In planning our fall biannual Beauty Trends feature, Columbia Metropolitan Magazine recently visited with two South Carolina nurse authors, Lil Bogdan and Nan Brown. These two Charleston women met while working as nurses together at Johns Hopkins Hospital years ago. They specialized in consulting with challenged skin and burns, prompting them to research ingredients in skin care to determine what ingredients the body really did not want or need.
Ultimately, Lil and Nan went on to develop a pure, potent nutrient skin care called L’ATHENE that is now sold across the county. They recently wrote a book called Nurse Your Skin to Health, about their story and secrets on how to look and feel your absolute best. They have also traveled extensively, presenting their lecture — Ageless Beauty — and sharing their message that it is possible to create true beauty and wellness at any age. In asking a broad variety of questions, we gleaned great advice from these experts that will no doubt benefit you. Enjoy!
What are the best ways to prevent aging of the skin?
We have found antioxidants to be the single best ingredient. You can get a lot of antioxidants in your fruits and vegetables, but you also need topical antioxidants because you’re not only building and repairing the skin but you’re also preventing aging signs. They will fight the free radicals that produce inflammation that cause skin issues or aging.
Become a label reader, look for antioxidants in products you purchase, but also look for the things that take away from the power of the antioxidants. In other words, if those antioxidants are there but they’re in a sea of chemicals, are you really getting the power of the antioxidants? In summary, you need Vitamins A, E and C, minerals such as selenium, proteins, fatty acids as well as antioxidants.
Of course blocking the sun is also important to prevent aging –– with sunscreen and hats.
Do you think people should have a morning and evening skin care routine? How should they differ?
Having a routine is very good. It gets you into a rhythm of commitment for your skin. We recommend a simple routine — a few minutes in the morning, a few minutes at night. The more complicated it gets the less likely someone is going to do it. We learned that as nurses in discharge planning. If it was a really complicated discharge plan, then the people wouldn’t do it, or the patient just couldn’t be consistent with it. It’s also a matter of being consistent with your routine.
How important is it to use a cleanser?
If someone has dryer skin, we recommend that they only wash their face once a day, at the end of the day. It’s imperative to make sure your cleanser has gentle ingredients with no detergents, which strip the skin of moisture.
Do you recommend a “cross-training” regimen, using some ingredients — like sunscreen and antioxidants in the morning and retinoids and peptides at night?
Using antioxidants, free radical fighters, in both the morning and evening is important. They are your protective elements and as you go through life; they reduce inflammation from stress and aging. Use sunscreen, of course, in the morning and always reapply. Peptides should be applied in the morning and night. As our clients age, we recommend a night cream, which is a little heavier, and a more nutritive cream for evening.
As we sleep our bodies go through a repair process. So in the evening before bedtime we like to apply what we call the heavier, more emollient products, meaning more hydration and nutritives because the body’s repair process is going to really assimilate those nutrients at night. During sleep, your body restores, regenerates and repairs. Good sleep will allow the skin to move toward the repair, restorative maintenance.
What does stress do to the aging process of skin?
Stress increases the body’s production of free radicals, therefore, the body needs more antioxidants to combat and take care of the impact of the stress. If someone is under a lot of stress, it is very important to use good nutritive skin care and to use it all the time. It’s also important to be particularly mindful of not skipping any steps during a stressful time.
How does skin care change with seasonal weather?
In the winter, your skin is more challenged with the heat inside and the cold outside. We recommend that you bump up the hydration as your skin loses more moisture. Also, drink more water and certainly moisturize your skin in the morning and at night.
But what moisturizer are you choosing? Skin care is important, but the skin care you are reaching for is the important factor here. Most skin care products on the shelf contain a lot of chemicals, which is something that the body doesn’t recognize. Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and when you have something that the skin or body doesn’t recognize, it can go into a fight mode. It will try to detoxify and rebalance. This can cause your skin to become more inflamed and that is an important consideration when you’re really looking for results in skin care. You want something that is more true to being natural. The body is organic, and so are naturals. The closer you are to the natural form, the better the results are going to be.
What are other tips for hydrating dry skin?
For hydration, our bodies and our skin need fatty acids. That’s one of the key components to helping the skin and the skin cells maintain their fullness and good moisture status. When products are made with petroleum, silicone, etc. there are no fatty acids so they can’t replace what the skin needs and what the skin is calling out for. Many people have been helped by also taking flaxseed oil capsules to help provide more Omega 3 fatty acids.
What is the best way to treat acne?
The key is to keep the skin clean and avoid using harsh products — which is actually surprising to most people — and don’t pick or squeeze. Acne is generally the result of oil and bacteria. We recommend that clients with more congested skin use a non-detergent cleanser. What most people with acne reach for are harsh alcohols, toners and astringents. With these items you are stripping the oils and the body is trying to protect itself so it produces more oil.
