As a dermatologist, a mom and a skincare lover, I am making a conscious effort to transition towards products that are not only safe for the skin, but also better for our bodies and to the environment.

I want to share my deep dive into clean beauty with you guys, as I educate myself on all things “clean.” One of the biggest issues I’ve been noticing in the clean space is that there is so much “greenwashing” and misinformation out there. I’m incredibly evidence-based and have always taken pride in making recommendations that are backed by sound science. My clean skincare journey is no exception, so I wanted to connect with the pioneers in this space and share their insight and knowledge with you!

My first Q & A on clean had to be with my friend and colleague, Mia Davis. Mia is not only one of the pioneers of “clean”, but her approach to her work is so innovative and thoughtful, it is just incredibly impressive. I know you guys will be as blown away by Mia as I am. I’m so thrilled to share this interview with you.

WB: Mia, your passion for clean began in 4th grade and you have been moving the needle ever since. You were the first hire at Beautycounter, you’ve consulted for goop, Honest Company, type A . . . and the list goes on. Now, at Credo Beauty, you’ve created the Credo Clean Standard and you lead the Credo “brand’s consortium,” which addresses key challenges in this industry, from fragrance disclosure to more sustainable packaging. I think it’s safe to say that you live and breathe all things clean beauty. How do you define the term clean?

Mia Davis: Clean is an evolution of natural, green, or eco—those are elements of clean, but it goes much further. To me, clean is nexus of these important elements: safety, sourcing, sustainability, ethics and transparency. A little more about these:

  • Safety is about the ingredient’s potential impact on health.
  • Sourcing is where it comes from—is it a synthetic chemical? A natural compound? Or naturally-derived?
  • Sustainability comes back to the ingredient’s impact on the environment.
  • For Ethics, questions include “were people paid a living wage to mine or harvest this ingredient?” or if the ingredient it comes from animals, “how were the animals treated?”
  • And transparency is really the web that holds these other terms together. If we don’t have transparency about the ingredients or the supply chain, how can we know it is “clean?” We cannot make an informed decision without information.

Check out this “Clean Beauty” infographic I made with Credo Beauty that illustrates all of this!

WB: I love the way that you share all of this information in a way that is accessible, clear, and beautifully stated. I absolutely agree that any brand that calls itself “clean” should consider those factors very carefully. When it comes to sourcing: can you elaborate on how you feel about ingredients that are natural vs naturally-derived vs synthetic?  I personally have seen numerous patients develop skin reactions when switching from synthetic to natural products.  Do you agree that when it comes to skin health, natural is not always better?

Mia Davis: Thanks—I know my definition of clean is complex—there is a lot to consider. But it is also the most honest approach! Your question about natural vs. synthetic really gets right to the point. If we only talk about an ingredient’s “natural-ness” but not about its safety or sustainability, then we’re missing the point of “clean.” Natural ingredients can be irritating, for sure. They can even be unsustainability, or unethical.  Some ingredients can be perfectly safe and natural for one person, and not for another person who might have sensitivities to it. So, I embrace the complexity—otherwise, it is just marketing.

WB: I have been searching and testing a variety of clean products over the last year, and trying to transition my own skincare to clean products.  Since “clean” is not an FDA regulated term (and in fact, the entire beauty industry is pretty under-regulated), different brands and different retailers are adopting different definitions.  For example, Sephora Clean is different from Target Clean is different from Credo Clean. I know you’ve been a trailblazer in this area, and many experts consider Credo’s standards to be among the most discerning — the “highest standards” of clean, if you will!  Can you elaborate a bit on the standards that Credo has adopted and how they differ from other brands and retailers that use the term clean?

Mia Davis: Credo, the largest clean beauty retailer, has a Clean Standard that operationalizes “clean,” so you know that the brands Credo carries have accountability. Outside of some system of accountabilty, “clean” can mean something or nothing. People have to look into the brand’s commitments. For example, are they formulating without ingredients of concern, like parabens, phthalates and more? Are they disclosing their “fragrance” ingredients? Do they talk about the source and safety of ingredients? Ask the brand what “clean” means to them. If the answer is wishy-washy, that is a red flag.

WB: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on this topic! I know we’ll go deeper into all of the clean elements—safety, sustainability and more—in the near future. I always value our discussions so much.

Mia Davis: Thank you so much for having me, and for sharing your clean skincare journey with your patients and community. What we put on our bodies and rinse down the drain matters, and how we make these ingredients in the first place really matters too.

 

 

 

 

Sleep is such a hot button issue right now. People are struggling with sleep more than ever. I wanted to share some key tips to help get your sleep back on track. Sleep is one of the most powerful tools we have to stay strong, calm, and healthy – and that is exactly what we need during this incredibly challenging time.

Beauty Sleep

First, beauty sleep is a real thing. Deep, restorative sleep is crucial to our health and our skin health, specifically. Our skin is in its most restorative state during sleep. Poor sleep, on the other hand, is linked with problematic skin: dark circles, breakouts, dull complexion – we’ve all been there.

  • 1 in 3 people suffers from poor sleep.
  • 1 in 10 people suffers from insomnia.

Long term consequences of sleep deprivation include premature skin aging and significant health issues.  If you want to enjoy a healthy body, a healthy mind and skin that glows with health, listen up!

Circadian Health

The key to getting that deep, restorative sleep that allows your mind and your skin to truly repair itself overnight is to recognize that sleep is part of a larger cycle: circadian rhythm.

The secret to a healthy circadian rhythm is regular, cyclical and precisely timed exposure to periods of daylight and to darkness.

LIGHT cues are the strongest way to set your internal clock, and regular, predictable light exposure is essential to setting every organ’s circadian rhythm so that your whole body is in sync.

And it’s not just any light- it’s all about BLUE light.  When blue light enters your eye, it tells your brain to turn OFF its production of melatonin, so you can wake up and feel alert.  When blue light no longer enters the eye, the brain can begin pumping out the sleep hormone melatonin, allowing your body to begin to relax and ultimately fall into a deep state of reparative and restorative sleep.

If you can manage your eye’s exposure to blue light, you can align your internal circadian clocks, and this can have profound effects on your health and the health of your skin.

YOUR TOOLS:

Here’s what I do to limit my exposure to blue light to establish a healthy bedtime routine and optimize my sleep hygiene:

(1) I use blue light filtering glasses as soon as it starts to get dark outside. These are under $15 on Amazon and they work wonderfully. I use them anytime I have LED lights on, or if I am doing work after dinner on my computer or my phone.

(2) I limit my TV time before bed, instead opting to read. It makes a huge difference in my sleep, so it’s worth it to me. I try to shoot for no more than 30 mins of screen time (with my blue light glasses on) per night.

(3) Make sure your bedroom is cool and you aren’t overdressed for bed. You should feel cool and comfortable.  Your body is more likely to dive into deep sleep if the air temp in your bedroom is on the cooler side.

(4) Consistency is key as well when it comes to sleep hygiene. Whenever possible, I try to stay on a schedule and a routine when it comes to bedtime and setting my alarm – even on weekends. Plus, your sleep in the earlier hours of the evening is more restorative for your body, so I try to get as much of that quality sleep as possible!

(5) I have been syncing up my meals with the circadian diet philosophy, so I’m eating my heavier meals during daylight hours. This has made a huge difference in my energy and in my sleep quality.

Sweet dreams!

Dr. Whitney

 

I get so many questions about acne, and this is one of the most frequently asked questions! It’s so popular, it gets its own post.

First, I want to explain how exercise benefits your skin! When we exercise, we increase the blood flow to our skin, nourishing our skin with vital nutrients and oxygen.  Not only does exercise improve your skin’s metabolism, but it is also scientifically proven that you can even begin to reverse the signs of visible aging by working out! Based on recent evidence, not only do people who exercise feel younger, they look younger as well! Incredibly, this is true even if you don’t start working out until later in life.

Now, let’s dive into the relationship between exercise and your breakouts. Working out in makeup can certainly contribute to a breakout. While sweating during a workout boosts our circulation, which is beneficial for our skin’s health and glow, our sweat contains ammonia and urea — so if we leave sweat on our skin for too long, this can cause irritation and inflammation, which can trigger breakouts.

For this reason, I always try to work out in clean skin, rather than wearing makeup to workout, because my skin can be acne prone.

Breakouts caused by exercise generally result from the dirt, sweat, and makeup that we have on our skin while we work out. The type of exercise is less relevant than whether you break a sweat and whether you begin your exercise routine with a clean face and end by gently cleansing your face.

How should you take care of your skin when working out? As I explain in my book, Dirty Looks, gentle cleansing is so much more powerful and healthy for your skin than all of that scrubbing we tend to love! I recommend that my patients use a pH balanced, gentle cleanser and pat dry. Follow with your typical serum, moisturizer, and of course, sunscreen. Also, I recommend that my patients either work out with clean skin or with breathable, lightweight, and/or oil-free products to minimize post-workout breakouts.

Dr. Whitney

We already know that if you have a family history of melanoma – for example, if you have a parent or sibling with melanoma – you are at a higher risk for getting melanoma yourself.

