Sun Exposure and Vitamin D . . . gasp!

sun1Gigi and I LOVE the sun!  We also know how aging it is.  We spend time in the sun and do wear sunscreen, obviously . . .  we mention it ALL THE TIME!  There is so much in the media now regarding vitamin D deficiency, everyone seems confused.  Like it or not, we need the sun and yes, it’s dangerous.  I’ve heard and known too many that have dealt with or died from melanoma, however, it’s an absolute necessity to a healthy life (healthy bones, reduced risk of diabetes and the flu virus, cancer prevention, etc.) . . . that’s just a simple fact. Google it all day long.  And what is so obvious to us . . . people that are in the sun too much look older than their years . . . people that avoid the sun completely look pasty and unhealthy . . . for the most part.  So, where’s the balance between vanity and good health? Become aware. I personally only wear sunscreen on my face, neck, and hands.  I let myself obtain vitamin D naturally . . . from the sun.  I can hear the gasps now!

You all know that between a vitamin D supplement, certain foods, and sunshine, your body can get/make the recommended daily amount of this vitamin, but it is in fact a hormone.  The problem is your diet won’t give you enough of it, many people like myself do not like “popping pills” for nutrients, and how much sun exposure is safe?

Two things to consider if you’re not completely sure about adequate sun protection and want to spend time in the sun to create vitamin D. One, there is a tropical fern extract (polypodium leucotomos) containing a natural mix of phytochemicals that has been shown to inhibit photoaging. Gigi and I have both used it in the brand name Heliocare (www.heliocare.com).  I used it when I was in the Seychelles which is pretty much on the equator, and I DID NOT burn!  I also used sunscreen, but wasn’t good about reapplying.  Honestly, I was blown away because it appeared to have worked . . . no sunburn, no inflammation, hopefully minimal oxidative stress.  Another option that I now use regularly is the app . . . dMinder (www.dminder.ontometrics.com).  Most people are unaware that the best time to obtain vitamin D from the sun is at what’s called “solar noon”.  This app tracks when solar noon hits your area . . . and it isn’t always 12:00pm.  It monitors the UVI index, the angle of the sun, and the measured IU’s you are receiving.  So now that it’s spring where we live . . . I get my vitamin D naturally at solar noon then in the afternoon I cover up with some cute UPF/SPF clothing which is getting more popular and easy to find.

Dr. Hudacek gives you her opinion on how to obtain vitamin D in the video below . . .

Now get out there and enjoy the sun . . . it’s healthy if you’re smart about it!

Buyer Beware

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Just about every week, we get contacted by a new skincare company to do a product review.  Do you see a lot of them on this website?  No.  That’s because we will not endorse a company that makes false claims and use ingredients that are not scientifically proven.  We are always on the lookout for great ingredients and formulations that are not too polluted with a plethora of nasty chemicals.  Are there products out there that are totally botanical, organic, and efficacious . . .  no. At least not in the way we see the use of skincare products (efficacious would be the key word in that last sentence).  Do the product lines we love have some nasty chemicals     . . . yes.  To achieve great (healthy) skin, you need a combination of natural and non-toxic synthetics. That is really hard to find in the marketplace!  And, there is only so much a topical product can do. There is not a miracle cream, lotion or potion that will change the structure of your skin. If it “changes” your skin, it is considered a drug and has to go through the FDA (think retinoids and chemical sunscreen actives).

Many of the skincare companies that ask us to do reviews make claims that simply aren’t true. Whether it be by the all natural and oh so powerful “plant stem cells” or by the high tech approach of using “human stem cells” . . . (more on the stem cell topic in a future blog post) . . . the claims are ridiculous. Stimulating cell regeneration? Boosting gene activity? The use of stem cells is a hot topic these days.

*A side note . . . the only human stem cells approved by the FDA at this point are those from “cord blood”.  Companies using human stem cells in their topical products are making false claims. That’s not to say that some day this technology won’t evolve and produce evidence and results. Topically, that remains to be seen.  I spent a good amount of time on the phone with FDA (Biological, Drugs, and Food Safety & Applied Nutrition) prior to writing this blog.

Take a peek at what the FDA sent out to a large cosmetic company a couple years ago in making claims that were extremely misleading . . .

http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2012/ucm318809.htm

And more recently . . . (several companies are marketing the use of human stem cells)

http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2014/ucm424920.htm

The FDA doesn’t have the man power to police the entire cosmetic industry.  And the cosmetic industry is at the bottom of their list.  We know that they have “enforcement activity” going on and certain areas are under investigation as evidenced by these letters. And if people report negative side effects from the use of a product, the FDA will get involved.  Unfortunately, they won’t get involved if your “negative reaction” is simply less money in your bank account.  The claims and prices many companies are stating are ridiculous. And that is where you need to be aware.

Pick your Poison

Chemicals-in-MakeupWe know . . .  this sounds insane.  But for as hard as we try to live a clean and organic lifestyle . . . it’s simply not realistic to live a toxic free life anymore. Whether it be our skincare/personal care products, the environment, the sun’s UV radiation, the flame retardants in our furniture, our water supply, the food we eat . . . it’s sad, it’s scary and it’s reality.

This is also why Gigi and I obsess over ingredients in our products.  It gives us some kind of power in making decisions on what we put in and on our bodies. I can share with you a few of the top ingredients/products that we TRY to stay away from. Here is a quick reference . . .

PARABENS (used in just about everything), PHTHALATES (DEP, diethyl phthalate, used in fragrances), TRICLOSAN (used in hand sanitizers), SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate- gives shampoos/cleansers the lather i.e. a detergent),  hair dyes containing RESORCINOL/PPD (phenylenediamine), LEAD (acetate/compounds), and in nail polish . . . TOLUENE, FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE RESIN, CAMPHOR, DBP (dibutyl phthalate)

There is the argument that SLS’s do their job . . .  clean!  Yes, however, there are other options out there which is why I prefer to stay away from them.  And when buying nail polish (BTW acetone isn’t great either), look for a company that says they are “3, 4, or 5 free”, meaning they have eliminated those toxic compounds.  BUT here’s another scary fact . . . some companies that SAY they removed those chemicals DIDN’T!!!

Perfumes are loaded with phthalates (DEP helps fragrance linger after application) which is why I recommend only spraying it on your clothes.  And that is also why is has no place in your skincare products!  Fragrance is among the top five allergens in the world for a majority of people.   Synthetic or natural, fragrance has no place in skincare products which Gigi and I preach constantly.  And did you know that fragrance houses not only make perfume but they also develop flavors for the food industry . . . hence the food we eat.  Chemically altered to make it more appealing.  THAT is why you should eat organic as much as possible.

Are we concerned with a paraben or two at the bottom of an ingredient declaration? Honestly, no. We feel it’s far worse NOT to have a preservative in a product. Irena James, Director of Product Development for YG Laboratories and an assistant instructor at the UCLA Extension Cosmetic Sciences Program, wrote a great article in Dermascope Magazine September 2014 about preservatives and why we need them.  You can Google it if you’re interested in reading the whole article.  It’s geared towards industry professionals but a great read.

The state of California is the leader in environmental issues.  Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californian’s about the chemicals in the products we purchase and updates their list annually. Here is the current Prop 65 list of toxic chemicals in case you’re interested . . . (and you will see titanium dioxide, airborne particles, listed which is also a concern in powdered mineral sunscreens . . .  hold your breath!)

http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/files/p65single122614.pdf

Are we going to stop using perfume? Doubt it. Are we going to stop dying our hair?  I hope not! Are we going to stop using hand sanitizer at the gym after a workout?  Not a good idea. Are we going to stop driving our cars?  I doubt we will ever be 100% electric.  It’s impossible to live free and clear of it all, but at least you are aware and can choose.

’tis the Season

This is the time of year to start thinking about tackling those brown spots on our face, neck, decollete, hands, etc. Those “spots” whether you call them sun spots, liver spots, age spots . . . are sun damage.  They can also be hormonal, but for the most part, it’s superficial and can be treated. But I need to clarify one thing . . . if you are a darker skin tone, you need to do some research and check with your dermatologist or aesthetic nurse as some skin types are not suitable for skin lightening ingredients, chemical peels or electical modalities such as IPL (intense pulsed light). By the way, chemical peels are also great for dealing with hyperpigmentation, along with multiple benefits (and a little easier on the budget).  I find a little more down time with peels than an IPL, but I do both and see incredible results with them.

The gold standard for inhibiting melanin production and dealing with hyperpigmentation is hydroquinone.  It is a controversial ingredient and one that I use only this time of year and only at night. There are some natural ingredients that are also good, not as effective as hydroquinone, but good none the less. But please do your own research as with any type of active ingredient there is always a potential for skin irritation. I have also heard over the years that rubbing a fresh cut lemon on to your face (or fresh squeezed lemon juice) will do the trick . . . PLEASE do your research on that one!   The last thing you want to use is something this acidic (a very low pH) that is also phototoxic.  And remember even though it’s winter and you may not be spending as much time out in the sun, you MUST wear sunscreen while using these types of products. Few apply enough sunscreen as needed and if you wish to maintain the results of any skin lightening products sunscreen is paramount.  Remember, those spots got there from the sun!

Below I’m discussing my fall/winter skincare regimen and I’m also including a link from a previous blog post of Gigi receiving an IPL (sueandgigi.com/ipl).  Gigi and I do use and recommend products from Paula’s Choice as we have found her formulations to be outstanding and the price points phenomenal.  Skincare products containing good skin lightening ingredients, together with a broad spectrum SPF 30 or greater, chemical peels and/or lasers that target hyperpigmentation can give you even skin tone that is youthful, beautiful and certainly achievable.

The Cumulative Effect

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People are funny . . . almost everyone wants that one answer, that one big secret, the fastest and easiest way in or out or through whatever the issue is.  So many times we’re asked this . . . and every time we respond with “it’s not one thing, it’s everything.”  That’s the “big secret”!  Not exactly what most want to hear.  It’s sounds overwhelming.

On this blog, we speak the truth.  There is no miracle lotion, potion or cream.  There’s no pill or procedure to turn back time.  I recently added a quote on to one of my Pinterest boards that says . . . “Do not regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many.”  So true.

I have been speaking to so many people lately about just this.  They ask what we’re all about . . . and the first thing is health.  Without that, you have nothing.  After that is the “fluffy stuff”, but it too is important.  It does matter.  I have been on this planet 51 years now and I have never heard anyone, female or male, say they don’t want to look or feel better, that they don’t care how they look.  Never.

So the first thing I say to anyone that wants to look good for their age AND feel good for their age is . . .  take care of your health!  Be aware of what you are putting in and on your body.  Be aware of your thoughts . . . as negative people almost always look older than their years.  Be aware of your words and their impact.  Be aware.  Listen. Your body will tell you what it needs, what’s wrong, most simply don’t listen.  It’s the greatest machine on earth and your mind is the most powerful pharmacy there is. Use it.

Secondly . . . EXERCISE!  The human body was not meant to be idle, it was built to move.  I have really been observing this lately and have noticed that those who constantly move are ALWAYS healthier than couch potatoes or lazy individuals.  I have seen this over, and over, and over. This one is obvious. Whether it be yoga, a gym, walking or jogging regularly, something, anything. Do it.

Lastly, take advantage of the times we are living in.  The technology is unbelievable and yes, we do believe in it!  Facials aren’t just masks and moisturizers anymore.  The use of microdermabrasion, microcurrent, ultrasound, lasers, it all assists your skin to function in a healthy manner.  Fillers and toxins have their place too if you’re open to that.  But again, we always say, less is more!  And always using a well formulated and efficacious line of skincare products is paramount. Just using a good anti-aging cream and slapping it on your face every day isn’t going to cut it.  Or having one IPL treatment either.  Even if you do get a face lift . . . guess what?  It doesn’t last!!! Regular implementation of all mentioned is part of the cumulative effect to looking and feeling great whatever your age.

Good Information . . . Smart Advice!

We pulled this infographic from our friends at PaulasChoice.com with their permission.  This is the best anti-aging information and advice we can think to offer you with regards to the realities of sun exposure.

PaulasInfographic

Hormone Replacement Therapy in a Nutshell

After two years of running around to several doctors, gynecologists , and so called “Hormone Specialists”, I have concluded that when it comes to hormone replacement for bothersome menopausal symptoms (whether custom-compounded bioidenticals, FDA-approved conventional bioidentical hormone therapies or synthetic hormone therapies), it is far wiser to ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION!
We just don’t know what the long term health implications of taking HRT (estradiol and progesterone) will be, the science just isn’t there yet! Yes, it’s been ten years since the negative results came back from the Women’s Health Initiative trials, and yet there is still much confusion on the topic of hormone therapy to ease the symptoms of menopause. Because the WHI used horse-derived estrogen, and synthetic progesterone , some practitioners have questioned whether “bio-identical” hormones or over-the-counter herbal remedies might be safer? Currently, the experts say that there is no way to know yet! You may still risk getting breast cancer, heart disease and blood clots with any of these therapies.
I would urge any woman who is considering HRT to do her research, and not to be taken in by charlatans who want you to take several expensive blood and saliva tests, then put you on high doses of “natural “compounded  hormones. These hormones may come from soy or wild yams, but they are still synthesized in a pharmaceutical lab, and your body recognizes them simply as estrogen,progesterone, or testosterone. There is no evidence that these bioidenticals are any safer than conventional methods of HRT. Although, few doctors these days will prescribe the synthetics like Prempro or Premarin (made from horse urine) because they were proven to cause breast cancer. Today, new safer conventional hormone therapies  are available that are also much more economical and yet considered  bioidentical (same molecular structure as your own hormones). The Vivelle transdermal patch, and Prometrium pill are examples of these bioidenticals.
I have simplified lately….but because my symptoms were soooo severe, I decided to take the risk and try the estrogen transdermal patch, plus a gel cap of progesterone in the evenings. The patch is 1 mg. and can be worn on buttock cheeks for up to a week. Because I still have a uterus, I must also take  progesterone (Prometrium). It will help shed the lining of uterus, thus avoiding any risk of uterine cancer. Both of these have REALLY HELPED relieve my hot flashes, dry burning vagina, irritability, disrupted sleep and discomfort with sex. They are also covered by my insurance, and are the new conventional FDA-approved bioidentical hormones I talked about earlier. The experts seem to agree that short term use of HRT is acceptable (under five years), if monitored, continuing annual mammograms and follow ups with a doctor.
Anyway ladies, bottom line…we all experience menopause differently, and must do what we feel is best under the circumstances. Be careful and follow your instincts, your body will tell you what it needs…listen to it!  Your quality of life has to be a priority too.
My advice to you, if you choose HRT  to help you through menopause , start it earlier than later into menopause, use the lowest dose possible for symptom relief, and do that for the shortest amount of time!
Good reference sites: www.menopause.org.
www.redhotmamas.org

The Passion behind The Blog

Have you had a good nights sleep and did you wake up looking younger?

sleep1Do you want to improve some of the fine lines and wrinkles on your face and chest area?  Well . . .  train yourself to sleep on our back and I promise you will see results!

Every time someone asks Gigi and I about our secrets . . . after rattling off many . . .  we always end with  . . . oh, and you must sleep on your back.  It’s almost like they didn’t hear anything but that!  And then we get the  . . .  Oh!  I could never do that!  Yes you can!  It’s called power of choice.

Sleeping on your back is absolutely necessary in your skin care regimen!  Plus the fact that it’s better for your body and organs anyhow, but that’s a different story.  The photo at the top is exactly how you should NOT sleep . . .  the photo below kind of says it all.

Also interesting in this quest for less wrinkles while sleeping is the concept of special fabrics for pillows that avoid wrinkles and pillows that have a specific shape.  A recent find that actually intrigued us was the “Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase”.   About $60, this fabric is supposedly embedded with copper oxide and releases copper ions on to the skin’s surface while sleeping.  The claim is that sleeping on this pillowcase is like putting moisturizer on our skin while building collagen and elastin.  We’re personally not convinced about their philosophy, but it is intriguing regardless. Elizabeth Arden  also has a rejuvenating pillowcase (much less $) wherein the fabric is “naturally enriched with vitamin E, aloe, and jojoba”.  As far as we can tell, satin is actually the best for the skin while sleeping as the skin doesn’t tend to “crunch up” next to it as it slips while cotton can hold on and “stick” to the skin more.  I personally have used a neckroll for about 30 years.  My neck/spine feels good, my back doesn’t ache like it used to, and it keeps me from getting any “sleep lines”.  I highly recommend it.

At the end of the day, if you are really serious about not adding to the wrinkles that will naturally form with life and expression, you really need to sleep on your back.  It took me two years of tossing and turning, but eventually I took to it.  If you really want to enhance your skincare regimen, trust me, you can do it.

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The Menopause Conundrum!

Having been in the throes of menopause for the last few years (since 49yrs old), I feel quite certain that I can impart to you some pertinent wisdom on the topic. That’s not to say that I’ve got all the answers by any means! I’m still on my journey to find the safest and most efficacious ways to counteract the litany of symptoms I’ve experienced during this change of life. Sifting through the plethora of information, and at times misinformation has been quite a challenge, it’s more complicated and nuanced than I could have ever imagined.
The following video is the first in a series of videos that Sue and I will be doing on the Mid-Life Woman.  Sue is in the early stages of menopause called perimenopause, and I am well within it. We both have a lot say, so say tuned!
In this video, I give an overview of menopause, it’s symptoms, it’s pluses and minuses, and the risks and benefits of hormone therapy as I see them.
We’ll keep you abreast….