Archive for March, 2013

QandA3-smQuestion:  My neighbor  brought me back a small bag of  Dead Sea  Salts  from her trip to Israel.  She says its good for  my skin.  But my cardiologist has told me to cut back on salt to lower my blood pressure.  Who is right?

Answer: While it is certainly true that excess dietary salt   is not good for both your heart and yourskin, Dead Sea Salts  have significant health benefits. How?  One of the reasons  is that rather than just plain sodium chloride, Dead Sea Salts are actually a mixture of beneficial minerals.   The sodium chloride content is actually much much higher in traditional ocean water than in the water in the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Salts have a payload of healthy minerals including magnesium, iodine, zinc, potassium and sulfur.  A study published  in the International Journal of Dermatology, found that  soaking in a a bath enriched  with Dead Sea Salts relieves the pain of  arthritis.  The skin can absorb some of the minerals to  increase circulation.  The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends Dead Sea Salts because the minerals help the skin retain moisture and reduce inflammation. Researchers believe that the psoriasis  skin care benefits can be traced to the magnesium content in Dead Sea Salts.   This essential mineral is known  to bind water to skin cells, normalize skin cell growth and reduce skin roughness.  All good.

You can purchase  bags of pure Dead Sea Salt as well as  in skin care products  which include the salts in their list of ingredients.   Many commerical Dead Sea Salt products are actually made from the mineral-packed mud that is near and in the Dead Sea.   Mud facials with Dead Seal Salts eg  AHVAVA Time to Clear Purifying Mud Mask are especially effective.  These beauty masks soak up excess oil, lift off dead dry skin cells while the magnesium helps the skin plump up with gorgeous moisture.


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SO MANY CHOICES SO LITTLE TIMENo matter how long I do   this,  I get brain freeze  when I start to browse  the cosmetic aisles.  The lights, the  perfumes, the  aggressive sales people all start to  blur  as I try to sort  through   hundreds of products to find those few  I actually need.  In the past year, one of the most confusing areas has been the explosion of  BB creams and CC creams.    When Tish Jett of  A Femme D’un Certain Age  asked  me to do a  guest post on the subject, I jumped at the chance.  A Femme D’un Certain Age  is one of my  favorite sites.   Tish Jett cames  to France for work and stayed for love. On her delightful blog she   shares her always intriguing   insights  about Parisian fashion, food and style.  I’ve become addicted to checking out her site before sitting down to my own  work.  It just makes my day.

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Fashion Flash logoThis week  Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over 40 is hosting Fashion Flash.  Exercise is important all  year round, but I  think   March  is when excercise needs meet a critical mass.  Cold weather  and  hearty  comfort  foods  make winter weight gain almost inevitable.  But March means that  its soon going to be time to  peel off those  weight conceling  layers of clothing.  What I  love best about Shawna is that  she shares  fitness success stories of real women.  If they can, do it so can I .  Female Fitness After 40 is   such a relief from the celebrity fitness concpet   eg Gweneth Paltrow whose 2% body weight and highly restrictive  diet is  much more entertainment than  advice. 

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This– Success Secrets  Every Gutsy Girl Should Know

Kate White is something of a legend in new York publishing.   In an industry where most of us struggle  just to get a foothold, she has been editor in chief of five major magazines.  She took over the top spot as Cosmopolitan, replacing the iconic Helen Gurley Brown and over the next 14 years  kept Cosmo brand  moving forward.   In addition  to a great marriage, two children, she has also written  8 best selling thrillers. KATE WHITE BOOK

When most successful women are asked for their career advice, they usually thank their mom, a second grade teacher or  pointedly  state that they worked very very hard.  (  As if the rest of us  are  slackers).  Not Kate White.  Clear, frank and forthright,  she shares her real tips  for getting the career you want in an increasingly crowded and difficult work environment. In  her  new book  ” I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This” , Ms  White provides real time advice  that a women needs to hear. For example, in a meeting,   most women apologize or rationalize  when they offer ideas.  Instead, start off  with the words–” here’s a thought…”   You should confident, but not arrogant and people  will not only listen,  the credit naturally goes to you.

Her rules for networking  are so good I was tempted to jot them down on an index card for my next  event.  For example, I followed her advice, not only  to join every important professional meeting  in  my field, but to actually  to get out there and attend their events.  Once you get there she   provides dozens  of easy to follow dozens conversational tools  and techniques.  

