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Posted by 10.19.14

Jeffrey Benabio, MD, is helping to elevate dermatology’s profile, making it one of the most connected and digitally savvy specialties out there. A practicing dermatologist, Benabio also serves as the Physician Director of Innovation and Transformation at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. As such, he spends a good deal of time working to promote telehealth initiatives, social networking for doctors, and digital healthcare delivery. In the future, individuals who are able to take a selfie of a mole and email it to their doctor for real-time analysis will owe a big thank you to Benabio, who is also the voice behind The Digital Doctor, a popular blog that educates patients about health and wellness.

Benabio connected with Beauty in the Bag over email (after all, what else would you expect form the Digital Doctor?) to discuss his skin care philosophies as well as how telemedicine will change the way dermatologists see patients just like you in the not-too-distant future.

What are the three worst things we do to our skin?

We don’t adequately protect it from the sun’s damaging rays. Although people are generally better about applying sunscreen today than they were years ago, we still have lots of room for improvement. We know that sun exposure and sunburns, in particular, can lead to both premature skin aging (wrinkles) and skin cancer and that regular use of sunscreen is related to a reduced risk for skin aging and skin cancer. To keep your skin healthy, you must protect it. And that means for most people applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 daily. It also means being sun smart by covering up with clothing, hats and sunglasses and seeking shade when outdoors.

We also don’t moisturize enough. With winter approaching, it’s particularly important to get in the habit of using moisturizing body washes and moisturizing lotions. When temperatures drop, there is less humidity in the air, which causes any moisture on exposed skin to quickly evaporate. Whipping winds and blasting heaters exacerbate your already parched skin, leading to uncomfortable, dry, chapped, cracked skin. First, stop using bar soap which strips oils off of your skin, leading to dry skin. Instead, use a moisturizing body wash such as Dove Men +Care’s body washes that have micro moisture technology to lock in moisture and keep skin feeling and looking healthy. Also, try to apply moisturizer to hands as often as possible, especially after hand washing. Cover up with hats, scarves, and gloves when outdoors, and try eating more omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as salmon and walnuts which can help keep your skin fight off dryness.

We pick, poke, prod, and pluck with abandon. Although tempting, it’s never a good idea to pop a pimple. Most people apply too much pressure which pushes the bacteria into the skin, worsening an already unsightly blemish. It’s not uncommon for the skin to become red, inflamed, and tender. Picking and prodding also leads to scarring and dark marks that can take months or years to fade.

What is your go-to product line?

I always recommend Dove products to all my patients – the brand is known and trusted in dermatology communities for cleansing, moisturizing, and care. For the guys, I tell them to use Dove Men+Care products, which are specifically formulated for men’s skin across personal wash, deodorants, face care and hair care. For example, in the summer I suggest men use the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Face Lotion. It not only offers advanced protection for dry skin, but it also contains a broad spectrum SPF 15. It’s fast absorbing, non-greasy, and has a light, fresh scent, unlike other products with high levels of perfume which can irritate skin. Check out for more information.

If there was one thing you would recommend to stave off wrinkling and premature aging, what would it be, and why?

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Most people highly underestimate the importance of quality sleep. We know that lack of sleep is related to many health issues and is critically important for your skin’s health. Sleep is a strong anti-inflammatory, so it can help with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, acne, and psoriasis. It also helps your skin look less dry, wrinkly, and puffy. That’s why when you’re tired, your face shows it: Your eyes are puffier than usual, and those fine lines don’t look so fine anymore. Chronic sleep deprivation can leave your skin looking and feeling dry, dull, and wrinkly. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a host of medical problems including weight gain, memory problems, and headaches to name a few. Sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.

Tell us how you see telemedicine affecting the way dermatologists treat patients.

It will be an additional way that patients can “see” their doctor for help. It is becoming increasingly common for patients to send photos by email to their dermatologist; it’s an easy and convenient way for patients to get answers to their skin questions. Teledermatology is also used between primary care physicians and dermatologists. In that instance, the primary care physician can send a photo to a dermatologist when they have a question about a rash or a growth. Getting a response right away from a dermatologist helps make primary care physicians even better at taking care of their patients. With the use of technology, there will be fewer barriers between physicians and patients.

Is your passion technology, skin care or both?

Both. I’m fortunate to practice medicine at a time when more people than ever have health insurance, when technology is better than ever at helping us care for people, and when patients are more informed than ever before about their health and healthcare. I’m always looking at technology as a means to make us better physicians and to enhance the relationship that doctors have with patients.

What do you predict will be the next big thing in dermatology?

Apps that accurately diagnosis skin cancer and other skin conditions, including rashes. We’re close to doing so today, and this will transform dermatology.


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Photo Credit: laurenharris

Posted by 10.12.14

Walk the streets of Manhattan at any time of the day or night and you are bound to see a handful of men and women clutching a colorful yoga mat that’s rolled neatly and tightly under their arms as they dash through town in search of a fix. For these devotees, a day without yoga is not an option. These yogis are oh-so-dedicated and will travel near and far to strike the perfect asana whether downward-facing dog, warrior pose or a handstand with the City’s top yoga gurus.

Lauren Harris is one of most sought out members of this elite group of yogis.  Known as the “best handstand teacher ever,” Harris is a former attorney who offers classes throughout Manhattan at various A-list studios, as well as private lessons. Harris’s encouraging hands-on approach is designed to make students fall in love with the practice of yoga.

She sat down with Beauty in the Bag to discuss her love of all things yoga, why and how she choose this path, and how to find the perfect yoga style.


How did you become interested in yoga?

I went to a yoga class with a girlfriend while in Austin, Texas for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The class was great and I was inspired by what the other students were able to do with their bodies. I also found it physically challenging and interesting so as soon as I returned home from the trip I went out in search of more yoga classes. I’ve been practicing regularly ever since!

Can anyone practice yoga?

Yes. The beauty of the practice is that there really is yoga for everyone, and everyone who desires can practice yoga. There are many different styles of yoga, so I would encourage new students to keep an open mind until they find the class that is right for them. There are also classes that cater to students with specific needs, i.e. prenatal yoga and yoga for seniors. For students working with injuries or with physical limitations, I would recommend calling the studio ahead of time to have the studio recommend the appropriate teacher and/or class.

What are the main body benefits of this practice?

There are so many! I think one of the most important is keeping the spine long, mobile and healthy. Many students benefit from the physical stretching of tight muscles, which can help prevent injury. Yoga can be very strengthening as well. Body awareness and confidence is also a big plus.

How does yoga help the mind?

A lot of us deal with a lot of “chatter” in our heads. I have found that while I’m practicing I’m able to “get out of my head” – or quiet my mind. It can be unbelievably stress-reducing in that way! Many yogis find the practice to be incredibly relaxing, especially when combined with meditation.

Tell us about your other healthy habits.

I live in Manhattan and as much as possible I walk wherever I go. I eat a healthy, mostly vegan diet and drink lots of water. I have two children so it can be a challenge – but I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love yoga and I love sharing the practice with others. I am so grateful that students enjoy my classes and trust me to teach them. I get giddy with excitement when a student hits a new pose for the first time in my class. And every once in a while, a student will approach me after class and tell me how much they needed my class(es), how its helped them get through hard times and/or how much better they feel after having practiced with me. That is so incredibly rewarding – I love my job!


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Posted by 09.28.14

Rebecca Kazin, MD, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of cosmetic dermatology. She is a board certified dermatologist at the renowned Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington D.C. Dr. Kazin is also holds a faculty position at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore where she served as Director of the Johns Hopkins Dermatology and Cosmetic Center for the past eight years. This year she received an award recognizing her clinical training of dermatology residents in lasers and cosmetics. With her extensive experience as an injector, she was selected to form a national team of physicians who train other physicians on the best techniques. Additionally, she was elected “Top Doc in Cosmetic Dermatology” by her peers for the past two years.

Through her dermatology training at Johns Hopkins, Kazin has become an expert not only in conditions of the skin, but also in the scalp and hair. She spoke with Beauty in the Bag about the evolution of her new hair care line, how men and women age and how she stays so fit and focused.

How did you meet Dr. Tina Alster and come to join her world renowned dermatology and laser practice?

Everyone in my field knows Dr. Alster! I have long regarded her as a personal role model and mentor, as she is one of the original trailblazers in dermatologic laser surgery and founded the first freestanding laser center in Washington, DC. After working at Johns Hopkins for more than a decade, I knew that her practice was the perfect fit for me as it seamlessly combines excellence in patient care with cutting edge laser and aesthetic research that continues to push knowledge in our field forward.

What are some of your special interests in the field of dermatology?

I feel fortunate to have a profession that allows me to combine my love of art with the study of medicine. When I meet a patient, I am often fascinated by how much of my exam is based on the principles of symmetry, proportion and shape. I study each person to see what will restore them to their natural beauty subtly and carefully to achieve their goals without looking obvious or artificial.

Because of my extensive experience with laser and injectable therapy, I am also able to apply my passion for teaching by training other dermatologists and surgeons in the latest proper and safe techniques.

Tell us about your special interest in hair loss and hair and scalp health?

During the past 10 years, I have been surprised about how many of my patients routinely complain about hairloss. On average, we lose 50-100 hairs day, which is a normal part of the natural growth cycle. However, when hair loss becomes more noticeable, there may be underlying causes. The causes can range from daily stress to heredity, styling damage, medications, vitamin deficiencies, and hormones.  My patients also frequently complain about scalp symptoms and voice their frustration by the lack of options available.  I realize that this is an area of great concern to women and men, and that there is a void in the market of products available to manage scalp conditions without leaving hair dry and unmanageable. Products that maintain the beauty and health of the hair regrettably do not adequately treat their scalp. So I am on a mission to help people cope with their hair and scalp health issues.

What changes do you see in practice among women and men as they age?

Much of the changes we see with aging are genetic, so it’s telling to take a long look at your mother and father! Men and women age differently but what is common is that with age there is progressive loss of the underlying bone structure, muscle mass, and collagen layers of the skin. This leads to the appearance of the ‘tablecloth being too large for the table.’ When fillers started booming with Hyaluronic Acid products, we were very focused on treatment of the nasolabial folds but what we’ve realized over time is that it’s the facial volume loss causing the prominence of the nasolabial folds that ages someone. Expect injectors now know to address the face globally to give a much more balanced, natural aesthetic result.

To add to the good news, with age comes hormonal shifts. I always joke- “as women age, they become more like men. As men age, they become like women”….This is because of the relative decrease in estrogen and testosterone respectively. These hormonal changes lead to hair loss where we want hair and hair growth where we don’t. We also see skin dryness and loss of elasticity. The collagen machinery in the skin slows down exponentially so wound healing becomes more difficult. As a dermatologist, I keep all of this in mind when evaluating my patients.

As a busy mother of three, a leading dermatologist and educator, a clinical researcher and product formulator, what are your personal secrets for looking so young and well-rested?

First- Find a babysitter and have Saturday nights out with my husband and friends!

But a close second would be trying to take a little bit of time for myself. I am kind of fanatical about scheduling and organizing, but it typically works to put a schedule in place that gives me a little time on the weekends to have what my husband calls “Me Time.” This is usually some form of exercising followed by a quick coffee with a friend.

I also have become comfortable with the fact that I cannot do it all and I live by the motto ‘it takes a village.’ I rely heavily on help from my parents and in-laws. I also have learned to say ‘No’ to many requests over time. I really try to just participate in committees and organizations that I am truly passionate about and give them my all instead of spreading myself too thin.

I have learned that it’s the quality of time with my three daughters not the quantity.

Lastly, it is a little Botox here, filler there, and maintenance laser treatments to help with the rest!

What technologies and trends are you excited about that may be coming in the near future?

  • Kythera- ATX-101 injections to dissolve focal areas of fat (double chins).
  • Topical ‘Botox’ for wrinkles and sweating (particularly palms and soles where BOTOX injections are very painful).
  • Ulthera (micro-focused ultrasound) for tightening the crepe skin on the chest.
  • Possible laser hair removal method for blond, white or grey hair.
  • Advances in cellulite treatment.


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