Love hot yoga and love healthy skin? Keep reading!

Hot yoga  — so many people love it and don’t want to live without it! Did you know that hot yoga has been on the scene since the early 70s, but has been evolving on the regular? Over the years, heated studios have experimented with everything from room temperature (which ranges from around 90 to 108 or even higher) and appropriate poses to sweat-friendly gear and, most recently, their heat sources.

This latest hot yoga trend has some studios swapping out conventional forced-air systems for infrared (IR) heating ones. You’ll hear claims of all sorts of health benefits including increased metabolism and weight loss, improved flexibility, greater detoxification, and even reduced fine lines and wrinkles. People taking these hot yoga classes seem to love IR heat because it feels less heavy and oppressive than conventional heating methods and more like baking in the sun on a warm (okay, really warm) day.

This sun-like warmth makes perfect sense when you consider what infrared light is. It’s actually invisible, but IR light is felt as heat and is able to penetrate skin and heat even the deepest layers. In fact, about half of the sun’s energy is in the form of infrared. Which begs the question: Are we sure all this internal skin “baking” is safe/healthy?

“It really comes down to how controlled the ‘dose’ of IR energy is,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, dermatologist and author of the new book The Beauty of Dirty Skin. “IR light-based therapies have been used clinically to promote wound healing, protect muscles from stress, and reduce inflammation. But many people don’t realize that prolonged infrared exposure has detrimental effects on the skin.”

For starters, infrared rays have been shown to damage skin by creating oxidative stress and free radicals, according to a research review in the journal Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. Free radicals are highly reactive forms of oxygen that can damage cell membranes, DNA, and structural proteins like collagen and lead to premature aging, chronic skin conditions like acne, and even skin cancer.

“Extended exposure to IR energy has also been shown to alter the function of skin’s mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, and stimulate the activity of enzymes called MMPs that degrade collagen,” says Dr. Bowe. “And IR heat can theoretically challenge the skin of anyone with a chronic condition that’s characterized by pigmentation, such as melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”

At this point you’re probably thinking it’s time to turn in your IR hot yoga towel, but Dr. Bowe says it’s not necessary to give it up altogether unless you suffer from melasma. “I urge my patients to pause their passion for hot yoga. I’ve seen one hot yoga class take us back 6 chemical peels and 4 months of potent prescription peels,” says Dr. Bowe. Her advice: if you are going to keep up with a hot yoga routine, prioritize protecting your skin before you head in to the studio. And in fact, you should take precautions anyway: you’re getting hit with IR every day from other sources as well, namely the sun – and traditional sunscreens don’t protect against IR rays.

“I’m a firm believer in protecting the skin from IR rays using an outside-in and inside-out approach,” Dr. Bowe says. Here are the six smart skin strategies she recommends employing every day, even when you’re not rolling out your mat.

Apply a topical vitamin C serum.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that stimulates collagen production and combats free radical damage from IR rays and – get this – exercise. “Your body produces free radicals through normal metabolic processes like respiration, so when you work out, you produce more free radicals,” says Dr. Bowe. Choose a lightweight serum that doesn’t clog your pores, and be sure to cover your face, neck, chest, tops of your hands, and any other regularly exposed skin.

Supplement with Heliocare.

This natural supplement contains a patented specialized extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a tropical fern native to Central and South America that’s been used for centuries as a remedy for various skin conditions. PLE’s powerful antioxidant properties help protect your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Dr. Bowe recommends taking one pill every morning; two if you’re heading out in the sun (but it’s not a substitute for sunscreen).

Sip a collagen smoothie.

Supplementing with collagen can help combat the wrinkling caused by IR heat exposure, says Dr. Bowe. It’s the main structural protein in skin, and its two main amino acids – proline and glycine – are essential for the formation and repair of healthy skin. “I like collagen powders from marine sources,” she says. “Marine collagen is smaller in molecular size than collagen derived from cows or pigs, so it’s more bioavailable and thus more likely to get into your bloodstream and reach the places where it’s meant to work its wonders.”

One of Dr. Bowe’s favorite smoothie recipes: Blend together 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk; 1 tablespoon each of collagen powder, cacao powder, and almond butter; 1 small banana, frozen in chunks; ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries; 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach; and 2 ice cubes (if using fresh blueberries).

Eat foods rich in vitamins A and C.

Both nutrients play a key role in boosting your body’s collagen. “Vitamin A helps restore and regenerate damaged collagen, and your body can’t even make collagen without vitamin C,” says Dr. Bowe. Dark leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, and chard) are high in both A and C. Top sources of C include oranges, red bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, grapefruit, and guava. Foods high in vitamin A include carrots, squash, mango, and watermelon.

Get extra C.

Vitamin C is easily lost in urine, says Dr. Bowe, so in addition to eating C-rich foods throughout the day, she recommends supplementing with 1,000 milligrams of C daily.

Supplement with vitamin E, too.

Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E stops the production of free radicals, and researchers are looking at E as a possible preventive measure for skin disorders associated with free radicals. It’s tough to get enough E in your diet – sunflower seeds and some nuts contain small amounts – and UV damage depletes our levels, says Dr. Bowe, so she recommends taking 400 IU a day.

