2013 Skinnies Awards

Acne-Ridden Ingénues (Tie) -  Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence
The entertainment awards process is grueling for celebrities, especially because pitting different films and their actors against each other is much like comparing apples with pomegranates. Take two of this season’s lauded performers. Both starred in tent-pole franchises midway through 2012 that earned millions (of fans…and dollars). They ended the year with intimate performances that have garnered raves. So is it fair that Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway should be judged, compared like thumbed over produce at a fruit stand at Hollywood and Vine?
At skinema.com, we recognize that for at least one criterion, these women deserve equal recognition. When it comes to the skin, both of these high wattage actresses share the same distinction: they are similarly prone to congested facial pores. So for the first time in the history of our site, we can do what the Oscars and the Golden Globes cannot: Award a tie.
Anne Hathaway. Glamorous. Sweet. Yet unable to get a break from adult acne. Whether riding a super cool cycle as Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises,” or wailing emotionally as Fantine in the cinematic version of “Les Misérables,” her complexion appears consistently on the verge of a breakdown.
Hathaway has it all... including belmishes on her forehead... ...and chin.
Like many adults, she is plagued not by deep teen cysts, but with comedones, pores that are plugged with a protein called keratin. While her red carpet dress is covered with shiny sequins, her face displays an equal number of comedones, any one of which may, like paparazzi flash bulbs of yore, explode with inflammation, zits rather than glitz.
Jennifer Lawrence. Gorgeous. Spunky. Youthful, yet old enough at 22 to be done with acne problems, right? As many hapless 20-somethings learn, adult acne plays by its own rules. Much like her role Katniss, plunged into unfair sport of “The Hunger Games,” Lawrence must confront a remorseless foe. And alongside her widowed character Tiffany in “The Silver Linings Playbook,” acne is enough to cause anyone a bit of emotional instability.
In their own personal Oscar moments, both Hathaway and Lawrence may cry out: “Why?” “Why me?” and "Why would a website show high res pics of my pores?” As for the first two queries, there is no great reason that people enter into a phase where stress and hormonal flux cause a congested complexion. Adult acne is not an allergy, not due to dietary deficiency or environmental exposures. Some things are just not fair. As to why we post these images, it is to relay the message that this is a common problem, potentially affecting anyone from the movie makeup crew to the gaffer to even the marquee stars. Treatment can also be challenging. If there were a simple fix to clear skin, these images would not exist. Lawrence and Hathaway, as movie stars, have perhaps the greatest incentive to avoiding pimples, yet their acne accompanies them to the red carpet nonetheless.
The happy ending to their personal sagas is not just that they have simultaneously been awarded “Skinnies.” It is the fact that prescription creams such as Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac and Finacea all can be used to gradually clear pores, and are typically more effective than over-the-counter treatments. Anne can dream a dream of zits gone by. May Jennifer’s odds for lack of blackheads be ever in her favor. These creams may cause facial dryness and sun sensitivity, but both actresses can aspire to have it all: Shiny award statuettes and clear skin.

Runner-up, Acne-Ridden Ingénue: Amanda Seyfried

She plays Anne Hathaway’s adult daughter in “Les Miz”. Like Jennifer Lawrence, she is blonde and in her twenties. And she has acne too. At least she is in good company on the award show circuit.
Trending in Tinseltown - Scarred Action Heroes “Jack Reacher,” “Django Unchained” & "Looper"
Scars are a part of life, a record of trauma and survival. Consider them a memory of pain, damage, but also resurrection. Like a phoenix from the...you get the point. Yet rather than providing emotional uplift, scars at the multiplex are used instead to identify villains.

From Frankenstein’s monster to Darth Vader, movie scars stigmatize rather than eulogize. Since treatment of scars is no slam dunk, those in the real world who are unlucky enough to have endured skin injury are often stuck with an unwanted permanent defect.

Recent blockbusters suggest that there may be, as Gandalf famously noted in “The Lord of Rings”, a “turn of the tide.” In “Jack Reacher,” Tom Cruise is in action mode as a former military cop turned vigilante detective. When audiences first learn of his character, they are shown quick shots of his tightly muscled trunk, covered with scars. Blurry chest scar noted to the right. Is he a nightmarish serial killer, a la Freddy Krueger? An adversary bent on world domination, such as the diabolical Dr. Evil? No, his scars reflect his military service in the Middle East and so represent action cred rather than accessories to dread.
“Django Unchained,” features Jamie Foxx as the eponymous slave turned bounty hunter. Our introduction to Django is from behind, as he is led in bare, shackled feet along a Texan dirt road. His back is covered with welted scars from a lifetime of whippings.
He has facial scarring and a small facial brand, an “R” for being a runaway. These scars don’t cause the viewer to reject Foxx, but instead reinforce the desire that Django attain his revenge.
Scars play a novel role In “Looper,” a time travel noir: They are used to communicate over the decades. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a hit man who kills criminals sent from the future. One day, his 30 years older self, “Old Joe,” appears in the time portal, looking remarkably like Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt fails to kill Willis, who escapes, scurrying through Gordon-Levitt’s era.
Since Willis failed to bring a cell phone from the future and prefers to avoid Twitter, Gordon-Levitt instead sends messages to Willis by carving memos into his own arm, which pop up as legible scars on Willis’ arm. This is a cool concept, though doesn’t make a lot of sense if you consider the logistics of time travel. Our point is this: These are heroes rather than hoods with scars, which breaks movie tradition.
We wouldn’t wish scars on anybody. But until there are more effective treatments than topical scar creams (most don’t do much), lasers (take away some of the redness), cortisone injections (help flatten thick keloid scars), scar revision (cutting scars out and replacing them with more cosmetically acceptable scars), at least changes in movie rules are making some scars cool.

Runner up, Trending in Tinseltown: The Evil Albino

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

The classic movie line was uttered by star-crossed lovers in “Brokeback Mountain.” It could be just as easily be stated by film makers and a notorious stereotype, the Evil Albino. This stock film villain was featured in 68 films until 2006, when producers gave the character of the pale skinned, white-haired, red eyed murderer his highest profile yet in “The Da Vinci Code.” A successful media campaign, illustrating the prejudicial aspects of this character, appeared to put him into retirement. Six years passed without a cinematic sign of him until the producers of the “Hobbit” resuscitated his career as the Pale Orc Azog. Hopefully, this doesn’t herald the return of evil humans with albinism, a trend the world can do without.
Lifetime Achievement Award - Kim Kardashian
We had every intention of getting through this edition of the Skinnies with nary a mention of the princess of reality TV, Kim Kardashian. Her dramatic bout of psoriasis resulted in an award just last year and we assumed that her 15 minutes of problem skin were up. But in December 2012, KK Kame from behind with a crusted lip lesion and nailed the rarely bestowed “Skinnies Lifetime Achievement” award for notable and significant dermatology findings in a celebrity. Kardashian joins a distinguished few: Nicole Kidman, Britney and The Beauty Mark. Though Kim is young, this award was inevitable. When your skin is on view as often, and as extensively, as Kardashian’s, any blemish ends up online.

For the record, here are the skin issues displayed by Kim Kardashian to date:


Psoriasis is typically hidden in celeb publicity pics. So it was noteworthy when Kim’s epidermis erupted with the so-called guttate pattern in 2011. Surrounded by reality show film crews, there was no turning back. A non-infectious inflammatory condition brought on by stress and dry skin, psoriasis runs in her family, affecting her mother as well.
This form of psoriasis is typically the most responsive to treatment such as phototherapy or topical steroid creams. She managed to clear her skin before her prime time TV special, known to non-celebs as a wedding. While her marriage was (extremely) short lived, she is at risk of further psoriatic flares in the future.


Last month, celeb web sites went gaga (KaKa?) when Kim stepped off a plane with an apparent cold sore. The herpes virus lies in wait in the spinal nerves and makes its appearance at times of stress and sun exposure. Pills like Valtrex (valacyclovir) can speed healing and prevent flares.
Herpes is Kontagious. Current research should lead to new treatments in the near future. Cures for craving media attention are sadly non-existent.


Yet another drama arose when paparazzi recorded this neck lesion. Bloggers blah-gged, Tweeters twitted. Could this irritation represent the return of psoriasis? How about ringworm (a sketchy fungal infection)? We are surprised that an Anthrax diagnosis wasn’t bandied about. Nah, it’s just a “love bite,” commonly referred to as a hickey. Caused by amorous nibbling on the skin, it might be embarrassing, but not an emergency. Since hickeys heal without scarring, thank goodness the photos caught it before its expiration date.


For many adults, persistent pimples are part of their public presentation. Many women achieve control through the use of birth control pills, their pores pleased with a regulated hormone balance. Topical creams with Retin-A and benzoyl peroxide can also keep the skin clear for further product endorsement.


Sun protection limits the risk of skin Kancer and wrinkles over a lifetime. Occasionally, even the most diligent of us may miss a spot, sustaining a burn. While not ideal, this reminds us of how sunscreens in general provide protection. Few of us would do what comes naturally to Kardashian, which is to post the image of her error. While preventing sunburns is paramount, anti-inflammatory treatments like ice, cortisone creams and ibuprofen can speed healing and limit damage.


After a magazine ran a Kardashian photo shoot, leaked images revealed a shocking development: the published images had been altered, erasing Kim’s cellulite. Cellulite is a common malady for which the best treatment is…using a computer to erase its appearance! To Kardashian’s Kredit, she blogged: “So what: I have a little cellulite. What curvy girl doesn’t!? How many people do you think are photoshopped? It happens all the time! I’m proud of my body and my curves and this picture coming out is probably helpful for everyone to see that just because I am on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean I’m perfect.” It is exactly that self awareness and determination (along with problem skin) that got her to skinema.com today.


Recent reports indicate that Kardashian is pregnant with boyfriend Kanye West’s love child. Will she develop stretch marks, facial discoloration (melasma), that dark line in the middle of the belly (linea nigra) or itchy pregnancy rash? If so, stay tuned to next years Skinnies, whether we like it or not!

Runner up: Lifetime Achievement Award: Halle Berry in “Cloud Atlas”

Berry as an actor seems free of problem skin. In “Cloud Atlas”, the least seen epic with the most skin lesions, she plays several characters over just as many centuries:
Since Berry’s roles represent reincarnation, perhaps her category should be “Lifetimes Achievement Award.”

Tribal tattoos
Futuristic epidermal cell phone implants
Male pattern hair loss!
Healthiest Fashion Statement -  The Return of the Afro
A few years ago, pop sensation Justin Timberlake was “bringing sexy back.” After years of mechanical and chemical treatments to African American hair, comedian and TV star W. Kamau Bell appears to be “bringing nappy back.”
For most people of African descent, the natural state of their scalp is to be covered with tightly curled hairs. In America, much effort is made to override that genetic tendency, resulting in the appearance of straight hairs. Whether using harsh chemicals such as relaxers, tight braids like the corn rows hairstyle, weaves that clip and pull at the roots, or intensively heating the hair, for years straight has been the style.
Take a look at these powerful African American women: Pop sensation Beyoncé First Lady Michelle Obama “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington
The straight hair they exhibit is the results of ongoing treatments and/or weaves.

Supermodel Naomi Campell reveals the other side of the runway. The problem with unbending naturally curly hair in these ways is that ultimately, the hair and the follicles can be permanently damaged. Heating devices such as hot rollers, curling irons, flat irons, blow dryers and hot combs can make hair brittle and broken. Inflammation from chemical irritation and tension placed on the follicles from braids and weaves cause the hair unit to shrink and eventually scar.
Scarring alopecia (hair loss) cannot be reversed, resulting in patches of baldness, shown here by Tennis champion Serena Williams. A fair-skinned young person may think that tanning is attractive. We know now that this insures wrinkled, blotchy and leathery skin later in life, the opposite of glamorous. Similarly, years of straightening hair may lead to damaged hairs and baldness, a look that is extremely unlikely to be promoted in a beauty magazine.
Quvenzhané Wallis (say that name three times fast!) was 6 years old when she shot “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” an independent film about a girl being raised in Bayou squalor by her mentally ill father and his alcoholic neighbors. She is exposed to the elements, surviving on little food in a flooded swamp.
There is nothing healthy about her lifestyle, with one notable exception: The lack of processing of her hair.

Without societal pressures, she is allowed to develop a full-on Afro, 1970’s style.
Though her character should expect to have severe psychological issues as an adult, at least her follicles have been given an early start at staying strong. No one expects style choices to change overnight, but social transformation begins somewhere, perhaps with a comedian and a small actress in an indie film.

Runner up, Healthiest Fashion Statement: Is Tanning finally passé?

Despite knowledge about sun damage and skin cancer, sun tanning and use of tanning beds is still rampant. 2012 showed at least two positive changes in the media. First, the anti-role models of the TV show “Jersey Shore” hung up their thongs and tank tops and will no longer promote artificial pigment augmentation. Second, news of a tanning addict possibly endangering her daughter prompted a burning hot SNL spoof by Kirsten Wiig. We can only hope that 2013 ushers in an era where overly-tanned family members spawn interventions rather than celebrations.

Tanning 2012: Later, Snooki! Gorgeous? Hilarious.
Celebrity Skin Adventure - "Standing Up to Scabies" Starring Jackie Hollywood
Here is a plot destined for the silver screen. Based on a true story: A young woman with a successful career in radio and on Youtube (we’ll call her “Jackie”), crashes out on a friend’s couch. Within days, a mysterious itchy rash develops on her chest and stomach. Two weeks pass, the strange condition persists and spreads.
Showing initiative, our heroine journeys to a Jedi-like shaman (a dermatologist) who notes the red welts and concludes that she is suffering from hives, usually caused by allergies. Yet anti-histamines, usually effective in clearing itch and redness, aren’t working. Acting as her own advocate, Jackie seeks out an allergist, who performs a series of allergy skin tests in hopes of identifying the source of the rash. Montage of shots of skin tests accompanied by Justin Beiber’s tune “Boyfriend.” Uncredited internet stunt double seen to the right.
The allergist then initiates treatment with the superhero of anti-inflammatories: Prednisone. Yet even this uber-pill only serves to make Jackie nauseous, feel depressed and gain weight. Not a lot of weight, but this is the entertainment industry. The itch is as bad as ever. Will she ever be cured?
Further stunt double noted above.
When her situation appears darkest, Jackie turns to the source of all knowledge. Okay, maybe not all knowledge, but a lot of info, some of which needs to be taken with many grains of salt. That’s right, the internet. CGI images of text streaming over Jackie as she valiantly searches online. Suddenly, an epiphany! Could this be the nefarious skin parasite scabies, scourge to active people of all ages?
Final montage of flashy sports car navigating city streets to arrive at the University Dermatology Clinic. A skin scraping reveals that the villain tormenting our star was indeed the scabies parasite. An anti-scabetic cream, a decent laundering of sheets, clothes and towels and Jackie is ready again for primetime.
As the music swells, Jackie uses her troubled tale for the good of the community. Rather than conceal her experience in shame, she reveals her saga on her radio show, tapes a song parody to the tune of “Call Me Maybe” and journeys to LA for further fame and fortune. Blooper reel, credits and lights up.
The essential details are true and it all happened to Jackie Hollywood, a radio, Youtube and Twitter celebrity currently based in San Francisco. She is not Dr. Reese’s patient. Her story reflects the reality of many who become infected with scabies. Tricky to diagnose, the scabies mite is microscopic and is picked up person-to-person, or from sleeping on a surface such as a couch or unwashed sheets that can harbor the parasite for up to 2 days. Gradually, these pesky insects spread, causing an itchy welty rash. While it travels over most of the skin, the mite typically spares the face and scalp. It is unfortunately very common that months and many doctor visits may go by before the correct diagnosis is made. Treatment, though labor intensive, is quite effective.
Kudos to Jackie for revealing her star quality by coming forward with her story. She did indeed reveal her tale on the radio and produced a parody tune: “Give You Scabies.” We look forward to seeing the sequel: “A Parasite-Free Star is Born.”

Runner up, Celebrity Skin Adventure: “Confessions of a Cutter” Demi Lovato’s True Story

Cutting, like anorexia, is a manifestation of teen angst, especially in young women. These adolescents express severe emotional stress by superficially slashing their skin, usually on the wrists, as a cry for help. Unfortunately, after becoming mature, grounded adults, they are left with permanent scars. Teen TV actress and singer Demi Lovato went through periods of having an eating disorder and cutting while coping with the pressures of being a child star.
Rather than hiding her scars in shame, she owned them, adding tattoos that read “Stay Strong.” She has spoken out, an inspiring role model for her teen fans.
Her music career remains on track plus she successfully derides her X-Factor boss, the muscle shirt wearing Simon Cowell as a “Grumpy old man.” Now that’s an ending worthy of the movies!
Bad Ass Baldie -  Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
When we saw the trailer for this soaring Spielberg epic, we cheered Daniel Day Lewis’ chameleon-like similarity to our 16th president. Our voices caught in our throat, however, at the site of Tommy Lee Jones touting a cheesy wig over an apparently bald pate. Our assumption that the costume department was busy at the catering table that day on the set was unfounded.
Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a liberal US representative, who developed alopecia (hair loss) at an early age and so wore ill-fitting toupees in real life. Jones imbues Stevens with fire and sarcastic vigor and even makes disparaging comments about his own hapless hairpiece.
SPOILER ALERT (minor): In one of the flick’s final scenes, Jones is seen fully bald, but still potent as evidence of his love life is revealed. Jones is the anti-Samson, his hair loss not a marker of weakness but rather a manifestation of his political and romantic mojo.
In 2013, men may elect to be bald bad asses, or take advantage of the increasing options to retain healthy hair follicles. Rogaine, an over the counter topical, and Propecia (finasteride) pills have a strong track record of maintaining hair growth with only rare side effects. Propecia should soon be available in a generic form in the United States, easing the financial burden of staving off recession (follicular and economic): By purchasing propecia, men create jobs along with fuller locks.
It is also possible that in 2013, greater prescription options, currently being researched, may become available. In the same way that Thaddeus Stevens brought about healthy social changes in the 1870’s, perhaps newer treatments can lead to healthy scalp changes today.

Runner up, Bad Ass Baldie: Gollum in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Fearsome Foe with a Phony Facade - Javier Bardem in "Skyfall"
Is Bardem's Bond Baddie Blemish-Free? Think again... Bond villains are not known for perfect skin. In fact, the enemies of 007 represent a veritable dermatology textbook of disorders. Take a look for yourself:
Zorin, "A View to a Kill" Alvinism
Trevelyan in "GoldenEye" Scarred
Blofeld, "You Only Live Twice" Bald, scarred
Zao, "Die Another Day Bald, albino, and scarred
So imagine our surprise to see Javier Bardem’s initial take as former MI6 ally Silva in “Skyfall.” Though his blond locks suggest albinism, this reflects overzealous use of peroxide hair bleaching, not a genetic loss of pigment. His skin looks quite good, no scarring, body art or bald patches. Not even a speck of dandruff. Are the producers going to rely on Bardem’s epic acting chops to convince the audience of his evil ways? If you can’t see where this is headed and haven’t yet seen “Skyfall,” by all means watch out—SPOILER ahead:
When confronting Dame Judi Dench’s “M”, Bardem admits that he attempted suicide by gnawing on a cyanide pellet.

Somehow, he survived, but the poison melted his jaw. He then removes what appears to be a high end night guard-style retainer and voila!

His face is actually messed up. Whew! No wonder he's so cranky! Glad we cleared that up.
With the “bad skin = bad morals” formula intact, Bond film #23 can proceed with implausible battle scenes and explosions. Because of trauma, birth defects or just bad luck, some develop facial defects. Surgery can used to minimize this, but establishing symmetric “normal”-appearing features is exceedingly difficult. We realize that movies are a visual medium, but studios don’t have to consistently rely on the stereotypical dastardly deformed dude. There are subtler ways to make a film-goer shaken and stirred.

Runner Up, Fearsome Foe with a Phony Facade: King Candy in “Wreck It Ralph”

In the videogame spoof, “Wreck It Ralph”, King Candy appears the benevolent ruler within the game “Sugar Rush.” It is eventually revealed that he is actually Turbo, a maniacal racer who took over “Sugar Rush” when his own game was terminated. Candy has a reasonable appearance, but Turbo’s style is more spook than kook: skull-like, with glowing eyes and teeth. Turbo’s agent may want to contact the Bond producers for installment #24!
Most Surprising Body Art - Santa’s tatts in “Rise of the Guardians”
Tattoos, the injection of inert organic dyes within the dermis of the skin, were mainly accessories of sailors, prisoners and sketchy B-movie thugs until the early 1990’s. The tatt fad exploded. Soon nearly every breathing 20-something male and female was adorned with some type of skin design.

As mainstream as body art became, some areas of society remained tatt-free. Priests? Politicians with presidential aspirations? Octogenarians (old fogies)? All continued to avoid the tattoo artist’s busy needle.
In “The Rise of the Guardians”, the Santa figure is a Russian-accented, sword-wielding tough guy called “North.” To illustrate his take charge attitude, producers boldly gave him “Naughty” and “Nice” inscriptions on his forearms.
Who’s next, Thomas the Tank Engine covered with piercings?
Over time, some tattoos can lose their appeal. Images of cartoon characters, ex-lover’s names, and ink on areas like the neck and hands may eventually spawn regret. Thus, “Tattoo removal” can someday top a person’s Christmas wish list. In 2012, evidence for a new paradigm for laser treatment was published. Traditionally, lasers were used on a single session, the light energy bombarding the skin pigment like chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Okay, not quite, but we couldn’t resist!

Current research reveals that tattoos can be numbed up and a laser can be used, not just once, but up to four times on a single day, waiting around a half hour between passes. Essentially, eight months worth benefit can now be achieved in one day. Now that’s quite a stocking stuffer!
After waiting 6-8 weeks or more, some of the color would fade as the pigment was carried away, as if on a magical sleigh. A follow up session was performed, 6-8 more weeks passed, and so on. With a minimum of three treatments, successful fading of a tattoo might take as many months as Santa has reindeer.

Runner up, Most Surprising Body Art: Hugh Grant in “Cloud Atlas”

Remember the spineless, stuttering, milquetoast fops that Hugh Grant portrayed to comic effect in “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”. Those memories are crushed under the war axe of the tattoo-covered apocalyptic warrior that Grant plays in “Cloud Atlas.”

Wishing healthy skin to you and yours...
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