During my Bowe Glow Boot Camp, my dear friend, David Kirsch, shared fitness and healthy cooking tips each week. David and I have known each other for years and every time I have the opportunity to see him or speak to him, I adore him even more. He’s not only an incredibly inspiring and talented trainer — to celebrities including J. Lo, Liv Tyler, and Heidi Klum – but he’s also a natural teacher. He has connected with so many people during quarantine through virtual platforms like HoneyComb.Fit and through his Instagram page – providing free workouts and tips to keep us all motivated, healthy, and moving. One of the most beautiful things about David is his role as a Mapa to his absolutely beautiful twins, Francesca and Emilia.

I am so honored to share this interview with you:

WB: In many homes, it’s a constant battle right now between screen time and staying physical.  How do you get your girls off their screens and convince them to be active? 

DK: So, full disclosure, there is still the occasional battle over screen time with Emilia and Francesca.  That said, my girls have grown up watching me exercise – both in the gym, at home and on vacation.  They have been organically exposed to the importance of moving your body a little every day.

WB: Do you think that people will return to gyms and working out with personal trainers in facilities in the same way they did pre-Covid?  What do you think people miss most about those in person workout experiences as compared with the remote training people have been doing from home? 

DK: I don’t think that things will completely go back to pre – Covid ways.  I think there is and will be genuine concern and monitoring of the number of bodies in the gym at any given time.  I think the thing that people miss the most about going to the gym is the social aspect and the overall general positive energy.  I have worked ‘overtime’ to try to create the energy, intimacy and vibe through my Zoom training sessions.

WB:  What’s your plan to return to training people in person?  Will you and your clients wear masks during the session?  Any tips for using a mask during times when people are really exerting themselves? 

DK: I think for the immediate future and for some time after, we will be masked and be socially distant and maintain a high level of personal hygiene.  I think masks are going to be extremely important, especially when people are exerting themselves – exhaling hard, and, at times, ‘spraying some saliva.’

WB: Do you have a go-to breakfast that Emilia and Francesca love and that you also feel good about giving them in the morning? We loved your frittata recipe and would love more of your insight! 

DK: Francesca and Emilia’s favorite go-to breakfast is avocado toast!!  My girls don’t like eggs, so my frittata doesn’t work for them.  I am a huge believer in healthy, substantial breakfasts.  Some of my favorites: frittata with whatever is in the fridge; avocado toast with hard boiled eggs, and Kite Hill unsweetened vanilla almond milk Greek yogurt with some seeds and fresh almond butter.  My girls are quite comfortable and competent in the kitchen, so I let them create at will.

WB: Do you have a mantra that keeps you motivated? Do you share a mantra with Emilia and Francesca?

DK: “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles” — Buddha

WB:  What does your own personal workout schedule usually look like in a week? 

DK: My workouts have been shortened and are more frequent now.  I have turned my living room into a home gym with some hand weights, kettle bells, a strength band and a medicine ball.  All that said, my favorite purchase was a pull-up bar that I need to pass every time I leave my bedroom.  I workout via Zoom with a friend of mine no less than 5 days a week for at least 30 – 45 minutes.  Additionally, we ‘push’ each other to do at least 100, but most days, 200 pull-ups.  Last, in addition to my personal workouts, I often workout along with my clients.

WB: What type of activities do the girls like to do to stay active?

DK: Emilia loves to dance and she’s got those TikTok moves down (unofficially, as I won’t let her have an account).  Francesca loves doing Live workouts and has gotten quite good at it!  They both love to swim, play tennis and softball.

WB: What’s the one tip you would give families right now who are struggling to stay active? 

DK: It just takes a few minutes to get off of the sofa, put down the devices and MOVE your body!  It could be a walk, bike ride, or a swim in the pool.  Do it as a family, 5 – 10 minutes a day and build up from there.  You’ll have better energy, have a more positive outlook, be less stressed and look and feel healthier.

WB: Tell us more about Honeycomb and these amazing free workouts?

