Sugar: Past the Lips and Straight to the….face ?


(How sugar ages your skin)

Recent  health news has brought a lot of attention to the dangers of added sugar in our diets, and we are learning more and more about the damage caused by consuming too many sugary foods and drinks.  Most major diseases and disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease), heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes  (to name a few) are now thought to be linked to over-consumption of sugar.

According to the website nutrition “the leading cause of disability in the United  States and the leading causes of death are mostly caused by lifestyle, particularly what we put in our mouth.  Food and cigarettes.”

Now I know all of you are already aware of the dangers to our health caused by smoking cigarettes, but what you may  not know is how unhealthy sugar can be. In fact, according to research done by  Dr. Quanhe Yang of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar is so bad for us, that  “regularly consuming as little as one sugary fizzy drink a day was associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease.”(from

And we eat lots  of sugar!  Food manufactures put sugar in everything from ketchup to croutons to energy bars and even baby formula.  Even low-fat foods are laden with sugar to replace all the flavor lost when they removed the fat.  And the amounts they add can be  staggering. A 12 ounce can of soda can have as much as 39 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of table sugar contains 4.2 grams of sugar, so one soda would be the equivalent of more than 9 teaspoons of sugar in your drink (the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily ) .  Who does that?  If you were to make a 12 ounce glass of iced tea,  2-3 teaspoons of sugar would make it sweet enough for most people and 9 would most likely make it undrinkable.  So why do they put so much sugar in your soda? To hide the taste of all the salt they add to make you thirsty so you’ll drink more soda.  It’s a vicious cycle, and one we need to stop because it’s making us fat, killing us and making us look older.

The science of how sugar causes damage to our bodies is quite complicated. I suppose that’s why it took so long for science to understand its dangers.  I won’t attempt to give much detail, but a little is required to truly understand the consequences, and what I am talking about here is focused only on the effect of sugar on the skin. I’ll provide a link at the bottom of the page if you would like  to learn more about what sugar is doing  to the rest of your body.

As we age,  a process called glycation causes damage to the protein in the skin. In this process a sugar molecule attaches itself to a protein molecule resulting in the formation of a non-functioning  protein structure called Advanced Glycation End-Products or AGEs. In our skin, the proteins the sugar molecules attach themselves to are collagen and elastin, which are  responsible for giving our skin it’s plump youthful appearance and elasticity.

When AGEs occurs, the fibers become weak, less supple and discolored.  Over time this process leads to more  wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of radiance.  Loss of collagen and elastin is a normal part of aging, and we have to accept that our skin can’t look youthful forever, but when we combine life style choices like smoking, tanning and over exfoliating with excess sugar consumption, it’s a recipe for disaster for our skin! And not only do we have to worry about looking older, AGEs also makes the skin more vulnerable to UV light and cigarette smoke by creating abnormal cells and free radicals both of which are risk factors for skin cancer.

Sugar, particularly glucose (found in pastas and grains ), is a necessary part of our diet and is essential to keep cells functioning.  Every cell in our body uses glucose, it’s the energy of life.  But when we eat too much sugar, from unhealthy sources, our bodies and our skin pay the price!

Learn to make healthy choices when you eat, and you will be taking a big step towards slowing down the aging process.  And don’t think you can substitute by using “healthy” sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave, molasses, and even fruit juice (eat the whole fruit, the fiber helps slow down the process).  They may have a small amount of nutritional benefit, but they are still causing the exact same reaction and damage in your skin.

Read food labels, and  be aware of all the names used to indicate added sugars.  The following list will help you recognize hidden sugars:


High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener most of us already know about, because it’s gotten a lot of bad press in the past few years with claims that it’s even more harmful than sugar.  The truth is, when it comes to most of the health related issues of eating sugar, there really is no difference.  Sugar is sugar regardless of where it comes from and it will all make you just as sick.  However,  when it comes to AGEs, research has shown that high fructose corn syrup is 1o times more likely to causes AGESs, than any of the  other sugars we eat.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to give up sugar, but it is truly worth the effort.  You’ll not only look better, you’ll feel better too!  I gave up sugar a few months ago and I feel amazing!  Aches and pains I thought were just a natural result of aging  (I’m 62) have gone away, and I feel more alert and energetic than I have in years.  The first week was difficult, but  I no longer crave sweets, and I know if I can do it, anyone can!

For more  information about the dangers of sugar, click the link below to watch a very enlightening video.  It has some parts that are a bit technical,  but if you stick with it you’ll learn a lot.

Additional resources:


What I’ve Been Up To!


If  you  have noticed  it’s been quite some time since my last post, my apologies. I have not given up blogging, I’ve just been really busy with an exciting  new direction  I’m taking in my career path.  So I thought I would take a moment to fill you in on what I’ve been doing.

In the spa industry  it can be a constant struggle to find and keep new clients, especially in the current economic climate.  I am always looking for new  ways to generate more business while maintaining  my professional integrity.  The field of esthetics has plenty of opportunities to add new services and treatments, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to offering skin care that does not compromise or harm the skin.  No microdermabrasion, deep peels or dermaplaning for me!

So, when I  read an article about the skin challenges of women undergoing cancer treatment, I knew this was it!  I would  educate myself about caring for the skin of cancer patients and add an Oncology Facial to my list of service offerings.  Like most people, my life has been touched by relatives and  friends who have had to battle this dreadful disease and if I could help improve the quality of life even a little for someone going through cancer treatment, what an amazing thing that would be. The skin during cancer treatment does have special needs, so I could help clients manage their skin issues, while also giving them a relaxing, rejuvenating escape from the stress of dealing with cancer and cancer treatment.  If you’ve ever had a facial, you know how relaxing they can be. There is always a massage component and studies have  shown that  massage and the healing power of touch can help alleviate some of the side effects of cancer treatments. Stress, anxiety, depression, pain, nausea and fatigue can all be decreased by massage. In fact, many cancer treatment centers are offering massage therapy as a complimentary treatment.

My initial plan was to attend a 3 day Oncology Esthetics class in the DC area in March.  Unfortunately the class was cancelled because of snow, and has not yet been rescheduled.  The next best option was an online course which would only provide me with theory, but having been an Esthetician for 14 years I was  confident I could translate that theory into hands on treatments.  Plus the class I had planned to take only offered  2 hours of hands on work with cancer patients,  so I figured I wasn’t missing  much.  I decided to take the online course, have completed it and this week I took  an Oncology Massage class to learn additional massage techniques for cancer patients.

 But there was one  problem with this plan. I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of making a profit from another persons illness.  I know Oncology doctors and nurses get paid for what they do, but they’re actually helping cure their patients and save lives.  But after some soul searching I came up with two ideas that would make me feel a little less guilty.

  1. Volunteer for the ” Look Good Feel Better”  program.
  2. Offer complimentary Oncology Facials on my days off.


  • I am very fortunate to have an amazing boss who has agreed to allow me to use my facial room on my days off to give  Oncology Facials to cancer patients at no charge.  These facials will be offered on a limited basis, but I will do my best to accommodate as many clients as possible.

And of course in addition to these free programs, I will be adding an Oncology Facial to my list of services. This would be a great gift idea for a friend or loved one who is going through cancer treatment.  Helping with cooking, cleaning and errands is a great way to show how much you care, but the gift of pleasure and relaxation would be so special for someone struggling through treatment.

Needless to say, all of this education and training have kept me very busy, but I should soon be back to blogging and bringing you lots of new information about skin care and skin health.

If you would like more information, or have any questions, please email me at,   message me on Facebook or leave a comment here on the blog.


IMAges microbeads 2

I’ve never been a big fan of the scrubbing type exfoliating products for refining the skin.  Too often the scrubbing ingredient is too rough and can cause tiny tears and irritation to the skin.  There are some products that use less harsh  ingredients, but most women are overachievers when it comes to skin care so they scrub too long, too aggressively and too often.  So when cosmetic companies started putting micro-beads in their cleansers,  I was thrilled.   The beads are very smooth, so there’s less chance to overdo it and irritate or damage the skin.  And as an added bonus, they feel so good on your face , you tend to cleanse a little longer, which helps ensure thorough  removal of make-up and grime.

So imagine my disappointment when I stumbled upon an article about the dangers of micro-beads in cosmetic products.  Turns out, most of the beads are made of plastic and they’re so tiny they pass through the filters of most waste water treatment facilities and end up in rivers lakes and streams.  Why does that matter? Because they pose a huge environmental problem.

  •  Plastic is not biodegradable so it doesn’t break down but stays in the water where…
  • The chemicals in the plastic can leach into the water or…
  • They can absorb heavy metals, oil and PCB”s (a toxic chemical banned in 1979 but still present in many waterways).
  • Because they’re plastic, they don’t break down and are ingested by fish and other marine life which are part of the human food chain.  That means we could be eating plastic and other toxic chemicals when we eat a tuna sandwich.

What’s being done:
Several environmental groups are working to encourage governments and cosmetic companies to ban micro-beads and few companies are voluntarily removing them from their products.  Unilever claims they  will be plastic free by  2015 and Proctor and Gamble by 2017.  Johnson and Johnson  has already starting phasing out micro-beads.

What can you do?

  • Check ingredient labels and avoid products containing Polyethylene or Polystyrene.
  • Brands that are organic or plant based should be safe, but don’t be fooled by terms like “contains organic ingredients” .  To be sure, always check the ingredients.
  • Aveda (the brand I work with and  use) is a good choice.  It’s a plant based line, and uses jojoba beads and bamboo extract instead of plastic beads.


In Memory of Aveda Founder Horst Rechelbacher 1941-2014


The following is a letter from Aveda Global President, Dominique Conseil on the passing of Aveda Founder Horst Rechelbacher:

Dear Aveda Guest and Professional,

It is with profound sadness that we say farewell to our founder Horst Rechelbacher, who left his body following a period of illness.  His vision inspires us everyday, not only at work with Aveda, but in our lives.  Horst led a life of extraordinary leadership, creating a vision of what he wanted to be and then bringing that vision to reality.  He became a prominent world-class stylist in his youth.  Later as a salon owner, he created a unique model of economic sustainability for salons and spas.  He brought holistic beauty to the industry, connecting hair, face and body as one.  He was a life-long student who journeyed around the world gathering knowledge on the benefits of plants and Ayurveda, the ancient healing art of India.

In 1978, he started Aveda with the ambition of developing beauty products that would care for professionals, their guests and our planet through the power of pure flower and plant essences. Beyond a business, Aveda became a lifestyle and global movement empowering many to live more balanced lives to achieve a sense of harmony in body, mind and spirit.  He brought a caring high-touch experience to the salon industry well before starting Aveda.  He pioneered environmental responsibility, when under his leadership, Aveda became the first business to endorse the Valdez/Ceres principles in 1989.

At Aveda, we are, and will be forever grateful to Horst for the Aveda passion we are honored to live everyday.  Thank you Horst, we love you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

As a proud member of the Aveda Tribe since 2000, I feel a profound sense of sadness and loss.  Everything I do as an Esthetician has roots in Horst’s vision and mission.  It is through that vision and mission that I came to fully understand and embrace the belief that beauty truly does come from within and that as an esthetician it is crucial to acknowledge the whole of a person not just the outer covering.  His inspiration and passion will continue to guide me in following a path of health and wellness for myself, my clients and the planet.   Thank you Horst for all you have done to “care for the world we live in”.   May your memory continue to inspire all the lives you have touched, and will continue to touch through your legacy in Aveda.

Laser Hair Removal 101

laser leg 2

It may seem as though winter will never end, but the reality is that swim suit and shorts season will be here before you know it.  Which  means it’s time to start thinking  about getting rid of unwanted hair on legs, bikini line, underarms and back.  If you have been considering Laser Hair Removal to “permanently”  remove  hair, here are a few things you should know.

How laser hair removal works

 Just like dark surfaces absorb sun in the summer causing them to heat up, the dark pigment in hair absorbs the heat from the laser heating the hair follicle enough to damage it and kill the hair. Since it’s the dark pigment that attracts the laser, only dark hair can be expected to produce  good results. Light colored hair  will not heat up enough to cause any damage to the follicle.

And it’s not just dark hair that absorbs the light, darker skin will absorb it as well which could potentially cause burning, scarring and permanent discoloration of the skin.  The ideal candidate is someone with lighter skin and darker hair.  There are some new lasers that are capable of heating the hair and not the skin, but they seem to be less effective and would require more treatments and quicker regrowth.

How Many Treatments are Needed?

Hair goes through three cycles of growth; Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. Anagen is considered the growing stage when the root of the hair is the largest, has an abundance of melanin (pigment), and the hair is still attached to the follicle. It is only during this stage that the hair is able to be targeted by lasers. Multiple treatments are needed because the percentage of hair that is in the Anagen stage at a given time is about 25% for the body and 67% for the face.  That means a minimum of  4 treatments for the body and 2 for the face, in order to get every hair. But the truth is most of the hair follicles eventually repair themselves and begin to produce new hair. You can expect to need touch up treatments every 6 to 12 months.

Cost of Treatment

The cost of the treatments can vary widely depending on where you live, the size of the area being treated, the thickness and density of the hair, and how many treatments are needed. Small areas like the upper lip can cost anywhere between about $50 and $200 per treatment while larger areas like the full leg or a man’s full back can cost anywhere from $500 – $900 per treatment. If larger areas or multiple areas are treated, it could cost thousands of dollars.  That does sound pricey, but do the math and decide if it’s any more expensive than monthly waxing. Just don’t forget to factor in touch-ups ever 6-12 months.

Are the Results Permanent?

Manufacturers are not permitted to claim that laser hair removal is either painless or permanent unless there is FDA approved testing that demonstrates sufficient data showing such results. At this time several manufacturers have received FDA permission to claim, “permanent reduction,” but none can claim “permanent removal” for their lasers.  The only method of hair removal that is approved by the FDA as permanent is electrolysis.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Laser hair removal is not just a cosmetic treatment, but it is actually a medical procedure and does have known risks. Some of the known safety issues are  potential for burns, scarring, blisters, redness and permanent pigment changes to the treated areas.  There can also be complications from drug interaction, so be sure  to disclose any medications you are on.  And please follow the instructions for avoiding sun exposure and self tanners both before and after treatment because treated skin can  be more sensitive.  Self tanners could cause a rash or irritation and sun exposure could result in a serious sunburn.

Are There Long Term Effects?

Most information available about laser safety issues claim the type of lasers used are not cancer producing, but a search of both the FDA website and PubMed produced little data on the long term effects from repeated use of lasers on the skin. According to PubMed: “Several studies on hair removal with intense pulsed light (IPL) and various laser sources have been done, but adequate data on longterm follow up are scarce.”

My Personal Opinion

As far as the issues of cost, pain, effectiveness and how long the results will last, I feel those questions are really more about what each individual is willing to endure or can afford.  I am not a doctor or a scientist, but to me the concern I have is about not knowing the long term results from repeated use of lasers on the skin. Lasers have been used in medicine for about 30 years and medical lasers have made it possible to treat conditions previously considered untreatable, or difficult to treat.  But I think there is a big difference between using a laser briefly on a small area of the body during surgery and repeated laser treatments over large areas like the back, chest, face or legs for cosmetic purposes. Too often new products and medicines are brought to market without proper testing that  after years of use turn out to be harmful.  Doctors once thought tanning was healthy and recommended tanning beds to patients suffering from acne. Today, skin cancer is one of the most common and deadly cancers and is caused mostly from sun exposure and tanning beds. Often the skin damage from tanning doesn’t show up until many years after exposure. There are numerous drugs on the market that were once considered safe but after long term studies prove to cause serious damage to organs and body systems.

  • Acetaminophen (commonly used since the 1970’s) was thought to be a safe replacement for aspirin because it was easier on the stomach.  Recently it has been associated with serious liver damage.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (widely prescribed for over 6 decades) was given   to women to help relieve many of the symptoms of menopause as well as help prevent heart disease, and keep bones strong and was believed to have very few side effects. In 2002, the results of an extensive women’s study (the WHI) showed that  HRT in fact did NOT decrease a woman’s chance of getting heart disease, but rather definitively increased her risk of blood clotting, stroke and breast cancer.

With the increased popularity (and profitability) of Laser Hair Removal  humans are once again being used as  guinea pigs to test products.  Without long term clinical studies we can’t really know the effects that may show up years later.  If a light is strong enough to seriously damage a hair follicle, one can’t help but wonder what residual effects if might have on the skin. Waxing and shaving may not be the perfect way to remove hair, but at least we know that they’re safe!


Escape Winter With a Sensory Journey!

secret-garden-painting1One of the things I love most about my job is the luxury of working with beautiful plant based aromas.  The therapeutic effects from natural aromas are a great way to help clients recover from stress and return to a more calm and balanced state.  At Elan we begin each spa service with a an Aroma Sensory  Journey to allow our guest to choose an aroma they love. What better way to transport yourself to a beautiful escape on a cold winter day! The following is from the Aveda Professional website:


“Aromas can create new memories or bring back a moment in time with startling clarity. Unlike other senses, smell travels directly to the brain’s limbic system, which is home to memory, emotion and imagination. At Aveda, we use 100% naturally derived aromas that we call Pure-Fume™. We pioneered the development and use of “functional aromas” that go beyond scent and offer substance. Developed by our resident clinical aromaologist and noted Ayurvedic experts, every aroma and blend has a therapeutic effect.”

“The sense of smell works in two ways—psychologically and physiologically. The psychological aroma connection to memory and emotion is very powerful and happens in an instant. Physiologically, essential oils work through topical application and the lungs. We integrate aroma throughout the guest experience in many different product forms. Since each guest has different aroma memories and preferences, we ask guests to take an Aroma Sensory Journey to help determine their aroma preferences and create a customized, memorable experience.”

You can continue the experience at home by using essential oils, scented candles and skin and body care products.  For maximum effect,  make  sure  the aromas you use are naturally derived from plants and flowers.


Please Don’t Exercise Your Face!


If you made a  New Year’s  resolution to start an exercise program, good for you!  Exercise has enormous health benefits, and I applaud your efforts and wish you great success. But a word of caution, please don’t include facial exercises as part of your fitness program. They could do more harm than good.

 There are many great reasons to exercise: stronger muscles, improved cardiovascular health, increased bone density and weight loss are just a few of the benefits of exercise. And, exercise can help  improve the appearance of the skin:

  • Exercise can reduce stress by lowering stress producing hormones and release “feel good” endorphins in the brain. If you have read any of my previous posts about stress you know how damaging it can be to your skin.  Acne, eczema, sensitivity, dryness, dullness, and premature aging, are a few of the skin problems that can be exacerbated by stress. Committing to regular exercise program will help keep stress in check, and you’ll feel and look better.
  • Exercise also promotes healthy circulation which, according to dermatologist, Dr. Ellen Marmur will keep your skin healthy and vibrant. “By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keeps them vital.  Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products and free radicals from working cells.”

So whatever form of exercise you choose, running, weight lifting, pilates, yoga or swimming, your skin will reap the rewards as well. But, if you think facial exercises will help prevent aging and make you look younger, you should know that the  idea that it is possible to “develop” the muscles in your face in order to “push out the wrinkles” (as stated on the website is just wrong.

I love the idea of facial exercises as a way to improve your appearance. After all, my focus is on natural ways to take care of your skin, and what could be more natural than exercise.  However, my gut instinct and everything I know about skin tells me no, no, no!   

First, let’s talk about why we need to exercise:

  • Quite simply, we exercise because we no longer engage in the types of daily physical activities our ancestors performed, that kept their muscles strong and in peak condition. Their daily routine included running, lifting, carrying heavy loads, and pushing and pulling heavy objects.  Our lives have become quite sedentary; we spend much of our time in front of the TV or computer. So we go to the gym to lift weights, run on a treadmill, do pilates, yoga and zumba to replicate the movements that were once a regular part of our lives.
  • But never in the history of mankind have we ever used the muscles of the face for anything other than what we use them for today!  Talking, chewing, blinking, smiling, frowning and other facial expressions have not changed over the years, and we use the muscles of our face exactly the same way our primitive ancestors did.  Our bodies may have become more sedentary, but our faces have not!  We don’t need to do “facial exercises” because we have not stopped using our facial muscles.

Still not convinced?  Let’s look at how exercise works:

  • According to my friend Mickey Glick, Personal Trainer and owner of Body and Soul Fitness Studio, to effectively build our muscles requires movement, resistance and challenge.  In other words, we have to engage our muscles (movement) while holding, pushing or pulling something that has weight (resistance), and we need to increase the weight (challenge) as the movement becomes easier. I have no idea how it would be possible to use your face to do resistance exercises.  Maybe attach weights to facial piercings?  The images that invokes are quite disturbing!

Maybe you’re thinking, but wait, I’m doing exercises to “tone” my facial muscles, not build them. If by toning you mean using repeated movement in order to keep them from becoming weak and flabby, just think about how often you use your facial muscles every day.  In fact, the busiest muscles of the body are the ones responsible for blinking, which we do about 100,000  times a day.  Funny, all that “exercising” and we are still plagued with “crows feet” Hmm…

 Here’s the real reason we develop lines, wrinkles and sagging skin: 

  • Slowed collagen and elastin production
  • Decreased cellular regeneration
  • Loss of underlying fat
  • Thinning skin 
  • Lengthening of ligaments 
  • Gravity 
  • Facial expressions and movement


“The effects of aging on the dermal layer [where collagen and elastin are found] are significant. Not only does the dermal layer thin, but also less collagen is produced, and the elastin fibers that provide elasticity wear out.  These changes in the scaffolding of the skin cause the skin to wrinkle and sag.”

From Dr. Marmur:

“Loss of elasticity and volume, decreased collagen, elastin and even bone and gravity all act to alter the symmetry of the face over time. The dissolving extracellular matrix, is similar to a once-fluffy down pillow that eventually flattens and loses its shape.”    

It’s the loss of the cushiony layers of the skin that give the face fullness and shape that are responsible for lines and wrinkle, not the condition of your facial muscles. In fact, the use of those muscles is a key player in the formation of lines and wrinkles. Remember when you’re mother told you to stop making faces because your face could freeze like that?  Well she was right! Our facial muscles are the only muscles in the body that are attached directly to the skin and as a result when they contract, the skin moves. It’s this skin movement combined with other factors such as sun exposure, smoking, poor diet, chronological aging and gravity that are responsible for lines and wrinkles. In fact a common treatment for lines and wrinkles is Botox, which works by weakening the muscles, allowing the skin to relax and the lines to smooth out.

The following is from

“Facial expressions – people who repeatedly smile, frown, or squint will develop fine lines and wrinkles earlier than others who do not do these facial expressions so often. According to the Mayo Clinic, each time we use a facial muscle a groove forms under the surface of the skin. When you are young the skin springs back, but as it gets older and loses its flexibility springing back becomes harder and less frequent, resulting in more permanent grooves.”                                      

And from

“Smiling–along with squinting, frowning and other repetitive facial expressions makes fine lines and wrinkles more prominent over time because skin loses elasticity as we age.  And those facial exercises some of us do to try to improve muscle tone?  They actually have the opposite effect.”

Aging is inevitable, and the last thing you want to do is engage in practices that can speed up the process.  You may not be able to stop smiling, laughing and frowning, but you can make the choice not to do facial exercises. And hey, who doesn’t want a good excuse not to exercise!


“Simple Skin Beauty”- Dr. Ellen Marmur

Mickey Glick-

Are There Really Foods that can Trigger Breakouts?


Let me begin by saying that of course you need to maintain a healthy diet to have healthy skin.  All the organs of the body need  high quality  fuel in order to function properly.  For those who generally follow healthy eating habits but experience occasional breakouts or have acne that you blame on chocolate,  fried foods or some other  personal gastronomic  cryptonite, here is some interesting information:

It’s been a common belief among those suffering from acne and breakouts that certain foods can increase the incidence and severity of pimples.  Whether it’s too much chocolate, greasy fast food or some other  overindulgence, eat too much of a “trigger food” and you get pimples.  For most of my career I’ve believed that the only connection between what a person eats and  pimples  is probably not the food, but the stress that triggered the urge to overeat that food, and it’s commonly accepted that stress is a contributing factor for breakouts. The only food I ever felt might contribute to breakouts is dairy. Cows are given hormones to  increase milk production and we do know that certain hormones can be a contributing factor for breakouts and acne.

Turns out I was right. And wrong.

There has been an enormous amount of research focused on a possible link between diet and acne, and the results may surprise you. There does not seem to be any connection between acne and eating chocolate, or fatty foods. Yes that’s right no connection! There is however, evidence that acne can be affected by the consumption of dairy products as well as high-glycemic-index foods like soda, cakes and white bread. (I’ll provide a link at the bottom of this post for a more comprehensive list of high GI foods.) The following is from

  • There exists convincing data supporting the role of dairy products and high-glycemic-index foods in influencing hormonal and inflammatory factors, which can increase acne prevalence and severity. Studies have been inconclusive regarding the association between acne and other foods.
  • Authors of a randomized controlled trial examined the effect of low-glycemic diets on acne risk and insulin sensitivity. Individuals assigned to the low-glycemic diet experienced improvement in the  number of acne lesions, when compared with the control group. In addition, the low-glycemic diet group’s  weight decreased, and insulin sensitivity and SHBG [sex hormone-binding globulin] levels increased. Increases in SHBG levels correlated with decreased lesion counts. These investigative findings support the role of low-glycemic diets in influencing hormonal levels, as well as improving insulin sensitivity and acne.

One particularly interesting aspect of the studies  is the discovery that skim milk was more likely to contribute to acne than whole milk:

  • Authors of a large case-control study evaluated the association between milk and acne in the adolescent diets of more than 47,000 nurses. Among participants who had been diagnosed with severe acne as teenagers, those with the highest level of total milk intake (3 servings per day) reported having acne more frequently, when compared with individuals with the lowest level of intake (serving per week). This association was strongest (a 44% increase) for skim milk intake, suggesting fat content was not the determining factor for acne risk. Researchers hypothesized that the hormones found in milk played a role in acne risk.
  • A study from 2005 showed that components of milk, other than lipids, have insulin-stimulating abilities. Insulin drives insulin-like growth factor, which in turn increases testosterone [ a hormone  associated with increased acne and breakouts].

The conclusion:

  • Although studies are showing a an increased risk for breakouts for those eating dairy and high-glycemic index foods, no study has established a positive association between acne and chocolate, saturated fat, or salt intake.

Good news, and food for thought!


Protect Your Skin with Tomatoes


Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes that can help protect your skin from sun damage as well as increase levels of collagen, which gives skin it’s structure and elasticity. You still need to use sunscreen, but by including tomatoes in your diet you’ll have added protection. Processed or cooked tomatoes, like those found in tomato paste, soup or juice have the highest concentration of lycopene and adding olive oil makes it even more potent. Daily intake should be the equivalent of 5 tablespoons of tomato paste with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. I make a light soup by adding some water and a few herbs to tomato paste. It’s makes a great snack!


Make Sure Your Waxing Services are Safe and Legal


I know everyone is trying to save money these days but when it comes to waxing, the savings may not be worth the risk.  Nail Salons are now offering cheap waxing services, and it’s so convenient and inexpensive to get your eyebrows waxed when you get your nails done. But before you do, here are a few things you may not be aware of:

  • Did you know that in most states, including Pennsylvania (where I live and work), anyone performing waxing services is required by law to have a state issued license?
  • And, did you know that the only licenses issued in PA that permit  waxing are those held by Hair Stylists and Estheticians?
  • That means the person giving you a manicure or pedicure may be licensed for nail services only. Unless the person doing your nails  has a Cosmetology License  (which includes hair, facial, nail, make-up, and waxing services) or also holds an Esthetician License, he or she is not permitted by law to perform any waxing services.

But, does it really matter? Absolutely! Waxing may look easy, but if you’ve ever tried waxing at home you know it’s not! If the person providing your waxing services doesn’t have the necessary education, your waxing could be quite painful, ineffective and could cause bruising, bleeding burning or tearing of the skin. With professional training and by following the proper protocol, waxing is a safe easy way to remove unwanted hair.

Waxing removes skin cells along with the hair, and the use of certain acne and anti-aging medications, getting a facial peel and even having a mild sunburn could cause problems ranging from very mild to serious. And if you take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, you could be at risk for excessive bleeding.  In order to insure a safe, successful waxing, your service provider needs to ask some questions before your service. The following is a partial list of waxing contraindications:

  • Using prescription skin medications like Accutane, Differns and Retin A.
  • The use of over the counter skin care products like glycolic acid or salicylic acid.
  • Taking  blood thinners or anyone with a bleeding disorder.
  • Taking drugs for autoimmune diseases like lupus.
  • Sunburned skin.
  • Facial peels , microdermabrasion or laser resurfacing.
  • Using skin bleaching products.

The effects of waxing, as well as many of the things we do that exfoliate our skin, are cumulative and with repeated waxing, the skin can become thinner and more sensitive. This means even if you’ve had no previous problems waxing while using acne meds or other exfoliating products, there’s no guarantee it won’t happen in the future. In fact it most likely will.  And it could result in tearing, burning or scarring of the skin.  You could also be at risk for contracting an infection, particularly  if your service provider is not practicing proper hygiene (no double dipping of the wax applicator. Ever!).

There are also after care directions you need to know about, including, but not limited to:

  • Don’t use any creams or lotions on areas that have been waxed.
  • No tanning for 48 hours after waxing.
  • For body waxing, no hot baths or hot tub.
  • No deodorant after underarm waxing.
  • No facial peels or microdermabrasion after facial waxing.

And just because someone has a license, doesn’t guarantee they are following     safe and proper practices. If your service provider doesn’t have a current Cosmetology or Esthetician License (ask to see it), or isn’t making  you aware of contraindications before every waxing service (we can’t know what changes you’ve made since we last saw you), find someone else to do these services for you.  It may be a little more expensive, but it will be well worth it.

Follow these links for a complete list of contraindications:                                                       

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