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Congratulations to Katy, whose name was picked by Random.org as the winner of the Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in my first EVER product giveaway.

Still want to try it? Weleda has a fantastic offer for the Holidays. You can pick up a Pomegranate Travel Kit for $9.99, with FREE shipping through December 24th. The travel kit includes the amazing oil, as well as the Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream and the Creamy Body Wash. I recommend stuffing your own stocking with this kit!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in my first ever product giveaway! Kinda fun, right?

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If you have dry winter skin like I do, Weleda’s Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil is a little miracle in a bottle.

Weleda was tickled with my kids rave review of their Calendula Cream Bath. So they asked if I would be interested in doing a product giveaway from their new Pomegranate Regenerating line. They sent along a bottle of their Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil  for me to try, and it could not have arrived at a better time.

The skin on my legs were such a flakey mess that I couldn’t even wax them properly. After one use, the skin flakes disappeared, even 24 hours without reapplying.The oil absorbed quickly, and did not leave a greasy film (my least favorite side effect of a body oil). The scent is light and lemon grassy, which I really loved. Although, sadly, the beautiful smell disappeared after a few hours (or I sniffed it right off my arm).

Punicic acid, found in pomegranate seed oil, is the real workhorse of the antioxidants. This omega 5 oil has been proven in clinical studies to be an anticancer agent, hence the recent push to injest more pomegranate. In the skin, a 2006 study from the University of Michigan Medical School, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showed  that punicic acid promoted the regeneration of the epidermis.

I was so impressed with the results that I tried it on the kid. Being Weleda, I knew it would be gentle enough for her skin, and that we wouldn’t need to decontaminate her from an over abundance of chemicals after. And that’s where Weleda really won me over. As I blogged here last week, my kid has keratosis pilaris and I have not been able to find anything to tame her KP. After using the Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil on her for a few days, I noticed a reduction in the chicken bumps on her arms.

I inquired with Weleda about this, and they had not heard of the Pomegranate line helping with KP, although I am pretty certain that the punicic acid is breaking down the hardened keratin in the clogged follicles while the super moisturizing oils like jojoba are keeping the skin soft and limber.  I want to point out that Weleda does not make any claims that the product banishes KP, but was my experience using the oil.

So this is, hands down, the best body moisturizer I have ever used. It’s a fantastic foil for winter ravaged skin, and I am really excited to offer this as the first Beautyology giveaway!

Leave a comment below this post to enter. The names will be entered in Random.org to pick the winner. You have until Wednesday, December 16 to enter! Good luck!

FCC disclosure: Weleda sent me a full size product to try, and are providing the winner with a full size bottle of the oil.

I spent 45 minutes at Sephora staring at DERMAdoctor’s KP Duty. Yes, I endured 45 minutes of Sephora at the Garden State Plaza Mall, with their gum snapping sales force sashaying past me over and over again, because I was on the fence about buying a product.

My daughter has keratosis pilaris on the skin on the backs of her upper arms. KP is not a horrible skin condition. It resembles goose bumps, or “chicken skin,” and is barely noticeable to the eye. KP is an overproduction of the protein keratin, which causes little plugs in the hair follicles, and is usually genetic. I was happy to leave the KP alone, but as the weather got colder, she began complaining that her arms were itchy (dry air exacerbates the condition).

I wasn’t sure I wanted to use KP Duty on her skin, mainly because it contains glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is a wonderful exfoliant, and I use it professionally in a number of peels. But it is very strong acid–the GA molecule is so small that it is uber penetrable. And while this makes it one of the most effective Alpha Hydroxy Acids, it also makes it very irritating. And my kid has pretty sensitive skin.  While I was certain that the percentage of GA in the product was low (less than 10% in mass market products), I still had concerns about her skin reacting. But it was all I could find that I thought may remotely help the KP, so I decided to hold my breath and try.

Turns out, my 45 minute stress out at Sephora was completely unnecessary. Not only was KP Duty not at all irritating to her skin, it wasn’t remotely effective on her KP. After two weeks of usage, I saw zero results.

I am now trying it out as a moisturizer for my rough, nasty heels. To date, they are still rough and nasty.

Ya’ll know how much my daughter and I love Weleda. Now they are holding a contest for the next cover model of their lifestyle magazine we. I really want to enter my kid.

The winner receives a trip to NY for the photo shoot (ok, we don’t really need that), organic fame as a cover model (we don’t really need that either) and a $300 gift basket full of Weleda products (yes, we really really need that).

Hello Stage Mom!

Enter here! Contest closes on December 13. Good luck!

PS: Keep a sharp eye on this blog–next week, I am having my first EVER product giveaway with Weleda. The product has quickly turned into a winter necessity, and my several week’s long trial is showing amazing results.

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.

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.

Here in the Northeast, it is officially Fall. The trees are just starting to turn and the air is getting a whole lot nippier, not to mention a whole lot drier. I recommend switching it up with the change of seasons. Skin’s needs change with the weather patterns, so now is the time to reinvigorate your skincare routine.

Try a cream cleanser

DakarSoyaDry, cold air literally sucks the moisture from your skin. For any skin type (except oily) I recommend a gentle cream cleanser that will remove the day, not the moisture. As regular readers know, I have a tough time with cleaners and have created my own formulation. But for backup (i.e. days when I run out and don’t have time to make a new batch), I have Sonya Dakar’s Soya  Wash on hand. It’s a light creamy consistency that cleans without leaving the skin greasy. While lots of ballyhoo has been made about the inclusion of soy, I actually love that the second ingredient is rose water, one of my favorite hydrators.

But only at night

You really don’t need to wash their face morning and evening. Is sleep really so strenuous that it merits another go in the morning? A splash with tepid water should be enough to wake you up, but leave the cleanser in the cabinet. Don’t strip your natural barrier against the cold,  dry air just because the label says to use twice a day!

SPF still matters

Yes, the sunlight is not as intense, but your skin is still absorbing the damaging rays. Keep using that sunblock! The only time you don’t need an SPF is when it’s pitch black.I prefer people use actual SPF and not those in makeup or skincare formulas. I don’t think those are strong enough blockers.

Think of your daytime moisturizer as a barrier

JurliqueBalDayCreamOn particularly cold and blustery days, I love Jurlique’s Balancing Day Care Cream, which I layer under my SPF. It forms a great protective barrier on the skin. It can feel filmy for the first few hours of wear, but I actually love that. It makes my skin feel protected!

Now is a great time to add an AHA serum

JuiceBeautyWaning sunlight means that it’s time to go back to the alpha hydroxy acids (but only if you promise to keep wearing that sunblock)! Most AHA’s are great moisturizers, and the serum is an extra concentrated way to get the AHAs. It’s my preferred method to get my AHA boost! I love Juice Beauty’s Antioxident Serum, which is packed with vitamins A, C and E as well as a dose of CoQ10, resveratrol (a potent antioxident from grape seeds) and peptides to help fill out wrinkles.

Make that evening moisturizer a little richer

balancing-bio-peptide-cremeReaders will know I love my aloe for summer moisturizing. But colder weather means I want something more potent. Image Skincare’s Ormedic Bio-Peptide Cream has an aloe and olive oil base plus green tea, cucumber and more of those magic peptides. (Full disclosure: Image is one of the lines I use in my skincare practice and I do retail the products).

JojobaMaybe it’s the change of seasons, but I have been seeing a bunch of “deep cleanse” your skin stories floating around the blogosphere and in the lady mags. What the hell does “deep cleanse” mean?

One of my facial pet peeves is the “deep pore cleansing facial” offered on just about any spa menu I have read.  These are the facials that promise to banish blackheads with scrubbing, loads of steaming and (most likely) really painful extractions. Most “deep pore cleansing” facials on a spa menu are the basic facial–clients like the sound of “deep pore cleansing” mainly because they bombarded with stories about those evil blackheads. It sounds good, right? A deep pore cleanse is exactly what I need…

The DIY deep cleansing I’ve been reading about include an exfoliating scrub as well as tips to add in a salacylic or glycolic toner to help pull out the blackheads. For some skin, this is too much exfoliation. With skin already rubbed and scrubbed, the addition of acids may create irritation. In skin care, there can be too much of a good thing.

Blackheads are inevitable. Anything we put on the skin has a potential to clog the pores–regardless of the product claims. Add into the dirt and pollution our skin encounters minute to minute… You get the point. You’re gonna get blackheads.

But this idea of deep pore cleansing is a bit of a myth. You can do things to soften the skin to help release the blackheads, but a facial should not be like car detailing. In my opinion, gentle is always better.

For DIY blackhead attack, I prefer a gentle exfoliation in a steamy bathroom followed by a clay-based mask on affected areas to help pull the dirt out of the pores. I usually do not recommend a full face of clay. This is all skin type dependent, but generally I hit the nose, chin and forehead (sometimes not a full forehead either) with the clay and use a moisturizing mask in the other areas.

Look for exfoliating products that use jojoba beads or oatmeal as an exfoliant. Stay away from crushed nuts, like almonds, as well as apricot pits (yes,that means that god awful St. Ives that is inexplicably adored by so many). The edges of scrubs with crushed hard bits are razor sharp causing tiny cuts in the skin.

If you are splurging for a pro-facial, please remember that blackhead removal should not be unbearably painful. You should not have lancets poked directly into your pores (oh the stories I have heard about one celebrity facilist). If the blackheads don’t slide out easily, they are best left for another day.