Question: I am a 45 year old South Asian women. I now live near Chicago and the weather is usually grey and very cold. My cousin says I still need to use a sunscreen and I think its unnecesary at this time of year. Who is right?
Answer: Umm, I tend to stay out of family arguments, but in this case I have to say your cousin is right. The UV rays are hitting our skin all year round. While your melanin rich complexion provides protection from sun aging and skin cancers, even weak UV rays can provoke unwanted patches of darker pigmentation known as hyperpigmentation or melasma. Brown spots and splotches are an increasing problem for skin of color. Rather than spend a good part of your beauty dollar on products that promise to brighten and even out the skin tones, prevent hyperpigmentation … Continue Reading… →
Question: Is there a moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores? When my skin gets dry from RetinA or a laser type treatment, I need to put on a moisturizer to relieve dryness and flaking. But whatever I try seems to provoke acne breakouts. Any ideas?
Answer: This is such a common problem and until last week I didn’t have much of an answer. Sometimes a moisturizer that was both oil and fragrance free would work, but often that too could provoke problems. Then at a recent dermatology conference in New York, laser care expert Dr Mark Nestor of Miami recommended a water based spray to provide moisture. In addition to water, the spray should contain glycerin and natural moisturizing factors such as hyaluronic acid. Plain water sprays would actually increase dryness but the glycerin and hyaluronic acid would help the skin … Continue Reading… →
Each time I do a post on skin lightening and mention hydroquinone, I get a flurry of concerned emails warning me against using it. Often they point out that hydroquinone can cause cancer and was banned in Europe. Yet the usually quick to pull the recall trigger FDA still permits hydroquinone to be sold here– both in over the counter formulations and in prescription only preparations. I was both confused and worried. Digging into the literature and talking to a few trusted experts, here is the current take on hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone is considered the most effective skin lightenens currently available and is one of the very few on that acts by preventing melanin formation. There are three problems associated with hydroquinone:
1) Tthe British Cancer Journal published a study that linked very high doses of hydroquinine to cancers in mice. A second similar study found similar … Continue Reading… →
This week the host of Fashion Flash is Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over 40. And if there is a time of year when we really need Shawna it’s during the Christmas holidays. Seriously, it seems that every holiday activity has its own high calorie food. We fill up stockings with sweets, tie candy canes on presents and warm up after ice skating with hot chocolate. And then there are goodies in Christmas songs and stories– the plum pudding in A Christmas Carol, the dancing sugarplums in the Nutcracker, and of course there is that runaway gingerbread man. And unfortunately, there are no traditional Christmas exercise and nutrition programs– until now that is. This week Shawna has focused on tips to stay in shape in times when the only non-fattening thing on the table seems to … Continue Reading… →
I recently went to the summer meeting of the Americn Academy of Dermatology in NYC. There were a number of new areas of research on the horizon, but frankly at my age, I am looking for new anti-aging tools I can use right now. And I got just that type of info at presentation on skin of color by Dr Wendy Roberts of Loma Linda University.
Most of Dr Roberts presentation focused on the pros and cons of different types of lightening agensts– all good info that I will be using to answer related questions on an upcoming Question and Answer post. But the BIG IDEA came up when Dr Roberts addressed ways to prevent pigmentation. The audience of mostly female derms shared their concerns that patients were just not using and or not reapplying their sunscreens. Dr Roberts suggested adding … Continue Reading… →
I tend to distrust new guidelines. They are often painfully bureaucratic and tend to makes things less understandable and more expensive–eg food pyramid to food plate But these new FDA sunscreen guidelines make good sense. Whoever came up with these revisions, decided to focus on five important areas:
1. The term “Broad Spectrum”- this means that the sunscreen protects against against both UVA rays ( which cause skin aging) and UV B rays ( which produce tanning)– and both cause skin cancer. Currently there are no guidelines as to what this has to mean for a product. The new guidelines requires thatfor a sunscreen to be broad spectrum it must contain agents that provide protection against both types of rays and to state that degree of protection on the label. So you might see a label that says SPF15 for UVA and 20SPF … Continue Reading… →
I have often mentioned my reservations about retinols vs the more powerful retinoids like Retin A. When applied to the skin, retinols have to convert themselves to a true retinoid before they can be effective. Researchers estimate that a retinol is only 25% as effective as a Retin A. For example, a .1% Retinol ( a very common concentration) is equal to a .025 Retin A– which is actually the mildest Retin A on the market. And then there is the problem that most retinol products don’t say how much of the power stuff they actually contain. You can’t know if a product is to weak to be effective or too strong and irritating.
I stayed away from retinol products until wandering in the exhibit hall of a derm conference, I picked up free samples … Continue Reading… →
The UV wristbands are on their way to all subscribers who emailed me their contact information. They are so easy to use– Apply a dab of your sunscreen to the top of the strip, and watch the colors change. As soon as you go into the sun, the band turns a bright purple. When it fades to a lavender pink, its a signal to put on more sunscreen. When the band is pale, yellowish color, its time to get out of the sun. Children really seem to like it and run to tell me when its time to put on more sun lotion– which is more fun for both of us than running them down and struggling with them to get more suncreen.
The wristbands can be hard to find, but I found a cache at a K-mart near NYU. I still have twenty left, so email me if you want one. And let me know how they worked … Continue Reading… →