Archive | March, 2012

Anatomy of Skin – The Epidermis

22 Mar

The skin is comprised of 3 layers:
  • Epidermis
  • Dermis
  • Subcutaneous tissue (fatty layer)


The epidermis is the outer-most layer of the skin.  It is tough, and about as thick as a piece of paper.  The cells of the epidermis are constantly flaking off and being renewed. Most cells in this layer are dead. (This is the layer where over the counter products like Oil of Olay work, and that’s why… they don’t work).

The epidermis is comprised of approximately 15 – 100 layers, depending on where they are on the body (eyelids have the thinnest layers and the palms of the hand and soles of the feet have the thickest).  People with fair hair and eyes, typically have fewer layers of epidermal cells which can leave the skin more prone to damage and the effects of aging.  Those with darker hair and darker eyes, have more layers in the epidermis and are more prone to resist damage and the more advanced signs of aging.

The number of cell layers always remains constant.  When you lose a layer of dead surface cells, your body knows to produce a new layer of cells.  Healthy, young skin has the ability to turn-over naturally, where older skin requires a little help to stimulate the rate that old skin cells are lost and new skin cells are developed.

There are two special types of cells within the epidermis:
  • Melanocytes – produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.  All people have roughly the same number of melanocytes.  Those who are dark skinned produce more melanin, but do not have more melanocytes.  Exposure to sunlight increases the production of melanin, which is why people get suntanned or freckled.  Melanin is the skin’s natural cell protection or defense system.
  • Keratinocytes – produce keratin, a type of protein that is a basic component of hair and nails.

I know. I do amazing artwork. I would also like to point out I scanned this picture… and the numbers are backwards.

Microdermabrasion and chemical peels remove the stratum corneum and promote cell turnover. Like I said, we always have the same amount of cells, so once that layer is removed the cells from the top of the dermal layer die and each layer pushes up to the next. It’s a cycle.

Dermal/Epidermal Junction

The dermal /epidermal junction is the deepest layer that cosmetic products can penetrate to. The FDA distinguishes between drugs and cosmetics by the product’s ability to enter the blood or the brain.  Only drugs can pass the blood/brain barrier – NOT COSMETICS. Any product that is over the counter, IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MUCH IT COSTS cannot do anything but work on cells that are in the process of dying and/or are already dead.

It’s Sunny Out! (A Post in Honor of Sun Block)

20 Mar

90% of Aging is due to the sun.  NINETY.

If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have ONE beauty product, it would be sunscreen (tinted of course!).  I bet you would neverrrrr think of your sunscreen as a beauty product, but it is ESSENTIAL to anti-aging.  Only sunscreen and retinol are proven to topically prevent fine lines and wrinkles and are therefore the two most ESSENTIAL products I recommend to people.

During the summer months, I decrease my use of Retin-A, because you can’t go in the sun when you are using this product.  This is also why I would choose sunscreen over Retin-A if I was ever to be stranded in a warm place.  😉

What is SPF?

A sunscreen with an SPF of X allows you to stay out in the sun X times longer without burning then you would with no sunscreen on.  THEREFORE the difference between the protection of SPF 15 and SPF 30 isn’t really as significant as you think.

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays

As you can see… a 4% increase.

SPF – Doesn’t Measure Everything!

The SPF of a sunscreen only measures the UVB rays but there are UVA rays that are emitted from the sun which are just as dangerous.  The FDA is currently working on a star rating system that will help the consumer better choose a sunscreen.  Until that happens (we all know how quick the FDA is…) look for a sun block that is a physical barrier or a chemical barrier that says: broad spectrum coverage.

Physical vs. Chemical Barriers

Physical (Sun BLOCK):

Create a reflective surface on the skin that reflects UV light or scatters it off of the skin’s surface. The active ingredients in these sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. These types of sunscreens are very effective in blocking both UVB and UVA sun rays and are considered to be the safest sunscreens to use.  The best products of this type will contain all-natural ingredients.

These are the sunscreens I use. I couldn’t get a picture that was clear… so I copied the exact text (with possible spelling errors. Sorry.)

Chemical (Sun SCREEN):

Contain ingredients that absorb UV light before it can cause any skin damage. These sun screens (which include most commercial brands) have been proven to be effective in preventing sunburns, but the chemicals in them have never been tested and approved for safety.

To get “broad spectrum” protection with chemical barrier sunscreens, you need to purchase a product with more than one active chemical ingredient, which increases the likelihood of the product being potentially hazardous.

I happened to have this bottle of Sea & Ski in my bathroom, but I have never used it. It was $1.99 at Christmas Tree Shop. As you can see, UVA and UVB coverage does not make the product more expensive.

