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  • For many, a common goal is to maintain as youthful an appearance as possible as we enter middle-age and beyond. Certainly there are myriad topical cosmetic products designed to do just that by reducing the appearance of wrinkles. While such products are all well and good, we should remember that what we put inside of us is at least as important as what we put on the outside of us if we want to reduce wrinkling. First and foremost, good nutrition and eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidant-providing fruit and vegetables is arguably the single most vital approach to maintaining a youthful visage. In addition, there are two other antioxidant nutraceuticals, which can also contribute to the goal of reducing wrinkles. These are astaxanthin and coenzyme Q10.


    Astaxanthin, a pinkish-reddish carotenoid derived from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis and found in foods such as salmon, trout, shrimp and lobster,1,2 has generated a great deal of excitement due to the ongoing plethora of published research validating a significant number of health benefits. Structurally similar to beta-carotene,3 astaxanthin has tremendous antioxidant activity. In fact, research4 has demonstrated that the antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is approximately 10 times stronger than other carotenoids tested (e.g., zeaxanthin, lutein, tunaxanthin, canthaxanthin, beta-carotene) and 100 times greater than those of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). This resulted in one researcher stating, “Astaxanthin has the properties of a “super vitamin E.”5 Other research has also demonstrated superior antioxidant activity of astaxanthin over carotenoids and vitamin E.6

    The cosmetic effects on human skin by four mg per day astaxanthin orally were demonstrated in a single-blind placebo controlled study7 using forty-nine U.S. healthy middleaged women. Based upon dermatologist’s assessment and instrumental assessment at week six compared to base-line initial values, the results were more than a 50 percent reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, about a 50 percent improvement in the moisture content of skin, and more than a 50 percent assessment of patients indicated a reduction of skin roughness by more than 40 percent. The authors of the study also indicated that astaxanthin may protect the fresh collagen in human skin from oxidative stress such as singlet oxygen induced by UV radiation (e.g. sunlight).

    It is particularly notable that the study was performed during winter and in Rockland, Maine, which is a harsh season and location that creates a very dry human skin condition. Typically, this also makes it difficult to observe any significant difference to the condition of the skin by using an oral dietary supplement. The fact that astaxanthin supplementation resulted in a noticeable and significant improvement in various skin parameters, speaks well of the effectiveness of this nutraceutical.

    Similarly, the effects of six mg astaxanthin daily was examined in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study8 involving 36 healthy male subjects for six weeks. The results were that at week six compared to start, significant improvements in two parameters, “Area ratio of all wrinkles” and “Volume ratio of all wrinkles,” and there were also significant improvements in elasticity of crow’s feet area and transepidermal water loss.

    Coenzyme Q10
    Although structurally related to vitamin K, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is not a vitamin, but rather coenzyme that helps to utilize oxygen as part of its important role in cellular energy metabolism. Research has also shown that CoQ10 functions in a number of other beneficial ways including acting as an antioxidant in scavenging free radicals which would otherwise cause oxidative damage to body tissues.9 This reduction of oxidative damage is especially important when considering that this damage can extend to our DNA. Clearly DNA damage does not bode well for maintaining a youthful appearance, and CoQ10 may help since clinical research has shown that this antioxidant can help to reduce oxidative damage to DNA.10,11 In fact, CoQ10 is actually part of our skin’s strategy to protection itself.

    Skin surface lipids (SSL) are a complex combination of sebum and other materials, including small amounts of CoQ10, which collectively act as the outermost protection of the body against oxidative damage from external sources. CoQ10 levels increase from childhood to maturity to decrease again significantly as we age. In spite of its low in skin levels, CoQ10 helps to inhibit the UV radiation (e.g., sunlight) induced depletion of other important components of SSL,12 and positively influences the age-affected cellular metabolism and enables to combat signs of aging starting at the cellular level.13 Unfortunately, exposure to increasing amounts of UV radiation was shown to lead to lowering of CoQ10 levels by 70 percent.14 This makes a good case for CoQ10 supplementation by people concerned with the appearance of aging skin. My recommendation would be to supplement with at least 100 mg of CoQ10 daily since various studies have shown that this amount is capable of significantly reducing oxidative damage.15,16,17

