Here's The Skinny On Healthy Skin
Ogden, UT Standard-Examiner, September 18, 2007
Dr. Copeland tells what it takes to keep skin in tip-top shape.
Everyone knows that to keep your body in tip-top shape, you have to have a consistent regimen that includes a workout.
An actual workout for the skin is the theory behind a new book by Dr. Michelle Copeland, a New York plastic surgeon who also includes biochemistry and dentistry among her credentials.
The Beautiful Skin Workout (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95), co-authored with Megan Deem, is designed to take anyone's skin to the condition she calls "creamy" in six to eight weeks.
"As a plastic surgeon," says Copeland, speaking from her New York office, "I was seeing that it was not enough to pull the skin tight when doing, say, a face-lift if the patient's skin was leathery; you can only do so much with surgery.
"When I looked around 10 years ago to see what products were out there to improve the overall condition of skin, I just wasn't finding anything I felt was effective. Drawing on my background in biochemistry, I hoped to develop a line of products that was gentle enough to use before surgery but still effective.
"Not everyone can afford my services as a surgeon, but anyone can improve the quality of his or her skin by giving it the careful attention I describe in my workout."
Copeland classifies skin in six categories, from "Alligator" (the worst—cracked, rough, and discolored) through "Leather" (tough), "Sandpaper" (dry and rough), "Rubber" (dull and lacking suppleness), "Suede" (soft but lacking clarity) and finally to the ultimate in skin, "Creamy" (soft as the proverbial baby's bottom).
And while physical beauty is a part of the equation, the condition of skin is also important as an overall indicator of whole-body health.
The Beautiful Skin Workout includes two main sections packed with information: Copeland's "Ten Commandments of Beautiful Skin" and the actual workout, in which she details her steps of cleaning, exfoliating, activating, moisturizing, and protecting (CEAMP for short).
Some commandments, like eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and drinking lots of water, are a simple part of a healthy lifestyle.
Others, condensed below, capitalize on the wealth of skin-care research Copeland says has been going on in the last decade.
—Thou shalt read thy labels: Copeland's "hit list" of ingredients to avoid: rubbing or denatured alcohol, mineral oil, camphor, lanolin and witch hazel.
"Some alcohol is needed as a solvent," Copeland says, "but look for products where the solvent is far down the list of ingredients."
—Thou shalt read thy labels, part 2: Topical antioxidants are important because they fight free radicals released by inflammation. Look for ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea far up the list.
And imperative is the inclusion of sun protection.
Antioxidant news flash: Certain herbs like rosemary, cumin and thyme pack a huge antioxidant punch.
—Thou shalt bar the bars: Copeland notes that saponification, the process by which a liquid cleanser is turned into a bar of soap, utilizes lye, the active ingredient in Drano. This makes bar soaps more drying than their liquid counterparts.
—Thou shalt give scrubbers the brush-off: Physical exfoliators like loofahs and dry brushes are out. Not only can they cause microscopic tears in the skin, they can accumulate micro-organisms that can infect those tears. The best tool for washing any part of your body is your hands.
—Thou shalt not fear the inclusion of anti-aging products: In fact, these make up a big part of Copeland's "activation" step. Look for a blend of soy, peptides, hyaluronic acid, selenium, or retinoids near the top of the list; some antioxidants that also firm tissue are alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and thiotaine.
Fran Brown's advice
Yes, you might say, but this is a big New York practice that caters to high-profile clients. Does any of this play out in Ogden, Utah?
The treatment regimen recommended at The Fran Brown College of Beauty in Layton is similar to Copeland's CEAMP, says Morgan Coleman, a teacher at the school.
"We know that 85 percent of skin damage comes from sun and other environmental exposure," Coleman explains. "We teach clients to slather on the sunblock even if they're just walking their dog for 10 minutes—do that every day and it's like spending a day at the beach.
"I feel the nutrition connection with skin is huge. It's our largest organ and the one that is responsive to other organs: Everything shows on it. Sugar depletes collagen and heavy foods just sit in the gastrointestinal tract. Lots of fiber, lots of salads, because of the antioxidants and enzymes, will improve your health and your skin."
Coleman's hit list is similar to Copeland's, although the school uses the Glymed and Dermalogica product lines. And, like Copeland, she says that it's never too late to start turning your skin around.
And a dermatologist
Dr. David Allen, a dermatologist at Ogden's Intermountain Skin, Cancer and Esthetics Center, also agrees that smoking and the sun take the highest toll on skin, and that an approach like Copeland's that leaves out scents and colors is good, and that hydration is important because a lot of skin-care ingredients like salicylic acid can be drying.
"And you don't need to be spending thousands of dollars on skin care," he says. "I feel a basic healthy diet where you ingest the antioxidants rather than using them on your skin and using skin-care lines like Neutrogena and Cetaphil that are listed as non-comedogenic rather than just oil-free will do the job."
Copeland sells her own skin-care line on the Internet.