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Top Five Myths About Beauty

Guest Author Tara Smith, ARNP, NP-C

In recent months there’s been a lot of buzz about some of the trendy new cosmetic products on the market.

It seems like every female who comes into the office for a skin treatment asks me about one of them or another… lip plumpers, eyelash lengtheners, Botox replacements… the list goes on.

The ads for these products sound great. After all, who wouldn’t want Angelina Jolie-worthy lips in a matter of minutes?

The problem is many of these claims are overstated. So let’s take a look at some of them.

1. Botox-in-a-Box. There are a whole slew of new facial creams that claim they can reduce wrinkles by inhibiting muscle contractions of the face… just like Botox. But these products don’t really contain Botox. Instead, they include ingredients that supposedly affect the nerve signals of the facial muscles.

The question is do they really work?

It’s pretty unlikely the FDA would approve something that affects the nerve response of your muscles for a mass market product. Plus, as far as I can tell, there have been no studies on the effectiveness of these ingredients.

2. Longer Eyelashes. Have you seen the commercial for that new eyelash lengthening product? It’s scary!

The warnings include growing hair in places other than the eyelash, risk of bacterial infection, darkening of the eyelid skin, and a change of eye color. And let’s not forget the itching, redness, and irritation.

As an alternative, many spas have natural eyelash dyes that can enhance your eyelash length without dangerous chemicals and side effects. These treatments are relatively inexpensive, and can last up to 4 weeks.

Or, you can go the old-fashioned route with lengthening mascara. Just make sure you don’t get the waterproof kind. It tends to pull out your lashes and can be hard to remove.

3. Lip Plumpers. Will today’s new lip plumpers turn you into the next Anne Hathaway or Jessica Alba? Not likely. These new plumpers contain ingredients that give your lips a temporary “fuller” effect. The truth is, most of them only plump up your lips for about 10 minutes or so.

For a longer-lasting effect, consider an injectable treatment of hyaluronic acid (HA)… like Restylane or Juvederm. HA attracts water – up to 1,000 times its weight – so it acts as a great dermal filler.

True, these injections are more expensive than store-bought lip plumpers. But the effects will be much more noticeable, and they’ll last 6-9 months.

4. Cellulite Creams. The cause of cellulite is mostly hormonal, although other contributing factors may be genetics and diet. It’s basically pockets of fat that push through your connective tissue.

There are all kinds of cellulite creams on the market, filled with caffeine that is supposed to stimulate and tighten the area. But they don’t even penetrate the skin. So here’s what you can do …

First, get your estrogen levels checked. If you have too much estrogen, 100 mg daily of a supplement called DIM (Diindolymethane) can help flush out excess estrogen. Then, avoid pre-packaged foods that are filled with sugar, flour, and salt. Add a little daily exercise, and you should see results over time.

5. Stretch Mark Creams. These are pretty much the same story as the cellulite creams. The fact is, you can’t rub on a cream and produce the protein, collagen, and elastin needed to heal stretch marks. The skin has to manufacture those on its own.

Prevention is key. If you don’t have stretch marks, be cautious of rapid weight gain. Stretch marks are caused by the breakage of skin proteins when you put weight on quickly. And if you’ve been trying to get rid of the marks you have, check into laser treatment. It’s being used on stretch marks with a lot of success.

Best Wishes for Health and Beauty,

Tara Smith, ARNP, NP-C