Exfoliation

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Exfoliation is the removal of the oldest dead skin cells that cling to the skin’s outermost surface, or epidermis. Exfoliation is an important part of both facials and body treatments. When done correctly, exfoliation leaves the skin feeling smoother and fresher looking. Exfoliation also makes it easier for expensive facial products like serums to pentrate.

There are two forms of exfoliation:
1) Mechanical Exfoliation. The dead skin cells are physically rubbed off with an abrasive. Examples of mechanical exfoliation include a salt glow, a body scrub that might use sugar or coffee grounds, or skin brushing. On the face, scrubs should use small, round, gentle abrasives like jojoba beads. Stay away from something harsh like apricot scrubs, which can cause micro-tears in your skin. A more aggressive and effective approach to mechanical exfoliation is microdermabrasion, which comes in two types – crystal and crystal-free, or diamond-tip.

2) Chemical Exfoliation. Enzymes, alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) or betahydroxy acids (BHAS) loosen the glue-like substance that holds the cells together, allowing them to slough away. Facial peels are a form of chemical exfoliation. Chemical peels can either be very gentle or very aggressive, depending on how the strong the peel is. Body treatments might use mild chemical exfoliants like pineapple enzymes.

The skin is constantly generating new skin cells at the lower layer (the dermis) and sending them to the surface (the epidermis). As the cells rise to the surface they gradually die and become filled with keratin. These keratinized skin cells are essential because they give our skin its protective quality. But they are constantly sloughing off to make way for younger cells.

As we age the process of cell turnover slows down. Cells start to pile up unevenly on the skin’s surface, giving it a dry, rough, dull appearance. Exfoliation is beneficial because it removes those cells that are clinging on, revealing the fresher, younger skin cells below.

It is possible, however, to overexfoliate, especially on the delicate skin of the face. Overexfoliating will dry and irritate the skin.

What You Should Know About Facial Exfoliation:
Be extra careful with the delicate skin of your face.
It’s easy to overexfoliate. Talk to a good esthetician about the product and frequency that is best for your skin. Your should be especially cautious if you have sensitive or aging skin.

Be careful not to overdo microdermabrasion. It can make thin, aging skin even thinner if you get too many treatments too quickly.
Don’t overexfoliate, especially in summer or in very sunny climates. You’re making it easier for your skin to be damaged by the sun.
Never use body scrubs on the face. They’re too rough.
Be very careful with peels. Don’t get one peel and then go somewhere else to ask for another. You can remove too much of your protective layer and end up exposing the living dermis. Again, be careful about going out in the sun afterwards, or doing it in summer.
Never wax if you’ve had a peel recently. It might expose raw, living skin, which will have to scab over to heal.

What You Should Know About Body Exfoliation:
You can use a body scrub once or twice a week with no problem.
Body brushing every morning is a gentle way to exfoliate and wake up!

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Acne Causes

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Three factors contribute to the formation of acne:

Overproduction of oil (sebum)
Irregular shedding of dead skin cells resulting in irritation of the hair follicles of your skin
Buildup of bacteria
Acne occurs when the hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Hair follicles are connected to sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oily substance known as sebum to lubricate your hair and skin. Sebum normally travels up along the hair shafts and then out through the openings of the hair follicles onto the surface of your skin. When your body produces an excess amount of sebum and dead skin cells, the two can build up in the hair follicles and form together as a soft plug, creating an environment where bacteria can thrive.

This plug may cause the follicle wall to bulge and produce a whitehead. Or, the plug may be open to the surface and may darken, causing a blackhead. Pimples are raised red spots with a white center that develop when blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected. Blockages and inflammation that develop deep inside hair follicles produce lumps beneath the surface of your skin called cysts. Other pores in your skin, which are the openings of the sweat glands onto your skin, aren’t normally involved in acne.

