make the healthiest choice.

Are organic chickens worth the money?

 Organic produce and livestock  are regulated by the FDA which has set the guidelines on organic farming.  The standards refer primarily to  farming practices that are healthier for the environment, not necessarily for  us. Organic farmers are committed to better waste mnagement, greenhouse gas reduction, and reduced energy consumption. Organic  chicken farms  practice more humane treatment of the birds.  They can run around outdoors and don’t live in overly cramped quarters. ( We should all be so lucky)

Organic chickens are not given antibiotics and are  fed a diet free of animal  parts.  You might see   chickens advertised as hormone free which is actually a pretty meaningless claim.  Turns out that in the US  growth hormones are banned in all animals raised for food. 

Organic chickens have the same nutritional profile and are  twice the price of traditionally raised birds.  While organic fruits and vegetables reduce  our intake of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the benefits of orgnic chickens are not that cler cut.

Heath hazards of chickens

It seems that every few years  there is another news story  about a new outbreak of  food poisoning due to  contaminated chicken.  Contamination can come from the feed, a dirty processing plant or unsafe prep of the birds during cooking.   A study from Spain found that organic chickens actually had higher  bacterial counts that conventionally raised  birds.  Apparently   organic chicken farmers do not use  antibiotics or irridiation during processing  which large scale  chicken plants use to reduce contamination from E-coli and Salmonella. 

To keep your chicken dinner safe and healthy, always follow the FDA  preparation guidelines eg wash hands  after handling raw poultry,  clean knives plates and counters tops that came into contact with raw chicken and cook chicken until 180F.

I think its  a crime against nutrition to  take a  healthy lean protein  like chicken and serve  it in a mayonaise  laced salad, chopped up into fried  nuggets or tucked into a creamy chicken pie.  Chicken is   packed with nutrition when roasted with potatoes and carrots,  grilled with olive oil and lemon, and stewed with wine and tomatoes.  Just don’t coat it with white flour and and toss it into a deep fryer.

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There are more than 50 million Americans with sensitive skin and I am one of them.  It has  been fun to do before and after pix that show quick and easy beauty  benefits.  But when  I had to deal with   a  never ending series  of red splotches that seemed  to be hard to diagnose and  resistant to   every  treatment, fun was the last word I would use.

The red splotches  which appeared this winter, were first diagnosed  as rosacea– but  did not respond seem to standard treatments.  Then the docs thought it was seborrheic dermatitis, a scaly red  breakout that often appears around the mouth and chin– but that too  did not respond to traditional treatments.  I could cover  the redness with concealer, but the raw  itchy feeling kept reminding me what lay underneath the make-up.

Finally after about eight months of red spots and patches, a visit to  Dr Lefkovits came up with a diagnosis and treatment plan that brought my skin under control in ten days.  Turns out that my redness had features of both rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis.    This meant that I needed  a hybrid treatment plan.

First  Dr Lefkovits ( aka The Magician of Park Avenue)  treated  my skin with   diamond tip microdermabrasion and a medium strength glycolic peel.  This was designed to take off the oil packed skin  cells that were driving the irritation.  Then I went home with  a bottle of  his “Anti-Redness Cleanser” and a handful of prescriptions for antibiotics  and  Vitone, a mild steroid and anti-microbial gel.

My redness, broken blood vessels and tiny whiteheads were characteristic of rosacea– but the pattern of eruption around the mouth was typical of a type of seborrheic dermatitis called perioricular dermatitis.  Often called neurodermatitis, is is frequently triggered by  stress.  (Just around the time the outbreak started, my once indomnitable   96 year old mother   had a series of serious falls and hospitalizations. If you are responsible for  an aging  parent, you know what a difficult  journey that can be)

Stress triggers the release of adrenalin  which provokes the oil glands into overdrive.  This oil leads to the overgrowth of bacteria or yeast that produces redness and whiteheads.  It often occurs after age 50  and is sort of an “elder acne”.   Creams  and lotions both in treatment products and make-up can make seborrheic  derrmatitis worse so for the time being I  had to rethink my whole skin care routinue.   I had to eliminate most products except  Anti -Redness Cleanser  and Vitone gel  

Sun exposure is  one of the biggest rosacea triggers but all my favorite sunscreens seemed  to provoke more redness so I switched to  mineral foundation and blush.  These products  have a 20SPF, but do not provoke  irritation.  Its a low SPF but super easy to reapply during the day.

I also followed some additional rosacea guidelines  which included giving up coffee, chocolate, spicy foods and alcohol.   I took  cooler showers and even took a break from Retin A and vitamin C serums.   In the morning I used the  Anti-Redness Cleaner ( which turned out to be a miracle  foam) while at night I used  the Clarisonic  or the DDF for microdermabrasion.  Several times a week I used a  mild glycolic peel.  If redness seemed to be brewing  I applied a dab  of the steroid/antimicrobial gel    It sounds  pretty  aggressive for a 50 plus skin, but  it certainly delivered.

And here  are the results:  When I saw  how  gross my befores looked I cringed at the thought of posting them.  But my  core belief behind No-Nonsense Beauty Blog  is that there are physical changes behind  what we consider beauty issues– and that we need to make a clean, clear  diagnosis  to select the very best care approach. 

So the photo on the left was taken  just before Dr Lefkovits went to work.  The  photos below were taken  ten days later.  No wonder I am smiling.

 FYI I purchased all the products mentioned in this post

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This week the host of Fashion Flash is our  our newest member, Mirabai of Moving Free with Mirabai.  I am so thrilled she  has joined  us.  For more than a decade Mirabai was the director of the reknowned Fitness and Wellness program  at the 92nd St Y in NYC.  She has developed unique exercise  programs that range from cardiac rehabilitation for women, osteoporosis prevention and a fitness  program for kids  ages 3-5. Mirabai  is frequently interviewed by the media and has appeared  on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News  and CBS Nightly News.    And if you’re a  QVC fan, you will recognize Mirabai and her Skeletal Fitness exercise DVD’s that are consumer top rated  by both Amazon and QVC.

Mirabai is certified by the American Council of Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of health and Fitness Professionals.  Her website, blog and newsletter are all  packed with practical and up-to-the-minute health and fitness information.

I recently spent two days at Blogworld, the  huge conference  on all things blog related.  I decided  to focus on the  pod casting track and the first  thing I learned  was the difference between a podcast and a webcast.   There were at  least 12 presentations going on at once  and I tried to go outside my comfort zone and  choose the ones I  knew least.  I have just started  on Pinterest and was glad to grab a seat as Pinterest guru  Kelby Carr   explained to a packed room how to use  it as a marketing tool.    In the exhibits area I found  new platforms that I never know  I needed and met the founders of  me.com.  They   were doing a photo essay  of people writing on an ipad  a phrase that ended with the words  ‘to me”.  Since I have  three  incredibly adorable grandchildren I immedately thought of “sing to me”.    Apparently   the other attendees  were raunchier.

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Question:  What is the best  moisturizer to use on  my skin?

Answer:  I get this question frequently– and I have trouble answering it. There is no single moisturizer or product that will work  for everyone.  Over  the span of our lives, our skin changes and  we need different moisturizers to meet  new challenges. 

In the twenties,  the skin is  fairly rich in oil, so water-based moisturizers  like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin  and Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer SPF 15   are just what this  youthful skin needs.  In the thirties, the skin  can be   so normal  it is boring  and you just don’t want to mess it up.  A light moisturizer with glycolic acid like NeoStrata Ultra Daytime Smoothing Cream SPF15 ( a Dr Oz favorite)  will preserve the natural  radiance without clogging pores.   In the  forties  you want to use a moisturizer with Vitamin C  or retinoids such as CE Ferulic or Retino l1.o  both from Skinceuticals.    These ingredients will encourage    youthful skin  growth to  improve skin tone.    And after  age 50  you will need a richer moisturizer that contains  ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  These will counteract  natural dryness as well as the loss of  moisture from  the use of  lasers, Retin A  and  chemical peels.  Good examples of  moisturizers for 50 plus  skin  include CereVe pm ( at night) and CerVe Am which also has sunscreen ( daytime).

I love tracking down answers to  the questions I get at this blog.  To provide  the most accurate and up to date info, please mention your age  with  your querries.  There are so  many factors that affect treatment choices, but it all starts  with  your age.  And its doesn’t have to be precise.  Just the general decade, eg  twenties, over 50,  will be perfect.

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Unlike rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema, there are no celebrities with seborrheic dermatitis.  There is   no website, no fund raising events , no  online support group for people dealing with  seborrheic derrmatitis.   Yet this  type of sensitive skin affects an estimated 10 million  men and women in the US.

Seborrheic dermatitis, often considered a form of eczema, is a red splotchy rash that pops up the face, hands, scalp and chest.  When it appears along the smile  lines and around the mouth  its also known as perioricular dermatitis.   (That’s  latin for around the mouth).  

The red splotches are the end result of a series of events that starts  with over production of  oil in the skin.   This  oil provokes the overgrowth of  a yeast that is actually a natural organism in the skin.   This yeast  produces a toxin and the overgrowth of yeast  produces high levels of  this toxin.  The result?  It creates an inflammation  which we see as red, raised, itchy areas on the skin. 

Over-active oil glands are a rite of passage of  normal teenage years.  But past age 40 over-active glands  are often the result of stress, exhaustion, lack of sleep, and poor health.  The link between stress and seborrheic dermatis is so strong that it sometimes is called “Wall Street Dermatitis”.  After the crash  of 1928,   many of the ruined financiers developed seborrheic dermatitis,  obviously distressed at the destruction of their wealth.

Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis

Getting seborrheic dermatitis under control starts by cooling  off the oil glands.  Soaps and cleansers compounded with different forms of sulfur encourage the oil glands to calm down.    To  jump start control, mild steroid creams and/or anti microbial gels  are used for 1-3 weeks .  If seborrheic dermatitis is especially persistant,  antibiotics, or even oral anti-fungal medications can be added to the treatment plan.

Seborrheic dermatitis reacts badly to  many  types of personal care  products.  Even water-based  foundations and moisturizers  may trigger  an outbreak.   Needed   sunscreens can be extremely tricky.  While  titanium and zinc oxide sunscreens are generally less irritating then chemical  sunscreens,  even oil free formulations can provoke a shower of red spots.    To avoid wasting your money and irritating  your skin, shop for  beauty care products in stores  like Sephora and CVS  with consumer-friendly return   policies. 

According to  NYC dermatologist Dr Albert Lefkovits, a low fat diet will help keep seborrheic dermatis under control.  This means   eliminating  high  fat  foods like  fried chicken, doughnuts and potato chips  which aren’t healthy for anyone.

Seborrheic dermatis  poses some problems for anti-aging programs.  Moisturizers, even those enriched with goodies like anti-oxidants  and  ceramides seem to  provok eruptions.   While retinoids like Retin A can decrease  oil production, they can be especially irritating.  Dr Lefkovits prefers using glycolic acid cleansers and peels to improve seborrheic dermatitis  as  well as  stimulate  cell growth and  healtheir elastin and collagen.

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This week the host of Fashion Flash is Geri of Fab Over Fifty aka FOF.   This sassy site  for smart, dynamic women is  packed with must read features.  FOF  tests  all manner of beauty and health care products  that range from glycolic peels to  magnetic devices for hot  flashes. I love  Date My Kid  section where  Mom’s can post pics and bios of their  single  children and I’m waiting for the announcement of the first FOF  marriage.    There is a  vibrant community of FOF guru’s  that are waiting   anxiously to answer   your questions on topics that range from antiques to woman’s health.  And  the  prizes  on FOF giveaways are soooo temping ( eg weekend spa vacations)  I never  miss a chance to enter.

One of the  most  popular features on FOF   is Hot or Not.  Origninally a term  used by snarky  under grads to rate girls,  at FOF  it means  on the street fashions that  stylists evaluate.   The FOF camera  captures women  with an interesting look and  asks the stylists if they think it works.  It informative and hilarious.  Don’t miss it. 

I   often review  review  books  on health fitness and  beauty ( usually on Fashion Flash) so  when I saw an announcement for a one day conference for book bloggers, I was  in.  At the author’s breakfast we  could get a chance to meet  writers and discuss their books.  Cool!  But it turned out that  almost all the books seemed to be either paranormal romances   or  for children  so I  just enjoyed  meeting Jennifer Weiner ( In Her Shoes, Good in Bed).  She is as smart, irreverent and funny as her books. 

One final  thought.   There  were   tall stacks  of   of  free books for the book bloggers, but  it was almost impossible to lug all of  them around the all day conference.  Its the digital age people.  How about free downloads so that we can get a take home  all the wonderful work without developing a herniated disk.  Its a win-win situation.  Publishers  get  their books reviewed and bloggers don’t have to  carry around  industrial size bottles of Advil.

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