Many of my patients find facial oils confusing. Are they a replacement for day cream, night cream, serum? Should you apply them before your face cream or after? I’m here to answer all of these questions and more.

Oils are emollients, so they do not hydrate your skin’s deeper layers. Rather, they stay closer to the top layer of your skin and hydrate the surface of your skin while providing protection for your skin’s barrier. They act as a sealant which locks moisture in the skin and that can be very beneficial for your skin’s overall health, provided that the oils are not too heavy. So, I do not recommend swapping out your hydrating moisturizer for a face oil altogether, but they can be very effective if used several times per week at night to seal in your skin’s moisture after cleansing or for oily skin to trick your skin into producing less sebum. Many of my patients swear by facial oils, so I think the key is trying different brands and different amounts to find the formula and quantity that works best with your skin.

We are also learning so much right now about the skin microbiome – the millions of invisible bacteria that live on the surface of the skin and help the skin to function. Just like we have bacteria in our gut, we are covered with bacteria on our skin! And we need those bacteria to maintain the health of our skin. Some of those healthy bacterial strains feed off of our skin’s natural oils, called sebum. This can be a good thing—in the case of promoting the growth of bacterial strains that boost our natural collagen or ceramide production! But this can be a bad thing if we are feeding bacteria that cause breakouts. We are just learning about this area right now, but it’s possible that certain oils you might be adding to your skincare regimen might also act as food for the healthy strains of bacteria, a “prebiotic” if you will. I cover the microbiome and how it affects our skin in my new book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin.

How to use oils on your face: I recommend mixing a few drops of oils with your regular moisturizer. If you apply oils first, then you will block the anti-aging ingredients in your moisturizer from penetrating into the skin.

Oils and acne prone skin: take it slow and use only 1-2 drops of oil mixed into your moisturizer at first. If you notice that you break out more when you use the oil, then save the oil only for days when your skin feels tight or dry, or the weather is harsh and cold (like whipping winds).

QUESTION 1: What helps with acne scarring?
ANSWER: When it comes to acne scarring, there are many options that can smooth out those scars, but they usually work best when used as part of a personalized treatment plan. Topical retinoids are key to use at home, as they help to rebuild the collagen especially in atrophic scars (ones that appear depressed or have a shadow). If scars are raised (so called hypertrophic scars), then cortisone shots can make a huge difference. For ice pick scars, and many types of rolling scars, I usually combine lasers with microneedling and fillers. I use lasers like the Fraxel laser to resurface the skin. Microneedling is amazing for acne scars as well. I can combine microneedling with your own plasma (the so-called Vampire Facial), or I can combine microneedling with radiofrequency energy (the Endymed Intensif). Last, chemical peels can also help to slowly even out the tone and textural changes associated with acne sequelae. (more…)

Question 1: How do I get rid of cystic acne?
 ANSWER: Cystic acne is usually a result of hormones, stress and diet. The cysts are deep, and often tender or even painful, and they tend to stick around for what feels like FOREVER! If you try to pop them, nothing comes out because they’re not connected to the surface. You usually end up making things worse. When the cysts resolve, they leave marks that can sometimes last for weeks or even months. Ok, enough doom and gloom. What can we do to treat or prevent cystic acne? Although the typical acne creams with retinoids and benzoyl peroxide can’t hurt, they don’t do much in cases of cystic acne. To treat cystic acne, it’s best to use a multimodal approach. First, diet and stress are key factors in this kind of acne. More on how to make some dietary and lifestyle changes that will help prevent cystic acne below. Second, many of my patients with cystic acne benefit from prescription hormonal medications such as birth control pills or a medication called spironolactone. If you’re going the birth control route, you should make sure your pill contains BOTH estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone only forms of contraception (the “mini pill,” implantable devices and even some IUDs can make cystic acne MUCH worse). Spironolactone has literally been a game changer in my practice. It’s a pill you take every day that blocks the effects of male hormones on the skin, and can dramatically clear up adult female acne. But I like to keep the doses low, and to do that, I need to make sure my patients are following the right diet and reducing their stress levels as much as possible. That’s one of the reasons I wrote The Beauty of Dirty Skin (link below). It’s easy to write a prescription, but diet and stress management is complicated! You can write chapters on those topics… so I did! Last, I like to tackle cystic acne using minimally invasive procedures in my office like cortisone injections, chemical peels and light based therapies.

Question 2: Is there anything other than Retin A, cortisone injections to treat? What preventative steps can be taken in terms of diet and lifestyle?
 ANSWER: Cortisone injections can be amazing if you can get in to see a derm, but that’s easier said than done for most people! When it comes to diet, it’s essential to avoid skim milk, as this has been shown in a number of studies to trigger acne. But also beware of milk proteins that might sneak their way into your diet: whey and casein can play a major role in acne for some people, and they are commonly found in protein powders and “healthy” bars that are high in protein. High cortisol levels can also make cystic acne lesions explode all over your chin. It’s essential to start making lifestyle changes that drop those cortisol levels and keep them in a healthy range. One tip for doing that is incorporate regular exercise. Regular exercise reduces stress levels very effectively, and helps you sleep better (which in turn further reduces your stress hormone levels in your blood).

