Monthly Archives: May 2011

Preventing Cancer – A Must Read

I read this very informative and eye-opening article this morning, and it really hit home with me.  I want to share it with you, in hopes you will never have to go through what I did.  I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2005.  It was a very aggressive form of cancer and had gone into my lymph nodes.  After beating the cancer with alternative therapies, surgery, and limited radiation, I started looking at more ways to prevent the cancer from coming back.  I learned that there are many non-invasive, inexpensive, and health-promoting things that can prevent and also treat cancer without harmful side effects.  I’ve been doing these things for 6 years, my cancer is still in remission, plus I feel and look better than ever.

Cancer is a reflection of our lifestyles.  We eat the wrong things, we are exposed to toxins on a regular basis, we stress out too much, we don’t exercise enough, and we hide from the sun.  An impaired immune system along with all these other lifestyle factors is a perfect environment for a cancer to take hold and grow.  I read an article by Dr. Mercola today that lists the most important things you can do today to prevent cancer.  These are things I regularly do.  I urge you to read this article and pass it along to your friends and family.  It may just save your life and the lives of others.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/24/american-cancer-society–more-interested-in-wealth-than-health.aspx

Getting Off the Skincare Merry-Go-Round

By skincare merry-go-round I mean doing things that get you nowhere, wastes your time and money, and is probably making your skin worse instead of better.  Instead of going with the flow and doing things because everybody is else is doing it, take a good hard look at your skincare regimen.   Do you continually jump from one thing to another?  Do you compulsively buy when somebody raves about a product?  Is your skin getting better or worse over time?  These are things that you need to think about.  You may want to rehaul your whole skincare regimen at the end.  I learned these things during my own personal journey of going from skincare junkie to skincare minimalist.  I’ve done it all, and I learned the hard way that less is best.     

Things to Keep in Mind

1.   Skincare is not a one-size-fits-all type of endeavor.  What may be a miracle product for one person may be total disaster for somebody else.  Everybody’s skin history, physiological makeup, lifestyle, level of health, genetics is unique.  You can’t expect a product to work identically for everybody.  Keep that in mind when you start using something and it’s not working out.   Don’t keep on using harsh treatments that are making your skin an irritated, red, peeling mess, even if everybody insists it’s okay because lots of people do it or that you must endure the pain for the gain.  You shouldn’t have to go through any pain to obtain beautiful, healthy skin.   It’s your skin, get to know it, take control of it, and don’t go by anybody else’s experience. 

2.  Be a saavy consumer. . . know what you are applying.  Blindly believing what you hear from other consumers and using claims from manufacturers as a way of making purchasing decisions is not the best way to go.  I used to routinely buy into product “raves” and “fads” touted on forums without researching the ingredients, and 90% of the time the products didn’t work for me.  So keep in mind it may be a very small number of people raving ecstatically about a product they’ve only used a few days or weeks.  Don’t be sucked into the buying frenzy before checking out the facts.  You’re likely to end up  with a bathroom full of useless and expensive lotions and potions.  Of course testimonials are helpful, but many times you have no idea if what people say is true, and it’s all subjective anyway. What may be great results for somebody else may seem miniscule to you, depending the condition of the skin to begin with.  Somebody with minor problems cannot compare their results with somebody who has major problems.  Also, that person may be younger than you, be healthier than you, use other products, gadgets, etc, etc.  So because of all the variables, you cannot solely go by testimonials.

To further assess if a product is worthwhile trying, read the label; know what is in the product, and how the ingredients work to affect changes in your skin. Look for in vivo studies or patents.  Look at the background of the people selling the products.  Do they possess the knowledge to formulate skincare products properly?  Do they possess advanced degrees and understand the physiology of the skin, biochemistry, cosmetic science and formulation?  Anybody can throw ingredients together and call it a product, but a cosmetically “elegant” product that smells, feels, and looks good on the skin and doesn’t go bad is extremely difficult to achieve unless you have training and years of experience.  Do they participate in the big national trade shows?  Any skincare company worth looking at will participate in trade shows like the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa (ICES) or the Face and Body Conference and Expos.  The latest skincare innovators always attend these shows.  Also look at who carries or sells the products.  The more reputable products are sold by doctors and estheticians, because their livelihood depends on producing results for clients. 

