Monday, August 31, 2015

Are facial masks worthwhile?

What do masks do? What types of masks are best for each skin type? Are they worthwhile?

What a mask does depends on what kind of mask it is. Hydrating masks help to soften the skin by increasing the amount of moisture on the surface. Cleansing masks generally contain a large percentage of clay(s), which helps to clean out the pores.

I am a proponent of clay masks for almost every skin type. Clay is beneficial for oily or problem skin, helping to soothe infections along with loosening debris held in the pores. For a drier skin type, although a hydrating mask would be fine, clay not only gets the skin clean but helps to step up circulation due to clay’s stimulating effects.

I tell my clients that if they feel they need to use a hydrating mask, what they really need to do is exfoliate. Feeling dry on the surface is usually more a matter of dehydration than oil-dry skin. See Is Your Skin Truly Dry or Just Thirsty? (link below) to understand the difference between dehydration and true-dry skin. If you must use a hydrating mask, I recommend simply applying a thick layer of your favorite facial moisturizer as the mask vs. spending extra dollars on a hydrating mask. The two are essentially the same.

When using a clay-based mask, there is one important caveat: You must keep the clay moist the entire time it is on your skin. How?
  • take a spray bottle
  • fill it with clean, filtered water
  • after applying the clay mask, spray your face liberally with the water
  • then spray intermittently for the 15 minutes the mask is on

This keeps the mask moist (you don’t want clay to dry the surface skin out) and makes the mask much easier to remove. If you have your toner in a spray bottle (highly recommended), you can use this instead of water.

For more information on using clay masks see:
Are masks worthwhile? Is having cleaner, healthier-looking skin worth the time it takes to do a mask once or twice a week? I’d say—

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yonka’s ELIXIR VITAL (formerly Serum Vital)—regenerating, restorative complex

UPDATE 4/2017: 
OK, yet another change in the Yonka line. Now Serum Vital is called ELIXIR VITAL. Same formulation and price, just (in my opinion unnecessary and less appealing) a name change. I will keep this article as it isjust know that the name is the only thing that has changed with this product.

Several years ago (2012), Yonka went through a package change as well as removing parabens from all of their products. One of my favorite products, Mesonium 1 & 2, also went through a change: they combined the two bottles into one and gave it a new name: SERUM VITAL (now Elixir Vital).

In the past, I called Mesonium a facial in a bottle. When I used this product, usually in the winter months, I really felt it made my skin look as though I had just had a facial treatment. I am happy to say that after using Serum (Elixir) Vital for a 2-week experiment, the results were the same: Facial in a Bottle! 

Elixir Vital is a preventative, healing complex beneficial for all skin types. Elixir Vital replaces your night creme (for the course of treatment)  and is used as a mega-recovery mission for your face. Some oilier skin types may find this too oily; for those of us with true-dry (oil-dry) skin, Elixir Vital is a godsend! Although it is a nighttime cure, I use it day and night. Two squirts seems to do the trick and my skin looks and feels wonderful. See below for my personal instructions on how my own routine at home.
Highly concentrated in botanical extracts, this fluid (with 24 essential amino acids), truly boosts vitality and radiance for mature skin. Elixir Vital also benefits skin distressed by a period of fatigueexcessive exposure to sunlightemotional stressgiving birthas well as pre- and post-op skin careThis product fights dryness and dehydration, smooths wrinkles and fine lines, and restores a visibly younger appearance to the epidermis.

As an added quality, I love using this product in my facials. When I do the massage, I usually use a quantity of Nutri+ (formerly Yonka Serum). Lately Ive tried using Elixir Vital and I have to say it goes onto the just-exfoliated skin so wonderfully and makes the facial massage a dream for me. I truly do love this product! (For aestheticians: Elixir Vital is not available in professional size. I just use a retail-size bottle in my facials.)
Essential ingredients:
  • Beech bud peptides, soy peptides, mineral salts (magnesium, calcium)restructuring, revitalizing
  • Cereal germ oilregenerating, nourishing 
  • Vitamin B5, vitamin PPsoothing, softening
  • Vitamin Fanti-dehydrating
  • Vitamin Eantioxidant
  • Yonka “Quintessence (essential oils of thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary)energizing
Directions for use:
In the evening:
  • Cleanse with your favorite Yonka cleanser
  • Spraying on Yonka Lotion (toner) 
  • Shake the bottle of ELIXIR VITAL well*** and squirt 2-3 pumps into your hand 
  • Apply the concentrate to the face and neck, in place of your usual night cream
  • Apply eye treatment and you’re done

***Now that the oil and more aqueous (watery) fluid are in the same bottle (Mesonium came in two separate bottles), it is essential to shake the Elixir Vital bottle several timeswellto be sure you have mixed the oil and watery mixture together. Soon after you set the bottle down, they will separate again. So, if you wait after shaking, you must shake again in order to get the appropriate application. 

Yonka recommends using Elixir Vital as a cure for 30 nights, preferably at the change of seasons. I like to use it for a week at a time when I’m feeling the need. And it is also fine to use this complex as you need it any night, whether within a consecutive week or month. For me, Elixir Vital feels like liquid velvet on my skin.

Here is my routine when using Elixir Vital. Remember, I have true-dry skin. For those of you with more oil production, your products and the steps you take will be different:
  • Cleanse (I usually use Lait Nettoyant)
  • Apply Optimizer Serum (I am addicted!)
  • Spray my Yonka toner (I use the pink oneLotion PS)
  • Give a good shake up to the Elixir Vital bottle 
  • Then 2 squirts (that seems to be enough; you may need more, depending) of the luxurious Elixir Vital
  • Eye cream (I use all 3, so either Nutri- Phyto- or Alpha-Contour)

As I mentioned, when I use Elixir Vital as a cure for a week, two weeks, or a whole month (depending on what I feel like I need), I tend to use it day and night. Not always, but I want you to know you really cant use this product incorrectly. Day, night, day and night; use it as your skin requires. 

As with all Yonka products, Elixir Vital is paraben-free. 

For more information, see:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Alternative Medicine—the power of choice

Alternative medicine encompasses everything from homeopathy to herbal therapy, acupuncture to massage. To me, alternative or complementary medicine is anything that keeps my body well and on the road to balanced healing. Not to denigrate modern medicine, but many drugs that are commonplace today can actually cause imbalances and keep us from achieving our highest states of health. This, of course, is not always true (especially in cases where health is severely compromised), but on a day-to-day basis, I reach for the alternatives to the drugs and medicines you would find at the pharmacist or doctor’s office.

Alternative medicine, to me, would more accurately be termed original medicine. If you read back in the annals of medical history, herbs, essential oils, and medicines that were completely organic were the norm for centuries. Granted, there were diseases and epidemics that ran rampant and ended lives by the thousands. I certainly wouldn’t want to go to the dentist or have surgery without the benefit of modern medicine. But for many everyday maladies, alternative or complementary medicine can be a viable and healthy alternative to the common drug therapy of medicine today.

Alternative medicine has a preventative posture to it. In order to stay well, there are many things we need to avoid as well as take in. Anything in excess, as we know, can create a polluted environment inside our body. For simplicity, sometimes just avoiding excess can be a very powerful preventative measure for our long-term health.

One of the foremost leaders of the alternative medicine movement is Dr. Andrew Weil. (I wish he was a relative of mine so I could pick his brain at family gatherings.) He has written numerous books that contain vital information to help guide you to alternatives that provide health and well-being.

Weil is an allopathic (“traditional) doctor by training, but he, like many other AMA trained physicians, has gone into a more wholistic* practice, choosing to treat the body as a whole and complete entity vs. specific and individual parts.
*My preference for spelling something involving the whole body.

I’m glad I live in this era where I have a choice as to how I will achieve optimum health, whether it is from conventional treatments or (more likely) from alternative medicine. The alternative for me is prevention.

For more information, see:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

More questions about Enlarged Pores

Some skin specialists recommend using oil-free products, but others even advise not using moisturizers on enlarged pores to avoid shininess. What are your thoughts on this?

Enlarged pores are one thing, clogged pores are another. The question you need to ask yourself is: are your pores just enlarged with no congestion, or are they filled with debris? Debris means anything that may be nestled in the pore, which could be oil and dead skin or environmental debris from the air. Congestion, therefore, is stuff (debris) clogging your pores.

There isn’t much you can do about the enlargement that has already occurred. Once the pore is stretched, it can’t shrink down to a smaller size. However, using appropriate moisturizers can help cut down on future enlargement. If you are using a moisturizer, oil-free or not, that is too much for your pores to handle, you could cause enlargement to occur.

