Read an Excerpt
The Beautiful Skin Workout
Today, money is no barrier to some people's quest for great skin. They're willing to pay thousands of dollars to ensure that it looks flawless. They want their skin tightened, taut, dewy, and freshcourtesy either of the latest miracle cream or a quick trip to the doctor's office. In many ways, they're taken advantage of by a beauty industry that preys on these naked desires. Creamy skin doesn't require a hundred different items specifically tailored for each separate inch of the face or an elaborate application ritual timed to the lunar cycle. All it takes is an educated consumer who's faithful to The Beautiful Skin Workout and willing to adopt behaviors that are not just good for skin but contribute to overall health as well. Pretty simple, no?
With my help, you'll be able to sort through the advice you see on television and in print and discover what's scientifically sound and what's hype. I don't know anyone who doesn't want luminous, healthy skin, the kind that's so soft and unblemished that others compliment it while they seethe with envy. You never hear a person say that she'd prefer to appear wrinkly, with cracked, parched heels and elbows and skin the texture of a gravel path. As much as fashions and tastes change over the years, there is one constant: Clear, smooth, radiant skin is always considered attractive. And this holds true whether you are most comfortable in a pair of Birkenstocks, drinking a mug of steaming herbal tea, or the type of shopper who preorders her seasonal wardrobe immediately after the fall and spring runway shows. I've treated both kinds and everyone in between. An enviable complexion and fantastic body skin, unlike a Chanel haute couture ball gown, are available to everyone and aren't nearly as expensive.
Vanity, Thy Name Is Not Woman
My obsession with Creamy skin isn't just a question of conceit. Incisions in healthy, well-hydrated skin heal faster than those made in alligatorlike tissue. When I see a potential face-lift patient with a leathery complexion, I know that her skin will take longer to recover from surgery. Even if you haven't had surgery, you've likely noticed the difference skin quality can have on another grooming ritualshaving. When your legs or face are dry and flaky, they usually become red and irritated after you go over them with a razor. Conversely, the only trace a blade leaves behind on skin that's in good shape is a smooth, hairless area. Proper skin care even speeds the healing process for those who've undergone a rhinoplasty or a face-lift. I always put my patients on a postsurgery version of The Beautiful Skin Workout. Oftentimes they come back to me in two or three weeks and say that they've noticed the texture and tone of their skin improving. With this book, I intend to help you achieve the same radiant skin that even my most skeptical patients now see reflected each time they look in the mirror.
Fact Versus Fiction
You have to be able to differentiate the hot air from what has proven science supporting its promises. It may seem like a no-brainer now, but when I started out, I was one of the few in my field talking to my patients about skin care. It was hard for me to get them on a consistent, effective routine. They seemed to think that they could ignore their face and body for months, even years, then come to my office and have me solve all their problems at once with surgery. I would have to beg them to start tending to their skin before they scheduled time in the OR. Simultaneously, I was very frustrated by the number of ineffective products on the market and by the amount of money I saw men and women spending on pseudoscience-based creams that made their skin worse. I figured I'd combine my biochemistry background with my deep knowledge of skin to create my own line. It was the only way I could ensure that the same care and attention I gave patients in my office continued daily at home.
Although the phrase "first do no harm" actually isn't in the Hippocratic Oath that all new doctors swear to uphold, it's still a guiding tenet by which most of us practice and minister to our patients. What that means for you is that I'm not going to suggest any products or treatments that haven't been thoroughly tested and evaluated for safety and efficacy. The Beautiful Skin Workout is not about pushing the latest fads; it's a long-tested program that delivers exactly what I say it will. My chemistry training ensures that I understand the formulation of ingredients and how one will interact with another. It doesn't do any good to load your serum with all the latest and greatest technology has to offer if it turns out that combining two ingredients in one solution negates the effects of both.
Every day we're bombarded with news on scientific and technological breakthroughs in the skin-care field. The list of powerful antiagers continually swells, with new ones being developed around-the-clock. It's even hard for a doctor like myself to stay current. The rapid progress of research also ensures that magazines and Web sites have an ever-ready supply of recommendations for their readers. This deluge of information can lead to conflicting reports. For example, how do you know which skin-care serum to apply firstyour antioxidant or your lightenerwhen one expert tells you to smooth them on at different times of the day, another suggests waiting fifteen minutes between each treatment layer you apply, and a third says that it doesn't matter at all?
The answer: One of the key elements of The Beautiful Skin Workout is learning to think about your skin and what it needsnot blindly following prescribed rules. But since you're just beginning, I'll give you the solution to the layering question. In this instance, it's the antioxidant first, then the lightener, because the antioxidant helps the pigment reducer react faster.
