Food Friday: Eat Chocolate for Sun Protection

Chocolat de Bonnat tasting

Planning a Caribbean get-away this winter? Don’t forget to pack some hot chocolate.

Several studies, including a well known one 2006 German researchers have shown that dark chocolate beverages high in flavonols (plant-based antioxidants), may have protective properties against damaging UV rays. In the study, they compared two groups of women. One drank flavonol-rich chocolate beverages  while the other drank a less potent chocolate beverage. When both groups were exposed to UV-light, those who drank the richer chocolate beverage suffered the least sunburn.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology similarly found that regular consumption of chocolate high in flavonols offered some protection against sun’s damaging rays.

What’s the sweet spot for protection? 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate was found to provide an SPF of 2 or 3. While that’s better than no protection, it certainly is not enough to adequately protect you from sun damage.

Since chocolate doesn’t list the amount of flavonoids it contains, look for brands with at least 70% cacoa. So, pack your broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 for optimum sun protection and toss a few dark chocolate bars like Ghiradelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight 72%, in your carry-on.

Photo credit: FCC, EverJean 

 

Why Does Skin Age? Part II: 11 Tips to Slow Aging

Grandmother & Granddaughter

In my last post I explained that skin ages due to both intrinsic (genetic) factors and extrinsic (environment and lifestyle) factors. Today I’m sharing 11 tips to slow aging in your skin. Notice I didn’t say “stop” aging. That can’t be done. Granddaughters turn into grandmothers. For now, anyway.

  1. Avoid the sun. No single factor is more important to prevent aging than avoiding excess sun exposure. Ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin and collagen in your skin, causing brown discoloration, thinning of the skin, and ultimately wrinkles. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your face and hands every day.
  2. Stop smoking. Smoking deprives your skin of oxygen, releases damaging oxidizing free radicals and causes wrinkles, dullness, and sallowness. It is a sure contributor to aging. Find a way to quit this summer.
  3. Lose weight. Gaining weight causes excess heavy fat to develop on your face. This will stretch your skin and pull down your cheeks and jowels, aging your face. Have you ever said that someone who has lost a lot of weight looks a lot younger? There is a reason why.
  4. Go low-glycemic. A low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthy for your body and your skin. Research has shown that sugary or high glycemic carbohydrate foods can contribute to aging.
  5. Eat less. We know that animals who adhere to a calorie restricted diet age much more slowly than those on a normal diet. Eating 1/3 fewer calories is difficult but would be likely to slow all aging, including your skin.
  6. Control your stress. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can damage your organs including your skin. Meditate, exercise, travel, keep a journal. Do whatever it takes to reduce the stress pounding on you.
  7. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your face or on your side causes wrinkles overnight. The weight of your head on your pillow can also limit the blood flow, depriving your skin of blood and oxygen overnight. Night after night this can lead to permanent wrinkles. Try to train yourself to sleep on your back.
  8. Cut back on alcohol. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration and can lead to damage of your skin over time. Although it does not cause rosacea, it can lead to unsightly red blood vessels on your face that quickly age you.
  9. Wear make-up appropriately. Wearing too much makeup can actually harm your skin by clogging pores and causing excess dryness. Thick foundations and shimmery makeup make you look much older especially if it cracks or settles into existing fine lines and wrinkles. As you age, a lighter touch and natural shades are most flattering.
  10. Moisturize. Your skin is under constant assault from the elements — wind rain, humidity, hot, dry weather and arctic air all damage your skin leading to wrinkles and dullness. Fight back by applying a facial moisturizer every day to protect your skin. Moisturizers also plump up skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines.
  11. Stop squinting. Whether you’re squinting to avoid the sun or to see your computer monitor, repeatedly contracting your eye muscles will cause permanent wrinkles over time. Wear dark sun glasses every day, and be sure there’s no glare on your computer screen at work or at home.

Photo credit: FCC, Jenny818

LED Light Treatment Provides SPF 15 Skin Protection

With all the hype about sunscreens lately, wouldn’t it be nice if someone came up with another way to protect your skin against sun damage without having to deal with sticky, pasty-white, sometimes ineffective, sunscreen? Continue reading

Skin Care Myths: Adding Sunscreens Adds SPF

Try this little derm math quiz:

If you apply a facial moisturizer with an SPF of 15 then add a facial sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and then apply a makeup with an SPF 15 what is the total SPF protection you are getting? Continue reading