Best. Sunscreen. Ever.

Written by: on Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Sunscreen Application

You need to apply—and reapply—sunscreen all over the body…to prevent skin damage.

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is just about the worst thing for your skin (besides smoking). The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are essentially radiation that’s penetrating your skin, right down to the deeper layers. Not only can this mess with your DNA (your genetic mapping that determines how your cells should act)—which can trigger mutations and even skin cancer—it also depletes collagen and elastin in the skin. These are the skin-firming proteins that make skin look more youthful looking. (It’s when collagen and elastin get depleted that skin starts to sag and lose its youthful fullness.) The sun’s UV rays also cause hyperpigmentation (age spots and freckles), rough skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and more.

While not going out in the skin ever is probably the best thing for your skin, it’s just about impossible to do that—particularly if you’ve got kids in swim lessons (outdoors) and in other various activities (like me) that necessitates being out in the sun.

I don’t use chemical sunscreens on my skin or on my kids’ skin. There are just too many questions about the chemicals being absorbed into the skin and showing up in urine. (It begs the question: what could those harmful chemicals be doing to your body—or to a child’s body—over time.)

Enter Raw Elements.

 

Organic, natural sunscreen

When it comes to the beach and the pool and being outdoors, this sunscreen delivers serious protection.

Raw Elements simply makes the best sunscreen. This is a physical, not chemical, sunblock. I swear by this stuff. It’s organic, cruelty-free, non GMO certified, has non nano particles (so nothing penetrates the skin), offers UVA and UVB protection, and not one member of my family has gotten a sunburn yet despite plenty of time spent in the pool (it’s super water resistant) and playing tennis. (I used this last year as well with the same results.) You can find it lots of places online, including amazon.com—where a 3-ounce tube (which lasts about a month or maybe a little less for my entire family) costs $13.74. Another favorite natural skin-care website where I buy this is carenonline (they often have 20% off sales, which brings the prices down).

What’s even better: I can slather this ALL over my kids’ faces … and it never irritates eyes. Have I said how much I love this stuff? (A side note: my 11-year-old son just wants a “spray” sunscreen like all the other kids…and wants me to say he thinks this stuff is too white on the skin. If you rub it in well, this whiteness tones down. But doesn’t bother me—or my younger kids. No chemical sprays in this house!)

Update: I got a call from the Raw Elements people after my post; they suggested that my son try their Raw Elements Eco Tint Stick 30+ tinted sunscreen. I purchased it (see note below) and my son loves this! I have to say I love it too…it’s not white but matches up pretty well to skin tone (it still needs to be rubbed in, though). It’s perfect for the face.

Another Raw Elements fave that I just tried: Eco Formula 30+ Lotion in a recyclable tin (plastic-free packaging); it’s beyond easy to apply and you can use up every last bit. I’m buying some more to finish out the summer (this—and the Eco Tint Stick 30+—will be perfect sunscreens for skiing too!).

(Note: I have bought all these sunscreen products, and have received nothing free—and no discounts—to say I love this stuff!)

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10 Healthy Beauty Products I Swear By!

Written by: on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Natural Beauty

Use natural products, and you’ll feel (and be) healthier—and look gorgeously radiant!

I’m always on the lookout for healthy beauty products—ones that are super effective and don’t contain things like parabens and other chemicals. If they can be cruelty-free too…that’s even better! (Because why do we need to test on animals just so we can look better?!)

So, with that said, here’s a roundup of products that I’ve come across and come to love—and declared the best (for now, at least)!

Natural Shampoo

With ingredients like zinc, sage, and papaya, this shampoo gets your hair clean—and leaves it healthy.

1) BEST SHAMPOO: John Masters Haircare Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner ($20; johnmasters.com). I cannot say enough about this shampoo, which contains 12 certified-organic extracts and oils. I swim a lot and this shampoo, which smells amazing, leaves my hair  shiny and soft (which is not the case with a lot of more natural shampoos). It also doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, or GMOs—or artificial colors, fragrances, or fillers. It’s also not tested on animals.

I love John Masters’ philosophy: “Why use harsh chemicals in shampoos, styling gels, skin moisturizers and soaps? They were created as cheap substitutes for organic compounds that do a better job. It’s better for the body and the earth to simply return to the source: super natural botanicals.” Agree! (Also amazing: the John Masters Citrus & Neroli Detangler ($16);

Alba Botanica Body Wash

Contains botanicals like aloe, calendula, chamomile, and lavender.

your shower smells like a spa when you use it…not to mention your hair is shinier and healthier afterward.)

