Excerpt: 'You: Being Beautiful'

Read an excerpt of "You: Being Beautiful" by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz.

Nov. 14, 2008 — -- In the follow-up to the best-selling book "You: Staying Young," Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz are taking on beauty from three vantage points: looking beautiful, feeling beautiful and being beautiful.

Click here to take the "Your You-Q" inner and outer beauty quiz.

The book provides tips on how to care for your body with everything from healthy diets to weighing the value of cosmetic enhancements. It also teaches readers how to care for their spirit by identifying major stresses and examining relationships.

Read the introduction and a chapter of the book below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.

Excerpt courtesy of Free Press.


For those of you who think beauty is about mirrors, makeup, and how many pudding packs you have to sacrifice to fit into your skinny jeans, then pull up a chair, postpone your top-of-the-hour Botox appointment, and hear this.

Beauty isn't some vapid and superficial pursuit that exists solely to sell products, wag tongues, and produce drool. Beauty is actually precisely perceived, purposeful, and rooted more in hard science than in abstract and random opinion. From the time we started prancing around the world with our body-hair parkas and leafy lingerie, evolution has pushed us to be more beautiful. And that's why beauty serves as the foundation for our feelings, our happiness, and our existence. In fact, beauty doesn't reflect our vanity as much as it does our humanity.

Beauty—dear appearance-obsessed friend—is health.

We already know that beauty is always on your mind, because it's on everyone's minds. You can't help but think about it or suppress it—consciously or not—every time you step in the shower or in front of the mirror. It drives many of the decisions you make about exercise and eating, and it determines how you choose between the black dress and the white pants.

This kind of traditional beauty—the outer kind—really isn't just about looking good. Outer beauty serves as a proxy of how healthy you are; it's the message you send to others about your health. Way back when—before we could decode your genome, use fertility tests to see when you're ovulating, and order MRIs to see what was going on with your liver—people used beauty as the serious assessment of the potential health of a partner. Beauty was the best way to figure it out (and in a tenth of a second, mind you). Now, if you take the concept of beauty a few steps deeper, you realize that inner beauty—the idea of feeling good and being happy—also has tremendous health implications in every aspect of your life.

But for so long, we've had it all wrong. We've thought of beauty as nonessential and superficial. Just look at our most popular beauty-based clichés:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Translation: Just as we all have different taste buds, we all have different beauty buds, as well. Some like blond; some like brown. Some like their men to wear boxers; others prefer leopard-print G-strings.

Don't judge a book by its cover. Translation: Don't make assumptions or judgments about people just because they have big boobs, no hair, or a belt that's longer than a circus tightrope.

Beauty is only skin deep. Translation: Stop linking outer beauty with the inner kind. They're as separate as mashed potatoes and maple syrup.

The logic behind all these myths argues that external beauty is unimportant, most likely misleading, and at best relevant only until more useful information becomes available. But we have three words for these three clichés: wrong, wrong, wrong. Scientific study after study shows that these popular principles are more myth than reality.

In fact, research shows that human beings have evolved universal standards of beauty, both within and across cultures. Research also shows that attractive people are judged more positively than unattractive people—even when there's other information available about them. The data show that more attractive people are judged to be better liked, more competent, and more exciting (all by about a two-to-one margin). Research also indicates that external beauty is linked to personality and behavior.

Though there are biological and social influences on beauty, it does seem that being deemed attractive creates a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforces and internalizes certain behaviors and self-concepts. And guess what? Most of these crucial factors are ones you can change for the better.

In YOU: Being Beautiful, we're going to share with you the biology of beauty, as well as what you can do to be your most beautiful self by making choices and taking actions that will help you look the way you want, and most important, feel and be the way you want.

We're going to clarify what beauty really is—and give you the tools to become healthier and happier by paying a little more attention to it. How? We're going to chop up beauty into three distinct pieces—pieces that will give you a perspective that may change the way others view you and, ultimately, the way you view the world. These three hunks serve as the structural outline for this book.

Part 1:

Looking Beautiful: You don't have to be a screen star to know that outer beauty matters. Simply, appearance is the proxy—the instant message to others—for youth, fertility, and health. In this section, we'll explore some of the ways that you can improve your looks when it comes to such things as your skin, your hair, and your body shape. Most of all, these things are important because how you look partly helps determine how you feel.

Part 2:

Feeling Beautiful: There's no doubt in our minds that looking like diamonds doesn't mean squat if you feel like a wooden nickel. You can have the best hair, skin, and butt this side of Kalamazoo, but if you lack energy or your knees creak or you're sadder than a leashed kitty, then all the outward magnetism you may have will be obscured—and fade fast. Here we'll take a look at the big things that can keep you from feeling beautiful—things like fatigue and chronic pain and destructive attitudes—so you can help turn the blues into, well, hot pinks or purples.

Part 3:

Being Beautiful: Though you may assume that we'd be imposing morality in a section about "being beautiful," we're not really talking about behaviors here. We're not here to tell you what's right and wrong but to explain how to take your life one step deeper—to find a more authentic and happier you in your life and relationships—and how to use different strategies to do so.

The beauty of these three kinds of beauty is that they're all tied together: Looking as good as you like helps you feel good about yourself, which serves as the foundation for developing that sense of authenticity and deeper purpose that so many of us crave as we search for meaning in our lives. Plus, being authentic and happier makes you physically more attractive.

Now, let's get one thing straight so you can relax a bit. You wouldn't be here unless your ancestors were beautiful. You need to accept the fact that we're all beautiful; sexual selection guaranteed it, because your ancestors mated with the most beautiful partners. We all have beautiful elements in us; we're going to talk about ways that we can expose and maximize them.

The beauty industry is one of the biggest money-takers around (it sells us a lot). We have cosmetics companies and cosmetic surgeons. We have super-models with their own magazine covers, commercials, and reality shows. We're obsessed with fashion and our weight. We fret over inopportune pimples in inopportune places. We exercise our bodies, we scrub our faces, we wax off gnarly hair, we buy expensive underwear to push our breasts up and suck our stomachs in. And maybe you're right. We're all emphasizing the wrong things.

Here we argue that beauty is also much more than outer appearances alone. As we'll explore through the middle and the end of the book, beauty is also about how you feel and how you define your life. These three interlocking elements—look, feel, be—work together to form what we believe is the ultimate goal in all of our lives: to feel good about yourself because you have strong self-esteem and a healthy, energetic existence that allows you to appreciate the subtle beauty of day-to-day life, and because you know your purpose in life—and to show off that purpose by helping others do the same.

YOU: Being Beautiful is really about the fact that we're all hardwired with automatic thoughts and perceptions about beauty. That means that many of these ideas have evolved over thousands of years to form a foundation for human behavior, emphasizing that it's especially hard to overcome some of the automatic drives.

To that end, beauty is very serious business—as in survival-of-the-species serious. When we think about survival of the species (living long enough to pass your genes on to the next generation), it's natural to emphasize the survival part of the equation. But when it comes down to a choice between surviving and breeding, breeding often wins. (Think of male grizzlies fighting to the death for a mate.) Considering the stakes, you'd better be sure that the object of your affection (that man with those magnificent abs) is worthy of the effort to attract him. But how can you know for sure? Thankfully, just like the metal detector–toting treasure hunter who leaves luck and serendipity to the amateurs, you come fully equipped with your own professional-grade beauty detectors.

When we spot a particularly attractive person, somewhere deep in our reptilian brains, a beauty alarm goes off. It tells us when we've struck gold, and it does so automatically and subconsciously. Just like a reflex, it's automatic, impossible to stop, and Annie Oakley accurate. Your beauty detectors have the mathematical precision of a Swiss watch, and this precision comes in the form of some very specific numbers that you'll learn about in this book, including something called the Fibonacci sequence. You'll also learn that's the reason why we make so many decisions with our emotions and not our logic; those decisions play a major role in how beautiful and healthy we feel.

To teach you about these things, we're going to use some of the same techniques you may be familiar with if you've followed us along this wonderful journey about YOU. We'll offer YOU Tests to allow you to assess your various states of beauty. We'll explain (both verbally and visually) all of the biology that makes up the systems we talk about; once you know the why, you're more likely to take action with a what. We'll offer plenty of YOU Tips and YOU Tools that you can use to look and feel better than you ever have before. Right after this introduction, we'll test your YOU-Q—a measurement of how well you're doing in your overall pursuit of authenticity and happiness, since there's quite possibly a large difference between the current you and the potential you (it's hard to be happy if that difference is big). And we'll end up with the ultimate beautiful day—24 hours of simple changes that can help you get where you can.

Along the way, you'll be challenged, shocked, and surprised—and your perceptions about inner and outer beauty may very well implode right in front of your freshly exfoliated face. You'll learn why shampoo may not be all that necessary, why and how the perfect smile can be measured down to the millimeter, how a secret to effective foreplay centers around your ten toes, why female orgasms are crucial to the continuation of the species, how tennis balls can mend an aching back, why a simple change in language fosters or stops addictions, and why our definition of spirituality is like nothing you've ever heard before. We'll cover lots of topics in these three parts of beauty—including all the health implications and easy-to-follow solutions that can help you get the most out of life. (In our humble opinions, it doesn't get more beautiful than that.)

As you dive into this book, you'll come across essential information about the seemingly inconsequential things in life (hello, pores!), and you'll come across mind-blowing inspiration about the absolutely consequential things in life (how to find true meaning and purpose). While we'll hit you with the nuts and bolts of outer beauty, we also hope to inspire you to make changes about how you feel on the inside. Throughout, we'll try to challenge your assumptions about what true beauty is.

Along the way, you'll surely look in the mirror—both literally and metaphorically. You'll get new perspectives on body shapes, on fingernails, on tongues, on depression, on knee pain, on energy levels, on sexuality, on prayer, on so many things in your life that you can strengthen to live healthier and happier. It may be hard to imagine that hangnails and deities belong in the same book. But as we hope you come to appreciate, beauty isn't about the parts. It's about how those parts work together to form the whole. The whole YOU.

Head of Class: How to Save Your Hair

When it comes to appearances, some of us may be predominantly defined by our faces, some by our bodies, and some by our addiction to tattoo ink (nice skull, Grandma!). Many others, of course, are largely judged by their hair. And for good reason.

Your hair—on your scalp, face, or back—is your body's fashion statement. While you're born with a natural color, shape, and style of hair, you also have the power to control how good (or bad) it looks, how long (or short) it is, and whether it's black or blond (or blue). With a few snips or tricks, you can tell the world you're wacky (Britney's shave job and Sanjaya's famous faux-hawk). You can say you're sexy (pick your favorite celeb). You can let it grow (Rapunzel) or hack it off (Kojak). You can be the inspiration for millions (thank you, Ms. Aniston) or the proud butt of jokes (sorry, Mr. Trump).

Sure, hair is great for running your fingers through and growing make-a-statement goatees, but hair used to be more purposeful than simply serving as bodily ornamentation. Today, the hair on our scalps protects us against the sun, and our eyelashes act as our first defense against bugs, dust, and other irritating objects. But back when clothes were as scarce as skyscrapers, the hair in our nether regions camouflaged our reproductive parts from generation-threatening spears. And by lining our armpits (we docs call them the axillae) and groins, our dry hair actually acts as a lubricant, allowing our arms and legs to move without chafing. Then and now, our body hair serves as a protector against malaria (see more on body hair on page 75). The anopheles mosquito—a low-flying bug that likes the legs—hates hair, in part because hair warns its victim to start swatting. While their bite is painless, our hair signals their presence before they bite (it's why kids are at greater risk—they have less hair on their legs). That's most likely the original purpose of hair: It served as an early-warning system of bodily threats. We seem to ignore the armor function of our hair today, removing it every chance we get, except on our heads and eyes.

In addition to its utilitarian functions, hair reflects a lot about our self-esteem, taste, gender, age, and attitude. It also plays a major role in how we're attracted to and attractive to other people (more on this in chapter 10). It can even be a source of conflict. While men tend to prefer women with long hair (ever see a painting of Eve with a buzz cut?), women, especially as they age, seem to prefer wearing shorter hair. More important, our hair tells us a ton about our overall health status, as the growth or loss of hair can signal other malfunctions going on inside our bodies. Whatever the case, we all know why in the United States alone we spend $50 billion a year on hair care: because we care about our hair.

We care about cleaning it. We care about beautifying it. We care about keeping it in some places and losing it in others. Just as skin can shine and glow, so can your locks—as long as you use the right tactics to maintain your mane.

Your Hair: Losing It and Abusing It

In today's world, we don't treat our hair all that well. In fact, if your hair knew what was going on, it would be pulling its hair out.

To show you how, let's talk about the structure of hair—how it grows, how it can end up in your shower drain, and how it can end up looking about as lively and healthy as sun-scorched grass. The average person's head has up to 150,000 hair follicles (the adult body has 5 million). That number is constant over a lifetime; it's hereditary, so only thickness, condition, and whether you lose the actual strands that come from those follicles can change. Each one of those strands grows about six inches a year—women between the ages of 16 and 24 pump it out the fastest.

While it may seem that your hair is as far removed from your internal organs as your clothes or jewelry, each strand of hair has its own blood supply. Because of that, hair is greatly influenced by health and diet. Hair is also under the delicate control of hormones, which is why men have beards and hair on their chests and male-pattern baldness on their heads, and women don't.

As you can see in Figure 2.1, [not pictured] your hair is made up of distinct structures: the follicle and the shaft. A tunnel-like segment in the epidermis portion of your skin, the follicle resides under the surface of the skin and extends down into the dermis. The base of the follicle contains little blood vessels that nourish the cells. The living part is the bulb at the base, while the shaft—the part of the hair that we see above the skin—is dead.

That hair shaft is made up of a protein called keratin. The inner layer (the medulla) and the middle layer (the cortex) make up the majority of the shaft. Like the nail's structure, the hair's cuticle, which looks like a tile roof under the microscope, serves as the outer, protective layer that covers the medulla and cortex.

Now, to keep your hair shiny, it needs oil. Surrounding your hairs are tiny muscles that give you goose bumps, standing your hairs on end when you're cold or during a scary movie. These muscles also squeeze the glands that lube up your hair, which produce sebum—your own natural vitamin E–rich hair and skin conditioner.

How Hair Is Lost

When it comes to hairy situations, many of us can live with a bad haircut or a little graying or the occasional day when our hair looks like a haystack. But the most frustrating problem for many people—men especially—is what's perceived to be the start of the downhill slide to death, or at least the impetus for wanting that Corvette: hair loss.

While we tend to say that baldness comes from the mother's side, an individual's genes from both parents influence that person's predisposition to male-- or female--pattern baldness. Of course, hair loss is far more visible in men (80 percent of whom experience some degree of baldness), but nearly 40 percent of women lose substantial amounts of hair after menopause, as well (women tend to thin out all over, rather than develop the signature spots that men do), making it a major appearance issue for both genders.

To learn how you lose hair, you first have to understand how it grows. Hair goes through its own growth cycle that's unrelated to seasons or hormones or anything else. It's a random biological process that's dictated largely by your genetic disposition. The two main phases:

Anagen (active): Cells in the root are dividing quickly and pushing the hair out. It averages to three years.

Telogen (resting): This phase lasts for about 100 days on the scalp. Consider it hair hibernation -- the follicle is completely at rest.

Doctors don't know why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others. One suspected factor for age-related male-pattern baldness is a person's level of androgens—the "male" hormones that are actually produced by both men and women. Take a look at Figure 2.2. For many years, people believed that a predominance of testosterone was the root cause of baldness, but it's not quite that simple. We do know that we lose hair especially fast if it is exposed to dihydrotestosterone (DHT, which comes from metabolism of testosterone). It's believed that the exposure of follicles to levels of testosterone that are normal for adult males causes the hair follicles to go into a resting state. This DHT is formed in the testes, prostate, adrenals, and hair follicles themselves through an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. The enzyme raises the levels of DHT, and that's why there's a link between higher levels of this enzyme and areas of baldness. DHT changes healthy follicles to follicles that grow thin dwarf hairs—hairs that resemble peach fuzz. Essentially, DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive. Drug companies have targeted this process by making antibaldness medication that inhibits 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that makes DHT. (Some of the infrequent side effects of these meds include impotence, decreased libido, and breast enlargement.)

Now, age-related baldness isn't the only reason why clumps of hair start falling from the head like raindrops from the sky. Other causes, especially for women, include low iron levels and anemia (low blood count), recent anesthesia for surgery (it's the stress of the surgery and the pressure on one area of the head, not the anesthesia), menopause or being postpartum, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, thyroid disease, and polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS).

Rapid hair loss is often a strong sign that you ought to have a battery of tests to evaluate your nutrition, health, and hormone levels. And that makes an important point: Hair loss isn't just an appearance issue; it can be a sign that something wacky is going on elsewhere in your body. Inflammation in the scalp, from an overdose of sun or from seborrheic dermatitis, can speed up hair loss. More often than not, it's a hormone issue—especially one involving your thyroid gland. In women especially, it's common to experience a decline in thyroid hormone (that's called hypothyroidism), where some of your bodily systems slow down. Scalp hair loss or facial hair growth is a sign that you should have your hormone levels checked. We recommend having your thyroid-stimulating hormone checked every other year if you're losing hair, or, for all others, once at age 20, then at age 35, and every other year after age 50 (TSH is the trigger from the brain that tells your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone). If your level of thyroid hormone is low or if it's normal but you are experiencing thyroid-related symptoms, you can be (and usually need to be) treated with a synthetic (sometimes bioidentical) hormone. You'll need to be rechecked six weeks later to see if the supplemented dose is enough. For a man, a decline in the need to shave signals a decrease in testosterone (for a woman, it's the same clue if she needs to shave her legs less often).

How Hair is Destroyed

Our hair occasionally needs lubrication the way other parts of our bodies do. But with hair, the things many of us do to help it are actually hurting it. Most of us treat shampoo as if it's toothpaste for our head—we've got to use it every day. But that doesn't have to be the case. Some people find that their hair has just as much body and shine without shampooing every day (and they like the fact that they can take a break from putting additional chemicals on their head). On the other hand, if shampooing is a Zen experience for you, its calming benefits may well do more for you than its hair-stripping effects, so we can't argue with daily shampoos (you can also use conditioner alone). See below for our specific recommendations for hair-washing.

Now, here's some information that's going to make your hair stand up. Artificial coloring on your head—whether you're bleaching it or coloring it—is the equivalent of artificial coloring in food: It may make it look as pretty as can be, but it's not always the healthiest thing you can do to your head. There is some suspicion that permanent black hair dye can cause leukemia and lymphomas and some chemicals that are no longer used caused bladder cancer. So the purple Mohawk you're considering? It's probably fine for your health (temporary hair dyes are safer than permanent dyes), though probably not for your next job interview. Bleaching, on the other hand, will really run up your hair bill as you try to salvage permanent damage.

Here's why: The pigment of your hair comes from the inner two layers. When you bleach your hair, you damage the shingles that create the covering of the hair shaft. The dye, which slips through the gaps in the outer layers, swells to give your hair a different color. But the prior or current damage the bleach caused allows the dye to slowly slip out of the hair, so you end up losing the full body of the hair faster than if you just left it alone.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

In one of life's injustices, many of us have the frustrating experience of losing hair in the places we want to keep it (the scalp) and growing it in the places where we want to lose it (perhaps the back and shoulders for men and the chin and around the belly button for women). Though there are plenty of remedies that can eliminate unwanted hair, such as Nair and other hair dissolvers, waxing, and shaving, the latest hair zapper is laser therapy.

Here's how it works: The brown pigment in the hair soaks up the laser light, acting like a firecracker fuse leading to the follicle 2 millimeters under the skin. The laser's heat travels down through the hair to zap the follicle so it can never grow hair again. It doesn't work with blond, red, or silver hair because there's not enough brown pigment to fry. It takes several treatments to remove lots of hair in one area (it removes about 20 to 40 percent each time). The coolest thing is that the laser works like military weapons, seeking out and frying hairs, even ingrown hairs, diving beneath the surface of the skin (as long as part is above the skin). They can grow, but they can't hide.

Now, growing a mustache may very well be a rite of passage for teenage boys, but it can also be one for menopausal women, because of hormonal changes. About 30 percent of women report unwanted hair on the face. The cause? A predominance of male hormone, often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome or menopause, which accelerates hair growth. This excess hair is generally a harmless condition, but you can treat it a number of ways, including bleaching, plucking, laser therapy, or electrolysis (an electric current damages follicles so hairs don't grow back). Electrolysis (as long as it's done by someone who's trained to do it) can work well for those with unwanted blond or white hair, since lasers aren't as effective for them. If you're going to wax any part of your body, ask to have room-temperature wax, not hot wax; the cooler kind will generally do less damage as the wax rips the hair and follicle from your skin. Wait a year after stopping Accutane or steroids before considering waxing. If you don't, you might be not only hairless but skinless.

Another remedy: losing weight. Weight loss (works in women and men to decrease unwanted hair and increase wanted hair) can decrease male hormone levels and slow down the growth of unwanted mustaches.

From YOU: BEING BEAUTIFUL by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Copyright © 2008 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.