Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Fabulous Post from Paula Begoun...

Below is a wonderful rant from Paula Begoun's The Beauty Bunch blog, regarding the myths about parabens and the false information that cosmetics companies are spewing about their "organic" and/or "natural" products.

Cosmetic Hysteria – I’ve Had Enough!

Author: Paula Begoun  Cosmetic Hysteria 
I know I’m about to piss a lot of people off with this blog entry but let me just preface what I want to get off my chest by saying I am an environmentalist and have been for years. I live in the Pacific Northwest and as a community and personally we have been ecologically aware for decades. I know polluting our world is a serious problem and we all need to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, but I have had enough with the fear mongering, propaganda, and outright brainwashing the organic and natural skin care product lines throw at consumers. Even mainstream companies have gotten in on the act (L’Oreal actually advertises their Everpure hair-care line claiming it is better because it doesn’t contain sulfates, which is a bunch of crap because all of their other products from Garnier to Kerastase contain sulfates. Why didn’t they stop selling those if sulfate-free is so much better?).

Let me just say this up front: skin care products are not killing us, causing cancer, or any other dire condition. Women have no more higher incidence of cancer then men (breast cancer doesn’t count as men don’t have estrogen in the first place and women don’t get prostate cancer for obvious reasons as well). The insane, misleading information about mineral oil, petrolatum, parabens, and even toluene in nail polishes is just bizarre. The research doesn’t exist to prove any harm is being done, not even remotely. Not to mention natural and organic products contain problematic ingredients that effect the environment and our health as well.
I’m not sure how this all got started but the natural organic fanatics want you to be very afraid and, of course, only buy their products because they are pure and won’t harm you (forget the fact that there isn’t any research showing their products are effective and that many aren’t all that natural in the first place). Even more obnoxious is their blatant hypocrisy. I am fairly certain almost every single owner, employee, or lobbyist for any organic/natural cosmetic company in the world uses computers, talks on cell phones, drives cars, flies in airplanes, mostly lives in cities, and myriad other things that are far more problematic for the environment and health then any cosmetic could ever be. Breathing auto exhaust fumes and adding to landfills with outdated cell phones and computers (and all manner of outdated electronics) are where the concern should be, not the cleanser or moisturizer you are using.

But back to skin care. I want to remind all of you that I have a ton of research on my web site about all this, including these links:

If you want to send this rational, documented information to your friends and family that would go a long way to helping them make better decisions about what skin care and makeup products to buy. Right now I am just overwhelmed and the voice of reason is drowned out by the endless garbage (brain pollution) the natural/organic cosmetic industry can’t help spilling into the minds of women like an oil slick that can’t be cleaned up. Just in case you’re still not willing to believe that cosmetics aren’t killing us, below are some rational, voice-of-reason quotes from respected sources.

“FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.”
Food and Drug Administration

“[The 2004 Darbre Study] did not prove that parabens cause breast tumors. The authors of this study did not analyze healthy breast tissue or tissues from other areas of the body and did not demonstrate that parabens are found only in cancerous tissue.”
National Cancer Institute

“There is no sound scientific evidence that cosmetics as they are typically used cause cancer.”
“Parabens have a long history of safe use and have been specifically recognized as safe by the FDA.”
American Council on Science and Health

“… The technical accuracy of the initial reports [linking parabens to cancer] have come under challenge,” noted Sandra Porter, Clariant. “Recent reports published and available in the public domain indicate that there is no conclusive evidence of harmful effects from parabens in cosmetics at typical usage levels.”

Household and Personal Products Industry Magazine

I also want to share this letter I received from a physician on this issue; it succinctly sums up the manipulation we suck up like water in the desert without any benefit:

First of all thank you for speaking up about a topic that has been very important to me for a long time. In fact I created a blog simply to address this issue:
My frustration with philosophies such as this stem from the fact that I treat patients with breast cancer on a daily basis, and am very cognizant of what is good or not for them. I have spent a long time researching the paraben issue and found the same conclusions as you have. Such negative, panic provoking tactics against ingredients has almost become a norm for a number of “big beauty” marketers. Unfortunately, it works on consumers who may be unaware of the whole picture, and in many cases do not have access to in-depth scientific facts. To condemn an ingredient just because it might, possibly, might, remotely mimic, seem like, maybe etc. is incredibly unjustified. The evidence linking paraben absorption via skin care products, mimicking estrogen and in turn affecting breast cancer rates is extremely farfetched at best. I suspect your chances of taking in estrogen like substances is higher from food intake of animal and plant products, such as cow’s milk! But, obviously certain negative marketing, using scant scientific findings and manipulating it is much more potent at molding the human mind than presenting the facts. I applaud you on your ability to go against the flow and try to reach the truth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oh Rosie...Save Your Skin!!!

I just read this post in E! Online's blog this morning, which was disturbing...

"The pot-stirring talker told Rachael Ray earlier this month that she "lives to tan" and declared 'exposure to the sun isn't dangerous.'

Ohhhh Rosie...oh Rosie. ::shaking my head in pure disappointment::

We all know that unprotected sun exposure = bad, bad, bad - but we inevitably want to look healthy and "sun-kissed" (i.e. we think a tan means healthy).  I too went through my childhood and teenage years completely frying myself to get the much desired golden tan (spring break anyone??).

However, what I know now makes me want to scream at and kick my younger self (all info below is courtesty of
  • Tanning is the skin's reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.  When skin is exposed to UV rays, cells called melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the epidermis.  This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural – if imperfect – defense against further damage from UV radiation.

  •  The sun's UV rays damage the DNA of the skin's epidermal cells, triggering enzymes that race to repair the damage.  However, these enzymes do not always repair the DNA successfully, and all this unrepaired damage can lead to mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer.  Also, repeated unprotected sun exposure can cause photoaging – wrinkles, sagging skin, and spots associated with sun damage.

  • By the 1990's, scientists knew that UVA exacerbates the cancer-causing effects of UVB, and is the main wavelength behind photoaging. Recently, an Australian-U.S. study found that UVA may be more carcinogenic than UVB. It penetrates more deeply and causes more genetic damage in the skin cells (keratinocytes) where most skin cancers arise. The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization now designate both UVA and UVB as causes of cancer.

  • Darker skin does offer greater protection than light skin against sunburn and skin cancer. However, that applies only to people with naturally darker skin. Tanning, like sunburns, attacks the skin's DNA, producing genetic defects that may cause skin cancer.

  • Both [tanning and sunburns] are dangerous, because both result from DNA damage to the skin cells. It is true that sunburn has been directly linked to melanoma – one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence, or five sunburns total over the course of one’s life, more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.  It is usually thought that lifetime sun exposure is responsible for increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, while both intense, intermittent sun exposure – the pattern that is traditionally linked to melanoma – and lifetime exposure are believed to be involved in the development of basal cell carcinoma.  However, studies have also shown a marked increase in melanoma incidence in people who have developed either squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Scientists are still trying to determine the exact exposure pattern behind the development of the different types of skin cancer, but it is safe to say that both burning and tanning play major roles in skin cancer.

  • Tanning salon owners say tanning machines are safer than outdoor tanning for two reasons: 1) they mainly use UVA rays, and 2) they offer more "controlled" UV exposure. However, we know now that UVA is a carcinogen, and studies have revealed that tanning salons frequently exceed "safe" UV limits. Study after study has shown that sunbed tanning increases the risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Unless you'd like to look like this woman*, PLEASE follow these rules:

  • Wear sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) any time you're going to be outside - even if you're going to be driving in your car (UVA rays can penetrate glass).  A higher SPF is always a good idea for your face.  Make sure to apply 1 oz. (equivalent of half of a shot glass) to your body and 1 tablespoon to your face at least 30 min before you step out the door. Also, reapply every two hours or after swimming/profusely sweating
  • If you're going to be sitting in the direct sunlight for an extended period of time (beach, picnic, etc.), cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

  • Invest in some self tanner if you want a deep, golden tan (there are really good ones on the market these days) or get a spray tan (much cheaper than future cancer treatments)

  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.

  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
 Remember, beautiful skin is in -- not leathery, scary tanned skin. :-)

**Photo courtesy of

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

From "Good Skincare Habits Gone Bad" (with my personal caveat)

I happened upon the below article via Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute's Twitter, which is from  While it is a fairly good primer for anyone  who is a little clueless as to how to properly care for their skin, I have just a *few* reservations about some of the suggestions, based on my reading of Paula Begoun's The Original Beauty Bible.  I'm listing them below so you're aware:

However, based on my recent reading and research via Beautypedia, I disagree with one little item in the article:
  • "Like your body gets bored with the same exercise — putting a lid on progress, slowing muscle building or weight loss — your skin, too, gets used to the same products, so there’s little to no improvement" -- This statement makes it sound like if you find a product that works really, really well for your skin, it will just stop working after a while.  This is not true.  What is true is what this section goes on to say, which is that your skin will change from season-to-season (more dry in the winter vs. more oily in the summer, depending on your skin type) and even from week-to-week based on hormonal fluctuations.  If you find a product that works well for you and it continues to work even when seasons, hormones or other factors change KEEP USING IT
Happy reading!!

by team
You may feel like you’re doing everything right with your skin, sticking to a strict regimen and following the typically good-for-you habits you’ve read diligently about. But these normally great skincare habits can harbor a shady side. Learn which habits may be faulty and the easy ways you can tweak them for better, healthier skin.
  1. Habit: Adhering to the same skincare routine. Having a daily routine of cleansing and moisturizing your face is vital for maintaining healthy skin. Skimp on that routine and you can end up with clogged pores, breakouts and thirsty skin. So no wonder you keep a tight ship when it comes to your skin.
  2. How it can go bad: While consistency is key with any regimen, it can also lead to lackluster, dry skin. Like your body gets bored with the same exercise — putting a lid on progress, slowing muscle building or weight loss — your skin, too, gets used to the same products, so there’s little to no improvement. What you can do: Pay attention to your skin. For starters, you may need a higher concentration of ingredients. If a topical treatment with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide isn’t doing much for your acne any longer, look for a formula with 5 percent. If your skin continues to look dull after using a cleanser with 15 percent glycolic acid, go up to 20 percent. You also might need to adjust your routine according to the season. Cooler months — with their chilly temperatures and strong winds — call for more hydrating products, even if your skin is an oil slick in the summer. See what other changes you can make for fall here. To target roughness and dryness, try a serum with retinol to accelerate exfoliation and thin dead skin along with a multi-action day cream with salicylic acid to smooth roughness, according to Ladies Home Journal. If you’d like to use these formulas, which contain many active ingredients, pick up a mild cleanser. The magazine suggests using Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser.
  3. Habit: Being too gentle. Is your face extra sensitive or mostly dry? You may be afraid to irritate your skin, so you opt for mild products and skip the exfoliation step.
  4. How it can go bad: Never exfoliating your skin (or exfoliating too little) can result in a buildup of dead skin cells, which leads to clogged pores, acne and a dull-looking complexion. This buildup doesn’t help with your products either. Products stay on skin's surface, unable to penetrate the skin. This prevents you from experiencing their full benefits. The same goes for mild products, which may not be potent enough to effectively treat skin concerns. What you can do: If you have dry or sensitive skin, exfoliate once a week. For oilier complexions, exfoliate three times a week. Still concerned about irritation? Like we mentioned above, try mixing milder products with more potent formulas. Or look for soothing ingredients, like lavender and chamomile, in your treatments. When nothing seems to work — your skin doesn’t look any better and irritation is a continuous concern, which may be a symptom of skin conditions like eczema — consult a dermatologist, who can help you create a custom routine that’ll be both effective and gentle on your skin.
  5. Habit: Relying exclusively on organic products. Using organic ingredients on your skin has its advantages. If the product is labeled “organic,” it contains 95 percent organic ingredients, meaning that it must “follow the same rules that foods do,” writes dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., on her Yahoo! Health blog, The Skin Guru. She adds, “These rules require manufacturers to avoid using prohibited pesticides and fertilizers, and employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.” Organic skincare also strives to avoid ingredients that may be potentially harmful to people, animals and the environment, writes Dr. Baumann.
  6. How it can go bad: It’s common for consumers to assume that organic formulas are inherently gentler on the skin. But that’s a big misconception. Some organic skincare contains fruit that can irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions, writes Julyne Derrick, About’s beauty expert. Natural essential oils like rosemary, bergamot and peppermint can be irritating to sensitive complexions, Dr. Baumann tells WebMD. She also says that coconut oil may cause acne. Sticking solely to organic products also leads you to miss out on top-notch traditional ingredients that can truly improve your skin (think over-the-counter retinol and retinoids, which offer a bounty of beauty benefits). What you can do: Instead of focusing on organic or non-organic, skip the fancy claims and go straight to the label for the details. Not sure how to read a label? See our five rules here. Consider incorporating a variety of organic and conventional products for a comprehensive, effective routine.
  7. Habit: Applying sunscreen — but not enough. Sunscreen is a vital part of your everyday routine. It shields skin from UV damage, protecting from premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer. How it can go bad: Sunscreen can give you a false sense of security. You may think you’re fully protected from the sun when your skin is actually vulnerable. The number one issue with sunscreen is not applying it correctly. Secondly, many people don’t realize that sunscreen isn’t enough to protect from UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Does that mean you should toss it altogether? No way!
    What you can do: Reevaluate your use. Are you applying enough — at least a shot-glass-worth — and often — every two hours, or sooner after sweating or swimming? Getting the right SPF? For daily use, wear sunscreen with SPF 15, at a minimum. If you plan on being outdoors for 20-30 minutes, wear at least SPF 30, reports MedicineNet. In addition to applying sunscreen, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests these sun-savvy tips:

    • Avoid outdoor and indoor tanning.
    • Opt for the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Examine your skin once a month from head-to-toe.
    • See your dermatologist for an annual skin screening.
    • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UV rays. 

  8. Habit: Using too much product. We tend to think that more product equals greater efficacy. If a dime-sized amount of moisturizer is good, then a dollop must be better. If exfoliating once a week helps to slough off dead skin cells, then using a scrub three times is best.
  9. How it can go bad: Applying too much moisturizer to your face doesn’t saturate your skin in moisture. Quite the opposite, it can create a thick film that stays on your skin and clogs pores. Too much of an acne treatment can irritate and dry out the skin, making it churn out more oil. Using more than a dime-sized amount of any scrub (no matter how gentle) can abrade the skin and create a dull and rough complexion. What you can do: So if using too little and using too much product are no-nos, then what’s a gal to do? Your best bet is to follow the product’s instructions or ask a dermatologist. A good rule of thumb with any product is to use a pea-sized amount. For moisturizer to absorb better, apply it to damp skin (within three minutes of washing your skin).
  10. Habit: Not wasting products. We’ve been taught to eat everything off our plates as long as we can remember and never ever to waste anything. So naturally, you refuse to squander a beauty product, especially if it’s a pricey one.
  11. How it can go bad: Using products past their prime can irritate your skin and even give you an infection. Cosmetics, such as mascara, become a breeding ground for bacteria. Once finger touches product that bacteria transfers to your skin. What you can do: Learn when products expire, and pitch them when they’re past due. As sad as it is to part with a good (and pricey) product, it’s sadder when your skin is unhealthy, looks irritated and blemish-stricken or suffers an allergic reaction. Another option is to take simple steps to extend your products’ shelf life, such as:
    • Avoid sharing makeup.
    • Keep cosmetics and skincare in cool, dark places (not the bathroom!).
    • Don’t use fingers to touch the makeup directly.
    • Wash hands before applying any beauty products.
    • Don’t use makeup if you have any sort of infection (such as an eye infection or mouth sore).
The bottom line
Remember that your skin changes throughout the seasons and throughout the years. Also, keep in mind that just because a product works for your best friend doesn’t mean it’ll work for you (even if her skin type is similar). The key to great skin is letting it do all the talking, while you listen carefully. Let your skin tell you when it’s time to switch products, exfoliate more or less and see a dermatologist.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beauty Bulletin from Paula Begoun: 10 Beauty Commandments Everyone Should Know

In Paula Begoun's latest Beauty Bulletin, she gives the "10 Beauty Commandments Everyone Should Know". There is only one caveat from her, though -- this list is by no way complete, as there are TONS of "shalt" and "shalt nots" when it comes to beauty (as we all know).

The commandments are as follows:
  • THOU SHALT NOT believe expensive cosmetics are better than inexpensive cosmetics.
  • THOU SHALT NOT believe there is any such thing as a natural cosmetic (or that natural means better).
  • THOU SHALT NOT believe in miracle ingredients that can cure skin-care woes.
  • THOU SHALT NOT covet thy neighbor’s perfect skin (or believe her perfect skin came from a particular product or cosmetics line; skin is more complicated than that).
  • THOU SHALT NOT believe everything a cosmetics salesperson tells you.
  • THOU SHALT NOT believe in the existence of wrinkle-eliminating, firming, toning, lifting, or filling-in creams, lotions, or masks that can permanently erase wrinkles. Aging skin can become firmer and more resistant to future signs of aging with the right products, but even those aren’t going to get rid of wrinkles or replace what cosmetic surgery or cosmetic corrective procedures can do.
  • THOU SHALT NOT be seduced by every new promotion, new product, or new product line that the cosmetics industry creates.
  • THOU SHALT NOT get a tan; sun is your enemy, not your friend; it is the primary reason that skin wrinkles and develops skin cancer (and it isn’t just about getting a sunburn—turning the skin brown is equally as damaging when done on a regular basis).
  • THOU SHALT NOT buy a cellulite cream, nor shalt thou assume it’s possible to dissolve fat from the outside in, because you absolutely cannot. If these products worked, who would have cellulite?
  • THOU SHALT NOT see pictures of pubescent, anorexic models (who spend two hours getting their hair and makeup done and another two hours posing while the photographer and a corps of assistants determine the most flattering lighting, after which the resulting picture goes through a battery of digitally enhanced touch-ups and adjustments) and believe you will get the same (or even similar) results from using the products being advertised. That is, unless you happen to be pubescent, anorexic, and a model and can somehow stay in the right lighting all the time.
I know I have a hard time with many of these -- it is only lately that I have really come to terms with all of them.  Anyone else?

*Photo courtesty of ideacreamanuelaPps on Flickr's Creative Commons

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Paula's Choice: Antioxidants May Be Your Skin's Best Friend!

Taken from a note posted today on Facebook by Paula's Choice:

"If you’re a fan of Paula’s books and Web sites, you’re well aware that she’s a big proponent of using skin-care products that contain antioxidants. Research has shown time and again that topically applied antioxidants have multiple benefits for skin, particularly in the presence of sunlight. What I didn’t fully realize was how critical antioxidants are as we age. Here’s what I learned from a recent article published in the peer-reviewed journal Cosmetic Dermatology:
  • Skin exposure to UV radiation can completely exhaust the skin’s natural supply of antioxidants. With continued unprotected sun exposure, UV rays can act like a kid in a candy store, indiscriminately “helping themselves” to your skin’s support structure. It’s as though your skin’s soldiers (its natural supply of defenses against oxidative damage) have laid down their arms, allowing the enemy to win the war. The result? With continued unprotected sun exposure, skin’s oxidative defense system becomes incapable of fully regenerating itself. What’s worse, the little that does get regenerated is consistently weakened and less capable of defending skin from damage.
  • Topically-applied antioxidants not only prevent damage from reactive oxygen species (or ROS, rouge molecules generated by free radical damage) but they also help prevent the conversion of normally harmless or helpful substances in skin into pro-oxidants. Imagine that: going without sufficient antioxidant protection and ignoring sun protection means innocent substances in skin begin acting like criminals, looting your skin of what it needs to look youthful and resist damage.
  • This last point I already knew but it bears repeating: there is no single best antioxidant. In fact, shopping for skin-care products centered around one antioxidant (like vitamins C or E) means you won’t be giving your skin its best chance of recovering from the various types of damage caused by oxidation and sunlight. There are thousands of antioxidants available, and among those that have the most research, one thing has become clear: different antioxidants have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, although vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis, it isn’t fat soluble. That means it needs help to penetrate the lipids (fats) naturally present in skin if it is to reach its target and do the most good. Some antioxidants are all-around free radical scavengers while others work better to regenerate substances in skin that work to defend it from oxidative damage and inflammation. The bottom line is that taking a cocktail approach to using antioxidant topically is best. Variety is the spice of antioxidants!
I am continually fascinated by new research concerning how antioxidants impact our skin and overall health. Learning about how and why they work and how they should be formulated for maximum efficacy is one of the most exciting parts of my job. Best of all is the feedback we get from customers who’ve used our antioxidant-rich serums and moisturizers. The changes they see in their skin are exactly how well-formulated products loaded with antioxidants are supposed to work. Couple this with daily sun protection, a healthy diet, and smart lifestyle choices and you’re well on your way toward keeping skin’s defense systems ready to handle the reality of living in an oxygen-rich world."