Also a tip: while I love Whole Foods and shop there all the time, don’t buy these products there. You’ll pay about $7 more per bottle than if you buy it direct from the John Masters’ website.

2) BEST BODY WASH: Alba Botanica Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel in Midnight Tuberose ($7.16; drugstore.com). This is probably the best smelling body wash I’ve ever used (and I’ve tried, and used, a lot!)—and leaves your skin feeling hydrated, not stripped. Plus, it makes you feel good to use it as it  is: 100% vegetarian and has no artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl

Replere Protect & Rejuvenate Day Lotion

Helps even out skin tone, redness, and reduce wrinkles—and is good for all skin types!

sulfate or sodium myreth sulfate. It’s also not tested on animals. And, it’s hypo allergenic and pH balanced—which makes it great for all skin types.

3) BEST DAY LOTION: Replere Protect & Rejuvenate Day Lotion ($90; replere.com). I’m a huge fan of this entire line of antioxidant-rich products, which were created by a dermatologist and osteopath (a doctor that looks at health problems from the inside out) Dr. Debbie Palmer. The products are paraben, fragrance, and dye-free and are not tested on animals. Plus, this lotion (as well as other products in the line like the Repair & Replenish Night Creme) contains some

Skin Authority Oil Nutrient

Just a few drops of this not-so-greasy oil go a long way.

of the highest amount of antioxidants in skin-care products. The main source of these antioxidants: Coffea Arabica, which is essentially the berry of the coffee plant. Bottom line: they work; my skin has never looked better!

4) BEST CUTICLE OIL: SkinAuthority Oil Nutrient for Face, Hair & Nails ($29; skinauthority.com). This blend of avocado, rosehip, grapeseed, and sunflower oils has singlehandedly kept my cuticles from being dry. I rub into my nails every night before bed—and have had really amazing results. I haven’t tried it yet on my face or my hair (it can be used on both to reduce dryness)—but I can only imagine that it would get great results there too! I’ve tried many other SkinAuthority products and all are just as good as this one.

Why I love this company, though: Skin Authority was

EcoTools

Use warm water and a mild cleanser to wash your brushes weekly.

one of the first full-line brands to eliminate parabens, dyes, fragrances, and animal testing, without sacrificing results or shelf life. In 2009, Organic Spa Magazine said, “Skin Authority is one of the companies making strides, both big and small, in the ever changing world of natural and organic beauty.” Now if all big skincare companies can follow suit!

5) BEST MAKEUP BRUSH: EcoTools Bamboo Eye Shadow Brush ($3.99; ecotools.com). I love this soft brush for applying eye makeup. Does it really apply makeup any better than a synthetic brush? Probably not. But it comforts me in a way to know that a brand is good, cruelty-free, and made of natural materials…why I like EcoTools.

6) BEST TOOTHPASTE: Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste, Fluoride Free ($21;

Fluoride Free Whitening Toothpaste

Contains a combination of calcium, phosphates, and magnesium to re-mineralize the tooth enamel.

supersmile.com). I’ve been taking a seriously close look at toothpastes lately—and I haven’t been happy with what I’m finding. 100% natural toothpastes (even the whitening ones) leave my teeth yellow and not feeling so clean. Other toothpastes have dyes, harsh enamel-damaging silica (sometimes called “hydrated silica” on the ingredients label), a completely unnecessary anti-bacterial called triclosan, and something called microbeads. These are tiny plastic balls that give people a sense of a better clean, but actually are ending up in our waterways (after people spit into the sink, it goes down the drain), causing potential damage to fish and other aquatic wildlife. And I know it’s controversial, but I don’t believe in fluoride either…which brings me to Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste.

This is hands down the best toothpaste for getting your teeth clean and white. It not only gets rid of tea stains (I drink a lot of tea!), using it daily also seems to prevent stains. And the best part: it doesn’t contain all the bad stuff: sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, triclosan, microbeads, you name it. Plus, it’s not tested on animals, ever. And now, they’ve just launched fluoride free…which means now they’ve hooked me for life! Seriously, your teeth will thank you for this toothpaste.

Kevin Murphy Sticky Business

Controls frizz and adds shape to damp or freshly dried hair.

7) BEST HAIR STYLER: Kevin.Murphy Sticky.Business Low-Shine Paste ($39.99; amazon.com). I started using this product over a year ago—and I still have plenty left…so it lasts a long time. But I love it because it uses amazing smelling pure essential oils, plant extracts, and antioxidants. Add to that: it’s sulfate and paraben free. This styler gives my hair the little bit of flip that I need to look “done” without a greasy or overdone feel.

ilikeMineralExfoliatingWash

This cleanser works best for oily skin and sensitive skin.

