Reversing Summer Aging

I’m happy that the summer heat wave is over, but my skin seems parched, dazed and well, somehow older.  According to my amazing derm Dr Ellen Marmur, the change in weather  has sent my skin into shock.  After months of sun, heat, sweating, chlorine, from the pool, and summer allergies, my skin is dull dry and tired.   Even more troubling, a few dark patches on my nose  that had been removed by laser,  have made a comeback.     I was all set to slather on my new stronger Retin A to jump start a better complexion, but  Dr Marmur  had a different two prong approach:

Step 1:  Take off the old dead layer of dead, dry and discolored  skin cells with a mild  office glycolic peel or microdermabrasion

Step 2:  Add  moisture, moisture and more moisture.  To this end  during the day I am to use a rich sunscreen such as NIA 24, MD SolarSciences SPF40, or   Chanel Serum with 50 SPF.  At night  I am to use an even richer moisturizer such as Terralina Face Cream.   ( If your skin tends to break out from rich moisturizers, use an oil-free one like Neutrogena Healthy Skin. 

I’m going to try home microdermabrasion and I’ve choosen the  DDF Revolve 400X.  Its available for $95 and it got great reviews at Sephora.  The Clarisonic is reportedly more powerful  but its $250.  Its not that I am not worth it– I don’t know  if the Clarisonic is.  Has anyone tried these home devices?  Is one better than the other?

Anti-Aging Hand Care, Part 4

 On Day  6 after the YAG laser treatment, the  spots on my hands are totally painless, a bit less red, but still  attract shock and awe.  ( I  think its part of the fear of bed bugs thing)  The big boy bandaids that I bought at CVS covered my hands, but the adhesive edges irritated the lasered areas.  The dressings provided by  Dr Marmur after the procedure did a much better job, but turned out to be  hard to find. Finally located them at a local surgical supply store. Dr M had tried to give me a supply of  these Telfa dressings, but I choose that moment to go macho– and waved  off the need for a covering.  Memo to me:  if a doctor offers a supply of  fresh dressings after a treatment, don’t be stupid– just take them.

I am going to the HBA, an international cosmetic and beauty conference in New York this week and my hands are still pretty lurid.  Once the spots fade I am going to use a 100SPF Sunscreen on  the tops of my hands during the day, and apply Retin A at night.   My hands are going to look  young and beautiful– just not this week. I think that as a rule of thumb you should not schedule a laser treatment less than two-three weeks before an event.

Anti-Aging Hands, part 3

The day fter the laserering of my hands, the spots feel totally healed.  They still look pretty red, but  they are not at all painful.  Rather than cover them  up with the dressings Dr M gave me, I decided to  use the same concealer that worked so well when I  lasered the age spots on my face– and off I  went for the day.

The no- bandaid decision was probably not my best idea.  The concealer quickly wore off and I realized that my raw laser treated hands  were getting way to much exposure to UV rays.  I ducked into Hampton Chutney, an UWS restaurant for lunch and was halfway thru my sandwich and perfect Indian ice coffee when  a preganat woman stopped by my table.

“Excuse me, but this is the only empty table ” she said hesitantly, gesturing to the table next  to me. ”  And well, I am wondering, are your contagious ?”  she stammered  pointing  in the  direction of my red spotted hands.”

“No, I’m not contagious, just vain”  I tried to explain.  She looked unconvinced as  she kept scannning the room for another table.  Fortunately for the both of  us, a table opend up across the room, and she hustled to claim it.

My red spots continued to attract unwanted attention.  On line at Zabar’s, the iconic  food store, a man with a Yankee cap asked “are those  bed bug bites?” I gave up and headed to the closest pharmacy to buy the biggest bandaids I could find.  Tomorrow I am going to start out the day with a dressing covering the spots.  When they are no longer so much attention getting, I am going to protect them  with a physical sunblock like  Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin Sunscreen.  It is free from all chemical sunscreens which can be irritating to laser treated skin– and  gets it sunblocking abilities from zinc oxide.  Skin treated with lasers  is especially vulnerable to UV damage and I’ve worked hard to make my hands young and smooth.  Skin treated with Retin A or Tri-luma  also has increased sun sensitivity -especially  when you just start  using them-  and might be happier with a physical, rather than chemical sunscreen.

Younger Looking Hands, Part 2

When it comes to lasers, by this time I know the drill.  If I had been using Retin A or Triluma on my hands, I would have had to stop 2-3 days earlier.  One hour before the treatment I dabbed on a numbing cream made with lidocaine. ( Its available only with a prescription).  Dr Marmur slipped on a pair of  red goggles, gave me  a pair to put on  and aimed a YAG laser at the top of my hands. I hardly felt a thing.  I’ve got a pretty low tolorance to pain, so if I say somethings doen’t hurt, trust me, it doesn’t hurt.

As I sat  in the treatment chair, the spots turned white and crusty.  Dr  Marmur gave me  tubes of Aquaphot to put on the fried spots and  a packet of  large, self adhesive  bandaids to  cover the tops of the hands.  By the time I was at the elevator the lasered skin started to feel raw and burned.  I looked forward  to putting on a soothing swipe of Aquaphor gel.   As soon as I  treated the spots and topped them with the Telfa bandage, the discomfort disappeared.

I  had forgotten that I had agreed to go to a cocktail reception that night.  Too bad little white gloves are out of fashion.  I pulled the sleeves of my sweater over my knuckles  and off I went.  Nobody commented on  my hands, but covering my hands with a sweater certainly slowed  my nibbling at the buffet– which was probably not such a bad thing.

Anti-Aging Hand Care

When I was just starting out as a beauty writer, a very elegant Conde Nast editor told me that ” hands give away  your true age”.  Back then, her mark went right over my head.  Today I get it. While Retin A and IPL have polished my skin smooth, my hands are wrinkled, veiny and dotted with brown spots.

I have been fairly diligent  about using sunscreen on my face, but pretty much forgot about my hands.  Like a textbook description of sun damage, the back of my hands  have wrinkles and age spots. According to my derm, Dr Marmur,  the spots  may fade in a bit over the winter, but will come roaring back even darker  in the spring.  Best treatment?  Another date with a laser .  I will get them zapped off this week and post my progress.

While it might seem vain to care about wrinkled hands, until the day  age and wisdom are as valued as young and sexy, I’m going to explore all  my beauty options.

Glycolic Power Peel

Sometimes an airbrush tan is too much for  special event.  Out of season, a sunny glow may seem out of place, especially if they saw you the day before  without one.  If you’re not showing a lot of skin, it  may not  be as appealing  or worth the time  and money.  And if you’re in  wedding party ( the bride or her  attendants) a tan can photograph as sweaty and shiny.  Not good.

To still get a dewy ” red carpet” complexion, my stylist friend swears by  a mild, store bought glycolic peel .  It takes about 3 minutes and leaves your skin rosy and poreless for hours. I love the peels that come in individually saturated two step pads.  The first  pad has the glycolic acid and the second has the neutralizer.  The pads are a perfect form of portion control.  You don’t get too much acid  that could burn or too little that won’t do a thing. Patricia Wexler, Dr Denise and Kate Sommerville all make affordable and excellent glycolic peel packs.  Look for them at  Bed Bath and Beyond and Sephora.

Glycolic acid is a type of   alpha hydroxy acid, (AHA) that is made from sugar cane.  Used as part of a daily beauty routinue it has been shown  to have anti-aging powers to  increase circulation and stimulate production of collagen and elastin– sort of Retin A light.  When used as a peel, it removes top dead dry surface skin cells , leaving the skin soft and clear.  However it cannot be used close to the eyes, and  does not help under eye  dark  shadows,  A spray-on  tan does hide these bad boys, which  is one reason it makes  you look younger and more rested.  When you do use a glycolic  peel for a big event, you could use Triluma  for several weeks or  hide the dark circles with concealer.

I would not recommend using a professional glycolic peel on the day of an event.  While I love these procedures,  a full service peel  may leave your skin  pretty red and raw for  24 hours– not the look you are aiming at for a big night.  Stick to the home version for a risk free party glow.  Home peels are also one of the great beauty bargins– a package of  30 peels is  about $45, which turns out to be $1.50/peel.   When you use it as  part of a “red carpet” routinue– hair blow-out, tooth whitening, and a mani,  your prep cost drops to $41.50.  Nice.

The Red Carpet Routinue

Its award season in Hollywood and every week there seems to be an endless parade of perfect people on the red carpet.  While its certainly true that many  of these celebs are winners of the lucky gene pool– and they have a pit crew of people to work on their hair, make-up and gowns.  But according to my actress friend and her stylist, red carpet perfection rests on four easy, quick and  best of all, affordable steps.  And I found it really cool that three of the four were steps  I had  already tried out in my anti-aging  journey. 

Total costs for the home grown Red Carpet Routine is about $100 in NYC– and probably less in other parts of the country.  And you don’t have to save it just for weddings and Bar- Mitzahs.  These four steps  are a great prep for  a  job interview, first  date, blind  date, high school school reunion or  even when you  just feel like looking gorgeous. 

The Red Carpet Routinue:

1.  Air-Brush Tan–  the road to perfection starts with a very light spray tan.  Its like a perfect make-up for the whole body.  It creates an even glowing skin tone that hides flaws, fine lines, dark circles  and even makes  you look thinner and firmer. Its the secret behind creamy, perfect arms and shoulders in a strapless dress  If you don’t belive  me I have just one  word– Kardashian.  The light tan should be applied the  the morning of the day before the event. Cost: $60

Blown-out Hair:  Even if you have short hair, a trip to a salon for a professional blow-out will give you  an essential polish.  A good blow out will make your  hair look full, smooth and shiny.  I am addicted to this step and my friends tease me that every time they call I am on my  way to get my hair blown out.  A great tip I learned from a soap star that I  interviewed for my book on accessories- don’t use products before the blow-out.  It makes the hair too soft and the style goes  flat by the next day.  Cost: $30

Whiten Teeth: The gleaming white smiles on the red carpet  are the happy results of intensive tooth whitening.   If you’ve had professional tooth whitening, use the bleaching tray on the day of the event.  If you have not taken the BIG step yet, use the strongest whitening strips you can find for 2 weeks  before a special day or event. C0st:  from $2-$15 depending  on your method.

Manicure:  A fresh manicure is the perfect finish,  and you  no longer need to have long perfect nails to justify a manicure. Short pale polished nails  are more youthful and just as elegant.  If you bite your nails  down to the nub, think about acrylic tips for graceful grown-ups hands.  Cost:  $12 for basic manicure

Red Carpet Timetable:

Day before the event– Airbrush tan ( one hour)

Day of the event –  Blow-out hair ( on hour);

                                        Bleach teeth ( one hour),

                                         Manicure (one hour)

The main goal of the N0-Nonsense Beauty Blog has been to explore ways to look younger and prettier and the Red Carpet Routinue certainly does that.  But  as you can see from the celebs on the red carpet, it works for any age. 

Total Cost: About $100; Boost in Self-Confidence: Priceless!

A Younger Smile In One Hour

When it comes to beauty projects, not only do I need to be able to see results, I need the results to be discernable to to others.  And  Zoom did both.  My  teeth  were brighter and whiter both in person and in photos.  In the photo  on the left, my teeth before  treatment.  On the right, my teeth after Zoom. 

To keep it up, my teeth need to be cleaned  at least twice a year and I have to  use the bleaching tray at least once a week.  Since my bottom teeth tend to become darker than my top, ( its not uncommon) the Zoom technician suggested that after the first hour with both trays, I then  refill the bottom tray and keep that on for another hour.  Great tip!

The Zoom lightening process runs about $900  and the bleach for the trays  is $20 for about 15 treatments.   It works best on teeth that are yellowed or have brown areas.  It is not so successful  in lightening greyish/blue discoloration from injury or tetracycline.  Zoom also cannot be used to lighten  teeth that  have caps, laminates or veneers.  These surfaces  will not lighten to the same color as the natural teeth and can leave you with a mouth  of multi-colored choppers. As happy as I am with my tooth  lightening, I am still curious about other methods.  Has anyone tried Go-Smile?  Other laser lighteners? 

A stylist friend told me that tooth whitening is one of the four beauty essentials that celebs  use to get ready for the red carpet.    On Wednesday, I  will post  her Red Carpet Regimen.  While the four step regimen works for  women ( and men) of any age, it really delivers   when the last  time you saw forty was  on a speedometer.

The Anti-Aging Smile

When we think about aging, its usually about lines and wrinkles.  But aging is more, much more.  And one of the most overlooked signs of aging is yellowed teeth.  Years of  strong coffee, red wine, cigarettes and  just plain time  will turn youthful white teeth dark and less attractive.  That’s the bad news.  The good news? Its really safe and easy to bring back the white.

My teeth are  in pretty good shape with no breaks, spaces or odd shapes.  But my love of strong tea and coffee had left their mark. Despite regular cleanings ,my teeth were definately yellowed. Over the years I have tried  those sticky strips you can buy in the drugstore, but the results were not wonderful.  I decided  to get serious  and try  a professional tooth whitening  procedure called Zoom.

The Zoom process  has three steps:

Step 1:   The dentist takes an impression of the teeth to  make a custom fitted bleaching tray.  Rather than simply a curved plastic mouth piece, a custom tray actually matches  the shape and size of each tooth.

Step2: The in-office bleaching process that takes about an hour.  Basically the teeth are coated with a bleaching compound and the Zoom light is aimed at the mouth to activate and help absorption of the bleaching ingredients.

Step 3: Weekly  home use of the bleaching tray which is needed to maintain the new white gleam.

When I sat down in the dentists chair for my Zoom encounter, the technician gave me plastic mouth retractors to expose my teeth  and then applied a protective coating to my lips and gums. She then gave me a pair of goggles,  painted the bleaching material on the teeth, and aimed the light at  my mouth.  It was not the most comfortable position,  but quite bearable.   Toward  the end of the first half hour I was told to expect ‘zingers’– sharp quick pains in the teeth.  I soon felt them- not fun, but not serious.

After about 45 minutes, the technician decided that  I had lightened enough.  The mouth paraphenalia was removed, and  the bleaching compound was rinsed off.  When I looked in the mirror, I was thrilled at the results.   My teeth looked white, luminous and youthful.  I couldn’t stop smiling.

My amazing dentist, Dr Finkel told me to avoid coffe, tea, red wine and all red foods for three days and to expect  periodic zingers. The first night zingers kept waking   me  up, but had stopped by morning.  Breakfast was confusing since I could not drink  tea or coffee. Since I am one of those New Yorkers who seem to have a Starbucks surgically attached to my hand, the ban on caffeine products  was the hardest part of the experience. My usual  breakfast ( scooped out toasted bagel with fat-free cream cheese) was not the same with a bottle of water.

To keep up my  beautiful new color, I need to use the home kit once a week.  In addition to the tray I went home with three plastic syringes filled with bleaching compound.  To use the tray,  I squeeze out a tiny dab of bleaching cream into each tooth shape on the tray  and position it in my mouth.  After one hour, I remove the tray and brush off  the remaining bleach.

On Monday I’m  uploading before and after  pix of my Zoom- treated teeth and will post the costs,  what kinds of teeth get the best results, and who should not use  it.

The Anti-Aging iphone App

It sounds like a missing Outer Limits episode– red and blue lights from a phone that can cure acne, heal wounds and diminish wrinkles.  But there is actually good science behind it.  Called LED  ( Light Emitting Diode) lights, the different colored lights  have different skin benefits.  The blue lights kill bacteria in the pores which are linked to acne breakkouts; the red lights have been shown to increase natural skin collagen and elastin– thus reducing signs of  aging. 

If you are lucky enough to have an iphone, you can download  these LED lights for less than $2.  You simply select the  color of  light that meets your needs and hold the phone against the skin for two minutes.  These LED lights are also used in spa facials,  offered by dermatologists, and available in specialized home  LED models.  Keep in mind that while the wavelength of the LED lights in the iphone are the same as those used in spas and doctor’s offices, the  intensity of the the light is much, much weaker.

There is enough research to make me want to try LED lights,  but  I have heard that they cannot be used if you are using products that make your skin more sensitive to light such as  Retin A  or  Accutane.  It seems to me that  LED lights could be helpful for women under 40  who might have some signs of aging but are still troubled by breakouts– and  who are not yet candidates for retinoids.

I’d love to hear about your experience with LED lights.  Was it too time consuming?  Did it make a visable difference?  How long did it take to see results?  One month?  Two months?  When it comes to beauty, I’ m not patient for results. I’m trying to decide if  I should  stop using Retin A for several months to try out the LED anti-wrinkling powers. Any advice?