Factors that may worsen acne
These factors can trigger or aggravate an existing case of acne:

Hormones. Androgens are hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives can also affect sebum production.
Certain medications. Drugs containing corticosteroids, androgens or lithium are known to cause acne.
Diet. Studies indicate that certain dietary factors, including dairy products and carbohydrate-rich foods — such as bread, bagels and chips, which increase blood sugar — may trigger acne.
Acne myths
Contrary to what some people think, these factors have little effect on acne:

Greasy foods and chocolate have proved to have little to no effect on the development or course of acne.
Dirty skin. Acne isn’t caused by dirt. In fact, scrubbing the skin too hard or cleansing with harsh soaps or chemicals irritates the skin and can make acne worse. Simple cleansing of the skin to remove excess oil and dead skin cells is all that’s required.

Endocrine System & Your Skin

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I’m not an expert by any means, and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I do feel like I have a good grasp of the basics and I can share with you what I’ve learnt and what’s really helped me to clear my hormonal acne….so you too can hopefully do the same

Your Endocrine System

The Endocrine System is a collection of glands that are throughout your body. A gland is a group of cells that produces and secrets chemicals. Your glands select and remove materials from the blood, processes them, and secretes the finished chemical product for use somewhere in the body.

These glands secrete hormones. Hormones are chemicals that travel around your body, transferring instructions and information from your glands to cells in other parts of your body. They are often referred to as your body’s ‘messengers’ that deliver messages to different parts of your body to coordinate certain bodily functions.

Many different types of hormones travel through your bloodstream but each type of hormone is designed to affect only certain cells. These cells will have receptors on them that are specific for a certain hormone. This way, your body can make sure that the correct cells get the correct messages.

You can see an example of this in the diagram I made below:

Hormones influence almost every cell, organ, and function of our bodies.

Hormones regulate and influence:

Weight Regulation
Your Immune Function
Body Fat Composition
Energy Levels
Anti-aging
Regulating Mood
Sexual Function
Reproductive Processes
Growth rate
Tissue Function
Metabolism
Generally, your endocrine system is in charge of body processes that develop slowly (e.g. cell growth). Faster body processes like breathing is controlled by your nervous system. Even though your endocrine system and nervous system are separate systems, they often work together to make sure your body functions properly.

Hormones are grouped into three classes based on their structure:

Steroids – these hormones are lipids made from cholesterol, such as sex hormones. They are secreted from the sex organs, adrenal glands and placenta.
Peptides – are short chains of amino acids that are secreted by the pituitary gland, parathyroid gland, heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys. Most hormones are peptides.
Amines – these are made from an amino acid secreted from the thyroid gland and adrenal glands.
All hormones are important, but the ones I want to focus on in this series that has the most impact on hormonal acne are the Steroid hormones (in particular sex hormones).

The Endocrine Glands

The major glands that make up the human endocrine system include the:

hypothalamus
pituitary gland
thyroid gland
parathyroid glands
adrenal glands
pineal gland
reproductive glands (which include the ovaries and testes)
Although the endocrine glands are the main producers of hormones, other non-endocrine organs produce and release hormones too, such as the brain, skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, thymus and liver.

The Hypothalamus

The Hypothalamus is a group of specialized cells in the lower central part of the brain and is the main link between the endocrine system and the nervous system. It helps to regulate your appetite, body temperature and metabolism. Nerve cells in the Hypothalamus control the Pituitary Gland by secreting ‘releasing’ hormones that are designed to tell the pituitary gland whether to make more of a certain hormone or make less of it. It basically controls the amount of hormones the pituitary gland produces.

The Pituitary Gland

Although it’s controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary glad is often called the ‘master gland’ because it makes hormones that control several other endocrine glands such as the Thyroid, Adrenals, and Reproduction Glands. It’s located just beneath the hypothalamus at the base of the brain and is about the size of a pea.

The production and secretion of hormones by the pituitary gland can be influenced by things such as your emotions, feelings, environment and changes in the season. This is because the hypothalamus will send information from the brain about things such as feelings, light exposure pattens, environment, temperature etc to the pituitary gland.

Some of the main hormones produced and secreted by the Pituitary Gland:

Growth hormone – stimulates growth of bone and tissue.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones (A lack of thyroid hormones either because of a defect in the pituitary or the thyroid itself is called hypothyroidism.)
Adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) – stimulates the adrenal gland to produce several related steroid hormones
Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – hormones that control sexual function and production of the sex steroids, estrogen and progesterone in females or testosterone in males
Prolactin – hormone that stimulates milk production in females
Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones (called thyroxine and triiodothyronine) which regulates your metabolism by controlling the rate at which you burn fuels from foods to produce energy. They are also important for brain and nervous system developments and the growth of your bones. They also help maintain normal blood pressure, muscle tone, heart rate, reproductive functions, and digestion.

Parathyroid Glands

The Parathyroid glands are 2 pairs of tiny glands embedded in the surface of the thyroid gland (one pair each side). They work together to release parathyroid hormone which regulates the level of calcium there is in the blood and bone metabolism.

Adrenal Glands

These are two triangular glands located on the top of each of your kidneys. The adrenal glands have two parts; an inner and an outer part. These 2 parts produce different sets of hormones, and each has a different function.

1) Outer Part (Adrenal Cortex) – produces steroid hormones called corticosteroids that regulate salt and water balance in the body, the body’s response to stress (fight or flight response), metabolism, the immune system, and sexual development and function.

Mineralocorticoids – they maintain electrolyte balance. These are hormones such as Aldosterone.
Glucocorticoids – they produce a long-term, slow response to stress by raising blood glucose levels through the breakdown of fats and proteins; they also suppress the immune response and inhibit the inflammatory response. These are hormones such as Cortisol.
Sex Hormones – such as Testosterone, Progesterone, Estrogen. These are all produced by the adrenal glands in both males and female (smaller amounts of progesterone and estrogen in males and smaller amounts of testosterone in females).
2) Inner Part (Adrenal Medulla) – produces amine hormones called catecholamines, these are; epinephrine (also called adrenaline) and norepinephrine which help the body to deal with stress.

Pineal Gland

The pineal gland is in the middle of the brain and secretes melatonin that helps to regulate your sleep cycle.

Reproductive Glands

These glands are the testes in males and the ovaries in females, and are the main sources for sex hormones. The testes produce androgens and control the development of male characteristics and the ovaries produce estrogens and progesterone that control the development of female characteristics.

The Pancreas

One part of the pancreas (the exocrine pancreas) secretes digestive enzymes while the other part of the pancreas (the endocrine pancreas) secretes 2 hormones that regulate your blood sugar levels; Insulin which is released to help bring down blood sugar levels (by telling cells to take up glucose (sugar), and Glucagon which releases glucose back into the blood when blood sugar levels get too low.

Hormones

Here are some of the main hormones that I’m going to talk about in this series and how they influence your overall health and in particular your acne.

Progesterone – opposes estrogen, allows for gestation of a child, protects against cancer, progesterone is used to make testosterone and estrogen.

Testosterone – dominant male hormone (but also present in females), opposes estrogen, protects against cancer, associated with will power and physical strength.

Estrogen – regulates healthy metabolism, opposes progesterone and testosterone, increases cell growth rates, initiates weight gain.

DHEA – protects against cancer, improves memory, improves immune system, lowers body fat, increases muscle mass, protects the brain.

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) – Testosterone can be converted into another androgen called DHT. This is a potent form of testosterone that is responsible for male secondary sexual characteristics like deepening of voice, facial and body hair, oily skin, sex drive and function. This form of testosterone is the most closely related to hormonal acne that’s the cause of ’excess androgens’.

Cortisol – mood hormone, helps us adapt to stress, stimulates appetite, improves digestion, stimulates brain, muscles, circulatory system and lungs, fights leukemia and lumphomas.

Insulin – is a hormone produces by the pancreas that regulates your blood sugar levels. It helps to do this by causing cells in the liver, fat tissue and muscles to take up glucose (sugar) when your blood sugar levels are too high (such as after you’ve eaten).

Vitamin D – is a hormone, not a vitamin, activates 10% of our healing genes, increases bone density, improves immunity, fights cancer, improves mood.

How Are Hormones Made?

All of these Steroid hormones mentioned above are made from Cholesterol. All hormones have pregnenolone and progesterone as basic precursors. The diagram below shows how hormones are all made from (good) cholesterol. Some of the hormones in this pathway can be converted into others, and some can convert back, while others cannot.

Why is this important for acne sufferers?

Learning about your hormones and your body is really helpful for people with hormonal acne because you will have a better understand of what your body needs and how to clear your acne. You don’t have to know too much of the ‘science’ behind it all, but a basic understanding is enough to often come up with a solution that’s right for you and your body. If you feel overwhelmed and confused by your hormonal acne, learning about it and ‘demystifying’ it will help you to feel more confident and positive about how you can get healthy again and clear your skin for good.

Healthy Thanksgiving

6 Superfoods for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an excellent time to add seasonal super foods to your holiday plate to help offset some of the damage caused by high-glycemic indulgences, prevent inflammation, support cellular repair and keep skin glowing during the holiday season. Here are some of my favorite super foods that I include on my Thanksgiving table:

1. Cranberries
These tart little berries are not only delicious and should be enjoyed year round, but are also ranked among the fruits and vegetables richest in antioxidants. They are packed with health-promoting properties and beauty benefits that prevent fine lines and wrinkle damage.
Benefits:
Research shows that water-soluble polyphenol antioxidants in cranberries provide substantial protection against free radical damage to cell membranes (the outer boundaries of the cells). This is key, because a reduction in the number of free radicals in the cell membrane will result in a reduction in the number of free radicals available to damage the cell membrane. Translation? Less damage to skin and other organ systems, and a younger and healthier you.
Thanksgiving Tip:
Instead of buying canned cranberry sauce make your own. Here is one of my favorite quick and easy recipes.
Cranberry Sauce
12 oz. package of fresh cranberries
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup raw honey
Zest of one organic orange
Preparation
Place berries and juice in saucepan and cook over high heat until berries begin to pop. Stir continuously to prevent sticking. Add desired amount of raw honey to sweeten as berries gel. When everything is completely dissolved add orange zest. Refrigerate to chill.

2. Winter Squash and Pumpkins
As a dermatologist, I am particularly delighted with the fact that carotenoids neutralize free radicals in the skin, preventing the resulting inflammatory cascade that damages cells and accelerates the internal aging process – which manifest externally as wrinkles.
Benefits:
Carotenoid-rich foods have powerful benefits that help reverse UV damage, block sunlight-induced inflammation, improve skin texture and promote skin renewal.
Thanksgiving Tip:
I like to steam or bake pumpkins and save the seeds to roast and serve as a healthy appetizer. The seeds are rich in antioxidants, act as natural anti-inflammatories and protect against the free radical-initiated inflammation that causes cellular damage.

3. Ginger
To many of us, our sole relationship with ginger was our childhood fondness for ginger bread. Little did we realize that ginger is actually a powerful anti-aging remedy; with many health benefits and a long medicinal tradition throughout the East.
Benefits:
Ginger reduces excess stomach acid and minimizes upset stomachs. It greatly aids in digestion of protein, it is clinically proven as an anti-nausea remedy effective in treating both motion and morning sickness and is an effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
Thanksgiving Tip:
Fresh ginger root is a wonderful addition to vegetables, soups, squash or pumpkin dishes—it is a versatile ingredient that can enhance just about every meal.

4. Turmeric
Turmeric is an Indian curry spice with an ancient history of medicinal use against inflammation. This delicious spice is a close cousin to ginger, and has been used for millennia to flavor, color, and preserve foods.
Benefits:
Like alpha lipoic acid, curcumin, the active constituent of Turmeric, enhances the liver’s ability to eliminate dangerous, carcinogenic toxins and inhibits the pro-inflammatory actions that lead to inflammation-related micro scarring of collagen, which in turn produces wrinkles. Turmeric sensitizes the body’s cortisol receptor sites, and its anti-inflammatory properties are considered comparable to those of the body’s own cortisone-type hormones. We must keep our cortisol levels low to prevent accelerated aging of all organ systems—including the skin.
Thanksgiving Tip:
Add curry powder to deviled eggs or make a curry with leftover turkey and vegetables. The curry powder contains turmeric. Curcumin is one of the active constituents in turmeric and has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Cinnamon
This aromatic tree bark has been prized for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines for its myriad of health benefits.
Benefits:
The mere scent of cinnamon enhances the brain’s cognitive processing, including attention, memory, and visual-motor speed. Cinnamon also stimulates insulin receptors and inhibits an enzyme that inactivates them, thereby increasing cells’ ability to use glucose. Thus, cinnamon may significantly help people with adult onset diabetes normalize their blood sugar levels. Less than half a teaspoon per day of cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels in persons with adult onset diabetes.
Thanksgiving Tip:
Add a cinnamon stick to your tea or sprinkle it on baked winter squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie to provide blood sugar lowering benefits and provide superior antioxidant protection.

6. The Allium Family
Garlic is a superstar member of the allium family, which also contains onions, leeks, chives, leeks, shallots, and scallions. Garlic contains a special compound known as allicin, which must be crushed to be activated. Cooking pretty much destroys allicin; so use raw, crushed garlic to maximize health benefits.
Benefits:
Garlic has the ability to lower total cholesterol while raising the HDL (good) cholesterol, provides antifungal and anti-bacterial protection, reduces the risk of blood clots- the leading cause of stroke and heart attack, lowers blood pressure and lessens the risk of atheriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Thanksgiving Tip:
Add garlic or any member of the allium family to your savory Thanksgiving dishes to enhance flavor and increase antioxidant health benefits.

I wish you and your families a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

Food Cravings? Here Is What Your Body Really Wants.

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If you crave this…. What you really need is… And here are healthy foods that have it:

Chocolate. Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits

Sweets. Chromium Broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves liver,
Carbon Fresh fruits
Phosphorus Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains
Sulfur Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage
Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach

Bread, toast. Nitrogen High protein foods: fish, meat, nuts, beans

Oily snacks,
fatty foods. Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame

Coffee or tea. Phosphorous Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes
Sulfur Egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables
NaCl (salt) Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)
Iron Meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries

Alcohol,
recreational drugs. Protein Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts
Avenin Granola, oatmeal
Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Glutamine Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice
Potassium Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens

Chewing
ice. Iron Meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries

Burned food. Carbon Fresh fruits

Soda and other
carbonated drinks. Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame

Salty foods. Chloride Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt

Acid foods. Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits

Preference for
liquids
rather than solids. Water Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.

Preference for
solids rather
than liquids. Water You have been so dehydrated for so long that
you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime.
You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.

Cool drinks. Manganese Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries

Pre-menstrual
cravings. Zinc Red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables

General
overeating. Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables

Lack of appetite. Vitamin B1 Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats
Vitamin B3 Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes
Manganese Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
Chloride Raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt

Tobacco. Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables

Carrots

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Carrots
Think of them as orange wonder wands—good for eyeballs, good for clearing up breakouts. Credit vitamin A. “It helps prevent the overproduction of cells in the skin’s outer layer,” says Howard Murad, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. That’s where dead cells and sebum combine and clog pores. Another reason to snack on carrots: Vitamin A also reduces the development of skin-cancer cells. Nibble on a half-cup of baby carrots (that’s about 16) per day.

Almonds

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Almonds
Hey, guess what? Almonds are seeds, not nuts, and they’re stuffed with vitamin E, a potent sun blocker. Volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light sunburned less than those who took none. “Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that helps to protect skin cells from UV light and other environmental factors that generate cell-damaging free radicals,” explains Jeffrey Dover, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University.