8) BEST FACE WASH: Ilike Mineral Exfoliating Wash ($68; dermstore.com). This is another product that literally seems to last forever. A tiny drop of this cleanser—which contains organic lavender oil, flaxseed oil, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and more good stuff— is all you need to get your skin clean…organically. It helps to balance oiliness and skin discoloration. Tip: when you start using this, do so gradually because of all the active ingredients. I started using once a day, then worked my way up to every day…and now twice a day.

MineralFusionMakeup

Adds natural color to cheeks, lips and eyes (although I don’t use it here).

9) BEST NATURAL MAKEUP: Mineral Fusion (mineralfusion.com). I came across this brand while I was shopping at Whole Foods and they were having a 35% off sale. I bought a few key items—and fell in love. They’re paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, phthalate free, artificial color and fragrance free, and hypo-allergenic. Plus, they’re chockfull of minerals (hence the name!) and are rich in healthy skin antioxidants like vitamins C and E, white tea, and pomegranate. The big question: how do they work—and how do they look? They go on nicely (I’m particularly loving the Sheer Moisture Lip Tint in Smolder and the 3-in-1 Color Stick in Rosette)—and they look incredibly natural when on. The prices are reasonable, averaging about $18 per product, depending on what you get. But I’m definitely going to buy more when this stuff runs out—sale or not!

Naturopathica Alpine Arnica Bath & Body Oil

This oil is good for any skin type and contains arnica, an anti-inflammatory botanical that helps treat bruises and muscle pain.

10) BEST BODY OIL: Naturopathica Alpine Arnica Bath & Body Oil ($32; naturopathica.com). I love, love, love this oil—which blends arnica for muscle soreness (something that’s needed after a week of tough workouts) with an herbal blend of rosemary, basil, and bay laurel (which are said to help warm skin and increase circulation). Grapeseed, sunflower, and apricot oil are rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids. I use this after showering (I mix with a moisturizer if my skin is feeling very dry…as after swimming)—and before bed to help me relax. I even use it sometimes to give my kids an after-bath massage to help them sleep better!

Hope that these tried-and-tested reviews help you pick the right healthy beauty product for you! And if you’ve found a natural, cruelty-free product you love, please share!

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Beauty Products Olympic Athletes Swear By

Written by: on Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Elana Meyers

Elana is the driver of TeamUSA’s bobsled.

What do athletes know about beauty, you might ask? Plenty. These women have trained their butts off to be the best in their respective sports—and know that they have to look good for the cameras too (particularly if they’re planning on being up on the dais to win a medal!). Here’s what some of these top athletes swear by:

Elana Meyers: This 29-year-old TeamUSA Bobsled and Skeleton athlete swears by Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter. No wonder! This product—which contains no parabens, no

ErinHamlin

Erin’s philosophy is “Everything in moderation.”

petroleum, no mineral oil, and no artificial colors—uses all-natural beeswax, jojoba oil, and cocoa and shea butters to add moisture back into hair and natural shine. ($17; carolsdaughter.com)

Erin Hamlin: The luge terrifies me (imagine blasting down an icy track with this tiny sled!), but for this 27-year-old athlete it’s just part of her everyday training. Hamlin will be competing for the Gold Medal wearing Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara—which pumps up the volume of your lashes up to 24 hours and doesn’t smudge (particularly the

Jazmine Fenlator

Jazmine grew up in Wayne, New Jersey…not too far from where I live now!

waterproof version), key for winter sports! Plus, it conveniently comes in a cool gold called Black Gold. ($8.99; ulta.com)

Jazmine Fenlator: Jazmine is a 28-year-old USA Bobsled champ who relies on Tweezerman tweezers for shaping up her gorgeous brows. I love Tweezerman too (the Ultra Precision Slant tweezers) as they’re super-precise (and can grab the tiniest of hairs) and they pretty much last forever! ($35; tweezerman.com)

Devin Logan: This 20-year old U.S. Ski and

DevinLogan

Devin began skiing at age 2…no wonder she’s tops in her sport!

