You guys know I’m always reading the most cutting edge scientific studies that give me insight into living your healthiest life, and when your body is healthy, your skin is healthy!

The most exciting new science that has caught my attention surrounds a new way to approach food: The Circadian Rhythm Diet. Skin health, and our overall health, is not just about WHAT we eat — of equal importance is WHEN we eat.   Timing our meals first gained momentum with intermittent fasting, but the Circadian Rhythm Diet takes the science to a whole new level, and at its core is our exposure to BLUE LIGHT.

Humans have evolved to be highly sensitive to the 24-hour solar cycle.  We all have an internal clock that controls almost every biological system in our bodies, from our sleep-wake cycles to our mood, to our immune strength, our metabolism and our cellular health- yes, even our skin’s health.  The most important thing that sets our circadian rhythm, or sets our internal clock, is our exposure to NATURAL SUNLIGHT.

In the past, we rose with the sun, ate during daylight hours, and then rested and fasted when the sun set.  In fact, when our eyes perceive blue light, it tells our brain to shut down production of our sleep hormone, melatonin. It sets our internal clock to WAKE UP!  We need the sun’s bright blue light in the morning to become alert and active, and we need dark, or at least the absence of blue light, to jump-start our brain’s, and consequently our skin’s, sleep mode and recovery.

Now, we find ourselves totally MESSING with our internal clock as a result of using screens late that emit stimulating blue light rays. We’re tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daytime, and we delay our production of melatonin, impair our sleep, and mess up our health.  What else are you doing while you check emails or watch Netflix at night?  You snack.  Most of us eat a late dinner, oftentimes after sunset, and we snack until we finally pass out, way after our ancestors did when they followed natural light patterns in the sky.

When intermittent fasting became popular, people started to recognize that it’s not just WHAT we eat, but WHEN we eat is just as important when to comes to health. Now, we can take that one step further with Circadian Rhythm Diet.

Mounting evidence says that if you want to optimize your weight, your metabolism, your overall health, and of course, your skin health, you should try syncing up your mealtimes with the natural cycles of light.

Calories seem to be metabolized BETTER in the morning, and eating after dark jolts the brain into thinking it’s daytime and can disrupt the healthy circadian rhythm that is so critical for our health, including our skin health. As we know, beauty sleep is real! Sleep is a necessary phase of profound regeneration for the skin. While we rest, our skin cells are renewing, regenerating, and restoring themselves – and so is our entire body. Our immune system needs this quiet time to stay in peak condition.

If you want to try to take your health and wellness to the next level, give this a try:

  • Eat while it’s light, and limit what you eat during hours when it is dark.
  • Eat a heavier breakfast, a medium sized lunch, and a lighter dinner.
  • The earlier your dinner, the better. Try not to wait too long after the sun sets to eat.
  • After dinner, try to limit the amount you eat.

Craving info on relevant studies? Check out these links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3756673/

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/05/c_138448870.htm

https://www.technologynetworks.com/cell-science/news/meal-timing-can-make-or-break-your-cells-circadian-rhythm-318644

Dr. Whitney

 

 

 

The glycemic index, or GI, ranks food and drinks on a scale of one to 100 depending on how quickly and steeply your blood sugar rises after you consume them.

The benchmark is glucose at 100.  Technically, a GI between 1 and 55 is considered low while 56 to 69 is medium and anything 70 or above is high. The goal is to consume mostly foods low on the GI.

To keep things simple, because this can get a bit complex with all of the nuances, I’ve listed below common foods under which category they belong (low, moderate, and high).

You’ll want to ground your diet in low-GI items with medium GI foods in moderation! Ideally, you will work to limit high-GI foods as much as possible.

So, here we go! Healthy skin starts from within and this is a great guide, guys!

LOW GI FOODS   

100% whole grain bread

whole wheat tortilla

wild rice

quinoa

lentils

beans (kidney, garbanzo, pinto, and black)

fiber-rich fruits and vegetables (green beans, apples, grapefruit, asparagus, broccoli, berries)

nuts and peanuts

cereals made with 100 percent bran

unsweetened almond milk

full-fat plain Greek-style yogurt

tomato juice

 

MEDIUM GI FOODS

whole wheat pastas and some breads

traditional oatmeal

barley and bulgur

brown rice

sweet potato

sweet corn

graham crackers

OJ and other fruit juices without extra sugar

 

HIGH GI FOODS

white bread

white rice

white pasta

macaroni and cheese

pizza

couscous

bagel (white, plain)

baguette (white, plain)

low-fiber cereals (high in added sugar)

high-sugar beverages (sweetened tea and fruit juices, soda pop)

sweetened yogurt

rice milk

rice crackers

rice cakes

water crackers

pretzels

French fries and baked potatoes

raisins

**NOTE:

The GI is not perfect because some foods that appear high on the GI actually do not contain enough carbohydrates per serving to raise blood sugar significantly. Watermelon, for example, is one such food. (Foods that contain no carbohydrates, such as meats and oils, have a GI of zero. Similarly, coffee, tea, and wine have a GI of zero.) Also keep in mind that we rarely eat foods in isolation. They are combined with other foods during a meal, which also changes the chemistry of the food and how the body metabolizes it. Note, too, that your body’s response to foods is unique. The GI should be referenced for general guidance—not as a hard and fast rule.

Dr. Whitney

 

Hydration is KEY to healthy skin, but so many people are confused about what the skin actually needs to stay hydrated.  Here are my top 10 tips to keeping skin hydrated:

TIP #1:  Water is good, but water infused with antioxidants is better! Check out one of my favorite detox water recipes here!

TIP #2: On average, women should drink at least 2 L per day, men need at least 3 L per day.

TIP #3: UP your intake if you exercise, if you eat a diet high in protein, or if you live in a warm or dry climate!

TIP #4: Eat some of your water by munching on fiber rich veggies. They will not only boost your water intake, but keep you regular and keep your gut healthy. As you know, a healthy gut = healthy skin!  Fun fact: spinach is almost 100% water by weight!

TIP #5: Yes coffee counts! Contrary to popular belief, coffee and tea can boost overall hydration in the body.

TIP #6: Avoid added sugars. Read the label. If you see more than 3g of sugar per serving, PASS! Beware of so called “energy” drinks, and lattes and cappuccinos that taste a little TOO good.

TIP #7: Seal that moisture in your skin by layering a serum under a moisturizer morning and night. Check out some of my favorite products here!

TIP #8: Prevent overnight evaporation by using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom.

TIP #9: Add a weekly hydrating sheet mask like this one  to seal extra moisture in the skin.

TIP #10: Check your urine. If it’s clear or light yellow, you’re on the right track! Sorry guys, I AM a doctor. Had to go there.

So cheers to staying hydrated!

Dr. Whitney

A few words that come to mind when I think of ingredients like royal jelly and propolis: hydrating, moisturizing, nourishing, gentle, natural, clean, and antibacterial!

Let’s get into more detail about royal jelly and propolis, two natural ingredients that come to us straight from the hive.

ROYAL JELLY:

What is it?

Royal jelly is a white-yellowish, milky substance that consists of water, proteins, carbs, lipids, mineral salts and vitamins (including vitamins A, E, C, and B). It’s made by worker bees and is used to nourish honeybee larvae. Royal jelly is also consumed by the Queen Bee for her entire life, which is approximately seven years, as compared to the worker bees’ life cycle of approximately seven weeks!! Royal jelly, at one time, was reserved only for royalty because it was considered incredibly precious. Now, it is more widely available and is a choice ingredient in many clean skincare lines.

How does it benefit our skin?

Royal jelly is believed to be a multi-tasking ingredient with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Its antioxidants help to soothe the skin and to fight free radical damage (which contributes to premature aging). I find that it can be very hydrating and healing when used topically. Of course, if you have an allergy to bees, honey, or pollen, speak to your doctor before incorporating any products including royal jelly into your skincare regimen.

PROPOLIS:

What is it?

I think propolis is a fascinating natural ingredient. Bees harvest sap and resin from trees and add their own enzymes and beeswax to produce this powerful resin-like substance.  Bees then paint the propolis inside their homes – filling in crevices in honeycombs – in order to serve as protection for the hive. It is known for its ability to fight against bacteria and is packed with antioxidants.

How does it benefit our skin?

