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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Young, Fabulous Hair

Photo courtesy of flickr user Symic.

When trying to prevent aging, we often focus our attention on our skin, specifically the face. But why stop there? If your hair is changing as you age, the way you care for it should change, too. You can renew your hair by making even the smallest changes. Whether it is the products you are using or a change in your everyday styling routine, there is a way to keep your hair looking sleek, luscious and healthy.

Like the famous philosopher Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” In order to prevent your hair from becoming dull, you should first understand how it ages.

Let’s get down to the science of the matter.
The average human being has around 100,000 strands of hair, although it can vary for each person. Each piece of hair is made up of protein, called keratin, which is surrounded by an outer layer of overlapping sheets forming the cuticle. The fastest-growing cells in the body grow within the only living part of a strand of hair, the hair follicle in the skin. Changes in biochemical or hormonal, microscopic or environmental factors can cause hair to age.

Five Tips for Younger Looking Hair

1. Watch your diet.
We are what we eat! There are certain foods that are full of good fats that can help you maintain a healthy scalp and head of hair. Partaking in a nutritious diet of salmon, walnuts, oysters or sweet potatoes will be the start of a new look. Below are other foods that are great for long locks.
Lean meats
Ensuring that you’re eating enough lean protein can help prevent hair loss. Lean protein can be found in foods like:
  • Ground sirloin
  • Eggs
  • Edamame
  • Pork chops
  • Chicken tenderloins

Dark green vegetables
Foods containing vitamins A and C and the mineral iron, such as spinach, broccoli and Swiss chard, can help prevent hair loss.

Low-fat dairy
Yogurt, cottage cheese and other low-fat dairy foods contain calcium, which encourages hair growth.

2. Take your vitamins.
Not every shampoo is the same, which is why we strongly suggest using shampoos, conditioners and hair masks containing vitamins A, B, C and E. Along with vitamins, nutrients such as calcium and magnesium in shampoo can help repair hair damage. Make sure to pay attention to the ingredients label to guarantee that the formula does not contain sulfates. These cleansers have been known to strip hair of its natural oils.
3. Be easy on wet hair.
No matter the color, length or texture of your hair, it’s most sensitive when it’s wet. I don’t think this next statement will be a problem for the “tenderheaded” people of the group, but be CAREFUL when brushing your hair right after a shower. Rather than a brush, consider using a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair while still in the shower.

4. Put down the blowdryer.
Let me clarify this tip. I am not saying that you should never blow dry, straighten, curl or otherwise use heat on your hair again, but the temperature of the hot tool of choice could probably be dropped a bit. Try to prevent stubborn flyaways, frizziness and dryness by using an ionic (also known as negative ion) blow-dryer with 2,000 watts or more, or use a straightener with pure ceramic plates.

5. Release some pressure.
Have you ever gotten a headache from a ponytail holder that’s too tight? There is a reason for that. Loosen up your ponytail by using no-crease ponytail holders, stray away from tight braids and avoid products that make the hair stiff, such as extra hold hair sprays.

Need more tips on healthier and younger-looking hair? Leave a comment below and we will try to help you out! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ethnic Skin: Tips for the Summer Sun

We spend a lot of time talking about protecting your skin from the sun, but it’s easy to ignore some of these tips if you don’t have white skin that is prone to sunburn. You shouldn’t! One of the most important, yet least understood, parts of caring for ethnic skin is sun prevention. For years, many people have believed the myth that it is impossible for people with dark skin to get skin cancer. But the truth, according to, is just the opposite. Individuals with dark skin have more melanin and therefore ought to actually be MORE cautious when dealing with the sun. Otherwise, damage can easily be overlooked, leading to later detection and increased risk of cancer and other issues. It is very important to take great care of your skin in order to not only keep it looking beautiful, but also to avoid the more serious problem of skin cancer.

Now that summer is in full swing, let’s brush up on some sunscreen myths and facts for dark-skinned people and learn about new advances in technology that can benefit all of us.

Myth: Sunscreen is unnecessary
For some time, it was a common belief that African-Americans do not need to use sunscreen as much as Caucasians do. Do not fall for this! Interestingly, brown skin does have a built-in SPF of 13.4, while light skin has a built-in SPF of just .4. However, daily use of sunscreen is still necessary to fully protect yourself from sunspots, wrinkles and other sun damage.

Sunscreen: The basics and the “residue” issue
We recommend a sunscreen with SPF 30 or for daily use. Apply it daily at least 20 minutes before going outside. These are a few things to look out for when choosing your sunscreen:

  • Only use sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. It is commonly called “broad-spectrum”
  • While SPF 30 or above is recommended, SPF 15 is the absolute lowest that can reduce risk of skin cancer and early aging.
  • Don’t forget to REAPPLY. Sunscreens cannot advertise as sweat-proof or waterproof, but they can be resistant to both. Since sunblock doesn’t completely withstand water and sweat, you should reapply after 40 to 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.

The Residue
A common issue with sunscreen is the whitish-gray residue that the product can leave behind. While this has been a problem in the past, new technology has essentially eliminated the issue. Here are some tips for avoiding this annoying problem:

  • Use micronized formulas that have made sunscreen more cosmetically acceptable and less likely to leave residue.
  • Try quick-absorbing formulas that contain chemical ingredients that sink into your skin. Some of ingredients to look out for include Mexoryl SX, Helioplex, and AvoTriple. These are the chemicals that will keep you safe without the frustrating white film!
  • Clear zinc formula is a great alternative to regular sunblock, and it is much less visible when applied.

Enjoy the beautiful outdoors this summer, but don’t forget to use these tips to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s harmful rays!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Truth About Tanning

Summer is quickly approaching, and odds are you’re breaking out your swimsuits and shorts for the first time. The first thing most people notice when they break out their summer clothes is that their skin is much lighter than it was when they packed those same clothes away months earlier.

Unfortunately, many people turn to tanning beds or even their own backyards to get a “base tan” before they officially kick off their summer activities. But is a base tan legitimate? And are you better off going to a tanning bed, laying outside, getting a spray tan or doing nothing at all? Here’s The Skinny on tanning.

Tanning Beds
No matter what you’ve heard, there is no such thing as a “safe” tanning bed. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both list tanning beds as a “known human carcinogen,” right up there with cigarettes.  

According to the American Academy of Dermatology:
  • On an average day in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons.
    • 35 percent of American adults, 59 percent of college students and 17 percent of teens have reported using a tanning bed in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and women, primarily aged 16 to 29 years.
  • Nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.
    • In a 2014 study, 13 percent of American adults, 43 percent of college students and 10 percent of teens admitted to using a tanning bed in the past year.
  • In 2010, the indoor tanning industry’s revenue was estimated to be $2.6 billion.
  • Indoor tanning equipment - which includes all artificial light sources, including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc. -- emits UVA and UVB radiation. The amount of the radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to the sun, and in some cases might be stronger.
  • Studies have found a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use.
  • A recent study estimates that exposure to indoor tanning devices causes more than 450,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 10,000 melanoma cases each year in the United States, Europe and Australia.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to premature skin aging, immune suppression and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.
  • In a survey of adolescent tanning bed users, it was found that about 58 percent had burns due to frequent exposure to indoor tanning beds/lamps.
  • The FDA estimates that there are about 3,000 hospital emergency room cases a year due to indoor tanning bed and lamp exposure.
But what about Vitamin D?
Some people claim that indoor tanning can be beneficial in providing much-needed Vitamin D to the skin. While Vitamin D is important, indoor tanning beds should not be used to obtain vitamin D because UV radiation from indoor tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer. Vitamin D can be obtained by a eating a healthy diet and by taking oral supplements. Additionally, most people can get adequate amounts of Vitamin D just by walking outside for a few minutes per day.

Aren’t there some safe tanning beds that don’t emit UVA rays?
While some tanning beds do eliminate the UVA rays and only emit UVB, they are still dangerous. According to the FDA, UVB rays are most often associated with sunburns on the skin’s surface, while UVA rays can cause damage further below the surface. But exposure to any UV rays can cause skin cancer and damage to the skin.

Tanning Outside
I’ve heard claims that tanning outside is safer than tanning inside because it’s “natural.” That’s false. The danger in tanning at all is the UV rays. Tanning beds tend to work “faster” than just laying outside because they have a higher concentration of UV rays, but any contact with UV rays is damaging.

Every time your skin changes – whether it burns or tans – it’s a sign of damage. Too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer, but it can also cause signs of aging, like wrinkles. If you’re outside for any extended period of time, you should wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to protect yourself.

Spray Tanning
If you really want to add some color to your skin, spray tanning is the way to go. Spray tans contain a color additive called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which temporarily darkens the skin. Spray tans typically last seven to 10 days, or until the skin naturally sloughs off.

There has been a question about the safety of DHA, as prolonged exposure to the chemical or ingestion through the nose or mouth can be harmful. Still, if the products are used as directed, they are not dangerous. People working with spray tans or getting one should ensure they protect their eyes, nose, mouth and mucous membranes.

Even with the minimal risk posed by DHA, spray tanning is by far the safest option to achieve that brown glow.

Doing Nothing At All
Love your skin the way it is! People who avoid tanning altogether and who faithfully wear sunscreen every day will age more gracefully than people who tan or don’t protect their skin.

Have any questions about tanning or recognizing damage? Make an appointment at ADSCA today. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Myths and Truths of Pinterest Skin Care Tips

If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen or re-pinned some skin care advice. But how do you know where these claims are coming from? How do you know they are legitimate? The short answer is…you don’t. Here are a few common skin care pins.

CLAIM: Heal acne scars with a scrub made of honey and carrot seed oil.

This pin is on my myths board. Honey is a natural antiseptic, but it won’t heal scars. As pointed out in my blog post, scars are the result of a change in the skin, so they’re not easily camouflaged with home scrubs like this one.

CLAIM: Sleep on your back to help prevent wrinkles.

Sleeping on your stomach or side can be damaging to your posture. Also, when you spend an entire night with your face buried into a pillow, you may be “pressing in” wrinkles and crevices. Sleeping on your back can also help prevent fluid buildup in your facial tissue, kicking that “puffy morning look” to the curb.

CLAIM: Mix coffee grounds, raw sugar or sea salt and massage oil to use in the shower! The scrub can help redistribute fat cells and decrease cellulite formation. It will also shrink blood vessels and reduce varicose veins.

Nothing will cure cellulite, but caffeine and mud can take the swelling out of skin and constrict blood vessels - which decreases the appearance of lumpiness and gives the skin surface a smoother appearance when the light hits it.

CLAIM: Boil olive oil and honey, cool and comb through your hair. This is supposed to work like an at-home oil treatment and help your hair grow faster and make it super smooth.

The truth is that the massaging motion you use to get the oil into your hair is stimulating blood flow to the scalp, which can help your hair grow. Washing your hair with regular shampoo can do the same thing. The olive oil will help moisturize your hair, but it won’t do much for growth on its own.

CLAIM: Make your own natural makeup at home using ingredients like beets, arrowroot and coconut oil.

The at-home recipes in this pin won't work long-term, as the makeup won't hold its color. The best bet, if you're trying to go all natural, is to go for mineral agents with natural pigment. You can also go beyond the drug store brands and try something like Youngblood Cosmetics, which we sell at the ADSCA medi spa.

CLAIM: Use warm mustard oil to massage your feet and legs twice a day until spider veins are healed.

The mustard oil has a yellow color to it that may camouflage spider veins...but it won't get rid of them. It's not really any different than using makeup to cover a pimple and thinking it's been healed.

CLAIM: Mix baking soda with your favorite cleanser. Exfoliate several minutes for soft skin!

Baking soda doesn't really do anything spectacular on its own, but it does create a gritty substance that can help scrub dead skin cells off. It's an easy household product to use if you’re out of your regular scrub.

Got any more questions about pins you’ve seen? Comment here or on Facebook. For more great skin care advice, follow us on Pinterest       

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Choosing a Chemical Peel

If you ever watched Sex and the City, you may remember the episode in which Samantha got a chemical peel right before a big event. It was a funny storyline in which she tried to cover up her face to keep people from seeing the redness caused by the peel.

Well…not all chemical peels are like that! It is important to plan some downtime depending on the one you get, but here’s The Skinny on a few chemical peels and the downtime associated with each.

Stimulator Peel
About: A light combination of acids to improve rough skin texture, lighten age spots and hyperpigmentation and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Downtime: None
Recommendation: A series of three to four peels done every two weeks

Sensitive Skin Solution Peel
About: A light peel designed for sensitive skin that exfoliates and decongests pores while hydrating the skin
Downtime: None
Recommendation: A safe, skin brightening treatment before an event or wedding that is best performed with a dermaplaning treatment

Gel Peel
About: Gel peels encourage cell renewal and improve collagen synthesis and skin elasticity. Combined, glycolic and lactic acids work synergistically to exfoliate the skin while reducing irritation and dryness.
Downtime: None
Recommendation: Best for photo-damaged skin, rough texture, dry skin and aging skin

About: A 30 percent glycolic acid chemical peel that helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, laxity, dullness and acne
Downtime: Minimal
Recommendation: At least five peels done every two to three weeks

Micropeel Plus 20 or 30
About: Formulated with a combination of salicylic acid 20 or 30 percent, which refines pores and helps reduce the appearance of acne, and glycolic acid 3 percent, which aids in improvement of rough texture, blotchiness and uneven skin tone
Downtime: One week

Glow Peel Package
About: The glow includes a customized blend of Jessner’s Solution and 30 percent salicylic acid in a series of three treatments that will create a light slough of the skin and give you a desirable glow. This package includes a brightening and exfoliating cream, which will help reduce the side effects.
Downtime: Minimal
Recommendation: Three treatments done every two weeks

Pigment Balancing Peel
About: A customizable peel targeting hyperpigmentation and photo-damaged skin with the use of Vitamin C, Emblica, Glycolic 40 percent, and citric acid 10 percent
Downtime: Light to moderate peeling may occur.

Three-Step Stimulation Peel
About: An exclusive blend of acids that remove the outermost layers of skin, stimulate deeper skin layers for more profound benefits and stimulate cellular function
Downtime: Light to moderate peeling may occur
Recommendation: The peel can be repeated every four weeks.

TCA Chemical Peel
About: This is a medium-depth peel formulated with Trichloracetic acid and Jessner's Solution to resurface the skin.
Downtime: One week
Recommendation: This treatment targets acne scarring, photo damage, and fine lines and wrinkles and creates cellular turnover.

All of the above peels are offered at ADSCA’s medi spa. It’s important to note that chemical peels are best performed during the winter months, as sun exposure can damage the skin after a peel. For more information, call 901-759-2322.