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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