Author Archives: Dr. Jill Westkaemper

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About Dr. Jill Westkaemper

Dr. Jill Westkaemper is the Medical Director of BeautyRiche Dallas. She has been a board certified physician for 17 years with a passion for vibrant health and living well at every age. As the previous director of a medical weightloss, wellness, and skincare clinic, she has helped many patients lose weight, reduce their need for medicines, gain more energy, and feel and look their best through diet, exercise, and medical skincare.

Earth Day Beauty Tips

It was Earth Day yesterday, and after the rain washed everything clean, today is a gorgeous day in Dallas.  I appreciate beautiful days more now, because I moved closer to the city four years ago, and I have to say it’s obvious to me that with more cars, people and businesses all around me, I have definitely felt the effects of breathing slightly more polluted air, seeing and smelling more trash, and feeling the psychological stress of having less open space and open sky.

Pollution really takes a toll on skin, causing uneven skin tone, accelerated aging and even skin cancer.  Microscopic specks of smoke, soot, acid and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere from sources like construction sites, cars and power plants. Pollution breaks down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin, which impairs skin barrier functions. Washing your face thoroughly helps.  At night, remove the film of potentially harmful pollutants, not to mention makeup and dirt. The goal is to get everything off without too much scrubbing, which can exacerbate skin conditions like acne.  In addition, pollution erodes the ozone layer, which helps shield us from the sun’s harmful rays.  Apply a broad spectrum SPF 30 daily to protect yourself.  The latest formulas contain antioxidants, boosting their pollution-fighting powers. Utilizing sunscreen, antioxidants and proper cleansing, and you won’t end up with skin that’s older than your age.

But looking at the BIGGER picture, what can we do to help this gorgeous planet of ours?  I am tempted to throw my hands up and look the other way at times.  But the truth is, we all make an impact.  A healthy lifestyle and an eco-conscious one go hand in hand.

Here are some things for us to consider.

Can you drive a BIT less?  It’s a great way to reduce the amount of dangerous greenhouse gases (which are responsible for a large chunk of climate change) we release into the environment.  I carpool with my kids, and chunk my errands all at once if I can.  I also do more virtual shopping.  BeautyRiche is my one-stop-shop for my skin care products.

Start paying attention to the food items you toss in the garbage. That way, you can notice patterns (e.g., every week you throw away half a gallon of spoiled milk) and tweak your shopping habits accordingly.  Consider donating to a food kitchen if you have a party and are left with a lot of extra food.  And RECYCLE!!! Plastic, paper, cans, glass.  It’s really so easy once you start.  Most of the waste in my home is recycling now and not trash.

Use less food packaging.  It irritates me that food packaging takes up almost two thirds of total packaging waste in the United States. (All those cheese stick wrappers and yogurt containers!). That means a whole lot of waste ending up in landfills, which mean more methane is released into the air.  When shopping, look for products with minimal to no packaging, or at least packaging made from recycled items.

Carry your coffee cups. This is an area where we can make a huge difference in the amount of waste we produce. Bonus: Some stores (even Starbucks) provide discounts for bringing your own mug.

Consider buying in bulk the foods that last a long time (think pasta, cereal, and nuts). Just be sure to store them properly so they don’t go bad before you can use them.

Reuse your grocery bags!
Household cleaning products are among a number one cause of indoor pollutants that can hurt the environment as well as your lungs.  Choose non-toxic eco friendly cleaning products if you can.

Look for the Energy Star label, consider products that run on natural gas instead of electricity.  The same thing goes for the purchase of wood products (like furniture)—make sure it’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council—and less obvious paper goods, like tissues and toilet paper.

The most important idea to remember is that overtime, all these changes add up to a really positive impact on the environment. No effort is too trivial—so pick one of these new habits and take action today.

 

Happy Earth Day and have a great week!

 

Dr. Jill

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

I broke out with HORRIBLE acne my first and second year of Medical School.  It was so awful, so embarrassing, and I will never forget the pitiful look my Attending Dermatologist gave me as she wrote me a prescription for Accutane (twice).  Outside of the stress and late nights up studying, I lived on coffee and candy to get me through… and I paid the price.  I WISH I knew then what a huge impact diet and lifestyle plays on your skin.  Although great products and laser have helped get rid of most of my acne scars and helped skin look good again, I am more convinced than ever at my age of 46 HOW MUCH great nutrition keeps skin healthy and supple and vibrant.  Let me give you some insight…

First and foremost, nix the sugary, caffeinated stuff and DRINK MORE PURE WATER!  Over 60% of our bodies are comprised of water, and you will notice a difference in your skin within a day or two!  Water is crucial for our skin cells to stay plump and alive. Water helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out. Further, when we are hydrated, we sweat more efficiently, which keeps our skin clear.  You should be drinking 8 glasses daily at minimum and more if you are active.

Secondly, eat more PLANTS! More fruits and veggies will make a big difference on the health of your skin.  If you notice many of our higher end skin products have vitamins and minerals and enzymes derived from fruits and vegetables…  If we are spending “many pennies” to put them ON our skin, why not put them in our bodies as well?

Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus fruits, and in a variety of vegetables, such as broccoli and kale.  Vitamin C promotes collagen production and skin healing.  Vitamin A is essential for new skin cell development and cellular renewal.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squash, dried apricots, bell peppers, mango and canteloupe are excellent sources of vitamin A.

In general, many fruits and vegetables are full of ANTIOXIDANTS.  Some powerhouse choices are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and plums.  Our skin is exposed to free radicals on a daily basis. Free radicals come from things such as sun exposure or pollution, and are responsible for skin damage and sun aging.  Antioxidants such as those found in berries can destroy these free radicals and protect cells from further damage and premature skin aging.  Why not start now so you can keep your skin looking great in the next 5, 10, 20, 30 plus years?!

Third, our skin’s cellular membranes are made of a “bi-lipid layer”, which means the covering of our cells is made of fat molecules.  When we eat more healthy fats, these get incorporated into new cells with healthier membranes and therefore healthier cells. Healthy skin cells hold moisture better, which results in plumper, younger-looking skin. Good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed. Essential fatty acids also protect against inflammation, which is good for our hearts and arteries, as well as our skin.

Fourth, green tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and for its ability to help protect cell membranes. Whether you drink it or apply it to the skin, a 2000 study in the Archives of Dermatology showed green tea might help reduce the risk of damage from UV rays from the sun, which may reduce the risk of skin cancer.  It’s also full of antioxidants and polyphenols (anti-inflammatories) that we know are good for the skin.

Lastly, try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Researchers believe are thousands of undiscovered of antioxidants, peptides, enzymes, and anti-aging ingredients that will nourish our skin and our bodies, keeping us looking and feeling great.

 

Have a great week!

 

Dr. Jill

Got Spots?! What To Do About Brown Spots and Patches

         Got Spots?!

What To Do About Brown Spots and Patches

 

Are you noticing brown spots slowly appearing on your face or hands?  As you start to be out in this sunnier weather this spring, brown spots many start cropping up.  This is called hyperpigmentation, and is one of the most common skin conditions.  Hyperpigmentation is characterized by darkening areas of skin due to an increase in melanin (the natural substance that gives skin its color or pigment).

There are three main causes of hyperpigmentation.  The first is melasma, which is patchy brown discoloration that occurs on sun-exposed areas of the face and often occurs during pregnancy.  Women who are pregnant or women taking estrogen are prone to melasma.  The second is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  This is caused from increased pigment production in areas of damage on the skin; such as acne that is healing, injury, or eczema.  Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is more common in people with darker skin tones.  The third is sun-damage which can cause brown spots, and commonly called age spots or liver spots.

Before I continue, I do want to emphasize to have a yearly skin and mole check with your doctor so they can determine if any of your spots might be cancerous.  If you notice unusual moles, ones that are darker, irregular around the edges, or ones that have changed, should be looked at by a professional.

Now back to hyperpigmentation…

The mainstay to keep hyperpigmentation under control is to use SUN PROTECTION.  Use a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or greater daily to maximize the benefit of any skin-lightening product you decide to use.

There are a variety of topical skin lightening agents out there that will fade age spots and melasma.  With consistency and patience, these areas will fade over weeks to months.  Let me describe to you some of the common ingredients to look for.

Soy and Niacinimide are used in many cosmeceuticals for their skin lightening effects.  They work by preventing additional pigment from coming to the surface of the skin.  Ellagic Acid is a great antioxidant and works by inhibiting an enzyme needed for melanin production.  Lignin Peroxidase is a mild skin lightener found in over the counter products that is an enzyme that comes from a fungus that can break down melanin in the skin.  (This is actually how wood pulp is whitened for use in paper).  Kojic acid is another antioxidant derived from a fungus and works by breaking down melanin in the skin. Licorice extract is a mild skin lightener.

Hydroquinone is a prescription topical cream that slows down the pigment-making processes in the skin and is one of the strongest and most effective brightening agents we have.  At high concentrations, however, it can be irritating and toxic to the skin.  Doctors prescribe 4% but a 2% is also available.  It’s important to not use hydroquinone continuously and take a ‘holiday’ from it every 3 months to use other lightening agents.

Arbutin is a natural derivative of hydroquinone derived from plants.  This is typically found in combination with other skin-lightening agents and a nice alternative to hydroquinone.

There are a variety of products with their own unique combination of ingredients.  I suggest that you decide which you might the most effective and the least irritating.  If a product isn’t working or you feel its irritating your skin, look at the ingredients and switch it up!

There are some great medical procedures for hyperpigmentation as well.

IPL or Photofacial is a treatment with intense pulsed light and frequently recommended by doctors to treat hyperpigmentation.  Improperly administered IPL can make hyperpigmentation worse … so choose your doctor carefully.

IPL is my procedure of choice to treat hyperpigmentation, however there are other options.  Chemical peels such as a TCA, glycolic or phenol peel can also improve hyperpigmentation, as can CO2 laser.

After your melisma clears, you may want to stay on a mild form of maintenance therapy, continuing to use products that slow down the pigment making process.  And if nothing else, be sure to wear sunscreen daily.

Have a great week!

 

Dr. Jill