I love Valentine’s Day. It’s not only a day to share love with my family and friends, but it’s also my birthday. In honor of this celebratory day, you have doctor’s orders to indulge for glowing skin!

Today’s post highlights three of my favorite Valentine’s Day Treats -champagne, strawberries, and chocolate – and how each benefits your skin, including DIY options, which I know we all love.

STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries contain alpha-hydroxy acids which act as a natural exfoliant, sloughing off dead skin cells in a very gentle way so the skin is smooth and soft. Strawberries also have skin-lightening properties thanks to their ellagic acid, which is great for evening out skin tone. They are also high in antioxidants that protect the skin from sun damage and pollution. The pigment that makes strawberries red actually neutralizes free radicals and protects the skin from environmental stressors.

Best Ways to Eat Them:

  • Add strawberries to smoothies, rather than fruit or vegetables juices, to keep as much of their nutritional value as possible. Juicing gets rid of the pulp, and there’s a lot of good stuff, including fiber, in the pulp.
  • When it is not peak season, look for frozen strawberries. Berries are frozen at the peak of freshness, so they retain their nutritional value longer.
  • Avoid processed, strawberry flavored, treats or sauces as they are often high in sugar and void of nutrients.

DIY Options:

  1. Strawberry Hair Mask: Blend 2-3 strawberries with an egg yolk and a few drops of olive oil. Massage into scalp for 10 minutes then rise away with shampoo. The hydroxyl acids in the strawberries are great for gently sloughing off dandruff flakes.
  2. Rough ‘n’ Tough Foot Scrub: Thoroughly mash 6-8 ripe strawberries and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of coarse salt, and mix well. Soak feet in warm water for about 10 minutes and gently scrub your feet with the mixture. Wash feet clean with cold water.

CHAMPAGNE

Enjoy your bubbly AND have glowing skin!

Skin benefits of drinking champagne: champagne contains resveratrol, a potent antioxidant that is key for anti-aging benefits. For topical treatments, the polyphenols found in champagne help reduce inflammation and skin redness, while the tartaric acid evens out tone.

Best Way to Drink It:

  • add sliced strawberries for added flavonoids.

DIY Options:

  1. Hair treatment: Champagne is great for helping you achieve smooth and silk hair, especially for blondes. Just mix one-half cup of champagne with one-half cup of hot water and distribute evenly throughout your hair. Let it marinate before rising with and styling as usual.
  2. Skin Toner: mix an antioxidant-rich Sparkling Wine Toner, ideal for normal to oily skin. Just soak a cotton pad in chilled sparkling wine and wipe thoroughly across a cleansed face, neck and décolleté. Just remember that alcohol can be drying, so only use this treatment 1-2 times per week and be sure to follow with moisturizer.

CHOCOLATE (of course)

The key is that not all chocolates are created equal. Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are very rich in flavanoids. Flavonoids are plant-derived antioxidants that are the main reason why beautifully colored flower petals can bake for hours in the blazing sun without drying out or being damaged by harmful UV rays. The process used to make conventional chocolate strips the chocolate of these potent antioxidants. Thus, white chocolate and milk chocolate hardly contain any flavanoids at all! The highest flavonoid content is in the darkest of chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao (cocoa) or in cocoa powder. This type of chocolate is high quality and even tastes a bit bitter (but still delicious).

The Yummy Facts (Studies):

  • A London study compared a group of subjects who ate flavanol-rich dark chocolate with a group of subjects who ate standard milk chocolate for a three month period. Over the 12 week period, the milk chocolate group was no more or less protected from UV radiation. However, the high flavanol chocolate group DOUBLED their protection from UV radiation as compared to the baseline. In other words, they could spend TWICE as much time in the sun before they started to see a burn! The study found that eating this type of dark chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light and sunburn!
  • Another study in Korean women ages 43-86 showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for 24 weeks had positive effects on facial wrinkles, skin roughness, hydration AND skin elasticity.

Now, even though these findings are so exciting given my love for chocolate, we can’t go overboard. Chocolate is high in sugar and eating processed sugar leads to inflammation and the risk of increasing the potential for acne and other inflammatory conditions like heart disease or diabetes. I eat a square or two per night after dinner and really try to savor them!

DIY Option:

While you are eating your rich, dark chocolate, you can also indulge in a rejuvenating chocolate face mask which will leave your skin refreshed and radiant!

  • 2 Ingredient Chocolate Face Mask: Mix 1 tablespoon warmed coconut oil with 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder until creamy. Apply to face with brush or fingers and let sit for 15-20 minutes before washing off with a warm wash cloth.

Did you know that antioxidants supply the rich, colorful pigments that make our fruits and veggies so vibrant? The brighter the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains. For instance, lycopene makes tomatoes and watermelon red, and beta-carotene gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orangey hue.

In Antioxidants 101, I explained why antioxidants are so critical to restoring and maintaining your skin’s health. Now, I’m going to give you the scoop on how to get the right antioxidants into your diet to help you achieve your glowing skin goals.

Here’s my list of 5 antioxidants which boost your skin’s health and where you can find them:

  • Vitamin C, to help synthesize collagen and prevent and treat UV-induced damage: Vitamin C is found in oranges, red peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, guava
  • Lycopene, to help stabilize DNA structures in the nuclei of skin cells and promote smoother skin: Mostly found in tomatoes, small amounts in guava, watermelon, and pink grapefruit
  • Polyphenols, to help repair damaged skin and restore elasticity: These are the flavonoids and catechins (powerful antioxidants) found in green tea, dark chocolate, blackberries, cherries, guava, and apples.
  • Zinc, to help support antioxidant pathways overall: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains
  • Vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants in the skin: it protects sebum from inflammatory damage, found in: almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, sunflower seeds. olive oil.

And, in very exciting news -here’s our twist- sunscreen dietary supplements are starting to emerge on the market which are based on the power of antioxidants. As I share on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks Page, which is a curated collection of my favorite products backed by strong science, Heliocare dietary supplements are a patented specialized extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a tropical fern native to Central and South America that has been used for centuries as a remedy for skin related conditions. The science behind Heliocare is strong and solid, which is critical to me when I recommend a product to people who trust me or use it myself.

Made of a powerful blend of antioxidants, Heliocare protects your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Those free radicals can come from UV light, infrared light, visible light, pollution, or even from our natural metabolic processes. Heliocare is one extra layer of protection against premature signs of aging, including brown spots, and skin cancer. I suggest that my patients take one pill every morning. If you’re heading out in the sun, consider taking 2 each morning. But it’s not a substitute for sunscreen. It’s meant to work synergistically with sunscreen.

So, there you have it! Not only will your body feel energized and strong by these antioxidant-packed picks, but your skin will thank you, too! Next up: which antioxidants you should be incorporating into your skincare routine, including product recommendations. Stay tuned!

The New Year is the perfect time to try new things! One of my favorite, power-packed antioxidant masks is so simple and easy to make, but will leave your skin feeling refreshed, radiant and renewed! Here’s what you need:

CRANBERRY-APPLE ANTIOXIDANT POWER MASK

Three Simple Ingredients:

1 grated apple

½ cup fresh or frozen (defrosted) cranberries)

1 tbsp. almond oil

To Make:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until you have a paste consistency- should be a bit thick.

Spread on clean skin, leave on for three to five minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Key Ingredients to Nourish your Skin:

Cranberries and apples are rich in wrinkle fighting antioxidants, including Vitamin C which helps collagen production and strengthens your hair and nails.

Almond Oil is packed with Vitamin E and softens and smooths the skin, improves tone and complexion and has been shown to slow down the visible signs of aging.

@DrWhitneyBowe

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