Snowboard champ will be celebrating her 21st birthday at the Games on Feb. 17—and chances are, she’ll be wearing her favorite MAC Lustreglass lip “gloss” (in Venetian) when she does. This lip product offers incredible shine—and color. ($15; mac.com)

Ashley Wagner: This 22-year-old figure skating star won’t skate without Smashbox Mascara. While she didn’t share with me exactly which of the Smashbox mascaras she

AshleyWagner

Ashley stays fit running on the beach…when she’s not on the ice.

wears, I’m guessing it’s their latest: Smashbox Photo Op Eye Brightening Mascara…just what she needs for a medal photo op! ($20; smashbox.com)

Hannah Kearney: Anyone who can ski like this 27-year-old athlete does, deserves a medal in my book! With all the time Hannah spends on the snow—in the sun—she’s sure to protect her skin with Olay Complete Daily Defense All Day Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 30. (The sun’s rays reflect off snow and ice,

HannahKearney

You can find Hannah hiking and biking in the off season to stay fit.

magnifying their damaging effects.) ($14.99; olay.com)

Noelle Pikus-Pace: Last but not least…Noelle. I love this skeleton athlete because she’s older than the other athletes I talked to (she’s 31), is a mom of two kids (a daughter Lacee, 6, and a son Trayeen, 2), and slides face down on a teeny tiny sled at terrifying speeds. How she juggles it all is another question I have to ask her (when she’s a little less busy!), but the one answer I did get from her now: how does she keep her skin looking so flawless. The answer: L’Oréal Revitalift, an anti-

Noelle Pikus Pace

“My kids are my top priority. They’re by my side as I train. I’ll work out for three hours, then change a diaper,” Noelle has said.

wrinkle, firming cream that gets serious results. ($21.24; ulta.com)

I also got the beauty faves of some athletes who didn’t make the final cut to Sochi: skier Lindsey Vonn loves Ralph Lauren’s Romance perfume; bobsledder Katie Eberling swears by Goody hair ties to keep her hair back (one of my faves too as they don’t damage hair); and skater Christina Gao never leaves home without Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (another favorite of mine as they’re 100% natural).

For a full run-down of schedules, athlete videos, Olympic protocols, and much more, go to TeamUSA.org and NBCOlympics.com. And while the opening ceremony takes place on Friday (Feb. 7), you can actually start watching the first competitions tomorrow on the 6th! Can’t wait to see these girls give all they’ve got!

 

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3 Skin-Care Products I Swear By (and Why I Love Them)

Written by: on Monday, November 18th, 2013
BeautifulFacialSkin

Skip harsh, drying toners with alcohol during the fall and winter months.

 

It’s that time of the year: when the weather gets cooler and my skin gets duller and drier. And it got me thinking: I wish I could hire a personal trainer for my skin like I can for my body. Then I could find out exactly how to switch up my skincare by the season—and ask all sorts of little nagging questions like why I always seem to get tiny blackheads around my nose.

I’ve got a dermatologist (a great one at that), but with my out-of-pocket costs rising, I have to save up my visits up for when

Woman'sNeck

I use the SkinAuthority products on my face, as well as on my neck and upper chest—also where you see the signs of aging.

I really need it (like my twice-yearly mole checks).

But then I found out about the free skin coaching at SkinAuthority, a skin-care line that has zero parabens, dyes, fragrances,

and does not test on animals (just a few reasons that I’ve fallen in love with the line; see my earlier post on the importance of vitamin D, which mentions their great vitamin D product). Sure, these skin-care experts—available to you 24/7—are hoping to get you to buy products, but there’s something different about getting skin-care advice from a trained skin aesthetician than from a department store beauty salesperson or from no one at all (as is the case in a drugstore beauty aisle).

SkinAuthority'sCelesteHilling

Celeste Hilling, CEO and founder of SkinAuthority

I got a chance to speak with Celeste Hilling, founder and CEO of SkinAuthority, about skin care and the brand—and here’s what she had to say: “We’re about education,” says Hilling. “The average phone call with consumers is 30 minutes, but at the end of the day, you make the choice about what’s right for you.” But skin coaches aren’t just on the phone; Skyping is one of the most common ways to speak with the skin coaches. “Last year, we did half a million Skype sessions,” says Hilling, adding that: “People want to show us their skin.”

SkinAuthorityCleanser

Contains glycolic acid and sugar-cane derived exfoliators to remove dead skin cells—and blackheads!

Here are the products that were recommended* for my skin—and that I’ve been loving:

SkinAuthority Exfoliating Cleanser: I used to have tiny (barely visible, except to my eye) little blackheads around my nose and on my chin. Just one week of using this cleanser and every single one is gone. My skin is smoother and more radiant. No joke. This cleanser is like a pore-extracting facial without the painful pore extractions. What I also love: the scent or lack of it. This smell of this product is just … clean. ($42; skinauthority.com)

SkinAuthority Super C Serum: I’m a big believer in what antioxidants can do for the skin (they can reduce the signs of aging, even out

SkinAuthorityVitaminCSerum

You need to use this within 4 months of opening for maximum benefit (not hard, since it’s so great!).

skin tone, and make skin brighter and more radiant), so when I tried this product, I was already a believer. But I loved the fact that this product was literally absorbed right into the skin—with no greasy feel (a must when you’re wearing under sunscreen to help boost UV protection). What I also love: the dropper comes with measurements on it so you know exactly how much to use—and don’t use too much, as I’ve always done in the past. ($99…pricey, but it lasts several months; skinauthority.com).

SkinAuthority Age Defying Moisturizer: Even though I’m in my 40s, I still have oily skin, so I’m always looking for a moisturizer that won’t leave a grease slick on

SkinAuthorityMoisturizer

This daily moisturizer is rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

my face. This moisturizer fits the bill—and does much more. It absorbs fast—and leaves skin feeling soft and supple, sans the grease. I also love that it has an SPF of 18. ($60.50; skinauthority.com)

So you’re probably thinking: if these products are so good, why haven’t I heard about them before. SkinAuthority doesn’t spend money on advertising; it’s all word of mouth and posts by people like me who have fallen in love with their products. Kerri Walsh Jennings, who has been a SkinAuthority consumer for years, just became the face of SkinAuthority….so you’ll be seeing her around more too! (Turns out Kerri—like me—loves the Super C serum, too!)

OlympicVolleyballPlayerKerriWalsh

Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings is the new face of SkinAuthority. Love that they chose an athlete to be the face of their brand!

Bottom line: these are great products—and you get access to a skin-care expert to ask (and show, via Skype) all those little nagging problems—from blackheads and breakouts to rough skin and wrinkles—you’ve been dying to ask someone. You’ll definitely get results, whether you use one product or completely overall your regime and use only SkinAuthority products.

* SkinAuthority sent these products to me; I did not pay for them, but I also do not endorse any products that I don’t like. And I’ll be paying full price for my refills, as I’m just about out!

 

 

 

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Makeup That Gives Back (and Gives You a Gorgeous Glow!)

Written by: on Friday, September 13th, 2013
Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Compact

Comes with a bronzer, two natural cheek colors, and two highlighters.

Ever since I left my position as a full-time editor in chief, I go sans makeup…most days. When I have a meeting or I’m headed out for the evening, I apply makeup. But I’ve been looking for everyday products that are easy to apply (read: take very little time in the morning—since I don’t have much time with three young kids heading off to school) and give great results as the no-makeup look is getting a bit, well, dull.

Then I found this Laura Mercier product at my local Bluemercury—and I fell in love. What first caught my eye: 100% of the profits from the sale of this $48 product go to ovarian cancer research. (September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month…a time to celebrate the strong women who are fighting this disease and help—in any small way possible—in the fight against a disease that 22,000 new women are diagnosed with each year.)

And what’s more: this Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks compact truly works. It’s super lightweight—and goes on sheer (layer it for more color). Makeup artist Laura Mercier says it results in “skin [that] has a natural ‘no-makeup’ glow that looks soft and sun-kissed”…very true! Plus, it includes super-helpful, step-by-step how-to-wear-it instructions.

My recommendation: this is the best $48 in makeup you’ll ever spend. And the fact that your money is going toward such an important cause makes your purchase all that more worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

 

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Madonna’s Little-Known Skin Secret

Written by: on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Madonna with glowing skin

Madonna's 54, but you wouldn't guess it from her skin!

Madonna is 54 and has pretty darn great skin, despite the fact that this material mom of four is currently on a grueling world tour. (I definitely want skin like this when I’m 54!) What’s her secret? We tracked down Madonna’s personal facialist Michelle Peck—recently back from Bora Bora. And while Peck wouldn’t reveal exactly what she does daily to the singer’s complexion (“that’s proprietary,” she told me), I did get Peck to admit that she uses oxygen at the end of each treatment. Why oxygen? “We’re all running around every day and our skin lacks oxygen,” says Peck. “Using oxygen on the skin gives it a healthy glow.” Because in essence, says Peck, when you give skin a little bit of oxygen, it is healthier.

“When we’re on tour, the schedule is grueling,” Peck explains. “We’re in and out of planes, we’re going from 90-degree weather to 30-degree weather, there’s a lack of sleep. My job is to help keep Madonna glowing and looking healthy.” A stressful task for anyone!

Intraceuticals Daily Serum with oxygen

Your skin will drink in this oxygen-based serum!

“I use hyperbaric pressure to get oxygen serums to the inner layers of the skin,” says Peck. “It visibly plumps the skin, starting with the first treatment, and the effect can last four to seven days. I use one on Madonna before every single show and before events like the Oscars.” Which oxygen serums are best? The Rejuvenate Daily Serum by Intraceuticals, along with the brand-new Boosters, targeted treatments that help target your skin problems ($149 for the serum, $49 for each booster; intraceuticals.com/us). “I use the Collagen Booster on Madonna,” says Peck. “That’s my favorite.”

But as we dug a little bit more, we realized that Peck’s ability to keep clients like Madonna glowing go deeper than just the skin. Peck regularly doles out healthy-living advice during her two-hour sessions with her clients. (This may be why some clients tell her she doesn’t just “do faces”, she “takes care of their souls, too”):

1)   Find quiet time, every day. “Develop a practice that works for you, that works for your schedule,” says Peck. “If that’s meditation or yoga, that’s great. Whatever it is, you need to do it daily. “I like transcendental meditation,” she says, “because I can do it anywhere, including on the plane between tour stops, and it doesn’t involve chanting.”

2)   Stay away from sugar. So many studies have shown that it’s just plain bad for you, for your immune system, for your skin, says Peck. A little around that time of the month is fine, but other than that, you—and your skin—will be better off without it.

3)   Feed your skin. “It’s true that you are what you eat,” says Peck, who recommends that her clients to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, and non-genetically modified food. “Don’t live to eat. Eat to live.”

4)   Get at least 8 hours of sleep, no exceptions. “Your body really needs that rest for your cells to rejuvenate,” explains Peck, who stresses: “It’s so important. No matter what, I sleep 8 hours a night.”

5)   Sleep on a silk pillowcase. Toss the cotton, no matter the thread count, and start sleeping on silk. It’s better for your skin—creating fewer wrinkles on your face, particularly if you’re a stomach sleeper. “My grandmother taught me this, and it works,” says Peck, who adds that it’s also good for the hair.

Madonna's facialist Michelle Peck

You won't ever see Michelle Peck with a tan—or a sunburn!

6)   Avoid the sun. “I just got back from Bora Bora, and I’m still white as a ghost,” says Peck, who encourages all her private clients (including Madonna) to stay out of the sun.

7)   Take care of your mental health. “Find ‘me’ time that includes fulfillment and purposefulness,” says Peck, who adds that this is particularly important for women. “Women are the spiritual centers of the universe.” Peck loves reading as one way to support mental health; books she’s reading now include: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, and The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, M.D.

“If you’re not taking care of your inside,” says Peck, “you’re just wasting your time and money on treatments.” With holistically minded advice like this at her beck-and-call, maybe this is the real reason Madonna glows—from the inside out.

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Vitamin D: Are you getting enough of this key nutrient?

Written by: on Friday, March 15th, 2013
woman sitting in the sun

Sitting in the sun helps your body get enough vitamin D, but save your skin—and opt to get your D other ways.

Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods—including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks—and in fortified dairy and grain products. It’s hard, though, to get enough vitamin D through food alone—unless you want to take a tablespoon of cod liver oil every day (it has 1,360 IU of D per tablespoon)! Ummm…no thanks!

But, according to The Mayo Clinic, the major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones—why getting enough calcium is only half of the strong bones equation. But preliminary research also indicates the importance of vitamin D for overall health and wellbeing:

1) It contributes to a healthy heart A recent analysis of research, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, found that there’s a link between low vitamin D levels and “stroke, myocardial infarction, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and heart failure.” Enough reason for me to supplement with D…but if you need more proof, read on.

2) It may lower your risk of cancer Research suggests that vitamin D has an anti-cancer benefit. It may stop the growth and progression of cancer cells and may be beneficial during cancer treatment, too. One study, from the University of San Diego School of Medicine, has also found that higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with an overall reduced risk of cancer.

3) It plays a critical role in youthful skin One study in the journal Dermo-Endocrinology found that vitamin D seems to help regulate aging in many tissues, including the skin. Plus, researchers determined that “laboratory investigations have now convincingly shown that vitamin D compounds protect the skin against the hazardous effects of … ultraviolet (UV) radiation.”

milk in glass

Most milk is fortified with vitamin D3; check the label of yours to be sure.

4) It may help with hormonal problems Vitamin D influences the functions of hormones in body, including insulin, serotonin, and estrogen—hormones involved with health conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.

5) It’s key for healthy iron levels in the blood One study—conducted by Gangnam Severance Hospital and Yonsei University College of Medicine, both in Seoul, Korea—found that vitamin-D-deficient Korean women had a higher risk of anemia.

6) A deficiency of D may contribute to obesity Some research shows that a vitamin D deficiency can interfere with the “fullness” hormone leptin, which signals the brain that you’re full and should stop eating.

7) It may help control inflammation Vitamin D may help control the inflammation involved with periodontal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.

Also, some research suggests that vitamin D may help strengthen the immune system—why I’m sure to take vitamin D during the cold and flu season or when I feel that I might be coming down with something. It’s also critical for breastfeeding moms: A recent review of studies, published in the Journal of Human Lactation, found that “Maternal vitamin D insufficiency during lactation, related to lack of sun exposure and minimal intake of vitamin D from the diet, contributes to low breast milk vitamin D content and, therefore, infant vitamin D deficiency.”

vitamin D supplements

If you’re going to supplement, be sure you’re taking vitamin D3 not vitamin D2.

How do you get enough vitamin D?

Well, being in sunlight is the best way to get enough vitamin D. The sun’s energy turns a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then to your kidneys to transform it to active vitamin D. But no one should sit unprotected in the sun because doing so speeds up premature aging of the skin and can cause skin cancer.

The next best option is to eat plenty of foods with vitamin D, including mushrooms, salmon, eggs, and fortified milk. But most experts agree that it’s hard to get enough D from food alone. (For adults under age 50, the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation [NOF] recommends 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D and 800 to 1,000 IU for adults age 50 and older. And for children, it’s generally recommended that infants and children get 400 to 600 IU daily.)

So the next step is usually to take a supplement.  Most multivitamins contain vitamin D—but you can also take a separate D supplement particularly if you’re deficient, as I am (in which case, your doctor may recommend you take a much higher dosage of D than what’s recommended by the NOF to bring up your levels). But this is key: Opt for vitamin D3 over D2, because research shows that D3 is 87 percent more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations. (If you’re vegan, though, know that most vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol comes from animal sources, but vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol comes from plant sources.)

An important note: you can take vitamin D supplements with or without food. While your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, you do not need to take vitamin D at the same time as a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D for the Skin

Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin D Oil

This serum helps improve skin elasticity and hydration—and minimizes the appearance of pores.

Because we know that vitamin D is so important for the skin (see point #3, above), you definitely want to be using a D serum on your skin. One of my favorites is created by Manhattan board-certified dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D.: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Active Vitamin D Serum ($65; dgskincare.com).

So be sure to get enough vitamin D daily. It’s a simple, easy way to do your body—and your health—a huge favor.

 

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The Best—and Worst—Cities for Your Skin

Written by: on Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Woman with beautiful skin

Want beautiful, healthy skin? The environment you live in plays a role.

You diligently take care of your skin morning and night…but it may not be enough if you live in one of the 10 cities ranked the “worst” for your skin by the website, dailyglow.com (below).

 

daily glow's best-worst-cities-for-skinBut rather than getting depressed about where you live, or packing up and heading to a “healthier” city, follow these tips to keep your complexion healthy—no matter what zip code you call home.

1. Examine your moles…regularly. Skin cancer rates were used by dailyglow to rate cities. The best way to prevent skin cancer (which is the most preventable cancer when caught early) is to know your ABCDs:

A (Asymmetry): One half of your mole is unlike the other half

B (Border): Your mole has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border

C (Color): Your mole is varied in color from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown, or black, or is sometimes white, red, or even bluish

D (Diameter): Your mole has a diameter greater than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser).

If your mole has one of these characteristics, book a visit with your dermatologist asap…which brings me to the next point.

 2. Find a good dermatologist—and keep him/her on speed dial. The number of dermatologists per capita was another of the criteria used by dailyglow to rate cities. If you need to locate a good derm in your area, click on aad.org/find-a-derm/. You should see your dermatologist for mole checks every six months (if you’re at high risk) or 12 months (if you’re at lower risk). Dermatologists can also diagnose and treat other conditions to keep your skin at its healthy best.
3. Eat a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein (like legumes, chicken, and fish), omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, chia and flaxseeds, and walnuts…to name just a few foods), and plenty of water will keep your body—and your skin—healthy, no matter where you live. A poor diet that’s devoid of key vitamins and minerals (think: fast food, fried foods, processed foods, and soda) will result in pale, lackluster skin (and hair).

 

4. Make antioxidants part of your daily life. Dailyglow rated cities partly based on the amount of pollution. Car exhaust, factory pollution, pesticides, and other environmental pollutants are one of the top sources of free radicals, unstable molecules that can change the function and structure of cells (including skin cells) in the body. Experts believe that, unchecked, free radicals in the body can trigger premature aging of the skin, as well as many diseases, including cancer.

Antioxidants are the body’s main defense against free radicals. You should be eating them (they’re found in brightly colored fruits and veggies) and slathering them on your skin (I’m a huge fan of the antioxidant line, Replere, created by dermatologist Dr. Debbie Palmer; each of the products in this line has one of the highest documented amounts of antioxidants of any skin-care products.)

5. Always apply sunscreen when you’re headed outdoors. Even incidental sun exposure (e.g. when you’re walking to/from your car) can trigger premature aging—and skin cancer. That’s why I like to use a body moisturizer with SPF every day. (Aveeno and Lubriderm make good ones.) Also, important to note: most car side windows protect you from UVB rays but not UVA rays (the kind that cause premature aging and skin cancer). That means you’ll need to apply that SPF moisturizer before road trips too.

The bottom line: even if your city is ranked one of the best, you’ve still got to take the necessary steps to care of your skin every day!

 

 

 

 

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These Skincare Products Work! Chance to Win!

Written by: on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Replere skin-care products created by Dr. Debbie Palmer

I use these products religiously!

Sure, you already know to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin from aging UVA rays and burning UVB rays (and if you don’t, you need to start today!). But what you may not know is that you also need antioxidants to protect your skin. UV rays create something called free radicals in the body (and the skin) that can trigger premature aging—and may even contribute to cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals. We get antioxidants through fruits and vegetables (and even our vitamins), but applying directly to the skin can help, too.

And that’s why I love these Replere skin-care products (replere.com) created by a mom and dermatologist, Dr. Debbie Palmer. They contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidants in skin-care products—and I trust them because I trust Dr. Palmer. I’ve noticed that my skin has never looked better so far this summer: it’s clear, radiant, and looks healthy.

Don’t expect any fluffy, sweet-smelling creams with these products; they’re meant to be medicinal and repair your skin. They’re brown in color and a bit tacky in feel, but they absorb quickly and get the job done.

And I slather them on my eight-year-old son’s skin at night; he’s gotten a little too much sun lately being outdoors all day (even with sunscreen on), so I feel confident when I put these products on his skin before he goes to sleep. (They’re paraben-, fragrance-, and dye-free.)

Replere Deep Clean & Clarify Face Wash created by Dr. Debbie Palmer

You can win this foaming face wash if you vote now!

If you’re willing to take a shot at these products, go to this link by tomorrow (Friday, June 29)  http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/app.html/params.file.|sprouts|sprouts,html and vote for the Replere Deep Clean & Clarify face wash (it’s a super exfoliating face wash); the first 5 people to do this and e-mail me to valerie@valerielatona.com will win the face wash (be sure to send me your address). Dr. Palmer is trying to have her products featured on QVC and I want to help her spread the word about these amazing products!

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Tired of clumpy mascaras that run? Try this…

Written by: on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
Givency Phenomen'Eyes Mascara

Truly, one of the best (if not THE best) mascara around!

Sometimes, all you need is a little eye cream, tinted face moisturizer, and a bit of mascara to look fresh (no need for a full face of makeup!). That’s my philosophy. And I have to say, when it comes to mascaras, I’ve become a bit of a snob: I hate mascaras that run with a blink of the eye or that make your lashes all clumped together (I’m missing quite a few lashes after years of trying to comb out these clumps). So when I discovered Givenchy’s Phenomen’Eyes Mascara (available in waterproof—perfect for sporty types—and regular), I was hooked.

It has a “weird” round brush that is like no other—and that’s the reason it’s so amazing. I can’t explain why, but using this brush gives your lashes length and color, particularly in the hard-to-reach corners, with zero clumps. I recently ran out and tried a different brand mascara with the long, straight wand—and, after a few weeks of using it, had to click on to sephora.com to buy my Givenchy.

When using it, be sure to gently apply to lashes or the ball brush will hit your upper lash lid, leaving a big black or brown smudge.

The only downsides are the price: $29.50 and that fact that the ingredients are anything but natural (I have to admit, I’m disappointed by the quality of the natural mascaras on the market today), but I’m telling you this one is worth it—and it lasts for months. (Available in both black and brown.) Try it; you’ll love it!

(And under full disclosure [so important with any reviews you read on the Web], know that I was not given any free products to write this review—or asked to do it by anyone. I just wanted to share one of my beauty faves!)

 

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