This morning on Good Morning America, I showed how one of the hottest new facials – the HydraFacial – works. One reason this treatment is so incredibly popular is because, unlike many types of facials, it is so gentle. I have been getting a lot of questions on this treatment, so I wanted to answer some of them here for you!

Is it safe for all skin types?

This is a very gentle, non-irritating treatment and I am comfortable recommending it to my patients with sensitive skin, eczema, rosacea, and even melasma.

How does the HydraFacial compare to other facials?

This treatment infuses your skin with hydrating serums while a gentle vacuum simultaneously pulls out the debris clogging your pores. Although you are getting a very deep clean, the process is more forgiving than most manual extractions and many forms of microdermabrasion, especially for people with very sensitive skin.  When it comes to aggressive manual extraction techniques used during certain types of facials or deep cleaning procedures, I have seen patients come in with post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and red, blotchy skin afterwards. This is just not the case with the HydraFacial.

How long does it take and is there downtime afterwards?

This treatment takes about thirty minutes and no, there is virtually no downtime afterwards. Actually, you will see and feel an immediate improvement in your skin’s appearance.  My most sensitive patients might experience a bit of redness that lasts about 20 minutes after the procedure, mostly because it’s stimulating blood flow. That diffuse redness and plumped up appearance to the skin is very different from the blotchy, bloody irritation you can get with some types of aggressive facials.  My patients all go back to work or back to their lives immediately after the treatment.

Can I get Botox on the same day as a HydraFacial?

In my office, I recommend waiting at least 20 minutes after a HydraFacial before you receive any Botox injections. As I mention above, your skin can have a slight flush after the HydraFacial and I like to be sure it is completely resolved prior to administering any injections. If you get fillers or Botox injections immediately after a HydraFacial, I believe it can increase your risk of bruising. Your blood vessels are dilated from the procedure, and that’s what gives you that blush and the plump, healthy appearance to the skin. But dilated blood vessels are a recipe for bruising if you try to inject before they’ve had a chance to constrict back to normal.  So, in my opinion, I would either schedule your injections for a different day, or wait about 20 minutes between your HydraFacial and your injections.  Again, this is my personal experience, so of course I recommend consulting with your doctor regarding your own needs.

How often do you recommend getting a HydraFacial?

I recommend this treatment about once per month because it’s such an effective tool from a preventative and maintenance perspective. It is highly complementary to other procedures that I offer in my office, which is also very beneficial when patients would like to come in for multiple procedures which work synergistically. For example, some lasers and even microneedling can have a drying effect on the skin while the skin heals.  Coming in a week or two after those treatments for a HydraFacial is a recipe for success if time and budget allow!

I look forward to sharing more innovations in skin health and skin care with you guys very soon!

Dr. Whitney

Using our own blood to heal our bodies is not only a hot trend, but it actually is something I use in my office in many different ways (and have for years). The key here is – of course, a seasoned practitioner to ensure safety — but also, to be sure that the “blood” you are using has a chance of working and actually being effective.

We are not talking about taking your blood and applying it directly onto your face or putting it directly into a cream. Instead, as I explained this morning on Good Morning America, I work with “Platelet Rich Plasma therapy or “PRP.”

How this works:

I take a small sample of your own blood from your arm and then I place the blood sample in a special tube that has a plug, then pop that tube in my centrifuge. The centrifuge spins down the blood, separating it into the PRP on one side of the plug, and the white and red blood cells on the other.  I use a patented system called Selphyl to completely separate the platelet rich plasma or “PRP” from the remaining blood, so I know the PRP I’m using is pure.  I then stabilize the growth factors in the PRP using calcium chloride, so the PRP I use during my in office procedures contain growth factors that will continue to work on the skin and the hair follicles for 7 days even after the procedure.  That pure, stable PRP is then used in a number of different procedures, which I will explain in more detail below.

But first, color counts when it comes to plasma. Your plasma should be yellow or straw colored. That means it is not contaminated with your red or white blood cells. If it is yellow, you can use it. If it is red or pink, you should not allow anyone to use it for a procedure.  If even a drop of red blood cells make their way into your PRP, it could stain your skin! And white blood cells contaminated your PRP can CAUSE inflammation and negate all the benefits of the growth factors!

Products and Procedures using your plasma:

(1) Blood Creams: I cover this topic right here: link to segment

(2) Vampire Facials: I cover this subject in this morning’s Good Morning America FB Live and also in this in-office FB live.