Thinking Top to Bottom,
Inside and Out
Achieving skin that could star in a beauty advertisement requires a twofold approach. Think about the way you treat your car. You wash and buff its exterior, but you also look under the hood, checking the oil regularly and making sure that the engine is running at its optimal level. This type of routine maintenance means that your automobile not only looks great as you're passing others on the highway but also that you have the horsepower to muscle around those slow-moving trucks. And the chance of you needing to take your car into the shop for an unexpected, major overhaul is remote.
You need to consider your skin in the same manner you do your automobile. Skin is composed of two layers: the epidermis (the part you see) and the dermis underneath with connective tissue linking the two. Collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (essentially the three main components of youthful, firm tissue) are generated in the dermis. Everything from sun and pollution to a stressful day at the office can lead to the breakdown of these complexion factors. There are ways to build them back up, of course, but as with anything, it's easier to prevent a problem than react to it after it's happened. By guarding against the depletion of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, you won't have as far to go to reach your dream skin. I'll get into these safety measures in more depth in Chapters 2 and 3, but for now, rememberthese three are the good guys. You want them around, like the party guests who bring you champagne and then stay to help you clean up after everyone else has gone home.
As the dermis cranks out new cells, it pushes the layers of existing cells higher and higher. These become the epidermis and, eventually, the stratum corneum, the uppermost layer of tissue, whichin healthy skinsheds evenly and invisibly. Blood flow feeds the dermis, meaning that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the job the dermis is able to do in creating firm, plump, complexion-enhancing skin fibers. To return to the car analogy, you can put any kind of gas in your sedan and it will run, but you won't have to worry about pings and knocks if you fill the tank with superpremium unleaded. By this point in your life, you know the kinds of foods you should be eating and the types you should stay away from. What you might not be aware of is that the foods you consume affect more than your waistline; they can also improve the appearance of your skin.
Drinking plenty of water is another skin-care basic. The standard recommendation is six to eight glasses a day. Water not only helps hydrate your skin from the inside, it also flushes out your system, pushing waste and other by-products through your body, sort of like sweeping off your porch. But drinking eight, or even eighteen, glasses of water daily isn't enough to keep your skin moisturized and supple; lotion completes the equation.
Hit the Bricks
Regular exercise should become another of your priorities. Fitness experts recommend a minimum of thirty minutes of cardio three times a week and resistance training twice weekly in order to maintain general good health. Getting your blood going and working off some of your anxiety can't help but improve your skin. By reducing your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, you'll free your body to focus on other tasks, like building your collagen fibers. Some people enjoy sweating profusely on the treadmill because they believe that's how we rid our skin and internal systems of toxic materials. This isn't true. Only your liver processes and excretes toxins; the skin has nothing to do with it. If pushing yourself to your physical limits makes you feel better, though, that will have a positive impact on your face and body.
It's All About You
The epidermis doesn't receive any nutrients from the body since there's no blood flow there. Like a newborn baby who relies on his mother to feed and take care of him, the epidermis needs you to supply it with the ingredients that will allow it to grow and achieve its optimal potential. The better shape the epidermis is in, the easier it is to see the effects of blood flow to the dermisthe luminous, healthy glow so universally coveted that beauty companies have made millions on skin care and cosmetics that promise to deliver it. By brushing off loose layers of the stratum corneum, you ensure that whatever you rub into your skin afterward sinks in deeper. Exfoliation also tells the body to generate new, fresh, plump, and healthy skin cells in the dermis to replace what you've just taken away. You don't need those old surface cellsthey're not adding any benefitbut their replacements make your skin more radiant and firm.
When a researcher publishes a scientific study, her colleagues will often re-create her testing methodology. By getting the same outcome, they're able to verify her results. I wouldn't dream of suggesting The Beautiful Skin Workout to anyone unless I had data demonstrating the program's success. Throughout the following chapters, you will read actual patient testimonies, in their own words, of their experiences following my prescription. These are an opportunity for an aha, that's me moment. I hope that you'll see yourself in at least one example and that it will help you understand your own situation. My patients' routines included my skin-care products. Having put a lot of time and research into my line's formulation, I believe it's the most effective range available. However, you will be able to achieve improvements by following the tenets of The Beautiful Skin Workout. Once you learn which ingredients are important to a skin-care regimen and those causing harm, you'll have the knowledge necessary to make better choices in the shopping aisles. Remain faithful to my guidelines, and I promise, in eight weeks, you'll be looking at a fresher, more radiant you.
Copyright © 2007 by Michelle Copeland, M.d., d.m.d. All rights reserved.