Best advice:  Use a physical barrier sun block.  Wear a hat.  And don’t use your Retin-A (for now).  Enjoy the warm weather Boston!

A Bride’s Guide

17 Mar

Every bride wants to look perfect on her special day, and that takes a lot of hard work and preparation (or so I hear…)… I thought I’d be a big help for all those brides (and their bridal parties!) with a little bit of information you might find helpful!

Actually… I think any time anyone attends a wedding they want to look good. Weddings = Pictures. And now-a-days, pictures – the good, the bad, and the ugly – wind up on Facebook! So if you’re at the age where you will be attending lots of weddings in the near future (i.e. my age) you might want to take some notes…


Spray Tan

Spray tan’s typically last 7-14 days.  If your thinking of spraying (which I highly recommend), do it as close to your big day as possible!  You can’t shower for 6 hours after a spray, and you can smell a little bit sugary post-spray, so keep this in mind.  For the best results, spray the day before. As it wears off, it can sometimes look a little patchy. Make sure you exfoliate prior to your appointment (and shave).

Also, I hear there is a new spray out, that has glitter in it (OMG RIGHT!), but it’s only good for 24 hours I think? Maybe someone else knows more about this? I would also like to note here, that if you are not the bride, you should NOT be shining. That’s rude.


A plain old facial can be done anywhere from a few days to a month before a special date. Healthy skin is essential for a beautiful face. I recommend everyone see an aesthetician and purchasing some products that will keep your skin healthy.

Weddings are super stressful, and your skin responds to stress. Facials will keep break-outs at bay, not only by cleaning your skin, but by giving you some quality relaxation time. Spa days are great to do with your friends, mother, and future mother in law!

*Note: if you are planning on doing Botox or fillers, a facial should be done either immediately before or 5 days after any facial treatments.

Chemical Peel

Degree of peeling can vary, so talk to the aesthetician performing your peel and be CLEAR if you have any wedding events (or any events for that matter) that you don’t want to be shedding for. ‘Tis the Season for Chemical Peels!.  For a real good, deep peel, expect about a week to two of down time. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Very Important:  moisturize often with a pharmaceutical or cosmeceutical grade product after a peel.  Many places have post-treatment kits.  Do NOT pick at your skin!  Stay out of the sun! Do not use Retin-A prior to or post treatment for about 7 days.


Waxing your brows or lip shouldn’t be done the day of an event.  The process can irritate your skin, leaving it a little red.  Icing the area helps.  Or an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.  Make sure to keep the area clean to keep bacteria out of your pores, and causing break outs.


Often done during the same time as a facial, and can cause some minor redness.  Protect your skin after this treatment. Again, stay out of the sun, and do not use Retin-A prior to or post treatment for 7 days.

Laser Skin Rejuvenation Treatments

Depending on the laser, and the treatment, there can be some downtime with this (discoloration and flaking), anywhere from a day to a week.  Ask your practitioner what to expect with the treatment you are receiving.  These treatments really make your skin look great!  Never heard of laser skin rejuvenation?  There will be blog posts to come!

Teeth Whitening

It depends on the number of treatments you will need to decide when you should start. Some treatments take a few sessions, some are one and done. Go for a consult. At the very least, do the Crest White Strips.

Long Lashes

A lot of brides ask me about eye-lash extensions. Although a little expensive, they look great for a wedding.  They should be done about a week before your big event.  They take some getting used to! Lovely Lashes!. They also don’t last very long… usually about a month, so don’t do them too soon unless you are going to keep up on them. If you are having your make-up professionally done, the make-up artist will probably offer you some sort of fake-eyelash. If you are doing your own make-up and you want that lashed out look, practice a few times before the big day. I am a master of the strip lash… but it took me about a year to perfect my technique!

Minimally Invasive Procedures

These can be tricky to time.  If you are planning on doing any non-invasive procedures, they should be done either immediately before Botox and Fillers, or 5 days after.  This is because you don’t want Botox to travel into the wrong muscle group, or fillers to be moved into the wrong area.  Use good judgment with timing your treatments!

A lot of women do Botox and fillers before a big wedding!

Check out this article:

(I’m the bridesmaid all the way to the left. I would like to add a disclaimer: The bride here is naturally beautiful. And has not let me tempt her into Botox—yet).


If you are new to Botox, I suggest trying it out 4-6 months prior to the wedding date for a couple of reasons. First, this way you can decide if you like it (which you will, but I still recommend trying it). Second, Botox is a dose dependant medication (your results depend on how large or small a dose you receive). Six months gives you plenty of time to work out with your injector the perfect dose for you! Last, you will not be able to look angry for 3-6 months. This might be helpful to any Bridezilla’s out there. So, when you are in witch mode, at least you won’t look like it. J

If you don’t have six months to do a trial run, if you are a Botox Pro, or if you just want to go for it, you should have your treatment AT LEAST 1 month prior to the big day, and NO MORE than 2 months prior. Anything more than 2 months, it might start wearing off, anything less than a month you might not have the result you desire.

