Archive for February, 2013

winter newsletterJust published– the winter issue of the No-Nonsense Beauty Blog  Newsletter.  I was one of the founding editors of the Berkeley Wellness Newsletter and  I love the newsletter format  for sharing current research  and consumer information.  In this, the  second issue of the No-Nonsense Newsletter, I explore ways that  ways that Retin A can help brittle nails and the surprising facts about diet and heart disease in women.  Hint– its very different  from men.

Skin Care Consumer Reports

In my consumer comparison section, I road test  and rate five different  home microdermabrasion devices that range from  $19.95 to $225.  And I’ll share my new favorite that  just a fraction of the cost of  Clarisonic. Its no secret that I love Clarisonic ( who doesn’t), but the price is another story.  With  the fiscal cliff  now in full view,  I want to  look good at the lowest possible price.  I rated  the devices for  five features– intensity, availability,  cleansers, ease of use and  last but not least price.   Some did an excellent  job but had refill issues.  Others worked well on the cheeks but were less successful  around the nose and chin.   After you read  my compare and contrast, I’d love to hear about your  experiences with microdermabrasion tools.  I believe  that effective exfoliation is the foundation of great skin care and  these  home devices are key  to a clear fresh complexion.

To get your copy,  just click  at  the box on the right hand column and  the newsletter will arrive in your email by tomorrow.   In future issues, I will also be working with experts to answer you  skin care questions. To get  advice from the best and the brightest,  send your questions to  Deb@nononsensebeautyblog.com

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This week the Glam Gals of Fabulous After Forty  are hosting Fashion Flash. FF_1  In addition to fashion and beauty advice, they now have celebrity news and I am looking forward to their Oscar coverage.   There seemed to be two  main  styles of gowns– strapless ball gowns for the younger stars  and V neck long sleeve sheaths for the over 40 crowd.  I’m not sure  if I liked  the latter.  I remember from my mother of the bride days ( married two daughters in three years), that  the designers found clever ways to get the ball gown effect without   baring arms.  One dress offered the option of a little bolero jacket over a strapless  A line satin gown.  Another added little chiffon drapings over the upper arms with  a fitted bodice.  My all time favorite was a shirtwaist style top with a full  satin skirt that has almost too big to get through a door.  The long sleeve sheaths at the  Oscars  just seemed to be a bit dowdy.  Any thoughts?

Book of the Week

 When I was a young girl, the Swiss health clinics were one of the  perks of the very rich that included Greta Garbo and   Elizabeth Taylor.   From injections of embryonic lamb cells  to  long   soaks in hot minerals baths, these remedies were standard for the rich and famous over 40.  So when I saw “The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health” by Dr Thomas Rau on the pile of discount books, I  plucked up  a copy for myself.

The first third of the book is pretty  dense science.  I know that I can be a science wonk, but these long discussions onSWISS SECRET  lymph glands, hyperacidity, and  toxic load  put me into an  infomation haze.   When  Dr Rau actually got to his Swiss Detox Diet , I finally began to understand  how its concepts actually worked.  The basis of his approach   is focused on increasing the alkalinity of the body which he  believes can  treat  everything  from allergies to cancer.  It  is very similar to the approach of  Crazy Sexy Cancer by Kris Carr  but not nearly as much fun.   However  the last third of  Dr Rau’s  book has a  useful collection of recipes that help the body reduce toxins and restore PH balance.  They are also easy to do and genuinely tasty.  Most were gluten free and dishes like Asian baked cod and zucchini lasagna were so good, no one believed they were from a detox style diet book.

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sweet bell peppers Round,  smooth and  and glowing, bell peppers are  some  of the most photogenic veggies at a farmer’s market.  But do they share their good looks?     They  were first discovered by Columbus on his second search for peppercorns of India.   These Spanish explorers brought back bell pepper plants from the New World  where they grew easily throughout Europe.  Its hard to think of a cuisine that does not use bell peppers.   Cooked or raw, easy to grow  and affordable, bell peppers are  not just another pretty face.  Red, green, yellow or orange these pepper are packed with first rate nutrition.

Bell Pepper Nutritional Profile: A nice fresh bell pepper has 2-3x the vitamin C payload as an orange. Since vitamin C is the vitamin that has the greatest influence on skin aging, bell peppers can qualify as a beauty food. But wait there’s more. A whole bell pepper has just 27 fat free, sodium free calorie.

Bell  peppers  can be roast, pureed, stuffed, stir-fried, and stewed.  Raw, they can be added to salads, sandwiches, crudite platters or just snacked in strips.   Study after study  has shown that  the biggest  health benefits of vitamins and anti-oxidants  are found in natrual foods rather than pills and supplements.  A  red  bell pepper has 300% of the RDA for both vitamin C and beta carotene.  Yes, they are that good.

One of my favorite bell pepper recipes is adapted from the Rao restaurant cookbook.

Roasted Red Pepper  Antipasto

Ingredients:  3 red bell peppers, 2 tablspoons of  olive oil,1 tablespoon raisins, 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 1 teaspoon chopped flat leaf  parsley

Directions:  Cut off the top and bottom  of each pepper, slice open and lay flat. Place on tin foil  lined cookie sheet and  broil until  the skin is blistered and blackened.  Remove from the grill and when the peppers acool enough to touch, peel off blackened skin. Cut peppers into half inch strips and mix with  all the other ingredients. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature for at least an hour.  I  like to serve these peppers as a light lunch with a wedge of runny brie and a chunk of crusty italian bread.   A glass of Pinot Grigio would also not be  out of place.

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UNTREATED ACNE SCARI had managed to get through my adolescent acne without a single  scar.  This  summer my skin decided to act like  an out of control teenager.  By the time it was brought under control, I was left with my very first  acne scar.  Stuck in the lower half of my left cheek, I   hoped that  I could pass it off as a brand new dimple.   But pictures don’t lie  and it was clear that the indentation was it exactly what it looked like — an acne scar. 

Four Types of Acne Scars

Scars develop from acne eruption  when the skin hurriedly tries to repair itself after a pimple  has demolished  existing collagen.  The fast track  repaired collagen  is not up to code and the result is not ideal.   All acne scars are not created equally and there are actually four different kinds:

1. Saucer Shaped Scars— these are depressions in the skin where the collagen repair  has not provided enough tissue to fill in what was destroyed.  This  is what is going on in my sca.r

2. Icepick Scars— Looking like a giant pore,   they are called ice pick scars because they look like they have been made by a thin sharp instrument.   ( Remember Basic Instinct?  That kind of ice pick).   These scars occur because the follicle and oil gland  have  been totally trashed leaving an empty space where the structures had been.

3.  Hypertrophic Scars— Raised, bumpy  often red scars  are  accumulations of badly made collagen from  overlapping cysts.  The body  was so eagar to repair the skin  it worked   too hard and too fast. 

4. Papular Scars—  these white raised  bumps are  especially resistant treatment.

Treating Acne Scars

Each type of acne scar needs its own treatment protocol.  Retin A, sunscreens and lightening creams, can relieve the hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin   that can accompany scarring.   But the visable signs of collagen disruption need to experience the power of  different types of lasers.

For my “dimple” Dr Marmur zapped the area with Clear and Brilliant laser to lighten the scarACNE SCAR AFTER LASER and  encourage growth of new collagen.  Two weeks later my saucer scar is more  like  my natural skin tone   and  the indention is less deep.   We’re going to try another Clear and Brilliant treatment to encourage a bit more more natural collagen.   Saucer shaped scars can also be leveled off with fillers like Juvaderrm  or Radiesse.  These are generally not permanent solutions but over time, these injectables can also stimulate the growth of  healthy organized collagen.

I am  personally delighted that I do not have any more  acne scars to  repair, but I will be showing  before and after  posts from other women  that illustrate  treatments of the three other  types of scars.  Perfection may not be possible, but  new treatments, especially combination of treatments, can  make a huge difference.

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FF1This week Jackie of Aging Backwards is hosting Fashion Flash. Jackie also writes for The Examiner and Style Goes Strong covering health, nutrition and aging providing useful info in an upbeat voice. She is one of those people who can spot an idea and find a practical application. We can go to the same event, hear the same presentation and she will find a nugget of information that went right past me. No wonder the PR chicks are so happy so see Miss Jackie   show up at an event.

Both Jackie and I worked during our “Mommy” years, but  I’ve had close friends  who had focused their  lives and energies on their children.  When the last  child went off to college they struggled  with  anxiety and depression and it was hard  for them to   enjoy their  new stage of life.  Beyond the Mommy Years is  a great resouce  for all  moms  who  need to relearn their lives.  Author Carin Rubenstein, PhD is uniquely qualified to write this book.  A social psychologist and mother  of two, she  inteviewed over   1000 women on their views,  challenges and  solutions to reinventing the post- parenting years. 

For  many women  their lives were centered around playground community,  sports and evenMOMMY YEARS PTA  events.  When the  last child is deposited  in a college dorm room,  moms need not only to restructure their days, they need to find a new identidy.  Beyond the Mommy Years  offers  dozens of suggestions on finding  new meaningful paths include going  back to school, starting a  new career and  and making new  relationships.  Its a cruel coincidence  that  mommy years often  end  at the start of menopause.  This  positive book offers special advice and support   for the physical and emotional  tsunami   that   accompany “The Change”. 

As any  Mom  of a college grad will tell you,   parenting doesn’t end, but evolves  when a child leaves home.   Rather than  packing lunches and running to  gymnastic practice,  I now get to take an ecstatic  18 month old granddaughter  to a doggie run  and then go out to a wine bar  with my editor.   If you wait long enough, you can  have it all.

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Its Fashion Flash Monday!

FF_1This week the host of Fashion Flash is Geri of Fab Over 50— the most comprehensive lifestyle site for women over 50.  I love the section where seven different women try out new skin care  products and report the results.  They are honest evaluations which  help me to decide  if this is something I might want to add to my beauty routinue or  an item that is just not worth my time or  money.  And I’ve recommended  her unique feature– Date My Kid-  to frustrated  friends who  are waiting for grandchildren. 

This week I added a wonderful site to my blog-roll. Tish Jett of  A Femme d’un Certain Age is a former fashion editor who came to France for business and stayed for love.  She lives outside of Paris and decodes all manner of french style in her beautiful and entertaining blog.  I love to see her photos of women demonstrating seemingly effortless French style.  She is in the final stages of editing her  book for  Rizzoli and I have already saved a spot  for it on my bookshelf.   In addition to fashion, Tish examines  food,  home decor and friendships through a Parisian lens.  Her recipe for vinaigrette is perfect and  I shamelessly copy  her elegantly simple flower arrangements.  I think you will enjoy  this site as much as I do.

Fashion  Week in New York started in a blizzard.  Beauty bloggers  are now  a popular addition to  the mayhem.  I have to admit I love runway shows.  The pounding music, intense lights, and incredibly beautiful,  seriously tall models  create  unforgettable theatre.  Its also very hard to find someone to blow out my hair  since all the stylist s seem to be working in the tents. The clothes are gorgeous, but its hard to imagine where and when  they could be worn.  Tomorrow I am going to a show that promises to  have beautifu,luxurious fashion for  real women.  I am psyched to see  practical combined with drama.

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chocolateIts hard to miss the signs. The supermarket has shelves are packed with  red heart shaped candy  boxes, the bakery is offering  heart shaped cookies and  the drugstore card aisles   are overflowing with  rows of  red and white cards.  Valentines  Day is right around the corner– and Americans  will be spending more than one billion dollars on chocolate.

For more than 2000 years, chocolate has been viewed  as an aphrodisiac.  It was said the the Aztec ruler Montazuma would drink a big cup of hot  chocolate  before he paid a visit to his harem.  Centuries later scientists  confirmed  his choice of beverage actually identifying a chemical in chocolate ( phenylethylamine to be  technical) that promotes  feelings of attraction and arousal.

For much too long chocolate had been lumped into the “unhealthy” column  along with sugar and fat.  Now researchers  have identified very welcome  psychological and  medical benefits . Chocolate  and its similar ingredient, cocoa can increase levels of endorphins and seratonin that improve  mood and reduce depression.  The flavenols in dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain  and reduce risk of blood clots.

But don’t trade in a bunch of kale for a bag of chocolate kisses just  yet.   The active healthy ingredients  in chocolate  are reduced with every step of processing used in the manufacture of chocolate products.    In addition the natural health benefits of chocolate can be  sabotaged if it has  been paired  with fat and sugar  such as in chocolate mousse, chocolate cheesecake or a chocolate doughnut. 

Plain dark chocolate has the highest levels of flavenols.  Look for bars of organic  dark chocolate with at least 65% cococa and keep  serving size to a perfect one ounce chunk.    If you select an organic fair trade chocolate product you will improve   both  your life as well as the lives of people who work in the cocoa fields.    To my mind, nothing says I Love You  than  a gift that benefits   both you and the planet.

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