Aegmora

Musings on effortless beauty, from an apprentice of the science of skin.

The B Word

   

Botox. Long associated with aging housewives and frozen facial expressions (see above), this controversial little toxin is becoming a staple of the beauty regimen for many women.  Although maligned in the media, many women (including those you would not expect) are turning to these injections to treat those fine lines that belie years of worry and sun damage.  After seeing a Living Social deal for Botox injections, a fellow diva posed the question of using the magic injections in our youth, to prevent those signs of a life well lived.

Hmmm, prophylactic Botox. In theory, it makes perfect sense.  Prevent the skin from developing wrinkles in the first place by paralyzing the muscles that cause the strain. Although there is not much hard evidence to support this theory, I did find one case report of twins, where one was regularly injected for 13 years and the other was not. The pictures do show marked differences in the forehead wrinkles and crows feet, making the twins looks years apart.

For some, the safety of injecting a “poison” long-term into your face feels unsafe and suspect.  However, this FDA-approved drug has been used in the medical world for over 20 years and in very large doses to treat a myriad of diseases, including migraines, neuromuscular disorders, hyperhidrosis, and urinary retention, to name a few.  A large aggregate study looked at adverse effect of botulinum toxin use across many diseases and found that it was a very safe and well-tolerated drug. As published from the FDA, there have been no deaths from the cosmetic use of Botox from 1989 to 2003. 

With all the facts in my pocket, I can’t say I have any moral or ethical objection to Botox in your youth. If you have the cash cash money to spend, go ahead and treat yourself, all the while making sure you are going to a reputable and well-trained dermatologist.  But all the neurotoxins in the galaxy can’t replace good ‘ol sun protection, hydration, and being smoke-free to staying forever young. 

Be a Chai Momma, Don’t be a Dry Momma.

Check check check it out!! I got the chance to guest blog on the amazing ChaiMommas.com! Click here… 

      image

Image: Mother Breast-feeding her Baby, by Louis Fleckenstein, c. 1900.

In chatting with my lovely friends over at chaimommas.com, I found out that dry skin is quite the issue for breast-feeding mothers. I’ve never heard of this phenomenon before but I have made it my mission to keep the skin of pregnant and post-pregnant ladies soft, glowing and cuddle-tastic. Of course, with the recent stresses on the body and constant milk production, it’s very important for new moms to stay hydrated on the inside.  It’s recommended you take in 3 liters or 13 cups of fluids daily.  That’s a lot of trips to the bathroom, but it’s worth it!

Alright, let’s get into staying moist from outside.  As I have said before, your skin is a barrier that keeps water in.  Stresses on the body and skin disorders like eczema can weaken that barrier, making it more prone to letting water out and becoming dry like a desert riverbed.  Add the winter dryness in the mix, and you have the perfect storm for rough skin.  So your job is to stay ahead of the game and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, even before you start feeling dry.

I can imagine it can get hard, when you don’t even have time to shower every day with the new babe. So let’s keep it simple. Slather on the Cetaphil, an incredibly gentle and safe, yet effective moisturizer, all over mommy and baby, in the morning, night and after the shower when your skin is still a little wet.  For the mamas that want something a little more natural, almond oil is a great moisturizer, as well.

For eczema flares, it is safe to apply your prescribed topical steroids directly on the nipple. Nipple dermatitis is a big problem, especially during the first week of feeding, and usually improves with a better latch. Use warm water compresses for temporary relief. For more tips on skin conditions during breastfeeding, go here, or even better, pay a visit to your handy dandy dermatologist. 

Yes, we can…  keep your post-pregnancy skin perfectly soft for a baby to nuzzle.

It’s OK to be a steamster.

  

Recently, I was indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, sitting in the steam room in the Korean spa (not with these little munchkins, although it would have made the experience far cuter).  I love it for many reasons, including the post-steam clarity and glow of my skin and feeling like I’m back in the womb.  However, I realized that I did not know the specific reasons on why steaming is a staple of the facials and touted as being beneficial for the skin.

After a little digging, I found that the moisture in steam opens up your pores and softens up those pesky skin cells that accumulate and lead to acne. Once your pores are open, gentle exfoliation becomes more effective and it becomes easier to clear the junk sitting inside.  Additionally, any medication you apply after steaming is absorbed a little better. A study in the journal Dermatology demonstrated that warm air from the sauna (and steam room) increases circulation to the skin, improves skin barrier function and in fact, lowers the amount of sebum of the skin, a big player in the development of unsightly zits.  However, if you have rosacea or fungal infections, the warmth and humidity can worsen those conditions.

All in all, looks like steaming does more good than harm.  But don’t get too carried away, there’s no need to go out and buy a steaming machine.  The steam from your shower or a nice, relaxing moment in the steam room is sufficient enough to open those pores up to effectively cleanse, exfoliate and medicate. If any of y’all are in LA or NYC, try Wi Spa or King Spa for a true K-spa experience.  Take a break from WERQ and pamper yoself!

             

Friends! Introducing Luvocracy, a great new social network where you can recommend/get ideas/buy anything on the internet with one simple click from friends and people you trust. I already set up my account and all the products that I LUV are in one easy spot to see and get for yoself. Click here to get your invite and enjoy!

    

Before you treat yoself… pop onto Beautypedia, the comprehensive, no B.S. Wikipedia meets Consumer Reports of beauty products. Paula Begoun aka the Cosmetics Cop, provides unbiased, scientifically accurate, consumer savvy ratings on every brand and product under the sun. Not on my watch will my readers be duped into buying $100,000,000 cream made from diamonds, moondust, and lint.

(Photo credit: www.vintagefolly.com)

Sir Bumps-a-Lot.

  

I like smooth arms and I cannot lie. Those other brothers can’t deny.

That’s as far as I will get into any rap career.. but I will wax poetic on getting smooth arms ie getting rid of those pesky bumps on the back of your arms. You call them a nuisance and I call them keratosis pilaris. Plaguing many a patient and friend (including yours truly), I’ve been asked for years on advice on exterminating them.

First, the key is understanding what they are and why you have them.  In short, the skin cells in and around the follicles in the back of your arms are genetically programmed to divide at a faster rate than the skin is naturally shed.  This results in dead skin cells piling up on each other at the opening of your hair follicle, and sometimes, growing hairs can get trapped underneath.  When that happens, there can be some redness and inflammation. Not life-threatening, but definitely a life-nuisance.

What to do?! Everyone’s first instinct is to essentially sand down your skin with rough exfoliants, loofahs, sandpaper… but actually, that can make the situation worse and increase redness and irritation. What really works are things that gently remove the debris from your follicles, like alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acids (Lac-hydrin), or salicylic acids. Gentle cleansing and moisturizing are also key in maintaining the delicate balance of the skin.  There are more treatment options available at your local dermatologist.  A great product that combines a well balanced moisturizer and a gentle chemical exfoliant is Paula’s Choice RESIST Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA.  The pricier KP Duty is probably not worth the money, but an over the counter treatment option nonetheless.  Although incurable, there is hope! Forge ahead!

Take a Stand!

            

We cannot just sit by quietly as fall and its drop in humidity launches a sneak attack on our skin, causing it to riot and peel off our faces in an atrocious manner.  NO! It is not acceptable for us to be walking around with visible flakes of dry skin on our glorious faces, making it rough and ruining our glow.  We cannot live this way! Take a stand with me and fight against the ravages of the change of seasons on our skin.

Ok, I admit I am being a tad dramatic (perhaps it’s the Les Mis fever coming on), but in the past week, I have have undertaken quite an extensive crusade against this cursed dryness, using multiple angles of attack. 

First on my list, exfoliating the skin that has already decided to jump ship.  I turned to my trusty Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant for a gentle, yet effective exfoliant.  Pairing that with the muslin cloth from the EVE LOM moisturizing system, and within 2 days, my skin was restored to its baby bottom smoothness.  

But getting rid of the mutinied skin cells is not enough.  Salvaging and retaining what moisture you can is just as important. I always switch to a little thicker, heftier moisturizer for the fall/winter months, which is better at sealing in H2O in the skin. I adore Kiehl’s Cryste Marine or the thicker version of my summer face lotion, Ultra Facial Cream. However, it’s all personal preference and Cetaphil from the drugstore will do the trick just as well as its high end cousins. 

This is not just a problem above the neck. Washing with the oil based Sabon Shower Oil, especially in its bewitching patchouli lavender vanilla scent, is a treat perfect for infusing moisture into dry, ashy arms and legs.  No one wants to look like Ashy Larry. 

And finally, for hair dry as the dead leaves on the ground, I just picked up Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Condition, an Allure pick for 2012.  It’s fantastic for leaving your hair soft as a silk ascot. 

Enough with the metaphors and off you go rocking your perfectly smooth, radiant complexion with an oxblood lip, a chunky scarf, and brand new boots on many a crisp fall day. 

   

Fall is upon us yet again. Besides gourds and turning up the collar of my favorite winter coat (R.I.P. MJ), I am psyched to try out these hot fall beauty trends.  Simple to try, yet fashion forward, here’s a way to pump up your fall look. Personally, can’t wait to rock the slicked back pony with bold brows and a perfect merlot/oxblood lip. HAWT. 

                                         

Treat yo self… to Fresh Sugar Lip Treament, $22.50. One of my favorite daily indulgences, it’s like smearing your lips with a stick of butter, only it smells ah-mazing and has SPF. Totally worth it.  

(Photo credit: PBS)