Congratulations to all the winners! Here’s wishing you (and them) a year’s worth of healthy skin!
Celebrity Skin Secret - Beyoncé and Adele Have Acne
Beyoncé. Adele. Queen Bey and the Girl from the River Lea. What do these two singing sensations have in common? In addition to being known by their first names, having international fame and breaking ground with each new album, they share a secret. One hidden in plain sight, a malady so heart-breaking for media superstars that, like a Harry Potter villain, they dare not utter its name.
But we can and we must speak truth to pimples: Acne. The all too common scourge of today’s image-obsessed culture. Adele and Beyoncé are not immune. These two icons are prone to whiteheads, blackheads, zits and the facial discoloration that results from the condition.
Which brings up two facts. First, we are again reminded that Celebrities Are Just Like Us. They eat pizza, they wear heavy makeup, they may not wash their face every night. Yet, despite what one reads elsewhere online, NONE of these habits cause pimples. Adult acne may be worsened by stress, hormonal changes, but only if one enters into a phase where congested pores trap oil, protein and bacteria. And that state occurs as randomly as a new Beyoncé record being surprisingly dropped online.
Secondly, there is no simple fix for Acne. If there existed a routine, one-stop-shopping cure, none of these images of A & Bey would exist. Even if there were an extremely expensive knockout therapy, these two ladies certainly have the resources and incentive to be treated as quickly as they fill stadiums with fans.
Acne CAN be managed, usually with a variety of creams and pills that address the congestion, inflammation and subsequent discoloration/scarring. One option for the form of adult acne called rosacea is a topical cream called Soolantra. This non-irritating cream clears microscopic parasites from the skin and calms inflammation. No, this is not some plot from the re-booted X-Files series. Instead: Science. While not a panacea for every acne sufferer, it is a welcome addition in the battle against breakouts. Adele and Beyoncé, like so many prone to this epidermal epidemic, can use it and other options until we can all join the chorus for a cure.
Runner Up, Celebrity Skin SecretWhy Sia Wears Masks
Australian songstress Sia Fowler made a statement with the release of her album “1,000 Forms of Fear.” In photos and public appearances in the last 3 years, she has hidden her face behind a series of masks, face paint and obscuring wigs. She told the New York Times that having a public persona: 'It's horrible, I just wanted to have a private life.'
We at Skinema.com guess she may have an ulterior motive. She is fair-skinned and comes from Australia, a country with one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. Along with privacy, her camouflage provides excellent sun protection.
Fellow OZ celeb, actor Hugh Jackman, recently announced his FIFTH sun-caused non-melanoma facial skin cancer. Maybe he should follow her lead. Wolverine in a blonde wig? Fetching!
Realistic Skin Scene in an Action Flick - Social Stigma in “Deadpool”
Fans don’t flock to superhero movies to see reality. They enjoy action sequences and tales that represent myth and fantasy at a high level. “Deadpool,” the latest comic-based cinematic sensation, moves even farther from our authentic world. As the wise-cracking titular anti-hero, Ryan Reynolds spends much screen time chatting to the audience, quipping through the fourth wall and even pushes the camera away from a moment of particularly gratuitous gore.
It is therefore remarkable that the film accurately depicts a daily reality for many with skin issues: Social stigma. After developing inoperable cancer, Reynolds undergoes an experimental treatment. It saves his life and gives him super powers but has terrible consequences. We are not talking pesky nausea, diarrhea, or dizziness. Instead he is left hairless, covered head to toe with deforming scars.
As his colleague states, “You look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado.” He goes on to suggest that Deadpool is the offspring of scarred horror villain Freddy Krueger. Can you imagine the TV advert for this treatment? “Side effects include an avocado-style Freddy Krueger hide. Call your doctor today…”
Physically powerful, Deadpool’s confidence is shattered such that he avoids his fiancée for months and hides behind his lycra mask. He finally builds up his courage to meet her outside of her apartment. As he walks down the public street, passersby react to his scars with shock and disdain. They look away and mutter under their breath. Broken by this response, he flees.
Any of us with normal skin take it for granted. Yet those with facial scars, rashes like eczema and psoriasis, even adult acne, can find their ego undermined. If they are not limited by others’ reaction, they may still restrict their own advancement, a form of self ostracization. Most chronic skin conditions are not contagious and should not be used to limit those patients’ advancement and happiness. Comic book flicks don’t typically educate, but “Deadpool” remarkably teaches that lesson.
Some with problem skin may take solace in the following movie SPOILER. Despite his scarred appearance, Deadpool gets back with his superhot fiancée anyway. Probably doesn’t hurt that he has the bod of Sexiest Man Alive Reynolds.
Runner Up, Realistic Skin Scene in an Action FlickSun damaged ladies in “Mad Max: Fury Road”
The Mad Max series depicts some of the most exhilarating and least realistic car chase scenes ever filmed. Yet late in “Fury Road”, there is an accurate human moment. Charlize Theron reunites with her childhood tribe, women who have been surviving in the apocalyptic desert with little water and even less sunscreen.
They show remarkable sun damage, wrinkles, sagging skin and discoloration. Thanks to the producers for throwing in a subtle plug for sun protection.
Sacrificial Body Part - Leonardo DiCaprio’s Chapped Lips in “The Revenant"
Hollywood phenomenon Leonardo DiCaprio turns in another powerful performance as a betrayed frontiersman in “The Revenant.” Here he is grinning over his Golden Globe win. His turn has resulted in his 6th Academy Award nomination, and his return to the ceremony will likely result in his first Oscar. Tinseltown loves a transformative portrayal, but a specific bit of his anatomy deserves outsize credit, suffering for his art. In the movie, Leo’s lips are chapped within an itch of their lickable life.
The medical term for severely chapped and inflamed lips is chelitis. In the film, this occurs because of exposure to the elements. Extreme cold, dry air and ultraviolet radiation without lip balms or sunscreen make Leo’s kisser look as dry as a teetotaler’s liquor cabinet. His temporary role as a bear snack certainly didn’t help.
There can be other causes for chelitis. Bacteria and yeast can cause similar red scaly rashes. Cutaneous creams to clear these critters can correct the crusting. Chronic ultraviolet radiation causes precancerous changes that may require liquid nitrogen treatments. Certain drug reactions can severely affect the orifice, sometimes leading to hospitalization. Once the inciting factors are corrected, we find petroleum-based balms such as Vaseline or Aquaphor maintain a healthy lip better than wax-based chapsticks.
Fortunately for Leo, lips tend to recover quickly. His leading man labia are back for more movie “Action!”
Runner Up, Sacrificial Body Part: Charlize Theron’s arm in “Mad Max: Fury Road”Talk about sacrifice! In the latest Mad Max installment, Theron had part of her arm removed for the role. This gives us a chance to discuss phantom limb syndrome. What’s that? It was just cgi? They can do that? To quote SNL’s Emily Litella, “Never mind.”
Missing in Action - Ice Cube’s Moles in “Straight Outta Compton”
Actor, producer and Hip Hop artist Ice Cube (née O’Shea Jackson) had a big year in 2015. He helped develop and produce the acclaimed biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” A chronicle of Cube’s rap group NWA, it met with critical and financial success.
Not only did he act as an advisor to the screenwriters, but his own son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., played young Cube in the film. It is therefore odd that a crucial element in this NWA film is MIA: Cube’s signature trio of moles.
ituated on the North West region of Cube’s mug (rather than South Central), these 3 dark bumps have remained his trademark since his early LA days. Since they started when he was so young and have not been joined other similar looking facial bumps, we at Skinema.com now conclude that these are likely moles. The alternative, DPNs, arrive later in life, are more numerous and get bigger with age. For comparison, Shawshank Redemption icon Morgan Freeman is studded with DPNs. Composed of pigment cells, most moles are benign and Ice Cubes’ lesions show no signs of irregularity to suggest skin cancer.
Why were the spots excluded from the “Compton” film? It would take a makeup artist minutes to affix tiny prosthetic bumps on Cube’s son’s cheek. Budget issues? Somehow not crucial to the plot? Imagine a Marilyn Monroe biopic without her beauty mark. For whatever reason, we feel it was an omission.
Rather than pouring one out for Cube’s moley homies, we thought a little photoshop work was in order. Here is O’Shea Jackson Jr. sporting his dad’s longstanding moles. See, Hollywood, was that so hard? We see a new trending topic: #SkinniesAwardsSoMoley. Peace out.
Runner Up, Missing in Action - Charlie's Sheen has no KS
Perennial playboy and official hot mess, actor Charlie Sheen announced in 2015 that he is HIV positive. Yet where are the dark purple lesions that always show up in dramas about AIDS? It turns out Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) is a blood vessel tumor caused by an unrelated virus. KS only appears when the immune system is nearly wiped out. Or when Jared Leto or Tom Hanks are gunning for an Oscar. Because of medicines that keep HIV under control, Sheen’s risk for KS is as low as his chances for an Academy Award. At least he is a Skinnies winner. Make that a Skinnies runner-up.
Jimmy Carter is a Skin Ninja - His Melanoma Is In Remission
In August 2015, 90 year-old President and home-building carpenter Jimmy Carter revealed that he had a cancer that had spread to his liver and brain. The biopsy showed melanoma, the dreaded growth that usually starts in the skin and can metastasize. FYI, at the time of his diagnosis, no skin melanoma was present. It may have resolved from the skin even as it traveled to deeper tissues.
The lesions seen in this image are benign seborrheic keratoses. Not from the sun, they arrive with experience and maturity. At 90, Carter has earned the right these spots.
Stage IV melanoma usually carries a poor prognosis. Traditional treatments have failed in most cases to prevent patients from dying in a matter of months. Carter underwent surgery, radiation treatments and a new medicine: Pembrolizumab, or Keytruda. Given by vein, this is one of a new class of drugs designed to boost the body’s natural immune response to take down the tumor.
By December, Carter announced early success: The combination of treatments had put his cancer into remission. This is great news for fans of the former peanut farmer. But he is not yet out of the Georgia woods. While these new medications can show amazing results at first, unfortunately, the cancer often becomes resistant. Time will tell whether James Earl Carter will remain cancer-free. Until then, he appears to continue his humanitarian efforts, such as:
Runner Up, Jimmy Carter is a Skin Ninja: Kicking Guinea Worm’s Arse
When Carter announced his cancer diagnosis, he gracefully stated: "I would like the last Guinea worm to die before I do." He was referring to a dreaded parasite that has haunted humans since Biblical times.
Guinea worm, or dracunculosis, is a devastating parasite like sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror flick. Contaminated drinking water spills guinea worm larvae into the intestine. Gradually the worm forms, thin but long, sometimes up to 3 feet. It then burrows to the surface, causing a painful blister. The unsuspecting human, seeking to relieve the pain, soaks the inflamed area. The new larvae are released into the water, continuing the effed up cycle.
Extracting the worm can take months, as it’s wrapped around a small stick and slowly drawn out. If the worm breaks, offspring may end up in the human tissue, causing infection and possibly death. “Alien” anyone?
Carter has been on a mission to eradicate this critter worldwide. The Carter Center started in 1985 when there were 3.5 million active cases. Last year, the number of people infected was less than 20! Clean drinking water, using filters to prevent drinking parasites and education about the source of the worm have nearly cleared it from the earth.
Peanut farmer, President, Melanoma survivor, Parasite Killer. Skin Ninja indeed.
Birthmark with Benefits - Cassandra Naud’s Congenital Nevus
Looking for a way to get ahead in the job market? Why not try a new haircut? How about a “What Not to Wear”-style fashion makeover to make your career pop? Or, I know… a large, hairy facial birthmark. Cue sound of an old LP record being scratched. For just about any job-seeker, a dark blotch on the face would not top a must-have list. Probably not even make the Top Ten.
Historically, just such a mark would be required for certain occupations. In 1690’s Salem, a dark skin patch made one eligible for the Massachusetts Witch Brigade. The vetting process is shown in the 1853 Matteson painting "Examinaiton of a Witch." Still, the job was temporary, had few benefits and ended without advancement. Similarly, local opera houses favor deforming birthmarks when filling Phantom-in-Residence positions. For the rest of us, and particularly in the image-oriented entertainment industry, most applicants would tend to conceal a birthmark, rather than promote it.
So professional dancer Cassandra Naud is a true mambo maverick. She was born with a large dark patch on her right cheek. Over the years, the splotch has developed superficial bumps and many dark hairs. As featured in a profile in People magazine in 2015, Naud has taken what many would consider an epidermal lemon and brewed some lambada lemonade. That's right, Lambada, the forbidden dance (look it up)!
A native Canadian, Naud tolerated some childhood bullying but managed to retain her self-confidence. As a teen, she had the option to undergo plastic surgery to remove the lesion, but opted to retain her blemish as a banner. She reports that auditioning in LA, the Land of Looks, her mole makes her memorable, standing out in a positive way.
Much like the vitiligo-afflicated fashion model, Winnie Harlow, Naud is using her skin-difference as a calling card, not a handicap. There are many types of birthmarks, grouped skin cells that express a shared trait. The port wine stain blotch adorning Russian President Mikhail Borbachev and the arm of soul survivor Tina Turner are blood vessel birthmarks.
Cassandra’s lesion is called a congenital melanocytic nevus. Google translation from the medical-ese: Pigment cell birthmark. In addition to the dark color, larger congenital nevi like Naud’s can have a rough surface and develop hairs. Technically, much like any mole, there is a lifetime risk that the birthmark might take a bad turn, its cells becoming cancerous. While she is using her birthmark to her advantage, any changes in shape or color of this type of lesion should be evaluated and possibly biopsied.
Naud is also acting as a role model for those with abnormal skin. And with over 39,000 followers on Instagram as of this posting, it’s a role that she and her mark were born to play.
Runner Up, Birthmarks with Benefits: Harry Styles’ Extra NippsOne Direction heartthrob Harry Styles has his own personal posse, an ever-present entourage that may rival Taylor Swift’s.
On his trunk, he has two extra nipples, double the accessory nipplage of Mark Wahlberg. These small benign lesions have not slowed his career and give female fans a reason to ogle his chest and abs. Because otherwise, why would they look?
Spoilers We Saw Coming - Evil Facial Scars in “Spectre” and the “Star Wars” Reboot
Warning: A Skinnies Award with the term “spoilers” has spoilers. Duh.
Sitting through a Bond film or a Star Wars installment is usually a sure thing for dermatology fans. The villains in each franchise typically have plenty of skin problems to keep our interest. Can you blame the producers? These films are delivered to a huge international audience, so tossing in deforming skin findings can reveal bad guys to spectators with maximum efficiency. Yet in “Spectre” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the two main heavies have shockingly normal skin…at first. As “Spectre”, the 24th Bond film made by Eon Productions, opens, Christoph Waltz is shown playing Franz Oberhauser, the son of the man who adopted and raised 007 as a child. No scarring, baldness, albinism or extra nipples are shown. What kind of Bond baddie are we dealing with? Just when we skinema obsessives were giving up, Waltz reveals he has instead taken his mother’s maiden name…Blofeld.
Yup, the same Blofeld who sported a hideous scar in “You Only Live Twice” (1967). That's Donald Pleasence with prosthetic makeup and the vintage Nehru Jacket.
The same Blofeld that inspired Mike Myers to recreate the disfigured look for both Dr. Evil and Mini Me. Hearing the name in “Spectre,” Bond-philes know it’s just a matter of time. That scar is now as inevitable the umpteenth version of the “Shaken, not stirred” line.
Sure enough, a lab explosion lacerates Waltz/Oberhauser/Blofeld, confirming his villainy. No hair loss yet, but they had to leave something for Bond 25.
A similar uneasiness settles over the audience rooting for thrills from the latest “Star Wars” flick. As First Order villain Kylo Ren, Adam Driver is introduced wearing a dark black mask. He is obsessed with his grandfather Darth Vader. He’s like a sad fanboy who has Vader’s cracked and melted mask as a piece of twisted memorabilia.
We wait to see Ren’s face. Surely he has a scarred countenance to match his malicious ways. So it comes as a surprise that when he removes his mask, his face is...normal. Even hunky in its own way. What the Force is going on here?
Leave it to the final reel, as Kylo battles nascent Jedi-to-be Rey. She lets loose a swing of her light saber and manages to give Ren the laceration we anticipated. Movie cliché achieved, the credits can now roll.
In fact, the creation of the scars is so similar in the two movies, you wonder if the same ghost writer added this plot device for both flicks. Interesting that in these movies, the scarring is actually directly caused by the “hero.” No wonder these dudes are pissed!
Runner Up, Spoilers We Saw Coming - John Conner is Evil in the 2015 Terminator RebootIn the Terminator franchise, John Conner is a hero born in our time who saves the world from evil robots in an apocalyptic future. In various Terminator installments, Conner has been shown with facial scars, yet he bucks the scarred bad guy trend by remaining heroic and such. In last summer’s “Terminator: Genisys,” Conner travels back in time to our era and this time he breaks BAD. His scarring was extra ragged, so we had a feeling he would be posing for the Rogue’s Gallery. Plus, they reveal this “twist” in the trailer! So much for suspense!