We also like masks. Clay masks work very well to decongest the skin and extract the deeply imbedded impurities. They also do a great job of helping to control the oils. Masks are great because it makes someone with more acne or blemish-prone skin to be compliant with a routine. Because you can sleep in the clay masks, you can just go to bed and the oils for the next day will be more balanced and help with bacteria.
Do different types of food (chocolate, fried foods) cause acne?
That is a bit controversial, but it’s becoming more and more accepted that food does have an effect on your skin and can possibly contribute to acne breakouts A diet that’s high is sugar and simple carbohydrates may also cause an acne flare-up. Processed foods, crackers, starchy foods, sugary foods, especially sodas, spike the blood sugar and cause more insulin to occur in the body. This can increase skin oils, which can make acne-prone skin more susceptible to breakouts by clogging the follicles.
The choices you make for the body are really no different from the choices you make for your skin. If you’re choosing foods that are unprocessed and more true to the natural form, your body and skin will respond well and won’t be put into a inflammation type of situation.
What foods best enhance the skin?
Foods like salmon and fish that contain Omega 3 fatty acids, berries, strawberries, blueberries — foods that give you antioxidants — and a healthy amount of dark green leafy vegetables will give your body a generous amount of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and proteins that are very important for the overall functioning of your body and certainly of your skin. Your body has to feed all of your organs — your brain, your heart, your liver, your kidneys — with those nutrients. It then sends all that’s left out to the surface of your skin. Your body has to get the nutrients to all of the tiny little capillaries to the surface of the skin. This is quite a task which is why good, clean nutrition in the body and on the skin is very important.
What role does drinking water play in the skin care regime? What recommendations do you have?
Our bodies are made up of mostly water so in order to keep our organs, brain and blood volume healthy, we need a healthy dose of water every day. Generally, the standard has been eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. For some people that may be too little — they’re exercising a lot, they’re sweating a lot — they are going to need to take in more. For some people that may be too much — they’re compromised, they have problems with their kidneys, and they can’t balance the water well. So we recommend starting off with four to six glasses and see how your body responds and then try making it up to eight. It is very individualized, but in most cases the rule of thumb is take in more what you’re doing right now, because most people are walking around water depleted.
What do you think of the many tanning products on the market?
We recommend not using tanning beds. But, if your body is in a healthy state and can handle a little bit of self-tanner here and there, go for it. If you like using a self-tanning product for a special event or you just want a little bit of color on your skin, then go ahead and use a product. Getting in the habit of using it every day of the year all year long would again, in our opinion, be too much and would cause the body to get out of balance. In the presence of UV light, our skin releases melanin. It is actually a reaction in our bodies, giving it protection. So although people are very fond of tans, and you cannot get the American consumer away from it, it actually is a sign of the body trying to protect itself. So again the key is to feel good about yourself and use anything like self-tanners or natural UV light in moderation. And remember, self-tanners do not provide sun protection, so you need to use a sunscreen.
What is the best way to exfoliate?
Exfoliation is important. When you’re young, your skin cells shed easily and quickly. As you age, this shedding process slows down and your cells adhere more to your skin. That causes your skin to look very dull and flat. Skin scrubs can be made from ingredients, such as crushed walnut or almond shells and fruit pits. Although natural, they are irregularly shaped and can cause tiny cuts or pull on the skin. Ingredients like sugar and salt in scrubs can dissolve too quickly to cause any effect. We prefer crystals. They are more regular in shape, so they are easier on the skin and provide a more even exfoliation, plus they don’t dissolve. These crystals are used in microdermabrasion machines. We recommend exfoliation in this manner, which is called mechanical exfoliation, no more than two times a week. If you over exfoliate, this will cause issues as well.
What do you think of exfoliation brushes?
The daily action of the exfoliation brush use can irritate the skin. We’ve seen people get broken capillaries from their overuse, but more rugged skin types can handle using them It’s just that many people, especially in the anti-aging bracket or with more sensitive skin, may not be able to handle the brushes so we recommend using your fingertips with an exfoliation product with crystals.
How often should people have facials?
A facial is a wonderful way to boost the skin’s health. We recommend facials every four to six weeks. For more sensitive skin, a few times a year will work well also.
Does exercise affect the skin?
Exercise increases your body’s circulation. This will enhance the process for your skin because you are more likely to get the nutrients to your skin that you need. However, you have to get the nutrients onto the skin topically and internally in order to have it maximally benefit your skin health. Wash your face really well after exercising so that the bacteria won’t cause issues.
In closing, what final advice do you have for healthy, beautiful skin?
It’s important to understand that the skin needs a well-balanced diet of nutrients, both externally and internally. That’s really what the skin wants, that’s what it needs, and that’s what it requires. It takes pure, wholesome nutrition to create healthy skin. Vitamins, minerals, proteins and fatty acids naturally come from plants and trees, so the closer that you are to those elements, instead of chemicals, the more the skin flourishes to a more radiant, healthy and beautiful state.