Monday, June 14, 2010

New study shows that botox can cause reverse wrinkling - how to decrease forehead wrinkles without injections

Remember when your mother said, “make a face and it will freeze like that.” As it turns out she was right, sort of. Repetitive frowning, squinting, and furrowing of the brow cause the muscles in the forehead, particularly the corrugator muscles, to lose their elastic bounce-back quality, which results in deeply set wrinkles, the dreaded number 11’s.

The furrowed brow can be reversed or helped to relax with exercise, diligence and patience. Very different than injecting Botulinum toxin into the site in order to paralyze the muscle, we’re going to be using the muscle in a more conscious way. A recent study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology by Dr. David S. Becker, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, shows when the muscle is paralyzed in this way, the surrounding muscles will pitch in and take over some of the work. New lines and wrinkles can form from the repetitive use of these secondary muscles.

Because this is a muscle control issue, we’ll need to locate the muscle so we can begin to give it a workout. First of all, you’ll need to do some investigation into how your forehead got to this point. Do you have a habit of squinting? If so, maybe you need to wear better glasses or sunglasses. Do you draw your brows into a quizzical face in order to show people that you are being attentive? If so, try to catch yourself creating that face and choose another expression or bodily action to show your interest. By now, you get the idea. Find out what you do repetitively in the brow area and become more aware of it.

The exercises are pretty simple. Begin by smoothing the brow from the center to the temples by making long, slow strokes with your 4 fingers held together. Focus on separating the number 11 wrinkle. This will help to relax the area. If you’d like, you can use a few drops of lavender essential oil on your hands to further the effect.

It’s time to step in front of a mirror and place a curled index finger over each of the lines and right against your eyebrow. You will now make a frown in order to feel the grip of the muscle against your finger. Then stop the frown and feel the muscle as it relaxes. This is the most important part of the exercise. The muscle has to become strong and resilient enough to bounce back to its original position. If you have frown lines, it probably has lost some resiliency. Don’t worry. Keep practicing.

With your fingers in the same curled position, slowly tense and release the muscle ten times. See if you can feel the release of the muscle as strongly as you feel the tensing. Draw the brows in together and draw them apart. You can use your fingers to help pull the brows apart at first, then try to let the muscle perform the task on its own. Pause and repeat this set 2 more times, for a total of 30 pulses. Then tense the muscle as slowly as possible drawing the brows together and just as slowly draw them apart. This will be a little more difficult than the first part of the exercise. Keep trying. It’s worth it.

Experiment with one side, with just one finger against the brow. Then switch to the other side. If one of your creases is deeper than the other, you will probably notice a significant difference in the perceived strength of the muscles. This can be done any time that you have one hand free – remember to practice the exercise often throughout the day. You are retraining your muscles. Repetition got you into this and repetition will get you out of it as well.

Here is another nice way to relax the brow. Get a round or egg shape polished stone about the size of a ping pong ball or use the rounded end of a quartz massage wand. Massage the area between the brows slowly with this cool stone (E) or piece of quartz. You can use any gem or stone, as long as it is smooth and polished. The heaviness of the stone helps to iron out the wrinkle and the coolness can be very relaxing. Refrigerate it beforehand for even more cooling effect.

Now you can finish up by putting a good quality anti-wrinkle serum into the newly relaxed creases for even more wrinkle reduction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Best sunscreen tips - SPF, UVA, UVB, sunscreen and sunblock ingredients explained

The summer season is upon us, it’s time to slather on the sunscreen. In climates like NJ, the UV index and chance of getting burned are often extremely high, even on cloudy, overcast days. (Note to gadget heads: check out UV Monkey.) Many skin care experts are now recommending using a lower SPF (sun protection factor) product and applying it more frequently. Some premium skin care lines do not even offer sun protection products above 30 SPF. Let’s take a look at sunscreens and sunblocks to determine what is best to keep your face looking its youngest and freshest.

SPF refers to the amount of UVB (ultra-violet burning rays) protection a product has. Many people assume that the higher the number, the better. That’s not necessarily true. A product with an SPF of 15 will allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you would without sunscreen without getting burned. In products with SPF 30, you could stay in the sun 30 times longer.

When the time factor is removed, the difference in the actual amount of protection between SPF 15 and 30 is a lot less significant. According to the Mayo Clinic, an SPF of 15 filters out about 93 percent of UVB, while an SPF of 30 filters about 97 percent of UVB rays.

UVA (tanning) rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. To protect from UVA as well as UVB, seeking out products that have the words “multi spectrum”, “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on the label is a good start. Projections on indicate, “To date, no criteria exist in the U.S. for measuring and labeling the amount of UVA defense a sunscreen provides. However, the FDA plans to introduce UVA standards within the next few years.” In the meantime, some combination of UVA-protective ingredients, such as avobenzone (Parsol 1789), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide is recommended.

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are known as “sunblocks” or physical/inorganic sunscreens. These ingredients work by reflecting, blocking or scattering the sun’s rays away from the skin. They are also less likely to cause allergic reactions and irritation than the chemical/organic ingredients like Parsol 1789 and oxybenzone. These chemical sunscreen ingredients work by forming a thin, protective film and absorbing UV radiation before it penetrates the skin.

When it comes to sunscreens for the face, be particularly vigilant about using products that work with your skin type. If you have oily, blackhead prone skin, stay away from known comedogenic (pore clogging) ingredients like lanolin, isopropyl myristate and coal tar derived D&C red dyes. For all skin types, it’s best to use sunscreens that are specially made for the face, or are from a good skin care line.

Do not rely solely on the SPF in your regular daily moisturizer for UV protection. Many skin care professionals feel that clients typically do not use enough moisturizer to be beneficial for adequate sun protection. Plus, they do not usually reapply their moisturizer throughout the day. For this reason, a layering approach is recommended. Use a daily moisturizer with a SPF, a full spectrum SPF 15 – 30 sunscreen, and top it off with mineral makeup or other makeup with additional SPF.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Water and the skin - tips for maximizing hydration levels

Most people show some signs of dehydration in the skin, lacking water or moisture. You can have any skin type: dry (less oil), oily, or combination, and still be dehydrated. All “moisturizers” are not necessarily moisturizing. This is a misnomer, since moisturizing means hydrating or adding water. Water is good for the skin, which is made up of about 70% water. Proper amount of water intake is necessary for all bodily systems, including the skin, to flourish.

To see if you’re drinking enough water, here’s an easy calculation: divide your weight in half (pounds), drink half as many ounces – for example, if you weigh 100lbs., drink a minimum of 50 ounces. Add more when you exercise. Drink one additional glass of water for each drink containing caffeine and for every alcoholic beverage, including a glass of wine.

*If you have any kidney or adrenal problems, or your doctor has you taking diuretics, you'll need to consult with your doctor about how much water to drink each day, as these are special circumstances.

*Don't drink all of the water you need per day all at once. Instead, divide the amount you need and drink several glasses of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you engage in lots of heavy exercise, which depletes water. If you have trouble drinking all that water, try adding some naturally sweet fruit juice. I have heard that the sugars make the water closer to the composition of glucose. This may make the water more available for use in the body, instead of just flushing it out. Also, authorities are now saying that non-caffeinated or herbal teas may be counted in your water uptake.

Use a humidifier in the home or office, especially with indoor heat in winter. Apply your skin care products in this way: use water before oil. After cleansing and toning, leave the face slightly moist before applying cream or lotion. The occlusive quality of the lotion or cream will help seal moisture in the skin.

Products containing humectants like functional honey, glycerin, sorbitol, urea and propylene glycol can help draw moisture to the outer layers of the skin - this works two ways. In climates where humidity is less than 70%, the humectant draws the water from the deeper layers of the skin (dermal) towards the outer layers (epidermal) - this is why it is important to have enough water available in the body for the skin to replenish itself. In climates where humidity is greater than 70%, the humectant draws water from the atmosphere towards the outer epidermal layer of skin.

Look for topical products, such as serums and gels, containing a high concentration of hyaluronic acid (an essential lubricating component of cells) or hyaluranon or sodium hyaluronate. These are great for hydrating the skin and are typically used after cleansing, toning and before applying heavier creams. I have been using SkinCeuticals in work and I really like the results I am seeing with Hydrating B5 gel.

Hyaluronic acid may also be taken internally as a nutriceutical supplement. I like the NSI brand which also contains Type II Collagen. (see my post on photorejuvenation for more on collagen.) You can pick it up at

In short, for best results, hydrate your skin from the inside out and the outside in. Take in enough water, use products that increase the water available to the skin, and use supplements which help the body replenish where needed.

Photorejuvenation with LED light, a non-invasive and effective treatment for anti-aging, acne or rosacea

LED light therapy treatments are rapidly becoming recognized by skin care specialists as one of the safest, fastest, and most affordable ways to achieve younger, more radiant looking skin. LED light therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light to create an anti-aging effect on the skin. Other wavelength combinations are used to control bacteria, which can cause acne breakouts, and still others are used to help minimize rosacea.

The therapeutic benefits of using LED light were discovered by skin cancer researchers. These researchers noted a marked improvement in the look of the skin that was treated with the light and the anti-aging application for LED lights was born. Unlike injectable fillers, plastic surgery and dermal peels, LED light therapy is a non-invasive treatment and safe for all skin types. In use by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, LED lights are prescribed to speed healing from surgery and other more invasive procedures.

Many hand held devices are currently on the market with various levels of effectiveness. For maximum benefit, look for a device that does just one job (anti-aging, acne, rosacea). Skip the units that combine several treatments in one hand-held unit. Choose a device that works on electricity instead of batteries. You should expect to pay upwards of $300 for a good quality unit. Above is a before (December 2009) and after (May 2010) photo of one of my clients, who is using a LightStim anti-acne light.

The action of the light can be compared to photosynthesis in plants, whereas light stimulates growth. Anti-aging lights work by stimulating the cells that produce collagen to produce more of it. Collagen is an important component of the body and a major player in creating the lusciously plump, firm and toned skin of youth. It is estimated that after the age of 30 we loose roughly 1% of collagen per year.

According to representatives at LightStim, their anti-aging light is capable of increasing collagen production up to 10X in some extremely lucky people, and in most people between 2 and 4 X. Yes, that's times, not percent! Likewise, if a cell is designated to produce elastin, with LED photorejuvenation therapy, the cell will produce more elastin, which is a major player in the "bounce back" quality of young skin.

To learn more about how the lights work, see articles by Dr. Stanley Stanbridge, co-developer of the LightStim photo rejuvenation device and by Joniann Marchese, of LightStim.