(3) PRP for hair growth: Many of my patients are experiencing hair loss and thinning. This treatment works equally effectively for men and women and for all ethnicities. If you are sensitive to pain, we often use a form of laughing gas in my office during the injections to help ease the pain and anxiety.  Read more about this procedure right here.

Key Questions you Should Ask your Dermatologist:

If you are planning to get one of these PRP procedures involving your blood, you want to ask the following questions:

  1. What system do you use to purify my plasma?
  2. Can I see my plasma before we use it? (Check for color!)
  3. Ask who will be performing your procedure and their level of experience (We are talking about blood, here, and safety is always critical).

I can’t wait to share more information with you on achieving your healthiest, most radiant skin. More to come!

Dr. Whitney

What started out as a buzz in beauty and wellness circles has become an all-out craze over Cannabis. Why is CBD so hot right now? What does it do? Does it get you high? Is it legal and of course, is it safe? I’ve been testing some really good products in this space lately and I’m looking forward to sharing what I’m learning about it with you.

The Skinny on CBD

To start, there are 80 different compounds that have been extracted from the Cannabis plant. These compounds are called cannabinoids. Interestingly, our bodies have an endocannabinoid system and we even make our own cannabis-type chemical called anandamide!

Two of the most well known cannabinoids are THC, which can get you high, and CBD (which is short for cannabidiol), which does not. In other words, CBD doesn’t lead to feelings of euphoria. Some people say that CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, but I beg to differ.  Psychoactive drugs, by definition, can alter your mood.  When I’ve ingested CBD, I definitely notice a change in my mood. I feel more relaxed and at ease.  My patients who struggle with anxiety feel less anxious and more calm.  So, while I don’t think CBD can get you high, I do think it is technically a psychoactive compound.  Caffeine is considered to be psychoactive, so don’t let that term scare you!

When you ingest or absorb CBD, it naturally elevates your own internal cannabinoids/anandamide. And CBD and anandamide receptors are found in numerous parts of our bodies. CBD has gotten a ton of attention lately based on some recent studies are showing that it might have health benefits.

In terms of legality, CBD comes from the cannabis sativa plant. If the plant has less than 0.3% THC content, it’s considered hemp. If it’s got more THC, it’s considered cannabis, not hemp. This makes a difference in terms of whether its legal and in which state.

CBD and Your Skin

If you ingest CBD in a supplement or under your tongue, it enters the bloodstream and can interact with receptors throughout the body.  But if you rub it on the skin, it acts more locally and is less likely to have systemic effects

In particular, CBD appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, and many skin conditions are linked to inflammation, so it’s not a surprise this ingredient is popping up in tinctures, oils and serums. As we know from The Beauty of Dirty Skin, inflammation is the common thread that underlies seemingly unrelated skin issues including acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and even premature aging.

The other potential upside of topical CBD is its potential to act as an analgesic to reduce pain in the skin.  Preliminary studies also suggest cannabis might help with itchy skin, wound healing and even skin cancer.

There are no large clinical trials in humans showing that these compounds are either safe or effective in humans. But, there are a few promising animal and laboratory studies that show potential for topical use that might benefit certain skin conditions.

There are some studies suggesting that topical cannabinoids might help dial down inflammation seen in eczema, skin allergies and psoriasis. Topical application to the skin of mice demonstrated that these molecules were able to not only calm inflammation, but also slow down production of molecules that we know make the skin feel itchy, like histamine. Some studies also show that they can help repair the skin barrier, helping the skin trap moisture while keeping foreign or harmful substances from penetrating into the skin.

Looking Forward:

I believe CBD holds promise for:

  • Acne: studies show that it can dial down redness, inflammation AND helps with sebum production/oil control
  • Itchy and inflamed skin: studies show that it can help to prevent the release of molecules linked with itch (like histamine), could be useful for eczema, bug bites or wounds starting to heal which often itch.
  • Skin cancer: studies show might be able to slow that rapid, uncontrolled, dysregulated cellular division that leads to skin tumors and skin cancers
  • Painful skin (shingles or a sunburn): preliminary studies suggest might even dial down the sensation of pain in the skin.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is such a skin health saboteur (https://drwhitneybowe.com/stressing-24-7-is-b-b-bad-to-the-biome/) so I have my eye on the available information on CBD and stress!

My Current Thoughts:

For now, here are some of the recommendations I feel comfortable making to my patients. I would feel comfortable using CBD oil as a massage oil on INTACT, HEALTHY skin. I would totally rub it onto your soles before a night in heels! However, I am NOT ready to rub this onto skin that is inflamed. Even though it holds promise for conditions like eczema, rosacea, sunburns and wound healing, we know that ingredients are much more likely to penetrate into inflamed skin. These conditions are all characterized by inflamed skin, and an unhealthy barrier. I like to call this “leaky skin” and leaky skin is vulnerable skin. So, until I see some compelling clinical trials, I would NOT rub it on anything but healthy skin (for example, if your skin is red, itching, burning, stinging or painful- hold off for now).

Brands I am Loving:

Lord Jones 

Plant Juice Oils (founders are personal friends of mine!)

Dr. Whitney

 

 

The holiday season is one of the busiest times in my office because of all of the holiday parties and events! My patients ask so many questions about prepping their skin for these special events. So, I wanted to share these pearls with you guys as well. Here’s my countdown to radiant skin right in time for the holidays:

5 Days To Go: This is the perfect time to opt for a superficial chemical peel to really amp up your skin’s healthy glow. Long gone are the days of the Sex and the City/Samantha chemical peel. My patients love in-office chemical peels. For dull, dry skin, I opt for a glycolic acid peel. For oily/acne prone skin, I focus on a salicylic acid peel. Both options will help boost your healthy glow (and if you are planning to wear makeup for an event, your makeup application will be so much more smooth and beautiful). For an at home option, check out this “babyfacial” from Drunk Elephant.

It’s also a great time to start incorporating a reputable collagen powder supplement to your coffee or smoothie on a daily basis. For another option, try bone broth!

3 Days to Go:  You probably already know that I love a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to the air in your bedroom at night.

It’s also a good time to start cutting down on salt and alcohol and load up on water. You want to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate in order to rebalance your salt/water ratio. This will help to avoid puffy eyes and overall puffiness. To find out more about some of my favorite low sugar, hydrating beverages, check out this post.

 Holiday Party Eve: This is definitely not the time to start introducing new products into your skincare routine. You don’t want to have an adverse reaction just in time for your special event. It is, however, the perfect time to start thinking about using a sugar scrub like this one to exfoliate and soften your elbows, knees, legs and feet. You can lock in your skin’s healthy moisture by following the scrub with raw, organic cocoa butter, which you can melt down a bit and then smooth onto your skin for a delicious smelling, intensely hydrating experience!

Enjoy your beautiful, radiant, smooth skin and happy holidays!!

Xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

On my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page, I shared my (amazing) experience testing Olive + M’s Shimmer + Glow Body Oil, a new breakout beauty product that promises to give you a natural glow on the go.

Now, my team of real-life testers tried this organic, fragrant oil. Here’s what women with various beauty routines and skin had to say about Olive + M’s Shimmer + Glow Body Oil:

Real Women Put Olive + M Shimmer + Glow Body Oil To the Test

ON THE GO GLAM

Karen Young

Profession: Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer, Meditation and Nutrition Coach

What is your current experience with shimmer products?
I love shimmering products. I use shimmer for photo shoots, vacations, special events and any time I need a boost of confidence like business meetings and auditions.

Describe your beauty routine in 3 sentences or less.
Simple and a tiny bit glam. Red lips always!

What is your POV and current approach to “clean” or healthy beauty products?
I love simple clean products. I use essential oils daily on myself and clients.

First impressions?
What a gorgeous package that truly represents the product!

How did you use it?
I put some across my collarbones and shoulders before my 6:00 am yoga class. I was tired from a busy weekend with my daughters and my students need me to SHINE! I loved how smoothly the product went on and was absolutely floored by how nicely it absorbed and left no residue.

Then I felt like I needed a boost before my daughter’s field hockey game so I put a few drops in my hair. What a treat!

How did you FEEL when you wore it?
I felt really amazing so Goddess-y! The scent was energizing and grounding. I could see the subtle shimmer in the mirror as I taught and decided this is definitely one of my favorite products!

Endorsement?
I would say that this product gives a radiant, shimmery glow and smells crazy amazing. In NY its the time of year where we get very pale and can suffer from dry skin and hair as the weather cools and your product is the perfect antidote!! Conversations with clients easily turn to beauty products.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about something new! 😀

ISO SUBTLE BEAUTY TRICKS

Gail Barringer

Profession: Entertainment professional

Shimmer History: Tried a shimmer foundation once. People thought I looked like I had been in a tanning booth. So much for that!

What is your POV and current approach to “clean” or healthy beauty products?
I have sensitive skin and rosacea. The cleaner the product the better!

When and where would you use or have you used shimmer?
Only on special occasions to add a little shine to the outfit and party.

Do you use essential oils in other areas of your life?
Yes, as an alternative to moisturizer and at night on my face.

First Impressions?
Couldn’t wait to put it on

How did you use it?
I used it on arms, hands, legs.

How did it feel?
Amazing! It was so soft and the shimmer is lovely, natural looking and not fake. I smell fantastic.

MULTI-TASKING WORKING MOM OF 3 GORGEOUS GIRLS

Ashli Carnicelli

Profession: Licensed Aesthetician and Massage Therapist

History of Shimmer Products: For special occasions, shimmer on the skin is a must-have. I consider it part of my makeup routine for the evening and/or the event. It’s also wonderful in the summertime and is very flattering on the legs. Shimmer can make even the grayest day feel just a little bit more special- a form of adornment for the body like jewels in your skincare!

Describe your beauty routine in 3 sentences or less.
I use G.R.A.S. theory to treat my skin- my regimen consists of products with Growth Factors, Retinoids, Antioxidants and Sunscreen. I wear SPF year round as well as use a potent vitamin C serum in the morning! I always hydrate my skin after bathing as well as apply SPF on my body skin before I leave the house.

What is your current experience with shimmer products?
I absolutely adore them on body skin. I used a shimmer lotion was for my wedding day- then they pulled it off the shelves! I was so upset! It makes the skin look healthy and luminous without being overdone or too glittery. I also think it creates a flattering skin tone without having to damage your skin with a suntan!

What is your POV and current approach to “clean” or healthy beauty products?
Integrating essential oils is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle for me!  I have received extensive training in aromatherapy in my work in massage therapy and use essential oils every single day. I have a diffuser in my foyer that I love to mix sweet orange and petitgrain (or sometimes neroli).  I even roll a balancing blend on the back of my neck for while I am treating patients.

First Impressions?
I really lean towards packaging that is more apothecary-like, so I instantly loved this bottle! The scent is so delightful.

How did you use it?
I used it first after a long soak in the tub with Epsom salts. I loved how it applied without being too greasy or heavy! It leaves a beautiful scent on the skin and a little goes a long way!

How did you FEEL when you wore it?
I felt dewy and happy!

In your own words, how did this product wear and look for you?
This product is now on my shelf in my must-have category! 

Endorsement?
You HAVE to try this new product by Olive + M. It’s a shimmer body oil that contains olive oil & argan oil which replenishes lipids in the skin. It also contains a synergy of gorgeous essential oils (jasmine, sweet orange, cedarwood, vetiver, black pepper and patchouli) that smells heavenly! It also contains tiny Mica mineral flakes that leave a gorgeous shimmer on the skin!

ALL ABOUT AU NATURAL + OILS

Eva Marcos

Profession: Urban Development

History with Shimmer: I use it for special occasions that involve nightlife and dancing.

What is your POV and current approach to “clean” or healthy beauty products?
I use all natural face and body oils like rose oil, coco oil and sesame seed oil.  

First Impressions?
It was clean and looked expensive. The scent was natural, energizing and uplifting.

How did you use it?
I used it on my chest, arms and cheeks.  The process was easy, the oil was absorbed quickly and the shimmer was a glow, not glitter.   

How did you FEEL when you wore it?
I felt like it was party time!

Endorsement?
It’s an all natural, sensory experience.

To learn more, check out my Dr. Whitney’s Picks post.

Dr. Whitney

Personalized skincare has so much appeal. The skincare industry is overcrowded and incredibly noisy in terms of constantly emerging trends, companies, products, and aggressive marketing. How can you navigate through the seemingly endless options available to pinpoint the products that are best suited for your skin?

As a dermatologist and media expert, I pour over science and studies behind new skincare innovations. I serve on advisory boards, attend the most cutting edge industry conferences, and personally test products. My patients ask me all the time to make specific, personalized skincare recommendations and I love to share that information because it makes a real difference when your products actually work to meet your needs.

I am always interested in learning about innovations in this area that can help people to better educate themselves as to which types of products will be most beneficial for their individual needs. That’s why I was so intrigued when I learned about HelloAva.

I met the company’s co-founder, Siqi Mou at a beauty event in NYC. Siqi – who happens to be strikingly beautiful, warm, and incredibly forward thinking – explained to me that the concept for this innovative company was born in her business school class at Stanford and it has gained momentum and grown exponentially in the past few years.

The concept is akin to a Stitch Fix for your face and uses the tagline, “the Brains Behind Your Beauty.” I was excited to learn more about this platform, which merges artificial intelligence with live skincare consultants, to personalize your skincare selections. Siqi and her team have gone to great lengths to make this process streamlined, accurate and productive and to set themselves apart from predecessor “online skincare consultant” brands that lacked “wow” factor. So, I asked Siqi to share her insight, journey as a young entrepreneur in such a competitive space, and more about HelloAva with you guys!

DWB: I remember you explaining to me that HelloAva was initially created as part of a business school project. Can you share more on how this project evolved from its initial stages to the incredible new company you now run?

SM: Yes, indeed. It started as a class project in this class called “Lean Launchpad” at Stanford graduate school of business, which taught you how to test out an idea lean before going in 100%. Originally we wanted to make customized skincare products but after interviewing over 300 women during this class, we realized the bigger pain point is “not being able to identify what works for me” and over 90% of the women we talked to expressed that they had to go through trials and errors to identify what works. We want to eliminate that process and help people get to their “perfect match” faster. So we decided to change the idea and instead build a platform to use big data to help people identify what works for what kind of people, and then lead customers to the right set of solutions more efficiently. 

DWB: I’ve heard you describe HelloAva as the “Stitch Fix” for your face. Can you share more on that analogy?

SM: Stitch fix matches you with a personal stylist and uses both AI and human expertise to personalize clothing choices for you. We are trying to do that for a different vertical. The challenge is that for beauty products, customers cannot just try them and return what they don’t like, so we show them what they are getting before we ship the products out. This way users can read more about the products and make more informed decisions before they receive the products. What’s very unique about our service is that we always highlight why certain product is good for the user based on personalized information, and everyone’s content is different and 100% customized. Say if someone has dryness and dullness as key concerns, we will highlight what ingredients in the matched products will solve for those needs. 

DWB: HelloAva is such an innovation because it merges human intelligence (read: real live skin care consultants) with data science to pinpoint the best products for your skin. How does this work?

SM: Yes, exactly. We realized the best user experience should neither be 100% robotic nor 100% human. The former makes it a very mechanic and sub-par experience, and the latter makes the process less efficient and objective. We want to blend the best of both worlds. So the machine does the initial selection based on our proprietary algorithm and data science. Then the human experts (all licensed estheticians) jump in to talk to our users a bit more to learn more about her/his lifestyle, preference and what she/he wants to optimize for, and can make modifications accordingly. This process is also a supervised learning system so that as human modifies product choices, the machine learns from expert input and gets smarter and smarter overtime. It also applies the same logic to similar users in the future. 

DWB: I know streamlining communication is very important to your brand. For example, simple, clear text messages are the key way that Ava communicates with your customers. Can you tell us more about this ease of communication that you’ve created?

SM: We’ve realized that skincare is an ongoing life-long journey and one’s skin changes over time, so she/he constantly needs help. If we can always be there for her/him to help find the right set of the products, adjust different routines based on seasons, and prepare her/him for different events and occasions, that personalized attention is what the user really needs. And what’s the easiest way to achieve that? Become her/his skincare best pal and communicate with them via text messages whenever she/he needs.

It’s so easy, smooth and stress-free.

DWB: I know we’ve also spoken about the fact that your platform works around the products that your customer already uses and loves. Can you explain how that works?

SM: Yes, if a customer tells us she/he loves certain products and wants to incorporate those into her/his new routine, we can do that and add that into her/his regimen. It’s a very simple process, we will just identify what’s the gap in her/his routine and complement it with new products to make it better. However, if a user is not so sure about her/his products and wants to try new things and revamp the routine completely, we can do that too. We are always customer centric so we do whatever the customer wants. 

DWB: What has this experience been like for you, co-founding this emerging company which has gotten so much media attention?

SM: You are too sweet. It’s just the beginning! We have big dreams to disrupt the beauty industry and bring in much more effective and efficient ways for customers to choose products and make this process personalized and easy. And the best way to do that is through technology! We live in a world with so much great technology but if you think about the way beauty e-commerce functions, the user experience is still pretty broken and antiquated. People are still complaining about all the trials and errors they had to go through in order to find out what works. Using technology to improve on this experience is not only desired but rather, demanded by the new generation. It will truly become a game changer in elevating the way people discover, experience and shop for beauty products.

DWB: What is one word of motivation/advice you would give to young entrepreneurs?

SM: We need to take a chance on ourselves. One of the best advice I got from business school was what my professor from a startup class old us “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?”  There’s NEVER going to be a perfect time if you keep dwelling on it. You just have to do it!

I am going to be completing my very own trial with HelloAva, so stay tuned on my personal experience and, to learn more about HelloAva, click here: https://helloava.co/

Dr. Whitney

 

 

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).

You are NOT alone in the primal urge to pick at your face- especially if you have a below the surface blemish or bothersome zit. BUT, here’s our real-world, skin-saving guide to allowing your skin to heal without making it worse!

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to our skin. If you’ve ever been obsessed with a blemish, you understand the self-sabotage. And maybe this sounds familiar: “When I consciously pick at my skin, I know deep down that it won’t help, but somehow I convince myself that this one time picking will suddenly make the breakout less apparent,” says Emily, a self-described chronic picker who has consulted Dr. Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, for help.

“I can’t tell you how many of my patients avoid eye contact, feeling some shame that they’ve “attacked’ a pimple and tell me how embarrassed they are—it happens all the time,” Dr. Bowe says. “If you’ve picked, the first thing I want you to realize is that you’re not alone. I probably have this conversation once a day in my office!”  

This two-part installment will reveal what drives this all-too-common behavior and how to treat it—and how one woman has overcome her picking compulsion.

Part 1: Picking—a Fight

There’s actually a good reason why it’s so difficult for us to leave our skin alone: “Popping a pimple or picking at your skin offers relief and gratification that rushes the brain with calming neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin,” says Natalie Gluck, MD,  a physician and board-certified psychiatrist in New York City. “In some cases people experience tension that can only be relieved by picking.”

The problem is that any time you pick, squeeze, pop or otherwise handle your skin, you risk infection and scarring. You’ll prolong the amount of time it takes a pimple to heal and spread oil, dirt and bacteria on your skin that can cause more breakouts—creating a vicious cycle. So a hands-off policy is one your dermatologist will always advise.

That being said, dermatologists are also human and understand that ignoring a blackhead or letting a whitehead run its course is not exactly realistic for anyone within arm’s reach of a magnifying mirror. There are, however, a few dermatologist-approved strategies that can be effective for anyone who wants to reform her picking habit.

5 Ways to Beat the Urge to Pick Your Zits for Healthy Skin

Get the red out.

If you reduce the inflammation, the blemish will be less glaring and less inviting to pick. Treat the area with a cold compress and hydrocortisone to calm the swelling and redness.  Spot treating with tea tree oil can also dial down the red, as tea tree oil acts as an anti-inflammatory. One of Dr Bowe’s new favorite spot treatments is this roller ball that coats just the right amount of salicylic acid and essential oils to dial down the red.

Make a note.

Before you get in a trance and spend too much quality time obsessing over your pores, put a reminder on a sticky note and put it on your mirror. Seeing the phrase “HANDS OFF” or “NO PICKING” may remind you to stop before you start.

Hit the spot.

If it’s oozing or juicy, you might consider a a blemish treatment containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to start the healing process and dry it up. If you can, apply something that coats the pimple with a visible layer so you’re less apt to touch it.  Dr. Sandra Lee, a dermatologist at Skin Physicians & Surgeons in Upland, CA who is known as Dr. Pimple Popper, advises her patients to put a band-aid on the blemish if they can stay at home. The bandage acts as a literal barrier to picking and help them resist the urge to do more harm.

Know when to squeeze.

If you absolutely cannot keep your hands off, only touch a whitehead—the inflammation is at the surface and popping it is less likely to cause scarring or discoloration than handling a solid red cyst. Very gently apply pressure to release the pus, as soon as you see the white at the surface or if you see blood, stop immediately and apply a cold compress followed by a spot treatment.

Call your dermatologist.

“Often making an appointment to see me can help my patients stop from attacking a pimple because they know they’ll be seeing me soon,” Dr. Bowe says. “And a simple cortisone shot can make a deep cyst disappear in a few hours.”

Can’t stop?  Consult your dermatologist if this may be a true medical condition.

Determine if picking is causing you mental distress. “Sometimes picking is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder called excoriation disorder,” Dr. Gluck explains. “Picking becomes a clinical condition when it causes extreme distress or you spend significant time doing it.” A visit with a mental health specialist can determine if medication or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) will help with the underlying anxiety. But focusing on a single pimple isn’t a disorder—in most cases people stop once the blemish heals, Dr. Gluck explains.

Consider this unconventional but popular way to get your pimple fix:

As a testament to how alluring the satisfaction of picking can be, Dr. Pimple Popper  has a YouTube channel with more than 4 million subscribers!  Logging on and getting a vicarious thrill from watching a trained professional clear a blemish is much safer than doing self-harm and may reduce your urge to pick. “I think watching my videos is actually relaxing and decreases anxiety in those with skin picking disorder,” says Dr. Lee. “People tell me that watching these videos calms them.”

Dr. Bowe’s Bottom Line: If you can’t make it to a dermatologist, follow the advice above and take a proactive approach to your skin. Spot treatments aren’t a long-term solution. “You treat one spot and another erupts the next day in a different location,” Dr. Bowe says. Instead, she addresses the face as a “field” and uses ingredients like salicylic acid or retinol to the entire area. “This way you stay ahead of the game and you won’t find yourself struggling to resist the temptation to squeeze!”

Stay tuned for our next real woman’s story about finding solutions to picking. Plus, hear how Dr. Bowe’s expert support helped her cut down on aggravating her own beautiful skin.

 

The truth about 8 glasses of water a day and more hydration myths busted!

Dehydration gets a lot of press for impacting athletic performance and triggering headaches, hunger, and digestive issues. While there are countless scientific studies examining what ingredients should go into a sports beverage, and research scientists could spend hours debating the exact electrolyte profile that would optimize a long distance runner’s performance versus that of a sprinter, when it comes to skin hydration most people are left with the vague advice to “drink plenty of water.”   

You could drink a bathtub full of water and still experience dry, lackluster skin. The simple answer – drink 8 glasses a day – doesn’t cut it anymore. What is the answer to keep your skin looking like these hydrated grapes rather than these dry raisins? Keep reading!

“While losing just 2-3% of your body weight in water has been shown to decrease endurance and energy in athletes, even smaller losses of water can impact the skin – it’s the first organ to suffer,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, dermatologist and author of the new book The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Without ample hydration, skin loses elasticity, ages more quickly, and in general looks dry, flaky, and dull.

Sure, downing plenty of water is one solution to dehydrated skin – but it’s not enough. “Hydrating your skin properly is much more complicated that drinking eight glasses of water a day,” days Dr. Bowe. “There are key ingredients you need to help support healthy skin cells, and equally important is what you put ON your skin to help seal in the water you consume.”

Learn what it really takes to keep your skin hydrated, supple, and glowing from both the inside out and outside in from Dr. Bowe, below.

Eat Your Water

About 20% of our water intake comes in food form. The fluid is trapped inside the food’s cells and slowly released during the digestive process for a nice, steady source of hydration. Vegetables and fruits are naturally water-rich, but be careful here, warns Dr. Bowe. “The sugar in many fruits will negate the benefits of the water content,” she explains. “Sugar binds to your collagen – a major component of connective tissue – in a process called glycation, and targets it for destruction.” So avoid fruits with a high glycemic index (ironically, watermelon is one of them!), and reach for low-glycemic produce like strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, and leafy greens.

Sip the Right Sports Drink

We lose almost 2 cups of water with electrolytes throughout the day through normal diffusion, and even more through sweat on gym days. To replace the loss, choose a sports drink that’s low in sugar (Dr. Bowe recommends consuming no more than 30 grams of sugar a day) and contains electrolytes and three key trace minerals:

  • Zinc, which works as an antioxidant to lessen the formation of skin-damaging free radicals, and also helps skin break down damaged collagen so new collagen can form
  • Copper, which helps regenerate skin elasticity and repair damage
  • Selenium, an antioxidant that helps protect other antioxidants (like vitamin E) and also plays a role in reducing inflammation

One of our favorite options is HALO SPORT.

And while a lot of people recommend coconut water for rehydration because it contains potassium and sodium (both are electrolytes), Dr. Bowe says proceed with caution: “Coconut water can contain quite a bit of sugar, which is the last thing you want to drink for healthy skin,” she says. “And if you’re using a medication called spironolactone to control hormonal acne, coconut water is a big no. Spironolactone can increase your blood levels of potassium, and combined with the potassium in coconut water, it can put your levels over the higher limit of normal and become toxic to the electrical rhythm of your heart.”

Get the Magical Amount of Sleep

Lack of sleep is stressful to skin: It slows skin cell turnover, and impairs its ability to hold onto moisture, says Dr. Bowe. There are tons of good health-related reasons to get enough sleep (reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, to name a few), but if nothing else convinces you to go to bed on time, let maintaining youthful-looking skin be the one that does. The latest research presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Cardiology recommends getting six to eight hours of sleep per night.

Find 10 Minutes to Chill

Feeling stressed just seems to come with the territory of living in the 21st century. Unfortunately, constant stress can wreak havoc on your gut and, ultimately, your skin. Here’s how Dr. Bowe explains it.

Chronic stress upsets the balance of your gut microbiome (the total population of microbes that inhabit your digestive tract), allowing bad bacteria to take the majority. These microbes can irritate the protective mucosal lining of your gut and start to break it down. Once that barrier is compromised, it allows irritants and toxins to leak across the gut-blood barrier and into your bloodstream, a condition called intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.” The result is systemic inflammation that extends to skin, and when skin suffers, it can’t hold moisture in.

All of this is to say, if you want to keep your skin hydrated, you’ve got to take a little time for yourself to relax every day, in whatever way works for you. “I make sure to carve out 10 minutes a day to focus on my breathing,” says Dr. Bowe. “I love using apps like Breethe to guide my breathing and help me enter a deeper state of mediation.”

Get plenty of omega-3s

“Our skin cells are comprised of a lipid layer, which means in order to have supple, glowing skin, you need to eat enough fat in your diet,” says Dr. Bowe. “But it has to be the right kind of fat, and that’s omega-3 fatty acids. They help nourish skin-cell membranes to keep them fluid.” Omega-3-rich foods include fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

At the same time, minimize your intake of omega-6s. These fatty acids, found primarily in processed foods and commercial oils, are linked with inflammation. A little omega-6 from natural sources (such as flaxseed, hempseed, and nuts) is beneficial; the ideal ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is 2:1.

Seal in the glow

“You can eat and drink the right amount and the right kinds of foods and beverages all day long, but if you don’t have a healthy skin barrier, all that water you ingested will evaporate right off the surface of your skin,” says Dr. Bowe. She recommends using a few smart topical products to help strengthen your skin’s natural barrier and support its efforts to maintain moisture.

Step one, layer your skincare by applying a serum, followed by a moisturizer, to trap extra hydration in the skin. “This is a trick dermatologists use all winter long to keep skin hydrated,” says Dr. Bowe. “When you start layering your clothing in the fall to stay warm, use that as a reminder to that you also want to start layering your skincare products.”

Next, when choosing a serum, look for one with hyaluronic acid. “It’s a sugar gel that’s found naturally inside your body — in fact, it’s the cushion that keeps your bones from rubbing against each other,” says Dr. Bowe. “It’s also a natural humectant that works by holding up to 1000 times its weight in water.”

Finally, try a topical probiotic that contains Streptococcus thermophilus and Bacillus coagulans, two beneficial strains of bacteria. Good bugs on skin’s surface can increase ceramides in skin, explains Dr. Bowe, which support skin’s matrix to hold moisture in and keep skin supple and firm. They can also help maintain a healthy pH balance, which keeps bad bugs at bay so skin can stay moisture-rich. Some of my favorite topical probiotics are listed on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page.

If you want to learn even more about hydrating your skin, check out this recent blog post which includes lots of the information Dr. Bowe shared with models at New York Fashion Week! If you learned a lot here, please share with your friends who help nourish your uniquely beautiful glow!

Dr. Whitney

 

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. In fact, I use some IR devices in my office and recommend some at-home devices to my patients that are based on IR energy. But many people don’t realize that prolonged infrared exposure has detrimental effects on the skin.”

For starters, uncontrolled doses of 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 high levels of 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 uncontrolled 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

@DrWhitneyBowe

RT @DrWhitneyBowe: Brand new Picks Page post about a supplement that can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. In view of the FD…

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