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. But many people don’t realize that prolonged infrared exposure has detrimental effects on the skin.”

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

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

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

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

Apply a topical vitamin C serum.

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

Supplement with Heliocare.

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

Sip a collagen smoothie.

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

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

Eat foods rich in vitamins A and C.

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

Get extra C.

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

Supplement with vitamin E, too.

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

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

 

Dr. Whitney

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

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

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

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

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

How You Hydrate Counts, Big-Time!

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

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

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

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

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

Beauty Sleep is a Real Thing!

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

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

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

City Living Can Impact Your Skin’s Health:

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

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

Dr. Whitney

It’s mid-August – right about the time when my patients (and my family) start to realize that their skin has gotten more sun exposure than might have been ideal. This is the perfect time to start healing your skin – getting a little more shady — and taking steps to reverse that fun in the sun damage you won’t want to bring with you into the fall. So, let’s hold on to summer while starting to heal your damaged summer skin!

Healthy Home Remedies to Save Your Skin:

Let’s start with some fresh basics and build from there! All summer long, my sister and I both keep aloe plants in our homes. Fresh aloe is incredibly healing on sunburned and irritated skin – all of which comes with long, relaxing days at the beach and pool. We have both found that nothing beats having the real deal on hand. I sometimes keep a piece in the fridge so that it’s nice and cool when we come home from the beach. Here’s a video from my Instagram channel where I demo how I cut my fresh aloe at home: Aloe How-To Video

I also share a Probiotic Power Mask with jojoba oil and honey in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. This is a soothing, healing mask for sunburned skin. Here’s how you make it:

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 2-3 capsules of probiotics (check out p. 104 for my recommendations)
  • 1 teaspoon raw organic honey

To make:

First, you want to combine the jojoba oil and honey in a bowl. Next, open your probiotic capsules and empty the contents into your bowl and mix everything well. Make sure you have washed your skin with a gentle cleanser and then pat dry. Apply your mixture to your clean skin and set a timer for 15 minutes. I love to use my iphone stopwatch because it’s so easy. When your timer goes off, rinse with warm (not hot!) water and a soft, baby wash cloth. Pat dry very gently. Finally, moisturize your skin to lock in restorative, healthy moisture by using a skin-balancing oil like rose-hip-seed oil.

Why it works:Honey is soothing and moisturizing and is also antibacterial to help prevent infection. Jojoba oil is anti-inflammatory to help calm sunburned skin. And, your probiotics will add an extra healing boost when applied topically.

Affordable Products that Save Your Skin:

Naturopathica’s Aloe Replenishing Mask: I keep this mask in my fridge for some serious soothing. It’s very light and is made with hydrating and healing aloe, prickly pear cactus stem extract, hyaluronic acid, and gotu kola extract. During summer, I use this mask twice per week to help revitalize and hydrate my skin. Check it out here: Naturopathica Aloe Replenishing Mask

I also love Aleavia Restore Soothing Mist during summer and my patients have been loving this product as well! To learn more about it, check out my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page discussion all about it.

Aleavia Restore Soothing Mist

And, a fun new aloe product that I tried recently is Clarins’ Water Lip Stain, made with aloe vera extract, raspberry water and white tea. I found that the color stayed on while my lips were hydrated and baby soft. Check it out here: Aloe WaterLip Stain

In Office Treatment Options:

Microneedling:

Microneedling (also called “collagen induction therapy”) is a procedure based on the use of tiny needles which create tiny, controlled wounds to the skin. Your body reacts by naturally healing your skin and, in the process, building new collagen and elastin in the dermis. More collagen = younger, firmer skin. It is ideal for smoothing the surface of the skin minimizing acne scars and pores, photo-aging, crepey texture, dull skin, poor texture, stretch marks and body scars. It can help with fine lines and wrinkles; in fact, a recent study showed that medical Microneedling can increase epidermal thickness by 140%, while increasing and thickening collagen bundles in the dermis.

Microneedling also allows for serums, topical gels, and creams to penetrate or infuse more deeply into your skin, allowing the products to be more effective. The needle punctures create micro-channels, allowing enhanced penetration of topical products. Serums, for example, are packed with powerful ingredients to benefit your skin. This procedure allows the viscous serums to be absorbed more effectively into your skin, thereby allowing them to achieve accelerated results. Microneedling also does not involve heat, so there is a much lower likelihood of post inflammation pigmentation, which can result from certain laser treatments.

Learn more here: Microneedling Info

FRAXEL:

FRAXEL (Fractional Laser Resurfacing Treatments), which I also offer at my office, resurfaces and rejuvenates your skin while actually decreasing your risk of skin cancer, resulting in fresh, glowing, smooth skin. It’s also excellent for brightening those sun spots (aka lentigos) that appear after years of sun exposure.  This is a laser treatment which I recommend after summer – once you will not be spending much time in the sun. This is a great option beginning in September to truly reverse so much of the damage your skin incurred during the sunny, summer months. This is a patient favorite in terms of RESULTS!

Learn more here: Fraxel Info

Dr. Whitney

In my office, this is the decade when my patients start to do a very particular move at our appointments: they lift and tighten their jawline and jowls by giving their skin a gentle tug in front of their ears. Even if each patient can’t exactly articulate what’s bothering her when I walk into the exam room, 9 out of 10 times, she will hold up a mirror and make the classic “50’s” move. Here’s why:

As cell renewal continues to slow, the skin’s outermost stratum corneum thickens, and elastin fibers in the dermis fall into disarray. In fact, when we biopsy mature skin, these fibers look clumpy and disorganized. This combo of piled-up dead cells on top and unhealthy elastin clumping down under can stop anti-aging ingredients from reaching their intended targets in the skin’s deeper layers. Menopause also ushers in a more pronounced skin dryness, and a further drop-off in collagen production, which leads to crepiness and some sagging. But do not fret: keeping your skin in its healthiest state is just a matter of knowing what steps to take next — which is why you are here!

  • Look for Multi-Tasking Products. I love to recommend products that work on both your face and neck, so that you smooth and firm your face and neck as a unit and maintain consistency in the health of your skin in these key areas. One of my favorite multi-tasking products is No7’s Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Serum. As I describe on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page, this serum delivers results AND is budget friendly. Made with a skin strengthening complex of calcium amino acids and ceramides, I find that this serum is lightweight and highly effective in evening skin tone, smoothing lines and tightening skin on both the face and neck.
  • Stock Up on Sheet Masks. In your 50s, the biggest barrier to seeing results from anti-agers is your skin barrier itself. A serum is very different than a moisturizer and is meant to be applied underneath a moisturizer for maximum product benefits. Applied over the top, saturated sheet masks can help push in actives by occluding them-that is, trapping them and preventing evaporation. I always look to Korea and Japan for the most advanced versions. One ingredient that I am seeing more and more in these masks: biocellulose. I typically recommend using a sheet mask one or two times per week.
  • Switch to Hyper-hydration Mode. Dry skin results in more pronounced fine lines whereas hydrated skin appears plump and healthy. Therefore, as skin loses its ability to trap moisture, you’ll want to consider adding a few drops of a nourishing face oil to your night cream to help seal in moisture, or simply look for ingredients like omegas, coconut oil, ceramides, and dimethicone.

Surprising new research shows that exercise not only keeps your skin healthier, it can actually reverse aging in people who begin an exercise regimen even later in life! How much exercise? Check out my video for all the details!

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

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

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

Visit Dr. Whitney’s Picks

Many of my patients find facial oils confusing. Are they a replacement for day cream, night cream, serum? Should you apply them before your face cream or after? I’m here to answer all of these questions and more.

Oils are emollients, so they do not hydrate your skin’s deeper layers. Rather, they stay closer to the top layer of your skin and hydrate the surface of your skin while providing protection for your skin’s barrier. They act as a sealant which locks moisture in the skin and that can be very beneficial for your skin’s overall health, provided that the oils are not too heavy. So, I do not recommend swapping out your hydrating moisturizer for a face oil altogether, but they can be very effective if used several times per week at night to seal in your skin’s moisture after cleansing or for oily skin to trick your skin into producing less sebum. Many of my patients swear by facial oils, so I think the key is trying different brands and different amounts to find the formula and quantity that works best with your skin.

We are also learning so much right now about the skin microbiome – the millions of invisible bacteria that live on the surface of the skin and help the skin to function. Just like we have bacteria in our gut, we are covered with bacteria on our skin! And we need those bacteria to maintain the health of our skin. Some of those healthy bacterial strains feed off of our skin’s natural oils, called sebum. This can be a good thing—in the case of promoting the growth of bacterial strains that boost our natural collagen or ceramide production! But this can be a bad thing if we are feeding bacteria that cause breakouts. We are just learning about this area right now, but it’s possible that certain oils you might be adding to your skincare regimen might also act as food for the healthy strains of bacteria, a “prebiotic” if you will. I cover the microbiome and how it affects our skin in my new book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin.

How to use oils on your face: I recommend mixing a few drops of oils with your regular moisturizer. If you apply oils first, then you will block the anti-aging ingredients in your moisturizer from penetrating into the skin.

Oils and acne prone skin: take it slow and use only 1-2 drops of oil mixed into your moisturizer at first. If you notice that you break out more when you use the oil, then save the oil only for days when your skin feels tight or dry, or the weather is harsh and cold (like whipping winds).

QUESTION 1: What helps with acne scarring?
ANSWER: When it comes to acne scarring, there are many options that can smooth out those scars, but they usually work best when used as part of a personalized treatment plan. Topical retinoids are key to use at home, as they help to rebuild the collagen especially in atrophic scars (ones that appear depressed or have a shadow). If scars are raised (so called hypertrophic scars), then cortisone shots can make a huge difference. For ice pick scars, and many types of rolling scars, I usually combine lasers with microneedling and fillers. I use lasers like the Fraxel laser to resurface the skin. Microneedling is amazing for acne scars as well. I can combine microneedling with your own plasma (the so-called Vampire Facial), or I can combine microneedling with radiofrequency energy (the Endymed Intensif). Last, chemical peels can also help to slowly even out the tone and textural changes associated with acne sequelae. (more…)

Question 1: How do I get rid of cystic acne?
 ANSWER: Cystic acne is usually a result of hormones, stress and diet. The cysts are deep, and often tender or even painful, and they tend to stick around for what feels like FOREVER! If you try to pop them, nothing comes out because they’re not connected to the surface. You usually end up making things worse. When the cysts resolve, they leave marks that can sometimes last for weeks or even months. Ok, enough doom and gloom. What can we do to treat or prevent cystic acne? Although the typical acne creams with retinoids and benzoyl peroxide can’t hurt, they don’t do much in cases of cystic acne. To treat cystic acne, it’s best to use a multimodal approach. First, diet and stress are key factors in this kind of acne. More on how to make some dietary and lifestyle changes that will help prevent cystic acne below. Second, many of my patients with cystic acne benefit from prescription hormonal medications such as birth control pills or a medication called spironolactone. If you’re going the birth control route, you should make sure your pill contains BOTH estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone only forms of contraception (the “mini pill,” implantable devices and even some IUDs can make cystic acne MUCH worse). Spironolactone has literally been a game changer in my practice. It’s a pill you take every day that blocks the effects of male hormones on the skin, and can dramatically clear up adult female acne. But I like to keep the doses low, and to do that, I need to make sure my patients are following the right diet and reducing their stress levels as much as possible. That’s one of the reasons I wrote The Beauty of Dirty Skin (link below). It’s easy to write a prescription, but diet and stress management is complicated! You can write chapters on those topics… so I did! Last, I like to tackle cystic acne using minimally invasive procedures in my office like cortisone injections, chemical peels and light based therapies.

Question 2: Is there anything other than Retin A, cortisone injections to treat? What preventative steps can be taken in terms of diet and lifestyle?
 ANSWER: Cortisone injections can be amazing if you can get in to see a derm, but that’s easier said than done for most people! When it comes to diet, it’s essential to avoid skim milk, as this has been shown in a number of studies to trigger acne. But also beware of milk proteins that might sneak their way into your diet: whey and casein can play a major role in acne for some people, and they are commonly found in protein powders and “healthy” bars that are high in protein. High cortisol levels can also make cystic acne lesions explode all over your chin. It’s essential to start making lifestyle changes that drop those cortisol levels and keep them in a healthy range. One tip for doing that is incorporate regular exercise. Regular exercise reduces stress levels very effectively, and helps you sleep better (which in turn further reduces your stress hormone levels in your blood).

Question 3: Are regular treatments like peels or lasers something that should be considered to minimize future breakouts and/or reduce residual scarring?
 ANSWER: Absolutely! My patients who can afford to get regular peels and light based therapies see a huge difference in their skin FAST. Salicylic acid chemical peels combined with Theraclear (also called Acleara) light treatments are incredibly effective and work FAST. In my practice, I use a number of lasers and devices to improve acne scarring and minimize pore size, including Fraxel, Endymed Intensif and Microneedling. However, these treatments can be costly and those costs can add up.  Even without these therapies, if you use the right skincare products and make certain lifestyle changes (detailed in my book – The Beauty of Dirty Skin), you can achieve beautiful, radiant skin on any budget!

xoxo,

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

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

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