You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

calendula cream bath 150My daughter inherited my sensitive skin–it nicely welts right up when she comes in contact with something too irritating. And, of course, being an esthetician and skin care freak, I have tried every baby and kid product imaginable since she was an infant. My only criteria was that the product be haz-mat free.

When organic-minded new moms gave a thumbs up to California Baby, I gave that a whirl, but I found the products kind of drying (particularly their hair care). So when I stumbled on Weleda at an organic esthetician’s skin studio while we were on a long beach weekend, I picked up a bottle of their Calendula Cream Bath for my kid.

As a sensitive skinner myself, I have always been partial to Calendula. It’s anti inflammatory and incredibly gentle and healing. The base of Weleda’s Calendula Bath Cream is sweet almond oil, which is easily absorbed and very moisturizing. It protects the skin barrier and keeps the skin super smooth.

Weleda is an organic brand that has almost invincible staying-power. Eighty years ago, they pioneered the concept of Biodynamic farming, which is only now being used as trendy organic buzz words in the beauty biz today. The company was founded on the principle that the products support and enhance the body’s own natural healing tendencies.

Since my kid’s the one using it, I asked her to provide her review of the product during bath time tonight:

I like it. It makes me smell pretty and I love how it feels really soft. My skin feels nice and soft after. If I don’t use it the night before, the next day my skin feels all wrinkley. But when I do use it… Not wrinkley!

And isn’t that what we all want from our skin care products?

Copper-penniesNormally, I don’t get mad at myself for buying a beauty item in the name of research, even if it sucks. But I feel like a jackass about this one since I knew it was going to turn out to be a bust.

I was at Bed Bath and Beyond buying a simple bathmat, when they nailed me with a huge bedding sale right next to the check out. First I discovered a full-on sheet set that was infused with Dead Sea Minerals, but I wasn’t ready to drop close to $300 on sheets that weren’t 600 threat count Egyptian cotton.

And then I spotted the pillow. For 20 bucks, I could have the “Power of Copper!”

The Spa Therapy Beauty Pillow is made by Cupron Technologies. The claim is that there are copper filaments woven into the pillowcase. Copper is an incredible skin regenerating metal, and apparently  the idea to hatch the “Spa Therapy Beauty Pillow” came from Cupron’s work in the health care sector, weaving this copper into the gauze used on burn victims.

When I pulled the pillow out of the bag and began examining it, I was worried that the label said “100 percent polyester” with no mention of this special copper. Online, the claim is that the pillow has 15% polyester woven with this copper. My pillowcase label says nothing about this Cupron copper. Hmm.

The pillow itself is a bust. It’s really uncomfortable and has no give to it whatsoever. Of course, I could swap out the case on one of my comfy pillows and get what I assume would be the same results. The pillowcase is the one infused not the pillow itself.

But damn that case is scratchy! Perhaps the secret to this pillowcase’s “proven results” is exfoliation. Because after three nights of sleeping on the itchy case, the sucker is destined for the trash heap. So much for beauty sleep.

Better bet for using the power of copper? Apply a copper peptide-infused product to your face before bed, and sleep on a silk pillowcase to keep the sleep creases at bay.

barbie-doll-1959Today in misogynistic prickery, via Jezebel, we have two titans of women’s fashion who really should be boycotted (if they were at all affordable in the first place).

According to Australia’s News.com.au, pompous gasbag Karl Lagerfeld told an Aussie magazine, “No one wants to see curvy women… You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly.”

Coming back state-side, Women’s Wear Daily reports that shoe Czar Christian Louboutin trimmed down the ankles of the three Barbie dolls he is designing after finding them “too fat” to make his shoes aesthetically pleasing. This must be repeated: According to Louboutin, Barbie has fat ankles.

These asshats basically own women’s fashion.

Since we all know I have fat feet myself (oh Barbie, you are not alone!) Louboutin is in no danger of my hoofers making his shoes look bad. And while I can in no way afford Chanel clothes, I have happily purchased their makeup in the past. And now I won’t. Which is too bad, because I was curious about their new nail polish color Jade. The swatches looked beautiful, but according to Blogdorf Goodman, I am not missing much.

So, thank you, Gentlemen. Enjoy the remainders of the recession with the skinny ladies. The rest of the world is over here, buying Mark Fast.

I am extremely suspicious of Botox. I suffer from migraines. While I always say that I may be able to get insurance to cover injections for migraine control while smoothing out my worry lines, I probably will never do it. We all age, and I want to age gracefully. My peels and potions will help me do that. I don’t feel the need to inject toxins into my face.

Apparently, a Chicago plastic surgeon is treating acne with Botox injections. This report has been out for a bit, but I just caught on via this post from the really great blog over at Beauty Schools Directory (seriously, the blog is fab and not only for students looking for a cosmo school). He did a study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, that showed patients experienced a decrease in sebum production and a reduction in pore size. I do want to point out that this study was conducted on 20 patients, 17 of which said they saw improvement. I don’t know too much about the study, or how controlled it was, because I am too cheap to buy the article on line and can only read the abstract.

needleAnyway… Personal biases about Botox aside, my initial reaction is why try to inhibit sebum production? I really do think oil really draws the short straw when it comes to the acne conversation.

Acne is not caused by oil alone. In fact, the oil on properly functioning skin actually helps keep skin protected from environmental pollutants and also serves as a natural moisturizer. Further, the bacteria that cause acne is found not only on inflamed areas of the face, but also areas of unaffected skin. So what gives?

When the bacteria and oil get trapped under the surface of the skin (i.e. clogged pore), the bacteria is now deprived of oxygen. Without oxygen, the bacteria thrives, inflaming the surrounding tissue and essentially causing that zit (ok, there’s more too it than this, like rupturing under the dermis, etc, but let’s leave it here for the time being). So, while the bacteria is thriving in this particularly oily, anaerobic environment, it is NOT functioning in another area that is oily and exposed to air. Which is why we always talk about exfoliation.

I am seeing a teen acne client now, who has tried every acne product on the market. She came to me with the tightest, driest skin, riddled with inflamed red bumps. Extractions were so difficult to perform without out potentially damaging her skin, that I kept them to a minimum.  I put her on a new cleansing routine that eliminated all acne topical treatments for the time being.

When she came to see me after several weeks, she still had the acne, but her skin was not dry and tight and the acne had migrated towards the surface. She was not pimple free (nor did I expect her to be) but this time I was actually able to extract more of the existing acne and as well as some blackhead formations.

I know it’s killing her that it didn’t completely disappear, and I believe she will need to add in a BP or SA spot treatment eventually, but what I need to do first is get her skin back into balance before I add back in more aggressive acne treatments. The complete removal of the natural oil from the surface of her skin was causing the dead skin to trap the oil coming up through the pore, which was exacerbating the acne.

Essentially, healthy skin is balanced skin and when you start inhibiting your oil production you are throwing this balance completely out of whack, and quite likely exacerbating the problem.

As for the Botox… Without knowing the subjects involved in the study, I can’t really say. Perhaps they do have super oily skin that’s throwing their balance off, and the removal of the oil is necessary. But at 500 bucks a pop, there are certainly cheaper ways to treat acne. So I am not sold on this method.

Curious, would you Botox your acne away?

Wondering about all those skin care “nutraceuticals” hitting the market? Me too! And be prepared for even more pills popping up in the cosmetics aisle. Market research company Kline Group reports that beauty supplement category growth is poised to grow to $2.5 billion by 2012.

So I was intrigued when I read a release issued by Dr. Joshua Fox, medical director of Advanced Dermatology and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery in New York, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, cautioning consumers to be wary of supplements.

My people (snort) phoned up his people and asked if we could have a chat (we did!), and now I have a big old Esthy crush on Dr. Fox.vitamins

My regular readers know that this is a very big deal, since I love to point out Dubious Docs almost as much as I love covering the beauty events at my local CVS. But any MD cautious enough not to jump on a billion-dollar-band-wagon has my undivided attention.

The FDA does not regulate cosmetics and nutritional supplements. As long as the manufacturer does not advertise or market the product like a drug, they are free from any FDA restrictions. These companies are within their legal right to use terms like “helps” or “promotes.” And this, Dr. Fox feels, is a huge source of concern, particularly when vitamins are mixed with additional substances like herbs, enzymes and botanicals. So the supplement market is a bit like the Wild West, and Dr. Fox urges caution.

“Supplements are being promoted with minimal data to back up the claims,” warns Dr. Fox. “They need better clinical studies.”

Dr. Fox shares an example of a research team that went to China and found what appeared to be a miracle herb that helped with atopic dermatitis, a particularly difficult to treat skin disorder. But several months down the road, further studies showed that the herb caused liver abnormalities.

“Herbs do not necessarily equal good,” cautions Dr. Fox. “ They may be more detrimental in the long run, even if they appear to ‘cure’ in the short term.”

Or they could have additional side effects not readily known, even if the herb or vitamin is a household name.  Dr. Fox points out that the herb Echinacea and Vitamin E both promote bleeding, so taking these supplements prior to surgery, for example, could be problematic.

Dr. Fox is a proponent of taking care of the skin (and body) through healthy eating and, when necessary, supplementation, but he urges consumers to pay attention to what they are ingesting. He is skeptical of any claims that have not been thoroughly and rigorously put through the research machine.

But most consumers aren’t as science-minded—even me! We were discussing a recent study about the effects of oral antioxidants. Initially the skin showed improvement in the first 6 -12 months. But by 24 months, the improvement stopped. So, what if we took antioxidant supplements for six months, stopped for a while and picked it up again, I asked. That’s where science trumped me!

Dr. Fox pointed out that I was basing my views on assumptions that if something was proven false then the opposite must be true. But in science, even the opposite cannot be proven true based on something simply being false. Scientists need more studies to say definitively. PHEW.

“The consumer’s first line of defense is to be a skeptic,” explains Dr. Fox. “Supplements do a have a role in skin care, but science still has a lot of catching up to do. I rely on seeing the results of controlled studies, published in reputable medical journals, before I make any recommendation.”

Topical applications of antioxidants do have a lot of data and research behind it, Dr. Fox points out.

So what’s the bottom line? Here’s your takeaway:

Just like doing your regular grocery shopping, take a closer look at the fine-print details. Check if the supplement has any added substances and do do your homework before adding it into your regimen.

If you have started supplements, watch for signs of skin irritation, including itching, rashes, acne flare-ups, skin discoloration, burning and hives.

Consult your doctor before starting a supplement regime to make certain the supplement will not interact with any medication you may be on or cause any potential problems given your medical history.

Visit Dr. Fox’s nifty New Age Skin Research Foundation, which provides free information to the public on skin health and conditions. The Foundation also provides funding for innovative research in dermatology.