Elbow knows healthy skin
Tampa Bay Times, August 17, 2007

Dr. Copeland on achieving creamy skin.

Michelle Copeland is looking at your elbows.

Actually, that's Dr. Copeland to you.

The good doctor, a skin care expert and author of Change Your Looks, Change Your Life and The Beautiful Skin Workout, can assess your skin's health by running her fingers over the small patch of skin in this telltale spot. And according to Copeland, so can you.

"Elbows are a litmus test indicating how well you take care of your body," she said.

Neglect your skin, skip water in favor of lattes, or opt for bar soap versus gentle cleansers, and your elbows will rat you out.

There are several categories of neglect.

"Alligator" is the worst, followed by "Leather," a category ruled by the sun worshipper. "Sandpaper" is next; this group has an apparent aversion to lotion. "Rubber" is drapey and dull, the elbow resembling a piece of gum that is easily stretched out of shape. The fifth class is "Suede," soft and clear but lacking suppleness. Then there's "Creamy." This is the category we all want to be in, but Copeland says only a handful of us actually do the work required to make the cut.

"Regular exercise, eating healthy foods and reducing such things as alcohol intake and caffeine consumption, all affect the quality of your skin. You are what you eat, as the saying goes," Copeland says. "Skin is an outward reflection of the internal situation. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle into the day-to-day maintenance of your skin is a must!"

So for every woman whose elbows are far from creamy, more likely confused with luggage than a baby's bum, the doctor divulged the top three things we can all do for our skin.

Moisturize: This tops Copeland's list of skin care musts. And having oily skin is no excuse to skip this step. The doctor insists there are formulas for all skin types. "The simple act of applying a moisturizer daily causes fine lines to disappear temporarily because the extra moisture swells the tissue."

Don't smoke: That's because carbon monoxide and pollutants from cigarettes seep into the pores. That's not all: "Smoking causes vasoconstriction of the tiny vessels that feed the skin, so the tissue isn't able to mend itself properly," she says.

Use antioxidants: Copeland says daily use of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E or green tea, is crucial. Comparing your complexion to an apple slice that browns with time, the doctor explains that antioxidants reverse this process, keeping skin clear and healthy.
"I believe that when people see a difference in their skin they become more motivated to take care of themselves overall."
3 skin care mistakes
These top Dr. Michelle Copeland's list:
  • "Not protecting skin from the sun." All skin types and tones must apply an SPF-rich lotion to skin daily. "Even highly pigmented skin can be damaged by ultraviolet light." UVA rays break down both collagen and elastin. Let's not even talk about the rising rate of skin cancer among 25- to 29-year-olds.
  • "Not cleaning the face often enough." The doctor extols the virtues of washing your face at night, after exercising, or any time you break a sweat. "Your pores are extremely vulnerable once your body is heated up."
  • "Not exfoliating properly and religiously." While the body naturally sheds the top layer of dead skin cells, the regeneration process slows as we age. "You'll get a greater glow if you slough off excess cells with an exfoliant, either physical or chemical."