Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Peptide Puzzle: Hype or a Real Breakthrough? November 28, 2011

If you are someone who is interested in anti-aging advances you’ve probably been hearing about peptides for quite some time.  Since being added to skincare products peptides have been touted as a true anti-aging breakthrough and as an ingredient that will revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.  Yet the question remains – are peptides truly an anti-aging breakthrough or is this just a lot of marketing hype?

What Are Peptides and What Do They Claim To Do?

Simply put – a peptide is a chain of amino acids that form a protein.  Peptides have numerous applications when it comes to our health and wellbeing, but when it comes to skincare peptides are said to repair and regenerate the skin and to help rebuild collagen.  But before you go out and purchase a product with peptides in it (these products are usually very expensive) there are a few things to keep in mind:

Peptides are biologically active compounds that closely resemble proteins—both are chains of amino acids. The difference? Peptide chains include fewer amino acids. Generally, a chain with more than 50 amino acids is a protein while those with fewer is a peptide. However, there are exceptions. Peptides are classified according to their length. Therefore, you’ll often encounter terms such as dipeptides—two amino acids; tripeptides—three; tetrapeptides- four; pentapeptides—five; and so on. Although there are probably thousands of naturally occurring peptides, to date, only several hundred have been characterized.1

Peptides play an array of important roles in the body, depending on the type. They may reduce inflammation, enhance antioxidant defense mechanisms, regulate bodily functions and even offer analgesic properties. In cosmeceuticals, three types of peptides are used, including:

  • Signal peptides that encourage fibroblasts to increase production of collagen while decreasing the breakdown of existing collagen;
  • Neurotransmitter peptides that limit muscle contraction and, thus, are said to mimic the effects of botulinum toxin; and
  • Carrier peptides that stabilize and deliver trace elements necessary for wound-healing and enzymatic processes.

Given that signs of skin aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, are caused by a breakdown of collagen and elastin—the proteins that give skin strength and elasticity, as well as slow cellular turnover—the abilities of these peptides seem the perfect match for skin care formulations. However, not only are peptides expensive to utilize, in their natural state they also have shortcomings that significantly limit their potential in skin care applications. These shortcomings include the following.

  • Peptides have a large molecular size and are hydropholic (water-liking), so they are unable to penetrate the lipopholic (fat-liking) stratum corneum layer of the epidermis.2 Despite this, peptides are generally unstable in water-based formulations. The presence of water breaks down the peptide bond, rendering it inactive.3
  • Should peptides be absorbed, the abundant presence of enzymes found in the skin can also break down peptide bonds.4

Fortunately, peptides are easily modified to improve their characteristics relative to use in skin care formulations. Chemists have found creative ways to overcome their limitations, such as attaching a fatty acid component to improve absorption into the skin, specific activity and economic feasibility.

Source:Peptides: Ready for Primetime?  by Ahmed Abdullah, MD in SkinInc.

Do Peptides Really Work in Skincare Products?

Here are some more consumer tips to keep in mind before purchasing a product with peptides in it:

Although chemists have found ways to optimize peptides for use in topical skin care formulations, they still face hurdles before they can generate the results anticipated by the consumers who buy them. Assuming the peptide has been modified to improve its stability in skin care formulations, through chemistry, the use of appropriate product packaging and its ability to penetrate the skin, it’s still essential that the product feature an effective delivery system to reach the target area where collagen synthesis, wound-healing and other activities may occur. Only when the peptide is absorbed by the skin and delivered to the targeted area in a stable form will it stand the potential of generating results.1

Formulators are certainly rising to this challenge. Sophisticated new delivery systems are regularly being developed, and the onus is on skin care professionals to stay on top of these new developments to ensure the products they are recommending stand a strong chance of truly providing their marketed benefits.

Another challenge: To be effective, peptides must be utilized in appropriate concentrations. Unfortunately, ingredient concentrations within a formulation are rarely disclosed on the label. Given the generally high cost of peptides, some manufacturers use them in concentrations below those utilized in scientific research or recommended by the peptide manufacturer. This is a marketing trick that allows the company to tout the use of a certain peptide and charge a lower price for the product. However, the formulation is nearly certain to be ineffective. Because of this, it is important to request and obtain backup research for product claims from manufacturers.

Speaking of research, although some third-party studies do exist that demonstrate positive outcomes from the use of peptides in skin care, there remains the issue of consumer expectations. For example, acetyl hexapeptide-8 is incapable of delivering results similar to that of botulinum toxin injections. Yet, this mantra is still promoted by many consumers and even individuals within the industry when referring to this compound. Because of this, consumer expectations are often out of line with the true capabilities of some peptide products. To be clear, if peptides were indeed able to produce results that matched much of the hype, they would be classified as drugs and require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use. To that point, it’s often necessary to downplay much of the hype surrounding the use of these ingredients until a stronger base of unbiased research exists.

Source:Peptides: Ready for Primetime?  by Ahmed Abdullah, MD in SkinInc.

There are even more issues with peptides to keep in mind.  Here is what Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty has to say about peptides (pages 288-289):

 Much like growth factors, peptides are a bioengineered version of a natural element in the body.  (Some natural moisturizers contain plant peptides, derived from wheat or rice.  Along the same lines as kinetin, which has a plant growth factor, these may work as well as biotech versions.  Considering that we don’t know what will penetrate the skin anyway, why not?)  The idea of adding peptides to the skin is theoretically like sending in a surge of troops to carry out repair and regeneration.  In vitro tests have found that pentapeptide-4 does prompt fibroblasts to product more collagen in cell cultures.  (As usual, there is a serious lack of truly objective data since the companies that manufacture the peptide ingredients have funded most of the studies.)  And remember, a cell culture is a dish of cells and is far cry from your skin.

My bottom line:  Can peptides penetrate to the dermis to stimulate collagen production?  Without scientific studies that biopsy the skin, it’s difficult to assess whether they can and if they really work.  The inspiration behind these ingredients makes sense, and time will tell if some may be effective antiagers.  Because peptides happen to be effective humectants, a product containing them will successfully hold moisture in the skin.

They’re worth a try, especially since you’re assured of getting an excellent humectant and most include antioxidant components too.

On the other hand, Dr. Leslie Baumann lists peptides as one of the “most misleading skin care claims of 2009“:

The theory is that topically applying peptides can trick our skin cells into producing even more collagen. In reality, peptides don’t penetrate the skin — if they did, other peptides such as insulin would already be supplied by creams rather than injections. Products like StriVectin may make the skin feel smooth but they have not been shown to have long-term clinically-significant benefits.

The Beauty Brains has even more damning things to say about peptides (though keep in mind that The Beauty Brains post I am quoting from is from 2008)

Peptides have no function in skin care products.  They do not increase collagen or prevent DNA damage.  They are story ingredients that make people feel better about the products they are using.  There’s nothing bad about them in your skin product.  They just don’t provide much benefit.

Should You Buy a Skincare Product with Peptides In It? 

So who do you believe when it comes to the benefits of peptides in skincare products?  I’m on the fence about this one – I do think that peptides in skincare products could be great, just make sure you get the right product.  Remember these products are pricey.  There are two good sources for specific product information – one is FutureDerm and another is Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia.  I would check both of these sources before making any purchases.

Further Reading:  Here are some more resources for peptide information – both for and against their use in skincare products

 

If You Can’t Fight Them, Join Them: Interesting Make-up Tip November 24, 2011

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 9:38 am
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I came across the following make-up tip in More magazine that  I found rather intriguing, not to mention ingenious.

Problem: Dark Circles Concealer Can’t Hide

Solution: Turn Your Shadows Into A Smokey Eye

Got chronic circles?  Try making them look deliberate by ringing your eyes with a soft, smoky liner.  Skip black, though: chocolate brown isn’t as harsh.  Then smudge with a clean cotton swab or one that’s been lightly dipped in a dove-gray shadow.

Now you can take or leave this advice, but you have to admit that it is a rather creative way of getting around a very common problem.

But if this tip isn’t for you then be sure to check out my solutions for undereye circles.

 

In Memorandum: Evelyn Lauder November 21, 2011

A few months ago I read a fairly interesting article in Harper’s Bazaar about Evelyn Lauder, daughter-in-law to Estee and wife of Leonard Lauder, that shared her beauty and entertaining tips and lavished attention on her homes, fashion choices, and overall fabulous lifestyle.  The article only briefly touched on her background, career, and charity work leaving me, who knew nothing about Evelyn Lauder, quite in the dark about her true contributions to the beauty industry and breast cancer research.  Since the article included many stunning photos of the 75-year-old (see above for an example) after reading the article my main thought was  – “wow, I hope I can look that amazing when I’m 75″.  I decided the article was mainly a fluff piece about someone wealthy and privileged and didn’t give much more thought to it.  It turns out I was quite wrong on many levels about Evelyn Lauder.  First of all, despite her fabulous appearance in the photos in the magazine Lauder was quite ill.  About a week and a half ago she passed away from ovarian cancer.  And secondly, after her death I learned much more about this woman and have to say that there was much to admire about this beauty industry icon.

Lauder was born in Vienna in 1936, and luckily she and her parents eventually found safe passage to England thus escaping the Nazis.  But their haven in England was not without its traumas as well:

Evelyn Hausner was born on Aug. 12, 1936, in Vienna, the only child of Ernest and Mimi Hausner. Her father, a dapper man who lived in Poland and Berlin before marrying the daughter of a Viennese lumber supplier, owned a lingerie shop. In 1938, with Hitler’s annexation of Austria, the family left Vienna, taking a few belongings, including household silver, which Ernest Hausner used to obtain visas to Belgium.

The family eventually reached England, where Evelyn’s mother was immediately sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man. “The separation was very traumatic for me,” Mrs. Lauder said. Her father placed her in a nursery until her mother could be released and he could raise money. In 1940, the family set sail for New York, where her father worked as a diamond cutter during the war.

In 1947, he and his wife bought a dress shop in Manhattan called Lamay. Over time they expanded it to a chain of five shops.

Source:  The New York Times - Evelyn H. Lauder, Champion of Breast Cancer Research, Dies at 75

Evelyn Lauder met and married her husband while his mother was building her beauty empire, and it turns out that Lauder held many roles in the company as well:

Evelyn H. Lauder (1936-2011) was the Senior Corporate Vice President and Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. During her more than 50 years with the Company, she held many positions while contributing her invaluable insights about fashion trends, consumers’ changing needs, and new approaches to the development of innovative skin care, makeup and fragrance products. She also helped name the Clinique brand. As Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estée Lauder Companies, she led the development of the Company’s most globally successful fragrances, including the best-selling Beautiful and Pleasures.

But it stands to reason that Evelyn Lauder will be remembered most for her role in spearheading breast cancer research.  After her own diagnosis in 1989 of breast cancer she become an advocate for research to find a cure for the disease along with providing support for those with the disease.  She created the Pink Ribbon Campaign, an instantly recognizable symbol for breast cancer research and support, and founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation which has raised more than $350 million to date for research.

So I would like this post to be a tribute to a great beauty industry icon who overcame adversity to truly make a significant difference in so many women’s lives.  Rest in peace Evelyn Lauder – thank you for all your hard work (and sorry I misjudged you).

 

More tributes to Evelyn Lauder:

  • The editor-in-chief of Self magazine made a touching video about Evelyn Lauder which also explains how the pink ribbon campaign came about in the first place
  • Personal remembrances of Evelyn Lauder in Prevention magazine
 

Way Over-Priced Moisturizers – Who Buys This Stuff and Why? November 17, 2011

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 6:50 am
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I read the article “Complexion Perfection: The Statement Piece of the Season May Be Your Moisturizer” from the November issue of Vogue with mounting horror.  The article gives the reader a rundown of the newest and most expensive facial moisturizers on the market.   By expensive I mean $490 for one ounce of a product (Guerlian’s Orchidee Imperiale Longevity Concentrate).

Let me give you an example:

… when scientists at Chanel heard about Vanilla planifolia, a plant coveted by local women in Madagascar, they headed straight for the northern tip of the island to study its winding vines, which grow along the trunks of the region’s cocoa tree.  Realizing the potential of its antioxidant-packed vanilla fruit to address multiple signs of aging – fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and dullness – they set up high-tech greenhouses and began cultivating their own plants.  Today, each podlike fruit grows to precisely fourteen centimeters before it’s picked and rushed to the lab in the South of France, where technicians extract only the single most antioxidant-rich molecules from the mix – and slip them into Chanel’s Sublimage range of products, including La Creme ($390) and, this fall, the new Masque Regenerant Fondamental ($190).  …

La Prairie’s new Cellular Power Charge Night ($475) dispenses freshly oxygenated retinol from a silver dual-chambered pump reminiscent of the look of one of Balenciaga’s sleek geometric cuffs.

You might be asking yourself, as I did, how can one justify spending that much money on a moisturizer and who actually buys this stuff?  I can’t answer the second question, but the article does quote Manhattan esthetician Eileen Harcourt as saying:

Listen your skin is your best accessory.  You wear it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It’s not a bag you can retire to the back of the closet when it starts to look banged up.

