Its Fashion Flash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week the always elegant Josephine of Chic At Any Age is hosting Fashion Flash. She is one of those rare women that  looks effortlessly chic  whether  she is relaxing in the sun or attending a concert at Albert Hall.   I tend to stare at these women trying to deconstruct what they  did to  look so good.  When I discovered  Chic At Any Age  it was like the Rosetta Stone for style.  She explains  the reasons behind her fashion choices in a way that I adapt her ideas to my style isues.  If you’re already a fan  you know what I mean.  If  Chic At Any Age is new to you, you will have  a lot of fun drilling down  into her archives for beautiful, wearable fashion ideas.

Fashion FLash Book Review; IconsFashion Flash Book Review:  Icons by Dodie Kazanjin

When I think of icons, I think of unique, famous people.  But this time, icons refer to those items of clothing that  carry  their own fame and legend.  Well known Vogue writer Dodie Kazanjian   does an up close and personl  experence  with  style icons  that include Manulo Blahnik shoes,  the Chanel suit, the Armani jacket and the Kelly  bag.  She braves the elite of the elite stores to try  on and select a legendary piece of fashion history.

As she chronicles  her journey to actually be able to acquire  each piece ( there are waiting lists for $3000 bags!), she spins  out the back story behind them.  For example,  she details the extraordinary features  that are in each Chanel jacket,   and that the big Hermes bag that Grace Kelly used to hide her pregnency from  photographers was there after known as  the Kelly. My favorite chapter chronicles her  search for the perfect  Little Black Dress.  Fashion editors are forever recommending  the LBD as a fashion staple,  but no one  has ever actually   described  how hard  it is to find the perfect one.  Most designers seem to create for that ubiquitous freakishly   tall blonde with 4% body fat. Ms Kaszanjian is 5 feet, 2 inches with a wonderful  mane of curly  dark hair.  Her journey through  one shouldered,  feather trimmed, ruffled and cut out black dresses is  so relatable that I was chuckling as  I read  the piece.  The fact that in the end  she walked away empty handed, made me  love this book even more.






Peridot– The Birthstone of August

PeridotGreen and crystelline, peridot is reputed to protect wearers against nightmares, and bring both  power and  influence  All good news, but peridot is also fabulous for its glorious yet affordable  glorious color.  Peridot ranges from pale green to deep olive and was often used in crowns as faux emeralds.   At $35/carat it delievers  the green of  uber precious emeralds for a fraction of the price (  FYI one carat of Columbian emeralds clock in at $700).

Most  peridot comes from Arizona, but there are also  good  supplies  from China and Pakistan.   It is also one of those rare jewels( like pearls) that is flattering for practically any skin, eye and hair combinations.  While  it is used  in  bracelets and pins, it really comes into its own in a pair of earrings.  if you don’t know what to get  your BFF for her birthday, a pair of pearl and peridot earrings  will always be something that goes with her  coloring.

I  love to  wear a pair of peridot earrings to crank up the impact of a little black dress  or suit.  In summer  a peridot drop earring take a  bone linen  dress or blouse to a  whole new level.  When I add my  little  peridot drop earrings to a white linen shirt and pants, I feel like  I am ready for  a great summer evening. This  year, Fashionistas are pushing green as the  new ‘It” color. Green  in  general is not  my best color for clothing , but   a green peridot  bracelet or pair of earrings allows me to fly my Fashionista  flag in a  way that works for  me.


Question: How Can Good Products Produce Bad Results?

Question on PeelsQuestion:   I’ve been using  a 1% retinol serum, 15% vitamin C serum for my face and another 5% vitamin c serum for my eyes for two weeks and now my skin  is a mess!  It’s red, peeling, super dry and  wrinkled.  It even hurts   when I wash my face and put on sunscreen.   I’m so scared and don’t know what to do.

Answer:   These are  strong and genuinely  effective  formulations, but you overdid it a bit.  According to the wizard of Park Avenue, Dr Albert Lefkovits, stop using all  current products.  He recommends soothing the skin  with a milk compress.  Soak a  man’s hankerchief  in a mixture of   1/4 cup milk and 1/4 room temperature  cup water, wring it out  a bit and apply it to  face and neck.  Wash your face with a  super gentle cleanser like Cetaphil or Dove  soap.

At night try  a mild moisturizer like Ponds cold cream or Aquaphor.  If redness persists  apply .05% cortisone cream available at a pharmacy without a prescription.   In the daytime, use  a  mineral based sunscreen like SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion.  If the skin does not calm down within a week, you should  check in  with a doctor.  There  might  be something  besides  an irritation reaction going on.

