Archive for October, 2012

Over the past few weeks, I’ve  posted my lists for recommended affordable  anti-aging products covering cleansers,  treatments, exfoliators, moisturizers and sun protection.   Now comes the fun  part- how to use them.

The Theory Behind the Practice

When you strip away all the inflated promises and pseudo science, great skin care  has four key goals:

* take off the top layer of dry dead skin cells

* stimulate growth of collagen

* help the skin  maintain a healthy water balance

* protect against UV rays


In the morning you want to clean the face gently and protect it from the sun.

* On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday use your basic mild soap or cleanser.  Wet the face first and work  up a lather on  your skn.  Rinse off with lukewarm water.  Too hot or too cold and you can  damage blood vesses that will lead to redness.

* On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday  clean your mornig face with the exfoliator of your choice.

* Everyday  apply a  sunscreen that has  at least a 30 SPF

Bed time:

At night you want to clean off the days oil and grime and prepare the skin for a  night of treatment.

On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday  use mild exfoliation ( eg Clarisonic) to clean the skin.   Dry the skin, wait 10 minutes and apply lotion with glycolic acid.  On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday use basic cleanser and blot dry.   Dab on homemade vitamin C serum.  If the skin feels  tight apply  a recommended moisturizer.

These types of products and this alternating routinue will deliver  a world class  anti-aging skin care routinue at  rock bottom prices.   I estimate that  this  plan will be about $300/year or about a dollar a day.  I save so much  on using effective but affordable products that I can  budget in  a yearly IPL or some Botox  to enhance the benefits of a good daily skin care.  I’d love to hear  about   your favorite drugstore  products.  Most of my favorites  have  come to  me through recommendations of friends.

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This week, Cindy of  Prime Beauty  is hosting Fashion Flash.   I am in the middle of  Budget Beauty series so I’ve become a huge fan of  Prime Beauty’s Frugal Friday feature.  This week she  featured a tempting palatte  of eye shadows made even more tempting at half price.   Cindy has also started to feature great holiday gift sets including  Kiehls’s Creme de Corps Holiday Collection with 100% of sales going to children’s causes around the world and Tarte Baby it Bold Outside   blush or lip gloss  sets. 

IMO Prime Beauty  has  awesome recommendations for fragrances.   On her recommendations  I have tried ( and loved) new brands and old favorites  like Jo Malone and Anik.  I also rely on Cindy for eval of hair products.  I can decode a wall full of moisturizers, when it comes to   hair products, I freeze.  Prime Beauty provides  need to  know info  on shampoos and styling mousee that has helped me get the look  I was looking for.

 Every year along with pumpkins and football, colds, sore throats and bronchitis arrive in every household.  Americans suffer 1 million colds each year and we spend $5 billion on cough and sniffles remedies.  Influenza, colds evil twin, affects up to 10 million Americans, puts 200,000 in the hospital and is fatal to 20,000 adults and children.

The Good Doctors Guide to Colds  and Flu ( Harper) by Dr Neil Schachter provides the information you need to stay healthy all winter including:

* The surprising reason why women get more colds

* Why using your own pen decresing  chance of  respiratory infections

* Three signs that its time to call a doctor immediately

* Is it safe to exercise  with a fever

The author is Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Director of Respiratory Therapy. Neil Schachter also my husband, but its not nepotism– its  just a great book for this time of year.

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When I was in high school  a ball of cottage cheese  on a ring of canned pineapple was the ultimate diet meal.  Former President Nixon made headlines when  he shared that his favorite lunch was cottege cheese topped with ketchup. For years these slightly sour milk curds were  the ultimate symbol of weight control.  Over the years, cottage cheese has fallen out of favor — a loss for easy  healthy meal plans. 

Cottage cheese is made  from the separation of solids and liquid in milk.  The whey is poured off and the cuds are rinsed, but not pressed into true cheese.  ( and yes, this  is where the nursery rhyme “curds and whey” came from). Cottage cheese is a wonderful source of  protein and vitamin B12.  One half cup of full fat ( 4%)  cottage cheese delivers  14 grams of protein  and just 3 grams of crbs for a cost of only 100 calories.   However because the  mineral- rich whey  is poured off during  production, cottage cheese is pretty low in calcium.   Your half cup serving has just 70 grams of calcium while the same amount of yogurt has 250 grams of the  bone building mineral.  And for reasons I really  don’t understand, cottage cheese is heavily salted– that half cup serving clocks in at 500 mg of sodium.

Cottage cheese can be used in recipes that call for ricotta and is much more affordable.  My favorite brunch features cottage cheese pancakes topped with yogurt for  additionall calcium.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes ( adapted from Martha Stewart )


3/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon Splenda, 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese, 2/3 cup milk, 2 egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract, Pam cooking spray,  2 teaspoons corn oil, 1 cup yogurt, raspberries or strawberries 


Mix together flour, Splenda, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in cottage cheese, milk, egg whites  and vanilla.   Spray a flat grill pan with Pam and sprinkle with a few drops of corn oil.  Heat pan and drop on   spoonfuls of cottage cheese  mixture.  Cook until small bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is lightly brown.  Turn panckaes and cook until the center is firm about 1-3 minutes.    

Serve topped with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and a few fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries.

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I’m thinking of producing a tee shirt that reads: ” Up to age 60, 90% of skin aging is due to sun damage”.  Seriously, its that important.

Effective sun protection  creams and lotions are the only non-prescription product that the FDA allows to make anti-aging claims.  But buying a powerful  yet effective  sunscreen can be daunting.  Go into any pharmacy and you’re met with a long  wall of options.  Waterproof?  Oil-free?  Broad spectrum, Fragrance-free?  I covered this material  before in a series of Sunscreen  Cheat Sheets, but once you have picked the right formula, then you want to  get the best possible price.  Remember you need to  use sun protection each and every day and you need to use it fairly generously.   If you’re not using up  a 3 ounce bottle in three months, you’re not applying enough.  Designer  sunscreens from Peter Thomas Roth and Shiseido  are beautiful products  that are at least 3X the cost of drugstore brands.   It wil cost you $120-140 per year for just this one product.  We can do better.

Here are five  of my favorite affordable facial sunscreens.   Products that are meant to be used for the body  will tend to discolor make-up that is applied over it.  Facial sunscreens  are formulated to accept  layers of makeup without turning them dark or orangey.

1.  Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant SPF 30 ($19)

A light  but broadspectrum moisturizing formulation that is beautiful for drier skins.  It also contains soy complex which is known to reduce melanin production.  This lightly scented sun screen  both prevents aging sun damage  and increased  dark patches.

2.Neutrogena Clear Face ( Break-out Free) SPF30($ 12.99)

This oil-free  lotion  contains Heli0plex, the uber strong broad spectrum sunscreen.   This is  an excellent choice for oily/acne prone complexions.

3. Coppertone Sensitive Skin Faces SPF50 $12.99

This super effective fragrance-free broad spectrum sunscreen is also water resistant.   It has both chemical and physical sunscreens for better protection with less irritation.

4. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 30 $10.99

This may be the best choice for truely sensitive skin as well as skin that  has just been treated with lasers, IPL or even Retin A.    This product contains only  titanium oxide  yet delivers a full 30SPF.  I always have a fresh bottle  of this sunscreen in  my beauty tool kit.

5. Susan Posnick Brush-On Block 30SPF( $25.00)

An innovative brush on sunscreen delivers a totally gentle broad spectrum 30 SPF.  When my skin seemed to be overreacting  to everything but water,  Brush on Block was the only sunscreen I could use.  Now that my skin has calmed down, I still use it  everyday to reapply  sunscreen protection.  It comes in a translucent shade that works  for  most skin tones. Its available online at Susan Posnick.

One final thought:  Most sunscreens are too irritating to use  in the delicate eye area.  Not only does the sun cause wrinkling, it  promotes dark circles.  To  protect the eyes, use sunscreen fortified concealers and   I reviewed   my five favorites in the current issue of the No-Nonsense Beauty Newsletter. You can subscribe to this quarterly online  newsletter  in the right hand column of this page.

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Jodell of  Black Cat Plus is hosting Fashion Flash. Her posts are always on point  and packed with fresh ideas and information.  Check out  her  take on  the new line of plus sign of clothing from Adele and Burberry, plus size beauty pagents and   fashion tips for work and play  when you are a plus size forty something chick.

