Tuesday, June 30, 2015

At-home facials—Advanced steps

Here are a few advanced techniques for those of you who want to go the extra mile. These are not necessary to do in order to get the full benefits from an at-home facial. They are simply additional steps for the person who wants to take the extra time.

1. Use moisturizer underneath your clay mask. With the mask lying on top, it will help to infuse the cream deep into your skin, giving you an extra dose of hydration. Cleanse your skin, exfoliate, and then before applying the clay mask put on a medium to thick layer of your favorite moisturizing cream. Apply your clay mask, spraying it with water intermittently to keep it moist. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then remove the mask by splash-rinsing with tepid water. Use your toner and moisturizer.

2. Place soothing eye pads over your eyes and relax to treat the eye area during your at-home facial. One way to do this is to steep chamomile tea (or any other relaxing, soothing herb) for several hours. Place the concentrated tea in the refrigerator to cool (perhaps the night before you are planning your facial). Then when you’re ready to lie down and relax with the clay mask on in your quiet room or bathtub, soak two cotton pads in the cooled tea and place them over your eyes. Lie back and relax, keeping the mask moist by misting with your spray bottle. When your mask is ready to come off, remove the eye pads, splash-rinse, then tone and hydrate with your moisturizer.

Ponds® came out with cucumber eye pads that are fun and easy to use although they are a bit pricey. They have a high percentage of cucumber extract and other soothing ingredients in them. They even look like cucumbers. If you like to use eye pads, these are a fun alternative. There are several companies that make these eye pads. You can also cut thin slices of a cucumber, refrigerate, and use during your at-home facial(s). Make sure these homemade pads are fresh!

Another option is to wet a couple of round eye pads, then spray a small amount of your toner on them. Squeeze most of the moisture out, and then place the pads over your eyes. The water will dilute your toner, making soothing eye pads that are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use.

3. Apply a thick layer of eye cream before you put the pads on for extra treatment of the eyes. Or if you want to skip eye pads altogether, simply put a thick layer of eye cream on, lie back, and relax. This under-eye skin needs special treatment too.

4. Include your neck as well as treating the skin around your eyes. If you have a special hydrating mask, this would be a good time to use it. After the clay is on your face, apply a thick layer of hydrating mask to your entire neck area. If you don’t have a specialized hydrating mask, just use a thick layer of your moisturizer. Either one will do a good job of moisturizing this forgotten area.

Whether you opt for these “advanced” steps or decide to just do the basics, giving yourself an at-home facial at least once a week (more if you have problem, congested skin) is a great way to help your skin look its best.

For more information, see:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Yonka’s PHYTO 52—Rosemary cream for all skin types

From Yonka headquarters: PHYTO 52 is a fast-absorbing night cream with a powerful rosemary base that restores firmness and oxygenates to tone the skin, shape the face, invigorate the complexion, and share its phyto-aromatic benefits to the whole body. Toned skin, firmer, cleared complexion, tighter pores.”

Yonka uses words like firm and tighter pores to describe Phyto 52. I love this cream! And I don’t believe in creams firming nor tightening pores as in “Toned skin, firmer, cleared complexion, tighter pores.” However, please read on because Phyto 52 has wonderful attributes, even if I don’t believe truly firming the skin is one of them. The information I have to offer is from 30+ years of experience with Yonka products and thousands of clients throughout those years using and falling in love with Phyto 52. I will say that this cream does feel like it is firming and lifting the skin. Chock it up to its rosemary content in large part.

Phyto 52 has the highest concentration (10%) of rosemary extract of all the rosemary creams in the Yonka line: Phyto 52, Phyto 54* (now discontinued), Phyto 58 PNG, and Phyto 58 PS. Rosemary is stimulating to blood circulation, which helps to get oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells. Any skin type at any age can use this benefit. Rosemary in high concentrations is a lipid solvent; this means it helps to break through fatty inclusions (like sebum—oil), rendering this cream excellent for problem, oily, and acneic skin. Phyto 52 is also detoxifying.

*For any of you who have used (and loved) Phyto 54, you probably know it was discontinued. Phyto 52 would be an excellent replacement product. It does have more rosemary (10% vs. 6% in Phyto 54), but for people with capillary concerns (like rosacea or simple couperouse) and even sensitive skin, Phyto 52 should prove to be an excellent addition to your skin care program. With that said, the 58 creams are also excellent alternatives to replace Phyto 54 (see link below).

The rosemary creams are recommended at night mostly because they don’t make great makeup bases. In other words, if you wear foundation or mineral makeup on your whole face and you’re using a rosemary cream like Phyto 52, your makeup just won’t go on well. Therefore, use Phyto 52 and any of the rosemary creams as your night treatment cream.

Some people don’t love the rosemary aromatic. Phyto 52 would not be a good cream for these people because it has a very strong rosemary scent. However most clients absolutely love the way this cream smells, prompting them to always use it. I personally love the rosemary aromatic. Even after all these years, I can’t get enough of it! 
Essential ingredients:
  • Rosemary extract 10%detoxifying, oxygenating
  • Yonka “Quintessence” (essential oils of thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary)—balancing, revitalizing
  • Beech bud peptides—restructuring, smoothing
  • Hazelnut oil—nourishing
  • Aloe vera, plant glycerin—hydrating
  • Vitamin E—antioxidant
Directions for use:
In the morning and/or evening:
  • After cleansing and spraying on Yonka Lotion toner
  • Apply a pea-sized dollop of PHYTO 52 over face and neck 
  • Then use eye cream

If you have true-dry (oil-dry) skin, you may need to apply your regular moisturizer over Phyto 52 for better hydration. Or use Optimizer Serum (my personal favorite). 

For more information, see: 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Allergic Reactions to Products & The 72-Hour Test

How do I know if I’m having an allergic reaction to a new product? And what should I do if I’m having a reaction?

If your skin changes for the worse after starting a new product, you may be having an allergic reaction. Or you could just be intolerant to one or more ingredients in one or more of the new products. Contrary to what you might have heard, a product should not cause breakouts when you first start using it. One client said she was told to give a new product three weeks for her skin to adapt. Even though she was breaking out from using this product, that was acceptable as far as the salesperson was concerned.

If your skin reacts adversely upon first using a new product, stop using it! If, however, you develop a skin condition such as eczema (a dermatitis or skin inflammation) or some other intolerance to a product you have successfully used in the past and just now are reacting to, try The 72- Hour Test. This test is helpful in narrowing down possible culprits that have caused a skin reaction.

Many times allergic reactions like a dermatitis can occur because something is compromising your immune system. And a product that you have used, perhaps for a long time, without any issues may suddenly give you problems. Stress is a known culprit when it comes to skin reactions and allergies. So if you are going through a stressful period in your life and are having problems with products you normally have no reactions to, I think you have to look at the state of your inner health before completely discarding your skin care regime. Pregnancy also can cause skin sensitivities or a reaction to products you may have used for years.

You may have to find other products in the interim that you can use without reaction, but you may not have to give up your old products altogether. Once the stress in your life has subsided, you may want to dig up those formerly OK products and give them another try. They may cause no reaction, and then again, you may have to forgo using them if you do indeed continue to react. In this case, as well as with new products that may have caused reactions, take the following test to determine whether or not you can use a particular product.

The 72-Hour Test. In order to perform a controlled experiment and get some definite answers for yourself, I recommend taking The 72-Hour Test. This trial is meant to help you figure out what product or products that you just began using (or perhaps have used for a long time) might be causing any skin reaction you are experiencing. 

Let’s say you just purchased a whole line of skin care products (or even just a single product), and after using them for a few days, you notice redness or skin sensitivity you didn’t have before. First, stop using all the new products and go back to what you had been using. You want your skin back to normal before proceeding with the test.

Once your skin has calmed down, take one product, let’s say the new cleanser, and use it for three days (72 hours) along with your other old products (toner, moisturizer, eye cream). If your skin is OK with the cleanser, use a second new product for three days. If at any point you introduce a product and have a reaction, at least you’ll know which product is the troublemaker.

Keep in mind, you may only have a reaction to one or two of the products—not the whole line. So by doing The 72-Hour Test, you can find out which products you can use and which ones you can’t. This process takes time, but if you want to find an answer to what is causing the reaction, it’s worth the time spent.

If all goes well and you don’t react to the individual products, it may have been too much for your skin to try out so many products at one time. Sometimes this happens, but most likely if you had a reaction the first time you used it, you will find at least one product causes a reaction when doing the test. If every product causes a reaction, there may be a common ingredient in the line that may prohibit you from using any of it.

If you begin to react to a product three or more weeks after using it, I doubt it is really the product breaking you out. Usually your body (skin) will react within a short period of time after trying a new product—instantly or within a few days. This is not an absolute, but it’s doubtful it will take your skin three weeks to realize it is intolerant to particular ingredients. The breakout could be due to something new in your daily routine, severe weather changes, or stress—something current in your life. Don’t automatically blame a product for causing problems when it could be something unrelated. Take The 72-Hour Test and see what you come up with.

With all that said, over time you can develop intolerances to certain products or ingredients, just like with foods. You may have been able to eat certain foods in the past that today you are intolerant to. Sometimes this can happen with skin care products as well. It all boils down to ingredients and your skin and how the two are suited to each other. If you feel like you have become intolerant to a certain product (or even the entire line of products) simply stop using them, go back to products that in the past didn’t cause problems, and then take The 72-Hour Test. The test should help you find out if it is indeed your products that are creating skin issues. 

Regardless of what is causing the problem, having a reaction is undesirable. If you have just purchased new products you can’t use, try to return them. Companies have varying return policies (something you might want to consider before purchasing). Make sure you are aware of the likelihood of getting your money back (or not).

For more information, see:  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Crusty skin spots? What are seborrheic keratoses?

Seborrheic keratoses, sometimes called seborrheic warts or even barnacles (I’ve heard a few dermatologists use this term) are simply skin growths that show up due to age or sometimes for no reason at all. They come in the form of darkened skin, occasionally flesh-colored or brown or black, that resemble small, raised moles or are flat like a wart. They can also feel scaly, although not always.

I have several of these “barnacles,” mostly concentrated around my lower jawline and one above my eyebrow. They all have a scaly texture, and because of this I went to have them checked out by my dermatologist. I just didn’t know if they could be trouble (cancerous) in the future, and I wanted to find out for sure. They turned out to be seborrheic keratoses.

Seborrheic keratoses are noncancerous skin growths. In other words, they aren’t a problem, they just aren’t very attractive. They can be burned off at your dermatologist, or liquid nitrogen might be used. But please know, if you remove one of these spots, you run the risk of having a white, non-pigmented spot where the keratosis was.

If you find you have crusty moles or new scaly places on your skinespecially on your face, I recommend going to your dermatologist and making sure these are just your average barnacles and not precancerous or cancerous growths. To the unknowing eye, the two may be hard to discern, and you obviously want to know if these places are problematic.

I plan to just leave my seborrheic keratoses alone. Sure, once in a while if I pay too much attention to them in the mirror or touch them on my face too much they bother me. But then again, they aren’t anything to worry about healthwise and I know if I mess with them (try to have them removed), it will just be trading one thing (keratoses) for another (possibly noticeable white spots or pigmentation spots). They really aren’t worth the trouble.

For more information, see:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Yonka’s JUVENIL—purifying concentrate and spot treatment

JUVENIL is a calendula, ichthiol, and bleu chamomile-based brown liquid that is a wonderful tool to help calm and heal your problem skin. Used for widespread breakout, it can also be used on individual problem spots. Apply Juvenil to entire face or wherever breakout is occurring.

Juvenils ingredients are different than Emulsion Pure (another Yonka product for problem skin), although the action on blemishes is similar. Calendula is soothing and anti-inflammatory, and chamomile (azulene) helps to heal and calm, while ichthammol is antiseptic and antibacterial. The medicinal aromatic reassures you that action is being taken against your blemishes. This healing concentrate can also be mixed into your cremes. (Juvenil can stain clothing—so be careful!) Breakouts disappear, and inflammations are soothed. The skin is purified and healed.

A very effective acne treatment with a unique approach from other standard acne products. Juvenil is non-stinging and doesn’t dry out the skin. It will effectively balance sebaceous secretions, control breakout causing bacteria, and soothe and heal the infections. The balance of the formula clears the complexion and diminishes post-breakout spots. Juvenil is an important product for men as an aftershave for soothing sensitive skin and eliminating ingrown hairs.

My upstairs neighbor friends just got married. The day before the wedding, the groom came to me with several red spots (zits) on his face. I ran to my office and got him some Juvenil. After giving him the instructions, I kind of forgot about it. The day after the wedding I saw them both, and he remarked to me what a miracle that little brown liquid had been. And sure enough, he had no evidence of redness or breakout on his face. Hurray! And congratulations to the newlyweds!

Essential ingredients:
  • Ichtammol (sulfur derivative)—purging, antisepticizes, healing
  • Lactic acid—antisepticizes, acidifies, eliminates cellular buildup
  • Yonka “Quintessence (essential oils of thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary)—purifying, calming, healing
  • Calendula—antisepticizes, anti-inflammatory
  • Azulene (German chamomile)—antisepticizes, rejuvenating, soothing
  • Sweet lime—regulates, balances
Directions for use:

In the morning and/or evening:
  • Apply JUVENIL after cleansing *before toning and moisturizing
  • Use a few drops to specific breakout or
  • Several pumps to entire face if breakout is more widespread
  • Next, apply (spray on) Yonka Lotion toner
  • Then apply your day or night treatment creme (perhaps Creme 15) 

You can also mix some Juvenil into your day/night creams. You can use Juvenil mixed in only or in addition to using it as a spot treatment. You really cant use too much of this wonderful treatment product.

*I prefer to apply Juvenil on dry skin vs. after spraying Lotion toner. However, dont worry! You can clean, spray toner, then apply Juvenil if you prefer that method. Truly, you cant go wrong as long as these products are on your skin.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just say NO to comedone extractors!

No No No No NO!!!!!
I had a facial back in early October. The lady who was working on me used some kind of tool to squeeze out blackheads and pimples. I asked her if [the red marks left from the extraction] would clear up right away because I had a singing competition in 2 weeks. She had said they would clear up fast.

My face did not clear up for my show, in fact there were still some rough areas at Christmas! Now, however, my skin has finally healed, but I have all these little dents in my face where she worked. They are purple in color and look like little pot holes that you see down dirt roads.

I am somewhat depressed over this as my skin was always so nice and clear before, no scars from pimples like I’ve seen on other people’s faces. Now unfortunately I have these places on my own face. Here is my question for you: Is there any way at all to get rid of the pot holes?

I’m so sorry you had this experience. The aesthetician probably used a metal tool called a comedone extractor. It is something I don’t recommend using under any circumstances during a facial (and please, not on your own skin at home). These metal tools can cause a lot of damage. Mostly I see capillary damage, but depending on who is using it, scarring can also occur. I would never consider using a comedone extractor in my facials—ever.

If what you are experiencing is truly scarring from the extractions done in your facial, there isn’t a lot you can do. Definitely do not pick at those areas. If it has been months since your breakout, even though the skin may look purple, it is doubtful there is still infection after so much time. You want to be very careful not to get sun on your face. Those spots may pigment differently now that the skin has been altered, and that may cause dark spots from sun exposure.

If your pores are still clogged, you want to be sure to keep your skin clean—not just by daily cleansing but by exfoliating and definitely using a clay mask as well. These two steps, if done on a regular basis, can really help to keep your skin in good shape.

There are currently lasers that may be able to help with the scarring. You would need to discuss this with a dermatologist to find out all the information on what is available. The doctor can evaluate your particular skin’s condition and give you advice as to what to do for the scarring. Unfortunately laser procedures can cost a lot of money, and they aren’t always 100% effective.

I wish I had a magic answer to your dilemma. Unfortunately scars are permanent, although their appearance may decrease over time and could look less noticeable. If you ever find yourself in a facial and see that a comedone extractor is going to be used, just tell the aesthetician that under no circumstances will you allow it to be used on your face.

For more information, see:
Say NO to comedone extractors—Please!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why so many questions, Carolyn?

The following is taken from a post on my blogsite for professionals: Help for Aestheticians: Starting a Business. This article, Client Information Charts—Part II, has some good information in it that I thought you’d enjoy reading.

Perhaps some of you have wondered why I asked so many questions on your initial visit with me, and now youll find out why. This article goes over the many questions that I ask a first-time client during the intake phase of the treatment before I give the hands-on facial. As you will see, these questions help me better understand a new client’s skin—even before I have seen it up close. Here is the article from Help for Aestheticians to explain why I ask so many questions:

The following was written back in 1990, before I had published my first book, Timeless Skin. I was gathering information to write a book for aestheticians that never made it into book form. Much of the content I have prepared for this blog [Help for Aestheticians] was inspired by that idea—providing information to help aestheticians. I wanted to include this older writing because it does go into more detail about the specific questions I ask. Even back then, after only 4-5 years as a working aesthetician, I knew what I was talking about!

The Importance of Creating A Client’s 
Skin Care Consultation Form
As aestheticians, we need to understand the importance of knowing our clients, from the inside out. The more questions we pose to the client, the more we are going to understand about the condition of her health, and therefore the condition(s) of her skin.

Other than the obvious name, address, and phone number, you must find out her date of birth. Over the years I have had several women actually refuse to give me the year of their birth. In this situation my reply to their reaction is this: In order to get a full and complete understanding about the condition of your skin, it is helpful if I know, chronologically, how many years it has been alive. At this point, she will either reluctantly give me the information or she won’t. Don’t fight it, just get her general age if nothing else. It is true: knowing how long a client has been alive does help me better understand the condition of her skin as I am seeing it that first time.

After that, more basic information can be asked such as Do you wear contacts? Are they in or out? Do you have allergies to any known ingredients or products you have used on your skin recently? Most women are not still using products on their skin that have caused reactions, however there may be ingredients in your products she may have an intolerance to and you need to make a note of these.

I always ask Do you take any oral medication on a daily basis? This is an important question; let me explain. Medication taken orally affects all aspects of the body—from your little toe to the hair on your head, including the skin. And of course it’s treating the symptom you are taking the medication for in the first place.

Medication is basically toxic. Its job is to fight off or kill, and it’s affecting the entire organism. We need a great deal of water to help filter these toxins out of the body, so water intake must increase. Medication also depletes vitamin stores (this varies with each medication), which must be replaced if optimum health is to be restored or maintained. Because of this, there is usually some degree of dehydration and possibly some specific vitamin deficiencies lurking around. So be on the lookout for these conditions when analysing the skin, and remember their presence is probably due in part, at the least, to any medications your client is currently taking.

Some women don’t consider The Pill as “medication.” However, it is. The Pill contains hormones that alter normal bodily functions and will produces some of the same effects mentioned above as well as a host of conditions on its own.

The birth control pill tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant. In other words, your body cannot distinguish between being on The Pill and being pregnant. So taking The Pill for long periods of time, in my opinion, exhausts the normal body functions—both hormonal and otherwise. This can cause serious damage long-term if the body is not given a chance to recover periodically. And because hormones have so much to do with the skin, primarily sebaceous secretions, it is important to note if your client uses them. Whether it be The Pill for younger women, or estrogen and other hormones for women entering menopause, make a note of these.

Next, Do you smoke?—obviously, this is very important. Smoking (along with air pollution and things that are cold, to name a few) causes a constriction of capillary walls, the hair-like veins that are the blood network to the skin on the face. These capillaries, says one plastic surgeon, “are like wet toilet paper.” Yes, they are very weak indeed and are very easily “broken or, more accurately, rendered dysfunctional.

Smoking also breaks down vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is water-soluble and goes out with your urine. It is not stored or produced in the body and therefore must be obtained from our diet on a daily basis. Being deficient in vitamin C is common, and for a client who smokes or lives in a polluted environment or does not have a very balanced and healthful diet, you can almost be sure she is lacking in this very important vitamin.

Vitamin C helps with the production of collagen, which is the supporting structure of the skin. Vitamin C, and specifically bioflavinoids, help maintain the integrity of the capillary walls to prevent their dysfunction. Bioflavinoids are found in the rinds of fruit. Lemon, lime, and grapefruit rinds are especially high in bioflavinoids. Although I am not a big proponent of taking supplements, I do recommend for my clients to consider taking vitamin C with bioflavinoids to make sure they are getting the necessary amount needed by their bodies. [I keep a container of chewable vitamin C tablets on my desk for my clients.]

Because this vitamin is water-soluble, it is almost impossible to take too much of it (overdose). Whatever is not needed will be filtered out in the urine. However, vitamin C in high doses will induce diarrhea, or excessive looseness of the bowels, so let your body—your bowels—be your guide. If you have a client with chronic constipation, perhaps vitamin C would be helpful for her.

Next, ask How much sun exposure do you receive? Are you in direct sunlight—as in sunbathing—often or rarely? Again, this will help you to access the condition of her skin, and it will also give you a pretty clear indication of the mentality of your client in relation to sun exposure. I find some people really arent that concerned with how much sun they are receiving, although sometimes these will also be the clients who are very concerned about the aging process. Finding out the answers to these questions can open up conversations that will surely be helpful to your clients in the long-term.

It is my belief that overexposure or even exposure to direct sunlight for short periods of time, has a detrimental or degenerating effect on facial tissue. This may be old news, but many of my clients do not buy into all the clinical studies being presented nowadays against frequent sun exposure. They believe that sun truly enhances their looks as opposed to having detrimental effects. The truth is the number one cause of premature aging, other than the natural genetic degeneration process, is sun exposure. I’m not advocating absolutely no sun exposure, however I am suggesting that, as often as possible, to not let direct sunlight hit the face. Actually the face, neck, and hands. All three are the most frequently exposed, therefore the most overexposed areas of the body. And in turn they are the parts that will show the signs of aging most readily.

Sunlight is essential to our health and well-being. As the sun hits the skin, it triggers certain vitamins to synthesize, namely vitamin D, which is important to help sustain life. Our bodies depend on sunlight for nutrition, and besides—it feels good to be out in the sun. But spend your time wisely and cautiously and keep your face, neck, and hands covered, always using ample sunscreen. As for your clients, my advice is the same.
The American Cancer Society (ASC) puts out an informative pamphlet called, “Fry Now, Pay Later.” I highly recommend handing these out to your clients and especially to the clients that are overexposing themselves. The booklet is free of charge, simply write to your local ACS. [OK, the 1990 date is showing: “Write” to the ACS? You can easily go on the Internet now for free information.]

I touched on the importance of water, and now you can ask your client directly, How much water do you drink—a lot, not enough, or none? I cant always tell if a client is drinking a lot of water. I dont see the internal hydration water provides—necessarily—with a noticeable, well-hydrated quality to the outer skin. Realistically, drinking water is for the benefit of the inside of you, not the outer, dead skin. No matter, praise those who are drinking a lot, and encourage those who are not to drink more water. 

Next, Do you take vitamins? If so, Which ones? I find many people take some sort of multivitamin, although some take no supplements at all. Other than the water-soluble vitamins, namely B-complex and C, I actually think people are better off staying away from “vitamin therapy.” Vitamin pills are usually synthetic concentrations of valuable ingredients found in organic foods. I prefer recommending a client adding higher quality foods to her diet instead of the quick-fix vitamin pill.

Like other medications taken orally, vitamins can have an adverse effect on the system. Because of their high concentrations, the vitamin content most likely goes through the body undigested. These pills also require more water for their digestion and elimination. Certain people feel better with vitamins, some feel no difference. Our job as as their aesthetician is not to preach nor prescribe, but to educate and advise. You may simply want to suggest that it would be preferable to obtain all vitamins through the daily diet, and if further vitamin intake is desired, then take them in good health!

Last and surely not least on this questionnaire is the subject of exercise. Do you exercise frequently, infrequently, or not at all? Oxygen is paramount to health. Without water and oxygen we would die rather quickly. It is the oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood that feed and nourish all the cells of the body—including the skin—which is why exercise is so crucial to our long-term health.

Some form of exercise is important to the overall health of the body. Whether it is simply walking a few miles several times a week or a more rigorous routine, the importance of frequent (even if it’s moderate) exercise should be encouraged.

Exercise also gives you a higher body consciousness. You become more aware of how your body feels and are more in-tune with what your body needs. You can better regulate your body weight, and you become stronger and more vital. The benefits are endless and we have all heard them endless times. We must set good examples by practicing the regimes we are advocating as well as educating our clients through our words.

As you have read, there are many reasons why I ask the questions I ask. They all are geared to help me better understand you, my client. If you have a facial and the aesthetician doesnt ask some or all of these types of questions, I wouldnt necessarily discount the service provider; perhaps she will go over things during the facial or perhaps she doesnt approach skin care the same way I do. I have actually never had a facial where the aesthetician asked many and sometimes any questions like this. We all have our individual ways of providing facial treatments. You will decide whether your facialist is someone to keep going to or not.

For more information, see:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Understanding antioxidants & free radicals

What are antioxidants and free radicals? And should I take them for my skin?

Anything you swallow (pills included) will get into your bloodstream and affect your entire body. Although antioxidants can help your skin look its best, they are important and beneficial to much more than just your skin. I mention this because the mindset of taking supplements to affect one thing is akin to exercising to spot reduce a certain body part. It just can’t be done. Exercise will affect your whole body; antioxidants will too.

Before explaining what antioxidants are, it’s important to understand a bit about their nemesis: free radicals.

What is a free radical? Normally functioning molecules have two or three electrons; free radicals are missing one electron, making that molecule unstable. So they hunt for an electron they can take from a neighboring molecule. Free radicals aren’t particular—they attack the nearest stable molecule in order to create stability for itself. Free radicals are constantly searching to complete themselves with their missing half. Once the free radical finds its “mate,” it sets up a domino effect of scavenging. The molecule it took the electron from becomes unstable and has to steal another molecule’s electron. Each free radical that finds an electron in turn makes the molecule it stole from a free radical. It is an endless cycle of search and swipe, and so the vicious cycle continues.

Free radicals are necessary in certain amounts to promote circulation and other vital functions of the body. Smog, cigarette smoke, and poor food choices are some of the major causes of an overabundance of free radicals in our bodies. When they get out of hand, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery. This is where antioxidants come into play. If you want to take care of your skin, you want to be sure your body has a good supply of these free radical-destroying nutrients.

Antioxidants. If free radicals cause damage in the body, antioxidants are their worst enemy. Antioxidants basically help to stop the domino effect of free radical scavenging and restore the normal, whole functioning of the cell both inside and out. In supplement form, there are many antioxidants to choose from. If you only take one, vitamin C for instance, you will still derive benefits that outweigh no supplementing at all, but used in combination, antioxidants form a stronger bond and thus a more potent effect.

In future post Antioxidant Sources, I will go over many supplements that you can take to be sure you are supplying your body with enough health-producing antioxidants, as well as whole food sources that you want to include in your diet.

Food sources containing antioxidants are numerous. Most fruits and vegetables have high antioxidant contents, as well as some fish like salmon, which is my all-time favorite. I encourage you to try to incorporate as many antioxidants as you can into your diet for optimal health of your entire body, including your skin.

For more information, see:
Juicing for Better Health

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Clinique’s 1-2-3—Just Say NO!

My intent with my writing is not to tear down other product lines, but in this case I can’t help myself! Clinique is thought to be a great product for problem (especially teenage) skin, and as you’ll read below I even used it as my first skin care product line as a teen. I have found professionally that these products usually cause problems with clients I have seen. Here is what one emailer sent me:

I have used Clinique but am not very happy with it. I am a new mom, and I think it’s time for a new me and a new skin care regimen. I am 39 years old. My skin is oily in the T-zone but dry everywhere else. Thirty minutes after I wash, it still looks like an oil slick, yet my skin feels taut and dehydrated. I have lines around my eyes from previous sun damage. My skin breaks out a lot, which I think is unusual for my age.

These comments are very common, so I will breakdown this email and explain what she could do.

Well, not happy actually
I have used Clinique but am not very happy with it. I have tested several of the Clinique products and many have turned out to be alkaline on the pH scale. Hopefully you know that you want to use pH balanced products (acidic) on your skin—only—and avoid products that are alkaline.

As a teenager I remember using Clinique as my first formal skin care line. And I also remember having to apply the yellow moisturizer twice before my skin felt hydrated. At this young age, I didn’t know the reason for this was because everything I had used up to that point (the soap cleanser and the Clarifying Lotion toner) was alkaline, basically drying the surface of my skin out and encouraging more oil to be produced to compensate. So beware if you are a Clinique user.

My skin is oily in the T-zone but dry everywhere else. Technically, you are probably oilier in the facial axis (T-zone) and normal everywhere else. You feel dry because alkaline products (like Clinique) remove too much oil and water from the surface of the skin. Thirty minutes after I wash, it still looks like an oil slick. This is because your oil glands are compensating for the loss of oil that was stripped from your skin by these alkaline products. Yet my skin feels taut and dehydrated. Exactly. This is the normal response to using alkaline products. Your skin feels dry but is truly just dehydrated—it has lost all the surface water and oil that normally holds in moisture and makes your skin feel soft and supple. Instead your skin feels tight and dry (dehydrated).

I am 39 years old, and I have lines around my eyes from previous sun damage. At 39 you will definitely start seeing the effects of the natural aging process. That you have had a lot of sun exposure will only increase the lines, for sure. But 39 is normal to start seeing lines (actually mid-30s), although your psyche is surely in disagreement.

My skin breaks out a lot, which I think is unusual for my age. The reasons for your breakouts need to be found out before passing judgment. Until you are no longer alive and as long as you have started puberty, you are going to be subject to full-functioning oil glands. So at 39, it is not unusual for you to be breaking out. Why you are having skin problems is the more important part of your question.

I recommend getting pH test papers so you can test all of the products you are using on your skin. Without this data, it is hard to determine if a product is pH balanced. Then, armed with this knowledge, you can be sure to use products that are acidic and therefore won’t strip the oil and water from your skin or otherwise cause many of the problems you are concerned about.

If you are not already using eye cream—start now. Only through the use of eye creams will you be able to moisturize the area where your crow’s feet are forming.

By changing your skin care routine (only using pH balanced products) and looking at your diet and how that may be contributing to your problem skin, hopefully you can start experiencing skin that reflects the proper care you are now giving it.

UPDATE: 3/2016
Here is a test I did looking for the pH of the Clinique 1-2-3 products. As you can clearly see in this photo, #2 and 3 have turned the paper dark green meaning those 2 products are alkaline. Apparently the cleanser is pH balanced—or acidic, which is good (that product didn’t turn the test papers a darkened color). The yellow soap, not pictured here, has always tested alkaline in the past.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Healing Properties of Aloe Vera

I can’t say enough about this miraculous herb. I have used aloe in many different circumstances, and each time it came through with flying colors.

Aloe vera is my #1 sunburn remedy. Whenever you’re going someplace where you’ll be exposed to the sun, I strongly recommend taking a bottle of aloe vera gel with you. It is easy to use and does a great job of healing and soothing the skin. Don’t leave home without it.

You can find 100% aloe vera gel at most health food stores. You don’t want to use a gel that has less than 95% aloe in it. Otherwise, you may get too many unwanted ingredients along with the aloe.
  • Simply apply the gel to sunburned areas
  • Because it’s a gel, it will dry fairly quickly
  • Depending on the severity of the burn, I would apply it liberally and frequently
  • It works on any kind of burn, not just sunburn
Keep it on hand for vacations or whenever you know you’ll get extended sun exposure.

Aloe vera gel is also good for dehydrated skin. If your skin has been exposed to the sun for an extended period of time (even if there is no sunburn), applying aloe gel is helpful. Because it is primarily water, aloe vera helps to replace the water lost through sun exposure, rehydrates the skin, and helps to reduce outer tissue damage.

Another way to keep general dehydration at bay on your face is to apply the gel after cleansing and before toning and using your moisturizer. The gel will act as an extra layer of hydration, adding water to the skin without adding oil. Therefore, aloe gel can help with all dehydrated skin, even if you have oily skin. Because of its gel-nature, it might cause a slight flakiness, which is just due to the dried gel. Usually if you apply moisturizer over the aloe gel, the flaking won’t occur.

An obstinate abscess. Years ago, my cat, Grace, was spayed. She kept licking her stitches and eventually developed an abscess due to the irritation. After the vet drained the abscess, he recommended keeping the cat from cleaning the area for a few days. How was I going to do that?

Knowing the healing properties of aloe vera gel, I put it on Grace’s stitches. She didn’t much like the taste, so I thought it would stop her from licking the area. I kept reapplying the gel frequently, and to my amazement, within 48 hours the abscess had completely gone away, and her incision had miraculously healed. I couldn’t believe it. I always knew the amazing healing job aloe could do for a sunburn, but I had never experienced its ability to heal a cut or an incision. Being termed a contact healer, it makes sense it would speed recovery with almost any injury.

Air bag survivor. A client called one day after her friend had been involved in a car accident. The air bag deployed (which was good), but the impact had basically burned her face (which was bad). The sudden speed of something hitting your face like that is bound to cause injury. This lady looked battered and bruised, and a good deal of her facial skin was singed. I recommended applying 100% aloe vera gel liberally and frequently and told her it was to be kept on at all times. I sent some information so she’d know what aloe was and why she was using it. Then I sat back and waited, knowing aloe vera would come to the rescue.

After a few days my client called with the results: Her friend only showed a trace of the accident’s effects. The burned places had healed up within the first day, and she didn’t show any signs of being in an accident. My client went on and on about how she couldn’t believe the difference between seeing her friend just moments after the accident in comparison to seeing her a few days later. They were both amazed that aloe vera gel could do so much in so little time.

The following information about the attributes of aloe vera is being used with permission from the authors of The How To Herb Book, my number one favorite herb book.

Aloe vera is one of the most popular and well-known herbs. It truly is one of the great healers. It belongs to the lili family of the succulent “aloes,” not the cactus as many people believe. Aloes have been used for centuries; they have even been found in Egyptian tombs.

Aloe vera:
  • contains a pain-relieving agent and is a “contact-healer,” which means it starts healing on contact.
  • is excellent for burns.
  • gel is used by nursing mothers for sore nipples.
  • rapidly penetrates the three layers of skin, carrying nutrients to all layers.
  • juice can be used as an eyedrop to improve circulation and eyesight.
  • stimulates circulation in wounded areas, which also promotes healing.
  • promotes removal of dead skin and stimulates the normal growth of living cells, which helps wounds to heal rapidly.
  • prevents and draws out infection.
  • relieves itching in chicken pox.
  • expels pinworms. Drink juice for several days.
  • moisturizes and improves the skin. Is put in many cosmetics and shampoos. When the product contains other natural ingredients beneficial to the skin, this is wonderful because aloe vera’s penetrating ability helps to carry them through the three layers of skin. But if the products contain harmful additives, chemicals, or colorings, they could also be carried through the three layers of skin. Know what is in your product. Read the label!

I recommend keeping an aloe plant or at least some aloe vera gel (if not the juice, too) in your home. Not only for sunburns or burns you receive in the kitchen, aloe can help keep your skin feeling more hydrated—especially during the colder winter months.

For more information, see: