If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin! 6 ingredients to avoid

I remember a sales pitch used by one of the natural cosmetic companies. At the customer meeting, the sales person would actually eat the cosmetic to show the safety of the products they make. Although it sounds like a yucky job, it’s certainly convincing to the buyer!

As Brian Vaszily (founder of www.theartofantiaging.com ) boldly states in his report on toxic ingredients in cosmetics: “When you’re pushing your grocery cart down the cosmetics aisle, remember that you are pushing it down a food aisle…”.

There are a variety of labels on our makeup, skincare, sunscreens, and lotions that make us believe they’re healthy and good for our skin; however, many of these words—”organic,” “natural,” “vegan”—are often marketing ploys which don’t reflect the efficacy or health of the product. In other words, sure, there may be a single ingredient in the list that is vegan or organic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ingredients in the product that can be damaging or harmful to your health.

It’s important to understand that your skin is the largest organ in your body. When you apply creams, cleansers, and oils to your face each day, your skin is absorbing those ingredients. The effects can be beneficial with less acne, more moisture, and protection from the sun. However, there may be long-term detriments to using certain products if they contain harmful ingredients that disrupt your hormones, contribute to cancer, or suppress your immune function.

It can feel overwhelming to determine which ingredients are okay and which you need to avoid. Below we’ve outlined six ingredients found in everyday skincare products—from moisturizers to toners to hair dye—that you should avoid to benefit your long-term health.


1. Fragrance

Who doesn’t love a lavender or lily scent to their deodorant or moisturizer? It seems like everything down to feminine products comes in a scented version these days. Unfortunately, the scent itself is typically labeled as “fragrance” in the list of ingredients. In other words, you aren’t given more insight into the ingredients that go into that fragrance—it could be any combination of hundreds of harmful chemicals.

Moreover, fragrance—even in its natural form—can interfere with hormone release. People with severe hormonal issues such as PCOS or endometriosis should generally avoid strong fragrances and scented products, as the fragrance can trigger a hormonal release. To best support your health, aim for unscented products, taking special care to avoid scented products which do not clarify the ingredients which go into the fragrance!

Here’s an Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verified Fragrance:



2. Sulfates

Sulfates are found in shampoos, conditioners, foundation, and more. They’re incorporated into soaps and shampoos to help them become more latherable (more bubbly!), and they’re added to foundations to increase skin absorption. You might have noticed “Sulfate Free” labels on your haircare and skincare, and that’s with good purpose.

Certain sulfates—4-dioxane, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ethylene in particular—have been connected to cancer risk. They may also cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Keep an eye out for those “sulfate free” labels, and double-check the ingredients!


3. Retinol

Retinol, a synthetic version of vitamin A, is commonly used in anti-aging and acne products. Typical symptoms you’ll notice using retinol are dry, flaky skin. Labels will also warn you to not use it in sunlight, as it makes your skin more sensitive to UV light.

With prolonged use, some research suggests retinol may contribute to the development of skin cancer, too. Opt for less intense acne or anti-aging products to protect your skin and your health!

Here’s an EWG Verified Angi-aging Serum:



4. Formaldehyde

You may be surprised to see formaldehyde on this list. It is commonly found in soaps, facial cleansers, and other skin care products. It serves as a preservative that keeps bacteria and other harmful microbes from growing in the product as it’s packaged, shipped, and awaits usage.

Unfortunately, formaldehyde has been deemed a carcinogen by the US National Toxicology Program and other international bodies providing similar information. It is still widely used in the US, however, so be aware of it on any of your skincare labels.

You will also want to keep an eye out for DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate,  bronopol, and glyoxal (whew!) These are often used as substitutes for formaldehyde or for the release of formaldehyde, and cause similar negative effects.


5. Aluminum

Aluminum is very commonly found in deodorant. It’s a metal (yes, that roll of shiny paper in your kitchen drawer), and in deodorant, it has the effect of blocking sweat ducts. Unfortunately, this does not have positive effects on your body. Aluminum’s secondary interactions can cause cells in your body to mutate; this is the origin of malignant tumors in the body. Opt for a natural deodorant to avoid these negative effects.

Occasionally, aluminum can also be found in foundation and lipstick. Keep an eye out on the labels to avoid this heavy metal in your skincare.

Here’s an EWG Verified deodorant:


6. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is commonly used in sunscreens and lotions or foundations which include sun protection. It has potential hormone-disrupting effects, with particularly strong effects on estrogen release. This means, for some, it may cause decreased libido, birth defects, depression, and more. Other sunscreen ingredients to look out for are octinoxate and homosalate—they have similar effects.

Here’s an EWG Verified sunscreen:


Your skin health is important. The products you may apply to promote skin health could actually be doing the exact opposite. Start looking at the details of your product labels for these harmful ingredients to tend to your long-term health!

5 More Natural Hacks for Managing Acne

“Dear Pimples – if you’re going to live on my face, I need to see some rent!” 

If this quote was true and you’ve struggled with acne, you may be thinking that you would be a wealthy landlord by now, right? LOL.

Breakouts and blemishes are tough. Sometimes it can feel like you’re doing everything right, yet  you still find new whiteheads or clogged pores cropping up. Because your skin is sensitive to so many factors – your diet, environment, sleep hygiene, and more – it’s important to maintain a balanced lifestyle, while also seeking out triggers specific to your body which may cause acne.

Previously, we covered five basic steps to clearer skin. In this blog, we’re going even deeper with five more ways to manage your acne, specifically focusing on how you can adjust your diet to achieve clearer, healthier skin.

The gut-skin connection is complex. Essentially, when you take in high carb, high sugar, or highly processed foods, it increases the load on your digestive system. Within your digestive tract, there is a whole community of healthy bacteria that assist with breaking your food down and properly digesting its nutrients. When the system becomes overloaded with sugar, trans fats, and highly processed food, it negatively affects the bacteria in the gut biome, decreasing the healthy bacteria and increasing stress on the overall system.

(image taken from drjokers.com)

For those prone to acne, off-kilter levels of gut bacteria often lead to excess sebum (oil) production, which then causes breakouts on the face. When we can nip the bacterial imbalances in the bud with dietary changes, skin often improves. Below we’ve outlined five ways you can modify your diet and gut health to achieve clearer skin, as well as a few final lifestyle tips to help with acne!

Shift to a low-glycemic diet

 Glycemic refers to the rate at which food causes your blood sugar to rise. A high glycemic diet includes foods that spike your blood sugar, causing it to rise and crash quickly, while a low glycemic diet includes foods which promote sustained blood sugar regulation over time.

Common high glycemic foods include processed, sugary snacks as well as high-carb foods. Pretzels, cookies, and candies are all classic examples. Low glycemic foods, on the other hand, typically will be whole foods like apples, wild caught fish or protein, vegetables, and more. Shifting to a low-glycemic diet boosts overall health; one study even found a correlation between starting a low glycemic diet and improving acne.

Aim for an anti-inflammatory diet

 In the gut-skin connection mentioned above, inflammation is one of the key factors overloading the digestive system and contributing to its inability to process nutrients correctly, eventually leading to acne. Certain foods can contribute to inflammation; as you may have guessed, sugary, processed foods are major players here.

Thankfully, there are foods that are not just healthy, but also actively contribute to reducing inflammation in the body. Common examples are antioxidant rich foods like berries and dark leafy greens, wild caught fish, ginger and turmeric, and eggs. These can decrease the inflammation which causes acne over the long term!

Add probiotics to your supplement regimen

 As mentioned earlier, acne is often caused by mismanaged levels of good and not-so-good bacteria in the gut. Taking probiotics, or live microorganisms taken to improve the gut biome or bacteria levels in other parts of the body, can be immensely helpful in managing your acne.

Probiotics help neutralize unhealthy bacteria and replenish the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. With more good bacteria, your digestive system can more effectively break down food, decrease inflammation, and move waste out of your system. When this process happens as it needs to, there is less overload on your system that would otherwise lead to breakouts.

If you’re looking to try out some probiotics for your gut, check out the Triple Therapy Probiotic Powder Sticks.

Improve your sleep

You probably know that stress plays a huge role in acne development. When we have increased stress levels, our body is swimming with excess hormones, and isn’t in a state for repair and rejuvenation. This stress often comes out on our skin!

Improving sleep quality and quantity is a key way to combat stress and improve your acne. Improved sleep helps decrease the inflammation which comes with stress and a highly processed diet; consequently, better sleep leads to better skin. To improve your sleep, consider the following:

  • Meditating before bed
  • Avoiding food / snacking 3 hours before bedtime
  • Use an eye-mask at night to sleep in complete darkness
  • Or keep your room dark at night with black-out curtains
  • Avoid caffeine after lunchtime
  • Incorporate exercise into your regular routine, but avoid exercising late at night

If you’re looking for a sleep meditation to get you started, try out this short meditation from Calm below:

Find an exercise routine that suits you

The benefits of exercise are truly endless. When it comes to your skin, physical activity can provide benefits which touch on each issue area we’ve covered so far in this blog series. Exercise helps reduce inflammation, which puts unnecessary load on your system and is often expressed in acne. Exercise can also improve insulin function. So, if you’re weaning off of a high glycemic diet, exercise can help your body process blood glucose more effectively, leading to less inflammation and stress on your system.

Exercise also helps with stress levels too, especially if you find a form of physical activity that is genuinely enjoyable for you. Give yourself permission to be creative and find a form of exercise that you can look forward to. For some people that’s going for a run, for others it’s gardening, and some people like to do Zumba or a dance class. It’s all about finding what feels good for you.

If you want some simple tips to bring more exercise into your routine, check out our recent exercise blog, linked here.

The solution to unhealthy skin typically isn’t a fancy new toner or the latest 10-step skincare routine. Healthy skin begins and ends with your lifestyle, and is especially influenced by your diet. Start making these changes today to find clearer skin and improve your overall health – opting for whole foods, sleeping more, and exercising regularly. This not only leads to better skin, but supports your overall health!




5 Natural Hacks for Managing Acne

The biggest organ in your body isn’t your heart, stomach, liver of lungs. It’s your skin! Were you aware that human skin makes up about 16% of our body mass and takes up about 20 square feet of our body’s surface?

Your skin tissue is unique—it serves protective and nourishing purposes that benefit your entire body. The skin on your face, however, is a bit special: its various glands and pores create a softer and more sensitive surface. And it’s often the skin on our face that can make us feel self-conscious when acne and breakouts decide to show up to the party.

If you struggle with acne, you’re not alone. About 45 million Americans find themselves dealing with regular acne, and for many, this still happens after puberty! Acne can arise from hormonal imbalances, stress, diet changes, and more. Even if you’ve struggled with chronic acne, you can arm yourself with paths to clearer skin. In this blog, we’ve outlined five methods to zap acne naturally.

1. Drink more water

Increasing your CLEAN water intake is beneficial for nearly every facet of your health. Additional hydration aids your body’s daily digestive, immune, and circulation processes, and without enough water, toxins build up in the body. Oftentimes, these toxins are expressed through acne and stubborn breakouts. Even more so, if you find yourself with chapped lips or rough, dry skin, more water intake is the first step to managing dry skin.

A good rule of thumb for how much water you should drink requires a simple calculation. Take half of your body weight and drink that amount in ounces! For instance, for standard activity level, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should aim to drink ~70 oz of water per day. This comes out to about 4.5 standard 16 oz water bottles a day. BUT—more is not necessarily better as excess hydration can wash away precious minerals and lead to other issues not covered here.

And make sure the water you drink is clean. If you do not have a house filtration system, grab a tabletop one. This one has been third-party tested to be one of the best for removing contaminants and is quite affordable.

2. Keep yourself and your environment clean!

Good hygiene is key to healthy skin. Cleaning your face and body is core to a breakout free complexion, but ensuring different parts of your environment are cleaned regularly is also important.

For starters, gentle facial cleansers are great for healthy skin. Creating a 10-part skincare routine isn’t necessary to attain clear skin, but if you’re struggling to identify a cleanser that’s best for you, chat with your dermatologist or doctor for their recommendation. In the meantime, rinsing your face with water after any hot or sweat-producing activities is great for preventing acne. I’m a fan of the Environmental Working Group recommendations on skincare products as they rate products based on the level of how-do-you-spell-that chemicals. Here are several EWG verified facial cleansers that are gentle and effective for your baby face:

Additionally, keep tabs on the cleanliness of your pillowcases, makeup brushes, and cell phone. Anything that touches your face needs to be regularly washed for general good hygiene practices and to prevent acne.

3. Remove certain foods from your daily diet

Your gut’s health is one of the strongest influences on your skin’s health. Certain foods, such as processed, sugary, bad fat-laden foods and dairy, have been shown to increase breakouts. Typically, highly processed or foods with dairy create hormonal imbalances that are expressed in the skin via a new whitehead or painful cystic acne.

A simple way to figure out which foods may be triggering your breakouts is by doing short-term elimination diets. Go without the food which you suspect may be causing breakouts (continue to ensure you’re still eating enough food and have a balanced diet). If you find yourself with fewer breakouts after several weeks, it may very well be that you have sensitivities to that food which are expressed on your skin!

4. Eat more antioxidant rich foods and zinc

Antioxidants are substances that remove various oxidizing compounds like free radicals which can be harmful to your health. Common antioxidants are vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and selenium—many of these are found in everyday fruits and veggies! Zinc is a mineral which can function as an antioxidant as well.

When you eat more foods with antioxidants and zinc, you’re equipping your body with the resources to decrease the damage from free radical exposure. This is especially helpful for the health of your skin, as heavy free radical exposure contributes to general inflammation and can lead to acne. Research recommends increasing antioxidant exposure to decrease oxidative stress from free radicals.

Eat more raspberries, carrots, pecans, blueberries, spinach and grapes to increase your antioxidant load. Most fresh fruits (especially berries) and vegetables are great in this regard.

5. Manage your stomach acidity

As mentioned earlier, your gut health has a HUGE impact on your skin and what you eat shows up on the outside. This is especially important when considering your stomach’s pH level. Your stomach’s acidity is measured through pH, and when the pH gets too high (your stomach isn’t acidic enough to effectively break down foods), various digestive issues can arise. When the digestive system isn’t functioning well and toxins are building up in the body, we often see that in the skin.

There are a few simple ways you can manage the acid levels of your stomach. Having more fermented vegetables can be hugely helpful—try out some kimchi, sauerkraut or pickled ginger. And on that note, ginger in any form is a huge help. Grate it into your curry or make some homemade ginger tea. Ingesting a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or having lemon juice more frequently can also help with stomach acidity and consequently, your skin health.

Freeing your skin from chronic acne can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, but these small lifestyle changes can vastly increase your skin’s overall health!

Is It Tan O’Clock Yet?

How to avoid Vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer

When I was growing up in New York, I craved the hot weather and longed for tanning time in the sun. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s song of Grease’s “Summer Nights” was my prelude for the season. Well, that was until I moved to the South and realized what summer was really like – LOL!

With summer naturally comes a lot of bright, sunny days and rays. Each year, we’re reminded to stock up on sunscreen, and many of us might opt for the higher SPFs to protect ourselves and family from harmful rays.

Protection from harmful sun exposure isn’t as simple as a higher number on the bottle, however. Even more so, we need some sun exposure to ensure we’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients we need to stay healthy and well. Today, we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of sun exposure do’s and don’ts, with practical tips for how you can stay safe in the sun this summer.

What are the benefits of sun exposure?

Spending adequate time in the sun each day is key to getting enough vitamin D. One of vitamin D’s core functions is assisting with cell division and proliferation, allowing our skin to stay healthy and repair itself when damaged or aging. A vitamin D deficiency has been connected to lower endurance, muscle weakness, and stress fractures, which can be expected from the decreased ability for cells to repair and reproduce.

There are more negative effects of little time in the sun, however; low levels of vitamin D have also been connected to increased depression in women, chronic pain, mood issues, fatigue, decreased immune function, and more. Getting sun exposure each day is important to unlocking your overall wellness; the trick is finding the balance of just enough sun exposure to get what you need in vitamin D.

It is generally recommended that folks with darker skin need more time in the sun – anywhere ranging from 30-45 minutes a day – as their skin is more protective against the sun’s rays. This is great for avoiding melanoma and skin cancers, but requires more time in the sun to get adequate vitamin D. If you are very pale or light skinned, less time in the sun is recommended per day (about 15-20 minutes), as lighter complexions are more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancers but require less time to absorb vitamin D.

How can the sun be harmful?

As we’ve been commonly taught, there are a number of risks with excessive sun exposure, namely painful sunburns and various forms of skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute has reported that the rates of skin cancer have nearly tripled since the 1970s, and the CDC reports about 8,000 people will pass away from some form of melanoma each year. Though skin cancer’s exact causes are hazy, it is clear that sun exposure contributes to its development.

There are two main rays from the sun that contribute to sunburns and skin cancer: UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays move into the more superficial layers of skin, and these are also the rays that provide vitamin D to our bodies. UVB rays are actually the main cause of sunburn, and consequently, most sunscreens are designed to protect mostly against these rays.

UVA rays, on the other hand, go into deeper layers of the skin. Research suggests that UVA rays are predominantly responsible for skin cancer, even though they don’t give you the uncomfortable sunburned splotches like UVB rays do. We run into trouble here because most sunscreens, especially in the United States, are not formulated to protect against UVA rays nearly as much as UVB rays.

When we don’t adequately protect ourselves from UVA rays, we put ourselves at risk of taking in too much of the harmful stuff from the sun, and potentially develop skin cancer down the line. Below, we’ve listed four tips to help you strike the tricky balance of avoiding vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer.

How can I enjoy the sun and protect myself?

Avoid high SPF sunscreens & sprays

SPF stands for sun protection factor, and if you’re shopping at Walmart on your way to the beach, chances are you’ll be inclined to buy a higher SPF sunscreen to feel more protected.

The number on your bottle of sunblock is not as reliable as it seems, however. A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that, on average, most sunscreens provide around half (42 – 59%) of the UVB ray protection that their SPF suggests. In other words, they’re only about half as effective as they market themselves to be.

Even worse, the UVA ray protection was typically only 25% of the SPF on the bottle. As a recap, to prevent skin cancer, UVA protection is especially important, as those rays go deeper into the skin and have the potential to cause cancer over time.

With the lack of effective sunscreens, it’s important to avoid the ones which tout themselves as most effective, which is typically high SPF sunscreens. As the EWG outlines in their recent report on sunscreen, high SPF products, specifically 50+, give users a “false sense of security” for a variety of reasons. With higher SPF, there’s typically a lower level of UVA protection, a minimal reported increase in protection from sunburn (as little as 1% increase from SPF 50 to SPF 100), and overall increased health risks, as higher SPF sunscreens typically have much higher concentrations of chemicals. Sunscreens with SPF between 30-50 provide the protection you need.

In addition, the EWG recommends avoiding any spray sunscreens. They’re incredibly convenient, I know – I’m sad to let them go myself! But these aerosol sprays often include benzene, which is a recognized carcinogen by the FDA, CDC, and International Agency for Research on Cancer. Take your time and spread the screen rather than spray it!

Use different forms of sun protection

Another simple tip is to use a variety of forms of sun protection. If you’ve already been out for a few hours, go ahead and take some time in the shade. Opt to wear hats, beach cover-ups, or get shady under a beach umbrella. Getting out of the sun after substantial time in it is generally more effective than sunscreen, and exposes you to less side effects and chemicals!

Use EWG researched and recommended products

Before we dive into some product recommendations, if you want the full story on SPF, sunscreen, and skin cancer, check out the EWG’s 2022 Guide to Sunscreen, linked here.

We’ve gone through and picked out a few of their research-based recommendations, and have shared their link on Amazon (though they should be available through a wide variety of retailers). Opt for one of these more effective and less chemically concentrated products this summer!

Sport Sunscreen:

365 Everyday Value Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
EWG Rating: 1/10 (1 Best, 10 Worst)

Buy on Amazon Here

Baby / Kids Sunscreen:

Pipette Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50
EWG Rating: 1/10 (1 Best, 10 Worst)

Buy on Amazon Here

Babyganics Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
EWG Rating: 2/10 (1 Best, 10 Worst)

Buy on Amazon Here

Non-Mineral Sport Sunscreen:

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Lotion, Aloe Vera, SPF 30
EWG Rating: 2/10 (1 Best, 10 Worst)

Buy on Amazon Here

Facial Moisturizers with SPF:

Cocokind Daily Facial Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 32
EWG Rating: 2/10 (1 Best, 10 Worst)

Buy on Amazon Here

Beautiful Skin Comes from Within

Have you heard this ‘beauty’ quote? 

“I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being skin deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?” Jean Kerr, Author

And to that, I would say – absolutely yes! If everyone in this country had a beautiful pancreas, we would not have the epidemic of diabetes we have today. The point is, beauty may be skin deep but that all happens from within. So if you’re suffering from acne, psoriasis, eczema and other skin issues, it’s your insides telling that you have inflammation within that is being manifested on your skin. Stress, poor diet, food allergies, gut imbalances, hormone swings and nutrient deficiencies are to blame for what’s showing up on the surface.

Many of us seek dermatologists to get creams, pills and treatments to address these issues but you really need to start looking beyond the superficial or temporary fix to find the root cause of the skin flare-ups. So in this blog, I’ll share some tips on building beautiful skin from within to keep skin looking gorgeous and young.

Your skin is a reflection of what you put in your mouth

  • Stay away from processed foods, sugar, factory-raised meats and artificial additives. Did you know that excess sugar consumption will create Advanced Glycation End (AGEs) products that age your skin? Those sunspots/liver spots you often seen in elderly people are formed when protein, sugars and the heat in our body combine in a chemical reaction known as the “Maillard reaction” to create charring. Desirable in cooking, recipes often call for sugars as a coating on BBQ or steak to create the charring on the meat. The same happens in our body but we don’t want charring to show up on our skin.

  • Eat whole foods and up to nine servings of vegetables and low sugar fruits. If you simply cannot eat that much, you can supplement with some low sugar vegetable juices every now and then. This is what I drink when I know I won’t be eating well for whatever reason: https://farmersjuice.com
    It’s not cheap but it’s organic, low sugar (very important as a lot of commercial juices are loaded with sugar or cheap high sugar fruit), packs a pound of veggies in each serving and saves me the hassle of juicing my own.

Food Intolerances

If you have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods, it can flare up on your skin. Well-known culprits include dairy, wheat/gluten, legumes, corn and peanuts. So, you can get an allergy test done or try an elimination diet to see if your skin improves. Check out this resource to learn more.

Optimize your gut

  • Your skin is a reflection of your gut so it’s important to keep the trillions of bacteria in your digestive tract healthy and happy.

  • Eat prebiotic foods that feed friendly bacteria so it can eat the sugars you ingest before it goes to your gut. According to Dr. Amy Myers, here are some of the key foods to eat:
    • Asparagus
    • Bananas
    • Apples
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Leeks
    • Jicama Root
    • Dandelion greens

Detox through your skin

Skin is the largest organ in your body and a great vehicle for getting rid of toxins. So work up a good sweat during your exercise routine. If you are like me and do not sweat easily, you could seek a sauna in your area to amp up the detoxification. When used regularly, it will do wonders for clearing up the skin! 

Optimize nutrients

You want to ensure that you are getting optimum nutrition from your diet but you may need to supplement as deficiencies can contribute to skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis. Here are some to consider:

  • Vitamin D: Did you know that Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in a whole host of skin conditions including cancer? It’s important to keep your vitamin D levels optimal as there is compelling scientific evidence that vitamin D plays a crucial role in cellular function and skin health. Ask your doctor about getting your levels tested so you know how best to supplement.

  • Zinc: Did you know that the skin is the third most Zinc-abundant tissue in the body? So, it’s no surprise that zinc deficiency is implicated in skin disorders. Here’s a zinc compound that is balanced with copper and selenium that I use:

  • Collagen and Vitamin C: Collagen is an essential protein that is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s made in mammals but not in plants. You can take collagen (l like the multi-collagen form as it gives you all five forms your body need: https://www.vitacost.com/ancient-nutrition-multi-collagen-protein-vanilla) but did you realize that you can eat the appropriate amino acids (L-lysine and L-proline) to have your body make your own? Good options for supplying these amino acids include beets, leeks, Parmesan cheese (and related milk products), avocados and nuts. Collagen is like rebar in our blood vessels and skin but they are knit together with Vitamin C so you need both to keep your skin looking youthful. Since we do not make vitamin C, we have to eat foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, grapefruit, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato juice). In addition to the foods I eat, I take a gram of vitamin C 2X a day. Here are some options to get your C in:
  • Liposomal:

  • Powder to add to your shake/drink:

Get proper sleep

Poor sleep not only makes you feel lousy but is associated with increased signs of aging and diminished skin barrier function according to this study. So make sure to incorporate good sleep hygiene into your habits as part of your skin beautifying regimen.

Manage stress

Studies have shown that skin reacts to psychological stress and influences skin diseases. In fact, it’s also been shown that psychiatric treatment (pharmacological and non-drug interventions) has positive effects on dermatologic conditions. So, manage your stress levels with proper sleep, good diet and mind health techniques like meditation and breathing exercises. 

Here’s a reality quote:

Some guys say beauty is only skin deep. But when you walk into a party, you don’t see somebody’s brain. The initial contact has to be the sniffing.”  James Caan, Actor.

Like it or not, we live in a world where there is a lot of ‘sniffing’ so put your best skin on by taking care of your insides (and inner self)!

Anti-Aging Skin Care Hacks Part 3 – Oils & Serums

I’ve always been a strong believer that beautiful skin starts from within, so you have to start with a healthy diet, incorporate lots of movement and get adequate sleep to stay looking youthful. Having said that, I’m also a disciple of not aging gracefully, so in this blog, here are some topical treatments I personally use to not look my age.

Sun protection

Did you know that there are natural substances that when applied topically or even taken internally, can prevent the detrimental effect of sunlight on your skin?

Squalene is in a class of compounds called isoprenoids which are fats /lipids. These isoprenoids are now known to have impressive bioactive properties that can protect you from cell dysfunction, including cancer formation in early stages. Squalene is not a sunblock like a typical sunscreen but works to protect your skin at a cellular level against harmful UVA, UBV and visible light. Squalene also has protective effects against lipid free radical formation which contributes to visible signs of aging. The richest source of squalene comes from olive oil, rice bran oil, red palm oil and shark liver oil. It is even more potent when combined with natural vitamin E. You can purchase squalene with added vitamin E or you can mix it yourself. Here’s what I use liberally particularly during the summer. I mix 2 parts to 1 part of the plant-derived squalene to natural vitamin E and keep in a dark glass bottle in a cool place. Here’s what I recommend:

Facial moisturizer

During a facial at a skin spa about five years ago, I was told about the wonders of emu oil for its anti-inflammatory properties. Emu oil comes from the emu bird that is native to Australia. Emu oil is rich in oleic, palmitic, linoleic acids, antioxidants, and due to the smaller particle size of the oil, it not only absorbs well into the skin but is a great carrier of other ingredients. When used topically, this wonder oil is known to promote skin healing from scars and help with common conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. It’s also used for protection against damage from UV rays. I was sold when I also heard that the plastic surgeon in that spa was using it to give to patients after surgery.  So, I now make my own facial moisturizer using emu oil as a base and add:

  • Frankincense oil – This is used for skin healing, stretch marks and scars as it helps generate  healthy skin cells. It’s also a good disinfectant and good for cleaning wounds and cuts as well as promoting rapid healing without leaving scars. 
  • Fibroblast synthesizers – Aside from collagen, fibroblasts make the remarkable elastin which is the protein that keeps your skin elastic. As you age, the levels of enzymes that synthesize elastin decrease so using fibroblast stimulators is important to give you a springier and less saggy look. Powerful elastin stimulators include rosemary oil, dill seed oil and helichrysum. Increasing elastin produces anti-aging results wherever you apply these elastin-stimulating essential oils.
  • Coconut oil, rice bran oil and red palm oil – these oils have antioxidant capacity and also stimulate fibroblasts production. When applied to wounds, it speeds up healing and increases collagen formation. I prefer the coconut oil or rice bran oil as it is readily available in liquid form.
  • Vitamin E – A highly effective, fat soluble antioxidant that penetrates into the dermis easily while providing protection against the photoaging process.

Here’s my recipe:

Blend it all together and shake – pour into two 4 oz. dark glass dropper bottles. Gift to a friend or keep the extra bottle in the fridge. I didn’t realize the popularity of this blend but I now have a small following of friends and family who ask me for more when they run out!

Anti-Aging Serum

There are many anti-aging serums out there that use Vitamin C, E and collagen boosters like Ferulic acid. Did you know that rice bran oil contains a form of ferulic acid which is now widely available in anti-aging serums? Ferulic acid is very effective at protecting skin across the UV spectrum including visible light. Rice bran has been shown to reverse skin aging and is rich in tocotrienols – compounds that are closely related to vitamin E. It’s interesting to note that in this study, ferulic acid combined with vitamin C and E was shown to prevent sun-induced damage. I haven’t tried making the ferulic acid serum with rice bran oil as you can find ferulic acid combinations readily at cosmetics stores – some are very expensive but it may be worth the investment. Try to find something that has 15% vitamin C, 0.5% ferulic acid and 1% of vitamin E in the formulation.

Here are several to try:

Anti-Aging Skin Care Hacks: Part 2

In my first blog, I focused on what NOT to do to prevent skin aging. In part 2, I will share some more tips to incorporate into your daily routine to keep your skin at its best regardless of your age. And remember:

“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.” 
― Jules Renard


Having youthful skin has more to do with what you put in your body than on it. So, you can spend a lot of money on expensive skin products but you have to feed your body right FIRST.  Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and maintaining your body’s collagen level is critical to youthful, anti-aging skin. Collagen has gotten very popular recently with a number of diets like Primal, Keto and others advocating its use. It has become a superfood with benefits like keeping arteries clean, easing joint pain, and boosting mood and energy. This study has shown that oral collagen consumption increased skin hydration and improved collagen density.

It’s important to note that there are five specific types of collagen we need to help the body absorb and utilize it where it’s needed most:

  • Type I is 90% of the collagen in your body and used to maintain bones, hair, tendons, ligaments and teeth
  • Type II is found in cartilage and this type of collagen promotes pain-free joints
  • Type III is the second most abundant type of collagen in the body and it keeps your skin and lining of organs and arteries smooth and flexible
  • Type V is found on the surface of all your cells and promotes full and healthy hair.
  • Type X also helps with bone and cartilage formation and prevents arthritis and osteoporosis

I recently switched to a food-sourced multi-collagen powder that has all five types of collagen. I use this to add to my morning shake. Here are some brands to try:

This one includes vitamin C which is an essential vitamin for collagen production.


We all need our beauty sleep to restore and repair our body and our skin. Aim for a solid seven hours a night – you can read more about how to optimize sleep and create your perfect sleep sanctuary in my blog here.


Protecting your skin from harsh UV rays is not only important to avoid skin cancer but to keep your skin youthful. While the normal aging process is characterized by a thinned epidermis and fine wrinkles, photoaging caused by chronic sun exposure produces uneven skin tone (dark spots), deep wrinkles and skin laxity. I still regret tanning myself during my teens with coconut oil every summer to get the then sought-after bronzed look – if I had a dime for every dumb thing I did… You need to spend time outside and get adequate sun exposure to balance your circadian rhythm but do it before 10-11am or after 2-3pm to avoid the peak hours. Stay away from synthetic ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate and look for mineral sunscreens or reef-safe titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreens. Here are some options to try:


If you have mature skin and feel the need to amp up the free radical fighting power, consider supplementing your anti-aging diet with vitamins A, E and additional C. Vitamin A is readily available in foods like eggs, cheese and fish so only supplement if necessary as it can be harmful if consumed in excess. Vitamin E helps skin cells regenerate and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a fat-soluble vitamin so make sure not to overdose as your body cannot flush out the excess (unlike Vitamin C). Vitamin E can also be topically applied as a face treatment.

Here are some to try:

Vitamin A from cod liver oil:

Liposomal Vitamin C:

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E skin oil:


Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are nutrient dense, contain antioxidants to combat skin aging and also high amounts of vitamin C which is necessary for collagen production. This study found that oral consumption of Vitamin C increased the radical-scavenging activity of the skin. You can use a vitamin C serum on your skin but why not just consume it with a high vitamin C diet of kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach? You’ll also get vitamins and nutrients like folate, vitamins A, K, potassium, and iron. 

Omega-3 Rich Foods

Wild-caught salmon, small mackerel, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, and olive oils are all rich sources of omega-3 and will help replenish moisture and repair the skin. Salmon contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin which gives the fish its pink color – this carotenoid, when combined with collagen has shown to improve skin elasticity and overall hydration after only 12 weeks. So a shake of multi-collagen powder for breakfast with leafy greens and wild salmon for lunch or dinner would make a perfect anti-aging skin diet for the day.

Work up a Sweat

Do you notice how clean your skin feels after a vigorous workout that produced consistent sweating? Exercise does this by stimulating the blood flow and supporting the natural detoxification process to de-stress and de-age your skin. This study showed that exercise moderates against oxidative damage to the skin. So work up a good sweat! If you are like me and need a lot of effort to get sweating, try getting in a sauna or a hot bath with some Epsom salts. It will help you relax, sweat comfortably, detoxify and fight off those reactive oxygen species that promote skin aging.  

I’m a strong believer that beautiful skin starts from within, so you have to start with a healthy diet, incorporate lots of movement and get adequate sleep to stay looking youthful. In a future blog, I’ll talk about some topical treatments to add to your regimen to combat aging.

Anti-Aging Skin Care Hacks – What Not To Do

I was told by my aesthetician that both surgical (facelift, etc.) and minimally invasive procedures (injectables and laser sculpting) are very popular even during COVID. With the work-from home and mask mandates, one can get a lot done to the face and body without leaving the office or even having it visible to others – which is all good if you have a lot of time and money to devote to these treatments. In this two-part blog, I will share some easy and inexpensive habits to incorporate into your daily routine to keep your youthful glow regardless of your age. First, I will start off with WHAT NOT TO DO.

Stop Smoking

If you are a smoker, this habit will put you on a fast path to skin aging as the toxins in cigarettes damage collagen and elastin, which are what keeps skin firm and wrinkle-resistant. Smoking also causes vascular constriction, inhibits blood flow and delays oxygen delivery to the skin cells. This study shows the negative association of aging and smoking.

Use Clean Skin Care Products

Our skin is the body’s biggest organ and it absorbs what we apply to it. Over half of US consumers use skin care products daily and many of us are unaware of what’s in them. I like this mantra: “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”. Most of us, including me, are unknowingly using skin care products with potentially toxic chemicals.

As if that wasn’t depressing enough, the cosmetics and skin care industry is not well regulated in the US. Unlike Europe where over a 1,000 chemicals are banned in skin care products, less than a dozen are excluded in this country. So, short of buying European products that are manufactured there, it’s mainly up to the consumer to decipher the alphabet soup of the various chemical compounds in the products we use. The non-profit organization, Environmental Working Group published a list of ingredients in skin care products to AVOID.