October is also Menopause Awareness  Month.  Last week   I took a  look at beauty issues that  are  co-travelers with menopause  that include dry skin  and hair loss.  For diet advice that really delivers  look at Menopause Makeover that offers  nutritional advice  to deal with  post menopause weight gain.  And no, its not inevitable and irreversible.

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Question:  I’m 48  and in menopause.  Because of hot flashes I’m taking extra showers.  Now my skin, especially on  legs and arms  is terribly dry.  Any suggestions?

Answer:   A perfect question for National Menopause Month!  Several showers a day may increase  skin dryness, but its hormonal changes that are also driving the problem.  Between the ages of 45-60, the ovaries no longer release eggs and estrogen levels start to decline.  Estrogen is known to play many roles in the body including  collagen production, blood pressure, metabolism and sleep.  But in your case, its estrogen’s role in oil production that is  the major driver behind your dry skin. Less oil  means that the skin can’t hold onto its natural moisture.  To help restore skin hydration  take shorter showers and while your skin is still damp, slather on a plain unscented moisturizer like Aquaphor.  If the skin stays dry  step it up to a moisturizer fortified with lactic acid ( Am-lactin)  or ceramides (CeraVe Moisturizing Cream).

Dry skin  is not the only beauty issue linked to menopause.  Menopause  thins out the hair on the head and eyebrows only to reappear on the upper lip  and chin.  Menopause related changes in hormones  are again to blame.  This time its the drop in both estrogen and progesterone that  allow  the male  hormone androgen to become more prominent.  Minoxidil  can be helpful for hair loss and lasers  can zap dark facial hairs.  If the  hair is blond or white, you will need electrolysis since lasers are ineffective on  light hairs.

Because lower  estrogen levels are causing so  many menopause related problems,  hormone replacement therapy ( HRT)  may prescribed to treat menopause symptoms.  Please don’t go there.  The Woman’s Health Initiative, started in 1991, set  out to see if  giving  menopausal women  estrogen would reduce  risk of heart disease  and distressing symptoms.  The study was suddenly   suspended in 2001.  The reason?  Results had already shown that HRT  INCREASED risk of heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer and it was not considered ethical to contunue the study.  Since then, HRT use has declined  and     the  incidence and death rates of breast cancer  have also dropped.

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Bye Bye Overbite

My Mom thought I was perfect.  It wasn’t until I was around 9 that   our family dentist had to tell my Mom that my ” big strong teeth”  was a big strong overbite.  She was an artist and Dad was a writer , pretty alternative and  were  opposed to the idea of  the discomfort of  traditional braces.  At a rally for Adlai Stevenson, they met an equally alternative dentist who believed that my teeth were sticking out because my lips were too weak to hold them back.  His solution?  I was to hold  a coin between my  lips to give them an isometric exercise.  I was to start with a dime and gradually work my self up to a quarter.  This approach lasted two weeks.  I gave up and that was the end of  my orthodenture  until  this year when I started Invisalign.

I am now on the last of nineteen aligners.  Last month Dr Jacquie switched my alignment schedule from every two weeks to every  10 days.  My mouth definately knew the difference.  While all aligners are tight initially, the sensation wears off in a few moments.  On the 10 day rotation, the aligners stayed tight.  By the end of the day, I would look forward to taking a break in a few hours.  When I got a headache or  congestion, I need extra breaks.   In the last 30 days I’ve had to drop bagels and corn on the cob from my shopping list.    I’ve been eating  more chicken and fish  rather than chewier beef and lamb.   My teeth are not more sensitive to heat  or cold  so iced coffee and soup are still on the menu.

At the  end of my planned Invisalign program the results are impressive. The photo at the top  was taken at the start.  There is such an overbite  on both top and bottom and I’m surprised that I could eat  solid food. 

The photo on the bottom shows PERFECT alignment on the bottoms  and at least 60% reduction of flare on the upper jaw.   I’ve been living with an overbite with more than 40 years and in the last 38 weeks my crooked flare has been brought into line.  ( no pun intended). I’m delighted at the results, but Dr Jacquie is an artist.   I’m scheduled for another facial scan so that additional aligners can be created to finish the job– and at no extra charge.   I don’t know how  many aligners are in store but I’m ready to for the last  push.


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