DK: HoneyComb.Fit was born out of the idea of creating a fully comprehensive health, wellness and lifestyle destination. We realized the best way to disseminate this philosophy was through social media. Mark Messier is one of the founding partners. Stacey Griffith, Tracy Carlinsky, and I have been offering exclusive, free workouts for almost four weeks now and the feedback has been good, as the buzz and our following is steadily growing.  After over thirty years in the fitness industry, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to reach out to so many people around the world that wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to train with me.  I am so proud to be part of the HoneyComb family!!  In the next coming weeks, we will be inviting guest trainers with a variety of different exercise disciplines to join the team and share their expertise.

WB: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself as a trainer during quarantine? 

DK: The most important thing I’ve learned about myself during quarantine is that I have discovered my love and passion for online training.  I was born to teach and I have conquered my initial trepidation of “talking” to my iPhone, and thoroughly enjoy the relatively new medium.

WB: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself as a parent during quarantine?

DK: The one thing I have learned about myself as a parent during quarantine – in spite of the moments, and there are some, I love, appreciate and am grateful for the time I have gotten to spend with Emilia and Francesca.  Real quality time of laughing, loving, cooking together, exercising together, and just quality quiet time.  I have honed the art of patience, and realize that I am not always the perfect Mapa.  By the way, the art of good parenting is not about perfection, but striving to do your best, and remembering to say “I’m sorry, and daddy loves you always and forever” when I have those moments and ‘lose my xxxxx.’

And now you can see why I love David so much!! Be sure to check out his insta page because you will become as hooked on his workouts – and family workouts- as we are!

Why Alcohol in your Hand Sanitizers is NOT the Same as Alcohol in your Toner

As a doctor and a scientist, I know that alcohol can be a lifesaving ingredient in certain scenarios, but it can do harm in others.  Alcohol use in skincare products requires some serious thought. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to alcohol in your skincare products.

For your face: 

Not all alcohols are created equal.  Alcohols fall into 2 main categories: drying alcohols, and hydrating alcohols.  When it comes to products you use on your face, you want to avoid drying alcohols, but welcome the use of hydrating alcohols.

Drying alcohols are often listed on labels as SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.  These are lightweight, volatile alcohols, meaning they evaporate quickly off the surface of the skin.  The problem is, these types of alcohols do major damage to the natural lipids and fatty acids on the surface of your skin, so they damage your skin barrier.  For people with oily skin, they can give you a sensation of feeling like you’re degreasing the skin and drying out the oil, but the long term damaging effects far outweigh that temporary sensation.  In fact, over time, your skin will actually pump out more oils to compensate for the stripping and drying effects these alcohols have.  So, long story short, these types of alcohols should be avoided by people of ALL skin types when it comes to their facial skin.

Hydrating alcohols, or fatty alcohols, are actually excellent ingredients when it comes to facial skincare!  Examples include cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol.  These alcohols are emollients, meaning they keep skin hydrated and supple—yes, the exact opposite of what you might expect when you see the word “alcohol” on the label!

For your hands:

Hand sanitizers that contain 60% ethyl alcohol and  70% isopropanol are incredibly effective germ killers, meaning they can kill many disease causing bacteria and viruses within seconds.  These are the kinds of alcohols I warned you to avoid in your facial skincare, but when faced with a virus like COVID-19, the benefits currently outweigh the risks when using them in your hand sanitizers. Just be sure to only use them when you don’t have access to running soap and water, and moisturize as often as possible to restore those lipids and encourage the regrowth of healthy bacteria (your microbiome).

Dr. Whitney

So many people are breaking out right now.  Combine the “maskne” from the friction and moisture rubbing against our skin with the chronic stress many of us are experiencing, and blemishes are popping up all over so many beautiful faces.  Acne won’t kill us, but it can certainly impact a good Zoom or Facetime!

Here’s a key tip when it comes to avoiding breakouts: try to reach for ingredients that are what we call “non comedogenic,” meaning they will not clog your pores.  As you guys know, I’m all about going CLEAN, so here are some clean ingredients that are BOWE GLOW approved and won’t break you out, followed by some natural sounding ingredients that are almost guaranteed to clog your pores:

BOWE GLOW APPROVED OILS & BUTTERS

Some of my favorite non comedogenic oils and butters that will NOT clog the pores are

  • Argan Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Safflower Seed Oil
  • Rosehip Seed Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Mango Butter
  • Raspberry Seed Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Prickly Pear Seed Oil
  • Camelina Oil
  • Watermelon Seed Oil

LIMIT using on your FACE (and other acne prone areas like your chest or upper back) if you are breaking out:

  • Coconut oil
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Cocoa Butter

I have much more on this topic to share very soon!