Part of an anti-aging regimen starts with CLEAN skin care so here goes the DO NOT list:

  • Coal Tar: carbo-cort, KC 261, naphtha distillate, benzin B70, petroleum benzin
    A byproduct from coal processing and found to promote and initiate tumor activity. Europe has banned many of these ingredients but it is still found in dandruff and psoriasis shampoos sold in the US.

  • Formaldehyde: Preservative classified as a known human carcinogen – less common in cosmetics but still used in hair straighteners.

  • Formaldehyde releasers (Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium-15): Used in cosmetics to slowly form formaldehyde to kill growing bacteria. Although these products can trigger allergic skin reactions, they are widely used in the US. Here is an example of just one of them.

  • Fragrance: Fragrance can be any mixture of compounds that can be hormone disruptors and allergens. Look for products that disclose their fragrance ingredients.

  • PEGs and Ceteareth which can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane: These compounds found in cleaning and conditioning agents are often contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which readily penetrates the skin and has been classified by the EPA as a likely human carcinogen. You won’t find 1,4 dioxane in the label so it’s best to avoid any products with possible contamination of 1,4 dioxane.

  • Phthalates: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-2-Ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate (DEP): Commonly used plasticizer that has been implicated in endocrine-disrupting properties (leading to cancer), insulin resistance and negatively impacting the reproductive system. Any product with ‘fragrance’ will most likely contain phthalates.

  • Triclosan, triclocarban: Antimicrobial agent used in everyday products from toothpaste to soaps and linked to endocrine disruption and impacting thyroid function. Over-use may promote the onset of bacterial resistance.

  • Vitamin A compounds (retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate): Widely used in sunscreens, skin creams and makeup and also commonly prescribed for aging skin. Our bodies need vitamin A but when applied to sun-exposed skin, it can amp up skin sensitivity. In addition, sunlight breaks down vitamin A to product free radicals that can damage the skin DNA, so unless you are living in a cave, it’s best to avoid them.

Here’s EWG’s guide on top tips for safer products.


Does this leave your head spinning on what to buy? Have no fear – check out EWG’s database on CLEAN products that are EWG verified. You can search by type of product (for example, CC cream) and a list of products by EWG rating will show up.

9 Strategies for Glowing, Vibrant Skin: Dr. Mark Hyman’s Housecall Podcast

Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader in the field of Functional Medicine. He is the founder and director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, a 12-time New York Times bestselling author, and Board President for Clinical Affairs for The Institute for Functional Medicine.

He runs a series of short Housecall podcasts and here are his insights on skin:

  • What causes you to have good skin? The secret to healthy skin is not what you put ON your skin but what you put IN the body. Most skin problems can be healed by what you eat, your nutrient status, balancing your hormones, and balancing your gut.
  • Dr. Hyman earlier in his life suffered from bad skin (pimples, rashes, baggy eyelids, etc.) resulting from chronic fatigue syndrome; he eventually realized that it was a result of being toxic, gut and hormone imbalances, eating bad food and being nutritionally deficient.
  • Topical solutions like creams, lotions don’t work well and steroid creams and antibiotics can deplete gut flora and cause other negative consequences. Dr. Hyman mentions that those that take antibiotics get autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions later in life. So his recommendation is to tend the soil of health, reset your system and biology by working from the inside out rather than outside in. Here are his nine top strategies:

  1. Avoid sugar and processed foods. Excess sugar sticks to amino acids present in collagen and elastin, producing Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) that literally age your skin and other organs.
  2. Eliminate food sensitivities. Food sensitivities can not only exacerbate bad skin conditions but are linked with autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions. 
  3. Fix gut imbalances. Studies have shown that probiotics impact gut microbiota to influences various conditions including inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control and skin conditions like acne.
  4. Eat an omega 3-rich diet. Dry, itchy, or flaking skin could mean a fatty acids deficiency so a diet including omega-3 rich foods like wild-caught fish and/or fatty acid supplements should be a part of the skin regimen.
  5. Optimize nutrient status. Zinc deficiencies can contribute to eczema, acne and other skin rashes. Studies have found that vitamin D can help with psoriasis and acne. Dr. Hyman recommends a high-potency multivitamin/mineral as part of the daily regimen to ensure adequate nutrients are included.
  6. Exercise and sweat regularly. Sweating is a great way for the body to remove toxins from the body. Saunas and steam baths can be used to detoxify through the skin, which is the body’s largest organ. A study found the protective effect of regular saunas on skin physiology.
  7. Get great sleep. Studies have found that chronic poor sleep impaired skin integrity and accelerated aging. More reason to shoot for eight hours of shut-eye!
  8. Curb stress levels. Studies have shown that emotional stress can affect and exacerbate a number of skin disorders including psoriasis. Dr. Hyman offers mind-body relaxation programs on his website.
  9. Be careful with skin products. Dr. Hyman recommends to NOT use any skin products that contain paraben, petrochemicals, lead or other chemicals (especially ones you can barely pronounce). Drugs and chemicals are easily absorbed through your skin and the rule of thumb is: “if you won’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”. The Environmental Working Group’s database on skin products has good info – check it out.      https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

In summary, Dr. Hyman recommends working with a functional medicine doctor to address issues related to skin with an integrative, inside-out approach.

His podcast: