What You Don’t Know About Antioxidants and Tanning

Oxidation from tanning negates any effect that topical antioxidant creams could provide.

I’m amazed how often deeply tanned women ask me about topical antioxidants for wrinkles.

If you have $100 worth of antioxidants and anti-aging creams in your bathroom, and you have a tan, we need to talk.

The amount of oxidation damage that you’re doing to your skin by tanning far exceeds the minuscule benefit any topical antioxidant cream could provide.

It’s like being 75 pounds overweight and having ketchup with your bacon cheese burger and fries because you heard that ketchup has lycopene which prevents diabetes.

If you’re concerned about wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of aging, then the sun is always bad for you. You should wear sunscreen and protect against sun exposure as much as possible.

Purposely tanning your skin while trying to fight off aging with topical antioxidants and wrinkle creams is a losing battle. You would be far better off to avoid the sun completely without using any cosmetics than to spend hundreds of dollars on antioxidants creams only to purposely expose yourself to powerfully oxidizing radiation.

Photo credit: FCC, Steven DePolo

New Study Proves That Sunscreen Prevents Aging

A new study from Australia shows that daily use of sunscreen helps prevent skin aging, including wrinkles and dark spots.

wrinklesSunscreens prevent aging, don’t they? You’d think that would be an easy question to answer. Turns out, until a few days ago, it wasn’t. That’s because it takes years to conduct such studies.

Now, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows conclusively that wearing sunscreen helps prevent photoaging — premature aging from the sun, including wrinkles and sun spots. The study participants who applied sunscreen every day showed 24% less skin aging than those told to use the cream as they normally do.

Researchers found that of the 900 men and women in the study, those assigned to use daily sunscreen were less likely to have wrinkles and dark spots after 4.5 years than those who did not regularly use sunscreen.

So, what should you do? Use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily.

And remember, “buckle up and reapply.”

Photo credit, FCC, gracieandviv

Behold, The Holy Grail of Wrinkle Creams: A Topical Botox

You think Apple’s new 4G iPhone is hot?

I was at a coffee bar in Redwood City yesterday, minding my own business when I found a tube of medication. Someone had accidently left a tube of topical Botox at the bar. Was this a plant? Is this the real prototype or just a fake? What should DermodoDoc do? I just had to blog on it.

Botulinum toxin is the most common cosmetic treatment with millions of patients injected every year. Brand names like Botox and Dysport are injectable drugs that cause temporary paralysis of the muscles in your face smoothing wrinkles, sometimes dramatically.

Injected botulinum toxin is also a good treatment for excess sweating in your underarms or on your hands, which is called hyperhidrosis. The toxin blocks the signals that turn on sweating thereby preventing you from sweating.

Up to now, the only way to use Botox has been to inject it. That may change. There is a topical botulinum toxin gel being developed. If the toxin could penetrate the skin, then  it could work without having to be injected, which is a good thing since there are people out there who really don’t like needles. Topical botulinum toxin would likely be most effective in places where the skin is thin, such as the underarms. Getting enough medication to penetrate your forehead might be difficult. How effective it will be for treating wrinkles is yet to be seen.

We will have to wait to see when the product is finally released. Until then, I’m waiting for Steve Jobs to call me personally to ask for his Botox back. It must be his, right?

Photo: Izaeus |Argazkiak, flickr

Behold, The Copper Pillow

Copper is beautiful, but can copper make you beautiful?

We have a 10,000-year-long history with copper. We’ve used it to make jewelry, tools, plumbing, wiring, roofing, coins, cookware, and even the Statue of Liberty. Now we’re using copper to make pillows.

Why? Why make a copper pillow? Two reasons:

First, copper is antimicrobial. Putting copper in fabrics or on surfaces has been shown to reduce bacteria. If your partner is a serious night drooler and you’re afraid that the pillows might get accidentally switched, then a copper pillow might reduce your exposure to some of his (yes, I’m assuming here) germs.

Second, copper induces collagen production and promotes healing. The idea is that if you sleep on a copper pillow some of the copper will absorb into your skin, induce collagen, and smooth your wrinkles; it’s also supposed to have other anti-aging effects.

Published company data showed that wrinkles improved after 2 weeks of sleeping on copper pillows. This is interesting, but it would be helpful to see the results replicated outside of the company. Wrinkles are caused by loss of tissue under the skin, fragmenting of collagen, loss of elastin, and muscle activity (i.e., smiling, talking, etc.).  It’s difficult to understand how sleeping on copper (or gold or silk) would have a significant impact, especially in just a few weeks. If additional studies support a cosmetic benefit, it might be worth the $40.

For now, you might want to simply mark your pillows “His” and “Hers” and save the money for a good copper peptide cream instead.

Has anyone used copper pillows? What was your experience?

Photo: Annia316

Twins Show That Aging Is Not All in Your Genes

simon whitaker twins

Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed how much you’re starting to look like your mother or father? It happens to all of us: much of aging is determined by the genes we inherited from our parents. Continue reading “Twins Show That Aging Is Not All in Your Genes”

Facials Don’t Treat Wrinkles

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Last week one of my patients complained that she gets facials every month for her wrinkles, but that she still has prominent wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. “What,” she asked, “is she doing wrong?”

Facials are the third most popular treatment in spas after nails and massage. They come in many flavors like: mineral masks, steam treatments, microdermabrasions, LED light treatments, blu-light, and even oxygen facials.

Facials can be beneficial; they extract clogged pores, exfoliate dull, scaly skin, and give you a deep, invigorating cleansing, leaving your face smooth and silky. But facials cannot treat wrinkles, broken blood vessles, or brown spots.

Facials are done by aestheticians who are not licensed to practice medicine. Aestheticians cannot administer treatments that penetrate the skin or have  biologic effects (by definition, this would be considered medicine and must be administered by a licensed practitioner such as a physician or registered nurse).  Deeper problems such as wrinkles require invasive treatments which cross the line from cosmetics to medicine.

Facial massages or electrostimulations, which are supposed to tone your skin, don’t. Toning or building muscle requires intense and repeated activity. Just like building biceps, firming musles on your face would require working out. The problem is that wrinkles on your face are caused by contracting muscles — crow’s feet are caused by contracting muscles around your eyes; frown lines are caused by furrowing your brow; lip lines are caused by contracting the muscles around your mouth. Any treatment then that firms facial muscles would only make wrinkles worse.

Other treatments such as oxygen facials and mineral treatments have no evidence to support them, (unless you count “Madonna said so” as evidence). Save your money and have your daughter apply a mud mask the next time you go to the beach.

Photo: Arkansas Shutterbug (flickr)

Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger

For post-menopausal women, decreasing estrogen levels might contribute to skin aging. Common skin changes associated with being post-menopausal include atrophy (thinning of the skin), wrinkling, dryness, laxity, sallow complexion, and poor wound healing. There are estrogen receptors in the skin and it is thought that the decrease in estrogen that accompanies menopause leads to a loss of estrogen activity and to these undesirable skin changes.

Continue reading “Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger”