Friday, February 25, 2011

Are you tired?

I saw a new client who recently had a baby. I asked her why she came in for a facial, and she said she needed some “me time.” I love and appreciate how she understood that without taking good care of herself she can’t possibly be at her best for everyone in her life, including her newborn.

I said something to her that is so simple, so easy, but so many people don’t follow this path: If you’re tired, you need sleep; if you’re hungry—food; thirsty, water. And so on and so on. Even just a 10 minute, quick “power nap” can go a long way to helping your body recover if it’s tired. Usually, however, instead of heeding our body’s urgings, we load up on caffeine or sugar or sodas—legal “uppers”—when it is so clear what we need, which is simply sleep!

How do you take care of your body? Do you pretend not to hear the gentle call to action or do you listen to all the nuances and warnings your machine—your body—is giving you?

For more information, see:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

At-Home Facials—A DIY How-To

About this photo: Eat the kiwi slices—don’t put them on your face!
See A word about food as products.
I was wondering how I can give myself a facial at home. I have combination skin and usually break out on my chin. I don’t have much time to go and get a professional facial (I have two kids). 

An at-home facial incorporates exfoliating, using a clay mask, and relaxing. To accomplish this, you’ll need about 30 minutes or so. If you’re too busy to slow down completely, you can just exfoliate and mask, then be on your way. However, putting aside time for you gives you more energy to give to others. It’s a simple principle, although not always so easy to implement.

To begin your at-home facial:
  • First, thoroughly wash your face. Don’t skip this step! Getting your skin clean is the #1 thing to do first before doing anything else to your skin.
  • Next, use your exfoliator of choice. Be sure to take a little extra time and get all the nooks and crannies well exfoliated. Getting some of the dead skin off the surface of your face not only makes your skin feel smoother, there will be less of a barrier for the clay mask (next step) to do its job. 
  • Now, apply a clay mask. You’ll want to keep the clay moist the entire time it is on your face. You’ve probably always heard to leave the clay on and let it dry on your face, but clay doesn’t need to dry in order to draw impurities to itself. Letting the mask dry on your face just dries that surface skin out; that takes you one step forward (clean skin), two steps back (now, dehydrated skin). Leave the mask on 15-20 minutes. 
  • Have a spray bottle filled with clean, filtered water handy (or better yet: Yonka’s spray Lotion) and spray your face liberally when you first apply the mask, then spray intermittently during the time the clay stays on. As you may have heard me say, keeping the mask moist the entire time its on your face is imperative for the health of your skin.

Note: You don’t have to use a clay mask, you can use any type of mask. I prefer clay for all skin types because not only does it have a deep-cleaning action, it also helps stimulate circulation, and we can all use more of that for the health of our skin cells.

Last but not least, go to a peaceful place (either a quiet room in your home or a nice hot bathtub), and relax with the mask on. Breathe in calmness and exhale any stress you may be feeling. Deep breathing has a decidedly soothing effect. This step may seem inconsequential, but it truly is important.

When my clients come in for their facials, relaxation is an integral part of the procedure for the health of their skin. For some, the only peaceful place where they can relax—undisturbed—is in the facial room. Trying to replicate this type of environment at home is important to do if at all possible. Before starting your at-home facial, prearrange to have the kids taken care of (or whatever else) so you can just lie in the tub or on a couch, listen to some music, perhaps sip a nice glass of wineand  truly relax.

When its time to remove the mask, I recommend doing so at your sinknot with the bath water, which is either filled with bath products or simply too hot. Now youll be thankful you kept the mask moist. If not, you’d have to remoisten it with water in order to get it off, which even then can be difficult. (Letting the clay dry can also make any skin look red and feel sensitive.) Another alternative would be to shower after your bath and remove the mask that way.

Once the clay is rinsed off, apply your toner and moisturizer. Don’t forget eye cream as well. If you took a bath, be sure to moisturize your entire body afterward. Use this time to treat your whole body, not just your face.

Although it may seem impossible to take time out for yourself, once you do, you will see it is possible. At-home facials can benefit you on several levels just like a professional facial can. Enjoy your home treatment and know you are helping yourself in many ways, not just your skin.

For more information, see:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MYTH: Skin breathes

I hear a lot of people say, “My skin can’t breathe,” or after removing a heavy cream or foundation, “Now my skin can breathe.” Well, the truth is your skin doesn’t breathe. Not externally, anyway. Your skin is nourished from the oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood. No measurable amount of oxygen is absorbed from the outside air. Your outer skin does eliminate toxins, sweat, and oil and absorbs moisture from the air.

When you put a heavy cream or foundation on for instance, your skin is less able to function properly. You might mistakenly say it “can’t breathe.” These occlusive coverings (foundations and heavy creams) can inhibit elimination and absorption, but not the actual oxygen nourishing the skin. Now you know—skin does not breathe.

For more MYTHS in this series, see:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

“I’m pregnant! How will my skin change?”

I just found out I’m pregnant! How does skin change through pregnancy, new motherhood, and nursing?
First of all: Congratulations! 

How a woman’s skin will changehow your skin will changewhen pregnant and during the nursing of your infant will be individual as to your own body’s chemistry and hormonal makeup. There really is no way to predetermine how your skin will change. Some women experience a clearing of problem skin and have a wonderful glow during the entire pregnancy, while other women develop breakout, redness, and other miscellaneous skin issues.

As I tell all my pregnant clients, the baby is in controlnot you! I recommend letting go and giving into the processreally—and remembering you are creating a living, breathing miracle, even if your skin is suffering. As soon as you are finished nursing and normal menstruation begins, your skin troubles (if you developed any) will most likely be a thing of the past. And that is the worst-case scenario. Usually it is during the first and second trimester that the hormones cause problems with the skin. 

To read more articles on how to take care of your skin while youre pregnant—and after, see:
For now, relax and enjoy the ride! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blemish Help Quick Tip

Dot clay mask on blemishes after your evening skin care routine and leave on overnight. Clay will help to diminish (but not totally clear) the spots. Although I always say to not let clay dry on your skin, in this case—with dots of clay—it is totally fine. Usually from tossing and turning during the night, the dots of clay will come off by morning.

You might be surprised how this small action can make a big difference in the size and redness of your blemishes.

Please read the following for more information and help with problem skin:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Real Men Get Facials Too

For whatever reason, men tend to not get facials. In my 25+ year history giving facials, I’d say anywhere from 5-10% of my clientele has been male. Usually those men are husbands, boyfriends, or are related to female clients I am already seeing. Granted, women historically tend to take very good care of themselves in terms of getting facials, manicures/pedicures, and massages, therefore they know first-hand the benefits facials can bring.

Just so you know, skin is an equal-opportunity organ! There really is very little difference between treating male skin and treating female skin during a facial. I approach each person as a unique individual—male, female, black, white, young, or old. Everyone has several combinations of characteristics that make up his or her skin. There are, of course, certain qualities to men’s skin that make it distinct.

Dare I say, when it comes to skin care, the main difference between men and women is apathy. Men—generally—don’t pay much attention to their skin. I don’t think this is because they don’t care. It’s often a matter of exposure (or lack of). Classically men are not exposed to proper skin care techniques (and products) the way women are throughout their lives.

Recently a gentleman came in to see me for the first time. He has basically good, no-problem skin, is in his early 50s, and has only had a few facials over the years. Before leaving my salon, he told me he not only loved the way his skin looked (healthy) and felt (so smooth), but he was surprised at how relaxing the treatment was. In fact he was glad he drove his car vs. his motorcycle because he wasn’t sure how he’d do driving home on the bike—he was so relaxed!

I encourage any of you guys out there to give facials a try. They can go a long way toward easing tension from your face; keeping your skin clean, smooth, and free from problems; as well as helping you relax, which is always a good thing.

For more information, see:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

Why do you make such a big deal about the difference between dry skin and dehydration?

I am including an email from a client to help explain my position on this very important subject: 

I’ve been meaning to write to you since we met in December because I’ve been so excited about my skin! First, I wanted to say it was so good to meet you! I loved talking with you, and I have to tell you how my skin has improved!!

After we figured out that the dry skin formula was probably the cause of my breakouts, I stopped using that specific moisturizer immediately. The breakouts soon stopped, and my skin started to clear up within a few days! (I was getting a new breakout almost every day.) Now, I might get one small breakout a week, mainly because I started eating sugar again over the holidays. I’ve got to wean myself off again! 

I’m also so thankful I met with you before I was in my cousin’s wedding this past weekend. My skin looked great for pictures, and I was even confident enough not to wear foundation! I will hopefully get down to see you for another facial in the spring and might bring some friends who are dying to meet you. Thanks again for everything!   

This client came into my office and had a lot of “unexplained” congestion. After asking her a series of questions, it was pretty obvious what the problem was: she was using products for dry skin because her skin felt dry even though she didn’t have true-dry skin. This is a big mistake, I assure you. If you have anything other than true-dry skin (skin that emits little to no oil), you can really create a lot of problems using dry skin products. Namely congestion and possibly breakouts. If your skin is producing enough or too much oil and you add oil on top of that, through the use of creams for dry skin for instance, watch out! 

From your point of view, your skin feels dry. It may be flaky and just feels tight. It does make sense that perhaps you need products for dry skin if, that is, you don’t understand the difference between true-dry skin and, what you most likely havedehydrated skin. I have clients who come in regularly and say their skin is dry when the truth is it is simply dehydrated. And I have taken a number of clients off their dry skin products and helped them have healthier, less oily skin. Just like this client’s comments illustrate, if you are using the wrong products for your skin type, it can have disastrous results.

If you are having problems with your skin, there is a reason. Something is causing the problems. And if you don’t go at the cause, whether it be the dehydration or perhaps breakouts from using dry skin products when you don’t have true-dry skin, the problems will no doubt persist. 

Yesterday, a new client came in for a facial treatment. She had just moved from Southern California to the Boulder area. She was feeling the drying effects of Colorado air plus the deep, cold temperatures of a winter in the mountains. She, too, thought perhaps she needed products for dry skin (true-dry) when in fact she has normal to oily skin that is very dehydrated.

This dry vs. dehydrated skin issue comes up so often in my practice and I will continue to write about it since so many people (even—unfortunately—aestheticians) dont truly understand the difference between these very different skin conditions. For more clarification, see:

Facial Brushes: Yes or No?

Over the past several years I have had many clients ask me what I thought about the Clarisonic facial brush. As with many things in the skin care world that are hugely popular, I tend to go against the grain. Therefore I can say that I am not a fan of facial bushes in general, the Clarisonic brush included. This particular brand just has a good marketing and advertising budget, because in reality—it’s just an electronic brush. Recently a client wrote and asked:

What’s your take on the Clarisonic skin brushing machine? Good for skin? Irritating to skin? I’m having a mixed reaction and wondered what you thought.

As I said, I am not a fan of brush machines for use on the face. I don’t use one in my facials (lots of aestheticians do), and I don’t recommend them for my clients’ home use. Here is an excerpt from my 2nd book, Skin Care A to Z, that explains my opinion in full.

The sales clerk at my department store told me to start using a facial brush because it would reach into my pores to clean them better.

Facial brushes do have the ability to reach down into the pores. Therefore they can cause damage, like particles in scrubs. Presumably, the reason you are using the brush in the first place is for exfoliation benefits, yet you can exfoliate in other ways without causing harm to your skin.

Of course it depends on the actual brush and what type of bristles it has. Perhaps there are some facial brushes that won’t cause any harm to your skin, but why use them? They harbor bacteria, they can cause irritation, and then there is the potential to “reach into your pores” and do some real damage.

Use brushes on your body if you want to—this skin is far less susceptible to irritation than on your face. But bottom line, I don’t recommend using these brushes on your face.

HOT TIP: Brush your teeth, not your face.

With all that said, if you absolutely love using one of these electronic brushes (or even a manual one), then use it! However, if you feel irritation, that is your skin telling you it is not liking that kind of abrasive activity. Your skin will usually let you know if you shouldn't use something on it. At the end of the day, if using a brush is the only way you have to exfoliate your skin and you like it, then by all means use it. Just take care and be aware of how it may be affecting your skin.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Skin 101

Since almost the entire country is experiencing cold, in fact freezing or below freezing temperatures (like we are in Colorado), I wanted to post several ideas to help you save your skin this winter. Hopefully most of the following information you already know, but I thought it was a good time to give a refresher course in Winter Skin 101. Im starting from the bottom (feet) up.


I dont know about you, but my heels get deep cracks in them once the weather turns permanently cold. Not only is it unsightly with the skin getting rough and flaky, but those cracks can really deepen and even become infected—Ouch! If this tends to happen to you, start now to keep that skin soft, supple, well-exfoliated, and of course crack-free.

First, purchase a heel buffer, like what a technician uses in a pedicure. Each night before you go to bed and every time before you get in the shower (or bath), buff away at those heels. You want to use this buffer on dry skin. If your skin is moist, the cells stick to the surface and are harder to eliminate. Then after your bath or shower or before you turn in for the night, be sure to moisturize the heels as well. This will help keep the skin from getting too rough, hopefully mitigating any neglect that caused the dry heel problem in the first place.

For a more intensive treatment: while youre home for at least an hour or so (perhaps before you go to bed at night), put an intensive treatment cream on your heels. Im a fan of balms because they are thicker than creams and have a better healing ability. (I have a Shea butter balm that I love.) You can find these types of products at expensive department stores or stores like Target and Walgreens. Check in the skin care aisle and you should be able to find something that fits your budget. There is even a product available that treats dry, cracked and chapped cow udders (yes, you read correctly!)—called Bag Balm—that can help with your dry, cracked heels. When I was a little girl my mom introduced me to Bag Balm and it really does really; its also fairly inexpensive. No matter what you end up purchasing, these heavier creams or balms are what youll want to use on your dry, cracked heelsoften.

After applying your treatment product liberally to your heels, put on socks. Its best if you dont have to do much walking around so the cream has a better chance of staying on your skin vs. absorbing into the socks. I like to keep the balm on my nightstand and put it on my heels before I get into bed. If you read or watch TV at night, this foot treatment would be a good thing to do during that time.

I have found my heels dont even start to crack if I plan ahead and start doing these foot treatments before it gets too cold, then continue treating them throughout the winter. Hopefully you will find relief, too, and youll have happy feet all winter long.


Exfoliation is step number one for softer, more hydrated skin—whether on your face (see below) or your body. There are several different products and procedures you can use to get rid of dead skin cells. Just remember: always exfoliate first, them moisturize.

If you are not currently moisturizing your entire body every time you get out of the shower or bath, you need to start now—before your skin starts to look and feel like an alligators! I cant go even once without slathering my whole body with lotion after a shower or bath. I admit this is a habit I had to force myself to get into, but now, years later, it is just that—a habit. I havent always applied body creams, but once I experienced the hard, cold winters in Chicago (and now Colorado), it became an absolute must. Since it only takes a few seconds to apply, I highly recommend starting this practice each and every time you come out of water. It will do your skin a world of good.

Because there is a lot of surface area to cover, I tend to use inexpensive creams on my body. I am in and out of water frequently (I take lots of baths in the wintertime), so Ill go through a lot of product. Also, my body lotion must have a pump dispenser. As silly as it might sound, I dont like having to pick up the bottle, open the top, and shake or squeeze a cream out. Body lotion with a pump dispenser is the solution for me.

Start now to get your whole body exfoliated and moisturized, and keep that alligator skin away. Youll save yourself a lot of uncomfortable moments once the really cold weather comes to stay for another winter.

For more details, see BODY: The many ways to exfoliate


Recently a Boulder client was complaining about the fact that her hands get so dry during the winter, and actually somewhat all year round. For those of you who arent familiar with Colorado, the air is very dry causing all kinds of dry skin problems—head (including hair!) to toe. Add to the dry air cold winter temperatures and your skin—everyones skin here—is in sometimes desperate need of hydration.

My recommendation for this client was to do something similar to what Im having you do to your dry, cracked heels. For an effective intensive hand treatment:
  • Buy thin, surgical gloves (found at stores like Target and possibly your local grocery store)
  • Choose a time where you will be home for at least an hour or so and your hands wont need to be in water (and out of these gloves)
  • Liberally apply your foot balm or any other moisturizer (even a simple body lotion will do)
  • Then slip your hands into these gloves. They will create an environment where the cream can have a deep moisturizing effect

If you can sleep with the gloves on (or socks for that matter, conditioning your heels) that would be a good way to treat your dry hands all night long. Personally, I cant have anything on my hands or feet while sleeping, but if you can—do!

Obviously, keeping lotion on your hands whenever possible is a good idea. My hands are in and out of water all day when Im working, so having lotion on them in between treatments keeps them from getting dried out. I have hand lotion on my nightstand, and also on my coffee table at home. I dont have to reach far to put some soothing hydrating cream on my hands wherever I am, home or work. Also see:


Weve now arrived at your face. How many times have I discussed exfoliation? A lot! And why is that? Because it is so important!—especially during the winter months when our skin gets exposed to the extreme elements. Heat from inside our homes and other buildings (including our cars), which takes water out of the air, along with the cold air outside causes dehydration, plain and simple. The best way to treat dehydration is exfoliation.

Please, no hard brushes on the face!
One of the key characteristics of dehydrated skin is an over-accumulation of dried out skin cells. This can make your skin feel rough to the touch and look somewhat sallow or lacking color. Removing some of those dead cells on a regular basis makes your skin feel smooth and soft along with helping to keep it well-hydrated.

You know my favorite way to exfoliate is Yonkas Gommage. You could also use more common exfoliators, like facial scrubs and AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) products. Whatever you choose to use, exfoliate at least once a week, more often if youre feeling dried out or flaky. Dont skip this step! It is essential to helping your facial skin get through the rough winter months.

If youre not quite clear about what exfoliation is or why you want to exfoliate, see All About Exfoliation to get the full scoop.


In several of the articles Ive written concerning dehydration, Ive included information about adding hydration helpers into your moisturizers to help make them more emollient. Yonka’s Hydra+ (formerly Hydralia) is one such product. Hydra+ is a glycerin-based elixir that adds extra moisture to your skin without adding additional oil. Glycerin is a humectant; it attracts moisture to itself. It makes for an overall good hydrating ingredient in moisturizers and concentrates such as Hydra+. There are, of course, alternatives to using a Yonka product specifically. You could go to the store (Target or Walgreens, for instance) and get a glycerin product. In the past I have found glycerin with rose water, and recently I found straight glycerin (99.5%).

Youll want to add 4-6 drops of your hydrating elixir into your day and/or night cream, basically mixing your cream and the elixir together in your hands then applying to your face and neck. The same application goes for Hydra+—youd put 1-2 squirts into your creme, mix, and apply. If you feel you need to add a few more drops, go right ahead. Glycerin is not an oil, so it shouldnt make your skin feel oily—just hydrated.

Adding glycerin to your creams is a small step that will do an amazing job of super-hydrating your skin. Youll want to use hydration helpers day and night throughout the winter until it starts warming up or until you dont feel like you need the extra moisture anymore. If you have true-dry (oil-dry) skin, you might want to or need to use extra hydration all year round.

Finally, I will mention Yonkas Advanced Optimizer Serum (formerly Optimizer Fluid). This is my all-time favorite product. It has made a huge difference in the hydration level of my skin (especially after moving to Colorado) and has helped many of my clients as well. Youll want to apply Optimizer Serum under your moisturizer vs. adding it to your creams like you would Hydra+. It, too, adds moisture without adding oil, which makes it perfect for all skin types—even oilier skin.

To read an article explaining the difference between Hydra+ (formerly Hydralia) and Optimizer Serum, click here.

Last but not least, if you want to add extra moisture to the air inside your home, try using a humidifier. Used in your bedroom while you sleep, it will add much needed moisture into the air (and your lungs) and help to keep your skin from drying out. If you think about it, while you are lying in bed sleeping, the heat in your home is taking moisture out of the air—and of course, your skin too. Using a humidifier can really make a big difference in the hydration level of your skin, both face and body. However, set it up away from furniture to keep any wood from warping.

I hope you can use some of these tools to get you through another winter without having dry skin issues!

For more information, see:
Me & a few friends on the Mt. Sanitas Trail in Boulder CO