Propolis has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, is moisturizing without being heavy, has soothing properties and, like royal jelly, fights free radical damage because it is packed with antioxidants. I find that this is a very gentle ingredient and is therefore a wonderful option for my patients with sensitive skin.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PRODUCTS IN THIS CATEGORY:

Farmacy Honey Savior Balm: This soothing balm is made with royal jelly and propolis. I find that it’s very soothing and hydrating without being greasy or heavy. I love to use it on my lips, cracked hands, cracked heels and I even apply a little bit on my daughter’s cheeks when her skin becomes red and irritated from snow or wind in winter. Recommending clean products is very important to me, so I love that this brand is certified clean at Sephora.

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm: Another clean product, this cleansing balm is made with royal jelly peptides. The scent is heavenly, the texture is rich, and the best part – this product is specifically formulated with the health of our microbiome in mind. Many oil based cleansers offer a very deep clean, but can strip your skin of its moisture and leave your skin feeling dry and tight. This is the opposite of how your clean skin should feel. In contrast, this cleansing balm is made with hydrating Manuka honey, which has natural antibacterial properties. Therefore, it cleanses deeply, removing makeup, sunscreen and debris, but the added nourishing ingredients prevent it from stripping your skin of its healthy, natural moisture. I also love that this product is made with nourishing probiotics and prebiotics proven to protect and nurture your skin’s healthy, good bacteria.

Dr. Whitney

 

When I was asked to share beauty trends for 2020 on GMA for their New Year’s show, I immediately though of GLASS SKIN!  It’s so hot right now.  Read on to find out what glass skin is all about, and how I recommend achieving the look quickly and on a budget!

First of all, what is glass skin?  It’s intensely hydrated skin that makes you look “lit from within.”

Ok, how do we get glass skin?  So, you might have googled “glass skin” only to find lengthy, daunting skincare regimens that are not only time consuming but frighteningly expensive.  NOT necessary, ladies!  Here’s my quick and easy guide to glass skin:

Add one pump of a glass skin serum under your usual morning skincare routine: I love Peach and Lily’s Glass Skin Refining Serum which brightens skin with niacinamide and traps moisture with hyaluronic acid.

Apply a glass skin balm alone or over makeup. This one totally nails the glass skin look.

At night, use a cream that pumps up your hydration, and really seals in moisture overnight.  I’m loving The Dewy Skin Cream by Tatcha.

EXPERT TIP:  In the morning, if you’re heading out with your glass skin look, considering using a bit of powder in an upside down triangle between your eyebrows to finish the look.  Glass skin should be translucent and radiant, but if you look too glassy in the T zone it can come across as shiny.  There’s a fine line between glass skin and greasy skin- do NOT cross that line for ideal results!

Dr. Whitney

An itchy, flaky scalp is more than an annoyance. It’s a signal from your body that your scalp needs attention – it is demanding attention! I get this question in my office a lot, so I wanted to share some dandruff deets with you guys!

Why It’s Happening:

Dandruff is caused by a naturally-occurring microbe (tiny organism, in this case a fungus) on your scalp called “Malassezia Globosa.” This tiny organism feeds on natural oils which your pores release onto your skin and scalp called “sebum.” As the sebum is broken down, it produces oleic acid. One in two people are sensitive to oleic acid (so, it’s very common). If you have the sensitivity, your scalp responds by becoming irritated, inflamed, red and itchy. To get rid of this irritation, your body tells your brain to shed skin cells faster than usual. This rapid shedding is what causes dandruff flakes to appear on your scalp.

When it Tends to Happen:

Although dandruff is not caused by cold, winter air, it can be aggravated by the cold, dry air. So, you might notice that it’s more pronounced during the winter months.

If you have certain medical conditions, you can also be more prone to dandruff.

Of course, scalp health is important from a cosmetic standpoint because dandruff is not aesthetically pleasing and is often deemed socially undesirable. But, the more significant issue is that scalp health impacts our hair health as well. Our scalp skin is very delicate and has a higher number of oil glands, sweat glands, and hair follicles than the skin on other parts of our bodies. Chronic dandruff arising from scalp inflammation most likely will impact the health of our hair – but harsh scalp treatments are also not conducive to healthy hair. Given that healthy hair and a healthy scalp typically go hand in hand and complement one another, companies are now starting to focus not only on hair health, but also on scalp health and on maintaining the proper pH for your scalp and hair.

What to Do:

Most people benefit from washing their hair every few days, but my patients with dandruff often find that they benefit from washing about every other day.  The Malassezia feeds on natural oils, so the more you rinse away their food, the less likely they are to trigger inflammation.  while natural oil buildup is fine in most people, and can easily be camouflaged with a dry shampoo, in people with dandruff those excess oils can sometimes do more harm than good.

I’m also asked a lot whether probiotics can help. The quick answer is yes – probiotics can help to rebuild and strengthen the scalp’s skin barrier! So, eating yogurt with live cultures or sipping a probiotic is another way to help alleviate that itchy, flaky scalp.

Another tip I provide to my patients is to let go of their love of lathering. So many people believe that when they are lathering their hair, they are thoroughly cleansing it. As I tell my patients, the more suds and bubbles, the more damage the shampoo is doing to your hair. The detergents that give you those foamy bubbles are the same detergents that are damaging the hair shaft. Detergent is actually an overachiever when it comes to cleansing your hair, stripping your hair and scalp of the healthy oils and natural protective barrier while irritating your scalp and prompting your skin to produce even more oil to compensate for its loss. Look for sulfate-free products which are much more gentle on your scalp and your hair!

Want to check out more of my input when it comes to healthy hair and a healthy scalp? Check out these posts, which include product recommendations: (1) The Evolution of Hair Care: Is Water Actually Damaging Your Hair and (2) Have You Been Washing Your Hair All Wrong?

Dr. Whitney

You might have seen reports that the popular brand, Yes To, has recalled its unicorn face mask after many complaints of painful burns in users as young as 11 years old.

One of the tips I give my patients in trying new skincare products is to patch test, whenever possible. You really don’t know how your skin will react to a new product and a patch test is the most reliable way to ensure that your skin can tolerate the ingredients in a particular product.

Another option is to listen to your skin – and to your gut – when it comes to trying new skincare.  If you apply a product to your skin and develop any redness, burning, or stinging, IMMEDIATELY rinse it off! If you are trying a new face mask and you feel stinging discomfort – take it OFF! Do not assume this is the product “working.”

So, what happened with this popular brand’s mask and why were people reporting chemical burn-type injuries after just minutes of use? In my opinion, the most likely diagnosis is irritant contact dermatitis, meaning an irritation from an ingredient in the product that is being used at too high a concentration. In this case, the likely culprit is either Vitamin C or “fragrance.”

Even vitamin C, an amazing ingredient with tons of data supporting its use in skincare, can cause problems if the concentration is too high, or if it’s not being used in the right formulation.  The other ingredients in a formula, and the concentrations in which they are present, are all factors that can impact whether vit C can be safe and effective, or cause a major skin reaction.  Vit C needs to penetrate into the skin.  If too much of it sits on the surface, it can cause problems.  The other ingredients in the formulation, and the type of vitamin C used, can all factor into whether a product is safe.

As I’ve shared before, the term “fragrance” can mask hundreds of other ingredients, many of which are known irritants or allergens.  I recommend avoiding products that use the term “fragrance” or “parfum” on their ingredient list instead of disclosing the actual ingredients.  Transparency is KEY when it comes to safety, as we can see from reports like these!!

Dr. Whitney

It’s holiday party season! Whether you’re rocking a cherry red lip, a frosty silver shadow or an overall festive glow, you have to resist the urge to spread the love by sharing makeup with your besties — doctor’s orders!

WHY?

The quick answer: you want to spread joy, warmth and love this holiday season, not bacterial or viral infections!

We all harbor bacteria on our skin. You guys know that because we’ve spoken so much about our microbiome. The microbiome refers to the “good” bugs you carry, but your friends might be carrying some harmful germs as well, and we call those pathogens.  I tell my patients that sharing makeup is essentially swapping germs, and they should never share anything that comes into direct contact with another person’s skin or mucus membranes.

So, lip and eye products should never be shared under any circumstances, as the mucus membranes in these two areas of your face are the most susceptible to infection. The mucous membrane doesn’t contain the same layers of protection as the skin (rather, they are made of delicate, thin, moist tissue), so transmitting infectious bacteria is much easier and more common in these areas.

Sharing Eye Makeup:

When you think about it, we evolved to have eyelashes in order to protect our delicate mucous membranes from particles, pollutants, allergens, germs, etc. But we violate those lashes every time we use a liner or mascara – we forget their main purpose is to protect us! So sharing eye liner or mascara is a big NO.

Sharing Lip Products:

Sharing lip products (i.e. lip gloss, lipstick, etc.) is also a hard pass.  People don’t realize that bacteria and even certain viruses, including the one that causes cold sores, can survive on inanimate objects. Therefore, a cold sore virus can be spread between someone who gets cold sores and lends out their lipstick to the person borrowing the lipstick. Unfortunately, the contagious herpes simplex virus (which causes cold sores), once contracted, is something that can stay with you for your entire life. In fact, the infected person may not even have a visible sore present, but you can still contract the condition.

With lip products, bacteria can transfer through the mucus membranes of your mouth into your blood stream. Our lips are very thin and vascular, meaning there’s an extensive network of blood vessels just under the surface of the lips ready to absorb anything you apply around the mouth, including germs. That’s one of the reasons are lips are pink in hue – you can see those vessels peeking through.

While most cosmetics are made with preservatives, which are designed to kill harmful germs in your makeup, better safe than sorry! Natural and organic products tend to contain even weaker preservatives, so those are especially prone to getting contaminated even faster!

So, enjoy your beautiful and glossy products this holiday season – but once you use them, keep them all to yourself!!

Dr. Whitney

Winter is the perfect time to get cozy and make some easy, nourishing DIY skincare and fruit infused water recipes!

Here are some of my favorites:

Green Tea and Honey Power Mask

The green tea is soothing, removes impurities and reduces inflammation, while the honey is bacterial and soothing!

You need:

  • 2 bags of green tea
  • warm water
  • 3 tablespoons of Manuka honey

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.

Triple Coconut Sugar Cookie Body Scrub

This triple coconut sugar cookie scrub is inspired by one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes. It’s so easy to make and is absolutely delicious for your skin.

You need:

  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil

Mix these three ingredients and you have a nourishing exfoliating scrub for rough patches like your elbows or dry, cracked heels. The coconut oil is so hydrating and the sugar crystals are an excellent natural exfoliant for your body.

Guys, I do not use this on my face. Coconut oil can actually clog pores and aggravate acne, and sugar crystals are too abrasive for the delicate skin on your face. But, these ingredients work beautifully as a body scrub!

Happy holidays!!

Dr. Whitney

 

I’ve received such wonderful feedback from you guys surrounding my contribution to the new Netflix documentary series, Broken, and I’m so grateful!  I’m getting excellent questions, so I wanted to share more information on the subject of counterfeit cosmetics with you. The risks are very real and I am so motivated to continue this important conversation – so please share with anyone you feel will benefit!

One question many of you are asking is:

What kind of skin reactions will I see if I use a counterfeit cosmetic product?

First of all – and this is frightening in itself – some very dangerous ingredients contained in counterfeit cosmetics might cause no reaction on the skin at all! You read that correctly; they can be silent in terms of a topical reaction, but can still be absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream! Skincare or makeup applied around your eyes or on your lips are even more likely to be absorbed because of how thin the skin is in those areas.

In many instances, though, people do develop a skin reaction, which can take a number of different forms.

(1) First, infections are much more likely to occur following use of a counterfeit product. I vividly recall one case of honey colored crusted sores on the cheek of a woman who had bought her foundation online. She said it didn’t look right/consistency/texture was off, color was slightly off- then a few days after starting it, she developed classic impetigo. Impetigo is a highly contagious, rapidly spreading infection usually caused by Staph aureus or Strep pyogenes. If not treated appropriately, this infection can cause scarring and can even enter the bloodstream. This was all due to a counterfeit foundation!! It is certainly not worth the risk.

(2) Acne or an acne-like rash is another common skin reaction that is more likely to occur with counterfeits. Many cheap ingredients used in counterfeit products are very occlusive on the skin and clog the pores, resulting in breakouts.

(3) Irritant contact dermatitis is another very common reaction I’ve seen, which is more likely to occur with counterfeit products. This is when your skin reacts to ingredients that trigger inflammation or irritation because the ingredient itself is harmful or it’s used at in improper concentration. Certain chemicals are caustic to the skin, such as those with either a very high or a very low pH.  Unlike authentic products, counterfeit products have not undergone extensive testing to ensure they don’t cause irritation or worse, a burn, on the skin.

This is just the beginning of a series of posts that I will be sharing on this subject! I hope that you are never in a position to deal with any of these things, but just in case it does come up, the more informed you are, the better positioned you are to protect your health and safety!

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

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