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Reviewed and rejected: The Mind-Beauty Connection

November 15, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 2 Comments
While I agree with everything that 'The Formulator' said in the reader review of The Mind-Beauty Connection by Amy Wechsler MD, I am impelled to throw in my two cents since some of the advice given in this book is bizarre to the point of irresponsible.

Sure, the high-level advice is fine and common-sensical: get enough sleep, eat the right foods, don't cultivate a negative self-image. But let's get down to the specifics.

First, Dr Wechsler says that all you really need in the potion and lotion dept is a good moisturizer. She believes that any old one will do (as long as it does double duty as a sunscreen) because they are all more a less the same and then goes on to recommend Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion. It has no less than seven potentially harmful ingredients (out of a total of 27).  Same for her other recommendation, Cetaphil, (which Dr Wechsler buys at her warehouse club in bulk).

Then she goes on to say that an antioxidant such as CoQ10 won't work: "...I think its ineffective when applied to the skin and easily deactivated". This subjective assertion isn't backed up anything. Interestingly, the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology published a German study concluded that long-term use of CoQ10 reduced crows feet. It was noted that it has a very small molecular structure and is easily absorbed by the skin. Perhaps even before it can be, in Dr Wechsler's words, "easily deactivated'.

Dr W doesn't like peptides either. This is because peptide molecules are "way too big to slip through the epidermis". It was at this point that I contacted 'The Formulator' for some help from the laboratory. This was the reply I got: "The author may have made some oversights when it comes to peptides. You probably know cosmetic peptides come from amino acids. Most amino acid molecules are in fact large and expectedly difficult to penetrate deep enough into the skin for tremendous benefit. Peptides in skincare formulas are (smaller) segments of (larger) amino acid molecules. I believe these smaller segments are why peptides become bioavailable."

The Formulator's point is bolstered by some research that Claire has been doing on chiral technology. She's found out that molecules have two sides and the human body will only bind to one of them. So clever chemists have been cutting molecules down to size. The 'L' in L-carnosine, for example, stands for left because that's the side that's used.

Dr W then, bizarrely, goes on to say that she does believe in the basic science of serums (which she calls supercharged antioxidant delivery systems). I don't understand. What are serums, if they are not a concoction of vitiamin C, peptides and CoQ10 and the like, the very things she disses.

Whilst seemingly not up to speed with some of the newer ingredients on the market (spin trap, growth factors), she mourns the potential loss of hydroquinone, which the FDA would like to ban. This is because it is deemed to be carcinogenic. However, Doctor W says this has only been demonstrated on a few rats and that it is "too big a leap" to say humans are at risk. Perhaps she is unaware that in 2005 the Journal of the European Acadamy of Dermatology and Veneriology published an article in which researchers in Holland claimed to have reviewed the "enormous" amount of articles that have been published on the carcinogenicity of hydroquinone since 1996. The conclusion: "The risks of long-term effects (cancer) of topically applied hydroquinone may no longer be ignored."

I gave up on Dr W when I got to the chapter where she challenges all the reasons why you might not be willing to have Botox or fillers. Err, like they hurt. Don't schedule an appointment around the time of your period, she says, and pop a painkiller first. Yeah, but think (especially in these days of bail outs) of the cost. Nah. A syringeful of restylane, once you've divided it by 120 days, is only $5.84 per day.

I'm beginning to wonder if our Dr W makes, when she isn't writing books, her living from administering these procedures. But that would be too cynical of me. Wouldn't it?
  • June 25, 2012

    by Matt

    please look up the difference between "number" and "amount" before you publish anything else.

    you should also mention the scientific validity of the studies you quote. are they randomized and double blinded? level 1 evidence? probably not

  • August 14, 2009

    by you have got to be kidding!

    Reading The Mind-Beauty Connection reminds me of some of the horror stories I've heard my skincare clients tell me about the advice of their dermatologists. Any skin care specialist who tops her list of favorite products with "Vaseline" is a little hard to take seriously. Do they teach dermatologists about taking care of skin? Reading The Mind-Beauty Connection confirms for me a suspicion I've had in six years of being a licensed esthetician: indeed, they hardly do. For a woman who supports organic foods and a healthy lifestyle, you'd think she'd also be on board about not using known carcinogens on one's skin. As I read the book, I was trying to figure out exactly who Dr. W was addressing, as I found her advice and attitudes about femininity to be so outrageously backlashing that I actually flipped to the front pages to find the publishing date. 2008? Wow, we've not come a long way, baby.

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