I’m a natural introvert and  her advice is transformational.  I’m given  many books and most of then I give away when I’m done.   Not only is ” I  Shouldn’t Be telling You This” a keeper, its  my birthday gift of the year  to my smart, talented friends.  So much better than another a scarf or  pair  of gloves.

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chick peasIt’s possible to eat chickpeas  for breakfast, lunch and dinner in homes and restaurants across the globe.  Easy to grow  and packed  with vitamins and protein, chickpeas deliver delicious  nutrition for practically pennies.

A Nutritional Profile to Brag About

To put  it in technical terms, chickpeas rock! One half cup of cooked chickpeas  clock in at about 160 calories and 9 grams of almost fat-free protein.  While it has about 30 grams of carbs equal to two slices of bread,   chickpeas contains enzymes  that limit blood sugar spikes  associated with other carbs.

That same 1/2 cup of chickpeas also includes zinc, folates and 8 grams of fiber– about 20% of recommended daily intake.   But wait there’s more.   That little   serving of  chickpeas   has 50 grams of calcium.  Nice.  Since studies have  shown that a high protein/ low fat diet is associated with fewer wrinkles, I think that chickpeas  have earned the right to be called a beauty food.

These days its hard to pick up a cookbook or menu and not find  a dish that uses  chickpeas.   In an Indian restaurant chick peas are ground into flour called besan and is used for crepe like pancakes  dosa or fried into  balls called pakora.  In fact throughout Southeast Asia, chickpeas   in stews, snacks and batters are the major source of protein in the meal. In Spain they are added to stews and salads  while in the Middle East  they are ground up into hummus,  fried as falafel and added to couscous platters.

There  is  certainly no shortage of great chickpea recipes, but there is  a lack of  good tasting nutrition packed snacks.  Here is my new favorite adapted from SteamyKitchen.com.

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:  one 15 ounce can chickpeas ( aka garbanzo beans), 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt and onion powder to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F.  Drain the can of chickpea,s rinse in a strainer  under running water and shake well to remove  excess moisture. Place two layers of paper towels on a baking sheet, spread out beans to a single layer  and top with more paper towels.  Roll the beans around  with the paper towels to  both dry them and remove the thin skins of the beans.  Remove the paper towels and loose skins, but  keep the chickpeas on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle olive oil over beans and massage  them with your hands to coat  them evenly with oil. Roast for 35 minutes until beans are deep golden brown and crunchy.  Remove tray from oven and  sprinkle with sea salt and onion powder to taste.  Serve warm.

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medicine cabinetWhen a product delivers  for me I tend  to stay with it until its discontinued.   While loyalty is admirable, its better to understand that skin  needs can change  and so should our  products.  Here are six new favorites to bring my basic tool  box to 20 I can’t live without products.

1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash ($8.00)

When my skin developed strange red splotches and spots, I needed to crank up my skin cleaning routinue.  This 2.5% salicylic gel  leaves my skin clean, but not tight.  If my skin feels especially oily, I spurt a dab of  this gel on my Clarisonic brush head  and buff away.

2. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ( $32)

With my newly irritable skin I could no longer use my favorite  sun screens.  Every thing I tried  provoked breakouts.  At one point my  only option seemed a big hat  in summer and a ski mask in winter.  When I interviewed laser expert Dr  Tina Alster on post- laser  care, she urged me to try  this zinc based sunblock.  It is as good as promised.  On my skin it looks like a nicely formulated foundation, gives me a 50 SPF and never, ever causes  spots and splotches.  Great call.

3.  Susan Posnick Brush-On Block ($30)

I top my sunblock with a bronzer and blush so after two hours I’m not going to wash off my face and reapply a liquid sunscreen.  Enter Brush On Block SPF30.  This tinted zinc sunblock powder is packaged in a brush topped tube that floats on so easily  I don’t even need a mirror to apply it.  In summer, I can  just  pull it out  of my bag and brush it on as I walk down a sunny street.

4. Jane Iredale Corrective Colors ( $24)

You know a product is a keeper when you go out to buy another one when you see  its running out.  This defines my relationship to Color Correctives.   Many concealers do a nice job dealing with problem areas ( ie under eye circles), but Color Correctives  seem to last  all day. 

5. Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment ( $6.00)

This small tube delivers 2.5% of benzoyl peroxide acne  fighting power.  Benzoyl peroxide blocks the breakout process by  killing the bacteria in the pores that   can trigger breakouts.  Used with the  Neutrogena salicylic acid  fortified  cleanser, it attacks acne on two fronts.  Salicylic acid  strips away the skin that is blocking the pores and the benzoyl peroxide deals with the acne provoking bacteria.  Its like the Batman and Robin of acne care.

6. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs ($ 12)

During the dead of winter, I don’t even think about the skin  on my legs.  Hidden by boots, tights or pants,  my legs are   on their own.  But with  skirt and dress weather  just around the corner,  I know I will be dealing with  ghostly  white legs that don’t even match the rest of my skin.  Given what I  now  know about skin cancer and melanoma, toasting my  legs in a tanning booth is out of the question.  After  many self tanning failures that left my legs splotchy  and my bathroom a mess, I discovered  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs.  Its  quick, inexpensive and  works beautifully.  I used to use it just in winter, but now that  fashion  has turned its back on pantie hose, I spray it on all year round.

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Fashion Flash logoThis week  Cindy of Prime Beauty is hosting Fashion Flash.  If you’re  looking for a new  beauty care  product, check it out first on Prime Beauty. Through Cindy   I’ve discovered beauty products  like  eyeliners that  I can actually use,  a new favorite fragrance  and blush that looks as good on my cheek  as it does  in the package.

About Face ( Seal Press)

There is a double standard  about a woman’s appearance.  On the one hand, the media seems to  obsessed with every detail of style icons  like Kim Kardashian, Byonce and Kate Moss.   Women like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Former Secretary of  State  Hillary Clinton  and  singing sensation Susan ABOUT  FACEBoyle are mocked  for their  hairstyles,  waist size and  fashion choices.  But when women, especially over 40,  show interest in skin care and style, they are labeled as vain and foolish.

About Face  edited by Anne Burt,  is a great collection of personal essays on beauty and appearance by 23  accomplished artists and writers.   The book starts with an introduction by  Bobbi Brown,  internationally  reknowned   make-up artist  and creator of  her own make-up line.   She writes movingly about growing up short and dark haired in an era where tall blonds  like Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley were the  prevailing beauty standards– and how she has sought  to help women   define their own unique beauty qualities.  While  the tall blond thing is   still totally out there, her line of neutral make-up   freed women from the candy colored makeup that had been  the standard cosmetic lines.

The authors of the essays range from early twenties to  Alix Kate Schulman, author of  “Memoirs of  an Ex-Prom Queen” who is now in her late seventies.  These well -written pieces include   exploration of  racial identification, the image of aging  on a mother’s face and  the role of men and love  in establishing a comfortable  self image. ,   Many of the essays struggle with reconciling  feminism and vanity. The conclusion?  You can   still keep   your feminine credentials  if you use make-up  and get regular blow-outs.  Good to know.

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 QandA3-smQuestion:   I’ve tried just about   everything for acne.  I wanted  to try Retin A but   my  doctor  gave me a prescription for Azelaic acid.  Do you think it could help or should I  go to a doctor to give me what I want?

Answer:   Azelaic is one of the newer  acne fighters.   It is found  on a yeast that lives on our skin and  is a natural  anti-inflammatory compound.    It is a triple threat against acne– kills bacteria that provoke  breakouts, decreases the growth of  pore clogging keratin and reduces irritation.   But wait there’s more.  Azelaic acid is effective for  lightening  dark  spots and melasma because it inhibits  the production of melanin.  It  is especially  effective for  darker skin  tones because it avoids  the  problems of irritation  of Retin A and Benzoyl Peroxide.   Azelaic is also  prescribed  for   types of  rosacea breakouts that  resemble  acne eruptions.  Finacea is a 15% Azelaic gel that has been a pproved   for both  mild to moderate acne  and rosacea.

You can also find azelaic acid in over the counter products, but usually the concentration is not listed on the label.  One excellent  example where the this info is  available  is  Acne Gel from PCA Skin that contains 5% Azelaic Acid and 2% salicylic  acid ( Its available online from The Derm Store).  You can also try  to get the  azelaic acid levels in a product by writing to the manufacturer.

One final thought:  Azelaic acid  works for  less severe acne.  If you have  cystic and/or  hormonal acne, Azeleic alone will not get the job done.

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