We all deserve a treat every now and then, but chances are you have more added sugar in your diet than you realize. Too much added sugar can damage your skin through a process called glycation, in which sugar molecules bond to proteins, fats, and amino acids in the body. “When proteins become glycated, they become stiff and much less functional, so imagine what that does to the proteins in your skin,” says dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, are greatly impacted by this process, she says. “Sugars are rapid stimulators of glycation, as they easily attach themselves to proteins in the body—you really must reduce your sugar intake to maintain healthy skin.”
Most people think about probiotics in the context of gut health and digestion, but promising new studies show they might play a role not only in our overall health, but also in the health of our skin. I shared my thoughts and insights on Good Morning America!
I have also gotten so many inquiries about the type of products discussed today, I wanted to include links so that this information was easy to find!
Fermented vegan proteins:
Adaptogens may be new to the Western World, but they have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic healing and Chinese medicine. They are plants and herbs which, when ingested, help to rebalance your body’s stress responses and “adapt” to these stressors in a healthier way. As I say all the time, taking care of our skin is also an inside job, and these herbs help to heal our skin from the inside out.
Proponents of adaptogens claim that they may impact hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—are balanced, restored, and returned to calm, optimal functioning. From a scientific perspective, it would be beneficial to see larger studies establishing the benefits of these herbs. Although, as we know from The Beauty of Dirty Skin, it is very well established that what you eat impacts your health and can reduce the inflammation that contributes to so many chronic diseases.
I love this type of approach to healing, so I have been working several adaptogens into my diet over the past few months and these are the two I’m most excited about right now:
- Ashwagandha: Ashwangandha is a plant and people typically ingest the roots. This herb has been used for thousands of years to help manage stress. It contains chemical compounds called alkaloids, which help to ease stress and anxiety. This herb is also valued for its nervous system benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. Even though its name is translated as “smell of the horse”, it is sometimes referred to as “strength of the stallion” because when you ingest it, you are said to have immune strength and increased stamina. In terms of skin health, when we are stressed, our cortisol levels spike, which in turn impacts our oil production. This leads to acne and other skin issues. Ashwagadha has been shown to lower cortisol, which assists in dialing down that oil production. Topical application of this antioxidant rich root has been long used in Ayurvedic healing to help reduce inflammation.
- Maca Root: Maca is a plant that is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes. It is sometimes called “Peruvian Ginseng.” It looks a lot like a radish or a turnip with a leafy top and roots. It varies in color and can be yellow, purple, and even black. Maca has a nutty, earthy taste. You can find it in powder, liquid, extract or even capsule form. I have been using maca powder and mixing it into my low glycemic index steel cut oats. Rich in antioxidants, maca is touted to enhance your energy and your mood and, is often taken to soften and ameliorate the symptoms of PMS.
I will be sharing more info on these adaptogens in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
If you read my blog and social media posts, you already know that I often describe the skin’s microbiome as a rainforest of diverse organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) which live on your skin’s various layers, from the deep-down fat cushion all the way up to your epidermal cells. Incredibly, there are more than one trillion bacteria in the skin, originating from approximately one thousand different species! When your skin’s healthy microbiome is disrupted by harsh cleansers and other abrasive skincare products or by your diet and lifestyle choices, this discontent can manifest as breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and even skin sensitivity. Healthy biome, healthy skin.
Stressing 24/7 is a habit you want to kick for healthy skin. Here’s why —
Something triggers stress in your body. Let’s start here. Your brain perceives something as stressful and your fight or flight response is activated. Once that happens, the digestion in your belly slows as your blood is shunted away from your intestines toward your extremities (just in case you need to fight or flee). Given that you most likely don’t need to do either, this is just disruptive to your body’s healthy functioning. There’s more.
Stress hormones also restrict the contractions of your digestive muscles, and diminish your digestive juices—all of which forces food to sit idly in the GI tract, inviting an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. These unsavory characters cause your intestinal lining to grow weak and leaky, allowing toxins to spill into the bloodstream, and triggering body-wide inflammation and a host of potential diseases. You’ve heard me talk about Leaky Gut and Leaky Skin, so this is what we are talking about.
The best medicine? Decompression. As I note in The Beauty of Dirty Skin, meditation is a shortcut to calm. It sparks what’s known as the relaxation response, during which the body slows down muscles and organs while boosting blood flow to the brain, thereby easing anxiety—and the skin conditions that come along with it. Meditation can even turn on genes that are anti-inflammatory in nature. If traditional Om-style meditation isn’t your thing, try yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, repetitive prayer—whatever you find most grounding. Dedicate a few moments twice a day to your practice. You can try an app like headspace or breathe. Just a few minutes a day is a great start.
You’ve got this. This is a small change which will have a big impact not only on the health of your skin, but on your overall health! So, take a deep breath, and give it a try.
New York dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe believes not all sunscreens are made equal. She shares her favorite sunscreens for adults and children and reveals why you can’t rely on last year’s lotions.
If you’re constantly looking for ways to get that coveted “glow,” you may be overcomplicating things.
Top New York City dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, agrees that overcleansing is one of the biggest skincare mistakes women make. She takes it a step further and says you can also nix harsh tools and applicators. “Toss the instruments that take extra time to use, clean, and maintain,” she says. “Your fingertips are gentle and effective and will keep your skin barrier healthy.”
Last summer, I had the privilege of interviewing good friend and dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe on the blog. And now, my ever so smart, charming, and oh-so-beautiful friend just wrote a book called “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” available in bookstores and on Amazon. As a fan (and friend) of Dr. Bowe, I was super excited to get the book and read it. It is educational with great resources and information on nutrition, skin care, and aging. Read below for a behind the scenes interview with Dr. Bowe! – Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl
One chapter of your book is on “the secret to great skin”. Can you give us a quick summary?
Here is my quick and dirty (hehe, see what I did there) cliff’s notes guide to healthy skin: My approach to healthy skin is called an “integrative” approach. I don’t just look at your skin condition and prescribe a medication to address it. Instead, I look at your skin within the context of your entire body’s overall health. What you put into your body – your diet, has a direct impact on the health of your skin. Whether you sleep well, exercise, and take down time to relax and restore all have a direct impact on your skin. And, of course, your skincare routine and products all contribute to whether your skin is irritated, inflamed, or prematurely aging on the one hand or glowing, healthy, smooth, and hydrated on the other. My 360 approach to healthy skin – which is all rooted in proven science – is a game changer for my patients and I live by the plan I share in the book. It all comes down to what’s called the gut-brain-skin axis, which I explain in really accessible and easy to understand ways in my book. I don’t use the hashtag #thatboweglow for nothing- I stand behind my glow! And I want to help people, on any budget, to achieve their own healthy, glowing skin because it impacts confidence, self esteem, and so many other areas of your life!! Healthy skin is so much more than skin deep.
You say that diet has a direct effect on skin — what foods are bad for our skin and what foods are good?
I could not be more passionate about a subject. Yes, it is scientifically established that our diet has a direct impact on the health of our skin. This is what I call beauty from the inside out. The first matter of business is that we have healthy gut bugs (bacteria) that live inside our digestive tract. You’ve probably heard of probiotics. Probiotics help to nourish our healthy gut bugs so that we have a healthy intestinal lining (no leaky gut where toxins get out into our bloodstream) and so that bad bacteria, which can be dangerous to our health, don’t proliferate. Specifically, these probiotics serve as natural antibiotics, help maintain your body’s healthy pH, and control inflammation. Taking good care of our gut bugs is the first step not only to overall health, but to keeping our skin healthy and glowing. To accomplish this, in addition to taking a probiotic supplement, I also suggest that my patients incorporate probiotic rich foods into their diet including kombucha, kimchi, miso soup and sauerkraut. Another great food swap for healthy skin is to replace your whey protein supplements with plant based protein. Whey protein has been strongly linked to acne. These are just a few examples – I share an incredible amount of information on this topic in The Beauty of Dirty Skin and include my favorite skin-healthy recipes (which, I promise, are really easy to make!)
You also wrote how there is a huge correlation between exercise and your skin. How so?
We tend to think about the benefits of exercise in terms of fitness and weight control, but we don’t usually think of its profound role in keeping skin looking young and firm. Surprising new research shows that exercise not only does keep your skin healthier, but it can actually reverse skin aging in people who begin an exercise regimen even later in life! Really a game changer.
Here’s the basic concept – as we age, we want certain layers of our skin to stay thin and we want other layers of our skin to stay thick. The natural aging process of skin entails a gradual thickening of our outermost layer of our skin, the stratum corneum. It is made up of mostly dead skin cells and some protein. But around the age of forty, it begins to change, getting denser, drier, and flakier. Meanwhile, the dermal layer, which is a deeper layer of the skin that sits beneath both the stratum corneum and the epidermis, begins to thin and lose elasticity; as a result, skin becomes more translucent and looks saggy. When your dermal layer thins with age, it starts to ripple and those ripples are seen on the surface as wrinkles. These changes happen naturally as we age, but they happen even faster if you’re also exposed to environmental damage like sunlight and pollution. So, to think that we can slow down or even reverse some of these age-related changes through something as simple (and free) as exercise is truly astonishing. I share some of the really incredible studies and facts surrounding the type of exercise and how much exercise in The Beauty of Dirty Skin and in my blog post: Exercising Your Way to Healthy, Younger Skin.
What are some of your favorite products to keep skin glowing like yours?
I love this question – I get this question all the time!! 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 proof that the products that I am recommending do what they say they will do for your skin! I want 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.
As I mentioned, I’m asked for my product recommendations all the time – so I share them on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page! I share recommendations for women, men, and children – something for everyone. My page includes my favorite makeup, hair care products, skincare products, and self care, pampering items as well!
Let’s say you are a 39 year old, sun lover, who is always outside (wink wink)… what would you tell this person they need to do to have good skin for the rest of their lives?
I am loving this very hypothetical question! 😉 Okay, let’s just imagine this scenario for a minute! I am also a sun lover. As a dermatologist, that’s tricky! So, I have had to make some changes to protect my skin’s health while also accommodating my absolute love for warm sand, ocean air and everything summer. Sunscreen is essential, but I also wear UPF swimsuits and cover ups (which can be so cute – check out Cabana Life and Mott 50 for example), I always have a floppy hat at the beach, I stay out of the sun during peak hours, and I take a supplement called Heliocare to protect myself from the inside out from further sun damage! Made of a powerful blend of antioxidants, Heliocare protects your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Those free radicals can come from UV light, infrared light, visible light, pollution, or even from our natural metabolic processes. Heliocare is one extra layer of protection against premature signs of aging, including brown spots, and skin cancer. I share lots of info on Heliocare here. All of my other dirty skin secrets will be revealed in The Beauty of Dirty Skin!
Thanks so much, Whit! You continue to inspire us all. And folks, to read more about the science behind the guide good skin, check out Dr. Bowe’s book! Follow her on instagram and check out her website for helpful tools and news.
Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl
Dr. Whitney Bowe has a lot of secrets, including how to get the glowiest, most radiant skin of your dreams, how to relieve your anxiety and how to look and feel your absolute best overall. On top of being a leading, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe is also the author of the new book The Beauty of Dirty Skin.
In her book, Dr. Bowe spells out exactly what you need to do to become the best, healthiest version of yourself. We had a chance to talk to the derm about her new book, the best moment in her career thus far and what beauty means to her. Check out her answers, ahead:
What inspired you to become a dermatologist?
While I was in medical school, I felt drawn to a specialized dermatology clinic called the acne clinic. At the clinic, I met patients with severe acne, scarring, and even disfiguring manifestations of this condition. Even as their physical scars were helped through treatment, the emotional scars from dealing with and living with this condition often seemed to stick around. But slowly, and with some encouragement, as the treatments truly started to work, I watched a transformation. A newfound confidence, as their personalities began to come out and shine through. I loved to be a part of that transition, that transformation — and I wanted to empower others through my work. I wanted to pursue this field that could change lives in such a tangible and meaningful way — with knowledge about the physical and kindness about the emotional.
Tell us about your new book!
Your skin is a window into your overall health and wellness. Put simply, your skin reflects your health. The “integrative” or comprehensive approach to healthy skin, which I share in The Beauty of Dirty Skin, really applies to people of all ages because the gut-brain-skin connection which I discuss is at play in every single one of us. I don’t just look at your skin condition and prescribe a medication to address it. Instead, I look at your skin within the context of your entire body’s overall health.
I don’t use the hashtag #ThatBoweGlow for nothing — I stand behind my glow! And I want to help people, on any budget, to achieve their own healthy, glowing skin because it impacts confidence, self-esteem, and so many other areas of your life! Healthy skin is so much more than skin deep.
What moment in your career are you most proud of, thus far?
Publishing The Beauty of Dirty Skin because it reflects 10 years of my life’s work in a field I could not be more passionate about.
What is the one most important piece of skincare advice you want makeup.com readers to know?
I always tell my patients that healthy skin is so much more than skin deep. As I explain in The Beauty of Dirty Skin, nurturing your skin is as much of an inside job as it is an outside job. Your diet and lifestyle play a major role in the radiance and health of your skin — something many people do not realize.
Aside from your wallet and phone, what do you keep in your purse at all times?
A floppy sun hat and my Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush On Sunscreen. I use this mineral based, brush-on sunscreen throughout the day, right over my makeup.
What does beauty mean to you?
To me, beauty means glowing from the inside out and the outside in. Radiant skin that glows with health is only part of the equation. Confidence and kindness are equally beautiful, if not more so in my eyes, and these are values I instill in my daughter.
What do you do for fun?
I love to visit the beach with my family! I have a six year-old daughter, Maclane, who loves to swim with me in the ocean and pool. It’s the best feeling to relax and restore and feel really connected with the people you love in such a tranquil space.
What are some of your favorite makeup products of all time?
My favorite foundation is Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. I share my favorite products on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page, because I’m asked about them so frequently, and I wanted to make the info easy to find and share.
What advice would you give to your younger self, if you could?
Stop drinking diet drinks!! I was a fake sugar addict! I can completely admit this now, but seriously, I used to drink diet iced tea and soda all the time. Through my work, I learned how bad these artificial sweeteners really are for my health, and I cut them out of my diet altogether.