Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Is an Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin? June 7, 2012

I recently wrote a post that asked the question – is a vegan or vegetarian diet bad for your skin? – and concluded that no, neither of those diets are bad for your skin but sugar is.   Since I try to keep up with the latest information about all things skincare related I recently read an article in MedEsthetics magazine profiling dermatologist Jeanette Graf, MD.  In the article Dr. Graf talks about the skin benefits to following an alkaline diet:

Jeannette Graf, MD, is a well-known researcher and expert injector in the medical aesthetics arena, but more recently she has focused her career on creating great skin from the inside out.  Her theories are based on research that suggests that eating more alkaline-producing foods (versus acid-producing foods) offers optimal internal health, leading to glowing, healthy skin.  She recommends a 3:1 ratio of alkaline-producing foods to acid-producing foods when preparing meals.

Alkaline-Producing                                         Acid-Producing

Olive oil                                                                        Alcohol

Citrus fruits                                                                 Soft Drinks

Berries                                                                           Red Meat

Vegetables                                                                   Salmon

Sea Salts                                                                        White sugar

(page 49)

Furthermore, Dr. Graf explains how she became interested in the whole idea of an alkaline diet as a diet that would positively impact the skin (pages 49-50):

[Dr. Graf] came across a Noble Prize-winning study by Dr. Otto Warburg.  The study involved culturing cancer cells and normal cells in two different environments – one group he grew in a high oxygen, alkaline medium; the other he grew in a high acid, low oxygen medium.  “What he found was in the conditions with the high acid, low oxygen, the cancer cells grew like crazy and the normal cells could not survive,” says Dr. Graf.  “But in the alkaline medium with high oxygen, the normal cells grew beautifully and thrived, whereas the cancer cells could not survive.  That said to me, we need to be alkaline.”

Alkalinity is the basis of Dr. Graf’s book and also a key component of her practice.  “Internal to external is major for me and I talk about diet to everyone, because I want them to be alkaline.  I’ll even take out pH strips and test them,” she says.  “Every patient who comes into my office gets a lecture on what she should and shouldn’t eat.  We should be treating diet like a medication, and having a great lifestyle is all part of it.  And we heave to lead by example and start incorporating it into our practice.  Fortunately, I think we’re starting to see more of that.”

Once I read this information I realized that I read something similar in Kate Somerville’s book Complexion Perfection! .  In Chapter 4: Beauty and the Buffet, Somerville relates a story about her father-in-law Dave Somerville and how he started following an alkaline diet after receiving a cancer diagnosis (pages 44- 45):

Four different doctors presented treatment options such as surgery and radiation, but Dave decided to go with a different approach.  He’d always been interested in nutrition and alternative health, and when a friend recommended a naturopathic doctor in San Diego, he found what he was looking for: a doctor who “laughs at cancer.”  I was nervous; in fact I honestly thought at first that it was a mistake.  Yet this is where I first learned how dramatically nutrition can impact the skin.

Dave’s treatment regimen focused on organic foods, a range of immunity-boosting supplements, and drinking nothing but purified water – lots of it.  Most important, he maintained an alkaline environment in his body, the basis of his naturopathic doctor’s protocol.  Dave ate foods that alkalized his body and minimized those that acidified it, helping maintain his body in a healthy pH range and reducing disease-causing acid waste in his system.  The theory (one not supported by the traditional medical community) is that cancer cells don’t grow in alkaline environment.

My father-in-law was completely committed to this program, and in less than a year’s time, his cancer disappeared.  Total recovery. I know this sounds unbelievable, but the strategy miraculously worked for him.  I’m telling you this story here in this book because of the other changes I saw – changes in his skin.  I couldn’t believe it, but I actually saw brown spots and sun damage disappear from Dave’s face, in the same way that the cancer vanished.  From a clinician’s perspective, I thought, This is impossible.  I’d never seen anything like it in my life.  Generally, when people in my line of work see sun spots and pigment issues, we treat them with topical peels, usually aggressively, and topical products.  I was blown away, because Dave’s skin glowed.  I mean, it literally glowed.  To this day, he stays very close to the parameters of the diet, and looks a decade younger than his actual years.

To be sure, the choices my father-in-law made were fairly extreme, and he was absolutely dedicated to the strategy.  However, I cannot deny the impact that this diet had on his health and his appearance.

If you are thinking of switching to a more alkaline diet what exactly should you eat?  And how does this diet actually work?  According to the WebMD article Alkaline Diet: What to Know Before You Try It:

The theory of the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance to improve overall health. But the body maintains its pH balance regardless of diet.

For instance, your diet may affect the pH level of your urine. But what you eat does not determine your blood’s pH level.

What’s in the Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is mostly vegetarian. In addition to fresh vegetables and some fresh fruits, alkaline-promoting foods include soy products and some nuts, grains, and legumes.

Web sites promoting the alkaline diet discourage eating acid-promoting foods, which include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, processed foods, white sugar, white flour, and caffeine.

The alkaline diet is basically healthy, says Marjorie Nolan, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman.

“It’s a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, avoiding processed foods, coffee, and alcohol, which are all recommendations for a generally healthy diet anyway,” Nolan says. “But our body regulates our pH between 7.35 and 7.45 no matter how we eat.”

Potential Benefits

Diets that include a lot of animal protein can lower urine pH and raise the risk forkidney stones. So eating a diet rich in vegetables, as with an alkaline diet, can raise urine pH and lower the risk for kidney stones, says John Asplin, MD, a kidney specialist who is a fellow of the American Society of Nephrology.

Researchers have speculated that an alkaline diet might slow bone loss and muscle waste, increase growth hormone, make certain chronic diseases less likely, and ease low back pain. However, that hasn’t been proven.

There is also no concrete evidence that an alkaline or vegetarian diet can prevent cancer. Some studies have shown that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer, particularly colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. But vegetarians often have other healthy habits, such as exercise and abstaining from drinking and smoking, so it is difficult to determine the effects of diet alone.

“Clinical studies have proved without a doubt that people who eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and hydrate properly do have lower rates of cancer and other diseases,” Nolan tells WebMD, “but it probably has nothing to do with blood pH.”

Because there is no evidence that diet can significantly change blood pH, a highly irregular blood pH is a sign of a larger problem — perhaps kidney failure — not a dietary issue.

People with kidney disease or medical issues that require monitoring by a doctor, such as severe diabetes, should not attempt this diet without medical supervision.

“If someone’s blood sugar is not being monitored properly — especially if they’re on insulin if they’re type 1 or they’re a severe type 2 diabetic — you’re potentiallyrunning the risk of your blood sugar dropping too low after a meal if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Nolan says.

It all comes down to balance, Asplin says. The alkaline diet could potentially over-restrict protein and calcium.

“Vegetarians can be completely healthy in their diets as long as they make sure to get adequate supplies of essential components to a diet. But it is also true that many Americans over-consume protein and get much more than they actually need,” Asplin says.

If you do want to follow a more alkaline diet here are some tips from the Live Strong website:

Which foods fall into the alkaline category is not always obvious. For example, a lemon, which you would probably consider acidic, becomes alkaline when digested and hence falls into the alkaline category. Choosing alkaline foods may at first, therefore, require research. The alkaline diet closely resembles a vegan diet, in that you arrange your meals around plant-based foods rather than meat, the reverse of the typical Western diet. To ensure that you absorb important nutrients, plan to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Foods to Include

Alkaline foods should comprise about 75 to 80 percent of your diet. The foods to include in an alkaline diet menu include most vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and whole grains. To determine what foods belong to the long list of alkaline vegetables, the Macrobiotics Cooking with Linda Wemhoff site suggests choosing leafy, round root and sea vegetables. In the extensive alkaline fruit category, she recommends tropical- and temperate-climate fruits. Everyday Diet recommends flax, sesame and sunflower, among other seeds, and spelt and sprouted grains. Fresh water, herbal teas, almond milk and wine are considered examples of alkaline beverages.

Foods to Avoid

Acidic foods should comprise no more than 20 to 15 percent of your diet. Foods to avoid on the alkaline diet are meats, dairy, shellfish, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, refined grains and sugars, and artificial and chemical products. In addition, the Health and Rejuvenation Research Center advises avoiding preserves, canned fruits and dried sulfured fruits and various vegetables and beans, including asparagus tips and garbanzo beans. Limit alcoholic beverages and coffee.

Bottom Line:  If this diet interests you I suggest reading more about it.  You can find numerous books about an alkaline diet on amazon.   Most of the sources I read suggested trying to consume 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic for your overall health.  In the long run I could see how a diet like this would benefit both your skin and your health.

Sources and Further Reading:

Doing research for this post turned out to be very informative and interesting.  I learned a lot!  If you have the time check out the sources below for a lot more information about the alkaline diet.

Image from www.alkalinesister.com

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Dermaplaning Explained February 6, 2012

If you have a lot of fine facial hair perhaps you have wondered what the best way was to get rid of it?  Or have you ever considered why you shave your legs but don’t use a razor on your face?  Have you heard of dermaplaning and always thought “what the heck is that?”.  I hope this post will clear up all that confusion.

What Is Dermaplaning?

LNE & Spa magazine, which I read exclusively online, had an article back in November, 2011 all about dermaplaning, called, appropriately enough – Dermaplaning.  In the article the author Tina Zillman talks both about the technique of dermaplaning and what it does for the skin:

Within the medical community (particularly plastic surgeons), dermaplaning is viewed as a noninvasive surgical procedure that can essentially strip away dead skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.  The technique may be used synonymously with dermabrasion (not to be mistaken for microdermabrasion) on many medical websites and patents – hence the name “derma,” relating to the dermis, and “planing” from the word plane that refers to a tool used to smooth a surface.  The most commonly used tool is a type of scalpel, a surgeon’s tool that can cause irreversible damage if used improperly. …

From an esthetic perspective, dermaplaning has been performed with a scalpel or a disposable safety razor.  Some practices may advertise dermaplaning as an exfoliation treatment, while others use the procedure for hair removal.

Dermaplaning is an ideal treatment for women with fine (otherwise known as vellus) hair all over their faces.  The growth of this type of hair, which can appear like a light fuzz on the face, can make the application of make-up difficult and occurs for many women as they undergo menopause and experience hormonal changes.  Removing this hair with laser or IPL treatments is not a viable option for many since the hair can be white or blonde and the light then cannot capture it for effective hair removal.   Once again, according to the LNE & Spa article:

Hormonal changes in women affect the skin and body, and esthetic dermaplaning essentially shaves vellus hair from the face.  Aside from the loss of elasticity, skin thinning and dryness, vellus hair on the face becomes a visible problem on middle-aged women.   …  Facial waxing is still a common practice for the removal of this hair, but the procedure is prone to many problems.  The hair is so fine that gentle facial waxes may not pick it all up, and a mature women’s skin may be susceptible to burning and tearing.  Combine these variables with exfoliation treatments, cosmeceutical skin care product use at home, and/or use of certain prescription drugs-and the risk of damaging the skin and causing discomfort is even greater.

 

From a medical standpoint dermaplaning is considered a treatment for acne scars. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (and please notice the differences here between dermaplaning and dermabrasion):

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.

Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is also commonly used to treat deep acne scars.

Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.

Well Isn’t It Just Shaving?

In American society it is considered odd for women to shave their faces so dermaplaning is a variation on that procedure that is socially acceptable.  Rumors persist that many celebrities actually shaved their faces in order to maintain their beautiful skin.  According to an article on style.com celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville recommends that women shave their faces:

When it comes to the removal of unwanted hair, women have myriad options. There’s waxing, tweezing, threading, sugaring—all manner of materials and mechanisms to get to the root, as it were, of the problem. Shaving, the most primitive of depilatory forms, has gotten a bad rap in the face of all of these new-fangled approaches. Taking razor to legs still happens with presumed regularity, but gliding these handheld tools against the grain of face fuzz is totally taboo, thanks to the warning that’s been passed from generation to generation: If you shave extraneous hairs, they will come in darker and thicker. Or will they? “It’s a total myth,” aesthetician to the stars Kate Somerville maintains, an opinion she shared with us just a few hours ago in an intimate setting to discuss a bevy of new product launches and her own maintenance must-haves. On good authority (that being Elizabeth Taylor’s personal cosmetic dermatologist, whom Somerville used to assist), the greats (those being Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe) shaved their faces for completely bare skin and an added dose of exfoliation.  Somerville herself is a firm believer in the power of the razor—one in particular: Gillette’s Mach 3. Believe it—and ask your S.O. to buy a two-pack next time he’s in need.

I keep reading that Japanese women regularly shave their faces, though I can’t find real proof for this statement, so why are American women so reluctant to shave their faces?  Maybe that will change in the future.  Weigh in with your opinion on this issue in a poll on the Huffington Post website.

So if you still can’t bring yourself to shave your face in order to remove excess vellus facial hair keep the following in mind (once again I’m quoting from the LNE&Spa article):

Determining whether or not a woman shaving her face is socially acceptable may not have a solid answer today.  Some women only shave when their significant other is not looking, some shave next to their significant other, and some will not even entertain the thought-even though they may have had dermaplaning performed by their skin care provider.  The status quo has not settled on whether or not it is acceptable, but that may change in the future.  Most public information about female shaving focuses on the exfoliation aspects, and how it gives the skin a refined appearance and healthy glow; the hair removal is just another perk that comes with the process.  In the meantime, dermaplaning with a disposable, single-use safety razor or eyebrow razor in the treatment room is the safer alternative to facial waxing or light-based hair removal.

Though I work for a plastic surgeon I do not perform dermaplaning.  Once I saw a demo of dermaplaning done on a young woman who had fine, very blonde hair all over her face.  The procedure did an excellent job of removing all that hair.  Then I was given a scalpel to practice on a fake head, but I have to say that it was very intimidating to think that I could on day use a scalpel on a real, live person.  If you are interested in this procedure be sure to go to someone who has been properly trained in order to avoid any unexpected injuries.

If you shave your face or know someone who does please comment below.  Or if you are an esthetician you performs dermaplaning please comment below.

Image from http://www.drinstruments.com

 

Nutritional Supplements and Your Skin or Eating Your Way to Better Skin October 20, 2010

I’ve been debating a long time about how to approach this subject on my blog.  Though I definitely think that the subject needs to addressed I’ve never been quite sure how to approach it mainly because the scope of the subject is so large.   But I finally decided that it is time to take the plunge and write this post.

There are quite a few things that need to be mentioned here.  One is the issue of a healthy diet and how to affects your skin.  Another entirely separate issue is that of supplements, in pill form or drink form, that claim to address all sorts of skin issues from acne to aging.   I actually already wrote two posts debunking the idea that you can drink collagen in order to get smoother skin (see my posts Can You Drink Your Way to Firmer Skin?  and Taste Test) and have even addressed the issue of diet and acne in an earlier post, but I felt it was time to delve a bit deeper into the issue.

 

Healthy Diet = Healthy Skin?

 

Everyone of us already knows that in order to stay healthy we should, ideally follow, a healthy diet.  At the very least we should reduce our intake of fast food, fatty foods, and excessive amounts of sugar and processed foods.  So if we follow a healthy diet will this be reflected in our skin?  Many experts would say yes.  But just what are we supposed to eat in order to maintain a youthful glow?  Well that opens up a lot of room for debate.   One of the biggest advocates for eating a certain diet in order to get and then maintain beautiful skin is Dr. Perricone.  His books are widely available if you want to check out his ideas and food plans. 

In an article for her Beauty Bulletin – The Best Foods for Beautiful Skin – Paula Begoun recommends eating berries, salmon, walnuts, whole grains, and yogurt (among other foods) in order to maintain healthy skin.  Much of that advice is reflected in Chapter 4: Beauty and The Buffet of celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville’s book Complexion Perfection!.  Somerville, like Begoun, tells her readers to eat salmon, whole grains, and berries.  Additionally, Somerville also recommends eating black beans, almonds, flaxseed, and sweet potatoes (plus other foods).  A one day sample menu for healthy eating is even provided in her book.

But my favorite advice about diet and your skin comes from Dr. Amy Wechsler’s wonderful book The Mind Beauty Connection.  (I highly recommend this book if you want to better understand how stress and lifestyle choices affect your skin)  Chapter 7 of the book is entitled The Beauty Buffet and Bar: Optimum Diet Choices for Beautiful Skin, and the chapter does an excellent job in explaining why certain foods may positively impact the appearance of your skin and how a healthy diet can help the health of your skin.  While rereading this chapter of Wechsler’s book for the writing of this post I was struck by both the logic and insight of what she wrote time and again.   I think it is a good idea to share some quotes from the above mentioned chapter (pages 167-169): 

There is no magic pill, potion, formula for beauty.  Too many things coalesce in our bodies to produce either the results we want or don’t want. … There is … plenty of scientific proof about eating certain foods to support your skin and health, while avoiding others that can sabotage your beauty goals.  Don’t panic:  The point is not for you to do anything too unrealistic, such as suddenly savor wheatgrass juice or spoon flaxseed oil in your mouth every morning.  …  Remember, this isn’t about going on a specific diet.  It’s ultimately up to you to make modifications in how you eat so you can move over to a lifetime of healthy eating – and limitless beauty.  As with any healthy eating guidelines, the goal here is to supply your cells and systems with the raw materials they need to function efficiently and optimally, inside and out.  You don’t want to give your body any excuse to age prematurely, so you need to be sure that at any given time it has all the resources it requires to stay alive, hydrated, and nourished to the max. 

Nutritional medicine is a rapidly growing area of research that will continue to gain momentum as we learn more and more about the connections between nutrition and health – not just in relation to skin health, but all kinds of health concerns.  In fact, the link between nutrition and diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease are well documented.  I expect us to learn more and more about the powerful influences diet can have on our skin health and ability to slow down the inevitable decline we call aging and its appearance on our bodies.  Because we know that oxidative stress, inflammation, and, to a lesser extent, genetics, are the chief agers in our bodies, and because they spur chronic conditions that wear us down physically, gaining the upper hand on these as best we can is key.  And if diet can help this in any way, then we should be paying attention.

I also want to note that there is no single approach to optimizing health and beauty, and that diet alone is not the answer.  …  The combination of proven skin-care techniques, relaxation therapies to dampen stress, exercise, restful sleep, and diet are all important and play a part in your looks on the inside and the outside.  It would be impossible to say which of these factors is more important than the other.  They all bear weight, and perhaps which one carries the most depends on the individual, especially as they relate to a person’s genetics and other lifestyle choices.

 

Like Begoun and Somerville, Dr. Wechsler also recommends eating berries, nuts, and salmon, among other foods.  (I am starting to sense a theme here)  Furthermore, Dr. Wechsler is a big advocate of drinking lots of green tea throughout the day and taking a multivitamin.

 

What About Nutritional Supplements?

 

More than one well-known skincare expert/source sells nutritional supplements than claim, as already mentioned, to clear your skin or prevent aging.  To name just a few, you can buy supplements from Perricone MD , Murad, and Kate Somerville.  (As an esthetician I do not recommend a certain diet or any supplements to my clients.  That is an area that is well outside my expertise.  If a client does ask me about such issues I recommend that they look at Dr. Perricone’s books or Dr. Wechsler’s book and leave the final decision on what to do up to the individual.)  It definitely is alluring to think that all you need to do is pop a few pills a day, recommended by a skincare expert no less, in order to look beautiful.  Yet let me debunk that idea.  Once again I’ll quote from The Mind Beauty Connection (page 194):

 The Truth About Vitamin C and E Supplements and Skin Vitamins:

What about individual nutrients or special skin-health formulas that claim to improve skin?  These grab-bag concoctions, which are mostly a mix of antioxidants, are hugely popular.  However, there’s minimal proof of payoff, at least right now.  Oodles of isolated antioxidants like vitamins C and E and phyto-chemicals like those found in green tea have been dazzling in the test tube.  When fed to lab animals, they have been marvelous at protecting against sun damage, wrinkles, and cancer; making skin softer, moister, and smoother; and halting inflammation and signs of agin.  Those effects almost disappear when single-nutrient pills are tested in people.  Green tea polyphenol pills, for example, protect mice skin from UV damage and skin cancer but do nada for human skin.  In a topic form, however green tea is anti-inflammatory and photoprotective.

In fact, studies of isolated antioxidant pills in humans have overall been not only disappointing but actually worrisome.  Disappointing because the supplements haven’t staved off health trouble.  Worrisome because studies have shown that people with various diseases, from heart problems to liver aliments, who took vitamins A, E, and/or beta-carotene supplements, either to try and stop the disease or keep it from coming back, had a greater risk of dying than those who didn’t.

Punch line: The more research we do on antioxidants, the more it looks like the work best in our bodies when they are consumed with other vitamins, minerals, and probably other components we haven’t even discovered yet.  All of the antioxidants nutrients you need come packaged together whenever you eat a stalk of broccoli or a juicy plum or a slice of multigrain walnut- raisin bread.  Put simply:  Eat whole foods.

 

Need further proof?  During the months I was contemplating how to write this post I came across a great article in the The New York Times by Alex Kuczynski called The Beauty-From-Within MarketKuczynski concisely addresses just these issues:  how Americans love the idea of nutritional supplements and if they really work:

Americans take pills to scrub our arteries, to relax us for airplane flights, to deforest our nasal passages of mucus and to remoisten our tear ducts. We take pills to sharpen our memory, to forget the awful things that have happened to us, to revitalize our libidos and to fall into a stuporous, amnesiac, refrigerator-clearing sleep.

Like children wishing for magical results in a fairy tale, we can now also take pills to make us pretty. These are supplements sold at yoga studios, department stores, hair salons, some dermatology offices and even on QVC; they promise to even skin tone, reduce lines and wrinkles, shrink pores and offer protection from the sun. Along with food and drink that promote external beauty, these are part of what is known as the beauty-from-within industry, and it’s growing fast.  …

The global beauty-from-within market – comprising beauty foods, beverages and oral beauty supplements – totaled $5.9 billion in 2008 and $6.3 billion in 2009, and is projected to be up to $6.8 billion in 2010, according to Datamonitor, a market research company that studies the skin care market. (To compare, the global skin care market – which includes cleaners, moisturizers and anything you apply to the surface of your skin — is projected to reach $65.7 billion in 2010.)

 

Kuczynski tried the supplement Glisodin and didn’t see much of result with her skin.  She also interviewed two experts for her article (of course when I saw that one of the experts interviewed was Dr. Wechsler I was very happy):

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University… is the queen of skepticism on the purported beauty benefits of supplements. “Lecture time,” Nestle said. “If you eat any kind of reasonable diet you will not have deficiencies that can be addressed by vitamins. All you are going to do is pee them out.”

The irony, she said, is that people who have little need for supplementary vitamins and minerals are the ones most predisposed to take them. “People with disposable income to spend on vitamins, who are interested in their health and well-being, these are the people who need them the least,” she said. And people who care about their skin enough to take beauty vitamins are also probably wearing sunscreen and using moisturizer. “It is very hard to demonstrate health in people who are already healthy,” she said. And it is also difficult to gauge improved dermatological health in people who already practice good skin habits.

The chief problem with beauty supplements,  said [Dr. Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in Manhattan], is that no matter how effective the delivery system, very little nutrients can reach the skin from a pill. In other words, my skin wasn’t going to look as poreless and pure … Lady Gaga’s, just from popping a pill.

“It is very American to put hope in a bottle,” Wechsler said. “And it is also very American to try to sell that hope.”

 

Bottom Line:  Eat a healthy diet, destress, and practice good skincare habits and routines.   Don’t expect great changes from a pill. 

Further reading:  Though I did not incorporate this article into my above post it does tie in perfectly with the theme:  The Truth About Beauty Beverages:  Do Certain Drinks Deliver Beauty Benefits – Or Is That Wishful Thinking?  Experts Weigh In  –  Web MD

 

Book Review: Complexion Perfection! by Kate Somerville May 14, 2010

Kate Somerville has an enviable career – a successful skincare clinic in Los Angeles with numerous celebrity clients, a personal skincare line, and numerous media appearance (both television and print).  I had certainly heard of her when I found out that she had just published a book: Complexion Perfection! Your Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Skin by Hollywood’s Leading Skin Health Expert.  I looked the book over at Barnes and Noble and then decided to buy it.  One of the reason I wanted to buy the book were the full-page, color before and after photos she had for the makeover section of the book.  It is very, very hard to find a book about skincare with such quality, color photos.  I saw the photos, and I was hooked.  Additionally, as an esthetician I was very pleased to see that a fellow esthetician wrote a book about skincare instead of a dermatologist.

Kate Somerville begins her book with a very revealing autobiography section which chronicles both her personal and skincare struggles.  Needless to say, Somerville is certainly a self-made woman, and after reading about her tough childhood and young adult life (after her parents divorced when she was nine years old her mother descended into drug addiction eventually ending up homeless.  Her father remarried to a woman who already had her own children and eventually Somerville moved in with a friend in order to find stability) I truly admire her for overcoming great odds in order to be the success that she is today.  In addition, Somerville has suffered from severe eczema almost her entire life so she really does understand both the physical and psychological manifestations that skincare problems can have on one’s emotional wellbeing.

I love and wholeheartedly agree with Somerville’s philosophy about skincare and about being an esthetician.  I like the fact that Somerville sees a direct emotional connection to how one’s skin looks and also emphasizes the importance of leading a balanced life (good eating and exercise habits) in order to have healthy skin.  I think these sentences do a good job of summing up Somerville’s skincare philosophy:

Honor yourself and your skin.  After all, your complexion is constantly at work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  When you give back to it, you give back to yourself.  …  So make the time to take care of yourself, to enjoy who you are and your individual beauty.  … I truly believe that almost anything is possible in life, and believe it or not, it’s my career in skin care that taught me this.  So don’t throw in the towel just yet – or ever.  As a matter of act, grab that towel.  Cleanse your skin and begin to protect, hydrate, feed, stimulate, and detoxify your way to health and beauty.  Because the path to complexion perfection leads to more than just glowing skin; it will lead to a happier, better you.  (Pages 336-7)

It was writing like this that made me like this book. 

 

What I Liked About Complexion Perfection!

 

So first and foremost, as I already stated above, I really like and agree with Somerville’s outlook on skincare.  I liked hearing about how she treats and cares for her personal clients.  Somerville has a great upbeat attitude that I thought was refreshing. 

The information about skincare in the book is good – good but basic.  I didn’t learn anything new, but then, of course, I guess that is good since I’m an esthetician.  For non-skincare professionals looking to have a guide at home as to how to care for their skin this book will do the job.  I liked the fact that she had clear and concise instructions listed for all sorts of skin types and conditions.  For this reason you can simply use this book as a reference book if you want to know how to treat a particular skin condition (like acne, hyperpigmentation, or eczema).   There is information on common skincare ingredients and a clear explanation of how to care for your skin at home (including instructions for doing a home facial).

Chapter 6 of the book is entitled “Treatments That Transform” and gives very good information about a whole slew of facial treatment options from the basics like facials, to an explanation on four different kind of lasers, and explains the differences between injectables.  She even includes the estimated costs of different treatments which I think is great since it helps people understand how much they would be spending approximately if they wanted to try certain treatments. 

I also liked the fact that though Somerville has her own line of skincare products she doesn’t give them a hard sell in her book (which, in my opinion, is in direct contrast to what Paula Begoun does on her website and in her own books).  There is an explanation at the very back of the book on each product in Kate Somerville’s skincare line, and my book even came with a coupon for 10% off and free shipping on products ordered through her website.   Of course once I saw how much her products cost even with the discounts I decided to wait before trying any.

 

My Disappointments with Complexion Perfection!

 

The book includes a chapter all about diet and your skin.  I was happy that Somerville did not try to pass herself off as a nutritionist or medical dietary professional but instead included personal accounts of how diet effects skin and also advice of a doctor when it comes to food and its effects on the skin.  I don’t know how I feel about her passing out advice about supplements (she also sells supplements that claim to help certain skincare conditions) even if she did write the information in the chapter with the help of a doctor.  I never give my clients advise about diet since I am not a medical doctor or a nutritionist even though I do think there is a connection between the health of the skin and one’s diet.  For that reason part of this chapter made me feel uneasy.  I would definitely consult with a doctor or a nutritionist before taking any supplements to improve the appearance of your skin.  Somerville also sees a direct connection between the consumption of dairy and breakouts.  I am not so sure that things are so black and white when it comes to this issue.  Much more research needs to be done about the connection between acne and food before there can be definitive information on the subject.

But my main disappointment with this book comes from the makeover section which was the one section of book that I was most looking forward to reading.  Yes, the photos are glorious and add a great deal to the explanations provided so I guess I got my money’s worth there.  My problem was with the actual treatments the makeover volunteers received.  On average each volunteer received about four laser or light treatments and many received around four injectables as well (Botox, Restylane, Radiesse, and Juvederm)!  Anyone who received that many intense, expensive, and strong treatments would see the results that were presented in the book!  I longed for a makeover that did not include any of these treatments (or many fewer of them) and instead presented results that could be achieved by anyone even those without access to such sophisticated treatments and certainly for those without the means to invest in such treatments.  Yes, the home care regimes of each makeover volunteers are explained, but believe me – the dramatic makeover results had nothing to do with the volunteer’s new home care regime.  The results had everything to do with the power of lasers and injectables; the home care regimes are important for maintenance reasons alone.  It was upsetting for me to realize that though Somerville believes everyone deserves to have beautiful skin and feel great about their skin she is suggesting treatments that few people can afford.  Yes, Somerville is a medical esthetician (or a paramedical esthetician as she calls herself), but I wish she had at least for one person   presented in the makeover section who didn’t have one laser treatment or injectable.

 

Bottom Line

 

Complexion Perfection! is a good, basic reference book about skincare to have at home.  If you are interested and can afford laser and light treatments this book is a great guide to what results you can expect from such treatments.  Certainly Somerville’s life story and career success will help others realize that anything is possible, and her positive philosophy about skincare will inspire many more.

 

 
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