    1. Goodwin TW. Metabolism, nutrition, and function of carotenoids. Annu Rev Nutr 1986;6:273–97.
    2. Kobayashi M, Kakizono T, Nishio N, et al. Antioxidant role of astaxanthin in the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 1997;48:351–6.
    3. Yuan J-P, Peng J, Yin K, Wang J-H. Potential health-promoting effects of astaxanthin: A high-value carotenoid mostly from microalgae. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2011;55:150–65.
    4. Miki W. Biological functions and activities of animal Carotenoids. Pure & Appl Chem. 1991;63(1):141–6.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Naguib YM. Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2000;48:1150-4.
    7. Yamashita E. The Effects of a Dietary Supplement Containing Astaxanthin on Skin Condition. Carotenoid Science. 2006;10:91–5.
    8. Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43–7.
    9. Pepping J. Coenzyme Q10. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 1999; 56:519–21.
    10. Niklowitz P, Sonnenschein A, Janetzky B, Andler W, Menke T. Enrichment of coenzyme Q10 in plasma and blood cells:defense against oxidative damage. Int J Biol Sci. 2007; 3(4): 257–62.
    11. Gutierrez-Mariscal FM, Perez-Martinez P, Delgado-Lista J, et al. Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q10 induces postprandial changes in p53 in response to oxidative DNA damage in elderly subjects. Age (Dordr). 2012 Apr;34(2):389–403.
    12. Passi S, De Pità O, Puddu P, Littarru GP. Lipophilic antioxidants in human sebum and aging. Free Radic Res. 2002 Apr;36(4):471–7.
    13. Prahl S, Kueper T, Biernoth T, et al. Aging skin is functionally anaerobic: importance of coenzyme Q10 for anti-aging skin care. Biofactors. 2008;32(1–4):245–55.
    14. Passi, 471–7.
    15. Gül I, Gökbel H, Belviranli M, Okudan N, Büyükbaþ S, Baþarali K. Oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in plasma after repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise: the effect of coenzyme Q10. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2011 Jun;51(2):305–12.
    16. Sakata T, Furuya R, Shimazu T, Odamaki M, Ohkawa S, Kumagai H. Coenzyme Q10 administration suppresses both oxidative and antioxidative markers in hemodialysis patients. Blood Purif. 2008;26(4):371–8.
    17. Lee BJ, Huang YC, Chen SJ, Lin PT. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation reduces oxidative stress and increases antioxidant enzyme activity in patients with coronary artery disease. Nutrition. 2012 Mar;28(3):250–5.
  • It is not unusual to find several lines of skin care per brand based on different skin types. These can include oily, dry, combination, sensitive, acne prone or aging. But is this the correct approach to skin care? Or is it really just a clever way to market different products to you?

    Before answering these questions, let’s take a closer look at skin types.
    First and foremost, dermatologists agree that surface characteristics of skin vary based on many factors, including age and general health considerations such as stress, diet, exercise, health of immune system, etc.

    Normal Skin Type
    Normal skin is not excessively oily or dry, and has an even tone and smooth texture. It also does not have signs of skin conditions such as rashes, blemishes or acne.

    Oily Skin Type
    Oily skin appears shiny with large visible pores. Skin lesions such as blemishes or acne are often associated with oily skin. Oily skin products often feature extremely harsh ingredients, which can be very harmful for oily sensitive skin.

    Dry Skin Type
    Dry skin has a dull appearance, and even some flaky areas that feel tight. This type tends to wrinkle easier and may be more prone to uneven skin tones.

    Combination Skin Type
    This is the most common skin type. Certain areas appear to be oily (especially forehead and nose), while other areas are dry or normal.

    Aging Skin Type
    You may know individuals who are baby boomer age, yet they look like they are in their forties. On the other hand, you probably know individuals forty years old or younger who have skin that appears much older than their chronological years. Why do these individuals have such different reaction to the aging process? This could be due to two factors:

    • The individual’s general health including their immune system, stress levels and diet.
    • Whether the individual has spent years using products with irritating formulas and harsh ingredients. (More on this a little later.)

    Sensitive Skin Type
    Interest in skin care for sensitive skin is on the rise because more people than ever are reporting skin sensitivities. In fact, many people complain the same products they have “used for ages” are now causing serious irritation. This irritation could be due to emerging allergies to various ingredients or simply using products with irritating or harsh formulas.

    Healthy Body—Healthy Skin
    We’ve been told in order to maintain health and prevent disease in our body, it’s important to live a healthy life. A healthy lifestyle includes exercising, eating a balanced nutritious diet and managing stress. We’re not told to eat certain foods based on our type, although for a while this was a fleeting fad. In order to maintain healthy heart, lungs, or any other organ, we must follow the healthy lifestyle guidelines.

    For example, smoking certainly affects the lungs, but it also affects the health of your gums, immune system, heart and skin. Another example is your diet. Eating excessive amounts of sugar and sweets in general can cause weight gain, tooth decay and skin blemishes. It doesn’t matter if you have sensitive, aging or normal skin, an unhealthy diet will produce unhealthy skin. Likewise, not managing stress levels properly can affect your immune system, cause symptoms such as clenching and grinding the teeth and even binge eating. All of these can have a domino effect on an individual’s general health and the appearance of their skin.

