Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pregnancy & Chloasma

Chloasma is a condition also called the mask of pregnancy, hyperpigmentation or melasma. In essence, the pigment (melanin) in your skin has gone out of control. This results in dark spots of pigmentation on the face, resembling in some cases a mask—thus the name. These are not freckles or dots, but sometimes large patches of dark brown skin commonly found on the cheeks and/or the forehead, although it is not limited to these areas.

During pregnancy or while on birth control pills (“the pill” makes your body think it’s pregnant), your skin becomes photosensitive or sensitive to the sun. Photosensitivity is most common in women, especially during the childbearing years, due to fluctuating hormones. Unfortunately, if you’re prone to it, the only solution for keeping chloasma away is to stay out of the sun.

ANY amount of sun exposure will darken the pigmentation on your face. All exposure counts, and as little as a few minutes of sun can darken the spots. If you’ve ever experienced hyperpigmentation, you know this is true. Simple, incidental sun can create new spots or darken existing brown splotches on your face that may take a long time to go away. Also note that you don’t have to be pregnant or on birth control pills to develop chloasma. Once you are off the pill or have given birth, you won’t automatically be resistant to hyperpigmentation. You are just more susceptible during periods of hormonal fluctuations, but not only during these times.

Wearing sunscreen is imperative if you are experiencing any hyperpigmentation. You may want to wear sunscreen throughout your pregnancy even if you don’t seem prone to pigmentation problems. Sunscreen is essential for all skins to help combat the ill effects of sun exposure. Sunscreen alone, however, will not keep hyperpigmentation away.

I tell my clients that if I had to choose between wearing sunscreen on my face without wearing a hat or wearing a hat without sunscreen, I would always—no exceptions—wear the hat without sunscreen. Why? Because it is the direct sunlight that causes damage, and in this discussion, chloasma. Although you may be wearing a sunscreen, it is only screening out or filtering the harmful UV rays. You want to obstruct the sun, not just filter it out. When it comes to being photosensitive, you really want to avoid direct sunlight on your face. Realistically, I wear sunscreen and a hat when I’m going to be out (and so should you).

Even with all the protective measures you may take, hyperpigmentation can still find a way to get to you. However, after you have given birth your hormones will usually calm down, and your skin won’t be so sun sensitive. Any chloasma you may have accumulated during the pregnancy might just fade away and be gone forever. Although sometimes once you are photosensitive, you may continue to remain sensitive to the sun.

In the winter, chloasma will be less likely to develop. The sun is farther away from the earth, and the air is colder so you won’t be outside as much. This doesn’t mean chloasma won’t announce itself, but it usually won’t become as dark as in the summer time. It is in the warmer months that you really want to be careful in the sun. You will accumulate a lot more incidental sun (to and from the car, working in the garden, talking to the neighbors in the yard) without even knowing it. Any amount of exposure can darken your pigmentation; so be careful.

Even if your chloasma becomes dark in the summer, it will usually fade in the winter because you’ll have less outdoor activity. Just remember, chloasma won’t develop or worsen unless sun exposure is involved.

For more information, see:

Stop Bugging Me!—Help for Bug Bites

Are you experiencing the pain and itching of a bug bite or even a bee sting? Have I got a few pain-saving remedies for you!

Essential oil of peppermint is the fastest (and most aromatic) way to stop the itching of a bug bite. Just put a drop on any mosquito, chigger, or flea bite and within a few seconds, the itching will stop. I’ve even put it on nasty fire ant bites (the kind that hurt) with great results.

Another wonderful use for peppermint oil: put one drop in your mouth and be instantly refreshed. It’s better than any breath mint or mouthwash you can imagine. With peppermint, less really is better, so only use one drop in your mouth or you will be sorry! In other words, a little goes a long way. I like to apply it on to a Q-tip and then swab the inside of my mouth.

A few words of caution: Never get peppermint oil in or around your eyes. It will burn like nothing you’ve known before! That goes for all essential oils but especially peppermint. This is one reason I like to use a Q-tip when applying this particular oil. Then I won’t accidentally get the peppermint on my fingers and inadvertently rub my eyes at some point afterwards.

If you don’t want to mess with the drama of peppermint, essential oil of lavender is another pain reliever that can also help take out the sting, itch, and inflammation of bug bites. Lavender, like peppermint, is easy to find at your local health food store. I recommend staying away from lavender blendsyou want straight (sometimes but not always French) lavender. Where the lavender was harvested isn’t as important as getting the pure, unadulterated essential oil. Again, look for it in your health food store.

I saw a friend at the dog park recently who had just gotten stung by a wasp. I asked if she had any essential oils at home. “No.” I first recommended purchasing peppermint oil, the best one for the job. But truly lavender is infinitely easier (because it isn’t as aromatically powerful as peppermint) and yet does an excellent job of helping take the sting and inflammation out of bites—mosquito, chigger, flee, and bee alike. Here is her email to me:

THANK YOU for letting me know about the lavender essential oil for the wasp sting. It got worse instead of better, but I found some of the oil in my house this morning. The redness immediately lessened as did the itching. It’s still hard to bend my finger, but wow—what a difference that lavender made!!! You are a life saver! [Its the lavender, not me, but youre welcome!]

For more information about why you want to have a bottle of lavender essential oil in your home, read:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Quick Tip to have fresh lemon juice at the ready—always

I love lemons, lemon juice, and my little electric fruit juicing machine I purchased many years ago. I have a real juicer, but the machine I’m talking about just juices fruit. It’s super easy and not a pain to clean like a real juicer.

Since I love to have real lemon juice squeezed into my water, or in tea, or when I make the Master Cleanser drink (lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper), I pretty much always have lemons in my kitchen.

I’m also lazy, or perhaps it’s because I’m practical. No matter, I simply don’t love juicing 1/2 of a lemon, leaving the other half sitting around (no doubt losing potency) as well as having to constantly clean my little fruit juicer.

So I came up with a great idea (I am sure I’m not the first): putting fresh squeezed lemon juice into ice trays, then freezing for future use. That I am not the inventor of this was evidenced by the amount of photos of lemon juice in ice cube trays when I went searching for a photo for this article, along with countless blog posts. For me, it’s new—and I love it, even if I didn’t invent the thing!

Nevertheless, it has worked wonders for me and my ability to have lemon juice at the ready—always. I now put fresh squeezed lemon juice in an ice tray and make lemon ice! Each cube measures out to be a little over two tablespoons of juice, which is perfect. I can pop one in my water and the juice eventually melts as I’m drinking. The lemon cube easily melts in the hot water of tea. It may be a silly thing, but this has been a revelation for me! 

The greatest aspect about juicing for ice trays is I can juice many lemons all at once, therefore not having the endless clean up day after day that I had before. Plus no lemon goes unjuiced right after it’s sliced in half. So I must be getting more nutrients from all the lemons since none are sitting on my counter waiting for their turn to be juiced.

This photo is of a fruit juicer similar to the machine I use. Mine is so old, I’m sure they don’t make the exact model anymore. But most of the fruit juicers I looked at online were around $20 or so, and worth every penny. So get out your ice trays and start juicing some lemons—for your health!

A little extra tip: If I have other citrus fruit in my kitchen, I will juice some of those along with the lemons. The other day I juiced 3 lemons, a lime, and 1/2 of a grapefruit. So now I have mostly lemon cubes with a little extra flavor!

For more information, see:

UPDATE: I have found getting the individual lemon ice cubes out of the tray a bit difficult. I’m sure it is due to the sticky nature of the lemon juice. Now, after the cubes have solidified, I transfer them into a little plastic leftovers container. The amazing thing is the cubes, once in the container, don’t stick together. It makes it infinitely easier to put one cube into a glass of water.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Questions about pH and pH papers

pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration and refers to the acidity or alkalinity of any given substance. The pH scale ranges anywhere from 1 to 14.

Your skin is naturally acidic—about 5.5 on the pH scale. In order to maintain this pH balance, you only want to use acidic skin care products, or rather products that are acidic on the pH scale. The reasons for this are twofold. First, bacteria (the type found in infected blemishes) cannot thrive in an acid environment. Therefore, if you use acidic products, you help to fortify this natural acidic state, keeping bacteria away. Secondly, using alkaline products almost always strips the skin of its natural oils and surface water, causing the skin to become dehydrated. This can look and feel like dry, flaky skin.

Because it is so important to know the pH of all of your products, I highly recommend purchasing pH papers. This will enable you to test any product, whether for your face or body, and know if it’s the proper pH for your skin. Here are a few emails from readers that will help me explain:

One of the first things I did after reading Timeless Skin was order Nitrazine papers. It’s been a long time since chemistry class, and I don’t remember if 4 is on the acidic side or the alkaline side. Exactly what numbers do I want my products to be on the pH scale?

I just picked up pH papers from the local science store with a range from 1-14. So far all of my products have been a 4, 5, or 6. One Clinique® toner was an 8. Please refresh my memory: the products I check should be at what pH level?

If you are using pH papers, whether Nitrazine or otherwise, they will provide the pH values on the package. When you put some product on the paper, it will turn a color that corresponds to one of these values listed on the packaging. You will know immediately if the products you are testing are what you want to use or not. Neutral is 7 on the pH scale. Acid is considered anything less than 7, and anything above 7 would be considered alkaline. In answer to these specific emails, anything in the 4 to 6 range is acidic and the proper pH for a skin care product. The toner at a pH of 8 would be too alkaline, and I wouldn’t recommend using it.

Remember: it is alkalinity you want to avoid. I can think of no good reason to use an alkaline skin care product on your face. This is precisely why it is so helpful to have these papers to test the pH level of any and all of your products. 

I used the pHydrion strips that I found in the chemistry department, and they worked the same as the Nitrazine papers you recommend.

You can buy a single roll dispenser of pHydrion much cheaper than Nitrazine papers. They do the same thing, but they do it for one third the cost. If you cannot locate these papers at your local pharmacy, ask them to order some for you. No matter which brand you are able to find, do make a point to locate pH test papers.

For more information, see:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gommage in the shower?

Can I use the gommage in the shower?

Let me be brief: No!

Yonka’s Gommage is a wonderful exfoliator that should not be used if your face is wet, whether in the shower or bath or steam room. Why not? Gommage is in a gel base and needs to dry (through massaging it into the skin) in order to grab onto dead skin cells that are later rubbed off. If your skin is wet, even with simple humidity in the room (like after a shower), the gommage won’t slough off.

The following are my instructions for using Gommage to the fullest. These instructions basically duplicate a previous post: Yonka’s Gommage Instructions (see link below). As you will read at the bottom of this post, these“myinstructions are actually the way Yonka used to instruct clients (and aestheticians) to use Gommage back in the ’80s. Regardless how you use it, the following tips are going to be helpful.

This is very important: Your skin and the air around you needs to be DRY (no moisture in the air, no moisture on your skin). In other wordsyou cannot do the gommage while taking a showeror a bath!
  • Use a quarter to a half dollar-sized dollop
  • Warm Gommage in your hands 
  • Apply to DRY face and neck
  • Gommage starts out as a sticky gooey gel
  • Massage in using light, circular movements
  • After a minute or two, it will start absorbing into the skin
  • Keep massaging, but do not rub your face raw! (If you feel you have to rub hard, you didn’t begin with enough product or you are really dehydrated. Don’t remove what you’ve got on your face, but apply a bit morearound half the amount you began withthen continue massaging in.)
  • You will start to notice pencil eraser-type flakes appearing as Gommage dries
  • Get over a sink, and use brisk movements to eliminate the impurities off your face
  • When complete, no more flakes will appear
  • Rinse the residue off with tepid water (not hot or cold)
  • Pat your skin dry with a towel
  • Spray your Yonka Lotion toner
  • Finally, apply your favorite Yonka day or nighttime moisturizer
  • Your skin will feel extremely soft and look very clear and healthy
  • Your makeup will go on smoothly
In order to have a complete, healthy skin care routine, I highly recommend using this excellent product at least once to several times per week. As I’ve said many times, exfoliation is paramount to healthy skin. I have many favorites in the Yonka-Paris skin care line, but Gommage is in my top 3 for sure.

The instructions for the gommage have changed over the yearsand I’m not sure why. I think the older way is also a bit more time-consuming and labor-intensive, however I believe it works massively better than the newer instructions in your box of Gommage. Those directions will tell you to apply the gel, leave it to dry for 10 minutes or so, then start to rub it in and off your face. It may seem like a minor difference, but I believe if you work it in vs. let it sit on your skin, you will ultimately get a better gommage or peel.

Here is an excerpt from a new client’s email. She had always been told the “new” way to gommage and I sent her instructions for the “old” way. Here are her comments:

Wow! Thanks, Carolyn! I was, indeed, using the gommage incorrectly. I was applying the correct amount, but I was told to leave it on after I applied it for about ten minutes, then use my fingers to sweep downwards on the skin to get the “pencil eraser” flakes to come off. I tried it your way last night. It worked brilliantly!

Whichever way you prefer to apply this productjust do ityou’ll be happy you did. Yonka’s Gommage can and will make a huge difference in the healthy look and smooth feel of your skin.

For more information, see:

Friday, April 24, 2015

21 Years of Grace

This was taken last month in her favorite sleeping place
Several years back, in my original post for this blog, I said that occasionally I would write about things unrelated to skin care. This is one such post.

Today is my sweet cat Graces 21st birthday! She arrived at my doorstep in the arms of a friend back in August 1994. She was found in the hood of a pickup truck parked at a post office in Dallas, Texas. This friend heard a cat crying, and as she was looking over the truck to try to locate the kitty, the truck owner came out and wanted to know what she was doing. She said, “I hear a cat under the hood! and he replied, “Is that cat still there? She instantly told him to lift the hood, where she found a black, straggly-looking kitty tucked near the front wheel. She quickly grabbed the cat and probably gave the guy a dirty look.

I had just moved into an apartment where I could have pets. I didnt however expect that the day after I moved in I would get a knock at the door with my friend holding this sweet and scared young cat. A few friends came over, and we watched this scraggly kitty as she pranced on the carpet. She was actually lifting her feet because being under the hood of a truck in Texas in August had singed the pads of her poor little paws. Someone said, “She is so graceful. And that is how she got her name:  Grace.
Gracie, although she looks black, is a very dark brown Burmese mix with a white star on her chest. I call her coloring espresso. The vet said she was probably 4-6 months old, so I went back from August when she entered my life, and arrived at my birthday (today) in April. I used the 24th for her birthday also, so I would remember how old she was year to year. I could have never guessed that I would be counting up to 21 yearsand who knows how many more!

Now, as a kitty crone, she is basically skin and bones. During her “heavier years, she weighed around 10 lbs, give or take. Now she is a pretty consistent 4.8 pounds! Shes not really able to do the normal kitty gymnastics of cleaning herself, so once a week or so I do a washcloth cleanse, which she hates, but she looks so much better afterwards. Every evening she calls me into the bedroom to pet her and love on her. She sleeps all the time, even more so than other times when she was younger.

Every morning when I wake up and see her on my bed I think, wowanother day of Grace! So, Happy Birthday old girl. I am grateful for all of these 21 years of Grace! I feel honored to have her in my life and under my care.

UPDATE: 5/2016
Gracie passed away at home on Monday, May 23, 2016. To read the article I wrote after her passing, see Amazing Grace—Such a long, long run.

For other animal-related articles, see:
April 2015Skinny but regal
If youre interested in seeing the other 4-legged kids in my household, see My 4-Legged Family, which is listed under the PAGES section at the top right-hand side of this blogsite (currently unavailable).
These are some of the first photos of Gracie, August 1994. Funny how she has almost grown and shrunk to just about the same small size.


  1. Ponie Lunsford May 1, 2015 at 6:16 AM
    Fabulous Carolyn! What an extraordinary kitty!

    1. Carolyn Ash May 2, 2015 at 1:35 PM
      Yes, Ponie (!), she is ♥

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hats, Hats, Hats! Protect your skin in the sun

A client of mine was going to Arizona for a vacation one summer. I asked if she had a good hat, and she said no. I knew this client didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a hat, so I recommended she go to Target. They always seem to have good, inexpensive hats that I call Throw Aways.

I rarely spend more than $10-$15 on a hat. It has to pack well (being able to fold and mash it in a suitcase or bag is imperative!) and if I lose it, I am not out much money. Plus I know there are more where it came from. In fact, when I find a hat I truly love, I usually buy two of them. Having a spare for insurance means if I lose it or something happens to my beloved hat, there is always one waiting in the wings. The one exception to this is the hat(s) I wear out with the horses. In this case, I do spend money on a hat that has good coverage. I’ve found REI consistently has good wide-brimmed hats that hold up over time. (These are generally not the mashable kind.)
Probably my first hat on my 2nd birthday
Hats, for me, are very important. I simply don’t want direct sunlight on my face—ever! Even now that I’m in my 50s, I continue to be as careful about sun exposure as I have been most of my adult life, certainly more so than when I was in my teens and early 20s and didn’t really care or think about sun exposure unless I was at the beach. There I always covered my face but not while I was walking on the sand or the street or to and from my car. But now I always have something between my face and the sun.

Keep your hats handy and try to have something for every occasion. Running, skating, walking, golfing, boating, snow skiing, biking, motorcycling, dress up, dress down; you name it, you’ll have a hat. Of course, many of these activities can share one hat.

Sometimes a bandana is the only appropriate sun protection. If you water ski, for instance, you can wear a bandana tied around your head, at least covering your forehead. A tight-fitting visor can work here as well since a hat would never stay on during this type of activity.

Be creative and stay well-protected. You’ll thank yourself as you watch the years go by. Sun is the number one cause of premature aging.

For more information, see:

Monday, April 20, 2015

“Adult Acne” explained

I have many clients who have been diagnosed at their dermatologists as having “adult acne. When these clients are in my treatment room for a facial and upon further examination, many times it turns out they simply have a minor breakout. Usually it is caused by improper diet, stress, or perhaps a hormone imbalance. Their breakout certainly needs to be addressed, but I dislike the term adult acne, although it is widely used nowadays to describe problem skin in adults.

Technically, even a blackhead has the potential for acne. But it is rare in these individuals diagnosed with adult acne that I see true acne, as opposed to a small breakout. It is all a matter of degree, but the kind of acne I use the term acne for is the full-blown type. An adult can certainly have true acne. But I don’t like overusing the term adult acne when it makes a minor breakout sound much more intense than it really is, lessening the weight of having true acne.

Regardless whether you have true acne, “adult acne,” or simply breakout, please read through this blog to find helpful hints and tips for solving or at least managing your problem skin.

Here are a few more articles that might help clarify what type of skin you have along with helpful information whether you have acne or just occasional breakout:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Men & Skin Care: One profile—is this you?

The following is one profile of how some of you take care of your skin. I know this is a generalization, but it is based on seeing male clients over the years, listening to stories about my female clients’ husbands, and asking men wherever I go how they take care of their skin. I know there are those of you (more and more) who are conscientious about your skin and who really do have good skin care habits. The following is not a profile of you, but of “the others.”
  • You almost always use soap. And you use the same soap on your face as you do on your body—whatever is within reach in the shower. This can include deodorant soaps, which by the way, are working to inhibit the sweat glands from producing. How can this be good for your face?
  • After washing with soap in the shower, you usually shave.
  • Next you use aftershave. Many times these products contain alcohol.
  • Sometimes you slap on a moisturizer (any one will do), and you’re off. That’s it—simple, easy, done.
  • You may only use soap in the shower and never mess with moisturizer or even an aftershave. Your reasoning is, “What for?” You aren’t having any problems with your skin, so why bother with products?
  • At night, sometimes you just splash your face with water.

Believe me, I’m not advocating that men follow a complicated skin care routine (women either) when the less-is-more approach seems to be working just fine. I am, however, suggesting incorporating a few minor changes that would be beneficial.

These articles will give you information on how you can best take care of your skin on a daily basis:

Friday, April 17, 2015


UPDATE 4/2018:
Yonka has replaced Nutri-Protect with a new and equally wonderful treatment cream for the hands: CREME MAINS—Repairing, Comforting Hand Cream. Click on the name to be taken to its page.

NUTRI-PROTECT is a repairing, hydrating hand treatment for rough, dry hands. Below you can read about the wonderful ingredients and actions of this hand cream, but I can tell you from my own personal experience and also from what my clients say: Nutri-Protect is a wonderful, nourishing hand treatment product!

The aromatics alone sold me. When I first applied this luxurious moisturizer, I couldn’t stop sniffing my hands! I loved the fresh aromas of citrus and shea butter.

I have a tube of this available for my clients to use while in my facial room. Everyone who has tried it loves it like I do. NOTE: A little really does go a long way! I have seen clients squeeze a lot of product onto their handsreally, a pea-sized dollop is plenty.
One thing I really love is that my hands aren’t greasy after applying this nourishing hand cream. I can easily work on my computer or handle papers without leaving grease marks everywhere. While at my office this is a huge plus for me.

Because my hands are in and out of water while I
m working, having this treatment cream available after every facial keeps my hands from drying out. I also love to put this nourishing cream on my heels. Just before bed, I massage Nutri-Protect over my sometimes dry feet, and—especially in the winter—my heels stay hydrated and crack-free. I love this hand cream!

From Yonka headquarters:

3 in 1 treatment for hands, nails and cuticles. With its elegant texture, this ultra-comforting hand cream bursts with benefits when it comes to repairing the driest and most damaged of skin. Rich in ingredients renowned for their restructuring, nourishing and hydrating properties, it helps preserve a youthful appearance for hands, and ensures their protection against harsh environmental factors (water, wind, cold, dry air, etc.). Quickly absorbed, it leaves skin soft, supple, smooth and silky.

Essential ingredients:
  • Shea butter—repairing, nourishing, protective
  • Grape seed oil (rich in essential fatty acids)—restructuring
  • Vitamin B5, bisabolol—comforting, soothing
  • Vegetable glycerin—hydrating
  • Vitamins A, C, E—antioxidant, regenerating
  • Essential oils of sweet orange, grapefruit, mandarin, and magnolia—refreshing phyto-aromatic effects
Directions for use:
  • Apply NUTRI-PROTECT cream to dry, clean hands
  • Massage in well
  • For damaged or cracked hands, apply frequently
  • Remember: A little goes a long way

For more help for dry hands, see:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What NOT to use on your breakouts + an unexpected breakout contributor

Hopefully you’ve read What is causing your breakouts? (link below), which asks important questions to help you understand why you may be breaking out. Here I’ll discuss products that you don’t want to use on your skin and other things that may be contributing to your skin problems. 

Products with alcohol. Not all alcohol is bad; it is primarily SD, ethyl, and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol that are not good to use on your skin. Alcohol merely puts out the fire, so to speak, but does nothing to douse the origination of the flame. It causes dry skin to form in and around the affected pore or pores where it was applied, which can cause problems of its own. Although drying something up seems to be effective, it is simply a temporary fix and is not part of a real solution for ending your breakouts.

Witch hazel found in most stores contains roughly 15% ethyl alcohol. So although it is not pure alcohol, it still contains some bad alcohol nonetheless. This type of witch hazel and its accompanying alcohol should be avoided, especially as a main ingredient in a product. Hamamelis virginiana is the actual plant name for what we call witch hazel. This extract is actually a good ingredient and can be helpful to reduce swelling and inflammation. Unfortunately it is usually mixed with ethyl alcohol, which is a skin care no-no.

Benzoyl peroxide is a popular ingredient in many products for problem skin. Go to any grocery or drug store and there are numerous “oxy” products lining the shelves, waiting for unsuspecting customers to take them home—only to find they usually don’t work. Benzoyl peroxide is antibacterial, which is good. But it is also a skin irritant and can cause dryness, sensitivity, and irritation, which is bad. You want to soothe and heal your blemishes, not irradiate them by using a nuclear bomb!

Fragrance as a skin care product ingredient can cause problems with many peoples’ skin. Even fragrance worn as perfume can cause allergic reactions in a large percentage of the population. Fragrance is an ambiguous term. It is similar to natural flavoring in foods. What is the fragrance made of? I have seen many decent, natural face products that employ fragrance in their formulations. This can ruin an otherwise good product. Fragrance can also cause big problems with your skin. Allergy to fragrance is one of the most common reasons someone cannot use a particular skin care product. Watch out for this ingredient.
Bar soap is a skin care no-no as far as I’m concerned. There just isn’t any good reason for using it—on your face. Soap, by its very nature, has ingredients in it that help hold its shape and keep it hard—ingredients the skin on your face really doesn’t benefit from. Soaps are generally alkaline vs. being pH balanced; alkalinity is bad; pH balanced is what you want.

If you are currently using bar soap, try switching to a liquid soap or face wash. Sometimes these, too, will be alkaline, so testing with pH papers is always the best way to find the right cleanser for you. Because alkalinity strips all the oil and water off your face, your oil glands may overproduce to compensate for the loss, which can cause oiliness, dehydration, as well as breakouts.

Although not an ingredient in skin care products, the trace mineral iodine is known to cause breakout in some people. And I happen to be one of those people sensitive to this vital mineral. I know this because in the past I have taken kelp tablets, high in iodine, and every time I do my skin starts to break out.

One time I experimented to see if it was indeed the kelp that was disturbing my skin. I stopped taking the kelp, let my skin clear up completely, then once again starting taking kelp tablets while not changing anything else in either my diet or my skin care routine. Sure enough, my skin started reacting by breaking out. Therefore taking kelp tablets as an easy way to get iodine is just not for me. Although important for a healthy-functioning thyroid, iodine is easy to get through foods, namely fish, and seaweeds (high in kelp).

Having gone through a bit of a struggle in perimenopause with my energy levels (having to do with adrenals glands and also thyroid), I do have a bit more insight into iodine and other supplements that can help keep your body functioning optimally. This will be discussed in a future post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BODY: The many ways to exfoliate

Exfoliation is the best way to rid your body of dry, flaky skin. There are many ways to accomplish this. Whether using scrubs, gloves, or a brush, exfoliating the dead sometimes flaky skin on your body will go a long way in keeping the alligator look away.

Body scrubs. This is my favorite way to exfoliate the body. Because this product isn’t used on the delicate and sensitive facial skin, you may want to get a large tub or tube of inexpensive scrub at the grocery store. Once you are wet in the shower, put some of the product in your hands and scrub-a-dub-dub over your entire body.

Use a body scrub after a long workout session, or whenever you’ve gotten really sweaty from being outside. If you have been outside, you’ll have a mixture of sweat and sunscreen that needs to come off—thoroughly.

Using a body scrub in the shower really does the trick as far as exfoliating dead cells and helping your skin to feel smooth all over. Always use scrubs, whether for your face or your body, on wet skin only.

Exfoliation gloves. These are gloves made of a rough, stretchy material that are great to use in the shower. They are better than a loofah because formfitting gloves can get to all the hard to reach areas of your body. Simply wet the gloves, put your favorite body wash on them, and gently give yourself a rubdown. Do not use the gloves on your neck and definitely not on your face. They are much too rough for these areas and may cause irritation. After you are through washing, be sure to rinse the gloves thoroughly and hang them to dry.

You can find exfoliation gloves at most stores that carry bath and body products. They make a great gift or stocking stuffer. 

Dry-brush massage. Although this kind of exfoliation is a little more involved than just using a product in the shower, it is well worth it. Whenever clients come to me with really dry skin on their bodies, I recommend a dry-brush massage.

This procedure involves purchasing a natural-bristle brush. You can find them at most larger health food stores. Experiment with several brushes and choose one that feels just right on your skin. You want a brush with bristles that are stiff enough to stimulate your circulation and exfoliate dead skin cells, but not so rough that it hurts to use it. Conversely, don’t choose a brush so soft you can barely feel it massaging your skin.

On dry skin, before you hop in the shower
  • Take the bristle brush and go over your entire body using brisk movements. (Do not use the brush on your face and neck.) You are brushing off tiny particles of dead skin, and this needs to be done on dry skin. If your skin is wet, you will lose the effectiveness of the dry brush
  • I’ve always heard to brush in the direction of your heart to assist circulation. Whether there is a significant difference between stroking toward or away from the heart is uncertain
  • I wouldn’t worry about the direction your brush is moving as much as concentrating on removing dead cells. It should be a sweeping, almost a flicking motion on your skin
  • Once you have brushed your entire body, hop in the shower and rinse off

You won’t necessarily see dead skin actually coming off your body. Some of it will get trapped in the brush, and some particles are just too small to see. You want to clean your brush after each use by stroking your hand back and forth over the bristles to help release the dead skin inside, but do not get the brush wet. Depending on how much you use it, every so often thoroughly clean your brush to remove any debris that may have accumulated. Now you do get it wet by soaping it up with body wash, then hang it to dry (thoroughly) before using it again.

Your skin should feel invigorated and alive. Dry-brush massage literally wakes you up. It is great for stimulating your circulation, like a cup of coffee for the body. After your shower, use a good moisturizer or body oil. If done on a regular basis, dry-brush massage can help your skin look and feel smooth, making dried-out, flaky skin a thing of the past.

One note of caution: you may feel a slight irritation the first few times you brush your skin. Be gentle, not aggressive, as your skin acclimates to the stimulation of the bristles. After your skin has adapted, it will feel more invigorating and more comfortable to do a dry-brush massage.

After exfoliating, however you accomplish this, be sure to use a body moisturizing cream as well. Without this step you won’t truly have the soft-feeling body skin you are looking for.

By keeping your whole body well-exfoliated, you can achieve softer skin—always! You’ll be surprised at the results; your skin may start feeling like a newborn baby’s!

For more information, see:

Monday, April 13, 2015


UPDATE 4/2015:
Yonka has discontinued a few products over the years. Some I didnt care too much about; Phyto 54 is a product that I used a lot with many different, sometimes difficult skin conditions, and taking it out of the Yonka lineup is a big disappointment. 

Yonka’s Phyto 54—Rosemary cream for sensitivity and rednessis DISCONTINUED. 

Below I have included information on other Yonka products for redness and sensitivityproducts you may now want to try.

Phyto 54 contained rosemary (6% extract); rosemary helps with circulation, temporarily flushing stagnated blood from the capillaries. This helps alleviate redness and gives your skin an all-around fresh feeling. Phyto 54 was an alternative cream for red, rosacea, couperouse skin; skin that turns red easily (reactive) and may be hot to the touch. If you had good results with Phyto 54, you might try:
  • CREME 11 (discontinued 2/2018)
This is another anti-redness moisturizer and is a cream that in the past I recommended in conjunction with Phyto 54. Although Creme 11 contains very little rosemary (its listed at the very bottom of the ingredient list), it still does a wonderful job in helping to diffuse redness for even the most sensitive skins. When someone comes for a facial who has really sensitive skin, it is Creme 11 I turn to for its calming and anti-redness abilities. (Because of the small amount of rosemary in this product, Creme 11 does not have the rosemary aromatic of the moisturizers listed below.)
  • PHYTO 52
This moisturizer has the highest concentration of rosemary at 10%. Phyto 52 is a lovely rosemary cream alternative for 54 users and is very popular with my clients. You can read all about it through the link below.
  • The PHYTO 58 creams (PS or PNG)  
With rosemary percentages of 3% for PS (normal to dry skin) and 7.5% for PNG (normal to oily skin), one of these creams may be just the substitute youre looking for.

Here are the articles for each of the alternate creams:
If you have true-dry (oil-dry) skin, and especially in the colder, winter months, you may feel the need to apply a second, more hydrating cream over Phyto 52 (or 58 PS). This is totally acceptable. Another option is to apply Optimizer Serum under your Phyto cream or any other moisturizing cream you are using. Optimizer Serum super-hydrates the skin without adding oil. To read more about this wonderful hydrating booster, see: