In Defense of Beauty

Use one word to describe any of the following people: Christie Brinkley, Halle Berry, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welsh, or Sophia Loren. The number one answer will always be “beautiful.” This makes us all judges and for this we feel we have the right to also judge how they become or stay beautiful as they age. Everyone has their own sense of how far is acceptable to go to maintain or attain beauty, and, of course, there are those among us who impose their views on others. A friend innocently posted an article on their Facebook page announcing Christie Brinkley’s partnership with  Merz in which Christie discussed certain aesthetic treatments she’d chosen to have, using their products of course.  I wish I could say I was shocked by some of the vicious and woefully uninformed comments that followed. I won’t mention them here, because they are not deserving of repeat, but you can probably guess what they were. It was especially upsetting to see this since I had the pleasure of having worked with Christie early on on her skin care line and found her to be not only stunningly beautiful but also one of the nicest people I’ve met and a great mom to boot! Sure she has great DNA but you don’t get to where she is, especially at her age, without also being smart and working very hard.

Hardest on ourselves vs. others

In some cases, we are hardest on ourselves. In others, we impose our views on those around us, especially celebrities and models. There are a few women who beat the system and are recognized and celebrated for their beauty even as they age. My hope is they will set the tone for the rest of us. One example that comes to mind is Jane Fonda who looks beautiful for any age, and just like herself, even if she’s had the help of some very talented aesthetic physicians along the way. I met her once. Ok, not actually met, but used to see her way back years ago in the late 1970’s at a gym called the Manhattan Cardiac Institute. It was in the time before there was a gym on every corner. You were assigned a trainer and needed a doctor’s note to attend.

I was there because my dad wanted me to lose weight and Jane was probably there because it was the best place in town, known for no-nonsense, intense work outs. Jane was on the mat next to me, stretching and doing our standard 100 sit-up warm ups, and then she went to work with her trainer and I went with mine. I was 17, she was… not. I couldn’t help but notice her workout kicked my workout’s butt! She also took great care of herself over the years and so have most, if not all, of the women you see who look great as they age.

Aging has its challenges

Up to 90% of how your skin ages is from sun exposure and other lifestyle choices  you’ve made over the years. The skin thins, discolors and wrinkles and genetics also kick in and kick out hormones of youth and reproductive potential. Thick flowing hair thins and grays. The brows and corners of the mouth drop and lines and wrinkles settle in. As words on paper, that doesn’t conjure up the ideal image of beauty. To make matters worse, most of us did not win the DNA beauty-queen lottery at birth, but we all have beauty and it’s normal to want to make the most of it and to hang on to what we have. Sadly, it’s sometimes even harder for those very few who did win the genetic beauty-lottery. Many of these women end up being commoditized and unable to see their own beauty because it’s always defined in comparison to others and is eventually in comparison to a younger version of themselves.

Beauty in Aging

Embracing aging does not mean letting your hair go gray or avoiding aesthetic treatments any more than It means letting go of a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise, sleep and sex. There is also no aesthetic treatment that will recreate the beauty of a life fulfilled, but it can enhance and more accurately reflect it.

Beauty and the word “beautiful” change as we age and take on richer meaning as the years add on.

There is no greater beauty than the beauty of a life lived, love had, love and loss, gratitude and inner peace and of a satisfaction that you made it this far and are still here to tell the tale.

For many women, aesthetic treatments help them look as good as they feel, or sometimes as good as they want to feel.  Treatments can help repair the damage of indiscretions from earlier years when the lack of sunscreen and sleep may have seemed like a small price to pay for a good time at the time, but accelerated the aging process and added artificial and distracting layers to aging skin years later. 

Bottom Line: it’s no one’s business what you or anyone else does, or how much you choose to tell or not to tell. You have options – enjoy what you see or turn the page.

5 Foods That Are Better To Put ON Your Body Rather Than IN Your Body

Is Coconut Oil really the best ingredient out there? Read on to learn the answer

Fads come and go, some take social media by storm and seem like they’re here to stay, and fiction becomes fact by virtue of repetition. We see the same information over and over, and somewhere along the way we accept it without questioning the source. Anyone with a following is accepted as a credentialed expert and source. Sometimes there’s some truth to some parts of the story which makes it even more difficult to know how much of that source to trust. You’ll see what I mean as you read my top 5 ingredients I would rather have you apply to your skin than put in your body:

Coconut oil

This is among the newest of the fads to hit the scene. I’ve seen article after article and blog upon blog touting the multitude of benefits to brain, heart, immune system, and every other organ of the body including the skin. I wondered how it was possible that this common ingredient that’s been around forever and which I remember from my childhood as being tasty but my dad telling me it’s full of fat and not entirely healthy for you could somehow be a panacea overlooked for so long. I scoured the medical literature and found it contains medium chain fatty acids, and as with most plants it has antioxidants- all good in helping protect the brain and other organs avoid disease and destruction. But it also contains a good amount of saturated fat which is not good in the quantities that I’ve seen being promoted. For most people a little goes a long way.  The American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement pointing out that 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. Compare that with butter which is 63% saturated fat and beef fat which is low in comparison at 50%. Pork fat looks downright edible at 39%. They are not fans of saturated fat saying it raises the bad LDL cholesterol and increases clogging of the arteries.

So now you know not to put too much of it in your body but how about on your body? That’s another area where it’s been overblown but still has benefits. All that fat makes it an easy DIY hydrator for the hair and body if you need something fast and easy or should you unexpectedly run out of your hair conditioner or body cream. If you use it in your hair, make sure to add shampoo and create a lather before trying to rinse out the coconut oil, or you’ll be left with a greasy heavy mop of hair that will take days to wash out, proving the point that oil and water truly don’t mix. The antioxidants and antibacterial properties also have some benefit against the bacteria that causes acne so if you break out but have dry skin it may be worth a try as spot treatment but be warned that it is occlusive which means it can block pores and that can make acne worse. It may also be allergenic which means you need to watch out for allergic reactions to it. I do like coconut oil as a go to for hydration and the smell works well as a relaxing aromatherapy.

Honey

As a food, it’s sugar. Ok a little better than simple sugar, but still sugar. Having lost 50 lbs myself, part of my success came from teaching myself to enjoy the natural flavors from foods without adding extra sweeteners, including too much honey. It’s amazing how we get used to sugary flavors and how that sabotages our weight and health.

When it comes to honey and the skin, the story has a much sweeter ending. Honey is one of my most favorite ingredients for healing and barrier repair and it’s one of the few times the word natural means something when it comes to skin care ingredients. There are thousands of published studies in the medical literature on the benefits of medical grade honey for use in healing chronic ulcers of the skin in diabetics and in patients who are immunocompromised. It creates a breathable barrier that behaves as a layer of healthy skin would, has antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties and is readily available. I would caution against using it in an area where there are bees or flies as it may also attract them and cause greater problems than what you were trying to treat with the honey!

Three of my favorite uses for honey:

  • Dab on a pimple that has been irritated or picked at. I know you would never do that, so tell a friend.
  • Add to DIY home scrubs and masks to help thicken them while adding skin benefits
  • Apply over a burn with aloe and over the counter cortisone to help reduce pain, inflammation and risk of infection while also speeding up healing and lowering the risk of scarring

Crisco

It may be good cooking oil but otherwise not great for those trying to lose weight or optimize health. It’s one of the old school offers my professors used to tell patients to use for the treatment of dry skin if they had skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Add it to the list of saturated fats good to put on the skin in a pinch if you need hydration, not in the arteries or on the hips.

Coarse Brown Sugar

This is sugar, sugar leads to inflammation, and inflammation ages you. There you have it. Now that you have all this sugar and no plans to eat it, mix it with coconut oil and honey and you have a great scrub!

Salt

A little salt is good, too much leads to dehydration of the skin and body and is not good. That’s why you would die of dehydration if you got stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. If you work out a lot or do hot yoga or hot workouts you may be sweating and peeing out all your natural salt so you may be one of the few who need to add it to the diet, but for the rest of us we get more than enough, I would even say often too much, from the foods we eat so don’t add more. Instead, follow instructions above for coarse brown sugar and make a nice scrub or mask for your skin. Especially good if you have oily skin or large pores.

Bottom Line

For all of these items, each has it’s place and moderation is key. I would not advise putting coconut oil all over the face of oily skin with acne nor would I use a coarse scrub on dry irritated skin. Listen to your skin, pay attention to detail and know that common sense should always rule the day.