If your pores are clogged, it will determine what type of moisturizer you will use, or rather what type of skin the moisturizer should be for (oily and possibly problem). But to forgo lotion altogether is a mistake. You want to use moisturizer, just be sure it is appropriate for your particular skin type.

If shininess is a problem due to oily skin, you want to avoid lotions that employ mineral oil or petroleum as ingredients. These will simply add to your already oily skin and could be the reason for your self-described shininess. In general, oil isn’t bad as an ingredient, but petroleum-based oils are not desirable. Due to their occlusive (heavy) nature, they don’t absorb into the skin and therefore just sit on top causing your skin to look shiny and even causing the potential for enlargement of your pores. Search for a moisturizer that has vegetal oil or nut oils. These will add moisture to your skin without creating an oil slick on your face.

Don't use too much cream!
Another tip for avoiding shininess is to watch how much moisturizer you are using and how you are applying your lotion. You want to use about the size of a pea or a dime. Place this amount in the palm of one hand, rub your hands together, and then spread the lotion over your entire face and neck. Avoid putting the bulk of the cream on the facial axis or t-zone. This area tends to produce more oil than the outer edges of the face.

Generally I don’t tan outside or use tanning beds. I have, however, tried self-tanning creams. The only problem is my enlarged pores usually become more obvious after putting the cream on.

Self-tanners have ingredients that essentially dye your skin. If you are experiencing an increase in the appearance of your pores after using a self-tanning cream, you may not be able to use one on your face. There aren’t any magic solutions. Perhaps you can experiment with different tanners and see if one of them doesn’t cause this problem. Some self-tanners have less dye and more ingredients that help stimulate the melanin in your skin to produce a tan. Maybe one of these would work for you. I commend you for using self-tanning products versus going to a tanning salon. That is a great choice!
You might want to try exfoliating your skin before applying the self-tanner. This way you will clean out your pores and lessen the potential for debris held inside to be dyed from the product.

HOT TIP: After spraying your face with toner, then apply your moisturizer. This way you get good spreadability as well as an even application.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How and when to moisturize

I'm not a fan of the “dotting” method
How to moisturize. When applying moisturizer, you may put dots of cream on different parts of your face and then smooth them in. I propose an alternate way to apply your moisturizer. Although it’s a small change, it can make a big difference.

Put a peanut-sized dollop in the palm of one hand, then rub your hands together to emulsify and warm the cream. Smooth the cream over your entire face and neck using both your hands (palms), not just the tips of your fingers. Applying the moisturizer this way increases your chances of getting the cream on all parts of your face evenly. This is important. The connect-the-dot method can cause an uneven application; some areas will have a concentration of moisturizer while others will hardly have any.

If your nose tends to get oily during the day, bypass it when applying the cream. Just lightly go over the nose area as you finish smoothing the cream over your face and neck. This should help to keep the oily nose syndrome to a minimum. Also, if you have to pat off excess product from your face, you’ve used too much. Try using less cream to start with, then while your face is still wet from the toner, apply your moisturizer. This will help you achieve a thinner application.

When to moisturize. You always want to apply a moisturizer after cleansing and toning (Steps 1 & 2 of The Basics). You also want to use your hydrating cream(s) both in the morning and at night. Usually, moisturizer is the last product you put on your skin. If you are wearing foundation, it will go on top of your day cream. Applying eye cream is a continuation of Step 3.

For more information, see:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cellulite happens—how about a paradigm shift?!

If you don’t already have some cellulite, consider yourself lucky (or young). If you are a woman approaching your 40s who doesn’t have cellulite, you soon will. If you are one in a million, you might not, but most of us ladies (and some men, too) will see the ugly monster present itself at some point in our lives. Although men do develop cellulite on certain parts of their bodies, I think it is predominately a woman’s issue.

My feeling about this “malady” is really no different than how I feel about wrinkles and the aging process in general. Cellulite isn’t the end of the world, it is just your body going through the motions of aging and storing fat. It’s doubtful you can get rid of cellulite completely, even with expensive procedures; in time the cellulite will most likely return.

I doubt my point of view will make you feel any better, but it is an attitude that I have decided to adopt, knowing there isn’t a lot I can do about cellulite. Honestly, I just don’t let it bother me. It’s everybody else’s problem to deal with, not mine. And I actually mean that! With that said, I don’t love the cellulite that has somewhat taken over my body since walking through the gates into menopause. The dimpling had definitely gotten more widespread with the changing of my hormones, but still I persist in not letting it get me down. I don’t, however, wear short skirts or short shorts anymore!

