Chocolate and Skin: A Love Story?

Holly Harmon, LE, LMT VP Aesthetics and Training, SkinPhD

Holly Harmon, LE, LMT
VP Aesthetics and Training, SkinPhD

Is Chocolate Actually Good for You and Your skin? To answer that question, we must first quchocolatealify the type of chocolate that has benefits, which is at least 70% dark cacao (preferably organic cacao). We are not talking about the processed chocolate laden with sugar and milk.

Made from the cacao seed, dark chocolate is filled with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. It also contains soluble fiber, and is packed with minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, and calcium. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent and it also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.

The Facts: Chocolate and the Skin
The Institut für Experimentelle Dermatologie, Universität Witten-Herdecke, Germany conducted a study on the ingestion of high flavanol cocoa containing 329mg of antioxidants. The results demonstrated:
• an increase in blood flow of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues.
• increases in skin density and skin hydration.
• skin thickness was elevated.
• transepidermal water loss was diminished within the same time frame.
• the skin surface showed a significant decrease of skin roughness and scaling.

In summary, dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photoprotection, improve dermal blood circulation, and affect cosmetically relevant skin surface and hydration variables. Dietary antioxidants contribute to photoprotection and are important for the maintenance of skin health, while minerals nourish the skin, and stimulants increase circulation.

So What about Chocolate Products applied to the Skin?chocolate facial treatment
Our skin absorbs things that are applied to it. It fact, some elements can even enter the bloodstream through topical skin application (think medicinal patches). So, when applying dark chocolate (70%+ Cacao) topically to the skin, the antioxidants and minerals nourish the skin while the fatty acids hydrate, and the stimulants increase blood circulation. The result is the luminous glow of smooth, hydrated, healthy skin!

The Chocolate and Acne Connection…or Is There One?
Samantha Block, a second-year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 10 men aged 18 to 35 who had previously been diagnosed with acne. Under the researchers’ supervision, they ate as much pure (100% Cacao) chocolate as they wanted in one sitting, up to a maximum of three 4-ounce candy bars. chocolate bar
At the start of the study, the men had an average of three pimples. By the fourth day, the figure had jumped to 13 and by the end of the week, they had an average of 18 pimples.
Also, participants who finished less than one 4-ounce chocolate bar had fewer than 10 pimples a week later, according to the study, presented an annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.  But the young man who ate the most chocolate — just about 8 ounces — had 70 pimples by the seventh day. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Block says.

This study may be an indicator but it is not conclusive. First, the sample size is very small. Second,  the study did not establish a control group who did not consume any chocolate. In addition, some of the ingredients in pure chocolate, such as caffeine and its cousin theobromine, might have exacerbated the existing acne.  The researchers are now planning a study of 28 people with acne in which some will be offered up to 6 ounces of pure chocolate and others will be given no chocolate at all.

So this study may be an indication of a connection between eating chocolate and acne but the jury is still out. Until there is substantive data, we suggest chocolate in moderation for acneic skin types.

In Summary…
Treat your skin this Valentine’s Day… Eat some dark chocolate and indulge in a luxurious Anti-Oxidant Facial with a Dark Cocoa Mask. Your skin will love it…and you will love the experience! Heck, we say throw in some Champagne too! Cheers!Laser Cocoa Mask_SkinPhD_Valentines4x6_2016

Kalahari Melon: the gift for your skin from the deserts of Africa

by Holly Harmon, Executive Director of Training and Aesthetics, Placecol USA

Oil from the seeds of the Kalahari melon is used to moisturize, regenerate and restructure the skin. Kalahari melon oil is rich in essential fatty acids, especially linoleic, oleic and palmitic fatty acids.  It has high antioxidant activity, which possibly helps the plant to survive in the harsh Kalahari desert environment.  

Our cosmetic scientists in South Africa have long known the restoring properties of Kalahari Melon extract along with the many other elements from nature on the Continent.  Of course, Africa is rich with many indigenous plants and fruits whose extracts are unparalleled for skin restoration and repair.  You will find these “gifts” from Africa used throughout our skin care collections.  Our Renaissance® Restoring Night Cream includes the healing antidote from nature for damaged and aging skin–Kalahari Melon–along with Mongongo Nut Oil and Rhodiola Extract.  

About the Kalahari Melon

The Kalahari melon (citrullus lanatus) is also known as the Tsamma melon or wild watermelon and is the biological ancestor of the common watermelon now found worldwide. It is a creeping annual herb with hairy stems and bright yellow flowers.  Unlike the common watermelon, whose flesh is sweet and red, the Kalahari melon’s juicy flesh is pale yellow or green, and tastes bitter. Kalahari melon fruits are small and round in the wild, but larger and oval when cultivated.  The Kalahari melon is highly adapted to surviving drought and the harsh light of the desert environment. Although found all over Southern Africa, it is most closely associated with the Kalahari sands of Namibia, Botswana, south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe. 

For more information on our products and therapies:  www.facebook/placecolusa

Placécol uses Cold Lasers for Revolutionary Skin Therapies

Placécol is the first skin care company to use cold laser therapy with our dermatologist-endorsed, clinically-validated skin care products for a revolutionary treatment that actually heals and repairs your skin!   We have been performing these treatments in South Africa for the better part of a decade and now we are bringing them to the U.S. market.  But what is a cold laser?  There are so many lasers and light-based aesthetic treatments that the whole thing is just plain confusing!

Cold lasers supply energy to the body using non-thermal photos of light versus those that use heated photons of light.  Light waves in the near infrared (cold laser) ranges penetrate the deepest of all light waves.  Cold lasers transmit light through the skin’s layers (the dermis, epidermis, and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin).  Cold lasers create photo bio-stimulation which is the process where a chain of chemical reaction is triggered by exposure to light.  Primary photo-acceptors (which are activated by light) are located in the mitochondria and can convert light energy to electro-chemical energy.  Cold lasers stimulate the cell’s mitochondria and thus trigger the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is to say that they bring the cells back to their original state of health.  It is this energy that heals, repairs, builds collagen, increases cell turnover, and oxygenates the blood.

Cold lasers are good for your skin…and the rest of your body!  It is a scientific fact that light transmitted to

Placécol's Cold Laser from Multi Radiance Medical

the blood in this way has positive effects throughout the entire body, supplying vital oxygen and energy to every cell, increasing cell turnover, and improving collagen and elasticity. Up until this point, cold laser therapy has been used by pain management physicians, chiropractors, and massage therapists for pain reduction.  The science that enables the device to work for healing also has incredible rejuvenating effects on the skin.

Credibility and Clinical Studies

Laser therapy is supported by over 4000 clinical studies.  Our engineers worked on the Russian space program; they are among the most prominent physicists and engineers in the world.  Over 2500 published articles on light therapy exist with over 1200 references.  Over 170 randomized, double blind studies were conducted.

How does our cold laser work?

Our cold laser by Multi Radiance Medical is FDA-approved and includes patented technology.  It is designed with three specific radiances built into a cluster that combines the following wavelengths and light sources:

∞ 905nm super-pulsed laser                 ∞ 875 nm non-coherent IREDs           ∞ 660nm non-coherent LED

These wavelengths combine the most effective infrared wavelengths with a red light LED.  The resulting photochemical reaction from these modalities produce:  1) an increase in the cellular metabolism rate that expedites cell repair and the stimulation of the immune, lymphatic and vascular systems, 2)  an increase in collagen and elasticity in the skin, 3) an increase in oxygen flow and energy throughout the body, 4) a decrease in bacteria, 4) an improvement in tone and texture, and 5) a reduction in wrinkles which all lead to beautiful, glowing, and healthy skin!

For more information visit www. and

Placécol’s Cellulite Treatment in SHAPE Magazine



cellulite_treatment-smallThe clothes have come off and eek, they’re still there! Those lumps and bumps we’ve hidden so beautifully under layers during winter are back in the limelight. But before you reach for the tights and tracksuit, there’s hope: scientists have identified a new cellulite enemy and now that we know what it is, we’ve a better chance of winning the war.

According to some laboratory gurus, cellulite is a consequence of skin that is “damaged”. Dr Daniel Maes, Estèe Lauder’s senior vice president of Global Research and Development, says tiny holes appear in the collagen of damaged skin where fats, toxins and fluids then wedge themselves, causing the skin to “cave in”.

Dermatologist Dr Howard Murad blames hormones for the damage. They “attack” the collagen, causing it to harden. This inhibits blood supply and eventually the skin becomes weak and damaged. Fat cells then push and poke through, causing those tell-tale lumps and bumps.

The answer then is for healthy, strong skin to keep fat cells where they belong, so the hunt is on for ingredients that plump up, repair and tighten the skin, creating a smooth and natural “girdle” to keep cellulite in shape.

Not surprisingly, the skin-strengthening ingredients which work successfully in protecting and stimulating collagen growth in facial skincare products, are now showing up in anti-cellulite formulas. Look out for products and treatments with potent concentrations of retinoids, peptides, and amino acids like carnitine and creatine.

Caffeine is an undisputed champion of the cellulite wars: a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reveals that a cream containing only seven percent caffeine can dramatically improve the orange-peel look, while eight out of 10 women using a caffeine-rich product for a month claimed that their skin became tighter and they lost up to two centimetres off their thighs. The reason caffeine works is because it contains theophylline, a chemical which blocks the enzymes in fat that prevent the body from flushing it out.

Our pick of the best cellulite blasters around include: RoC Retinol Body Range Retinol Anti-Cellulite Intensive with retinol, forskolin – an Indian root long used in Ayurvedic medicine, which triggers lipolysis, causing fat cells to shrink, caffeine and carnitine; Placécol Advanced Body Care Cellulite and Firming Treatment, with coffee, ginger and arnica to stimulate, rejuvenate and firm; Dermaphuzion Serum Anti-Cellulite Firming Gel contains forskolin; Dior Plasticity Body Beautifying Micro-Peel; Comfort Zone Body Strategist Refiner Cellulite; Anesi Soin Du Corps Draining-Shaping Cream; Thalgo LC24 Concentrate Slimming Booster 24hr Caffeine Effect; Avon Anew Clinical Lift and Tuck Professional Body Shaper and Annique Cellulite Decrease Green Rooibos Cellulite Cream.


I’m skinny. Why do I have cellulite?
Female hormones and lifestyle are to blame. Our diet, smoking, drinking, drugs (prescription and otherwise) and lack of exercise all contribute to the build-up of toxins responsible for the formation of cellulite.

Why don’t men get cellulite?
Apart from the fact that men are literally more thick-skinned, the male hormone testosterone seems to stop cellulite from forming. The female hormone oestrogen triggers it, and many women encounter cellulite for the first time after starting the Pill, HRT or with pregnancy.

Why is my overweight friend cellulite-free
Cellulite is not a fat issue, you should not blame your weight. Even if you have the body of a supermodel, you can still have cottage cheese thighs.

My mother and sister have cellulite. Is it hereditary?
Hormones and lifestyle play a much stronger role in the formation of cellulite than your genes.

Does cellulite get worse with age?
Yes, age plays a role. Aging results in a loss of thickness and tone of the connective tissue within the dermis and the superficial fat layer. Loss of collagen and elastin results in damaged and aging skin.

Does stress play a role?
Stress and lack of exercise will make your body sluggish. Stress causes high levels of cortisol which contributes to a slowing down of blood circulation and the lymphatic system, which helps your body get rid of toxins causing cellulite. Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress.

How do I know if I have cellulite?
You can tell if you have cellulite by squeezing the skin of your upper thigh between your thumb and forefinger. If it feels and looks lumpy and bumpy, it is cellulite. You might also find that cellulite patches look paler and feel colder.

Will exercise help?
Exercise tones and improves circulation, so it will definitely help to improve the appearance of cellulite-affected areas and help to smooth the dimples, even if they don’t disappear al-together. When you work out, the blood flow through the arteries increases, circulation gets a boost and, as you build muscle, the cellulite becomes less obvious.

Which exercise is best?
Your best bet is to choose a form of exercise that you enjoy, says sports scientist Kathleen Mc Quaide. “Incorporate both cardiovascular (aerobic) and some resistance exercise (toning). The resistance exercises will tone the muscles beneath the fat layers, and these will be more visible when some of the fat is lost. Resistance exercises also increase your lean tissue (muscle mass). Muscle tissue burns up more energy than fat tissue, which results in an increase in your metabolic rate.” All of this should translate into a leaner, more toned, less dimpled you!

How can diet make a difference?
A healthy diet of protein, good fats and antioxidants from plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is good for your skin. Protein (fish, chicken and eggs) is rich in hydrating essential fatty acids which restore tone and firmness to skin, says Dr Howard Murad in his book The Cellulite Solution (Piatkus). Cut out junk food which is stuffed with fat and sugar and limit your salt intake, which can cause water retention.

Will it help if I get a suntan?
A tan can camouflage that pasty cottage cheese look and create the optical illusion of smoothness and tone, BUT make it self-tan and don’t let the sun do the job. We now know that cellulite-ridden skin is damaged skin. Overexposure to the sun will further damage and weaken skin and encourage the appearance of even more – and – worse cellulite. And no, the heat doesn’t melt away the lumps. Sorry!

Does exfoliation help to smooth dimply thighs?
Brushing skin with a soft brush in long, sweeping movements towards the heart revs circulation and gets rid of dead skin cells, leaving skin rosy and glowing. Don’t be tempted to go at the offensive areas with a loofah – dermatologists warn that you can scratch the skin and even risk infection. Using an exfoliating product prepares skin to be optimally responsive to a cellulite cream or treatment following your bath or shower. Blitz hips and thighs with a high-powered shower jet, alternating hot and cold water.

Is cellulite cream a waste of money?
No. If the formulation contains the latest skincare ingredients which help to restore thick and healthy skin, you should see better skin tone and texture within weeks. You should also apply it with a vigorous and strong massage movement to stimulate circulation; use firm, strong strokes, massaging upwards to help chase toxins towards the lymph glands so they can be flushed out. Dr Murad says creams will work on 20 percent of the problem, but the rest relies on lifestyle changes.

Do supplements help?
Dr Murad suggests lecithin, glucosamine and amino acids. Antioxidants and fatty acids like omega-3 also do good. At least six cups of green tea per day have strong antioxidant and healing properties; keep the caffeine limited to the ingredient in your anti-cellulite cream!