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:



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!


Don’t Let The Holidays Stress You Out. Just Practice your ABT’s


This morning while perusing the ads in the Sunday  News I noticed a few inserts for children’s  toys and realized the holiday  season has begun.  For me, it’s way too soon to be thinking about Christmas shopping, but  for retailers, there  is so much competition for your holiday dollars that every year it seems as though they start a little earlier. How I long for the days when the Christmas season didn’t begin until after Thanksgiving. But it’s now commonplace to see Christmas displays well before Halloween. I suppose some people may see the extended holiday season  as extra time and opportunity to shop, but for many it can mean that much more opportunity for stress.  We like to think of the Holidays as a joyous season, a time to celebrate family, friends, our religious beliefs and a New Year. But with all the shopping, wrapping, baking, the  children’s Christmas concerts, parties, and entertaining, it can end up being more stressful than joyful.

Many of us already have activities we can turn to during these busy times  to help us recharge and restore balance to our lives.  Yoga, meditation, and massage are more popular then ever. Even activities as simple as  taking  a long walk or soaking in a hot bath can help. There are many wonderful ways to escape stress, but honestly during the busiest time of the year, how do you fit it it?  Plus when you’re standing in the longest checkout line you’ve ever seen, and your patience is wearing thin, you can’t duck out for a quick yoga class. So  what can you do to survive the season and keep calm and relaxed. Well, I have a few quick and easy ways to  make this holiday season a little brighter.  And you never have to lose your place in the checkout line.

Here’s a quick review of how stress works:                                                                                        In order to maintain balance within the body, there are two major parts of our nervous system that function in balance with each other. The parasympathetic nervous system which is our “rest and recovery mode” and the sympathetic nervous system, our “flight or fight mode” and one of these two states is always engaged. When we are in a stressful situation, whether it’s trying to meet a deadline (like all that baking for the cookie exchange) or simple impatience (standing in long lines) our bodies shift into sympathetic mode, which raises our blood pressure, and slows down our digestive and immune systems.  When the stress is chronic and never stops, we are more susceptible to disease and illness.  It’s no wonder we’re more likely to get the flu or a cold in the winter.  Our defenses have been compromised by constantly being sympathetic dominant.  So what do you do to flip that switch and engage your rest and recovery mode?  Read on, I have some answers!

QUICK AND EASY STRESS REDUCING TIPS:                                                                          I know it’s an oxymoron, to suggest a “quick fix” for stress  when one of the major contributors is our fast paced lives.  But  these tips are for use  “in the moment”  when you feel your blood pressure rise, your patience becomes exhausted, and you want to yell at the woman holding up the line at Target, searching through her purse for her credit card (because during the 20 minutes she was waiting in line she never realized she needed her card, so why would she bother looking for it until the last minute….grrrr!)

So what are the ABT’s? Aroma, Breath and Touch.  Three simple but powerful tools to help you cruise through the season with barely a blip.

  1. SMELL A FLOWER.  When we inhale an AROMA, we experience emotional changes that cause a measurable physical response. Aromas can relax, calm, uplift and invigorate, and most importantly, create hormonal changes that engage our parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress.  But be sure you’re using plant based, not synthetic aromas. The molecular structure of an aroma is very complex and is almost impossible to completely recreate.  A synthetic replica of a plant may smell pleasing and our nose might not be able to tell the difference , but our brain and every cell in our body can.  Synthetic aromas do  not have the ability to impact us emotionally or physically the way a real plant can. Plus, often the synthetic aromas we breathe actually create more stress, because they are toxins that our bodies must work to remove.  Aromas should reduce stress, not create more.  Carry a bottle of your favorite aroma with you and when you feel tense, just pull it out and take a big deep breath. One of my favorites is Aveda’s Stress Fix, a blend of lavender, lavandin and clary sage clinically proven to relieve feelings of stress.  The roller ball is perfect for carrying in your purse or pocket.     stress fix
  2. BREATHE!  Breath is an important link in the mind-body relationship. When we feel stressed, our breathing rate and pattern change as part of the ‘fight-or-flight response and we  take short shallow breaths. But by taking just one full deep breath we can engage the parasympathetic nervous system,  calm our mind and begin to return to a more relaxed state.  It’s called diaphragmatic breathing and you may actually have to practice how to take a deep breath in order to do it properly:                                                                                                        Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. As you inhale slowly and fully (nose or mouth) the hand on your abdomen should rise first, and most with only a little movement of the hand on your chest.  Try to imagine that you’re filling your lungs from the bottom up. Then exhale, slowly and completely. It may seem difficult at first, but keep practicing, it’s well worth the effort.  Practice this technique anytime you’re feeling stressed, it really can make a difference.
  3. TOUCH. Another powerful tool for combating stress, touch has the ability to bring calming benefits even when we do self massage. I’m not saying it should replace your massage therapist who is well trained in muscle manipulation and can reach areas you can’t, but for a quick stress buster, it can really work.  Massage can relieve tension headaches, and stress, all too common during the hectic holiday season.  And you really can do this just about anywhere, just keep in mind that intention is important, you have to focus on bringing healing energy to your body and use firm touch. Try massaging the palm of one hand with the thumb of your other hand while waiting in the check out line at the grocery store. Or try  kneading  your forearms or shoulders  while sitting at a traffic light. And if you’re with a friend or loved one,  give each other a quick shoulder rub.  Others may stare, but probably because they’re jealous! Added bonus, massage benefits both the giver and the receiver (one of the many reasons I love my job).  If you would like some hands on tips for self massage, I am offering a limited number of free 15 minute consultations at Elan (717-392-2207) or check out this  article on self massage that can give you some excellent techniques:      .

By trying any one of these tips, you might actually enjoy the holidays more  then ever, and to really elevate your mood, try combining all three. Amazing!


How to Breathe Correctly

Not Just for Pina Coladas


In recent years, coconut oil has been recognized for it’s health benefits when include in our diets, but did you know it’s also good for the skin. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and has great moisturizing properties, that can help increase skin elasticity. It can also enhance wound healing, and has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Research is currently underway to determine it’s potential for treating adult acne.
Try it as a body moisturizer, or as a pre-cleanser to remove makeup.


Welcome to my Skin Care Blog

My career as a licensed esthetician began in 2000 and since then many women (and a few men) have passed through my doors. Their questions, experiences and skin care issues are as unique as they are, and what I learn from them is as valuable to me as anything I try to teach them. But the most important lesson I hope to pass on is, be the best you can with what you have. There are many products treatments and procedures available, that are capable of making drastic changes in your appearance, but in my opinion they often come with a price.  The long term effects from over exfoliation with harsh scrubs and peels can actually cause damage to the skin resulting in accelerated aging. And many medical procedures and treatments have not been tested over a long period of time, so no one really knows what will happen to your skin in 10, 20, 30 or more years. Women today are being used as guinea pigs to create profit for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. So for anyone interested in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin without compromising your skins integrity, I invite you to follow this blog. I will offer tips and advice about how to best take care of your skin, to keep it looking beautiful not just for today, but for the rest of your life. My approach is focused on using products that are from nature, and treatments that are effective, but not aggressive. I encourage you to enjoy, share, comment, or ask questions about the information presented here. You can follow me by clicking on the link on the right side of this page and entering your email address. I promise I will never share or sell your email address to anyone.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Skin………..Judy

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