Are you judging yourself based on how you judge others? Do you look at someone with cellulite and say “Ick,” or “That is so ugly”? If so, then naturally when it comes to your own possession of this fatty substance, you are going to frame it the very same way. How about a paradigm shift? Stop judging others’ cellulite and ease up on your own self-judgment too. If you try on this new attitude for a change, you may start feeling differently about cellulite.

For the last several years I have been down for the count with adrenal exhaustion. Not fatigue—exhaustion. Gone were my hiking days (boo!) and also gone was the energy to simply do the basic tasks that were needed in my day. And so, too, the cellulite on my body grew. It’s everywhere now, not just on the backs of my legs, and I still maintain the attitude of, “Oh, well.” One day I’ll be able to exercise again but doubtful will I really be able to rid my body of the cellulite I have accumulated since my hormones went through “the change.” And that’s OK!

If you have a lot of cellulite and you are out of shape, guess what? Maybe it’s time to put things into perspective. You either need to get moving, get your muscles in shape, and burn some of your stored fat (aka cellulite), or you need to remember that the fat you see as cellulite is just your body showing you the fruits of your labor, or in this case, the possible fatty deposits of your non-exercising ways. Fat is stored (deposited) in the body to be used for energy at a later date. If you are not pushing your body to consume more energy, fat will accumulate. This is not to ignore those of us who have a genetic tendency to get cellulite, but in general keeping your body active and the calories burning can help keep fat from depositing.

Not everyone can be active and exercise to increase the mobility of his or her body. I realize some of you may have injuries you cannot overcome or are disabled in some way that decreases your ability to move. I am speaking to the majority of you who can exercise but don’t. Or maybe you do exercise, but you also eat a diet laden with poor-quality foods. Finally, you may exercise rigorously, eat a low-fat, high-quality diet, and still be genetically predisposed to having cellulite. My condolences to all of us who fit under that category! Rather than give a diatribe on exercising or diet, what I really want to say is that cellulite is here to stay, and there isn’t a lot you can do about it. But be my guest: go and spend hundreds if not thousands of your hard-earned dollars trying to get rid of that dimpled fat.

It’s not unlike wrinkles: no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, they will find a way to make their presence known. You can fight and be defiant in your resistance, but somewhere along the way I hope you will ease up on your fight against cellulite (or aging) and turn your attention to helping your body become healthy and balanced from the inside out. The “out” may never be void of cottage cheesy-looking thighs, but if you are living a good life and enjoying it to the fullest, my hope is that those minor inconveniences will just pass in and out of your mind without stopping to be refueled. I’m hoping you will find a way to just let it go, to try and get over it and be happy!

As you are walking around, you cannot see your cellulite; it’s other people who can. So let them bear the responsibility of liking it or not. Who cares what they think, anyway? If they are strangers, so what? And if they are your family or friends who love you, they love you, cellulite and all. Perhaps you have a friend or husband or mother who chides you about your cellulite. Create a good comeback for their insensitive comments and know you are doing the best you can to have a healthy body and a healthy outlook on life, cellulite included.

Choose your battles. Is this one a worthy choice or could your time and energy be better spent pursuing more attainable goals? Maybe instead of seeking to eliminate the monster cellulite, could you settle for committing to a regular exercise program? Even if all it involves is walking—every day. Exercise is important and there are books, videos, and vast numbers of people who can help you put together a healthy routine to keep your body in good shape.

For most of us, cellulite is going to happen at some point—especially as we get older and especially if we gain weight and get overly fat. If you choose to spend your life trying to get rid of cellulite, I truly believe you are fighting a losing battle.

For more information, see:

Friday, August 21, 2015

A teenager’s skin care routine & questions + a few suggestions

The following email is from my niece, Nicole. She was 14 when she wrote this, and I think she exemplifies a lot of teenage girls and their quest to learn about skin care. She did have a skin care routine, but didn’t have a lot of guidance as to what to use other than from magazine ads and TV commercials. Here is her email, with her teenage humor intact.

So about my skin, it is pretty good. It’s normal and “well.” The only places that I have problems and have to watch are around the creases of my nose and the “middle line” on my chin. My forehead isn’t really a problem, and my skin is all around okay.

