Seasons and Skincare

seasons

Routine is the kiss of death in a skincare regimen . . . it can make you look older and create unbalanced skin. This is a wake up call for many women on the quest for beautiful, healthy skin . . .  you have to change your skincare regime with the seasons.  Your makeup too.

I’m not mandating four different regimens as some areas don’t really have four seasons, obviously, like southern California or Florida, but I do strongly recommend switching up your routine at least twice per year.  I definitely do and have for years.  I have also seen improvement in the overall function and hydration of my skin because of it.

Think about it . . . we rely so much on vegetation/botanicals in our diet and skincare products.  And nature lives in the rhythm of seasons.  It is organic, it is life, and so are we. We eat certain foods because they are “in season” (grant it because we import so many fruits and vegetables from around the world, that isn’t 100% true anymore, but I’m talking in general here).  To follow natures rhythm, is to understand our own.  In nature, there is a time for expansion and contraction.  Our bodies mimic that as well on a cellular level. Skincare is “feeding” the skin what it needs daily and per season, what it needs to function normally, replenishing what it has lost and always protecting it.  To view skincare as merely an aesthetic proposition is missing the point and doing a disservice to you in the quest for healthy skin.

There are reasons for the options out there i.e. gels, foams, lotions, oil-free,  geared towards oily, dry, normal and sensitive skin types. But it’s not just about “skin type”. Sometimes you’re drier, sometimes you have more oil production, even sweat. If you’re dry, you will probably like a lotion based cleanser along with continued use of a moisturizer. Sebum production does elevate in a warmer climate and everyone knows that humidity is nature’s moisturizer.  I have oily skin . . .  I prefer gel cleansers and no moisturizer in the spring/summer.  Sometimes a toner along with a serum is plenty. I move towards a creamier lotion type cleanser and lightweight moisturizer in the autumn/winter months. If a product is well formulated, you don’t need a ton of them on a daily basis but you do need a “range” of products based on what your skin is doing and how it is behaving.

The same goes for makeup, primarily foundations.  Switch it up at least twice a year.  A heavier foundation will not serve you well in the warmer months and looks heavy and “aging”. If you feel you need a full coverage foundation due to imperfections, remember, when the skin is functioning “normally”, you will have cellular turnover which leads to better tone and texture. Imperfections can be dealt with.  There is a technology for every ailment out there.  Switching your color palette should also coordinate with the season.  Just changing your lip or blush color can make you look younger and more radiant. Besides . . .  isn’t it boring to look exactly the same every day?

Skin does react to climate changes. Seasons, arid environments, hormones, stress etc., all affect your skin. If you truly take the time to “listen” to your skin, observe it, you will know what to do to keep it looking its best.  Keep it simple, but mix it up.  Trust me, you will notice and see a difference!

Sun . . . is it as bad as we have been taught to believe?

truckdriversundamageLet this photo answer that question . . . BUT there is a yes AND no here! We stumbled upon this image in an online article originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  This photo was labeled as a truck driver with dermatoheliosis . . . photoaging or sun-induced aging.   The article states that the dermatologists believe that because his skin was exposed to the sun on just one side (the amount of time driving and exposing the left side of the face), is the reason for the total breakdown of dermal tissue.

Yes, we do need to protect ourselves from the damaging rays of the sun, BUT we are also dealing with vitamin D deficiency as a whole.  We subscribe to so many newsletters and at least once a week we are seeing articles mentioning this deficiency, some calling it a pandemic.  I have included two links below on the importance of vitamin D and I advise a thorough reading when you have time (this is really important, do it for your health!) . . .

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/vitamin-d-and-your-health.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/22/dr-holick-vitamin-d-benefits.aspx

I personally have spent about 40 years in the desert of southern California, the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area) and I have baked my skin more than any other human being I have ever met.  I was also born next to the Sahara desert and was born loving the sun. That being said, I should look WORSE than this photo with all the time I have spent in the sun!  I have baked, burned, blistered, peeled and repeated this madness time and time again.  I am praying that there isn’t something lurking deep down in my dermal tissue from all those “stupid” years.  The reason I mention this is quite simply . . . I always feel good and am extremely happy after spending time in the sun!  It’s almost the same feeling I get when I leave the gym but a more relaxed state of joy.  It’s a common response from everyone with some kind of exposure to the sun.  We NEED the sun.

Here’s the bottom line . . . skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among many other authorities . . . over one million cases are reported every year.  Broad spectrum sunscreen has a place in our world, it must.  We do believe in obtaining vitamin D from sun exposure and you will receive it from simply being outside . . . your head (scalp/ears/eyes … BTW you can get melanoma behind your eyes . . . wear your sunglasses!), arms, legs . . . any part of our body exposed or simply wearing sheer clothing will allow the UV rays to get to us.  The absolute minimum, and call it for “vanities sake”, should be to make sure your face and neck are protected.  That is THE best anti-aging advice we can give.

Healthy hair – part two

fullhair1A few more tips that I follow and recommend to have a healthy head of hair . . .

Be sure you are eating well, particularly getting enough protein. You must ensure your scalp and hair are well fed.  Sue lost a tremendous amount of hair a few years ago due to a high stress job and going vegetarian without enough protein.

I also take a supplement called Viviscal professional …it has lots of Biotin and marine/fish oils.

Heat can and will kill your already dead hair.  In time, all those styling tools will fry your hair.  Be aware of the amount of heat hitting your head.  If it’s too hot on your skin, it is toasting your locks which is why with age, the hair starts looking “frazzled” in combination with grays that are a little more wirey as well. That combination gives a very frizzy (and aging) appearance.

My colorist uses Aveda color, doesn’t seem to irritate my scalp yet it covers the gray. She is able to use half the ammonia in the color preparation than would normally be used. Always ask for a gentle formula with the least amount of chemicals possible.  Also adding some highlights to add dimension is uplifting as well especially around the face.  A flat, single color can look harsh as we age.

Please stay clear of hair extensions! They tug on hair ultimately hurting the follicle and ensuring hair loss. Try the clip-in hairpieces to add fullness without damage to hair. You want body and movement without being obvious!

I also like those spray in colored texturizing dry shampoos to hide any little bald areas and refresh 2nd day hair.” XFusion” and “Toppik” keratin hair fibers are also fabulous at covering up any exposed scalp. “Gray Away” also does the trick along with covering grays.

Lastly, it goes without saying, use gentle hydrating, moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. I like to mix it up and rotate in different brands. I like “Wen”conditioning cleansers (so does Sue), “Aveda” chamomile  shampoo, “Living Proof Restore” shampoo and mask. Weekly, I use a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup on my scalp potentially clogging hair follicles and impeding growth.

Keeping your hair, let alone having it look good, is a challenge as we age but there are options to assist us.  Whether it be medical advice or cosmetic, a combination of all these things will certainly give you the cumulative effect of a healthier head of hair.  Just like your skincare . . . it’s not just one thing . . . it’s everything.

Hair loss solutions – part one

How much more must we endure… we expected hot flashes, mood swings and perhaps a few grays during “the change”, but hair loss and thinning?
They say that 40% of women experience some hair loss after menopause…and I’m one of them! It’s more subtle than in men, but what a blow to a women’s self-esteem!
Apparently, declining female hormones can make our (androgen’s) or male hormones increase causing certain hair follicles to weaken and fail altogether! Just as during pregnancy, women have high levels of female hormones, leaving them with fuller, healthier hair;  the effect of male hormones in our systems has the opposite effect.

Beyond hormones, there are other considerations when it comes to hair loss.  Unusual levels of stress can wreak havoc on hair as well as skin, nutritional or iron deficiencies, crash diets, medications, surgeries or illness, and last but not least, hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid). This is common in menopausal women, I always recommend getting a thyroid blood test for women who are suffering with hair issues. Other symptoms of low thyroid are fatigue, weight gain, constipation and being cold often. Getting on the right thyroid medications can make a big difference in your hair as well as your overall well-being. Hair loss is treatable, there are lifestyle and medical treatments available to help you. Better to jump in there and get treated at first signs of hair loss, and be sure give the treatments time to work. Regrowth takes a several months and can be subtle before you even notice it.

Below you will see video of a quick procedure that I do monthly with world-renowned dermatologist Richard G. Glogau, M.D. (www.sfderm.com) at UCSF. Dr. Glogau also suggested that I use minoxidil 5% foam everyday on my scalp.  I buy a six-pack of Kirkland brand at Costco . . . much cheaper than Rogain.  As always, we advise consulting with an experienced, qualified medical doctor, in this case one who has the expertise of hair restoration, as well as getting a complete medical diagnosis.

Is that pretty little jar worth the price tag?

jar1I felt compelled to write this article based on an online post I read from another beauty blog.  I subscribe to several to stay on top of trends but this one threw me over the edge.  It touted several high-end skincare lines, mostly luxury brands, packaged in beautiful jars with a price point well above $200.  It was insulting.

First of all . . . it’s true . . . most people don’t know their ingredients and fall for a good sales pitch along with a beautiful looking product.  Gigi and I aren’t chemists by any stretch, but if we don’t know what something is, we research it to death! And after so many years of doing this . . . you begin to understand how effective the product might be by the ingredient list. Having said that, another educational process is learning why the packaging of a product is SO IMPORTANT.

A great product is one that has active and effective ingredients that are scientifically and clinically proven to do what it should do based on the claims the company is making.  Many beneficial ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants, peptides, retinols . . . degrade in the presence of air and light.  Oxygen attacks the integrity and chemical stability of a products formulation as does light.  Have you ever noticed how a product containing a good dose of vitamin C turns brown after a few months? That is because it has oxidized.  Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant but once it turns rancid, the oxidized matter actually causes inflammation.  So now, you are creating problems for yourself let alone using a product that is no longer “positively potent”.  In an airless container, more “natural” products have reduced artificial preservatives in their formulas and this technology actually allows for a longer shelf life let alone greater efficacy.  We constantly follow packaging trends and breakthroughs in the industry and we noticed that our favorite skincare line went through major repackaging a few years ago.  This is an important issue!

The other concern is bacterial contamination.  The skin harbors bacteria no matter how clean you are or how often you wash your hands.  Not only are you polluting and degrading the quality of the product you are using by dipping your fingers into it, but now you are putting in on to your clean skin!  So then you close that little jar and use it again tomorrow.  And then you open it up again, dip those fingers in there adding more bacteria and put it on your face.  And you wonder why your skin doesn’t look any better after plopping down major $$$.  Whatever beneficial ingredients were in that jar is now worthless.

bacteria

If the company claims that this notion of polluting the product is unfounded that’s because they have bombarded it with preservatives.  Many of which are NOT good for the skin or your health.  So, the more preservatives, the worse it is for you and the less effective it will be.  The cleaner it is, it is even more important to look at how it is packaged.  Buyer, please be AWARE.

Don’t forget your hands!

glovesI have been on a serious mission since the beginning of this year to deal with the sun damage on my hands.  If I only knew 20, 30 years ago what I know now! How many of us even thought about our hands until all those lovely little brown spots started showing up?  And THEY DO!  I personally noticed them in my early 40’s and by the time I got around to really thinking about them, it seemed like a huge undertaking.  Well Ladies . . . all is not lost!

Thank goodness there are topicals and technology to deal with this issue. We recommend that you talk to a credible aesthetic nurse or doctor with regards to their professional opinion regarding your skin type.  I recently had an IPL (intense pulsed light) and also started with a good vitamin C serum on my hands and the spots are 50% gone! Yes! I am seeing results.  The next step is to prevent further damage that will undo all the work I just spent a lot of time and money on.

I was in Los Angeles recently and had the pleasure to meet with the beautiful and super smart Mitzi-Jo of SunDriven – Age Defying UV Wear (www.sundriven.com). This line of eco-friendly clothing products are my new obsession . . .  especially the gloves!  We all know that you can tell a woman’s age by her hands (her face is pretty much getting all the attention) and not only is it unsightly with all those “age spots” which is really skin that is damaged from the radiation of the sun, i.e. photo aging, but it is a cause for concern as melanoma is on the rise.

SunDriven uses fabric that is naturally anti-bacterial with zero chemical additives, absorbs moisture, is lightweight and comfortable. The entire line is UPF/SPF 50+ that blocks 99% of UVA/UVB rays . . . and there is no sunscreen that can do that!  This line is dermatologist tested and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.  Check out my video below . . .

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

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.

sleep3

My favorite way to workout . . . Pilates!

If you’re like me, and not crazy about going to a gym, try Pilates……it’s a great all around workout encompassing weight training, core strength, balance, stretching, and even cardio, all on one machine called a reformer. I’m fortunate to have a great teacher who is always changing things up, thereby keeping us challenged. If you are in the Petaluma area, try Lifestyle Pilates with Gretchen…she’s terrific! But, be prepared to work, no pain no gain!
The following is a small snippet of what we do in Pilates class, there are only three or four of us to a class, so we do get a lot of personal attention and instruction by the teacher.
Try it, you’ll like it!
In any event, just get out there and move your body. Find something you love, and just do it at least three times a week. It is sooooo important to remain active though mid life and beyond, we don’t want to lose any more muscle and bone mass than we have to, but instead want to remain fit,  trim and strong throughout our lifetime.

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….