Is Your Skin Summer-Ready?

african american woman smiling on beach

(BlackDoctor.org) — Hot fun in the summertime! Yes, summer’s finally here! No more bulky winter clothes And it’s time show a little more of that beautiful, radiant, healthy, African-American skin! Are you ready?

Wait a minute! Hold it right there! You’ve got dry skin? You mean to tell me that you haven’t been moisturizing regularly and now you’re self-conscious about showing your skin?

Since your skin is your body’s largest organ, it’s very important to take very good care of it. After all, it’s the first thing everyone sees. But no worries. As usual, I’ve got the perfect solution for you that will make your skin glow like a baby’s bottom. And it won’t take a lot of work, time or money.

Exfoliate & Moisturize

The first thing you want to do is to exfoliate and moisturize. You want to scrub off all that dry, dead skin, then you want to protect the underlying layer – the smoother, healthier, newer layer – by keeping it moisturized.

Scrub. For the body scrub, rougher does not necessarily mean better. Don’t go out and get liquefied Brillo pads – they just work to damage your skin. Instead, get a moisturizing body scrub that gently exfoliates while keeping your skin moisturized. Stay away from most products with alcohol because they tend to suck the moisture out of your skin, making it more dry and flaky.

Moisturize. There are a variety of products that are especially formulated to moisturize African American skin. I recommend a body butter or nutrient-rich oil, because generally, they’re thicker and more moisturizing than lotion. Translation: they stay on your skin for a lot longer, keeping more moisture in.

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen

Have you ever gone out on a foggy or overcast day and come home with your face feeling a little hot? More likely than not, you got sunburned. Yes, even on cloudy days, UV light can still penetrate and damage your skin.

Sunscreen isn’t just for sunny days at the beach. Your best bet to protect yourself from the damaging UV rays – which causes premature aging of the skin like wrinkles and age spots – is to wear sunscreen anytime you step outside.

It’s best to choose something that is water resistant (in case you go swimming or sweat). A good rule of thumb is to apply sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher.

SPF tells you the amount of time it would take for you to get sunburned when you have sunscreen on your skin versus without. For instance, if your sunscreen is SPF 15, and it normally takes you 5 minutes to burn when you don’t have sunscreen…your SPF 15 sunscreen will allow you to be exposed 15 x 5 minutes (75 minutes) before your skin burns. Make sure the sunscreen you get protects you from UVA and UVB light.

Don’t Forget!

Now that you’ve protected your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, how about a little pampering INSIDE your body?

Try mango and raspberry infused iced green tea for a refreshingly cool, crisp drink full of antioxidants.

You can make this yourself by making a pitcher of fresh green tea and adding slices of mango and a few raspberries in each glass. It looks great, tastes great, and best of all, it’s good for you!

Here’s to hot fun in the summertime!

By Juliette Samuel, BDO Contributing Writer

Juliette Samuel is a person who definitely knows beautiful when she sees it. Juliette has had a very eclectic career working in and around the beauty industry.

She has worked as an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She has also been a Professional Image Consultant.

Currently, Juliette works as a Skin Care Therapist, acting President and Chief Nose for NYRAJU Skin Care. As such she is in charge of product formulation and development of all scents produced for the line. Juliette is also a member of NAHA-The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, The Society of Cosmetic Chemist and is the Fragrance Editor for BellaOnline.

What does all that mean for you? It means Juliette is ever-on-her-toes when it comes to the type of information that you want and need to know!

How Exercise Can Help You Sleep

young african american woman doing push up

(BlackDoctor.org) — Running to the medicine cabinet or to doctors for sleeping pills may be one way to battle chronic insomnia, but aerobic exercise might be the best prescription, new research indicates.

Scientists at Northwestern University say sleep problems affect millions of adults, who could likely improve their quality of sleep, vitality, and mood with regular aerobic exercise.

The researchers say the study is the first to examine the effect of aerobic exercise on insomnia in middle-aged and older adults. About 50% of people middle-aged and older complain of symptoms of chronic insomnia.

The Study Design

Investigators studied 23 sedentary adults, mostly women aged 55 years and older, who had a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep and also reported impaired daytime functioning.

The participants were randomly placed in one of two groups.

One group exercised for two 20-minute sessions four times a week and the other did a 30-40 minute workout four times a week. This went on in both groups for 16 weeks, with participants exercising to 75% of their maximum heart rate on at least two activities, such as riding a stationary bicycle, walking, or exercising on a treadmill.

In a control group, participants didn’t exert themselves physically but only mentally, taking part in recreational or educational activities, such as attending a cooking class or listening to a museum lecture. This group met for about 45 minutes, three to five times a weeks, also for 16 weeks.

Exercise Helps Sleep Quality

Researchers say the participants who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their diagnosis from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime.

Sleep Equals More Pep

Better sleep gave them pep, that magical ingredient that makes you want to get up and get out into the world to do things.

Phyllis Zee, MD, senior author and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine, says the study is important because it is relevant to “a huge proportion of the population.”

She says insomnia increases with age. Around mid-life, sleep begins to change dramatically, she says.

“It is essential that we identify behavioral ways to improve sleep,” Zee says. “Now we have promising results showing aerobic exercise is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous.”

Like nutrition and exercise, sleep is an essential ingredient of a healthy lifestyle, says Zee, also a professor of neurology, neurobiology, and physiology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“By improving a person’s sleep, you can improve their physical and mental health,” she says. “Sleep is a barometer of health, like someone’s temperature. If a person says he or she isn’t sleeping well, we know they are more likely to be in poor health, with problems managing their hypertension or diabetes.”

The exercise and sedentary groups were told that good sleep hygiene can be improved by sleeping in a cool, dark, and quiet room; going to bed at the same time every night; and not staying in bed too long if you can’t fall asleep.

Zee says that exercise is good for metabolism, weight management, and cardiovascular health. Physical exertion is also good for sleep, according to the study.