Archive for August, 2012

My pile of discarded Invisalign aligners tell the story.  The nine month Invisalign treatment  is almost over and  I have  just  four  more aligners to straighten out   my overbite.

The first part of the Invisalign program focused on the bottom teeth.  Not only were they crooked, the flare was pushing out the top and were a major cause of the overbite.  When I first went to Dr Jacquie  I really didn’t care about the bottom row of teeth.  I felt  they weren’t that  visable and the  problem was above.   She explained that  they had  to be corrected before the top could be  put into line. ( no pun intended).

Last month with  my lower  jaw practically perfect it was time to get serious  about  the top.  I was concerned that  the aligners were going  to be tighter and they now they  definately meant business.  For the first time I found myself  removing aligners for a few minutes during the day because the pressure was intense.  My mouth seemed to be a human barometer. I could actually tell if  a storm was coming by an increased sense of pressure in  my mouth.    Taking off the aligners for 20 minutes was all I needed  to relieve the discomfort. 

I also noticed that I was getting a bit lazy.  Some nights after dinner I would “forget” to  put back the retainer immediately after eating.  This week I also lost my first aligner.   At home, I usually take out my aligner right before meals and dump them in a small bowl on the kitchen counter.  This time, when I cleaned up the kitchen and  brushed my teeth,  the upper aligner  had vanished.   I vaguely remembered cleaning up some plastic bags on the counter  and taking the trash to the chute down the hall.  I’m fairly certain that   my missing retainer was scooped up with trash and thrown out. I was due to change aligners in two days, so I pushed up the date.  The new aligner was a bit tight, but still doable. 

I’m waiting to post my  progress  until  the last reveal in two months.  But  the changes are  already pretty encouraging.   At lunch this week I mentioned my overbite to a new co-worker.  ”  Overbite?” she  said  ” You don’t  have  an overbite” .  How nice was that.

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This week  Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over 40 is the host of Fashion Flash.   I have to admit that I am intimidated  by descriptions of  celebrity fitness programs. The intensity, the  pit crew of specialists to assist them,  the amount of  time and energy is overwhelming– and way above my pay scale.  What I love about Shawna’s  blog and DVD’s  is  that not only  are  the exercise programs  so doable, but  she shares real time success stories.  When a fifty something   schoolteacher works  diligently to lose weight  for a wedding, now that is something that  inspires  me.  I can relate to  the  people  who have worked her method and if they can do it, then   I can too. 

 This summer I published the  first No-Nonsense Beauty  Newsletter  Each issue will offer new material  not covered on the blog. This summer issue features  new  anti-aging studies and a review of six multi-tasking under eye concelaers.

 Click  the yellow  box at  to the  right of this page and you will  immeditely receive the first  newsletter and automatically get  new quarterly issues as they are published.  Right now   I am working on the fall issue  which will include a review of different microdermabrasion devices including Clarisonic and DDF Revolve.  All  I will say now  is that my skin feels very very clean.   For the winter issue I will be roadtesting  rich moisturizers that  can stand up to  cold, snowy weather.  In the spring I plan a round-up of  new ways to handle allergies. 

I added two new addictive   “over 40”  sites to my blogroll.  Over Fifty, Feeling 40  and Chic At Any Age,  are  warm, smart and  filled with   the kind of great fashion  advice you might get from a good friend– if she also had a great sense of style.   I love  learning news ways to  wear what I already have and these sites  offer  ideas  I can actually  use.

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Question:  You’ve totally sold me on the benefits of tretinoin but it just doesn’t work for me.  I used Retin A Micro  and  followed your guidelines– washed with  a mild soap, waited 30 minutes after washing, and used it 3X/week– but my skin is constantly  irritated and flaky.  What else can I do to deal with too many years in the sun?

Answer: Before you declare defeat, keep in mind that Retin A is a brand name( like Kleenex or Xerox) and there are different formulations that could be a better choice for  you.  Retin A  Micro is a gel that is actually approved for acne, not anti-aging.   It works well for thicker, oilier skin ( like  mine) but finer, drier skin types  may over react.

To get the benefits of tretinoin without irritation, Dr Heidi Waldorf of Mount Sinai Medical Center recommends Refissa ” This is a full strength .05% formulation in a true emollient base.  This provides the  maximum anti-aging benefits with less dryness and redness.”

Dr Waldorf, director of  Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, recommends washing your skin at night with a rich cleansing like Cereve Hydrating Cleanser, followed by  application of  a pea sized dab on  your face and another dab on your hands, neck, and chest.  Rub in well.  Follow immediately with a bland moisturizer  like CereVePM.  In the morning wash with gentle cleanser and top with a a rich sunscreen like  Anthelios SX.  Start using it 2-3X/week and gradually work up every night application.  Don’t worry if you can only use it twice a week during dry winter months– you can still get benefits. 