Don’t buy something just because it’s expensive.  The belief that “expensive means it works” may apply for cars, but is seldom the case in skincare.  Unlike cars, most skincare manufacturers keep the consumer in the dark about how the products work and don’t provide any meaningful studies for comparison.  They can say whatever they want to and nobody can prove otherwise.  Just be extremely wary of expensive skincare products containing cheap ingredients as the main ingredients or companies who don’t openly provide information about ingredients.  You may be paying for a pretty package, advertising, and wishful thinking. 

3.  Think about the pros and cons of any skincare product.  Most people focus on the pros and totally brush off the cons.  This is really short-sighted thinking and can lead to problems in the long-run.  You have to weigh any benefits with the risks and decide if it’s worth it.  You may find a wonderful line that produces visible results, but if you have to spend hundreds of dollars each month to maintain the results, then maybe it’s not such a good thing for your skin or pocketbook.  What if your skin becomes dependent on it after awhile?  What if you couldn’t afford it anymore, then what happens?  You may find a product that gets rid of your hyperpigmentation but will you have to use it forever?  Is it making your skin sensitive?  Think about the chemicals that are being applied on the skin daily or twice daily.  Anything you apply on the skin could potentially enter and accumulate in the body in some amount, especially if you apply it for long periods of time.    

Consider the case of Retin-A.   We’ve all heard about the pros of Retin-A for anti-aging.  But most people don’t even think about its cons, which are many.  If you intend to use Retin-A for anti-aging, you have to realize it’s sold as a treatment for severe acne, not anti-aging.  It has potentially skin damaging side effects if misused or overused, which many people routinely do.  Long-term studies of the effectiveness, side effects, or safety of Retin-A for anti-aging have never been done.  Just read the drug insert for Retin-A.  It’s clearly stated as such:   

Indications and Usage:
RETIN-A is indicated for topical application in the treatment of acne vulgaris. The safety and efficacy of the long-term use of this product in the treatment of other disorders have not been established.

 

The common belief that Retin-A is the gold standard for anti-aging has been floating around for 20+ years old at this point.  How it gained that reputation is very dubious (Read the 1st article in Resources for the whole story), but it’s also evident many people cannot tolerate it and should not be using it.  Retin-A is a drug and very potent and irritating.  It’s known to thin the epidermis, cause broken capillaries, dry the skin, and make the skin extremely sun sensitive and prone to hyperpigmentation.  Overuse of Retin-A increases the likelihood it will take over the skin’s ability to function on its own.  If you are a long-term Retin-A user, you may find that once you stop, your skin will take a dramatic turn for the worse.  If that happens, the skin has become “addicted” to Retin-A.  Also consider that pregnant women cannot use Retin-A which implies it can enter the bloodstream over time and harm developing fetuses.  That also means it may be affecting your own organs over time.       

Recent research has revealed other forms of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate, and retinaldehyde) which are much less irritating and provide similar benefits as Retin-A over time.  Same thing applies to another old standby of skincare, L-ascorbic acid (LAA or vitamin C).  There are pros and cons to using that.  It may increase collagen and brighten the skin, but LAA is extremely unstable and irritating to many people.  You may be better off using a less irritating form of vitamin C such as MAP or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. 

Considering the low absorption rates of Retin-A (2%) and LAA (2%) and the high irritation potential, does it make sense to use them when there are other safer alternative forms?   Just because everybody else is using it, doesn’t make it right for you.   Look for things that you can tolerate and provide similar benefits. 

4.  Think simple and your skin will thank you.  Putting multiple products on a daily basis and mixing products from multiple skincare lines may be setting your skin up for sensitivity or, worse yet, cosmetic intolerance syndrome (CIS).  CIS is a little known condition of the skin discovered and coined by Dr. Howard Maibach, a leading research dermatologist at UCLA.  Have you ever noticed how you can be using products for the longest of time with no problem and then, all of a sudden, you develop a rash, or irritation from it?   It’s not a true allergic reaction, because it develops over time.  CIS is the result of continually applying irritants and topicals to the skin on a regular basis.  The skin is not designed to handle all these outside ingredients on a regular basis and treats most of it as waste products to be disposed of.  Unfortunately the skin’s waste mechanism becomes so inundated after awhile that it just shuts down, and the skin becomes sensitized.  By reacting this way, the skin is telling you to stop applying stuff, but most people apply even more stuff to try to fix the situation.  It becomes an endless loop with your skin becoming more and more sensitive and depleted over time.  This is especially true of aging skin.  It may present as rosacea or acne at first, but then your skin becomes sensitive to just about anything after awhile.  With the most severe cases of CIS, even the application of water sets off an allergic reaction, or it affects the whole body.  Thankfully, full-blown CIS is very rare, but you don’t want to go down that path.  If your skin is becoming sensitive and stings after applying things you used to tolerate, you need to stop and reassess what you are putting on your face on a daily basis.

The best thing to do to avoid this from happening is to minimize the topicals you apply daily and especially chemical and synthetic sunscreens and moisturizers.   If you have to use sunscreen, use a powder sunscreen.  Use gentle cleansers that don’t foam and don’t over wash; once a day is adequate for most people.  Forgo moisturizers and liquid makeup if possible.  The skin should be creating its own moisture anyway.  Ironically, regular use of moisturizers can make your skin drier (see Resources), and liquid makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens are major causes of clogged pores.   The goal of skincare should be to get your skin to the point where you don’t need makeup to hide any flaws or moisturizer to keep it moisturized.  The goal is to make the skin self-sufficient again.    

5.  Honestly evaluate your skincare regimen’s effectiveness by discovering the true state of your skin.   How do you do this?…. Stop using products and go bare for 2 or 3 weeks.  This is the only way you will ever know what your skin truly looks like at baseline.  Otherwise, your skin is an artifact of your regimen.  It may look good as long as you continue doing it, but it is not changing the health of your skin.  For 2 or more weeks, just wash with water, gentle cleanser, and use powder sunscreen if going out.   Apply no foundation makeup, no moisturizers, no topicals, no actives; perform no manual exfoliation or peels.  If your skin continues to look good after 2 or 3 weeks, then you can feel confident your regimen is working to make your skin healthy and has not become dependent on the skincare products.  If your skin turns into a mess, then you know your skin has become a prisoner of your skincare regimen, and you will be on the merry-go-round forever, unless you start changing something.  Unless you can promote healthy skin functions by improving cellular health, any surface “results” usually diminish or stop after awhile.  Then you have to start looking for another product to takes it place.  It becomes an unending search because you are not addressing the true causes of your skin issues.  Don’t continue to use damaging skincare products until your skin has become so distressed and worn out that it turns into senescent skin which is impermeable and nonreactive, skin which has aged so much it can’t recover with any treatment, even normally effective ones.  Once your skin reaches this state, you might as well toss in the skincare towel.  Your skin is at its end-point.     

6.  You cannot separate the skin from the body.  It’s an integral part of your body.  Similarly, you cannot separate the mind from the body.  If your body is not taken care of properly, it reflects in the skin, especially if you smoke, drink excessively, are chronically ill and on medications, eat poorly, never exercise, stress out all the time, and never get enough sleep.   Skincare should be thought in a holistic setting, taking in account all these other factors.   Fix your body, and the skin follows suit.  The mind greatly influences the functions of the body through physiological pathways.  Stress creates cortisol and shortens telomeres faster, it ages you.  Positive thinking or the placebo effect may actually promote the results you are hoping to achieve.  Studies have shown this to be true.  See Resources below.  So, when starting any new product, think positive thoughts.  Give it a long enough trial to produce visible results, usually 3-6 months is adequate.     

Final Thoughts

I was on the skincare merry-go-round for 30+ years, and I’m so glad to be off of it now.  True skin freedom is when you can go out without makeup and not be slathered in sunscreens and moisturizers every day….to have the best skin for your age but not be a slave to any regimen or product.   If you want off the merry-go-round too, remember to:

1.  Think outside of the box.  What was discovered 20 or 30 years ago may no longer be the gold standard or best solution available.  Stop believing everything you hear and read as truth (even my blog).  Question things that just don’t seem right.     
2.  Be informed, do your research. 
3.  Take calculated risks after weighing all the pros and cons. 
4.  Be flexible and adaptable.  Don’t give up at the first setback.  But don’t blindly continue if it clearly isn’t working either.   
5.  Most importantly, be patient.  Most worthwhile things in life take time.  “Miracles” in skincare are usually short-lived.      

 

Resources:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1989/04/01/85047/index.htm

http://www.annals.org/content/124/2/227.short?related-urls=yes&legid=annintmed;124/2/227&cited-by=yes&legid=annintmed;124/2/227

http://ihealthbulletin.com/blog/2008/07/16/excess-cortisol-from-chronic-stress-speeds-aging-shortens-telomeres/

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,404586,00.html

http://truthinaging.com/body/moisturizers-are-they-harmful-to-the-skins-natural-hydration

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=placebo-effect-a-cure-in-the-mind

http://books.google.com/books?id=As1eHSlUIggC&pg=PA606&lpg=PA606&dq=cosmetic+intolerance+syndrome&source=bl&ots=b_Nm2DSRRh&sig=cOMQ7QaqwdeN_IF453rm4xfPad8&hl=en&ei=6ULNTYGNF8eztwewnbWGDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CDkQ6AEwCTgU#v=onepage&q=cosmetic%20intolerance%20syndrome&f=false

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101222173033.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101010183700.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116103525.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1218928/Anti-ageing-skin-creams-increase-risk-cancer.html

302 Product Announcements for May 2011

I am fortunate to be receiving the latest developments from 302 Professional Skincare on a regular basis, and I will post them on the blog as I get them.  Normally, only 302 professionals get these updates.  I received the following updates today.  I find that 302 Skincare continually updates and improve their products to meet consumers’ needs.  They listen to their clients.  These latest changes will address skin types which are extremely sensitive and need the fewest ingredients possible which means excluding even essential oils and fragrance.  They call these products their “RX” line of products.  Many natural and organic lines contain essential oils and some people just can’t tolerate them.  They’ve heard the complaints, and they’ve come up with solutions.

So if you are one of those people who just can’t tolerate anything and have extremely fragile and reactive skin, the newest 302 RX offerings are for you. 

Here is the product announcement, pretty much as I got it.   If you are interested in ordering, ask your 302 professional for pricing and details. 

Travel Kits Available – Stock up now for summer travel!

Travel Essentials:
Travel Size:  Sensitive Cleanser, Calming Mist, Face & Body Bar, Recovery Plus: Intensive, Ointment Rx (1oz) in Red Organza Bag with Instruction Booklet.

Travel Essentials Rx:
Travel Size: Sensitive Cleanser Rx, Calming Mist Rx, Face & Body Bar, Recovery Plus: Intensive Rx, Ointment Rx (1oz) in Red Organza Bag with Instruction Booklet.
 

302 Consumer Catalogs

Our beautiful new product catalogs are here! A content-rich 24 pages featuring detailed descriptions of our products.

New Products and Changes to the Product Line

New Products:
302 Serum
is now also available as 302 Serum Rx – an essential oil and fragrance free version.

Lightening Drops is now also available as Lightening Drops Rx – an essential oil and fragrance free version.
 
A-Boost Rx is now available and also essential oil and fragrance free – this is very helpful for inflammatory acne cases.  The regular A-Boost is most often applied in Aging regimes.

Changes:
302 Acne Drops is now available ONLY as 302 Acne Drops Rx – the primary role of this product is to treat inflammatory acne and so, it is only logical that we drop any essential oils in the product to reduce the chance of irritation to a very low order.
 
Acne Cleanser is now available ONLY as Acne Cleanser Rx – many of our physician users are providing this cleanser for rosacea patients and we want to reduce the possibility of irritation caused by essential oils. The formula has also been improved overall.

SIDEBAR: Hydrosols
 
Some of you have asked about the irritation potential of the organic ingredients from plants that are found often in the first few ingredients listed on our labels – things like “certified organic extracts of chamomile, rosemary, lemon balm” and so on and how these differ from the essential oils from the same plants or others like lavender.
 
These extracts are hydrosols – that is, they are what we get when we soak the plants in water. Water-soluble components are not irritating and are very different than the essential oils extracted by distillation or pressing – these essential oils can be sensitizing over time. So, if someone is sensitive to lavender oil, it is highly unlikely they will be sensitive to a lavender hydrosol – just as someone who is sensitive to rose hips will not be sensitive to the vitamin C extracted from the rose hips.

My Favorite Skincare Gadgets #4 and #5 – DreamSkin Pillowcase and Chiroflow Pillow

Okay, these are not typical gadgets in the true sense of the word “gadget”.  There are no moving parts.  However, I consider them skincare gadgets because they leave my skin creaseless and well hydrated in the morning, and I feel refreshed from a good night’s sleep.  Sleep is when your body renews itself, and that includes your skin cells, so it’s very important you get adequate sleep if you want your skin to look its best.  

The Dreamy DreamSkin Pillowcase

If you sleep on typical pillowcases made from cotton, silk, or satin, even very high thread counts, you could develop lines on your face, known as the dreaded “sleep crease or line”.  To avoid this problem, sleeping on your back is ideal, but many people unconsciously change positions or can’t sleep on their back due to back pain or snoring.  Undoubtedly, smashing your face into a pillow is going to produce the sleep lines, unless your skin is extremely resilient and well hydrated.  If you have dry skin, thin skin, mature skin, you will likely develop sleep lines on a regular basis.  The older you are, the longer it takes for the lines to go away after waking up.  It can take hours sometimes for them to flatten and, unfortunately, may turn into permanent wrinkles over time.  So, in the quest for less sleep lines and to prevent wrinkles from forming, I started using silk or satin pillowcases years ago.  They worked better than cotton ones, but I still got the lines occasionally, and they still took forever to go away.

I learned about this pillowcase called DreamSkin in a skincare forum.  It sounded interesting, but was a bit pricey at $40 for 1 pillowcase.  So, I had my doubts.   But I went to the website, and I saw that one of the inventors was Dr. Peter T. Pugliese.  I had actually read some of his articles about skin physiology in trade magazines for skin professionals, so I knew of him already, and that sold me.  I read about how it was constructed and how it worked.  It has 22,000 microfilaments per square inch, and it is incredibly soft to touch.   It’s not slippery feeling like satin or silk though.  It’s just very soft and luxurious feeling. There are no chemicals used in the fabric, which is trademarked as JuveTex.  Satisfied that it had some science to back up its claims, I took a gamble and ordered a couple pillowcases.  They are hard to find online and are not in stores, so I just ordered it from the main website.  Check out the product details and read testimonials about the pillowcase there:   

http://www.dreamskinpillowcase.com/

After sleeping on this pillowcase for over 4 months now, I can definitely say it eliminates sleep creases.  The manufacturer claims the JuveTex fabric helps the skin retain moisture during sleep which, in turn, reduces wrinkling over time.  You can consider it a nighttime moisturizer of sorts, without having to apply anything on your skin.  The JuveTex fabric does not wick moisture away as cottons, silks, and satins do.  You wake up with more hydrated, unlined skin.  In addition to possibly reducing wrinkles, it also claims to reduce hair breakage and “bed head”.  I usually put my hair in a ponytail, so I can’t attest to that.  

The manufacturers of JuveTex call it an “anti-aging” fabric.  I won’t go that far, but I will say this is the most comfy pillowcase I’ve ever slept on, and its claim about reducing sleep creases is accurate, and for those reasons alone, I will shell out the $40 a pillowcase.  I don’t have any wrinkling yet, and this is just one more gadget to help prevent that from happening prematurely.  Be aware that the pillowcase is not going to look glamorous.  It comes in one color – white, and is a zippered case.  It is a little stretchy, but it will not fit a king size pillow.  It fits standard or queen size pillows only.  I just hide it under my other more decorative pillows.

Chiroflow – The Best Pillow for Comfort and Support

I put the DreamSkin pillowcase over my Chiroflow chiropractic pillow, which is a water-filled pillow.  It looks like a regular pillow, except that under a layer of thick fiberfill and waterproof lining there is a water bladder which you fill from the tap.  You can empty and wash the pillow in the washing machine.  It’s SOOO comfortable, just like a waterbed for your head.  I’ve only used this water-filled pillow for at least 5 years now, and it’s very comfortable.  I never have neck pain with this pillow, and I won’t sleep on regular pillows anymore.   Once you get one, you will never want to sleep on anything else.   Its highly adjustable design allows you to fill the pillow with water up the desired level of support you need, from really floppy to extremely hard.  I fill it to medium support, and it cradles my head so I’m more likely to sleep on my back.  If you can sleep on your back most of the night, it reduces the likelihood of puffy eyes and sleep creases in the morning.  Just like a waterbed, it automatically adjusts while you sleep to  support your neck and head.  No squashed pillows and no having to punch your pillow out every night.  You can find these Chiroflow pillows (another brand is called Mediflow) at chiropractor offices sometimes.  Amazon carries them too.  I know, $45 for one pillow sounds steep, but I’ve had my pillow for at least 5 years, and it still works great.  This only comes in a standard size.  There is a plastic funnel device for opening and filling the Chiroflow.  Be sure you never lose this funnel, or you will have a hard time opening the cap or getting the water in the pillow without making a mess.    

http://www.amazon.com/CHIROFLOW-Chiroflow-Waterbase-Pillow/dp/B000RB9VP2/ref=pd_sim_hpc_2

So, this is another wonderful gadget for a better night’s sleep, and restful sleep is one of those things you need for beautiful skin.  They don’t call it Beauty Sleep for nothing.    

Sweet Dreams! 

Resources:

http://www.chiroflow.com/en/index.html