    Your Skin—Safe Skin Essentials
    Our skin is the largest organ in the body. Just as you would exercise to keep your body vital and healthy, your skin also requires certain things to maintain health and youthfulness. Besides the general healthy lifestyle guidelines listed above, your skin also needs the following TLC, no matter what your skin type:

    1. Scrub Away Dead Cells: Your skin has a natural life cycle. Skin sheds dead cells and generates new cells daily. The dead cells need to be removed or as they accumulate on the skin surface or get mixed with dirt and oil, your skin will begin to appear drab, dull and unhealthy. You may even develop what is called acne prone skin as debris builds up. It is therefore very important to remove dead cells gently, without harsh abrasives, from the outer layer of your skin on a regular basis. A non-abrasive scrub used two to three times per week, can accomplish this beautifully.

    2. Essential Nutrients with Mask: A quality facial mask also helps to gently exfoliate and deep cleans the skin. For sensitive skin, a mask with kaolin clay is best. It helps stimulate circulation, leaving your skin revitalized, smooth and silky, without drying.

    3. Dead Sea Mud: Another important ingredient to look for in a facial mask is Dead Sea Mud. Rich in antioxidants, Dead Sea Mud helps protect against aging by feeding your skin important nutrients. The Dead Sea is high in mineral salt content. As water evaporates due to heat, the minerals get absorbed into the mud. The mud is then purified and packed within facial masks. This ingredient is excellent for treatment of acne, psoriasis, eczema, and most skin conditions. It also tends to moisturize and helps hydrate the skin naturally.

    4. Fruit Acids: We often hear about the pH of the skin, but just what is the pH and why is it important? Skin has a normal pH of 4 to 5.5, which in the scale of pH means it is acidic. The outer layer of your skin has a natural protective layer of oils, which are acidic, called the acid mantle. The purpose for this layer is to protect your outer skin layer from infection and harmful bacteria. If it is disturbed or stripped, bacteria can attack the skin causing rashes, acne, and other skin conditions. Alkaline soaps, detergents, harsh skin care products and cleansers are the main way to strip the outer acid mantle of your skin.

    Although the word acid as an ingredient sounds harmful, there are safe acids such as fruit acids, Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid or Ascorbic Acid, that can help protect this outer acid mantle layer and rejuvenate your skin. When applied through a facial mask or other appropriate product in the right amount, these acids can improve skin texture and may also reduce fine lines, acne scaring and uneven skin tone. Blackheads can also be reduced or removed with these types of facial acids.

    5. Shea Butter: Moisturizing without clogging pores is important. Pure 100 percent Shea Butter hydrates, has natural sunscreen, and anti-aging benefits. It has been used for centuries for cooking and skin conditions. Although many products contain not the pure form, but shea butter mixed with other oils, the pure form is the most beneficial.

    Ingredients to Avoid
    To the unsuspecting consumer, a pretty label on a beautiful jar is surely good for your skin, especially if it is endorsed by a young and attractive model or starlet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Certain ingredients are harsh and irritating, and they can be found in expensive brands as well as inexpensive ones.

    • Acne products with antibiotics—If acne is due to infection, antibiotics used temporarily may be indicated. Long-term use may lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.
    • Aluminum Sulfate—Common deodorant ingredient that can be irritating to your skin.
    • Botanicals and herbal ingredients—Just because an ingredient is natural, it does not mean it is good for you. Remember, herbs can be sprayed with pesticides and have side effects. Drugs come from herbs. Even organic botanicals can have strong side effects, especially when added in a potpourri manner in many products. As you continue to use these strong plants for years, you could be asking for trouble. This applies to all plant extracts and essential oils found in most daily used personal care and skin care products.
    • BHA—Strong synthetic irritating ingredient used as antioxidant.
    • Barium sulfate—Used as whitening agent in cosmetics.
    • Fragrance—Includes salicylates and other irritating natural or synthetic plant oil ingredients.
    • Isopropyl alcohol—An irritant found in many products.
    • Lanolin—Derived from sheep glands, may contain contaminants.
    • Ortho Tri-Cyclen—Approved for acne products, is the common component of the birth-control pill.
    • PABA—Commonly found in sunscreens.
    • Salicylic acid—This anti-inflammatory ingredient is found in many over-thecounter ointments for pain relief. It’s also added to skin care to reduce redness. It can cause irritation and salicylic acid allergy if used for long periods of time.
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)—Strong industrial detergent, used for foaming properties in many products, including toothpaste.
    • Sodium silicate—Irritating antiseptic used in cosmetics.

    How to Maintain Healthy, Youthful Skin

    • Avoid using soaps, cleansers or any skin care with irritating ingredients, such as those listed above.
    • Protect your skin when exposed to the sun with safe sunscreen that is PABA free.
    • Use pH balanced skin products and focus on safe ingredients.

    Have questions about your specific skin issues? Visit or contact Dr. Flora Stay directly at 888.883.4276 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..