When your skin recovers, you can start slowly  resuming the  same products .  Use the retinol every other day and the vitamin c eye  serum only at night.   In the daytime, use the vitamin C serum every other day  and top it with a mineral based  sunscreen.   Gradually work up to using retinol every night and vitamin C serum every  day, but never  at the same time.  At the first sign of irritation, cut back to  using  products several times a week rather than  every day.

I  suspect that some   manufacturers formulate weak  products because they want to avoid this type  of situation.  I can totally  understand that approach , but I believe that  better consumer information would  prevent this type of skin melt down.  If the sales literature gave more extensive info, these episodes could be avoided.  Better  information will allow us to  use effective products to get maximum results– very much the fundamental mission statement   of No-Nonsense Beauty Blog.

Its Fashion FLash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week my favorite fashionista Diva Debbi  is hosting  Fashion Flash.  There  is  reason that she has more than 12,000 Polyvore followers.  Her eye  for color , shape and texture  comes through in her  amazing style posts.  With fall  hard upon us, I can’t  wait to see what she  has created for  colder weather.

Fashion Flash Book ReviewFashion Flash Book Review:  Dropping Acid– the Reflux Diet  Cookbook and Cure

My BFF from college never smoked, but when she turned 50, Annie  developed a chronic cough  that never  went away.  A non-smoker  she has tried the usual medications for asthma,  but nothing  really seemed to work.  When she asked my pulmonologist  husband  for help, he suggested she visit a ear, nose and throat specialist ( ENT)  to examine  her larynx.  He explained that  about 30% of his patients with  annoying, chronic  coughs had reflux rather than pulmonary problems.

Dropping Acid by Jamie Koufman, MD not only explains how this works  but offers  a full lifestyle program to control problems.  The list of “don’ts”  is long, but Dr Koufman  offers  extensive  science behind her recommendations.  For example,  she  explains   how  soda triggers symptoms and that the rise in the number of peope with reflux is prarallel to the rise  of  soda consumption. Other recommendations include no food three hours before going to sleep. The list of food triggers can be daunting  to  cooking and eating out but Dr Kaufman offers  dozens of  genuinely appealing recipes.

Garlic, onions, butter  and tomatoes are  well known reflux triggers  are also key ingredients  to  many  cooking styles and countries.  Dropping Acid  has managed  to coax  rich enjoyable flavors without  the usual  seasongs.  She uses ginger, coriander and prociutto to build taste and texture  for meals that are delicious  and reflux proof.

Dr Kaufman, a noted laryngologist   now has  a companion book – The Chronic Cough Enigma.  She  offers a clear differtial diagnosis of the different types of reflux and  the  best treatment options.   Keep in mind that  over 50,  reflux  is increasingly likely  and this pair of books is  a valuable tool for dealing with this  all too common problem.

As it turned out Annie , an attorney for Holocaust survivors, does not keep 9-5 hours ( more like 9 to 9). And as long as I have known her, she has had an open can of Tab on her desk. I gave her my copy of Dropping Acid and I am looking forward to hearing the results.



Skin Care Expert to the Stars

Skin care expert Gayelord HauserI first “met”  skin  and heath care expert Dr Gayelord Hauser  in a dusty junk shop where I picked up a copy of his 1951 best seller, Treasury of Secrets.  His clear  writing and positive attitude was addicting   and I  trolled old bookstores to find his other  out of print books.  ( This was before Amazon, way before).

Dashingly handsome, Dr Hauser was a European nutritionist who Hauser skin  care client the Duchess of Windsor promoted the idea of “living foods”– unprocessed  fruits, vegetables,  low fat dairy  and  even  meat.   He was certainly not the first natural health guru.  There have been self-styled  diet experts  who  recommended a wide range of  supplements, magic foods, and exercise programs  and equipment.  But Hauser was the first  who made the link between  a healthy diet and Hollywood glamour. In an era where doctors recommended cigarettes for digestion and lard was as popular  as butter, Dr Hauser   had  an enthusuastic following that included Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly  and the Duchess of Windsor.  His 12  books and  popular lecture tours  made him the Dr  Oz of  his day.

Skin care client of Gayelord Hauser, Greta GarboHauser’s living food concepts were actually a giant anti-oxidant food delivery system.  His menus were packed with all the nutrients we now know reduce signs of aging– vitamin C, fiber, and protein and avoided   well known toxin, like alcohol, salt  and  animal fat.   Hauser also promoted the spa approach to heath and beauty.   While  juice fasts  and healing baths  had  long been available to the rich and famous, Hauser’s Beauty Farm concept was a virtual spa trip that any woman  could enjoy  in their own home.

The Hauser Diet  and Skin Care in Real Life

I  was  still living at home when I became  a Gayelord Groupie. My parents were not  impressed.  My Dad liked  to  spread his steak with butter before grilling  and a pickle was his favorite green vegetable.   Lightly  cooked shredded carrots and  hamburgers fortified with wheat germ frankly scared  him. It was  much easier to follow   the Hauser skin care  approach to skin care.  I brought my youthful acne under control with  herbal  steam sessions and  nightly application  of calamine lotion  fortified with phenol.

I used his  milk and otmeal bath to soothe a Jones Beach sunburn and a cosmetic vinegar concoction for oily hair.  While I was banned from cooking Hauser style family meals,  I could still whip up  Hauser beauty smoothies for myself.  Instead of a butter drenched  bagel  my breakfast  was  now a ‘school girl complexion’ smoothie with  yogurt, and honey  or a ‘crowning glory’  made with  skim milk, gelatin  and honey.  But my all time favorite Hauser recipe  was for a homemade fragrance  called Budapest Waters.

Ageless Skin Care with Budapest Waters

The legend is pure fun.  As the story goes,  Queen Elizabeth of Hungry used this essence every night and at age 86  she was still so beautiful  her passionate  lovers  were still   in their twenties.

Budapest Waters ( From Mirror, Mirror On the Wall  by Gaylord Hauser)

Ingredients:  2 oz dried rosemary, 1 oz fresh lemon peel,1oz fresh orange peel, 1 oz dried mint leaves, 1 oz dried lemon balm, 1 pint rose water, 1 pint alcohol ( not rubbing alcohol)

Directions: Put all ingredients in a gallon glass jar.  Let the mix  stand for three weeks.  Filter the fragrant mix through a strainer. You can use it as a cologne  or  add a  tablespoon to a bath.


Its Fashion Flash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week Jodell of Black Cat Plus is  hosting Fashion Flash. This terriffic plus size  site is living proof that style has no size.  I love  how Jodell  explains  how to  enjoy   top trends at any shape and age.  Jodell is also  a committed  activist against fat  shaming and discrimination and I am so proud to  know and work with her.

Fashion Flash beauty IconFashion Flash Beauty Icons

This week I got an invitation from HSN  to join their “Skinspiration” discussion that explored the beauty icons that ifluenced me.  I have so many that it  is  hard to pick just one. I love the style and highlights of Jennifer Aniston’s hair.  I admire  her casual All-American style during the day and  her ability to make a 360 degree turn  to switch  on serious  glamour on the Red Carpet. I admire Madonna  for her committment to exercise, sunscreen and a plant based diet. Unlike so  many pop icons,  I respect  her refusal to  damage her health and beauty with drugs  or alcohol.

Of course I love the  simple perfection of Audrey Hepburn   and Jackie Kennedy.  But I am also a huge  vintage fan and I  love the  style of the  movie goddesses in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I  have my own collection of vintage clothes and I can dress like  an extra in a Joan Crawford movie from breakfast  through cocktails.

But in an era  of make-up and hair  where more  was  more, my favorite  beauty icon was Greta Garbo. The radiant simplicity of her skin and hair is as appropriate today and it was when she was the most famous  woman in the world. I also admire the style of the Duchess of Windsor, who, while  not a natural beauty, captured the heart of the King of England.  Through  a combination of style, charm and pure grit she became a lasting  icon that has endured for decades.

As it turned out both Greta Garbo and the Duchess of Windsor  both followed the same  health guru, the dashing  European nutritionist,  Dr Gayelord Hauser.  I discovered him  while I was  still in college and  he was  a huge influence for me to explore  health and beauty issues.  This week  I will write about his approach to nutrition and skin care  and share some of his most famous  home grown beauty recipes.



Skin Care From Shark Tank– How Cool is That?

RIght now I have two top  passions–  honest skin care and   watching Shark Tank every Friday night.  For those  who may  not yet  be addicted, Shark Tank is a competition where  aspiring entrepreneurs seek to partner with self-made  billionnaires like  Mark Cuban ( Yahoo, owner of Dallas Maverick’s)  Barbara Corcoran ( real estate magnate ) and  Daymond John ( brilliant founder of Fubu fashions).  I usually find  competition shows banal and  mean inspirited, but each week I am blown away by the originality and intelligence  of these uber successful moguls.

When I discovered that three  Shark Tank winners    were exhibiting  their products at Cosmoprof in Las Vegas it felt like the mothership was calling  me  home.  While there are literally  hundreds of new products  at  this  international beauty show, the  Shark Tank products were truely unique:

Skin Care on Shark Tank1.  Simple Sugars  is a line of scrubs  that are not  only natural, they actually work by exfoliting and moisturizing at the  same time.  I tried out the almond scrub on my hands  and 24 hours later  my skin was still astonishingly softer and smoother– even in dry  desert air. Now just 23,  Simple Sugars  founder Lani Lazzari  started making skin care prodcuts  to deal with  her own sensitive skin. After partnering with Mark Cuban, Simple Sugars is now  a multi-million dollar company.

Skin care from Shark Tank2. Hot Tot is a line of specialized  hair products  with gentle ingredients just for children.   It began  when Hot Tot founder, Megan Gage wanted to style the wisps  her infant son’s hair into a  tiny pee-wee peak.  Not only does it  work, the Hot Tot  formulations  are free of everything you don’t want to put on your baby including synthetic coloring, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and irritating  sulfates.  I was so impressed that   Megan  used  her $20K investment from  Mark Cuban  to do the tests  necessary to label her products  hypoallergenic.  How remarkable is that!

Skin  Care products from Shark Tank3. KissTixx is a unique twist on lip balm.  I have to admit that I was surprised that Mark Cuban choose to partner with skin  and hair care products, but  KissTixx definately seems to be in his wheelhouse.   Developed by Dallas Robinson when he was still in college, KissTixx is a  lip balm combo that will revolutionize kissing.

Here’s how it works:  Each Kisstixx  is a pair of flavored lip balms eg chocolate and strawberry , one applied  on  each pair of lip…. and when they kiss, kapow! Sales have soared since appearing on Shark Tank. Mark Cuban invested $200,000 in KissTixx  and its now available in Walgreens, Bed Bath and Beyond  and K-mart.   In  true  Shark Tank style,  Dallas   has branched out producing special  order  lip balms.  His clients  include  sport teams, TV show and fashion brands.

Meeting  these three personal products entrepreneurs was a unique chance to see close-up  how to turn a great idea into a world class business.




Its Fashion Flash Monday!


Fashion-Flash-logoThis week Cindy of Prime Beauty is hosting Fashion Flash.Before I discovered Prime Beauty I had boxes of lipsticks,  foundations, bronzers,  and mascaras that failed to deliver  for me.  This site  changed my failure/success rate with new make-up choices.  Cindy does the heavy lifting, testing each one  and providing in-depth analysis of  fragrance, texture and color. The ads promise so  much that its easy to get drawn in. Prime Beauty gives  me  much better info to make good  beauty purchase decisions.

Fashion FLash Book Review: Cuisine SanteFashion Flash Book Review: Cuisine Sante by Christopher Buey

I recently reviewed  Afro Vegan by Bryant Terry which offered meat-free versions  of  African and  Carribean cuisine.  It beautifully captured the flavors  of the original cuisine but  with a fraction of the fat and calories.  I  wondered if there was  an equivalent  book that did the same for traditional french recipes.  When I had tried  myself to  simply to cut back on the butter,  cream, bacon and salt  on french cookbooks,  the meals  just didn’t taste French. When I found Cuisine Sante in a quirky  second hand book store  in  upstate New York,  I was inspired to try again.

The book genuinely drills down into the subject.  It  starts with clear, well illustrated  photos  for techniques like filleting a fish, boning a chicken and prepping  vegetables  in traditional  french style.  It  offers recipes  for  stocks with full flavor yet  lower sodium levels by compensating with additional seasoings like ginger and mushrooms.   For creamy dishes, Cuisine Sante substitues Greek yogurt for heavy cream and  exchanges  olive oil for butter in braised  dishes.  I love  carot soup  but it usually is packed with butter and  cream.    I love a  true rich quiche but  the  fat and  calorie   count is truely scary. I’ve tried making a low fat version but  they were watery and bland.   The  Cuisine Sante version  cuts calories by “sauteing”  the onions in a mixture of wine and thyme until lightly carmelized and mixing a bit of  cream with skin milk for the custard.  The result?  Even better than the original.

I  wish that  Cuisine Sante  provided nutritional breakdown of their recipes. Cuisine Sante does not consider their recipes diet food, but  healthier versions  of beloved french meals, but I really like to know what I am eating.  Some of the recipes are time  consuming and others are technically challenging.  But   there are  many  simple  yet hearty   dishes like glazed  pork loin,  ratatouille, “creamy” carrot soup which allow me to both eat  French and wear French.



If sunscreens are so good, why do they make my skin breakout?

Question and Answer logoQuestion:  Sunscreens are always the last  step of your  treatment plans.  I hear what you are saying, but sunscreens  make  my skin breakout– and I’m 34!  And if I spend  time in the sun, my  skin  actually clears up and looks geat.   Could I be allergic  to sunscreens?

Answer:  I hear you too!.  For years  I found that sunscreens didn’t  so much  prevent  a sunburn as they triggered  more breakouts.  Turned out that many sunscreens  contain ingredients that provoke acne.  Most contain oils, waxes,  and polymers that clog pores.  Others have chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and homosalate that are irritants– and over  age 30 acne is often provoked by inflammation rather than excess oils.  To get the benefits of a sunscreen without  problems,  look  for oil free  physical sunscreens  formulated with zinc oxide or titanium oxide.  Mineal based  powdered sunscreens  like Brush -On Block by Susan Posnick  provide great touch up durng the day.

I am also  feeling  your pain  about the beauty benefits  of a tan.  Its absoutely true  that in the short  run,  the sun can  decrease oiliness, heal breakouts and even hide discolorations and blur fine lines.   However  in the long run, the sun  rapidly accelerates skin aging.  In fact up to age 60, over 80% of skin aging is due to exposure to  the UV rays of the sun.  Unprotected sun exposure also   dramatically  increases risk of basel cell  skin cancer, squamous cell  skin  cancer and even melanoma.  I find  it sobering that melanoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths in  young women.

A Safer Tan without Sunscreen

Doctors used to believe that a base tan would protect the skin from further sun damage.  We now  know this is so not true.  There is no safe level of unprotected  sun exposure and a  sunscreen should be worn year round.  To satisfy my craving for  tan, I  get a spray tan that lasts about a week.  It  looks  so wonderful with a white dress or bathing suit that I  strip down and get a full body spray once or twice a year.   It costs   between $50- 70 a session  and is  certainly less expensive than  skin cancer surgery.

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This  week,Fashion-Flash-logo Positive Aging Expert  Barbara Hannah Grufferman is hosting Fashion Flash. In her blog Best of Everything After 50 and on her regular Today Show appearances, Barbara  has  a positive view of life that  is virtually contagious. While  we  certainly can’t  stop getting older  we can control  how  we approach  the  life and times after 50.   Online  there  can  be an overflow of  naysaying and negativity in blogs  about aging, but   Barbara  will  empower  you to  make each  day of  your life the best day of your life.  She interviews experts  on fashion, fitness and health to  pull out the best ideas and latest information.  And don’t miss  her entertaining and informative  video series with AARP!

Fashion Flash ReviewFashion Flash Review:  Dr Ellen Marmur in Self magazine

New York dermatologist  Dr Ellen Marmur has been  an unfailing friend and supporter of No-Nonsense Beauty Blog since it started four years ago.   Despite a packed waiting room, four children, a full research program, and  a regular guest  slot on Dr Oz, Dr Ellen  is never too busy  to answer our  questions and demonstrate new  tools and techniques.

Now you can read about another side of Dr Marmur in the August issue of Self magazine.  In addition  to being  a world class dermatologist,  Dr Marmur  is passionate about hiking.   Reading what  hiking  means to  her and how it makes her feel reminded me of the  importance of having  an activity in your life that  makes you feel calm and excited at the same time.

Most of  our time is spent getting to a specfic goal eg   meeting  a work deadline,  doing the laundry or  toilet training a two year old.  But  there are these activities in our lives where the process  is  as important as the conclusion and you feel  happy and engaged in every step of the process.  For example, my friend Kelly loves to knit.  From finding the pattern,  choosing the wool and selecting the right  needles, Kelly’s face  just glows  when she works on  a   knitting project.  Kelly runs a small  scientific  publishing company  and it can be hard to find time to knit during the week.  But every year she sets  time aside to go to knitters  camp  to learn and share with other crafters.

Cooking is my happy place.  I love each step of the process from planning the meal, shopping for ingredients, prepping the vegetables  and seasonings  and listening the  the sounds and smells that tell me a dish is coming along as planned.   Having an activity  where time  passes effortlessly and the process is  as pleasurable  as the final result, is  the ultimate  stress reducer. Having  this type of  interest is  so important to  a healthy  mind and body.  What is your “happy place”  and how do you make time to include it into your life?

Fashion FLash supports SCTAHCombining a Hobby with  Compassion

This summer Dr Marmur  combined  her love of hiking with her committment to skin cancer prevention.  She and her team climbed Mount Kilimanjaro  to raise money for  the American Academy of Dermatology  skin cancer campaign. You   can  go to Marmur Medical to donate to support  this important program.