Question 3: Are regular treatments like peels or lasers something that should be considered to minimize future breakouts and/or reduce residual scarring?
 ANSWER: Absolutely! My patients who can afford to get regular peels and light based therapies see a huge difference in their skin FAST. Salicylic acid chemical peels combined with Theraclear (also called Acleara) light treatments are incredibly effective and work FAST. In my practice, I use a number of lasers and devices to improve acne scarring and minimize pore size, including Fraxel, Endymed Intensif and Microneedling. However, these treatments can be costly and those costs can add up.  Even without these therapies, if you use the right skincare products and make certain lifestyle changes (detailed in my book – The Beauty of Dirty Skin), you can achieve beautiful, radiant skin on any budget!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

CoolSculpting is a very popular procedure in my office! It works by freezing the fat cells beneath your skin while keeping the surrounding skin, muscle, and nerve cells healthy and intact – a process called “selective cryolipolysis.”

This radical (and very cool) concept was initially explored by scientists who observed an interesting phenomenon called “popsicle panniculitis” in kids. Scientists noticed that some children who sucked on lots of ice popsicles actually developed dimpling in their cheeks as a result of permanent death of fat cells exposed to cold temperatures.

Obviously this doesn’t happen in every child who sucks on a popsicle (thank goodness), but there was some perfect combination of just the right temperature, just the right amount of pressure, and just the right duration of time that led to this fat reduction.

This observation led scientists to question whether they could develop a very controlled means of freezing certain unwanted bulges of fat for the purposes to body contouring. Thus was born the technology surrounding CoolSculpting.

It is completely non-invasive, which means no needles, no cutting, no scarring and very little recovery time.

To learn more, check out my video all about CoolSculpting!

xoxo,
Dr. Whitney

I have a serious sweet tooth, so I love this dream smoothie so much. It’s so rich and delicious and skin-healthy!

Smoothies, unlike juices, are rich in natural fruit fiber, something that is removed when you juice. If your juice is any color other than green, you’re spiking your blood glucose and insulin levels, and triggering inflammation in your skin. If I’m juicing, I stick primarily to green veggies. But, when I make smoothies, I never hesitate to throw in a variety of rainbow colored fruits. So get yourself a blender and get ready to indulge that sweet tooth in a skin friendly way!

Because I’m a blueberry fanatic and because they’re rich in antioxidants, I start with those. A handful of greens—baby spinach or baby arugula work here—adds a touch of collagen-friendly vitamin C while almond butter adds protein and skin friendly fats. I add frozen bananas for the thick and creamy texture they give. If your banana isn’t quite ripe, it’s a wonderful source of prebiotics, also known as the food for gut-friendly probiotics, however it won’t be as sweet. If you use an unripened banana and still crave a touch more sweetness, add a few dates, figs or even two stevia leaves from the garden! The plant is really easy to find at your local nursery and just as easy to grow.

Cacao, chocolate’s less processed cousin, is the real treasure here. It’s derived from ground cacao nibs which are dried and fermented cacao beans. Sugar-free and loaded with special polyphenols that have been shown to reduce the signs of aging, cacao has a naturally bitter taste that is tempered by the smoothie’s other ingredients. It’s also been shown to put us in a better mood with its dopamine-releasing effects. I call that a win-win!

Before starting this smoothie, make sure you have frozen bananas on hand. They make this so deliciously creamy. Just don’t make the mistake I did the first time, so be sure to peel the bananas before you freeze them! I often freeze a bunch at once, peeling and slicing into pieces before placing in the freezer.

Blueberry Cacao Dream Smoothie
Serves 1-2

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 small banana, frozen in chunks
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach or ½ cup loosely packed baby arugula
  • **2 stevia leaves if using less ripe bananas and want more sweetness**
  • 2 ice cubes, if using fresh blueberries
  • Combine everything in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Enjoy immediately.

Enjoy!!

Xoxo,
Dr. Whitney

There are so many popular myths about Melasma! I am here to help you get the FACTS you need to keep your Melasma under control.

FIRST, no lemon juice.  If you google “home remedies for Melasma” you will find pages of home remedies listing lemon juice as one of the key ingredients. this is a MYTH!!! Do NOT use lemon juice on your Melasma!  Citrus fruits can irritate the skin, which can make Melasma worse.  AND lemons in particular actually make your skin much more vulnerable to the sun. I’ve seen these remedies make Melasma 10x worse in just 24 hours.

SECOND, no heat! Anything that causes too much heat or irritation in the skin can make Melasma worse! When it comes to Melasma, your doctor has to be gentle and you have to be patient. Trying to rush that process will only set you back. This means:

  • NO Hot yoga
  • NO saunas
  • NO steam rooms
  • NO sunbathing
  • NO tanning salons

THIRD, what should you look for: look for serums, lotions and creams that contain Vitamin C, kojic acid, licorice, or soy. Those are brightening ingredients that have been shown to gently lighten Melasma patches over time.

FOURTH, sun protection!! This is critical to your Melasma treatment!

FIFTH: I wanted to share the regimen that I provided to Ginger to treat her Melasma for your ready reference:

Morning:

  • cleanse with a gentle cleanser (Purpose, Dove, Cetaphil all good) fingertips only
  • pat dry using a clean towel
  • put a few drops of SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic antioxidant serum into La Roche Posay sunscreen
  • rub all over face and neck.  CE ferulic has Vit C (skin brightener) AND acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that are thought to trigger Melasma.

Day:

HAT– wear a hat when outside!!!  I’m serious

NIGHT:

I mixed a Melasma Emulsion for Ginger. Less is more to start. I recommended that she use it every other night for the dark areas ONLY. Key ingredients here are Hydroquinone (which acts to block the enzyme that makes melanin and is the MOST powerful depigmenting topical ingredient for Melasma) and Tretinoin (prescription strength vit A) which increases skin cell turnover, bringing the stained cells to the surface where they ultimately slough off.

Alternate nights: dr. brandt DNA Night Cream (loaded with antioxidants) or a gentle moisturizer like Cetaphil or CeraVe.

4 nights before each PEEL: STOP the Melasma emulsion.

Check out the segment right here:

Share your thoughts and questions about Melasma with me on social media! My handle is @drwhitneybowe on FB, TW, and IG!

XOXO,

Dr. Whitney

  1. NO FORMALDEHYDE: Never. Ever. Make sure there is no formaldehyde in the glue which is used to secure the lash extensions. It can be dangerous for your eyes. Ask – and if there is any question, strongly consider running!
  2. TAKE A BREAK: Your lashes need a break between applications of extensions, so schedule it in. It’s important. Take care of your own lashes! The glue can cause damage and breakage, so make sure you make time for some lash R&R in btw your glam sessions.
  3. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: Do your research before you take the plunge! Make sure you go to someone experienced and reputable! We are talking about your eyes. If extensions aren’t attached properly, they can swing down and scratch your cornea. Be informed!
  4. LET YOUR BODY DO THE TALKING: Does it hurt? Does it burn? If so, don’t ignore it and soldier on in the name of beauty. This is your body telling you that you are having an allergic reaction or some other reaction to one of the ingredients involved in the process. Stop and talk to your technician, who should be trained in handling this!
  5. KNOW YOUR TOOLS: Use a gentle eye makeup remover with a cleansing wipe instead of cotton balls or Q-tips which can lead to fibers sticking in your extensions! Stay away from oil based makeup removers which could impact the glue! Talk to your technician and check out the best tools to keep your lashes gorgeous and your eyes healthy!

 

I had so much fun working with my Good Morning America family this morning and sharing some of my go-to, DIY facial masks for glowing, healthy skin. I’ve had a lot of requests for more information on the masks we featured, so here you go!

DEPUFFING AND EXFOLIATING: Coffee and Yogurt Mask

  • Coffee: The caffeine in coffee grounds helps to reduce swelling and puffiness.
  • Yogurt: Soothing, emollient
  • To make: Combine 3 tablespoons of greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee and mix together (using a fork) until you have a paste. Apply to face using gentle, circular motions. Rinse off after 20 minutes with warm water and a soft wash cloth. Pat dry!

COMBAT REDNESS: Green Tea and Honey Mask

  • Green Tea: Soothing, removes impurities, reduces inflammation
  • Honey: Antibacterial, soothing
  • To make: Cut open 2 green tea bags and empty contents into mixing bowl. Add a few drops of water and mix with fork just to dampen. Then, mix in 3 tablespoons of honey (I use a fork to mix, which seems to work better than a spoon). Apply mask to face. Rinse off after 15 -20 minutes with warm water and a soft wash cloth. Pat dry!

The harsh and cold winter air can leave your skin feeling so chapped. These easy masks with ingredients you can find right in your kitchen are a quick fix to rehydrate and nourish your skin!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

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.

Happy November 1st! I wanted to share this quick VIDEO BLOG of the hottest in-office procedures for fall!

Fall is the perfect time to reverse summer damage and to reveal refreshed, smooth, glowing skin!

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

Such an exciting week so far! I’ve had some wonderful meetings to introduce key ideas in my… https://t.co/UQi2fPjMRk

@DrWhitneyBowe

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