Ultimately, whether you decide to stick with IR yoga or not, we all know we need to keep up our mind-body practices and our skin care regime. It’s a fact that doing yoga offers its own benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and greater numbers of healthy mitochondria – all of which are associated with healthier, younger looking skin.  But when we are truly happy and find time for self-care you sport the Instagram-worthy natural glow. In sum: keep oming and keep glowing.

 

Dr. Whitney

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

When I was a little kid, my hair was a very white-blonde color. My mom loved to squeeze lemon juice into my hair to lighten it even more when we were at the beach. Little did she know that she was exposing her skin to a condition called phytophotodermatitis, which can result in severe chemical burns on your skin. All you need is the juice of a lemon or a lime, a bergamot orange – all seemingly innocuous citrus fruits – and sunlight. The juice reacts with sunlight and can seriously burn your skin, ranging from redness and blisters all the way to second degree burns. Even if your skin does not burn, you may wind up with substantial, lasting, skin discoloration which presents as darkened patches on the skin.

4 Ingredients that Can Cause Severe Sun Damage

So, if you use a hair lightener at the beach – like Sun In or  Sun Bum Hair Lightener, these typically include lemon juice or extract. Be careful not to leave any of this spray on your skin if you are using it on your hair.

If your child has a lemonade stand, be mindful of whether she is squeezing lemons and then exposing her skin to the sun. This is something very few parents think about, but the rashes and burns which can result are actually very real.

Other products which cause photosensitivity which can result in irritation, redness, dark spots, burns, and sun damage include:

These Essential Oils are Photosensitive

 

Certain Essential Oils: So many of my patients swear by their essential oils. They can be energizing, relaxing, and everything in between. But, if you’re going to spend the day in the sun, don’t expose your skin to: bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, verbena, and several others. Be sure to check the information which accompanies your essential oils, as many are labeled photosensitive!

Reminder: Why Retinol Invites Burning

Retinol: I always recommend that my patients use their skin renewing retinol products at night. If you use retinol in the morning and head out into the bright sunshine, you will not have happy, healthy skin. This is a nighttime product because it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Have you Heard of Hydroquinone?

Hydroquinone: This skin brightening ingredient — which helps limit the skin from producing an excess amount of melanin (which is what gives our skin its pigment and, in cases of excess production, causes brown patches and hyperpigmentation) — is also a common culprit in terms of photosensitivity. Check your labels before you use your skin cream and head out to the beach or pool!

Have a wonderful time in the sun, wear your sunscreen, and watch out for those sneaky citrus fruits!

Dr. Whitney

 

Today I’m proud to present my interview with one of the most in-demand dermatologists in the country, Dr. Whitney Bowe, M.D. As a top dermatologist, Dr. Bowe specializes in skin rejuvenation, laser dermatology, and the link between nutrition and skincare. Her work has earned the attention of top media outlets, netting her invitations to lend her expertise on programs like Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Doctors, and Dr. Oz, and publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ALLURE, and INSTYLE. Welcome, Dr. Bowe!

I am so excited to share this brand new page with you guys!

Part of my job as a dermatologist and media expert is to know which of the trending products really work and deliver the results they promise! As a research scientist, I look at the science and the studies behind product claims. I want to see proof that the products that I am recommending do what they say they will do for your skin! I want to see proof that the product is safe. I am all for trying a new trend or an exotic ingredient, but only if I am confident it will not harm my skin’s barrier and my overall health.

I am asked for my product recommendations all the time – so here they are! I will update my top picks on a monthly basis so you always have the opportunity to learn about something new and exciting! I will share recommendations for women, men, and children – something for everyone. I look forward to sharing my favorite products and brands with you to help you achieve your skin goals and stay sun safe and radiant!

Visit Dr. Whitney’s Picks

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

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

All summer long, we eat blueberries. We even go blueberry picking as one of our favorite family traditions! Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants which fight free radicals to help protect your skin from premature aging! Plus, I have a serious sweet tooth, so fresh blueberries and a dash of toasted coconut really satisfy my sweet tooth without spiking my blood sugar.

Oatmeal, almond milk and coconut milk are all low in glycemic index, so they won’t trigger inflammation in your skin. It’s easy to find a blend of almond and coconut milk, just make sure it’s unsweetened! Some of these brands pack in the sugar, so you have a mistaken belief that you are drinking something very healthy. Check your labels, guys.

Chia seeds are rich in skin-healthy omega-3’s,and fiber to keep you full.  Although chia seeds have some protein, I like to add a scoop of plant-based protein powder to ensure my skin, hair and nails are getting the building blocks they need.

I make a big batch of these on Sunday night and portion them into jars. That way, my family has grab-and-go breakfasts for the week. My daughter and I can’t get enough of them and I hope you love them too!

Blueberry Coconut Overnight Oats

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup coconut milk (you can also use an almond/coconut milk blend instead of separating them)
½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries, plus more for serving
1 scoop plant-based protein powder (vanilla or unflavored)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut, toasted

To make:

Mix all ingredients – except toasted coconut – in a small bowl. Portion into smaller mason jars and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, stir everything together to make nice and creamy. Sprinkle each portion with toasted coconut, a pinch of cinnamon, and a handful of fresh blueberries.

@DrWhitneyBowe

Is Infrared #yoga bad for your skin? What does this hot yoga trend mean for your skin’s health?… https://t.co/Z1uW5GSM3e

@DrWhitneyBowe

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