But, there is a new study that shows you might also be at a higher risk for other forms of cancer as well, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of skin cancer can look completely different than melanoma! What do these types of cancer look like?

Basal cell: This is the most common type of skin cancer and although it most common in people with fair skin, it can occur in people with darker skin tones. BBCs are common on your head, neck, and arms, but you should have your whole body checked. Early diagnosis is so important because this type of cancer can spread into surrounding tissue and bones.

Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the second most common form of skin cancer. Again, it is also more common in people with lighter skin, but can absolutely develop in people with dark skin. Look for a red, firm bump or a sore that heals and then re-opens. I see these in my office frequently. SCC can grow deep in to your skin and even spread through your body if left undetected!

The take home message – be sure to tell your derm about your family history of skin cancer so that your derm is on the lookout not only for melanoma, but for ALL types of skin cancer!

Let’s keep our skin healthy and sun safe – summer is all about fun in the sun, but there are some very accessible and easy ways to stay healthy this summer!

Here are some helpful links:

https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/wellness/video/family-member-melanoma-increase-risk-skin-cancers-study-64582702

https://drwhitneybowe.com/im-wearing-sunscreen-so-why-am-i-still-getting-burned-or-tan/

https://drwhitneybowe.com/product/heliocare-advanced/

 

Dr. Whitney

As I explain in The Beauty of Dirty Skin (and now in Dirty Looks), the word “probiotic” literally means “for life.” Probiotics support the health of the good bugs that make up our microbiome, to keep our gut and skin healthy. The balance of bacteria in our gut has a profound role in the health of our skin. Inflamed gut leads to inflamed skin. If you restore the healthy balance, you calm inflammation in the gut and you will see that reflected in your skin.

Among their many health boosting jobs, probiotics:

  • fight bad bacteria
  • help regulate our immune system by working to control inflammation, and
  • support the healthy barrier function in both our gut and skin, preventing “leaky gut” (and “leaky skin”)

What to look for: Not all probiotics are created equal. Different strains of probiotics serve different purposes and, certain probiotics are much more effective than others. I’ve broken down many of the most effective strains for you right here:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown to help with wrinkles, elasticity and improve hydration in the skin. Some studies were done using oral supplementation and used a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled design which suggests it has an inside-out benefit (oral supplementation). These studies demonstrated a significant reduction in the depth of wrinkles, as well as improved elasticity and hydration.  Furthermore, lab and animal studies show that it actually protects skin against damaging UVB rays by protecting collagen. It does so by dialing down the enzyme that breaks collagen down when UVB rays penetrate the skin (MMP). It might have topical benefits as well. In summary, I think this particular species shows promise for hydration AND photoaging and is particularly relevant for the summer as it might help to serve as an additional form of protection for your skin against damaging ultraviolet rays, preserving collagen!

 

  • L rhamnosus also might protect the skin from UV damage from the inside out.  In mouse studies, oral ingestion appears protective of UV damage in skin.

 

  • L fermentum appears to have antioxidant properties, which is important for protecting the skin from free radical damage which can lead to signs of aging and skin cancer. It’s even shown promise in helping with severely dry skin. Antioxidant properties: L fermentum appears to help combat free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are like missiles that target and damage all parts of the skin, leading to inflammation and signs of aging. We’ve always thought of Vitamin C and Vitamin E as our first line of defense against free radical damage from UV rays, infrared heat, visible light or pollution. These studies, demonstrating that certain probiotics can actually have antioxidant properties, is groundbreaking. I can envision it being used to help slow down the development of fine lines, wrinkles, dilated pores, acne, and brown spots including melasma.  We now know that free radical damage plays a role in all of those conditions so having antioxidants on board both topically and through diet or supplementation is one of the most proactive and protective things you can do for your skin.  I’ve personally published on the link between oxidative stress and acne, and I recommend topical and oral antioxidants for all my acne patients. In laboratory studies, Lactobacillus fermentum showed antioxidant properties, and in human studies, it was shown to downregulate inflammatory markers (dec IL-6 and TNF alpha), as well as to improve the inflammatory skin condition atopic dermatitis (eczema).

 

  • Bifidobacterium longum, when applied TOPICALLY, might help with sensitive skin or skin that easily reacts with stinging or burning. Reduces sensitive skin (chemical and physical stressors). In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, subjects who applied the probiotic twice a day for two months saw increased skin resistance against physical (heat, cold, wind) and chemical aggressors (skin-care products), and a decrease in dryness after 29 days.  Some ex vivo lab studies suggest it can be good for rosacea, eczema, sensitive skin.

 

  • One study on Lactococcus lactis showed that oral administration improves skin health including elasticity of skin and hydration. Lactococcus lactis might help with wound healing, skin hydration and elasticity and even shows promise in preventing hair loss from the inside out.

 

  • Lactobacillus paracasei (topical) has been shown to inhibit Substance P (a pain-promoting neuropeptide) to regulate inflammation and oil production. Potential role in acne and rosacea patients.

 

  • Enterococcus faecalis SL-5 (topical) reduced study participants’ acne by 50 percent in eight weeks compared to subjects who used a probiotic-free placebo lotion.

 

  • Lactobacillus plantarum (topical) decreased the number and size of acne lesions as well as redness; may also help with rosacea flares.

 

  • Streptococcus salivarius (topical) secretes a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) that reigns in the acne-causing bacteria, acnes.

 

  • Lactococcus sp. HY 449 (topical) produces an antimicrobial agent to control the growth of acnes and prevent inflammation and breakouts.

 

  • Streptococcus thermophilus (topical) increases the production of ceramides in the skin to counter moisture loss and irritation. Potential benefit for eczema/sensitive skin, dry skin.

 

  • Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermis (topical) can suppress the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, an infectious bacterial strain that drives the symptoms of eczema. So useful for atopic dermatitis/eczema/dry inflamed skin.

 

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (oral) was shown to reduce the odds of eczema in high-risk babies born to mothers who took the probiotic two to four weeks before giving birth, and then either continued taking it while breastfeeding, or added it to infant formula. So useful for eczema, dry skin, hydration.

 

  • Bacillus coagulans (topical and oral) produces free radical-scavenging chemicals, and increases the skin’s synthesis of moisturizing ceramides, to arrest sagging and wrinkles. Useful for any skin conditions linked to free radicals and oxidative stress (lentigos/brown spots, acne, fine lines/loss of collagen) and the ceramide production makes it beneficial for dry skin/eczema/hydration.

 

 

  • Lactobacillus paracasei (oral) has anti-inflammatory properties and helps strengthen the skin barrier to prevent moisture loss. Potential benefit in acne, rosacea, and eczema, sensitive skin and dry skin.

 

  • Lactobacillus johnsonii (oral) when taken in combination with 7.2 mg of carotenoids (plant-derived antioxidants) for 10 weeks before sun exposure, it protected skin’s Langerhans cells from UV damage, enabling them to better inhibit inflammation. The probiotic also helped subjects’ immune systems rebound faster after intense UV exposure.

 

I receive so many questions about which specific products and which BRANDS I recommend — which topicals and which oral supplements.  To get you started, I share some of my favorite topical probiotic products on my Picks page. Many more brands, both topical and oral (supplements) are currently in development and poised to launch in the near future. I am going to be releasing more information on these products very soon. I am currently personally testing and sampling a number of the newest products about to hit the market in this space and I am not going to prematurely make specific recommendations. Due diligence is very important to me! So, this information is coming very soon and check back frequently for more information on topical and oral probiotics with specific skin benefits!

 

Dr. Whitney

I’ve dedicated over a decade of my life to researching the connection between diet and the skin and I share so much of this work in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Nourishing and healing your skin from the inside out – through what you eat – is just as important as nourishing and healing your skin from the outside in through topical products and treatments! Your skin is a window into your overall health and one of the most accessible ways to take better care of your skin is through your diet.

Today, I’m going to share three of the ways that I incorporate collagen powder into my day to nourish my skin from the inside out and to help promote smooth, elastic, hydrated skin.  The brand of collagen powder I use at home and recommend to my patients is called Body Kitchen. I was so genuinely impressed with the quality and science behind the Body Kitchen products that I agreed to become their Physician Ambassador.

First, when I have my coffee, I add a scoop of the Youthful Beauty collagen powder right in and stir it up. It’s that simple. Now, I use almond milk in my coffee rather than skim milk because skim milk has been linked to acne. And, I don’t use artificial sweeteners, so if I want a hint of sweetness, I will add a bit of stevia and a pinch of cinnamon.

Second, if I’m making one of my favorite smoothies, I just add a scoop of collagen powder right into the smoothie. I call this one my dream smoothie because it’s so delicious and good for your skin.

Because I’m a blueberry fanatic and because they’re rich in antioxidants, I start with these. A handful of greens—baby spinach or baby arugula work here—adds a touch of collagen-friendly vitamin C while almond butter adds protein and skin friendly fats. I add frozen bananas for the thick and creamy texture they give. If your banana isn’t quite ripe, it’s a wonderful source of prebiotics, also known as the food for gut-friendly probiotics, however it won’t be as sweet. If you use an unripened banana and still crave a touch more sweetness, add a few dates, figs or even two stevia leaves from the garden! The plant is really easy to find at your local nursery and just as easy to grow.

Cacao, chocolate’s less processed cousin, is a treasure here. It’s derived from ground cacao nibs which are dried and fermented cacao beans. Sugar-free and loaded with special polyphenols that have been shown to reduce the signs of aging, cacao has a naturally bitter taste that is tempered by the smoothie’s other ingredients. It’s also been shown to put us in a better mood with its dopamine-releasing effects. I call that a win-win!

And – how simple is this? Just add one scoop of Body Kitchen collagen to optimize your body’s ability to help replenish the collagen your body needs to support your skin’s health.

Third, I love golden milk. If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat! As I share in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, Golden Milk is packed with skin friendly goodness.

You want to combine all of the ingredients except cinnamon in a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Yes, you can heat up your collagen powder and it will still stay intact! Whisk until smooth. Then, bring your mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a mug and top with a pinch of cinnamon.

Golden Milk with collagen is delicious for your skin because it includes cinnamon, which has been shown to boost your body’s natural collagen production, it helps stabilize blood sugar because it increases your cells’ ability to use glucose by stimulating insulin receptors, and it lowers your cellular inflammation to help combat skin aging Also, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient which helps to keep your skin soft and elastic while protecting it against the oxidative stress that accelerates skin aging. Top this off with your collagen powder and your skin will thank you!

I’d love to hear how you incorporate collagen supplements into your day! Drop a comment below and share your ideas!

Dr. Whitney

When I was at Yale as a pre-med student, my classes were demanding. I studied a lot, of course, but there were times when I just wanted to go out dancing with my friends. It was such an incredible way to de-stress, laugh, and just enjoy each other’s company. The songs that really define those nights out – are all by Salt-N-Pepa. When I hear Push It or Shoop, it really brings me back to that time in my life and to those years when I was just starting out on my path to becoming a doctor.

When I had the opportunity to meet Cheryl “Salt” James at my office, it was just all around wonderful. She’s as beautiful and gracious as she is talented! I also had to mention that my sister literally knows every word to every one of her songs and reminds me of this fact pretty regularly now. 😉 It’s been such an honor to be her doctor and to help care for her skin.

Cheryl tours a lot – and is now doing a residency in Las Vegas. I sat down with her to ask some questions about how she cares for her skin on tour and what she’s found most insightful and helpful from our appointments:

Q: What is your favorite thing about being on tour?

CJ: My favorite thing about being on tour is performing. I love meeting Salt n Pepa’s fan/friends. When we’re at meet-and-greets, we get to hear all the amazing stories from our fans about their experiences with our music and how much we inspired them. But there’s nothing like being on stage. There is an exchange of love, respect and appreciation that happens while performing that reminds me of blessed I am to be able to do what I love. We call it the Salt-N-Pepa experience.

Q: What is your least favorite thing about being on tour?

CJ: My least favorite thing about being on tour is the actual traveling itself, the hours we spend on airplanes and in cars. I equally dislike packing and unpacking — living out of a suitcase is a constant challenge for a woman. It’s difficult to be disciplined when it comes to eating right and exercising, because of our crazy schedule.

Q: What is your nightly skincare routine while on the road?

CJ: When I get back to my room after a long day of press, rehearsals, and performing, I’m so tired. Most nights, all I want to do is sleep. The one thing I always make sure of is to take my make-up off and go to bed with clean skin and apply a light moisturizer or some raw organic coconut oil.

Q: What is your daily skincare routine while you are on the road?

CJ: When I wake up, I wash my face with a natural soap, and apply a moisturizer with sunscreen in order to avoid sun spots.

Q: How would you describe your skin while on tour? Do you notice anything different about the condition of your skin when you’re on the road?

CJ: On tour, my skin tends to become more dry from the traveling. I try to drink as much water as I can so my skin can remain hydrated.

Q: What is your one must-have skincare product?

CJ: Recently, I discovered Aleavia Restore Soothing Mist, recommended by you, of course. I’ve always believed in the restorative powers of coconut oils. Celebrities are always in the hair and make-up chair and it can take a toll on the skin. Before make-up is applied, I like to use the mist to protect my skin.

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned about taking care of your skin from Dr. Bowe?

CJ: I’ve learned about The Beauty of Dirty Skin, and the benefits of probiotics, and the importance of rest, diet, and exercise and how it all plays a part in keeping your skin healthy and glowing.

Check out Cheryl’s most recent posts here: https://www.instagram.com/daonlysalt/

 

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

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