Another interesting use of Botox with Brides: It is becoming popular to be treated for hyperhydrosis (sweating) in the underarm. I recommend this to brides who will be getting married outside in 100 degree weather. Sweating profusely is pretty gross. You’re already going to be nervous, and when you add your layers of dress (which I’m sure is not air conditioned), and all the dancing you’re going to do… might be a good idea. Plus, you didn’t spend all that money on a dress to have pit-stains on it. This procedure requires a pretty big dose of Botox, and is therefore pretty expensive. It’s not for every bride.

(Remember don’t go overboard either!)

Fillers (Radiesse, Juvéderm… Perlene, Restyline, ect. ect.)

Depending on the area of injection, there can be some minor bruising (or major depending on the injector).  Invest in some Arnica cream, and expect the worst (2 weeks).  Cheek augmentation bruises the least, while lip augmentation and nasal labial folds tend to bruise the most.  Gosh, I hate it when I have dental work 😉 The average bruise lasts a few days.

Usually older brides are doing facial fillers, while younger brides might want to plump their lips.

As for the rest of the wedding participants, the mothers of the bride and groom are usually also very interested in fillers (and Botox). After all, they have been looking forward to this day since the days BEFORE their children gave them premature wrinkles. Whether she is interested in a facial or Botox treatment, moms deserve to be asked “is this your sister?”

Things to Do 6 Months or More before a Wedding (or wait until after):

–  Bioenhancers like Sculptra Aesthetic (it can take up to 6 weeks to see a difference)

–  Plastic Surgery. Remember that crazy reality show on TV that brides were competing with each other trying to win plastic surgery procedures so they could be perfect for their big day? Those women were … appalling. Plastic surgery should never be taken lightly. Or have a competitive reality show. Leave competitive reality to “Survivor!”

–  Changing your hair color or cutting it short (stick to what you know looks good on you!)

A Night of Beauty in Brookline

12 Mar

“Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art”

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m a huge fan of beauty (I have good taste) and I’m also a huge fan of art (I consider myself something of a modern artist). I like to be surrounded by beautiful things. Art. My mother bought me my first piece of art when I opened my first office. A mask made of leather, half smooth and beautiful, half in desperate need of Botox. This gift was a representation of success to me. Money is such an intangible possession. But art. That’s something to be proud of.

A close friend of mine, Orna Kasif, invited me to an art show this weekend. A chance to wear a cocktail dress and support local artists? Sold. (See fancy picture above!).

I think the artist I was most impressed by was Rachel Shatil. Her medium was masking tape. Proving my theory that you can make anything into something beautiful—with the right artist!

Here, Orna is explaining this piece is a portrayal of what is happening to Holocaust survivors.

The highlight of the night was composer/filmmaker iLan Azoulai’s sneak preview of his upcoming documentary and a discussion: “Israel combating modern-day slavery.” It was a documentary on sex trafficking in Israel. Very cutting edge, very shocking, very informative.

I don’t know if it’s me, or my age group (*cough 30-ish*), or our society as a whole, but I found this documentary a shocking tribute of how ignorant I am to the problems of the world (and I listen to NPR…). I remember in college my friend going to Virginia to help people in the hills without running water. I had no idea places like that existed in the United States. And I had no idea the severity of sex trafficking in places that are considered “First World” countries, like Israel. It really made me wonder if things like this happen here, in our own backyards.

As much as I may joke about the beauty of ignorance, it is not something I ever wish to be (I believe I noted in another post that I have a tattoo “A Beautiful Little Fool” in reference to The Great Gatsby). I would like to think that I do a lot to help women, by making them feel good about themselves on the outside, so they may empower themselves within. Even in our own country, woman’s rights are constantly threatened (Roe v. Wade especially). In some places, women don’t have the rights to their own bodies and this is a serious issue. I hope everyone who reads this will check out this documentary. I’m sure donations can be made to this cause through Orna. The website is (Or… maybe someone will leave a comment on how to do this???) Also, I hope this post makes it to the Hipsters of Allston. Your parents pay for college. Stop whining. And your pants are too tight.

I would also like to send my sincere congratulations to Orna, an amazing Boston Business Woman, who did an amazing job putting this art show together! The turn-out was fantastic, and my friends and I all had a great time! (Also thanks for serving my fav wine, two buck chuck!)

This being such a serious post, I’d like to make fun of Allston one more time. I stole this from Facebook. (For those of you who don’t know… Allston is where all the Hipster kids live. I avoid it at all costs… Hipsters… yuck.)

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