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Would Text Messages Help You Remember Your Sunscreen?

There is an interesting article from Science Daily today regarding a study done by the University of California-Davis health systems to assess the effectiveness of daily text-message reminders to wear sunscreen over a six-week period.   

During the study, 70 participants aged 18+ were asked to apply sunscreen daily - half were sent text message reminders (which included daily weather information and a reminder to apply sunscreen)  and half were not (control group).  At the end of the study, the group that received the daily text messages had a daily adherence rate of 56.1% - versus the control group who had only a 30% daily adherence rate. 

The study's authors concluded that "despite continuing educational efforts, a wide gap persists between patients' understanding of the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure and their regular application of sunscreens...The short-term results of our study suggest that cellular telephone text-message reminders are a low-cost, scalable and effective method of bridging this knowledge-action gap. Introduction of a program that incorporates text-message reminders to a large population may be an innovative preventive health measure against the development of skin cancer."

What do you think?  Would you want a text message to be sent everyday to remind you to wear sunscreen?  Though I regularly apply sunscreen (via my moisturizer, foundation and applied to any skin that will see the sun), I certainly would not mind getting a little "nudge" every day.

The article is here:

Remember...beautiful skin is in and having beautiful skin means WEARING SUNSCREEN EVERYDAY! :-)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whale Vomit in Your Perfume? Indeed!

From the fantastic "brains" at The Beauty Brains comes a somewhat funny article...

Apparently a family in Austrailia happened upon a pile of whale vomit (yes, vomit) on the beach worth upwards of $1MM USD.  And why, you ask, does said whale vomit net so much dinero...

Per The Beauty Brains, " turns out ambergris (or whale vomit) is one of the many natural materials used by perfume companies for creating fragrances. Apparently, one gram of the stuff is worth $20 (US). That’s over $9000 per pound!"

So there you have it.  Whale vomit in your perfume.

Luckily for the whales (and us), cosmetic chemists have developed syntehtic versions of ambergris, so no need to be too grossed out.  However, don't scoop up that whale vomit when you see it -- apparently in the US "possession of ambergris is a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1978 and could result in significant fines and even some jail time."possession of ambergris is a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1978 and could result in significant fines and even some jail time. (The Beauty Brains,

So...I guess "happy perfume wearing"!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Being Yellow-ish Makes One More Attractive??

From Live Science..

Attractiveness Based Partly on Skin Color

By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer
posted: 16 November 2009 01:50 pm ET

When it comes to an attractive face, color can make all the difference, suggests a new study.

The research focused on facial skin color among Caucasians, finding a light, yellowish complexion looks the healthiest. The skin color could indicate a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, whose pigments are known to change the skin's hue, researchers suggest.
(The researchers predict the results would hold for other ethnicities as well.)

"Effectively health and attractiveness are pretty much the same thing," study researcher Ian Stephen of the University of Bristol in England told LiveScience. He added that past research as well as some of his forthcoming research shows as much.

Other studies have shown that shape and symmetry of a person's face are also cues of attractiveness.

"Most previous work on faces has focused on the shape of the face or the texture of the skin, but one of the most variable characteristics of the face is skin color," Stephen said.

Stephen and his colleagues asked 54 Caucasian participants to change the skin color of about 50 male and female faces on a computer screen to make them look as healthy as possible. Hands down, the participants tended to increase the rosiness, yellowness and brightness of the skin.

Here's how the researchers think the health-coloring connection works: The preference for more golden or yellow-toned skin could be related to the carotenoid pigments from fruits and veggies. These plant pigments are considered antioxidants, as they protect cells from damage caused by so-called free radicals and are also thought to be important for the immune system.
As for skin color, Stephen notes that if someone were to eat just carrots for a stint, the person's skin color would certainly turn orange-ish. He doesn't recommend such a diet, of course.
And rosy coloring can be the result of skin flushed with blood and oxygen, suggesting a strong heart and lungs, the researchers say. For instance, smokers and diabetics and those with heart disease have fewer blood vessels in their skin, and so their skin would appear less rosy.
If you think you can ditch the rabbit-like meals and just head to a tanning bed, think again. The researchers found lighter skin was better.

"In the West we often think that sun tanning is the best way to improve the color of your skin," Stephen said. "But our research suggests that living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet might actually be better."

Another tip: Eating only fruits and veggies won't work either, so forget about nibbling your way to an attractive face.

"If you're starving yourself then you'll look unhealthy for other reasons," Stephen said. "I wouldn't suggest you eat nothing but salads, because you won't be getting enough calories and [would] lose a lot of weight, and that in itself doesn't look good. If you end up anemic you won't have the red component in your face."

The results would likely hold for other ethnicities as well, Stephen said. For instance, his past research has shown black South Africans tend to judge rosier faces as healthier. And forthcoming research suggests the same may hold for yellowness and lightness of facial skin.

The study, which will be published in the December issue of the International Journal of Primatology, was funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and Unilever Research.

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Official Product Review: Sudden Change(R) Under-Eye Firming Serum

Sudden Change(R) Under-Eye Firming Serum

Where You Find This Product:

Drugstores (Walgreens, CVS, etc.), online (,, specialty retailers (ULTA) 

Product Description: 
  • Lines, wrinkles & circles disappear in 3 minutes
  • For delicate eye area, use daytime or evening to look your best
  • Look younger in just 3 minutes
  • Doctor tested
  • This remarkable Serum works unlike anything you have ever used before to make the appearance of dark circles, wrinkles, lines and puffiness disappear, instantly
  • Within minutes this Serum firms and tightens your under-eye area to smooth out lines, wrinkles & puffiness while minimizing dark circles
  • This unique, temporary, quick-action formula lasts for the day and can be refreshed and touched up anytime
  • Manufactured in the USA 
Purified Water, Serum Albumin, SD Alcohol 40, Tetrasodium EDTA,  Dimethicone Copolyol, Hyaluronic Acid, Dextran Sulfate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Methylparaben

Directions for Use:
  • Apply to clean, dry skin
  • Works with or without makeup
  • To use with makeup, mix one or two drops of Serum with a dab of makeup in the palm of your hand
  • Apply evenly but sparingly under the eyes where lines, dark circles and puffiness appear, and let dry for 1 to 3 minutes
  • To use without makeup, apply one or two drops sparingly to under-eye area, and let dry
  • Within minutes you can see & feel the difference

Beautiful*Skin*Is*In Official Review:

Ok, so, at the time I purchased Sudden Change(R) Under-Eye Firming Serum, I was furiously searching for something (ANYTHING) to make the suddenly apparent under eye wrinkles (which I've figured out are actually expression lines) go away. On top of this, I wasn't getting the results I wanted from the sample of DERMADoctor Wrinkle Revenge rescue & protect eye balmBeautypedia) (which, by the way, earned an "Average/Overpriced" rating from my skin-care guru Paula Begoun's , nor the Hyraluronic Eye Cream or Glycolic Eye Cream from Mario Badescu (which earned "Average" and "Poor" ratings from Beautypedia, respectively).  

In an impusle purchase moment at Walgreens, I picked up the Sudden Change(R) Under-Eye Firming Serum package and read the description.  "Wow!" I thought to myself, "My lines, wrinkles and circles will disappear in 3 minutes!"  (Disclaimer:  I was sort of in a skincare funk at this point...this would NEVER happen now in days).  I bought said product (paying $12 -- total rip off) and went home to try it out.

Per the directions for application, I cleansed my face and applied 2 drops to my fingertips.  I then "applied evenly, but sparingly" under both eyes and waited, excitedly, for my wrinkles to disappear.

What happened?  My undereye skin got really dry and tight and a layer of dried, cracked, white, flaky serum remained under my eyes (which did not easily come off when I tried to brush it off).  I was pretty mad that I had just spent $12 and, like an idiot, had thrown away my receipt outside of Walgreens thinking I had found the holy grail.  

In my recent skincare learnings/research, I found out why this product does not work as promised... 

For the most part, it is because the majority of cosmetic/skin care product packaging and advertisements is pure bullshit -- there's no regulation as to what companies can say in either case (except in the case of "organic" products, which is another ball of wax all together), so they tend to always (as you probably suspect) COMPLETELY stretch the truth.  More about this can be found on at this link:

The other reason is because this product contains some questionable ingredients for the skin in high quantities (tip: when looking at ingredient lists for cosmetics, the ingredients are listed in the order of highest-lowest quantity):

Serum Albumin: Found in egg white and can leave a film over the skin. Can tighten skin temporarily, but can also cause irritation and is not helpful for skin

SD Alcohol 40:  The alcohols to be concerned about in skin care products include SD alcohol.  Alcohols can not only be extremely drying, but can also generate free radical damage (yikes). In a product where the ingredients are at the top of the list (like this one), they will be problematic for skin.  

*All ingredient descriptions adapted from Beautypedia

Bottom line:  
DON'T buy this product!  Not only does it not live up to its packaging claims, but it includes ingredients in high quantities that are known irritants to the skin.  

Remember, "beautiful skin is in" :-) - so make sure to check your ingredient lists and stay away from irritants!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

From The Skin Guru: Acne Leads to Stress and Low Self-Esteem

Well, duh...right?

On her Yahoo blog, my favorite dermatologist, Leslie Baumann, M.D. (a.k.a. "The Skin Guru") details a study commissioned by Retin-A Micro Pump and conducted by Harris Interactive.

Interestingly, it seems only 18 percent of adult respondents had ever seen a derm for acne treatment. They have the tools to help, people!! And even if your insurance doesn't cover it, it's a good investment if you have truly horrible acne.

If you have moderate acne, I recommend checking out The Cosmetic Cop Beautypedia (my skin-care bible) for Paula Begoun's "Best Products" recommendations. She provides completely un-biased recommendations based on years and years (and years) of research.

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Latest Paula's Choice Beauty Bulletin: What Every Skin Type Needs

From my beloved skin guru Paula Begoun:

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Beautiful Skin is In is BACKKK!

Now that I'm embarking on educational pursuits to *pontentially* become the best dermatology nurse/medical esthetician EVER, I'm going to start up my "Beautiful Skin is In" blogging again! :-) As most of you know, I'm OBSESSED (almost to a fault) with skin, skin care science, cosmetic chemistry and the cosmetics/beauty industry.

On this blog, you'll find information and my general musings about skin care, skin health, cosmetic chemistry, cosmetic dermatology and medical esthetics, the beauty/cosmetics/skin care industry, product reviews (only those that I use, love and FULLY endorse), links to articles and other top-notch beauty/skin-care blogs.

I'll also be tweeting at

Hopefully you'll enjoy the content! I'd love to hear any suggestions for improving or any requests for topics/product review.

And remember...beautiful skin is in! So wear your sunscreen!!!

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