Now though I happen to agree wholeheartedly with the quote above, I could never ever use that as a justification to recommend that someone buy a $400 moisturizer or anti-aging serum.  There is absolutely no reason to spend that much money on a skincare product!  When a non-prescription product is priced at more than $150 I start to get suspicious about what you are truly paying for.  Now some cutting edge skincare ingredients, like growth factors and peptides, drive the price of a product up dramatically you always have to look at your ingredient list to make sure that the ingredients that are meant to make a real difference in how your skin looks and feels are present in the product in a large enough percentage in order to justify you buying the product in the first place.  Don’t run after the newest and flashiest products.  Skincare companies constantly have to come out with new products in order to look like they are making great innovations irregardless if that is true or not.

Interestingly the article makes its own comparison to a cheaper product that also totes amazing benefits for the skin:

When developing their Anew Genics Treatment Cream, the scientists at Avon zeroed in on research performed at the University of Calabria, in Italy, that uncovered a highly active youth gene in the area’s unusually long-lived population.  “It’s not that some people have a youth gene and some people don’t,” explains Glen Anderson, Ph.D., the company’s executive director of global R&D.  “These genes are present in every cell of every human being.  The point is that some people are predisposed to a higher expression of them.”  Linked directly to the mitochondria (the “energy power plants” of the cell), the genes are ultimately responsible for everything from the generation of healthy collagen to the production of hyaluronic acid.  Seeking to increase their activity in the skin, Anderson’s lab screened thousands of molecules before settling on the two now formulated in each jar of Genics.  And according to test subjects, it worked: Just three days of use revealed smoother, more radiant skin.  The price: $38.

So definitely give a lot of thought to the purchase of a skincare product that costs more than $150.  Consider your motivation behind the purchase – is there really proof to back-up the claims the manufacturer is making about the product or are you just chasing the newest thing on the market?

Further Reading:

Related Posts:

 

Just Say No to Botox Parties November 14, 2011

Filed under: beauty,Plastic Surgery — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , ,

 

Sometimes I get the impression that people take medical cosmetic procedures too lightly.  Instead of understanding that any operation has its risks and recovery time people feel that if the procedure is meant for cosmetic reasons rather then life saving ones there shouldn’t be any side effects.  One case in point – Botox and fillers.  In certain circles it is quite popular for girlfriends to get together for Botox and filler parties which are done in someone’s home – not a medical setting.  If you are invited to such a party I would strongly advise against getting anything done.

New Beauty did a great job of breaking down all the reasons you want to avoid Botox and filler parties and instead get these procedures done in a medical setting:

 “I would be wary of any type of ‘pumping’ or injection party,” says La Jolla, CA, plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD. “It violates so many safety standards and puts patients at risk unnecessarily.”

Fillers or injectables may not have the same risks as more extensive treatments, but they are still medical procedures that have potential complication. It’s a bad decision to treat a cosmetic procedure as a party favor, and, according to Dr. Singer, here’s why:

1. You often don’t know the full background or expertise of the individual performing the procedure—he or she may not even be a physician. You should have fillers performed only by appropriately trained plastic surgeons or dermatologists in a medical office.
2. There is no customization of treatment. “Without thorough evaluations and patient charts, how can the individual doing the injections be sure of how to appropriately treat a patient?” Dr. Singer says.
3. You can’t be certain what materials are being used. “We’ve seen everything from silicone and paraffin to oils (which aren’t safe) being used as injection materials,” Dr. Singer says. These materials are also frequently injected in a nonsterile manner, which has led to infection, he adds.
4. A party isn’t the right atmosphere for medical procedures. “Oftentimes, there is alcohol involved and that dramatically increases chances for serious problems and negates any informed consent about the treatment, which is rarely given in those settings,” Dr. Singer says. If you are undergoing a procedure, you want the undivided attention of the medical provider without the potential distractions of a party.
5. There is no protocol in place to handle emergencies. “What will happen if someone has an allergic reaction that requires immediate medical care?” Dr. Singer asks. If you have the misfortune to have an adverse reaction or complication from a “pumping” party injectable, your injector may not be qualified or experienced in the treatment of your problem.
6. If it sounds like a bargain and “too good to be true,” it usually is.

So if you are thinking of getting fillers and Botox be sure to go to a medical office to have them done.  It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to these procedures.

