Emotional Eating

The idea that nutrition is linked to the skin health no longer needs substantiation. Everyone from Perricone to Bobbi Brown has got on board with the subject not to mention Nigma Talib - she of the gluten, dairy, wine and sugar-free diet for glowing skin. So today I'd like to discuss a subject that is close to my own experience eating as a skincare nerd - I have only 2 ways of affecting meaningful changes in my diet - when I am happy - I am so caught up in my work -  I simply forget to eat and when I am sad I can say no chocolate or cheese is safe around me - not one cookie. Others have to find words and tears to know their feelings but mine are fantastically represented on scales. Slim - happy. Skinny - ecstatic. Round - blue.   I won't say my feelings are unaffected by the scale but let's just say it is a very accurate barometer of the state of my soul.

So much so that I am not even sure if I remember how to heed physical hunger - there are days when I am writing or working like yesterday that I find myself eating a single meal. My body certainly needed nutrition but I just didn't remember to eat. This is as unhealthy as reaching for snacks in sadness. Famine may result in a socially acceptable physique but it is the seedy underbelly of feasting. 

Now most of the advice on emotional eating involves avoiding trigger foods - chocolate or cheese in my case and working out your stress by journaling and letting your darker feelings find expression. Or calling a friend or meditating instead of succumbing to your emotions. My strategy and I can only tell you this is to find a physical outlet for exercise that will also require you to heed physical hunger. Regular meals or at least snacks when I think I am not hungry and working out when I get introspective. To some extent this happens when I am surrounded by caring people who wonder what I've eaten but I dream of the day when the need for food is something I can divorce from feelings. This was my goal in the latter half of 2017 and while I still struggle to eat on happy days I am doing much better on exercising when I am blue. Like this Cookie Monster. 

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Vitamin D-lightful

Vitamin D is an extraordinarily important vitamin for bone health not to mention hair and weight control and an interesting vitamin as it is freely available from sunshine — also available from the sun UVA and UVB rays that are horrendous for the skin. When one takes sun-protection seriously — hats, sunscreen, shade-seeking etc — a deficiency of Vitamin D is practically a consequence. And it’s also an ethnicity thing — dark-skinned people are not often able to obtain Vitamin D from sunshine even if they’re veritable sun-worshippers.

Vitamin D in its active form D3 is crucially involved in the body’s absorption of calcium both in the digestive tract and bones. It’s more of a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D synthesis and utilization yields the active form, calcitriol, a hormone-like compound intrinsic to cellular proliferation and differentiation contributing to skin cell growth, repair and metabolism. It mobilizes the skin’s immune system and helps destroy free radicals that can cause premature aging.

Dr. Dennis Gross has done pioneering work to show the Vitamin D- skin connection beyond the more belaboured logic of this blog that nutrition and health manifest as good skin. Sufficient vitamin D in the skin helps minimize acne, boost elasticity, stimulate collagen production, enhance radiance, and lessen lines and the appearance of dark spots and Vitamin D2 topically applied. With all these things covered — oral supplementation is the most rational response. Here is what I discovered in the Vitamin D supplementation process.

  1. Get tested — you need to know if you’re deficient or not because excess vitamin D is toxic and this is by a simple blood test in an annual physical. The optimal range is 50–70ng/ml.
  2. Find a Vitamin D3 supplement orally — this is 3 times more effective than D2 which is safer and more effective topically applied but has a shorter shelf life.
  3. Nutrition — here again animal sources are more bioavailable as was the case with Omega 3s and D3 is available — fish like salmon and mackerel, egg yolks and raw milk. Now having been raised vegetarian — I can’t eat fish and I truly dislike the smell of egg yolks and am allergic to raw milk — especially the scent. I wonder if this is a dietary expression of my heliophobia but this means supplements are truly my game-changing way to obtain D3.
  4. How much? Grassroots health suggests we need 8,000 IU to have an optimal amount in our bloodstream. I have 5,000IU because I know my Fish Oil supplements come with some of this and my almond milk is Vitamin D fortified.
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Pretty Fly

Ah long travels in metal birds — who doesn’t love to be transported into exotic foreign lands even at the risk of irritating the skin you’re in? Still there are these little things that make flying less of a bore where one’s skin is concerned.

  1. Hydrate — there is really no more important rule to flying than hydration — Since people breathe out CO2 the air in the cabin is pumped with fresh air for more oxygen but at high altitudes the air has very little moisture making the cabin air dry — the solution is not merely to drink a lot of water but to spritz away — rosewater mists — this is your moment to shine — and generally supplement this with serums rather than merely creams. 
  2. Sun Protect — Especially if you love window seats as I do there is nothing more important than sun protection since the sun’s rays are more harmful at high altitudes (not to be too dire about this but pilots have higher rates of skin cancer like 25x) and it’s got to do with radiation especially near the poles. Take a peak at the views but keep the shutters down in an effort to be sun careful. 
  3.  Sleep — we all operate with sleep debt and long haul flights are neat ways to catch up on much needed rest — movies on computers are overrated as is most airline food but a respite from the phone and internet for hours on end is totally divine. The key to sleeping on flights is to budget this time as surplus rest — this is not to arrive fresh — it’s to sleep for longer than you need to when you’re on the road and the way to do this for me is with melatonin as alcohol is particularly dehydrating to the skin but if you need a drop of wine to calm your nerves then there’s that.

 

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Backbendskin

Some yoga poses are more equal than others. In terms of difficulty there are 2 that get a lot of press headstands and backbends. Given the dangers of headstands to the neck the benefits of this inversion are iffy at best so the skin-friendliest yoga pose remains the backbend - the wheel pose - the inverted U pose.

The most important reason backbends benefit the skin is the reprieve from bending forward - at desks and cars or even checking smartphones we find ourselves leaning forward. This is great - there is incalculable value in momentum and progress. But as a skin and body habit it's hardly optimal because of its repetitive motion. Repair always involves stepping back from a repetitive routine.

In every backbend there is an element of defying gravity and letting the blood rush into your head and face in a way that feels out of the ordinary - it is in embracing this upside down perspective and coaxing a novel flexibility in the spine - it's a little bold step outside the familiar and boldness like everything else is a muscle that benefits from practice.

A full wheel pose opens the heart chakra releasing tension in the chest and is even recommended as a cure for depression. Not only does it open up the chest but stretches the shoulders to improve posture and free up breathing. This correction of the posture is the best thing to happen to the skin of your face - standing tall and looking straight instead of down improves the elasticity of the skin under the neck. Strengthening the spine's flexibility also improves circulation to the brain and cleanses the nervous system.

Working your way to building a backbend practice is a discipline in and of itself. To start with the cobra pose that's part of the sun salutation and then the deceptively simple bridge pose then the camel pose and finally the glorious wheel pose is an achievement your skin and body will benefit from disproportionately. B.K.S Iyengar has this to say and what's true of the spine is doubly true of the skin.

With backbends, you have to be cautiously bold. Not carelessly bold. You have to descend to the dictation of the spine. You cannot command from the brain to do the poses. As you play with a child, guarding the child from injuries, similarly you have to play in backbends, guarding your spine.

 

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Why Sugar-free is Skin Friendly

You’ve heard loads about people avoiding sugar to be wasp-waisted but the idea that sugar is bad for the skin seems a bit of a stretch and you’re fed up of the vilification of candy. 

It’s awful to be the Grinch who stole Halloween but sadly sugar is simply bad for your skin in the following ways - 

1. Inflammation -refined sugars cause insulin to rise and this leads to what Dr. Nicolas Perricone describes as “a burst of inflammation throughout the body”  

Not Good. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. 

2. Glycation  - Digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in your skin through a process known as glycation. Again not good. Because this glycation inflames acne and rosacea. 

