Posts Tagged ‘facial anti-aging’

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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When I was a child the only spinach I knew was the droopy olive green strands that came in a can.   Then one night I went out to steak house with  my friend Kim and her parents.   I was  thinking only of a juicy filet and hash browns and my heart sank as Kim’s mother also ordered a spinach and bacon salad.   Still cringing I dug  in my fork and pulled out the tinest bit of bacon drenched  leaf.  It was love at first bite. I ate every morsel of that salad and every time I went to a  restaurant I scanned the menu for a similar dish.

But more than delicious and versatile,  spinach  is  a nutritious anti-aging, antioxidant  rock star.  Raw or cooked, its packed with antioxidants like vitamin A ( 168% of RDA), leutin, vitamin C vitamin E, vitamin B6, and  folic acid.  Spinach also packs a payload of anti-aging minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium.  Last but not least spinach is  fat -free, low in carbs and offers both fiber and protein.  Seriously, its that good.

When I first started to cook, spinach with bacon sald was one of the first dishes I mastered.  And like so  many  young brides of the time  I worked  my  way through Julia Child and learned how to saute fresh spinach with olive oli and garlic —  equally delicious with the calories , fat and salt of  my first spinach favorite.

There are four basic types of spinach in the  markets these days:

1.  Curly spinach– can be a bit tough and its hard to get the dirt and sand out of its grooves.  Its been said that curly spinach  gave this gorgeous green a bad rep for a gritty texture.

2. Flat or smooth spinach– are tender and much easier to clean throughly of all the grit that clings to the leaves.  You can eat the whole thing, but the stem if they are long can be a bit untidy.  I take off half the stems so that the dish  looks  nice and leafy rather than stringy.

3.  Baby spinach– smooth tender  little leaves  are perfect for salds and can be beused in sandwiches in place of lettuce.

4.  Frozen spinach–  these lumpy green blocks preserve the antioxidants beautifully.   They are  an inexpensive  choice  where spinach is an ingredient in a soup, frittata,  quiche or stuffed mushroom.

One final thought.  While on paper spinach is high in both iron and calcium, these anti-aging minerals are in a form that is not easily available to the body. That’s the bad news. The good news? Serving and or cooking spinach with lemon juice or dairy increase absorption for both minerals. Squeezing lemon on sauteed spinach or mixing Greek yogurt into chopped cooked spinach are delicious ways to increase nutritional availability. FYI the antioxidant vitamins are available whether spinach is frozen, raw or cooked. Nice.

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It’s no secret that I’m a fan  of  lasers.  I respect their power to erase dark patches, eliminate  lines and fry away  unwanted  facial hair.  But they are expensive and when I saw  the arrival of home lasers I was interested– but cautious.  Lasers are powerful tools and in inexperienced hands can cause burns, scars, discolorations and even eye damage. 

At Beauty Bash in October, I stopped at the Palovia Booth to talk with the rep about their home laser kit.  I was delighted to learn that its made by Palomar, one of the most highly regarded makers of professional grade lasers used by dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons.  I was even more impressed to hear that Palovia   is FDA approved  to reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

They offered me a machine to try out and  despite my natural cowardice, I really wanted to see what anti-aging benefits they can deliver.   The thick instruction booklet  was a little daunting.  It had a fairly extensive   list of guidelines and I read it severral times  before feeling comfortable enough to get things started.  There are several on and off buttons,  charging instructions, choices in intensity, and a list of  potential problems that were sobering.  And I have to admit that I was afraid of pain. 

I charged it up  for several hours, read the booklet one  more time and was ready to start– with baby steps.  The instruction book recommends trying out the machine on your arm to get used to the sensation.  I decided to try  the home laser on my arm for several sessions to see how my skin responds. I adjusted  the Palovia to its lowest setting and as per instructions, I spread on a layer of gel I ( included in the kit). I  placed the head of the machine on my arm and pressed the on button.  I felt a very mild buzzing sensation  for three seconds, then the machine turned off.  That was my signal to move to another area. I repeated the treatment in four closely linked areas.  When I wiped off the gel,  my skin felt a tiny bit irritated and  the redness lasted for about an hour.  So far, so good.  The sensation was definately not painful and I’m going to continue tonight,  extending the treatment time to see how my skin responds. Baby steps.

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Question:  I’ve heard that a moisturizer from Boots Chemists actually works on wrinkles.  Is this true?

Answer:  This might sound like another urban legend, but studies of Boots #7 have actually been published in the always reliable British Journal of Dermatology.  Beautifully designed research actually looked at  changes both  in the cellular level and those visable in the  mirror and came up with desirable results.

Here’s how  it worked.  In the lab, this study looked  at fibrillin deposits in the cells as a “marker” for cellular aging.  Fibrillin is associated with new collagen growth anad as we grow older, fibrillin  levels naturally decline.  After six months of using Boots #7, researchers found increased levels of fibrillin right where you would want them to be.  Even  better, the study also found that in real time about 40% of the women saw a decline in wrinkles, especially around the eyes. 

Boots #7 has about 6% active ingredients of pentapeptides, antioxidants and retinyl palmitate.  This mixture is not as powerful as the gold- standard Retin A, but it is much less expensive and  less irritating anti-aging option. 

If you live in England you can find a Boots Chemists in practically every neighborhood.  In the US you can gets Boots#7 online at Ulta, Target and Amazon– at about $20.  Nice product, nice price.

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I recently went to the summer meeting of the Americn Academy of Dermatology in NYC.   There were  a number of new areas of research on the horizon, but frankly at my age, I am looking  for new anti-aging tools I can use right now.  And I got  just that type of  info at presentation on skin  of color by Dr Wendy Roberts of Loma Linda University. 

Most of Dr Roberts presentation  focused on the pros and cons  of different types of lightening agensts– all good info that I will be using to answer  related questions on an upcoming Question and Answer post.  But the BIG IDEA   came up when Dr Roberts   addressed ways to prevent pigmentation.  The audience of mostly female derms  shared their  concerns that patients were just  not  using and or not reapplying their sunscreens.  Dr Roberts suggested  adding mineral based cosmetics  to increase sun protection.  Although  they often offer a 10-15SPF,  women are more likely to reapply a mineral based bronzer or blusher during the day than  a traditional gooey white sun block.  So true!  I now put on my moisturizer/sunblock as  routinely as I brush my teeth or smooth on lipstick.  But once I’ve put on my make-up , I’m not going to add more sunscreen  over my foundation and blush. Its just not going to happen.

Mineral make-ups  contain healthy amounts  of zinc oxides ot titanium oxides– the same ingredients that are used  many traditional sunscreens.  They are also the ingredient of choice when a product is formulated for sensitive or laser-treated skin. There are a number of mineral based product lines but the derms at this meeting  suggested that I visit the Jane Iredale booth in the AAD  exhibit hall.  Good call.   This extensive  fragrance- free  includes foundations, concealers, lip sticks, and blushers,   all formulated with a  20 SPF.   In addition to providing  sun protection they are designed to elegantly hide undereye circles, redness and dark patches.   They are so effective that three products  have been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.   In short  not only do  they hide dings and dots, they protect the skin from further sun damage. 

Jane Iredale is available from  physicians, sold at some Saks and Nordstroms and on line t www.janeiredale.com.

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I like mussels and I was  so psyched to learn how much of a nutritional punch they packed.  One 3 ounce serving of shelled mussels contains  an entire daily supply of selenium and 3X  the RDA for vitamin B12.  But wait there’s  more .  That little serving  offers 10 grams of  protein at a mere 70 calories and mussels  have less cholesterol than  any other shellfish.  And I’ve saved the best for last–  3 ounces of mussels  have almost a gram of those anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids–  2-3x the amount of  most  fish including sole, haibut, cod, shrimp and clams.    And then there is the price.  Mussels are  just about the most affordable of all fish, currently just $3.99/lb at the new Fairway that just opened in my hood. 

Mussels can be steamed in a seasoned  broth, added to soups or served  over pasta.  They are really simple to cook, but there are a few things you should know before you start:

1. Make sure that the shells are closed and intact when you buy them. Broken and/or open  shells can mean that the mussel is dead-  and dead mussels can  make  you sick.

2. Buy about 3/4 pound of mussels  per serving

3. When you get them home, rinse  them off  in cool water, gently transfer to a deep bowl, cover with plastic wrap and poke about a dozen air holes in the plastic.  This will allow them to breathe so they won’t die  before you will cook them that night.

Here’s a super easy recipe that I adapted from “Barefoot in Paris”  by Ina Garten.  In addition to the mussels, its packed with  antioxidants from olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and wine.


2 pounds of mussels

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup parsley

1 cup white wine


1. Heat  olive oil in a large pot  and saute  onions for 5 minutes.  Then add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes

2.  Add the tomatoes, parsley,  wine and a few turns of freshly grated black pepper.

3.  Add mussels, stir, cover pot and cook for 8 minutes– until all the mussels have opened.  ( toss  any that remain shut).  Pour the mussels and that incredible broth into bowls  and serve with a big chunk of  whole wheat italian bread.  Serves two hungry people.  How easy it that?

Note:  There is no added  salt to the recipe.  Mussels in their natural state have  about 250 mg of sodium  per serving —  more than enough to flavor it and just about the limit for a healthy serving.

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I get frequent questions about individual anti-aging  ingredients. Can it REALLY reverse aging?  Is it natural?  Dangerous?   Last time, I reviewed idebone, a powerful antioxidant.  Today I’m evaluating ceramides.  I’ve seen it advertised  on a number of products and  thought it was finally  time to do a little research.

Here’s how it works: The cells of the top layer of the skin are held in place by fatty ceramides, a substance  which kind of acts like glue to keep the cells in order.  In addition ceramides hold onto water  molecules,  helping to attract and retain moisture in the skin.  And it will probably come as no great surprise that ceramide levels decrease as we get  older.  By age 60, we  have lost so much ceramide that the upper layer of the skin is 30% thinner.

Ceramides are used  lotions, creams and cleansers formulated primarily for dry skin, but there is some debate about how effective it actually is.  Conventional wisdom holds that it is very difficult for ingredients like ceramide to travel through the layers of the skin.    However  new research indicates that substances can travel down  the hair follicles and pores to reach the growing levels of skin  and make a diffference in  the health of skin cells. 

Loss of ceramides  is just one of the age related changes that occur to our skin– so  this ingredient  can’t do all the heavy lifting in anti-aging skin  care. However if dry skin is  constant problem a ceramide-rich product  can work effectively.

Ceramides are  expensive ingrediets and are usually found in higher end lines such as Elizabeth Arden Ultra Cold ( $60)  and Elizabeth Plump Perfect Ultra Night Repair ($65).  Now they are  also used in the very affordable line of CereVe products that includes CereVe Facial Moisturing Lotion PM and CereVe Daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ( $12 for 3 ounces). 

Dry skin was not a daily problem  for me until I started using Retin A products.  Then flaking  and redness became a real issue. I was  standing in a drugstore looking for something, anything that would help when two separate women asked the sales person for CereVe.  Curious, I saw that it was fragrance-free, did not clog  pores and contained one of my all time favorite moisturizing ingredients– hyaluronic acid.  I didn’t know what ceramides were, but the other ingredients made it worth a try.  That night I  smoothed CereVe over my Retin A treated skin and  by morning, my skin felt better than it had in months.  I went back and bought the  daytime product  with sunscreen and now  use  both frequently in  by day and night routines.  I don’t know if its the ceremides or the hyaluronic acid, or maybe  the combintion of the two, but  CereVe products really delivered for me.   

If you have tried other ceramide products, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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