 

Book Review: Feed Your Face by Jessica Wu, MD November 10, 2011

 

I noticed Dr. Jessica Wu’s book Feed Your Face last year at my local Barnes and Noble and was intrigued, but I frankly I didn’t want to invest in buying the book so I was psyched to see that my local library had a copy.  There was a simple reason why I didn’t want to invest my money in buying this book – there really isn’t any new information in this book.  Now before you think I didn’t like this book let me explain.  I thought Dr. Wu’s book, for the most part, was well written, concise, easy to read, and contained a lot of good information.  They only thing was – there wasn’t really any new information in this book and you had to slog through lots of celebrity name dropping and ego stroking to actually get to the useful information in the book.  I’ll explain.

Check Your Ego At the Door

Dr. Wu spends a lot of her book reminding her readers of a few things:  she is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, she has MANY celebrity patients, and she used to be ugly but now she looks great.  I do have to say that if the one grainy photo included in the book is supposed to make me really believe that Dr. Wu used to look horrible in the past (acne, bad haircut, etc.) she should get a look at one of my photos from high school to really see how terrible one can look (I had an extremely unflattering haircut in high school coupled with grossly oversized glasses, not meant as an ironic fashion statement, and awful acne) and reevaluate her statement.  But I digress.  How many times do I have to read that Dr. Wu attended Harvard Medical School and that she has a large celebrity following?  I found the fact that she constantly harped on these details to be a massive turn off for me.  Neither of those issues made me want to read her book more.  They actually made me want to read the book less.  But the real kicker for me came with the following encounter Dr. Wu related in chapter 5 of the book (pages 99-100):

Not long ago I spent the evening at a charity fund-raiser in West Hollywood.  (One of my patients organized the event, and she was kind enough to snag me a ticket.)  It was a raucous scene –  a welcome change of pace from the buttoned-up medical conferences I usually attend – and I was enjoying the music, the dancing, and the free-flowing Champagne.  Suddenly I caught the eye of a handsome young actor.  I’d seen him professionally (during a routine exam at my office), but the thought of his sweet, shy smile and cool blue eyes still tied my stomach in nervous knots.  He waved and began making his way though the crowd.

I don’t usually develop crushes on celebrities, no matter how handsome.  After all, I am a doctor, a professional.  I went to Harvard, for crying out loud!  But this man is so charming, so charismatic, so unbelievably dreamy, that he usually travels with an entourage of swimsuit models and Hollywood “It Girls,” all clamoring for his attention.  That night, however, he was uncharacteristically alone.

We exchanged somewhat awkward hellos, and then, to my delight, he leaned forward to whisper something in my ear.  “Could we … go somewhere?” he asked.  He smelled like palm trees and expensive aftershave, a dizzyingly sweet combination.

I thought about my husband, home alone, probably reheating those noodles from last night’s dinner, sitting among a pile of work papers at the kitchen counter, dripping stir-fry sauce on his tie.  But I couldn’t help myself.  I followed the actor as he cut a path through a jam-packed dance floor, past throngs of tipsy partygoers, and led me into a dark, dimly lit hallway near the bathrooms, tucked out of view from the crowd.  All I could hear was the thud, thud, thud of my heart in my chest.  I can’t believe this is happening, I thought.  I can’t believe this is happening!  I held my breath as he leaned in and asked the question I’d been waiting to hear:

         “Um, could you take a look at this rash?”

Come on!!!  Really???!!!   Did the above story really need to be included in this book???!!  I have to say that these types of stories coupled with Dr. Wu’s incessant need to remind her readers of her educational background and current roster of celebrity clients were a huge problem for me with this book.  And that’s a real shame since the book contains lots of valuable information but you have to get past all the superfluous information in the book to get the real facts that can help your skin look its best.