As with other forms of tretinoin, its important to avoid excessive use of exfoliating scrubs, astringents, toners and to stop the retinoid a few days before and after waxing or electrolysis.

Unlike Retin A, Refissa is actually approved by the FDA to reverse signs of aging and sun damage.   You should start to see benefits after two months of diligent use.  After a year, use it 2-3X/week for maintenance.

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Its been almost  three weeeks since my red splotches and breakouts  have been brought under control.  The labor intensive protocol of washing my face 3x/day ( once with Anti-Redness Cleanser and twice with home microdermabrasion), glycolic  peel pads  3 times a week and Metro Gel at night  seems to  be the perfect formula.

I also  have been diligent in following  rosacea dietary guidelines.This meant avoding spicy foods, coffee, alcohol and chocolate.   With my skin so clear, I wondered if I really needed to be as careful with my diet.  I mean,  no coffee for life?  I’m one of those annoying New Yorkers who walk around in summer with a container of ice coffee  glued to my hands.  The answer?  Yes and no.

Over the weekend with friends, I treated myself  to a glass of  my favorite Rombauer Chardonnay– and nothing popped out on my face.  Next, I tried my summer favorite– iced coffee.  Again my skin stayed  clear.  My next two experiments were actually accidental.

I’m a total chocoholic and when  a friend passed a box of  Godiva  chocolates, I popped one in my mouth without thinking.  That night, I woke up with a burning sensation on my chin.  In the morning,  my chin was dotted with red lumps  that looked like  old-fashioned teen age acne.   Dr Lefkovits went into emergency mode with an in-office microdermabrasion and a 70% glycolic peel.  Within hours  the outbreak disappeared along with my passion for chocolate.  There is  a good bit of controversy about the link between chocolate and acne.  Well-respected research has repeatedly demonstrated that chocolate does NOT provoke breakouts.  IRL dermatologists and   patients  report  that chocolate  seems  be  an acne triggerr.   I wonder  if these chocolates related reakouts are actually  part of rosacea rather than  traditional acne vulgaris.   I smell a  nice grant proposal.

My next food test  was a surprise in a bowl of creamy corn chowder.   Instead of a mellow bowl of  summer corn, it turned out to be as spicy as a dish of  Texas Red Chili.   I was famished, late and it  had taken so long to get my order that  I ate about half before rushing  out. The next day my  chin was red and sore.   Home microdermabrasion and MetroGel brought it under control in 48 hours, but each episode  leaves the skin  a little redder with more broken blood vessels.

Both chocolate and spicy foods provoke rosacea, but in slightly  different pathways.  Chocolates  stimulate histamine release which lead to an inflammatory response.  Spicy foods directly stimulate circulation, expanding blood vessels.

I’m really glad that  wine and ice coffee are on back on my menus and I can avoid  food related redness by avoiding chocolate and spicy foods.  Have you found a connection diet and your skin?  I’d love  to hear  how  you  handle  it.

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This week, Jodell of Black Cat Plus is hosting Fashion Flash.  Recently she uploaded an inspiring post  that focused on Sarah Robles, the awesome Olympic weightlifter.  Like  many  full figure women Sarah had trouble finding flattering, wearable clothes.  Two plus size designers, Jill Alexander and  Ming Wang stepped up to outfit Sarah for  London and the Olympic.

Red is apparently the hot color this year.  Be sure  to checkout the plus size options in this vibrant color

Black Cat Plus looks  at more more than  just plus size fashion.   I was moved by her analysis of a controversial Nike  that featured an over weight boy struggling to exercise.   Was it  motivational  or exploitive?  I’d love to hear what you think.

I’m so excited about the second Beauty Bash (created by our Geri Brin of Fab Over 50)  on Sept 29 at the Metropolitan Pavillion in NYC.   If  you went  last  year you know  how amazing it was.  This year  promises to be even better.  In addition to a day of skin care experts, cossmetic surgeons, fashion gurus, fashion and accessory pop-up shops, fashion shows, and  mini-massage,  you will go home with a ginormous goodie bag packed with must-have products.

But wait there is more.  Beauty Bash will be followed by  FOF  Week a celebration of incredible beauty and  fashion  activities  in both New York and New Jersey.  From September 30 to Oct 6, you’re invited  to a wide range  of events and options including  a cocktail party and charity shopping at J.Mclaughlin, a free beverage at Trump Grill and   20% off Clarins Kin Spa, Bliss and Foxcraft Collections.    And save  some time  for free consultations  with master hait stylist Yann Varin, Manhattan Dental Spa and lifestyle expert Betsy Karp.

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Two of my  friends are training for the NYC marathon and they are convinced that   whey protein smoothies  are essential for their success.    For years I’ve seen whey in  big bellied jars illustrated with pix of body builders at the local health food store.  I assumed  that whey protein  was  just  to build big  lumpy muscles,  but when two normally rational  people had such faith in it, I knew that I needed to take a closer  look at the nutritional pros and cons.

Whey protein is the substance that is leftover  when milk is made into cheese– and is one of the purest protein sources.  It is used primarily by body builders and athletes to increase muscle mass and improve performance.    Whey can also be helpful for weight loss and provide protein  for strength and repair after a  serious illness.

You will find three types of whey  products on the shelves:

* whey protein concentrate is the lowest in fat and about 75% pure protein.  ( for comparison  lean red  meat is 20% protein).  It is the least expensive, but has the  highest amount of lactose. 

* whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey and about 90% protein. It is the most expensive but the lowest in lactose

* Combo of whey protein isolate and concentrate is more affordable  with  very low  levels of  lactose.

Lactose   is often blamed for the cramps and bloating that some people experience with whey protein, so  lower  levels are thought to  decrease  risk of tummy  problems.

The nutritional credentials of whey  protein is awesome !  A 100 calorie portion  is fat free, has less than 5 grams of cholesterol, just   1 gram of carb and a whopping  20 grams of first rate  protein.  By comparison, 100 calories of skim milk ( 1/2 cup) has 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs and just 8grams of protein.   If you’re looking for protein, whey is a super option.

You can use whey protein in cookies, crackers and energy bars, but the most popular recipes are for  whey smoothies.  You can find  vanilla and chocolate whey mixes that are delicious but   they add a bit of sugar.  I experimented with unflavored whey  and came up with  my new favorite breakfast.   I know its corny but I call it my Beauty Smoothie.  Its rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and protein, keeps  me  happy until lunch and clocks in at  just 200 calories.

Beauty Smoothie

Ingredients: 1  scoop of  plain whey powder, 3/4 cup sliced strawberries, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup cold water, 3/4 cup crushed ice

Method: Combine whey powder, strawberries, banana and water in a blender or  food processor.  Blend  for a few second, then add ice chips and blend until nice and smooth.  Pour into a tall glass for a sweet, smooth thick super shake.

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I’ve been getting some pushback from blog visitors who are getting annoyed with the price tag on the  products and techniques I am recommending– and they’re right.

This is no time to throw money around.  To lower  overall beauty costs, effective and super affordable personal care products  can be  made  in your own kitchen.  Natural ingredients like lemon juice, honey and oatmeal are packed with active agents including fruit acids, antioxidants and soothing colloids. 

But before you squeeze a  single lemon or crack an egg,  you need to organize your kitchen cosmetic set-up. While the basic rules of simple cooking apply to homemade skin care formulations, these freshly made products are preservative free.  This  definately lowers  our exposure to chemicals, but  it can raise  risk of bacterial contamination.  To stay safe take these prep rules seriously:

Kitchen Cosmetics Road Rules

* Wash down your work area with a disinfectant wipe and dry with a disposable paper towel.

* Wash hands with soap and water.

* Wash your work bowls, measuring spoons and cups, stirring spoons and jars for storage in  a diswasher or boil for 5 minutes in a large pot of water.

* Wash all fresh fruits and veggies in hot water before using in beauty care products.

* Store your homemade products  in clean jar with a tight lid and keep in the frig.

* Label and date all jars.

* Don’t dip your fingers in the jar.  Use a spoon or butter knife to take out what you need.

* Check the date on any product before you use it.

* Discard within a week.

Here are two of my favorite all natural skin care produts:

Creamy Milk Mask for Dry Skin

Ingredients:  1 tablespoon organic yogurt or buttermilk, 1 tablespoon powdered  milk, 4 drops of olive oil

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Apply to the face and  allow  masks to dry and harden for 20 minutes.  Rinse off with cool water.

The yogurt, powdered milk or buttermilk are rich in lactic  acid  that can exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells and encourage growth of healthy  fresh skin.

Roman Nail Soak

Ingredients:  1 cup crushed organic tomates, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons white wine ( but  no garlic)

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Divide mixture into two small bowls and soak nails for 20  minutes.  Rinse off, rubbing cuticles with a dry washcloth. 

The tomates are a great source of  lactic acid AND vitamin C  which is a powerful antioxidant and essential for healthy collagen.

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