3. Insulin resistance- frequent sugar consumption increases insulin resistance that has some rubbish side effects like hirsuitism - excessive hair growth exactly where you don’t want it and dark patches on your neck and elbow crease. Why? 

Who are the worst offenders? 

Simple carbs 

white bread, candy, fried food, ice cream, fruit juice, pasta, ketchup, cream cheese, jam, pizza, sugar (white and brown), packaged snacks and sodas.

This doesn’t mean skimping on servings of fruit that has fiber and nutrients but merely saying no saves you from hassles your skin feels. Be kind to your skin. Go Sugar-Free. Impact lasts longer than any sheet mask.

 Say no to sugar

Say no to sugar

Teacharged Beauty

Ah tea so potent for the soul and the skin...

  1. Hydration —all good things start from within and while hydration doesn’t help skin directly it’s crucial to overall health and that is all about skin —  tea counts toward daily hydration requirements which are different based on the weather, exercise and how spicy your food tastes. Tea is a more indulgent than water.
  2. Slendresse- Take a green tea supplement since I do not know if we have it in us to drink as much green tea as the Okinawa.
  3. Caffeination but moderated — Consider eschewing all coffee and drink black tea all day — the strongest Sri Lankan or Nilgiris leaf in the morning when one needs all the caffeine one can get — in the afternoon and mid-morning a more flavourful fruity Harney blend like Paris that is clearly the American imitation of Mariage Freres’ sublime Marco Polo.
  4. Polyphenols- And just before sleeping consider a white tea with rose petals to ease into Lethe sleep- the uncured, unfermented leaves have the most skin-friendly polyphenols.
  5. Eye-soothing Compresses — Take the muslin tea-bags left over from an afternoon of Mariage Freres tea and put them in the fridge and when taking a disco nap continue the cooling indulgence.
  6. Faux-tea fun — Drink a lot of tea that’s not even tea — the herbs like this Teapigs Licorice and Peppermint also Fennel tea and Nettle tea and occasionally Valerian tea to help you sleep. 
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How to use a fresh Aloe Vera plant

Aloe-vera - a skin friendly houseplant is just our speed! Perfect in a pinch for minor cuts and sunburns it's the skincare junkie's pet!  

What you will need

a cutting board and a sharp knife  

Step 1

Pluck a leaf of the plant as close to the stem as possible. Wash it and lay it flat on the cutting board. 

Step 2

Slice both ends and trim the spiny edges of the leaf. You will be left with a layer of thick gel sandwiched between layers of tough skin.  

Step 3  

Hold the leaf and carefully slice the waxy top layer of the skin from the gel. Set aside the Aloe skin. 

Step 4

Place a clean paper towel and flip over the leaf and slice the base of the skin as well. You'll have a clear, nearly translucent piece of Aloe gel!  

Step 5

Now the world's your Aloester - you can blend the Aloe gel into a smoothie or you can apply this pure gel slice on your skin - it's a bit slithery by let that soothing juice soak in and do its thing to soothe minor minor skin irritations - Voila! 

It's all natural and super-helpful but don't apply this on an open wound and avoid it if you're using hydrocortisone.  

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Skin's microbiome FAQ

What's the Skin's microbiome? 

The skin's microbiome is the mix of bacteria, yeasts, and parasites all microorganisms that live on your skin. It sounds gruesome but we are a super-organism and a robust and diverse microbiome is as crucial to general health and well-being as any other organ.

What does it help with?

The microbiome aids in wound healing, limits exposure to allergens and UV radiation, minimizes oxidative damage and helps to keep the skin barrier intact and well-hydrated.

What's endangering the skin's microbiome? 

The skin is under constant assault from environmental agents, harsh cleansers and soaps, deodorants, and even medications and cosmetics. An obsession with a sterile ideal is destroying the microbiota balance on the skin - a classic example of a ingredient is triclosan found in anti-perspirants - anti-bacterial in general - it's contributing to making bacteria resistant to anti-biotics and may increase skin-cancer and break down in the presence of UV radiation. 

What can you do? 

The most important thing to do is prevent antibiotic overuse and choose natural antimicrobials and antifungal ingredients like sandalwood that are selective in the impact they have on skin's bacteria and are not hoovering up all the good bacteria. Sweating is a great step in renewing the microbiome as it serves as a prebiotic. Get a bit dirty but clean up with minimalist clean beauty products that can interact with the microbiome. 

 

Glow trumps Tan

In every skin regime there is a quest for glow — that elusive luminosity of the skin from within — the glow is defined on several dimensions — authentic vs superficial — momentary vs sustained. Sweating during a hard workout provides for example an authentic but momentary glow — glisten if I am to be precise. Highlighting makeup provides a slightly more sustained but superficial glow. Tanning especially in the winter to rescue a sallow appearance is another example of sustained but superficial glow. I needn’t go into the problems of actual tanning with sun care considerations but let’s just say it’s neither good nor very convincing.

The alternative authentic and sustained glow is actually from excellent nutrition — consuming fruit and vegetables that are orange in colour and manifests in healthy radiant skin. The impact is not merely cosmetic — the antioxidants reduce the damage caused by UV rays, environmental pollution not to mention secondhand smoke and forms an internal sunscreen of sorts. In this rather external validation seeking experiment scientists from Bristol discovered that people could discern between a glow and a tan and preferred a glow to a tan. There is a warmth to a carotenoid glow that is missing from a tan — also missing the guilt of gamboling in the sun knowing what we do about the importance of staying out of the sun.

While one can add this as a supplement, there are advantages to directly consuming colourful produce — fiber that unsung hero also makes skin clearer. It’s also not just carrots and oranges but peppers, green vegetables — kale, spinach and even peas! Fiber keeps the food in one’s body a little longer and enhances nutrient absorption. Adding some Omega 3s also adds to the body’s absorption of beta carotene. And eating more produce just makes one less hungry for unhealthy food. It’s a constellation of good habits that create the optimum glow.

You want to be careful though since over-consumption has problems too — whites of the eyes tinged orange — it’s a harmless condition called carotenodermia but perhaps a bit OTT!

But talk about a carrot to consuming more produce — a glow that can’t get rubbed off and feels real and is truly from within. It’s as revolutionary as Cezanne suggested —

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

Why Go Mineral? Chemical Sunscreen + Pool water = Toxic

That's really the finding in a nutshell - the most popular chemical sunscreen Avobenzone - commonly regarded as safe forms toxic compounds with chlorinated pool water in the presence of UV radiation. Now I am not an alarmist re chemical sunscreen - it's better than nothing and not tacky and used more often as a result. Avobenzone especially is very popular and is unique among chemical sunscreens in terms of providing broad spectrum protection from UVB (burning rays) and UVA (aging rays) - it offers about 30 mins protection when exposed to sunlight but is not too stable and is usually stabilized by octocrylene which is only a UVB (burning ray) protector. There is almost no drugstore product that is without it and very often mineral sunscreens include avobenzone. 

What you need to know is that this is a big deal when combined with chlorinated pool water it forms aromatic acids, aldehydes, phenols and acetyl benzenes - all not great for pool water which you frequently ingest if you're actually swimming rather than lolling around in a pool. The takeaways are basic - it's better to find physical sunscreens with only mineral sun protection and even better to wear rash guards to have more effective sun protection in the poolside or go in the evenings or early mornings when the UV index is not crazy high. 

 

O Canarino

All right how does this sound for a morning ritual?

The girl woke startled — shook off her blinding eye-mask and made her bleary way to her old-school alarm clock all the way across the room, flipped on a switch for hot water, felt for a black tea bag, then diluted some of the boiling water with cold water squirted some lemon juice and made her way back to sit in a ponderous silence.

Pretty dire right? How about this?

The lady woke and languorously went over to soothe her pet rooster and then put on the kettle for her favourite cup of morning tea but first sipped on a brisk canarino before easing into her morning meditation.

The big difference of course is Canarino — that charming Italian name for hot water with lemon juice and often an appealingly arranged lemon peel. I did not know of this concoction until I got charged 3 quid for ordering one at Aubaine while fending off a cold. I blithely sent back the cheque saying I ordered nothing of the sort. While I did get was a testy lecture from the waiter that hot water with lemon was in fact a canarino. In life’s little irritations lie valuable lessons.

Hot water with lemon juice — how banal — but a canarino — that’s cool! that sets the tone for my mornings — it just makes them languid and vacationy as if I were at a farm with all the time in world to watch the persimmon dawn flame into a pale blue sky.

The idea of drinking this first thing came through my chewy encounter with the Viva Mayr diet. Now this didn’t last because I got really bored chewing and chewing all my food though I do chew a lot more for having tried this but this hot water with lemon first thing I was totally on board.

Apart from the benefits of jumpstarting your metabolism and stabilizing pH and being good for the skin which I can’t be sure of since it’s just one half of one little lemon to me it’s an indulgence — it just eases me into the day with no morning breath.

Market for Lemons by the way is the seminal paper by George Akerlof on information asymmetry and signaling is one of my favourite ideas in Economics — I apply it liberally and everywhere but here’s a recent fun fact — this 2001 Nobel winner — Akerlof is married to the Fed chair— the intrepid Janet Yellen

Lamaze-ing skin

All you need to know about pregnancy skincare. Becoming a mother is a watershed moment in a woman's life and handling all the changes means reviewing skincare for your changing body and the health of the baby. Skincare that is part of your usual routine is not right for pregnancy and since there isn't a specific certification for pregnancy safe products this is an especially important time to explore clean beauty-

Here's what to watch out for  

1.  Retinol - this is widely prescribed anti-aging and anti-acne ingredient that is also available in lower concentrations over the counter. While retinoinds always increase photo sensitivity they are associated with birth defects especially orally and even topically since the small concentrations can meaningfully affect a tiny foetus. 

2. Sunscreen  - mineral sunscreens using active ingredients like Zinc oxide and Titanium Dioxide are especially worth investigating when you are pregnant as chemical filters even when they are pregnancy safe are not as suitable for sensitive skin and Zinc has double benefit of soothing skin. In case you suffer from melasma (dark skin patches)  you can consider natural active ingredients like sandalwood that reverse sun damage. 

3. Exfoliants - during pregnancy it's important to ease up on chemical exfoliants in particular like beta hydroxy acids which orally are associated with birth defects. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are safer but best avoided and a gentle physical exfoliant or with a simple clay mask because increased skin sensitivity is common. 

4. Soy - melasma is worsened by soy's estrogenic effects and also some essential oils like bergamot so the less you do the better. 

5. Anti-acne  - pregnancy related acne needs a topical antibiotic rather than any traditional product as it is hormonal and benzoyl peroxide and salycilic acid and retinoids are best avoided. 

6. Makeup - mineral makeup is best especially since it lets skin breathe and minimizes pregnancy acne. 

Less is more is really the most important takeaway for pregnancy skincare and leaves you more time to spend preparing for your baby! 

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Skin-care during Seasonal Allergies

Good skin is always in season and here is how one can optimally take care of skin during allergy season.

  1. Eye-care — you have to beef up eye-care as it’s not merely itchy eyes that are an issue but nasal congestion causes blood to pool under the eyes suggesting dark circles. Always wear sunglasses or glasses when outdoors. This is the first layer of protection, then saline washes on a regular basis and soak extra-soft facial cotton in ice-cold water and place them on both eyes. Eye-makeup especially kohl and eyeliners and mascara are all best-avoided and little-missed with stylish glasses. Regarding eye-drops — avoid anti-histamine laden drops and use simple drops to mitigate redness. But rubbing the delicare area around the eyes is a horrible idea and the most important thing is to mitigate the avoidable irritation as much as possible. It’s also best to lay off any exfoliating treatments on fragile skin in this most insufferable of seasons.
  2. Sun-care- it feels lovely to walk around in the balmy spring weather.   Still wearing a hat is doubly relevant in allergy season as frequently sneezing wipes off sunscreen and also it can prevent the pollen or other airborne allergens from getting entangled in your hair that you could just drag indoors. Be contrarian among sun-loving pals — you’ll be doing their skin a favour as well as your own but walking on the shady side of the street — hitting a museum on a pollen-heavy day than a sculpture garden and enforcing good sun habits when the temptation to gambol in the sunshine is at its absolute peak.
  3. Showering — the best way to mitigate allergies is to shower regularly as we tend to track outdoor allergens indoors — it maybe tempting to take long baths but quick cold showers wash off the pollen quite effectively and keep one’s home a less irritating environment for the skin. Also since one’s tolerance for fragrances is lower in spring allergy season — god forbid smelling any roses ☺ — showers liberate one from the scents of the street. But the increased need to shower means it’s just more essential that the cold water rules are observed more carefully.
  4. Dial back Skingredients — watch what you eat. Allergies come with their own rules — the good skingredients like almonds and apples can wreak havoc during allergy season to people with tree pollen allergies — this is a very recent discovery but the realisation that food that is usually good for you can be dangerous when your immune system feels under attack suggests that Spring is a perfect season to try an elimination diet. But some skingredients like Magnesium and Fish Oil help the situation. It can be hard to digest the idea that what is usually good for you can be suboptimal in allergy season but it’s about listening to your body and tuning into how it feels now.

Skinny Dipping

There are different inducements to swimming — infinity pools, hot days and a desire for cardio that’s easy on the joints. It’s also an actual life skill and swimming rather than sinking but it's not so hot for the skin. Here is how to amp up skincare while swimming

  1. Pick a good time to swim — now there is really not a much better strategy of suncare than avoiding the sun — if there is any discretion at all in your swim time pick when the UV index is below 4. This means mornings or evenings and not between 10AM to 4PM. With any vigorous swimming even the best sport sunscreen will rub off and there are problems with any barrier creams with pool chemistry.
  2. Pre-swim rinse — wet your hair with fresh water before swimming in chlorinated water — this is not going to make for a great Herb Ritts photo shoot but it allows hair to fill up with water so it’s better able to resist the chlorinated water. There’s no need to bust out filtered water or spring water — simply a comprehensive shower will do — if you want to be an overachiever 
  3. Wear a cap — Low tech but crucial — it radically minimises the amount of chlorine that one’s hair is exposed to — just the bits that leak in through the cap rather than an entire pool of chlorine. 
  4. And Goggles — now any concern you may have for hair only deserves to be multiplied with respect to eyes. It’s important to find goggles that fit your face — consider children’s goggles as the big ones tend to be loose and let in pool water.
  5. Avoid Creams — now it might seem like a good idea to pre-moisturise ahead of swimming — embracing barrier creams like Vaseline etc — these wear off easily so they’ve provided you with a false sense of security letting you soak until you’re all wrinkly which is so not good — not in the bath and not in the pool — but also they are bad for pool chemistry as they react with the chlorine to form more irritating things like chloramines.
  6. Post-swim shower with Vitamin C — Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients to neutralise chlorine and if you’re not afraid a fresh 5% water solution with ascorbic acid is great on the hair and body chased by a Vitamin C serum slathered all over. Moisturise a bit more than usual!

Why Vegan?

Ethical consistency is complicated - our mental accounting is not always rational - the same individuals who eat meat are animals are often also equally concerned that animals are not subjected to wanton cruelty. It is for this reason that animal-testing that is generally regarded as abhorrent but animal-derived ingredients are examined with curiosity. 

To be cruelty-free, it is sufficient for an establishment to not perform animal testing - something difficult for larger brands that would like to sell in China as animal-testing is mandatory on all cosmetic products sold in China. But brutality aside, animal ingredients are not met with the same instinctive repulsion. Humans are after all an omnivorous species and so many animal-derived ingredients - honey for example just "feels" vegetarian. Cheese likewise.  

So it's difficult to be vegan no matter how ethically consistent you would like to be because food preferences are imprinted in youth and hard to change without profound personal effort because of inertia and the easy availability and desirability of animal products that form the basis of childhood memories and traditions. But as we have evolved to know more there is a drive toward the ethical treatment of animals as long as they are alive before they are killed for food - this drives the appeal for free-range chicken for example because of empathy. 

It is however harder to feel the same empathy for animal-derived ingredients like snails and bee venom.  Zooplankton which are microorganisms are difficult to distinguish from phytoplankton that are plants. The line becomes murkier when they involve equine plasma from horses that are part of most vaccines. So it is difficult and possibly hypocritical to assume we as a species can truly be fully vegan and so we may consider withholding judgement on the subject of animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics. 

The case however for vegan cosmetics and botanical actives over animal-derived ingredients is more nuanced. Vegan cosmetics can have chemicals made in labs that mimic natural ingredients. Botanical actives' advantage over animal-derived ingredients is that plants are more likely to be better for the ecosystem, leave a lower carbon footprint and be more sustainable simply because there are more plants than animals. But there is also a question of safety - now poison ivy is not going to be better than honey or yoghurt on your skin but in terms of ingredients like bee venom or jellyfish there is just inadequate safety date and clinical trials.

So on balance if ethics were not viewed as total and veganism even partially beneficial  cosmetics might be an area to begin a vegan lifestyle choice without the burden of legacy of food since we try so many new products it might be worth favouring vegan products and insisting on higher standards of safety and efficacy for all cosmetics. 

 

 

 

 

Weight for it

The ideal weight is a consuming preoccupation. Society aside, there is cast iron logic that there is an optimal skin-friendly approach to an ideal weight. Collagen in the dermis layer of the skin is responsible for the skin's vibrant plumpness. It also has a related fiber called elastin responsible for the skin's elasticity. 

Rapid weight loss or gain erodes the elasticity of the elastin fibers in the skin. This is the most important reason that systematic weight loss is the skin-friendliest way to manage weight. Weight gain stretches skin - hello stretch marks - and weight loss causes skin to get lax. This loss of elasticity that doesn't let skin snap back is not worth the hassle especially if your genetically determined fat loss pattern ever involves losing fat on your face. 

Dr. Gerald Imber notes in his latest book Absolute Beauty (an update of the Youth Corridor) that slowly losing weight allows slowly reacting  skin an anatomical advantage of shrinking to fit underlying structures closely and attractively and prevent it from looking loose, empty and haggard even when you have gone through the fortitude of having lost weight. 

So weight loss of anything more than a few pounds should be at the rate of half a pound a week and while it's normal to lose 2-3 pounds in the first week, this is because of water weight and it's just best to be moderate and maintain in either direction. To this end it's also best to weigh yourself every day if you are smaller since a pound on a petite physique just means more if its following a bingey holiday like Easter. 

And in terms of social norms of slenderness - there is such a thing as too thin -normal amounts of subcutaneous fat goes a long way to help skin look and feel healthy. Finding optimal weight is one you have to determine a balance of energy and appearance and defend against the allure of bingeing and the harsh austerity of rapid weight loss. 

 

Skin-friendly Chocolate

The most important reason skin is an accurate indicator of general health is that it is the last organ to receive nutrition so the state of the skin if healthy and radiant is a decent heuristic for good nutrition.

There are 4 main food groups that aren't the best for skin according to Dr. Nigma Talib - dairy, sugar, alcohol and gluten. Of these fair and sugar are key to good chocolate which is key to a good life so here's an incredibly easy way to enjoy skinfriendly chocolate- 

Ingredients

Cacao butter - any will do but seek out undeodorised butter  - 1 measure

Unsweetened cocoa powder- organic preferable  - half measure

Stevia - liquid stevia makes things easier  - to taste

Lavender essence - a few drops 

Tools

Bain-marie- this is nothing special just a glass bowl in a flat pan of boiling water 

Silicone mold 

Directions

Grate cacao butter - this is not strictly necessary but it makes things faster - and just grate it into the glass bowl on a food scale so the measure is clear

Put in the cocoa powder and the stevia 

Place in Bain-marie and stir until it's a lovely liquid 

Put in the lavender essence in the end 

Ladle into the silicon mold and pop into the freezer for 10 minutes

This is not going to win any golden whisks but if you're into clean eating and skin friendly treats - it will definitely hit the spot. Enjoy! 

Hunchneck of Notre Phone

Germiness is only one aspect of skin unfriendly phone habits — the next worst thing is   texting. It causes what is known in the biz as “tech-neck” — droopy jowls and prematurely wrinkly necks in 18–39 year olds because of the seemingly perpetual downward gaze not to mention the additional strain it adds to one’s back.

Skin-Friendly Phone Habits

  1. Clean Screen Line the phone screen with a glass screen protector  — this is to save it when dropped but really what it lets you do is use some hand sanitizer on the surface of the phone without worrying about compromising the touch screen.
  2. Wear Headphones - Phones get hot and dirty and headphones keep this away from the sensitive skin near your temples. 
  3. Hold Loose When you use the phone without headphones in a pinch don’t rest it between my head and neck. This is important as the more active discomfort of holding the phone afar or even using the speaker phone motivates  to go search for headphones.
  4. Look with your Eyes —  You can square your shoulders and look down with your eyes to mitigate the back issues at the very least.
  5. Text Less —  there is so much lost in tone while texting — see Sherry Turkle’s article — 80% of texting is the establishment of context which could be done in seconds on the telephone. Behind these quippy armoured barbs we are losing sight of each other and this is a skill fading into obscurity like penmanship. Phonecalls are not as good as IRL but they are in real time and that has its merits.

 

Beautyfool

Makeup artistry is admirable but not for everyone especially the anti-makeup activists. The Beautyfool lies in between who makes it up as she goes along. I am this woman - interested in big skincare and happy in small makeup and this is how I  feel ready to take on the world. Everything I do has to be foolproof and under a minute. 

a slap of sunscreen to moisturize and prime 

a smudge of kohl to define my eyes 

a swipe of tinted lip balm to make my lips less peely 

a dash of finishing powder to fight shine 

a spritz of rosewater to keep it all together  

then when going all out I add before the finishing powder 

a dab of highlighter on the inside of the eyes  

a pinch of blush on the apples of cheeks 

Anything more and I feel like someone else and I frankly feel naked wearing anything less and that I feel is the right point to stop with makeup when you still feel like you. 

 

The Makeup of a Confident Woman

Trish McEvoy's book is a lovely read - there's a lot about makeup technique - radically simplified and organised to learn general principles of looking your best with makeup using as much time as you have/need. 

But the provocative theme of this book lies in its defense of makeup as a tool of confidence for women in a cultural moment when the "no-makeup" movement is gaining currency when women are rebelling against the pressure to present curated versions of themselves especially in social media and with selfies. Trish's position is that looking better and taking care of themselves makes women feel more confident - it's the equivalent of faking it until you make it. Which goes to show to a woman who wants to feel confident she can do it with or without makeup - either position can be self-affirming. She invests the act of makeup with putting your best face forward - taking time to care for yourself even for a few minutes it becomes an empowering ritual - a gateway behavior to give yourself the gift of time and invest comprehensively in your stores of confidence. It's behavioral and Trish McEvoy's view is sensitive to the fact that appearance matters more to women as the currency of femininity.

That said, while she discusses skincare there is no longer a divide between makeup and skincare with the evolution of makeup as skincare largely by the green beauty movement that is raising standards of safety and efficacy in cosmetics and women are becoming more confident in their routines and enjoying makeup rather than locating their self-worth in their appearance.