Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

EXERCISE MAT: Allergen or Not An Allergen?


Exercise Mat

Yoga mats, pilates mats, fitness mats, and rubber mats in gyms are important to keep you safe when working out. But most are made of or contain rubber, which is a top contact allergen. Where you find rubber, you tend to find other allergens like thiuram. Some thicker mats also contain foam, where latex becomes an additional issue. Many, including those made of potentially safer plastics (Thermal Plastic Elastomer or PVC), are dyed.

Keep in mind that sweating is another factor that allows more contact of irritants and/or allergens to react with the skin…so if you are allergic to any of these substances, contact with them while you’re sweating could make the reaction worse.

Don’t let these common allergens deter you from working out, however: daily exercise is too important! Try jute and natural cotton, which should be safer if they are organic, uncolored, and untreated. Make sure you get a patch test to confirm what you are sensitive to — it may not be the material itself but ingredients in disinfectants or soaps used to clean the mat.

If you can’t find a mat without your particular allergens, placing an organic, untreated, white or uncolored towel between you and your mat may be enough to prevent contact. Wash your mat, towel, and clothing in a hypoallergenic laundry soap or hypoallergenic shampoo. And if you can, leave them to dry outdoors so the breeze and the sun get rid of airborne chemicals left over from gym disinfection (like chlorine or bleach, which are both common irritants and photoallergens).

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.

Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)


Eat Right, Exercise, Daily Skincare Regimen: Healthy Habits To Look & Feel Your Best

Commit to a Daily Skin Regimen

Eating right & working out, there’s no other way to get the body you want…which already helps your skin look healthier and more vibrant. But for targeting problem areas and upping that glow, a daily skin care regimen is your best bet.

A daily regimen is simply the best thing for your skin. One way to think about it is in terms of weight loss, a healthy lipid profile and physical tone: you could get surgery or do a drastic diet and see instant, remarkable results. But remission is common; many people who go through extreme weight loss gain it back. Whether or not you undergo a radical procedure, you need a lifestyle change of improved nutrition and daily exercise if you want to keep the weight off and stay healthier, longer.

This daily care over more drastic procedures works for your skin, too. Dermatological procedures and a monthly facial definitely give your skin a boost — and can even clear severe or stubborn concerns dramatically. But, problems frequently recur without a real change in skin habits. There is no replacement for a daily skin regimen to a) keep skin healthy; b) help you achieve your skin goals; and c) sustain the results over a longer period of time.

What’s in a basic regimen? Cleanser, Toner, Moisturizer, Sunscreen. There are loads of options to address your skin’s needs and your skin goals. Overwhelmed? Start with the minimum requirement of safety: look for products that are hypoallergenic to reduce the risk of a rash or irritation (which a lot of people don’t know can lead to excessive dryness and even dark splotches) and non-comedogenic (to prevent acne).

Want more information on how to choose a regimen? Check out A Skincare Regimen Isn’t One-Size Fits All.


Beauty Featured Healthy Living Skin

5 Habits To “Spring Clean” For Healthy Skin

Skin care is never just about the skin’s surface. Your diet, stress levels, amount of sleep, and exercise all contribute to your skin’s clarity and health. As you spring clean your closet, take these 5 habits out to the trash to make room for vibrant, fresh, healthy skin:

Junk The Junk

There just is no redeeming factor to junk food (processed candy, chips, colas, juices, energy drinks, snacks). The body doesn’t know how to process several of the ingredients used to preserve, color, or flavor many of these products, and excesses get stored as fat or, as new research is showing, potentially harmful buildup in the brain. Skin-wise, colorants are common allergens that are known to cause rashes or acne around the mouth and chin, and in some severe cases, all over the body. The junk is addictive, too, so it’s best to get off it and stay off it.

Treat Perfection As Passé

Sugar, pasta, rice, bread, crackers: avoid the pristine uniformity of white options and look for healthy variants like whole wheat, wild, brown, coconut, and other more fibrous, less processed alternatives.

Check out the farm-fresh produce in the photo below: imperfectly perfect, just as nature intended. Choose organic produce as often as you can. And consider growing your own! If you have kids, window or garden growing is an excellent activity to do together that gets them outside (more healthy activity, less tech!) and teaches them not only about nature but about where their food comes from. If you don’t have kids, gardening is a soothing activity and many plants like kale, tomatoes, and several herbs are surprisingly easy to grow. Just don’t forget the sunscreen when working outside. In addition to UV rays from the sun, many plants are photo-allergens, meaning they react with light to cause skin darkening. You don’t want your skin to suffer as you get healthy: slather on your UV protection before you get down and dirty!


Don’t Drink Your Nutrients: Chew ‘Em

Because you need so much fruit and veg to make a single serving, fresh, cold-pressed juices are wonderful to supplement your intake of fruits and vegetables…but sipping shouldn’t replace eating. Chewing through raw, whole fruits and vegetables gives you all the fiber and nutritious benefits that these miracle foods have to offer. Juicing, even at home, can mean getting more sugar and water than anything else. Add, don’t replace.

Stop De-Prioritizing Movement

Don’t make exercise an option, or something to do just a few times a week: make it a daily ritual. Enroll in a class that forces you to do 3 days of more intense work — spinning, aerobics, zumba, bootcamp, whatever you find fun. Do two days of hiking or walking with the kids, the dog or your partner. That leaves two more days of yoga, other classes, the treadmill or even stationary biking while watching your favorite TV shows. Aim for a minimum of 45 minutes no matter what you’re doing. Free apps like Sworkit help you customize workouts according to the time you have — no gym or equipment required. There are loads of free dance and zumba routines on YouTube, too. And if you have a crazy-busy week, try this Heart-Thumping 10-Minute Workout, this 10-Minute Pilates + Barre Workout, or the famous 7-Minute Workout.

Try to be less sedentary in general, too. At work, set an alarm to get up and walk around. Look for opportunities to move more: take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, and get off at a stop a few blocks from your normal station so you can walk the rest of the way.

Just getting started? Don’t let the trendiness of ultra-extreme workouts intimidate you. ANY movement is better than none. Especially if you’re not naturally active, prioritize the habit of daily exercise over the actual activity. Set an alarm to make sure you do something — anything…one minute of jumping jacks and some crunches, for example — at the same time every day. At the end of a week, try two minutes of any activity. By the third week, try five minutes (this is where Sworkit comes in handy…you can choose the time you have). Soon enough, you’ll find that getting started won’t be so hard: you’ll have set the habit your mind and body. Keep it up and you’ll start naturally looking for longer or harder exercise routines. The most important thing, however, is that you’ll have made exercise a DAILY habit.

Stop Thinking Sleep Is For The Weak 

Prioritize sleep. Your skin and body need it. Sleep helps with learning, stress management, depression, skin, lessening inflammation, even controlling hunger pangs and helping you choose wiser foods to eat.

Less stress, a leaner, stronger physique, and gorgeous, glowing skin…we don’t see the downside, do you?

Featured Healthy Living Skin

Your Skin Wants You To Exercise Daily: 30-Day Healthy Skin Challenge

“Post #bootcamp…I swear my #espresso’s smiling at me 🙂 #workout 145, day 144, 2016. #dailyexercise #dailyworkouts #hiit #fitness #health #happiness #pourmeasmile” via @LauraAtVMV

Work out daily.

Not 3x-a-week, not 4x…but every day.

Why? Most of us lead sedentary lives, with hours and hours of inactivity in front of a computer or binge watching a current TV addiction. Studies are showing that sitting down for more than a few hours at a time is extremely unhealthy. Other studies suggest that it’s not about extreme exercise three times a week: constant activity is the new objective. And we all know how vital exercise is for your heart, metabolism, brain, and skin.

Let’s go back to that: it’s not about extreme exercise three times a week…constant activity is the new objective. This means a shift in focus from high-intensity sweat fests to just making sure you’re moving more than not. Try these simple tips…

1. You don’t have to kill yourself with a mega soul cycle burn each time — instead, focus on doing something, anything, every day. For example, if you had a hard workout on Monday, make Tuesday a “rest” day but instead of spending an hour in bed watching TV, catch up on your favorite shows while pedaling slowly on a stationary bike.

2. Mix it up: do cardio one day and weights the next; yoga or pilates another day, then perhaps a hike outside. Mixing it up keeps it interesting and keeps your body challenged.

3. Be conscious about prioritizing movement. Instead of taking a cab, walk it. Get off at the subway or bus station before your regular stop. Set an alarm for every hour as a reminder to walk around for ten minutes. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Be inefficient on purpose: instead of taking down all the laundry in one go, take one load at a time so you have to go up and down the stairs more often. Get a standing or treadmill desk to prevent total immobility when working for hours. This “incidental activity” (as opposed to structured exercise) is highly beneficial to your health.

For more healthy tips, check out: How To Look Good? BE Good.

For workouts you can do anywhere:

Heart Thumping 10-Minute Workout

10-Minute Anywhere Workout

10-Minute Pilates & Barre Workout

Featured Healthy Living Skin

How To Look Good? BE Good.

We all age. That’s just what living organisms do. But what more and more research is showing is that we can affect how we age — how quickly, how severely, how visibly.

We know, for example, that even if you have diabetes in the family, improved nutrition, careful monitoring and daily exercising may keep you from developing it yourself. More kids are getting acne at younger ages and children as young as age 9 are now given simple acne treatments and regimens, reducing the severity of or even preventing acne altogether, even if both parents had it. Genes are not the all-powerful, written-in-stone determinants that we once thought they were. Stunning new studies in epigenetics are showing how gene modifications might be influenced by our actions, too, and that these changes may even be passed along to future generations.

study in the journal Nature and Neuroscience [1] shows how a mother rat’s nurturing can imprint her pup’s DNA with biological characteristics that can be passed on to future offspring. The Learn. GeneticsTM Genetic Science Learning Center of the University of Utah breaks it down:

“Mom’s behavior actually programs the pups’ DNA…The epigenetic code allows certain types of information to be passed to offspring without having to go through the slow processes of random mutation and natural selection. At the same time, the epigenetic code is sensitive to changing environmental conditions such as availability of food or threat from predators…So take heart – your epigenetic destiny is not written in permanent ink.” [2]

Another study [3] showed a link between meditation and an increase in telomerase, an enzyme that is fundamental to the long-term health of cells, meaning their youth. While it might have been obvious that participants would feel less stressed after meditation, that this could also affect our bodies — and specifically proteins related to aging — is compelling. The study showed that these positive “emotional” or “psychological” results can impact how telomeres behave, promoting their longevity, and thereby possibly prolonging our cellular health and youth, too. Even if we don’t go down the seemingly sci-fi road of genetic influence, there is an already solid body of research linking inflammation to several skin concerns from acne to eczema, psoriasis and, yes, aging. And what’s linked to inflammation? Stress.

We know that smoking, a poor diet, comedogens, allergens, pollution and unprotected sun exposure can influence skin. We know that proven active ingredients applied topically can improve the skin’s health and appearance. Now we know that stress management is another key to slowing down the aging process.

While we wait for the cream-pill-yoga pose combo that turns us into a 25-year-old version of ourselves overnight, there are right now, right this second, multiple, totally achievable things we can do to keep us looking younger for longer. And they all (spoiler alert) have to do with being good — to yourself and to others. We’ve chosen the top five here:



Photo-aging, skin-damaging, immunosuppressive UVA penetrates windows and windshields.

You’re great about sunscreen use at the beach, slathering it on and reapplying every one to two hours. Fabulous. What you’ve done, however, is the minimum you need to prevent skin cancer, but not necessarily to fight aging. And fighting aging — or at least slowing down the natural aging process — is something that sun protection can definitely do. In interview with CNN, Mayo Clinic professor of dermatology Dr. Lawrence Gibson notes, “photoaging is not part of the natural aging process — it’s avoidable.” [4] A recent study [5] published in the Annals of Internal Medicine proves that daily sunscreen use “protects against photoaging: wrinkling, spotting and loss of elasticity.” [4]

But why all year? Because you’re getting more sun than you think. It’s not just the hard core tanning-baking-hours-outdoors that causes photo-aging and skin cancer, it’s the daily exposure that you don’t even think about. Sun damage is cumulative so even the incidental exposure you get from crossing the street counts. What about winter? You might be getting hit by double exposure from snow glare. And while not much UVB gets to you on cloudy days, a good amount of UVA does — rain or shine, summer or winter, UVA is present and it is very damaging. In addition, UVA passes through window glass and windshields. Think of all the sun you get driving to and from work or sitting next to a window at work or at home when reading a good book.

Finally, photo-aging includes dark spots. While the sun causes them, visible and infrared light from indoor sources such as halogens, fluorescents and even computer screens, saunas and stoves are proven to cause melasma and other dark spots which increases the aged look of skin. To learn more about what else causes hyperpigmentations (surprising things like cooking!), check out Shining The Light On What Causes Dark Spots & Blotches.


The benefits of a daily, active regimen are multiple and cumulative, making skin look younger and more vibrant almost immediately, with dramatic results over time, and keeping skin healthier as we age.

What should I expect from a good anti-aging treatment?


A good at-home regimen isn’t a one-shot deal: it’s meant to keep your skin healthier over time.

As the photographs above show (taken at baseline and week 4 of using Re-Everything Anti-Aging Cream with unbuffered glycolic acid, kinetin, virgin coconut oil and antioxidants in a regimen), at a minimum, you should expect to see brighter, more vibrant-looking skin. Fine lines should appear less pronounced and possibly deeper wrinkles as well. The skin should feel and appear more firm and youthful. With the right actives in the appropriate concentrations, many people report noticing improvements almost immediately. Continued use and proper prevention can deliver more dramatic results in as little as four weeks. And as with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, consistency continues to pay off.

Actives like unbuffered glycolic acid, retinoic acid, and mandelic acid as well as virgin coconut oil and antioxidants like green tea are some of the best studied and most reliable age fighters.



Deep cleaning + stress management. Win-win.

So here’s the thing: you brush your teeth daily but see your dentist for deeper cleanings. Your daily at-home skin regimen is like brushing your teeth, and facials are your deeper cleaning at the dentist’s. Which your skin needs. The skin on your face is naked — even with sunscreen, it is (like your hands) the part of your body that is unclothed. Your face gets the most direct and regular exposure to the sun’s damaging rays, indoor light and heat, plus pollution and airborne allergens. Therapeutic facials provide a good, deep cleaning through steaming and a proper extraction to purge it of accumulated dirt and debris that topical products cannot wash away. VMV Facials are allergen-free, feature effective active ingredients — which, with the steaming, pore cleansing and gentle massage, are absorbed better — and end with a therapeutic mask, usually with higher concentrations of actives than what you could use at home, and in a formulation that heightens the absorption of actives and provides barrier therapy, intensive hydration, and anti-inflammatory benefits. If your daily regimen is like taking your vitamins, think of this as getting a booster shot of concentrated actives.

If you’d like to up the therapeutic benefits even more, add a chemical peel (high concentrations of powerful actives applied for a short, very controlled amount of time) — ours also feature allergen-free peels we formulate ourselves plus anti-inflammatory products to reduce downtime and the risk of irritation without sacrificing efficacy. A monthly or quarterly laser procedure can be more expensive and may not be doable as regularly as a facial but can be more instantly dramatic.

Still, nothing replaces your daily regimen — again, think of it like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t stop daily oral hygiene because you see your dentist every few months, would you?

The fantastic icing on this very healthy cake: facials and spa services are healthy, and not just for your skin. They “dew” double duty as concentrated treatments and stress reducers…which is so, so important for your skin, mind and body! To learn more about how a spa session can physically benefit your brain, check out  4 Reasons You Need Spa Hour.

For more information on VMV’s clinically-sound, allergen-free therapeutic facials and spa treatments, give us a call at (212) 226 7309 or book online at



Stress ages you and makes you sick. Stress management isn’t a luxury: it’s a health priority.

As the studies above show, stress reduction can influence our proteins, cell behavior and possibly DNA. The link between stress and inflammation is proven and a growing body of research is strengthening the links between inflammation and a library’s worth of skin and health problems, from depression to obesity, acne, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema to cancer and, again, aging.

It may not be the most obvious thing to think about but for preventing the visible signs of aging, it’s important to avoid skin stressors, too. For example, did you know that irritations, rashes, pimples, allergy flare-ups, itching, severe dryness, and reactions to products are all types of inflammation and are skin stressors? Whether or not you already have sensitive skin, avoiding known allergens can help prevent irritations — even subtle ones which may not yet be obvious— which can thin and stress the skin and contribute to aging.

We know that you know but it’s really important: aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation alone accounts for multiple skin, mental and physical problems. It might seem impossible but it is more achievable than you think. An article that made the rounds online (“If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers”) has gotten quite a bit of attention for its promotion of “deliberate practice.” [6] A few of us at VMV Hypoallergenics have tried this stricter schedule of less hours but more focused work, and have found it remarkably effective at both upping our productivity and giving us more time for relaxation, fun, families, a social life and sleep! To read more about deliberate practice, check out Laura’s (our CEO, a big fan of deliberate practice and balance in life) Happiness Inventory of Five.

Make stress reduction a priority, too. Meditate, keep a gratitude journal, practice yoga, pray — experiment with what works best for you, your schedule and your lifestyle. A quick side note: cocktails with your BFFs can be an awesome way to end a stressful day but don’t make alcohol your go-to de-stressor. While a glass a day can actually be good for you, excessive alcohol can be pro-inflammatory and a depressive. A glass of wine a day should be fine but try other, healthier practices to manage stress on a regular basis.



Your skin shows the state of your body.

Want to know the state of your body? Look at your skin. Frequently, sometimes even before a blood test or MRI, your skin mirrors how your insides are doing. Poor health shows externally in the form of acne, dull skin, dry skin (which can lead to loss of elasticity and a more aged appearance) and even hair loss. Certain signs on the skin can even point to thyroid problems, diabetes or other internal issues (check out My Dermatologist Has X-Ray Vision for a great example of how a good, investigative dermatologist can point a patient in the direction of a specialist for a suspected internal problem, just by looking at her skin). A healthy body, on the other hand, is reflected in glowing, younger-looking skin, nails and hair.

Talk to a nutritionist if you’d like help understanding portion size and if you need assistance choosing healthier alternatives to your favorite foods (like coconut sugar, fresh-squeezed juices or whole grains). As a general rule, banish junk food altogether — the chips, candies and pre-packaged juices and sodas. Cut down on processed, “white”, and pre-packaged food and drinks. Load up on fish (smaller fish like sardines and herring for more good oils and less toxins), nuts, and fresh vegetables. Get your antioxidants from fresh fruits (they don’t tend to survive well in pills and supplements) to help combat the oxidative processes that are huge contributors to aging. And don’t forget your healthy oils like virgin coconut oil (excellent for use on salads, as well as in cooking, in your coffee..and on your skin and hair!)

Exercise is vital for your heart, metabolism and pretty much every aspect of your health. Plus, it’s an excellent stress reducer and mood lifter. In addition, new studies are showing that it’s not about extreme exercise three times a week. Constant activity is the new objective. Some studies are even showing that sitting down for more than a few hours at a time is extremely unhealthy — hence the rise of treadmill desks and the “fad” of standing more at work. Set a timer, get up, and walk around the block if you have to, but get moving. [7]

Mix it up: cardio one day and weights the next, yoga or pilates another day, then perhaps a hike outside. Mixing it up keeps it interesting and keeps your body challenged. Aim to work out every single day — again, you don’t have to kill yourself with a mega soul cycle burn each time, but you do need to do something every day. For example, if you had a hard workout on Monday, make Tuesday a “rest” day but instead of spending an hour in bed watching TV, catch up on your favorite shows while pedaling slowly on a stationary bike.

If you’re having one of those weeks where finding time to brush your hair has you exploring advanced physics for alternate dimensions, try the Scientific 7-Minute Workout [8] which a published study shows can give you maximum results in minimum time. [9] It’s awesome because it takes no time at all (no matter the week, there’s no way you don’t have seven minutes) and all you need is a chair and a wall (unless you’re extreme camping in the Gobi dessert, there’s no way this isn’t doable either). An app that we know a lot of people use is UOVO’s The 7 Minute Workout. It comes with instructions for the simple exercises — all of which you’ve probably at least tried, even in high school gym class — and links to videos so you can practice before you start, voice instructions and timed intervals. Another great, free app is Sworkit, which allows you to choose your workout (strength, cardio, yoga and stretching) and workout duration (5-60 minutes). They’re motto is “no gym, no excuse” so you can “sworkit” anywhere, too (they even have Sworkit options for kids so the whole family can get in on it).

On days so lazy you can’t think let alone manage the pep required for Zumba, do ANYTHING. Pedal like a sloth on valium on a stationary bike while watching a Scandal marathon. Take the slowest walk around one block. Or grab that 7-Minute Workout app and repeat to yourself: everyone has seven minutes. The point is to prioritize some purposeful activity each and every day.

Pay It Forward


Rescue cat Ming-Ming. Kindness and happiness promote good health.

Here’s something else to remember. Do all the above and the rewards are self perpetuating. One of the more amazing things that all this incredible new research is suggesting, is that you could be influencing far more than your mood and general health — you might be influencing your mind, body and skin at  chemical, protein, biological, and even genetic levels, far more powerfully than previously thought possible. The consistency of all these healthy practices may be teaching your body to maintain a healthier, younger state for longer and longer. If you’ve got kids, here’s the other plus: you might be influencing your genes enough to pass all this good behavior and its benefits along to your kids…and their kids!

Referring back to that study on maternal behavior in rats, another excellent article in Discover Magazine puts it this way: “Call it postnatal inheritance: With no changes to their genetic code, the baby rats nonetheless gained genetic attachments due solely to their upbringing — epigenetic additions of methyl groups…gumming up the works and altering the function of the brain….They found that inattentive mothering in rodents causes methylation of the genes for estrogen receptors in the brain. When those babies grow up, the resulting decrease of estrogen receptors makes them less attentive to their babies. And so the beat goes on.” [10] This applies to bad habits, nutrition and behavior, as well as to good. “If your grandmother was adopted by nurturing parents, you might be enjoying the boost she received thanks to their love and support. The mechanisms of behavioral epigenetics underlie not only deficits and weaknesses but strengths and resiliencies, too.” [9]

Kindness and care could therefore not only impact your health now, but positively influence the health those you love…on a biological, genetic level.

Daily sunscreen, a daily regimen, regular facials, stress management and “skinside-out” health — for your own health and age-resistance, and possibly for your children’s, being healthy is the gift that keeps on giving!



For more on how to achieve and sustain younger-looking skin, enter “aging” in the search field at


  1. Weaver, I.C.G, Cervoni, N., Champagne, F.A., D’Alessio, A.C., Sharma, S., Seckl, J.R., Dymov, S., Szyf, M., & Meaney, M. (2004). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 847-854.
  2. Lick Your Rats. Teacher Resources and Lesson Plans, Learn. GeneticsTM Genetic Science Learning Center, The University of Utah, 2013.
  3. Jacobs, T.L., et al., Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010), doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.09.010 and Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health. UC Davis News and Information. Nov. 3, 2010.
  5. Hughes M.C., Williams, G.M., Baker, P., Green, A.C. Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(11):781-790. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-11-201306040-00002.
  6. Cal Newport, If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers. Study Hacks.
  7. Susan Orlean, American Chronicles, “The Walking Alive,” The New Yorker, May 20, 2013, p. 44.
  8. Gretchen Reynolds, The Scientific 7-Minute Workout, New York Times, May 12, 2013, p. 20.
  9. Klika, B, Jordan, C. High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment. Health & Fitness Journal. 2013; 17:3. Accessed May 10, 2013.
  10. Hurley, Dan. Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes. (Trace Vs. Fate). Discovery Magazine. May, 2013.



What do you swear by to stay healthy and slow aging?


Hydra Balance Smart Cleansing Scrub & VMV Esthetician Holly Byerly –

Exercising throughout the holidays? Fantastic! Just remember to take off the makeup before you work out…so it’s a good sweat you break out in, not #acne! Check out VMV Esthetician Holly Byerly (who is based in Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics in San Francisco) ByrdieBeauty!


Beauty Featured Healthy Living Skin

Age LESS: Six Things To Do Now To Stay Younger, Longer

There are many things we can do that are proven to keep us younger, longer — not just looking it but physically being it. Simple steps, sans needles or “miracles.”

Skeptical about how much anything you do can affect your biology? New studies are showing that our actions can influence our genes so much as to alter their behavior, slowing the aging process, preventing diseases we “should” get based on our genetic profile, extending life spans…changes so profound we might even pass them on to our children. We’ve chosen the top six most rewarding, most effective ways to truly, systemically age less.

Featured Healthy Living

10-Minute Anywhere Workout

By Ned Hourani

Traveling? Not near a gym? Just crazy busy? Here’s a great workout that can be done at home or on the road when you’re pressed for time. Because EVERYONE has 10 minutes.

What to know before you start…

  • What you need: Sneakers and about 10 minutes. That’s it. Smart additions are a soft surface like a yoga mat, rug or towel for floor work, a towel (you’ll need it!) and a bottle of water.
  • There are 3 segments or groups. Each segment has 3 exercises (9 exercises in total).
  • No rest between exercises: You can rest between segments but not between exercises in a segment. In other words, you need to finish 3 exercises before you can rest.
  • Rest between segments: If you need it, allow yourself up to 1 minute of rest, no more. As you get more fit, aim for just 5-10 seconds of rest in between segments.
  • Completing all 3 segments (9 exercises) should not take you more than 10 minutes…and is really good for you!
  • Do each trio — all 3 complete segments — once a day, every day.
  • Feel like more of a challenge? Add Ned’s 10-minute Heart-Thumping Workout to the this 10-Minute Anywhere Workout for a solid 20-minute conditioning session. Or, alternate between the two!

Let’s get started! Click on the right arrow on each image to go to the next segment.

Featured Healthy Living Skin

Don’t Let Skin Problems Get In The Way Of Working Out

Not working out because you’ve got sensitive skin? Or exercise makes you turn red…red like the sun…on Mars? Acne? Don’t let skin problems keep you from getting your body healthy. Working out (daily, is the latest recommendation) isn’t just fantastic for your heart and muscles, but your brain and, yes, your skin, too!


Rosacea, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Skin Cancer Risk
His activities: Futbol (we were made to promise to write it like that), Golf, Tennis, Yoga, Bootcamp

VMV HYPOALLERGENICS on Instagram: “Repost By @lauraatvmv "Yup,


Because of his skin history and risk profile, JP avoids the sun as much as possible and “bathes in” Armada Sport 70. Rosacea can worsen when it’s hot, so he’s religious about his Red Better regimen. And JP’s a Boo-Boo Balm fan for rashes, blisters and scrapes. “It’s funny hearing ‘Boo-Boo Balm’ passed around at rough games, but the guys don’t care because it works!”



Acne, Powerful Sun Protection
Alex, Diving Instructor
Her activities: Diving, Yoga, Exploring


Alex prefers Armada Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+: “Great coverage against strong tropical sun, makes the complexion glow, doesn’t make my skin sticky or oily, great pimple cure and prevention. The best.” What does she change in the summer? “Nothing! After trying tons of products VMV is my dream solution :)”



School Stress, Acne
Mireya, Teen
Her activities: Highly Active…just a lot of things


“I’m up and about a lot,” says Mireya. The one constant? Her Hydra Balance SuperSkin Care regimen for combination skin — but in the summer, she switches her toner to Superskin 3 for oily skin. She doesn’t leave home without Red Better Spot Corrector for zit emergencies!”


Featured Healthy Living

10-Minute Pilates + Barre Work Out

Get your assets in order for summer with this fun 10 minute Pilates + Barre Workout, designed to create beautiful, lean, toned legs, abs and a firm, upright booty.

Best results are seen when practiced 2-3x per week, combining all 4 parts to this series:

1. Standing Barre (described here)
2. Core Series (plank)
3. Pilates Floor Barre Series
4. Standing Leg Series

We all have 10 minutes, 2-3x a week, don’t we? Put on your favorite new music, grab a chair, and get to it!




1 — Warm up:

Heels together, feet turned out: Rise up to half point and lower – 16x



2 — Plie’s in First Position: 

Heels imprinted together on half point, bend the knees and straighten 16x. Repeat: bending the knees and adding 3 pulses before rising back to half point.

Tips:  Watch for knee and ankle tracking – they should both be aligned over the toes. For knee issues, use a smaller range of motion. Keep the heels planted together!



3 — Plie’s in Second Position: 

Widen your stance, feet turned out on half point, bend the knees and straighten 16x. Repeat: bending the knees and adding 3 pulses before rising back to half point.



4 — Hold Plie Squat

Hold on half point in 2nd position for 60 seconds and try to balance!



5 — Down The Pole

Heels together, feet turned out, on half point: move hips side to side, bending and straightening the knees (4 counts down, 4 counts up).




6 — Stretch

Grab back of the chair and take a flat back stretch, to release the back and lengthen the hamstrings.




 PART 2: 


1 — Knee In and Extend:

Take the knee in towards the chest with a curved spine exhaling, then extend leg behind you and inhale – 4 slow, each side.




2 — Turned Out Knee Ups:

Knee turned out (in Ballet “Passe”), lift the knee towards the head (as the head bends towards the knee) and back to the knee position, 8x each side.



3 — Knee In/Out:

Starting with knee turned out, rotate the knee in across the body and back to turned out, 8x each side.


4 — Knee In Singles:

Rotate the knee in across the body in singles, 16x.


5 — Downward Dog:

Tips: If you have weak wrists, you can use a towel under your head, use fists, or do the series on your elbows.




 PART 3: 


1 — Abdominal Knee Bend:

Legs at 45 degrees, head up, chin tucked to chest:  bend the knee and straighten, toes pointed, 16x alternating.

Tip: Use one hand to hold up your head if you have neck issues.




2 — Leg Circles:

Starting with one leg pointed, reaching towards ceiling, inhale, and then exhale sweeping the leg around in a circle, trying to keep the hips and abs still. Reverse and then switch legs.

Tip: If you have trouble keeping your hips still, make your range of motion smaller.




3 — Single Leg Stretch:

Toes pointed, extend the left leg, bend the right leg parallel grabbing the knee with wide elbows, and switch legs, Alternate the breathing with inhale/inhale exhale/exhale – 16x.



4 — Double Leg Stretch:

Bend the knees and grab with both arms, curling up the head (in a ball). Extend the arms and legs out inhaling, and then fold back into a ball exhaling.

FloorBarre_4A_DoubleLegStretch FloorBarre_4B_DoubleLegStretch



PART 4: 


Standing next to side of chair, elbow should be resting on the top of the chair, leg extended parallel to the side, arm behind head. Do one side of the whole series, and then switch sides.

1 — Little Circles:

Draw little circles in one direction, then reverse, 8x each side.


2 — Small Pulse Ups:

Small lifts up and down. 16x.


3 — Kick Front-to-Back:

Flexing the foot, swing the leg front, then point the foot and swing the leg back. 16x.

StandingLeg_3A_KickFronttoBack StandingLeg_3B_KickFronttoBack


4 — Contract/Kick:

Foot at the knee, arm behind the head, turn the knee in towards the chair rounding the back, and then open the leg out into a swift kick! 16x.

StandingLeg_4A_Contract_Kick StandingLeg_4B_Contract_Kick_Option1 StandingLeg_4B_Contract_Kick_Option2


Susan Tobiason teaches Pilates and a custom Suspension Pilates Barre program called “Informed Technique” at the Informed Body in San Francisco. She has been a professional dancer for many years, classically trained in ballet and contemporary dance as well as hip hop and braziian, and also currently teaches at ODC Dance Commons. To learn more about Susan, her techniques and where she teaches, visit:

Photos courtesy of Amanda Kershaw Photography.