Simply put – this is an overall great book. If you want to have only one book at home to refer to for skincare questions I would suggest getting this one. (And of course keep reading my blog – wink, wink)
Once I began reading this book I found myself referring to it again and again in for both my blog and for my own knowledge. The book is extremely thorough when it comes to addressing skincare issues – both cosmetic and health issues. The book is clearly written in a personal and friendly manner making it an easy read (I guess credit for the writing style should go to the co-author Gina Way).
Dr. Ellen Marmur has pretty impeccable credentials so that does make it easy to trust what is written in the book. There is A LOT of information contained in the book so you’ll definitely learn something new. One of the goals of the book is to educate the reader, and the book certainly delivers on that count.
The Good Parts
The book explains in easy to understand terms just exactly how our skin works. There are only a few illustrations in the book but all are a good addition, helping to supplement the text. Dr. Marmur clearly explains exactly what a dermatologist does and what to expect during a visit to the dermatologist (chapter 6). Perhaps for some people this chapter might seem a bit simplistic, but I was happy it was included in the book. There is also a lot of explanation in the book about how a dermatologist can help you take care of your skin.
One overall message in the book is that you deserve to feel good about how you look but there is no need to go overboard in the pursuit of beautiful skin. To that end quite a bit of the book is devoted to understanding skincare products, skincare ingredients, skincare product formulations, and daily skincare routines. Dr. Marmur doesn’t recommend very many products in the book; instead she tries to teach her readers how to read product labels so that they can decide if a product works for them or not. She doesn’t give her readers “the easy way out” when it comes to finding skincare products, but she certainly does give the reader the tools to be better educated and informed about skincare products. I also found it interesting that she suggests going a skin “detox” if you find that your skin is red or irritated. I hadn’t really read about anyone else suggesting such a drastic tactic, and I found it intriguing.
Like many other books about skincare this book contains a chapter about the importance of sun protection. It is a good chapter filled with lots of important information and advice. Other good parts of the book include advice about common skincare conditions and concerns(acne, eczema, etc.) and good explanations about medical skincare treatments (chemical peels, lasers, and injectables). It helps that Dr. Marmur has lots of experience to share with her readers and to back up the information she is presenting.
Room for Improvement
Though obviously I liked this book a great deal there were a few things that bothered me. The format of the book is quite “jumpy” – for lack of a better word. In between the regular text there are asides – true story type of explanations meant to enhance the text. There are also lots of “questions”. I don’t know if these are real questions or ones created for the book and certainly while they enhance the text a great deal the fact that everything is not integrated entirely is a bit off-putting. In order to read everything in the book you find yourself “leaving” the text and looking at another part of the page. Once you finish reading the aside you return to the text. I wish there could have been a better way of organizing the information in the book.
From pages 103 to 111 there is a jumbled and confusing discussion about natural and organic skincare products and being environmentally conscious. I was surprised that this part of the book was so poorly written and organized since certainly Dr. Marmur must have come across numerous questions from her patients about organic and natural products, and this part of the book does very little to clear up confusion over these issues. Instead of clearly stating facts about the issue there is instead a long treatise about taking care of the environment. Since the whole issue of natural and organic skincare products is controversial and misleading (see my post The Natural, Green, Organic Skincare Fallacy for more information) I wish Dr. Marmur had been more forceful and clear in this section of her book.
I found it interesting that Dr. Marmur repeatedly wrote in her book that she wore little to no make-up since the cover photo of the book shows her with TONS of make-up, particularly eye make-up. I thought this was very ironic. Why couldn’t she be photographed looking more like she claims she does on a daily basis?
This Book Made Me Think About How To Wash My Face
Dr. Marmur is one of many dermatologists who suggests “washing” your face only with water. When I had read this before it was completely confusing and even strange advice to me, but once I read Dr. Marmur’s explanation about why you should do this I began to rethink my previous held ideas. Now I see that rinsing one’s face only with water in the morning, and I emphasis only in the morning, is actually a good idea for some people. (For more information about how to wash your face see my post Is There A Correct Way To Wash Your Face?)
If You Read Only One Chapter in this Book
If you only want to skim this book be sure to read the chapter about skin cancer (chapter 7). It is by far the most thorough discussion on skin cancer in any book I have read by a dermatologist (and yes, I have read quite a few). The information about skin cancer – its causes and treatments – was enlightening and thought-provoking, even scary. A definite must read especially for people who don’t think they need sunscreen on a daily basis or who, god forbid, actually still use tanning beds.
Simple Skin Beauty is a book well worth reading.