Dr. Whitney

We don’t need a twelve step routine to keep our skin healthy! In fact, I am a big believer in a lean approach to skincare – giving our skin only what it needs and what it wants. Everything I use has a purpose and works in synergy with my skin’s natural balance and with the other products I’m using.

Here are 3 of my must-have categories of products for my morning skincare routine:

1. GENTLE CLEANSER: My first step in the morning is cleansing with a gentle cleanser.

Your skin should feel hydrated and nourished after you cleanse, not tight and squeaky clean. I always use warm – not hot – water to cleanse and I pat dry with a clean baby wash cloth.

Here are 4 of my favorite cleansers (at different price points):

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm

Farmacy Clean Bee

La Roche Posay Toleriane Gentle Facial Cleanser

Simple Kind to Skin Unscented Micellar Cleansing Water

2. VITAMIN C SERUM: I apply my Vitamin C Serum immediately after cleansing.

Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, boosts collagen production, and brightens dark spots.  Vit C helps to reduce visible signs of aging by combating the free radical damage arising from sun exposure, heat exposure, and other environmental stressors (like pollution). I often explain that free radicals are like tiny missiles, and they destroy everything in their path. They are highly reactive forms of oxygen whose effects can damage cell membranes and other structures in the body, including DNA and collagen. When you are exposed to a lot of free radicals, it means you are suffering from oxidative stress, and too much oxidative stress can lead to premature aging, skin cancer, and chronic skin conditions like acne. Vitamin C is a free radical scavenger, thereby protecting your skin!

Here are links to four Vitamin C serums I’m loving right now (at different price points):

Summer Fridays CC Me Serum

Marie Veronique Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Serum

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

Naturopathica Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum

 

3. MOISTURIZER: I love to lock in all that goodness and hydration with a moisturizer.

I either layer a moisturizer under sunscreen, or look for sunscreens that also act as moisturizers. I will share my favorite sunscreens as a separate post, but here are some of my current favorites in the moisturizer category:

GLOWBIOTICS Probiotic HydraGlow Cream Oil (note: a little goes a long way…blend a few drops with foundation or sunscreen)

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration (this is great if you have extremely dry skin – otherwise, I would opt to use it at night instead of in the morning).

Tatcha: The Dewy Skin Cream

[*As I mentioned earlier, I will be sharing my favorite sunscreens separately, but I do wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine!]

I’m sharing more about my skincare routine and on my Instagram posts and stories, so be sure to check them out!

Dr. Whitney

Now that we are staying in every night and cooking so much more than we ever did before, I’ve been focusing on easy, healthy dishes that even my daughter will eat!

This veggie side dish is really easy to make and is packed with skin friendly nutrients. It gets two thumbs up from my 8 year old daughter, which makes it a keeper! I think you guys will love it as much as we do.

To make, start with one or more low glycemic, high fiber veggies: brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and/or broccoli. Don’t stress if you can’t get fresh veggies- this works with frozen ones as well. Here’s my glycemic index cheat sheet and more on why low GI foods are so good for your skin!

Add garlic and onions, which are amazing sources of prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber gets consumed by the beneficial bacteria in our gut to keep our gut healthy and dial down inflammation.  You can either just slice these extra thin, or sometimes I even saute them before I add them to the sheet pan to release even more flavor.

Next, we add the olive oil. I use extra virgin olive oil both before I spread the veggies on the sheet and on the top, right before I put the sheet in the oven.  EVOO is rich in a skin-smoothing emollient called oleic acid. The essential fatty acids in olive oil richly nourish the skin and have anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil also contains polyphenols that act as potent antioxidants.

I always add some rosemary sprigs, which are an amazing source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Added bonus is they add a delicious flavor.  I bake the veggies with these lying on the top, but remove before I eat.

And finally, for the finishing touch, I love to sprinkle some dried cranberries on top. The dried cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is critical to help your skin cells make collagen. Just be sure to use sparingly because added sugars can bind to your collagen and elastic fibers and break them down through a process called glycation.

I generally bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until I see the top start to brown!

Enjoy!!

Dr. Whitney

I have been a long time almond milk lover, as I regularly share with you guys.  It’s one of my favorite non-dairy milk alternatives to recommend because of the link between skim milk and acne/inflammation.

But, recent articles suggest that the almond industry is negatively impacting bee health. Specifically, multiple recent news reports are telling us that almond pollination requires bees to wake up one to two months early from their dormancy, thereby depriving them of needed rest and sleep. In this sleep deprived state, which we know can compromise immunity (sleep keeps your immune system healthy), they are kept in very tight quarters, which increases the spread of disease.  Not only are infections rampant among these hard working, immunocompromised bees, but to compound the issue, they are exposed to abnormally high levels of pesticides which are commonly used on the almonds– all resulting in the death of billions of honeybees in a matter of months.

I love to recommend foods that optimize our skin’s health from the inside out.  However, sometimes, the foods that benefit our skin are not benefitting our environment – as seems to be the case here. In view of this information, I am now going to switch over to coconut milk while I research and try other types of non-dairy milk alternatives including oat, pea, rice and hemp milk.

I’m also researching whether there are almond milk brands that are very mindful and responsible in connection with bee populations and resource sustainability.

I promise to update you guys ASAP on what I learn!

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

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

Melasma (also called the “pregnancy mask”) can be stubborn and very frustrating for so many women. To address the questions I’ve been getting about melasma, I shared a series of posts covering this topic, including Melasma 101, 102, and 103.

Now, I’m sharing some brand new information. It’s not very often that we see new meaningful developments when it comes to treating melasma, so I am excited to share these new developments with you guys.

New Studies re: Antihistamine Use and Melasma:

If you have melasma, you might want to consider taking a daily antihistamine, like Claritin or Zyrtec. Why?

New studies are showing that there is an increase in mast cells in melasma.  Mast cells are cells that release histamine and other molecules that make you itchy and red – we usually think about mast cells when we think about allergies, but now we are seeing they play a role in melasma as well!

These mast cells can actually break down a type of collagen, collagen 4, which is found in the basement membrane of our skin. In melasma, the extra mast cells found in the skin release substances that chew away the membrane that separates the top layer of our skin from the bottom layer, called the dermis. When that happens, the pigment in our upper layers can drop down into the deeper layers, and that is NOT a good thing.

If you have melasma, your doctor might have told you that your pigment is DEEP, in the deeper layers of your skin, and that could be a reason why it’s so stubborn and not responding to therapy. So what if we could prevent the mast cells from destroying the basement membrane?  And, what if we could keep that pigment in the upper layers, where it’s easier to treat?

Well, there are ongoing studies looking at just that! They are looking at whether taking a daily oral antihistamine (like Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin) might actually help with melasma. It’s worth considering if you have a very stubborn case. I will share more on this as the science develops!

Tranexamic Acid and Melasma

Another very new development in treating melasma is called tranexamic acid. It works as part of the clotting cascade, so it is FDA approved for conditions like heavy menstrual bleeding, or to help prevent bleeding in people with hemophilia, say when they’re getting a tooth extracted. In melasma, it works by basically dialing down the inflammation that leads to pigment production in the skin. It’s not FDA approved for melasma, so when it’s used for melasma, it’s considered “off label use.” With that said, we are starting to see very promising studies in connection with treating melasma.

Like any other treatment, this is something to raise with your doctor. This is not meant to be a first line treatment. It’s complimentary to all of the other tools used in melasma like brightening creams, sunscreen, Heliocare, and chemical peels. Also, it’s important to note that people who have a history of blood clots, dvt (deep vein thrombosis), are pregnant or nursing, or on birth control should not be taking prescription strength tranexamic acid by mouth. The topical, OTC form of tranexamic acid is newer (so we have less data at this point) and an option for people who are more comfortable using a topical cream vs an oral prescription drug, or for those who are not candidates for the oral form. Again, something to consider and to discuss with your doctor if you have very stubborn melasma.

Dr. Whitney

 

@DrWhitneyBowe

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