Revealed: How models maintain their skin

At this year's New York Fashion Week, models and fashionistas may be relying a new beauty accessory to trim down and brighten skin: a homeopathic supplement called arnica montana.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported on the new trend: undergoing an oral regimen of arnica supplements to reportedly reduce puffiness and clear up complexions.

"I heard of models and other designers taking arnica before big events or photo shoots, so I thought I'd try it out," said New York-based fashion designer Phillip Lim in the article. "I did feel like my skin glowed afterwards."

Arnica, made from a flower, comes in many forms: gels, creams, tinctures and pills. Before its adoption by the fashion crowd as a beauty aid, it's traditionally been used to combat muscle soreness and bruises and reduce inflammation. Many professional athletes use Traumeel or Weleda ointments, arnica-based rubs. But arnica advocates tout mostly unsupported claims that it cures a variety of ailments, from hair loss to vertigo.

However if taken internally, noted The New York Times, some arnica formulations must be diluted with water and aren't recommended for long-term use. Arnica also contains a toxin called helenalin which can stress the gastrointestinal system and kidneys, and can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. Although some arnica homeopathic pellets contain only negligible amounts of arnica, so it's best to talk with your doctor before trying an oral regimen for quick weight loss or beautification.

If you want to reduce blemishes and puffiness, there are many topical products available for the arnica-curious set. One such treatment is Nelsons Pure and Clear Acne Gel, which lists arnica as one of four active ingredients. The New York Times also cites a claim by model Gisele B ndchen that the gel gently clears up blemishes. Those with deeper pockets can try Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas's arnica-filled 37 Extreme Actives facial cream, which sells for $295 for a 1.7-ounce pot.

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