Last summer, I had the privilege of interviewing good friend and dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe on the blog. And now, my ever so smart, charming, and oh-so-beautiful friend just wrote a book called “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” available in bookstores and on Amazon. As a fan (and friend) of Dr. Bowe, I was super excited to get the book and read it. It is educational with great resources and information on nutrition, skin care, and aging. Read below for a behind the scenes interview with Dr. Bowe!
One chapter of your book is on “the secret to great skin”. Can you give us a quick summary?
Here is my quick and dirty (hehe, see what I did there) cliff’s notes guide to healthy skin: My approach to healthy skin is called an “integrative” approach. I don’t just look at your skin condition and prescribe a medication to address it. Instead, I look at your skin within the context of your entire body’s overall health. What you put into your body – your diet, has a direct impact on the health of your skin. Whether you sleep well, exercise, and take down time to relax and restore all have a direct impact on your skin. And, of course, your skincare routine and products all contribute to whether your skin is irritated, inflamed, or prematurely aging on the one hand or glowing, healthy, smooth, and hydrated on the other. My 360 approach to healthy skin – which is all rooted in proven science – is a game changer for my patients and I live by the plan I share in the book. It all comes down to what’s called the gut-brain-skin axis, which I explain in really accessible and easy to understand ways in my book. I don’t use the hashtag #thatboweglow for nothing- I stand behind my glow! And I want to help people, on any budget, to achieve their own healthy, glowing skin because it impacts confidence, self esteem, and so many other areas of your life!! Healthy skin is so much more than skin deep.
You say that diet has a direct effect on skin — what foods are bad for our skin and what foods are good?
I could not be more passionate about a subject. Yes, it is scientifically established that our diet has a direct impact on the health of our skin. This is what I call beauty from the inside out. The first matter of business is that we have healthy gut bugs (bacteria) that live inside our digestive tract. You’ve probably heard of probiotics. Probiotics help to nourish our healthy gut bugs so that we have a healthy intestinal lining (no leaky gut where toxins get out into our bloodstream) and so that bad bacteria, which can be dangerous to our health, don’t proliferate. Specifically, these probiotics serve as natural antibiotics, help maintain your body’s healthy pH, and control inflammation. Taking good care of our gut bugs is the first step not only to overall health, but to keeping our skin healthy and glowing. To accomplish this, in addition to taking a probiotic supplement, I also suggest that my patients incorporate probiotic rich foods into their diet including kombucha, kimchi, miso soup and sauerkraut. Another great food swap for healthy skin is to replace your whey protein supplements with plant based protein. Whey protein has been strongly linked to acne. These are just a few examples – I share an incredible amount of information on this topic in The Beauty of Dirty Skin and include my favorite skin-healthy recipes (which, I promise, are really easy to make!)
You also wrote how there is a huge correlation between exercise and your skin. How so?
We tend to think about the benefits of exercise in terms of fitness and weight control, but we don’t usually think of its profound role in keeping skin looking young and firm. Surprising new research shows that exercise not only does keep your skin healthier, but it can actually reverse skin aging in people who begin an exercise regimen even later in life! Really a game changer.
Here’s the basic concept – as we age, we want certain layers of our skin to stay thin and we want other layers of our skin to stay thick. The natural aging process of skin entails a gradual thickening of our outermost layer of our skin, the stratum corneum. It is made up of mostly dead skin cells and some protein. But around the age of forty, it begins to change, getting denser, drier, and flakier. Meanwhile, the dermal layer, which is a deeper layer of the skin that sits beneath both the stratum corneum and the epidermis, begins to thin and lose elasticity; as a result, skin becomes more translucent and looks saggy. When your dermal layer thins with age, it starts to ripple and those ripples are seen on the surface as wrinkles. These changes happen naturally as we age, but they happen even faster if you’re also exposed to environmental damage like sunlight and pollution. So, to think that we can slow down or even reverse some of these age-related changes through something as simple (and free) as exercise is truly astonishing. I share some of the really incredible studies and facts surrounding the type of exercise and how much exercise in The Beauty of Dirty Skin and in my blog post: https://drwhitneybowe.com/exercising-your-way-to-healthy-younger-skin/
What are some of your favorite products to keep skin glowing like yours?
I love this question – I get this question all the time!! Part of my job as a dermatologist and media expert is to know which of the trending products really work and deliver the results they promise. As a research scientist, I look at the science and the studies behind product claims. I want proof that the products that I am recommending do what they say they will do for your skin! I want proof that the product is safe. I am all for trying a new trend or an exotic ingredient, but only if I am confident it will not harm my skin’s barrier and my overall health.
As I mentioned, I’m asked for my product recommendations all the time – so I share them on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page! I share recommendations for women, men, and children – something for everyone. My page includes my favorite makeup, hair care products, skincare products, and self care, pampering items as well!
Let’s say you are a 39 year old, sun lover, who is always outside (wink wink)… what would you tell this person they need to do to have good skin for the rest of their lives?
I am loving this very hypothetical question! 😉 Okay, let’s just imagine this scenario for a minute! I am also a sun lover. As a dermatologist, that’s tricky! So, I have had to make some changes to protect my skin’s health while also accommodating my absolute love for warm sand, ocean air and everything summer. Sunscreen is essential, but I also wear UPF swimsuits and cover ups (which can be so cute – check out Cabana Life and Mott 50 for example), I always have a floppy hat at the beach, I stay out of the sun during peak hours, and I take a supplement called Heliocare to protect myself from the inside out from further sun damage! Made of a powerful blend of antioxidants, Heliocare protects your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Those free radicals can come from UV light, infrared light, visible light, pollution, or even from our natural metabolic processes. Heliocare is one extra layer of protection against premature signs of aging, including brown spots, and skin cancer. I share lots of info on Heliocare right here: https://drwhitneybowe.com/product/heliocare/. All of my other dirty skin secrets will be revealed in The Beauty of Dirty Skin!
Thanks so much, Whit! You continue to inspire us all. And folks, to read more about the science behind the guide good skin, check out Dr. Bowe’s book! Follow her on instagram and check out her website for helpful tools and news.