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

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

You guys know I’m always reading the most cutting edge scientific studies that give me insight into living your healthiest life, and when your body is healthy, your skin is healthy!

The most exciting new science that has caught my attention surrounds a new way to approach food: The Circadian Rhythm Diet. Skin health, and our overall health, is not just about WHAT we eat — of equal importance is WHEN we eat.   Timing our meals first gained momentum with intermittent fasting, but the Circadian Rhythm Diet takes the science to a whole new level, and at its core is our exposure to BLUE LIGHT.

Humans have evolved to be highly sensitive to the 24-hour solar cycle.  We all have an internal clock that controls almost every biological system in our bodies, from our sleep-wake cycles to our mood, to our immune strength, our metabolism and our cellular health- yes, even our skin’s health.  The most important thing that sets our circadian rhythm, or sets our internal clock, is our exposure to NATURAL SUNLIGHT.

In the past, we rose with the sun, ate during daylight hours, and then rested and fasted when the sun set.  In fact, when our eyes perceive blue light, it tells our brain to shut down production of our sleep hormone, melatonin. It sets our internal clock to WAKE UP!  We need the sun’s bright blue light in the morning to become alert and active, and we need dark, or at least the absence of blue light, to jump-start our brain’s, and consequently our skin’s, sleep mode and recovery.

Now, we find ourselves totally MESSING with our internal clock as a result of using screens late that emit stimulating blue light rays. We’re tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daytime, and we delay our production of melatonin, impair our sleep, and mess up our health.  What else are you doing while you check emails or watch Netflix at night?  You snack.  Most of us eat a late dinner, oftentimes after sunset, and we snack until we finally pass out, way after our ancestors did when they followed natural light patterns in the sky.

When intermittent fasting became popular, people started to recognize that it’s not just WHAT we eat, but WHEN we eat is just as important when to comes to health. Now, we can take that one step further with Circadian Rhythm Diet.

Mounting evidence says that if you want to optimize your weight, your metabolism, your overall health, and of course, your skin health, you should try syncing up your mealtimes with the natural cycles of light.

Calories seem to be metabolized BETTER in the morning, and eating after dark jolts the brain into thinking it’s daytime and can disrupt the healthy circadian rhythm that is so critical for our health, including our skin health. As we know, beauty sleep is real! Sleep is a necessary phase of profound regeneration for the skin. While we rest, our skin cells are renewing, regenerating, and restoring themselves – and so is our entire body. Our immune system needs this quiet time to stay in peak condition.

If you want to try to take your health and wellness to the next level, give this a try:

  • Eat while it’s light, and limit what you eat during hours when it is dark.
  • Eat a heavier breakfast, a medium sized lunch, and a lighter dinner.
  • The earlier your dinner, the better. Try not to wait too long after the sun sets to eat.
  • After dinner, try to limit the amount you eat.

Craving info on relevant studies? Check out these links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3756673/

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/05/c_138448870.htm

https://www.technologynetworks.com/cell-science/news/meal-timing-can-make-or-break-your-cells-circadian-rhythm-318644

Dr. Whitney

 

 

 

Winter is the perfect time to get cozy and make some easy, nourishing DIY skincare and fruit infused water recipes!

Here are some of my favorites:

Green Tea and Honey Power Mask

The green tea is soothing, removes impurities and reduces inflammation, while the honey is bacterial and soothing!

You need:

  • 2 bags of green tea
  • warm water
  • 3 tablespoons of Manuka honey

To make: Cut open 2 green tea bags and empty contents into mixing bowl. Add a few drops of water and mix with fork just to dampen. Then, mix in 3 tablespoons of honey (I use a fork to mix, which seems to work better than a spoon). Apply mask to face.

Triple Coconut Sugar Cookie Body Scrub

This triple coconut sugar cookie scrub is inspired by one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes. It’s so easy to make and is absolutely delicious for your skin.

You need:

  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil

Mix these three ingredients and you have a nourishing exfoliating scrub for rough patches like your elbows or dry, cracked heels. The coconut oil is so hydrating and the sugar crystals are an excellent natural exfoliant for your body.

Guys, I do not use this on my face. Coconut oil can actually clog pores and aggravate acne, and sugar crystals are too abrasive for the delicate skin on your face. But, these ingredients work beautifully as a body scrub!

Happy holidays!!

Dr. Whitney

 

This morning, Ginger Zee and I shared a Facebook live focusing on melasma.

As Ginger and I discussed during our Facebook live, melasma, also called the “pregnancy mask” can be incredibly frustrating and emotional.

We received so many wonderful questions that I wanted to address them with comprehensive resources so you guys have this information at your fingertips!

To begin, I share all the basics about melasma, including what this condition is and what causes it, in my post, Melasma 101.

Next, I share my Melasma Game Plan in Melasma 102.  Specifically, I discuss sun exposure, heat exposure, and diet when it comes to keeping this condition under control! These are many of the points we discussed during the FB live.

And, in Melasma 103, I answer many of the questions I receive in the office and on social media about in-office procedures that can help, at home peels that can help, products I often recommend to my patients, and more! Many of these products are the ones that I discussed during our FB live and I include links.

The additional products I mentioned during the live are:

Naturopathica Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum

Supergoop! Unseen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 

Glowbiotics Tinted Mineral Sunscreen with Iron Oxide

For more information like this, be sure to follow me on social media! My handle is @drwhitneybowe.

Have a wonderful day and keep your questions coming!

Dr. Whitney

More and more companies are marketing their products as “paraben-free.”  What’s the fuss and should you be concerned about parabens when choosing your favorite skincare options?

What are parabens?

Parabens are a group of preservatives used in cosmetics to help keep those products from becoming contaminated with microbial growth (like harmful bacteria or yeast).  They extend the shelf life of a product.  If you make a DIY recipe and don’t use it right away, it could easily become contaminated with “bad bugs,” the kind that can cause infections.  That’s because you’re not adding preservatives to those concoctions.  Almost all of the water-based products you see on the shelf in a store, or order online, contain preservatives to keep them free of growth that would be very unpleasant to discover in your skincare products, and could even harm you.  Parabens are actually one of the least irritating preservatives found in skin care today.  They were named the “non-allergen” of the year in 2019 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS)!  This is because parabens are unlikely to cause a skin allergy or irritation, compared to all the preservatives on the market today.

So, why are so many products claiming to be “paraben-free?”  And why do I recommend avoiding parabens in skincare? 

Here’s the scoop:

A study done back in 2004 detected parabens in samples of breast tissue from breast cancer patients.  Parabens were actually found within the cancerous tissue samples collected.  Some types of parabens are known to mimic estrogen, so the concern is that they may be disrupting hormones and possibly increasing the risk of cancer.  There are also some studies that raise concerns about exposure to parabens and male reproductive health. Basically, parabens bind to certain estrogen receptors, and turning on estrogen signals can theoretically contribute to a whole host of issues for men, women and children.  Butylparabens and propylparabens are the most likely to bind to estrogen receptors.  In fact, the EU has banned the use of these 2 preservatives in diaper creams, and reduced their allowed concentrations in a myriad of other cosmetic and personal care products.

We know that parabens are indeed absorbed by the body, mostly through our use of cosmetic or personal care products such as makeup, lotions, hair products and perfumes.  However, we  don’t fully know whether they pose any long-term health risks.  Concerns exist, but no clear link has been demonstrated.  The FDA believes that, so long as they are used in low concentrations, they are probably not doing any harm.  Even well known and respected skincare brands, like Cerave, continue to formulate using parabens in many of their most popular products.

Where I stand:

In the case of parabens, I don’t believe in innocent until proven guilty.  In my opinion, parabens are guilty until proven safe.  I want to see evidence proving that parabens are not causing any significant hormonal disruption before I feel confident recommending paraben-containing products to my patients!  Also, parabens aren’t the only chemicals linked to hormone disruption – there are others used in skincare, household products and in food, so these exposures can add up. I have too many patients struggling with fertility issues, and battling breast cancer.  Given that there are other preservative options available with safety data, I am not ready to take that risk.

Dr. Whitney

I love fall. I go apple picking with my daughter (a family tradition since I was a kid), we sip on hot apple cider, pick pumpkins, and bake at home . . . it’s one of my favorite times.

So many of my patients love it too, but I notice an upswing in sensitive skin and eczema discussions during our appointments in fall. WHY?

In a nutshell:

  • The cooler, dry air of fall steals the moisture from our skin. When we add indoor heat, we notice that our skin feels dry, itchy, and more easily irritated.
  • Without healthy hydration, we also notice more pronounced fine lines and if you are prone to eczema, you may notice a flare.
  • As the weather gets cooler, we also crave those hot showers and baths. Very hot water strips our skin barrier of its healthy bacteria (microbiome) and natural oils. This contributes to irritated, sensitive skin and eczema.

 

So, what can you do to help replenish your skin’s healthy moisture?

  • Use a cool mist humidifier at night!
  • Dial down exfoliation – stop stripping your skin’s healthy oils and protective barrier. Most people with sensitive skin can only exfoliate twice a week, and I prefer using creams or serums with chemical exfoliants such as lactic acid and glycolic acid over using harsh scrubs. Dry skin is more prone to irritation.
  • Reach for rich, hydrating day and night creams to help replenish and lock in the moisture your skin is losing throughout the day due to the cold, dry weather. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which help to lock in moisture.

Dr. Whitney

 

Dr. Whitney Bowe joins Good Morning America on Melanoma Monday to share information on how to keep your skin safe and healthy this summer!

You guys asked so many great skincare and skin health questions on my social media channels, so I wanted to share some of my responses right here!

Q: I suffer from Melasma and wonder if you recommend any supplements in addition to taking the normal precautions for Melasma?

Dr. Bowe: This is such an important topic and I’m so glad you asked. I have a series of three posts all about Melasma, my in-office strategies, and the products I typically recommend to my patients right on my website! Here are links that I think you will find helpful (my answer to your question is in Melasma 102)!! https://drwhitneybowe.com/melasma-101-understanding-this-condition/, https://drwhitneybowe.com/melasma-102-game-plan/, https://drwhitneybowe.com/melasma-103-q-a-with-dr-whitney-bowe/.

Q: Do you recommend Botox?

Dr. Bowe: Hi! I just did an interview all about Botox with my good friend, Julia Dfazic of Lemon Stripes! Here is a link: https://lemonstripes.com/lifestyle/botox/

Q: What skincare products to use to minimize acne scars from cystic acne?

Dr. Bowe: Excellent question – I have a post on my website all about cystic acne! Here is a link I think you will find helpful: https://drwhitneybowe.com/acne-q-a-focus-on-cystic-acne/.

Q: I love the dewy fresh glow for spring. How can I do that?

Dr. Bowe: ANSWER: I love it too! I was recently on Good Morning America demonstrating the HydraFacial, which I have found is really effective in achieving a healthy, radiant glow. Here are a few links on that: https://drwhitneybowe.com/dr-bowes-guide-to-the-facial-thats-been-making-a-splash-for-healthy-beautiful-skin-the-hydrafacial/ and https://drwhitneybowe.com/the-hydrafacial-a-healthy-beautiful-glow-this-spring/. Also, for a more comprehensive approach to your skin’s health, check out this post: https://drwhitneybowe.com/forget-8-glasses-of-water-a-day-why-drinking-even-a-bathtub-full-of-water-wont-give-you-the-dewy-healthy-skin-you-want/. I share a lot of information about nourishing your skin from the inside out on my website, my social media, and in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. For a lasting healthy glow, I believe what you put into your body is just as important as the topical products you use on your skin!!

Q: What do you recommend for men’s razor bumps and rash?

Dr. Bowe: I recommend that my patients shave at the end of their shower or after getting out of the shower so that your skin has a chance to warm up. I also recommend using a very gentle exfoliant before shaving. You don’t want to aggravate and irritate your skin and hair follicles, but a gentle exfoliant can be very helpful, pre-shave. After you shave, I recommend a moisturizing lotion with antibacterial ingredients. If my patients have very sensitive skin, I often suggest staying away from heavily scented products, as they can be very irritating. I also always keep a fresh aloe plant in my house for all types of skin irritation. Smoothing fresh aloe over angry skin is my go-to at home remedy.

Q: Are there any over the counter facial exfoliating products gentle enough for Melasma?

Dr. Bowe: One option to consider is my Oatmeal Coconut-Oil Power Mask/scrub for sensitive skin. I include this recipe in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. The oatmeal gently removes the dead cells on the surface to reveal your glowing skin underneath. You will need 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melt it down first), 3 tablespoons rolled oats and warm water. I typically advise my patients to leave it on for 15 minutes (and to gently exfoliate by rubbing in the mask in circular motions during application) and then rinse with cool water and pat dry. Or, you can simply use a baby washcloth for a gentle, mechanical exfoliation. In terms of an OTC option, I like this product by La Roche-Posay: https://www.dermstore.com/product_UltraFine+Scrub_27304.htm

Q: We are always told to reapply sunscreen after 2 hours. Does that mean 2 hours after application or 2 hours after sun exposure? I often put on sunscreen inside before I put on my bathing suit, but don’t immediately go outside. Same thing with my facial sunscreen.

Dr. Bowe: I look at the studies and the science before giving my recommendations. The standard rule of thumb at this time is to apply your sunscreen 15-30 minutes before heading outside and reapplying every 2 hours (more frequently if you have just gone swimming or if you are sweating excessively from exercise). Here is a study which is on point: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11712033. With the FDA’s new proposed regulations and discussion of sunscreen safety (I will be sharing a lot more on this on my website), I often opt for UPF swimsuits, rashguards, and clothing for myself and for my daughter. We find they are a game changer in terms of enjoying our time at the beach or pool and minimizing the surface area we have to continuously cover with sunscreen!

Q: Is there a more cost effective alternate to CE Ferulic?

Dr. Bowe: CE Ferulic is one of my all-time favorite serums. While it is at a higher price point, it is just one of those products that I feel is worth the investment because it is effective and delivers results (admittedly, the scent is not my favorite aspect of the serum). For more cost effective options, my patients often love the No 7 serums. I share a lot of information about them on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page: https://drwhitneybowe.com/dr-whitneys-picks/.

Q: Do you recommend a series of chemical peels or microneedling?

Dr. Bowe: My patients love in-office chemical peels. For dull, dry skin, I opt for a glycolic acid peel. For oily/acne prone skin, I focus on a salicylic acid peel. Both options will help boost your healthy glow (and if you are planning to wear makeup for an event, your makeup applicationwill be so much more smooth and beautiful). For an at home option, check out this “babyfacial” from Drunk Elephant. And, here is my post all about microneedling, which my patients love and we have wonderful results: https://drwhitneybowe.com/microneedling/. In terms of which one would best suit your needs? It will depend on your personal skincare goals and budget! I love both options!

There are a few questions I haven’t hit upon yet, so I will circle back to those very soon!

Dr. Whitney

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

Is it safe for all skin types?

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

How does the HydraFacial compare to other facials?

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

How long does it take and is there downtime afterwards?

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

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

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

How often do you recommend getting a HydraFacial?

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

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

Dr. Whitney

@DrWhitneyBowe

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