One last thing in this category – Dr. Wu also uses her book as a way to settle scores with, if you are to believe her, is a rather old-fashioned and sexist professional dermatological community.  Dr. Wu takes pains to explain why she prefers to dress in sexy stilettos and skin-tight skirts instead of boring, boxy clothes and how most other dermatologists won’t take her seriously because of her choice of clothes.  Take for example the following (page 340):

There’s nothing more annoying (or more self-confidence-crushing) than being ignored or excluded because of the way you look – whether that’s because you’re a geek in glasses who can’t roll with the cool kids (that was me in high school) or because you’ve embraced your love of Louboutins and, subsequently, people think you’re an airhead.  (Sometimes that’s me now.)  But you know what?  Every year when it comes time to pack for the AAD Conference, I don’t reach for my most conservative duds.  Instead, I pack the hottest thing I own and a kick-ass pair of heels, because when they call the featured speaker to the stage, I can hold my head up high.  There is nothing like that long walk from the back of the room to the podium, the moment when 8,000 doctors realize they’ve flown thousands of miles and shelled out hundreds of dollars to listen (and learn!) from me: the petite woman from the party, the one who just doesn’t look like a doctor.  Knowing that I’ve earned the right to speak as a medical expert (and look damn good doing it) is the best feeling in the world (right up there with graduating from Harvard Medical School and getting paid to examine half-naked celebrity hunks).

Now while I think that a discussion of sexism in the medical community is important and necessary I found it disconcerting that Dr. Wu used her book as a vehicle to try to shame and reproach her fellow professionals.  Isn’t there a better time and place for this?

Having Said All That – What I Learned

It is a shame that Dr. Wu fills her book with so many unnecessary comments because overall her book is interesting, straightforward, and filled with a lot of helpful information.  The premise of the book is that through a healthy diet you can achieve great looking skin.  Is there anything revolutionary about this book and the diet it recommends?  Absolutely not.  The diet Dr. Wu recommends a low glycemic one that emphasizes eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and making sure you have omega 3s in your diet.  Numerous people have recommended a diet like this for weight loss and a healthy body.  Dr. Wu connects how certain foods directly affect the skin – both positively and negatively which is interesting.  Unlike the book The Clear Skin Diet which extensively quotes scientific studies in the body of the book Dr. Wu summarizes the findings of studies and then lists her sources in the back of the book so if you want you can look them up yourself.  This makes her book quite readable and accessible though not dumb downed at all.

I did learn quite a few things – like that if you have eczema who should avoid eggs, if you insist on eating a bagel pair it with some fat so that your body digests it more slowly, that almonds will protect your hair from going gray, and if you must have a candy bar have one that contains nuts, like a Snickers, which is better than eating pretzels which are simple carbs and your body just breaks that down like sugar.  Furthermore I learned the importance of eating tomatoes (and I loved that Dr. Wu puts pizza on her list of allowed foods), page 40:

Tomatoes have more lycopene than almost any other food, making them particularly effective at preventing sunburn and UV radiation damage in the skin.  In fact, studies show that eating as little as 20 g of tomato paste per day (about 1 1/4 tablespoons) can reduce the risk of sunburn by as much as 33 percent.

The next time you’re heading to the beach or spending the day in your garden, add some tomatoes to the menu.  You’ll counteract the effects of a day in th sun as well as help prevent wrinkles, age spots, and inflammation (not to mention lower your risk of developing skin cancer).  Even when you’re not lounging poolside, adding more tomatoes to your diet can protect you from the small amount of UV light you’ll inevitably encounter when your sunscreen wears off – or when you forget to put it on!

You can get the same amount of lycopene found in 20 g of tomato paste by eating

  • 1 slice of pizza (with marinara or red sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of V8 juice
  • 6 tablespoons of salsa

Bear in mind that lycopene is better absorbed by the intestines when the tomatoes are cooked.  In fact, the lycopene in tomato paste is four times more “bioavailable” than in fresh tomatoes (meaning it’s four times easier for the body to absorb).  The absolute best source of lycopene (offering the most sun protection) are tomato paste and tomato sauce – so opt for pizza instead of a burger, especially if you are dining al fresco.  Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means you need to pair your tomatoes with a healthy fat to get the maximum benefits.  Try drizzling tomato slices with a splash of olive oil or enjoy them with some avocado.

One more thing: Lycopene may be effective at preventing sun damage, but a diet rich in tomatoes doesn’t preclude the need for sunscreen altogether.  Slather on a minimum SPF 30 every time you’re headed outdoors.

Interesting stuff and well worth reading.

Since I’ve read The Clear Skin Diet (read my review here) the chapter about acne and diet was simply a review for me (avoid sugar and dairy, eat whole foods, etc.).  But there was a curious part of that chapter that didn’t make much sense to me (especially after a client of mine, with whom I was discussing the book, pointed out to me that this had little logic to it) and that was Dr. Wu’s assertion that iodine exposure causes acne.  Now I have read before that excessive iodine exposure will cause acne, but what makes little sense here is that in Japan, where the traditional diet is high in iodine, the national rates of acne are very low.  The Japanese began experiencing acne at the same levels as Americans when they moved away from that traditional diet and began eating a more American diet – high in fat and sugars and low in vegetables and omega-3s.  (See chapter 7: The Former Clear Skin Nation: Japan in The Clear Skin Diet for many more details on this phenomena).  So while it is true that the traditional American diet contains too much salt in it and that excessive consumption of iodine has been linked to acne I feel that singling out Japanese food as an acne culprit (see page 90 in the book) is misguided.

Chapter 6: To Tan or Not to Tan does a good job at going over the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of daily sun protection.  Dr. Wu’s discussion of the Vitamin D controversy (pages 149-151) is well done.  What I really appreciated was the meal plan for her diet outlined on pages 264 – 282.  Though vegetarian options were few and far between (I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years so I’m not going change now) I could see how I could tweak the menus for my use.  I just wished she provided some dessert options besides a strawberry drizzled with dark chocolate.  I found Chapter 8: Eating for Stronger, Healthier Hair and Nails thorough and helpful.  And according to Dr. Wu eating almonds prevents gray hairs so with the amount of almonds I consume on a daily basis I shouldn’t have any gray hairs ever.  The book even contains a chapter on how to make your own skin products at home if you are so inclined which is a perfect area to cover with the economy being as it is these days.

Buy It?

Overall I thought this book contained a great deal of valuable information.  The dietary tips, instructions, and menus are logical and easy to follow though you’ll have to cheat once or twice or go crazy.  Certainly this book made me reexamine my diet, and I got to thinking about how much sugar is contained in everyday foods (like your supermarket peanut butter).   This book could be a valuable addition to a home library though if you want a book that truly covers ALL skin issues purchase Simple Skin Beauty by Dr. Ellen Marmur.  If only Dr. Wu had stopped shoving the fact that she went to Harvard and has celebrity clients down the readers throat.  The book could have been a lot better without Dr. Wu trying to prove to everyone how smart, capable, and sexy she is.  In my opinion, address those personal issues with a therapist not your readers.

 

How Face and Body Soap Differ November 7, 2011

Have you ever wonder why you should use different products to wash your face and body?  Wouldn’t it just be easier if you could use the same product from head to toe to clean your skin?  Before you give up using facial soap let me explain why you need to two different products – a soap or wash for your body and a separate facial cleanser.

I learned exactly why you need separate products for your body and face from the Skin Inc. article Help Clients with Facial Cleansing:

“The most common mistake people make is to overdo it,” says Meryl Blecker Joerg, MD. “Facial cleansing is important because the face has so many sebaceous glands that secrete oil. In addition, we apply cosmetics and products that create a film on the skin, trapping pollutants from the environment. But in our zeal to remove the day’s accumulation of oil, sweat, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells, we tend to over-wash, over-scrub and over-dry our faces. Before scrubbing away all that oil and grime, people need to understand how delicate the skin on the face is. I recommend washes with salicylic acid in them rather than scrubs because scrubs can break up acne and cause scarring.”

The outer layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, which is responsible for the barrier qualities of the skin, has fewer layers on the face than most other parts of the body, making facial skin thinner and more easily damaged. Also, the stratum corneum houses a layer of lipids, or fats, that make the skin soft and supple and play a major protective role. Scrubbing should never be so vigorous that it removes these barriers that protect the skin. “And cleaning your face should never, ever be painful,” Joerg emphasizes. “A kinder, gentler approach will reduce irritation, dryness and flakiness.”

Valerie Goldburt, MD, points out the other major face-cleansing mistake people make: using the wrong product. “The most frequent error is being overly aggressive, using a product that is too harsh for facial skin or for an individual’s skin type,” says Goldburt. “Some doctors advise against ever using soap on the face, but the most important thing to remember is to never use a product on the face – bar soap, gel or liquid cleanser – that is intended for use on the body.”

Although facial and body cleansers have many ingredients in common, there are significant differences, particularly in the type of surfactant they contain. A surfactant (short for “surface-active agent”) is a chemical added to many products that contains oil and water to keep the two famously nonmixing substances from separating. Facial cleansers are gentler on the skin because the surfactant they contain is milder than that of body cleansers. This difference in formulation explains why products for the face cost more than those for the body: milder surfactants are more expensive.

So the next time you reach to lather your face with your body wash – think again.  Your face will thank you.

Further Reading:

 

 
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