Women approach a new diet or fitness routine to meet several goals, but far too often we overlook an important consideration – our skin.
While skin care such as lotions, potions, serums, masks, professional peels, facials, plastic surgery is all intended to enhance your outer beauty, you also need to keep the inside of your body and skin healthy. And, Nutrition and exercise play a far bigger role thank you may think. Your skin is the largest and most important organ in your body.
The skin’s primary job is to keep the bad things out and the good things in, as well as, keeping the other organs safe. When you bring disease inside your body, it makes it more difficult for the skin to do its’ job.
J. Nicole with her skincare product. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Record.
As a “beauty chemist,” I’ve dedicated my career to approaching skincare like a scientist, and I guide my clients to do the same. Not only do we need to understand what makes our skin unique, we need to know every factor that affects its health. The last decade has seen a record rise in health awareness, and 2017 is a great year for women hoping to diversify their diet and fitness habits. But, some of the year’s most popular trends play a direct role (both good and bad) in our skincare:
The Gluten-Free Diet
This diet is so popular, it has its own aisle in the grocery store! Like all diets, you should consult a health professional before becoming a devotee. But, staying gluten-free is probably one of the safer options, and has great applications for our skin, especially those suffering from psoriasis. A common skin condition that’s often passed down through family, psoriasis is chronic and hard to manage. However, the swelling that’s associated with the disorder has been connected to gluten, and studies are backing up the trend. In fact, according to the National Gluten Psoriasis Foundation, up to 25% of sufferers have a gluten sensitivity.
Statistically, that’s pretty significant, and even doctors are on board in recommending the diet to their patients. Outside of the disease, gluten has also been linked to numerous skin problems like red cheeks and general inflammation. Wheat – especially processed bread – can even advance aging effects like wrinkles and sagging skin.
Juicing is one of the more complicated diets to discuss. On the one hand, a healthily-prepared juice can be a great snack. I tend to have a juice or organic smoothie on mornings when I know I’ll be busy throughout the day. That way, I’m not compromising my nutrient-intake in the face of a crazy work schedule. The key ingredients in the most popular juice recipes can be fantastic for the skin – they’re packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants that contribute to smooth and strong skin. When implemented into a healthy diet, juicing becomes a very beneficial part of the day. However, for many women, juicing has become more than a healthy indulgence – it’s become a lifestyle – and that’s when the dangers kick in. When juicing becomes a regular food replacement, you run the risk of absorbing too many vitamins and not enough calories. Excessive vitamin intake can cause various skin problems. One of them is carotenemia, an embarrassing condition resulting from consuming too many veggies with carotene as an ingredient. Your skin literally turns orange, and I’m not talking about a good tan! Carrots are the most common vegetable associated with this disorder, but many veggies and fruits contain carotene. And juicing is also not a good source of important nutrients like calcium, protein, vitamin D, and essential fats. Take these away and you’re facing everything from hair loss to cracked, dry and wrinkled skin. Don’t worry about making juicing a part of your diet routine, but be careful and don’t be afraid of real food.
Photo Courtesy of Fitness Magazine
HIIT/High Intensity Interval Training
Trending especially among professionals who don’t have much time for the gym, HIIT advocates short bursts of extreme movement – an ideal session lasting less than 10 minutes. There are many exercises that fit into the HIIT category, but when it comes to our skin, they all have their benefits. HIIT workouts can get our heart and lungs pumping faster than long gym sessions, which can increase oxygen flow, and boost our capacity to produce our own antioxidants, providing the necessary nutrients to our skin more quickly. Studies have shown that positive metabolic activity can be maintained for even two days after exercising. Nutrient-rich skin is the bane of most everyday disorders and breakouts. Another benefit to HIIT is natural sweating (not like hot yoga where sweating is conventional and overheats like an oven). As mentioned, sweat is a great natural skin defense, and HIIT can promote the balanced amount.
Photo Courtesy of Groupon
As a committed yoga enthusiast, I praise the benefits that yoga offers. But, hot yoga is a recent trend that makes me “hot under the collar” for its often unsafe approach. Taking place in studios heated up to 90 degrees or more, the idea is that performing yoga in high temperatures will increase flexibility and aid in weight loss. In normal conditions, working up a sweat can be a great aid in maintaining healthy skin. For example, sweat produces “Dermicide,” (a natural antibiotic is produced by your sweat) that can kill harmful bacteria, or reduce the effects of impurities and chemicals on your face. However, the extreme heat that’s maintained in many hot yoga studios can take the body’s natural mechanisms to their breaking point.
When temperatures get really hot, the heat flows from the environment into the body instead of exiting into the air to keep the body cool. Humidity in hot Yoga also prevents the sweat from evaporating from our body (our bodies second level of defense) Sweat does not evaporate in humid conditions. Harmful heat levels can not only make your skin more prone to breakouts but can cause heat rashes that make your skin swell, flush and itch in pain, waking up melanin cells which cause brown spots. Heat rashes can also lead to serious medical conditions including swollen lymph nodes, high fevers and the combination of heat and humidity can be deadly. So, unless you’re working with a trusted yoga instructor, don’t quit your regular routine to experiment with “hot yoga.”
Healthy skin is not only a core segment of our health but a reflection of who we are as individuals—and it’s the first thing we present to the world. Do your research, and stay educated – and as you look to enhance your diet and fitness lifestyle, don’t always jump out of your skin to get onboard the latest trend.
Photo Courtesy of Shawn Record
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.