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.

How Do Facial Oils Hydrate Your Skin?

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. 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.

How the Microbiome and Facial Oils Work Together

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 book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin.

How to Use Facial Oils On Your Skin

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.

How to Use Facial Oils If You Have 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).

Keep your skin glowing and healthy, on and off the runway, with NY-based celeb Dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe.

This week, I will be speaking at New York Fashion Week to over fifty models about keeping their skin healthy and radiant, not only for today, but for years to come as well. I wanted to share some of this insight with you guys because even if you aren’t hitting the runway this week, these healthy skin pearls will help keep your skin looking its most beautiful.

THE SKIN CHALLENGES: don’t let these common pitfalls dull your healthy glow

  • “Hydrating” with sugar and caffeine loaded drinks
  • Inconsistent sleep or a poor sleep schedule
  • the largely unrecognized urban skin saboteur: pollution

THE SKIN SOLUTIONS: Dr. Bowe’s empowering tools to put your healthiest face forward!

How You Hydrate Counts, Big-Time!

Do you rely on energy drinks and coffee to keep you going throughout your day, like many models do?

If you are an energy drink lover, listen up! Energy drinks oftentimes contain even more caffeine than coffee, other stimulants, and sugars.  Sugar molecules link directly to your collagen fibers in a process called glycation, targeting them for destruction.  When you break down collagen faster than you can replace it, you not only set yourself up for early signs of aging like fine lines and loss of firmness, but your pores will expand. Think of a pore like a basket made of collagen. If that weave loosens up, because you lose more collagen than your body can produce, the basket grows wider.  We call this a “peau d’orange” appearance to the skin, because your skin looks like an orange peel.

More and more energy drink companies are reducing their sugar levels and artificial ingredients to make way for options like stevia and natural flavorings. That’s the healthy hydrating team you want to be on! One of my new favorites to hit the market is HALO SPORT.

If coffee is your go-to, aim for no more than 2 cups of caffeine per day, ideally taking your last sip before 2pm. In fact, drinking coffee within 6 hours of bedtime can impact the quality of your sleep. Caffeine can be fine in moderation, and has even been shown to protect against certain forms of  skin cancer.  Even though new science shows that coffee is not dehydrating, I still recommend alternating cups of Joe with a cup of water for truly radiant skin.

Equally important, watch what you put IN your coffee!  Skim milk may seem like a good choice for models and people who are generally looking to cut calories, but studies show skim milk is most strongly linked with acne flares and inflammation in the skin! The milk proteins, including whey and casein, trigger an inflammatory cascade and increase blood levels of something called Insulin Like Growth Factor- 1 (IGF-1) which has been correlated with breakouts and unhealthy skin. Instead, add a splash of unsweetened almond or coconut milk to your morning Joe.

Beauty Sleep is a Real Thing!

Even experienced models who say that the shows don’t stress them out still suffer from irregular sleep schedules during fashion season. To be candid, Sunday night is never my most relaxing or restful (you too?)! Our sleep cycles are meant to be regular, and when that schedule is disrupted, it messes with our hormones.  Our body functions on what’s called a circadian rhythm, which is like our own internal clock.  Red-eyes and changing time zones that results from long-distance travel not only disrupt our melatonin release, but erratic sleep schedules can cause our baseline levels of cortisol to shoot up.  Yup, our body perceives loss of sleep, or lack of quality sleep (yes, quality and quantity matter) as STRESS.

Even if your mind feels like it’s totally in control, your body AND your skin will be receiving stress signals. Those stress signals not only cause breakouts, but also make skin less capable of trapping moisture and it slows down skin cell turnover. Translation?  Deep juicy pimple on your chin, dull skin, dry skin, and blotchy skin.  What can you do?  Carving out time for meditation or even just focusing on your breathing for 10 min every day can help keep those cortisol levels under control.  Try to get outside in natural light every morning, and try to shut off artificial sources of light at night.

Many of my patients travel with copper infused eye shields like this one and even download white noise apps on their phones to block out the elevators or extra noises in a busy hotel. Some patients carry calming mushroom sachets to add to hot water before bed and others swear by melatonin gummies.  While in general, melatonin gummies should not present health concerns if you are simply adjusting to a new time zone, I recommend that my patients make every effort not to rely on melatonin supplements for longer than needed for instances like this. Studies indicate that they’re safe in the short term, but it remains to be seen whether taking these supplements daily is safe in the long term.

City Living Can Impact Your Skin’s Health:

Fashion season involves hopping from city and city. What do those cities have in common?  Pollution.  We now know that pollution can take a major toll on the skin.  When your skin is exposed to pollution, those tiny invisible particles can not only land on the skin but can even dive into your pores.  When they interact with your skin, they release a flood of tiny missiles called free radicals and expose your skin cells to oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress from pollution can not only cause inflammation in the skin, but has been linked to acne, aging, and even to brown spots on the skin.  You can protect your skin from oxidative stress by applying an antioxidant serum directly to the skin twice a day  and making sure you’re getting enough antioxidants in your diet. I also recommend that my patients take an antioxidant supplement like Heliocare  every morning. You can also get antioxidants from deeply colored fruits and veggies (emphasis on the veggies to keep your daily sugar levels low), green tea and dark chocolate.

So, whether you’re walking the runway like the models I’m with here at NYFW or you’re walking the hallway back into your office after a summer vacation, take these tips to heart for your healthiest, gorgeous skin!

Dr. Whitney

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 cystic acne? 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 cystic acne 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.

@DrWhitneyBowe

We Tried It: Holiday Edition is all about a subtle, shimmery glow for the holidays. Our team of testers tried… https://t.co/5FajdyFo68

@DrWhitneyBowe

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