The typical customer of the “clean” cosmetics company Beautycounter is in her 30s, and historically anti-aging has been her biggest concern. But when the nearly 6-year-old company introduced a set of acne-control products in August, the line quickly became Beautycounter’s top skin care seller.

Michael McGeever, the company’s chief merchandising and product officer, wasn’t surprised. After all, Beautycounter’s some 35,000 consultants (think Avon model) had long been clamoring for pimple solutions for themselves and their clients.

“The assumption is that acne is no longer an issue for adult women,” Mr. McGeever said. “But they were telling us that’s not true.”

A wave of designer probiotic pills and powders — stylishly packaged, with names like Glow and Inner Beauty — is based on the idea that perfect skin may be linked to your tummy.

Three years ago, Danielle Fleming, a real estate agent in Hoboken, N.J., started suffering persistent acne around her jawline. She had “ugly, weird pimples,” she said. After switching detergents, hair spray and anything else she could think of, she went to a dermatologist to ask about a prescription for Accutane or maybe a laser treatment. What she left with was a diet.

It took Ms. Fleming, 43, two years to adhere to the gut-changing diet suggested by Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York. The diet, set forth in Dr. Bowe’s book, “The Beauty of Dirty Skin,” is essentially low-glycemic index foods along with bacteria-rich fermented ones. It is meant to alter the trillions-strong population of gastrointestinal microorganisms, quelling inflammation, including skin-related outbreaks.

We recently talked to dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe about her book The Beauty of Dirty Skin. (Read our interview with her and why we think it’s worth picking up a copy of the book.) In case you’re too busy to read the whole book, we also caught up with Dr. Bowe to find out about diet and lifestyle changes you can make right now for immediate improvements in your gut health and therefore your skin.

Naturally, we were curious about Dr. Bowe’s own go-to products. Yes, her skin is as flawless in person as it is in the photo above. So we asked her to share her top picks of the moment, from probiotic supplements to her favorite cleanser and topical probiotics.

Peels sometimes get a bad rap. While they’ve been proven to reduce serious signs of aging—spots, red marks, uneven texture—and hailed as the miracle product by dermatologists across the globe, a handful of cautionary tales (and at least one infamous Sex and the City episode) linger in the imagination. And yet, according to experts, the resurfacing treatments remain one of the most effective skin solutions out there, and are completely safe for year-round use—with a few simple rules to take into account during summer, when the potential for post-treatment sun damage is higher. Here, New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., shares her top tips for peeling safely during the warmer months.

This is not something most beauty editors would readily admit, but here goes: I love the sun. Always have. That’s not to say that I’m not smart about my exposure to it. My mother is a skin cancer survivor and I have been slathering on various forms of SPF since I was a small child. But until recently, going one step further and covering up in protective clothing was not something I engaged in: long sleeves or leggings would seriously impact my outdoor fun, I reasoned—and ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) swimwear and headgear did not match my “beach vibe,” to put it euphemistically. But a new crop of tasteful—and even chic—UPF options, coupled with some very real concerns about a new constellation of freckles, have made me rethink my position.

I’m not the only one.

“You need to tap into the vanity of it,” Whitney Bowe, M.D., says of a more general uptick in the popularity of UPF clothing that she’s seen among her patients as a steady stream of new brand samples continues to flood her office. “People are just more aware now, not just of the risks of skin cancer but also the risk of aging from the sun,” adds the Manhattan-based dermatologist, who cites dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and crepiness as chief offenders. Combined with rising environmental concerns about the harmful chemicals in many sunscreens, which prompted Hawaii to pass a landmark bill this month prohibiting the sale of formulas containing two major ingredients found to seriously impact coral reefs, and it’s little wonder that interest around UPF clothing is swirling.

Ah, retinol. When it comes to defense against fine lines and maintaining a healthy glow, there’s no ingredient in skincare more lauded. The irony? Even though the revolutionary youth-enhancing active is a mainstay of drugstores, department store counters, and dermatologist offices alike, it still manages to mystify. And thus, is often misused or underutilized.

To bring it back to the basics, retinol—alongside other retinoids, such as retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate—is essentially a derivative of vitamin A, which is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover. “It’s added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne, and boost the collagen production,” explains New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD. “It also functions like an antioxidant to help address free radical damage, which leads to visible signs of aging.”

Here, Bowe and other experts break down how to carefully incorporate the powerhouse ingredient into your regimen to achieve a supernaturally fresh-faced complexion, now and for decades to come.

Begin in Your Mid ’20s or Early ’30s
Thirty has long been the banner year for introducing retinol into one’s routine, but motivated by early signs of aging, such as sun spots or crows feet, or simply eager to get a head start and utilize the latest technologies, many women are starting before then and under the careful watch of their dermatologist. “Your mid-twenties are a great time to start using retinol,” says Ellen Marmur, M.D. “Many patients who have used it for years swear by it.”

If you’ve ever heard someone caution you against using hand sanitizer religiously, you can probably imagine what dermatologists think of harsh soaps and facial cleansers.

Your skin has more than one trillion bacteria on it —an “invisible rainforest of microorganisms” originating from approximately one thousand different species. When you perpetually use harsh antibacterial soaps and cleansers, though, you strip the skin of its healthy bacteria — and you upset your skin’s healthy microbiome, which results in breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and more issues that are likely to be met with more soap and cleansers. But, if you work to restore your skin’s natural balance, you allow its “good bugs” to help fight infections, combat environmental damage, boost your immune system, and keep skin looking hydrated and clear. Plus, the results are sustainable — it’s effectively the equivalent of “teach a man to fish” but for your skin’s health.

Your skin and its newly balanced flora will learn how to fend for itself and then make healthy, clear skin more low-maintenance, stable, and less time-consuming than your current eight-step process.

To build back your skin’s natural defenses, you need to support the “good bugs.” And for that, you should be using probiotics. Probiotics support the health of the good bacteria that make up your microbiome, and they help with some major bodily “housekeeping” like fighting bad bacteria, controlling inflammation, and supporting the healthy barrier function in both your skin and your gut. You can take them orally (like you would for your digestive health), or you can start with topical treatments — many of which are readily available on Amazon.

If you’ve ever had a breakout, you’ve likely tried to dry those suckers up with bacteria-killing washes and spot treatments. You know, because conventional wisdom (and lots of research) has shown that zits, particularly the big painful cysts, are often caused by P. acnes bacteria getting into your pores and going to town.

But now bacteria is trying to spin a comeback kid PR campaign, thanks to the rise of probiotics in everything—yogurts, supplements, and now, skincare products.

But for those of us who have acne, naturally you’d wonder: Wouldn’t those probiotics just make my skin worse? Luckily, Whitney Bowe, M.D., NYC celebrity dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, is here to lay it all out for you (and me. Because I’m confused too):

With humidity and city grime, chances are you suds up your strands more often in summer. But Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York, suggests rethinking the way we wash our hair.

“People love to lather,” Dr. Bowe said. “We’re obsessed with this squeaky-clean feeling and then putting on conditioner with silicones that act as a Band-Aid for your hair. Instead we should be cutting out harsh detergents. We should be preventing damage from happening in the first place.”

One simple diet change = whole new you. We all deserve a treat every now and then, but chances are you have more added sugar in your diet than you realize. Too much added sugar can damage your skin through a process called glycation, in which sugar molecules bond to proteins, fats, and amino acids in the body. “When proteins become glycated, they become stiff and much less functional, so imagine what that does to the proteins in your skin,” says dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, are greatly impacted by this process, she says. “Sugars are rapid stimulators of glycation, as they easily attach themselves to proteins in the body—you really must reduce your sugar intake to maintain healthy skin.”

@DrWhitneyBowe

Honored to contribute to this timely @nytimes article about adult #acne and why it is on the rise! #thatboweglow… https://t.co/DaDRg0eRjH

@DrWhitneyBowe

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