I wash both morning and night with Oxy Balance® Deep Penetrating Facial Cleansing Wash that contains 2% salicylic acid. It is a gel cleanser and it works pretty well. I also use a Clearasil® Stay Clear Zone Control Clear Stick. It also has 2% salicylic acid. Now that I am thinking, the rest of the ingredients (which aren’t on the package) are probably just alcohol, which is really cute.*
*These exact products are no longer available. They have morphed into new and slightly different salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products.

So if anything I am doing is like horrible, or if you have any suggestions I would love it, because my system is of my own making, and I know that a little advice could probably go a long way.

Oh yeah, I do use a fruit scrub from Origins®, and I really like it. I also use a charcoal and white China clay mask, which I also like. If you have any ideas I would welcome them with open pores. (Ha ha.)

Nicole’s program is pretty typical for a teenager. She is probably getting most, if not all of her skin care information from TV and magazines. Neither one will give her much more than product marketing with a lot of advertising dollars behind them.

She seems to have a really good routine, probably better than some adults I know! She washes morning and night and uses exfoliators and clay masks. Overall she seems to have done a really good job of divining her own system, and as long as her skin stays clear, she can continue using what she’s using.

Although some of the products may be drying out her skin (especially those containing benzoyl peroxide), it doesn’t seem to be bothering her at the moment. My advice would be to monitor the situation, and if she starts to develop problems with her skin, I would get her on some better products that don’t contain drying ingredients. Knowing the pH of products is important and can help keep the drying out process from happening.

Of course diet is also going to play a key role in Nicole’s skin. Maybe not now, but at some point. As a teenager I had a horrible diet filled with sugar galore, and I had great skin until I turned 21. Then everything caught up with me, and I developed true acne. To tell a teenager not to eat sugar and other junk food is sort of ludicrous, but do watch the intake of certain foods if problems start occurring with your skin. Otherwise, enjoy your teen years!

For more information, see:

Monday, August 17, 2015

20 Ways To Keep Your Skin From Aging

There are many things you can do (and not do) to keep your skin looking young and aging well. Below is just a list of twenty I have compiled, but, please, add to this list!

All of the “dos” or “don’ts” have at least one correlating blog post that has been published on that subject, so just click on the blue text and you’ll be taken directly to that article.
  1. Avoid direct sunlight on your face. Other than genetics and the natural aging process, sunlight is the number one cause of aging.
  2. Don’t smoke. Smoking encourages wrinkles to form around your mouth from the constant pursing of the lips and cuts off all-important oxygen to your skin cells.
  3. Don’t drink. Alcohol is a diuretic and increases the removal of vital fluids from your body. It also depletes important vitamins.
  4. Curtail caffeine. Another diuretic, caffeine will release fluids from your system and taxes your adrenal glands.
  5. Wear sunscreen. Make this a daily habit.
  6. Drink more water. It will help all of your organs to perform optimally, including the largest organ, your skin.
  7. Eat right. Without supplying vitamins and minerals to your body—daily—the aging process will take hold sooner rather than later.
  8. Don’t do facial exercises. Regardless of what you read and hear, facial exercises will encourage lines to form or become deeper. Why rush your wrinkles?!
  9. Don’t use facial products with alcohol, specifically isopropyl and ethyl alcohols. These alcohols dry the surface of your skin and can make your skin look hard and wrinkled.
  10. Exfoliate. Keeping the dead cell buildup off the surface of your skin will help your skin feel softer and look younger.
  11. Avoid rubbing your skin. This includes rubbing your eyes and rubbing your face with a washcloth.
  12. Use eye cream. Moisturizing the tissue around your eyes will help soften the look of the lines.
  13. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your side or stomach causes folds in your skin, encouraging wrinkles to form.
  14. Moisturize. Without proper hydration, your skin will look and feel older.
  15. Don’t wear foundation. Less is more when it comes to wearing makeup. Foundation accentuates all of your lines and wrinkles.
  16. Watch your expressions. Lines are formed when you make facial expressions. I am not saying, “Don’t express.” I am simply saying watch how expressive you are. This will affect your wrinkles.
  17. Stop looking at your skin in a magnifying mirror. This gives you an unrealistic view of your skin. Even a child’s skin can look old in these mirrors!
  18. Exercise. All forms of exercise, even simply walking, increase the oxygen to your cells, supplying proper nutrition, helping you age better.
  19. Get enough sleep. Perhaps the impossible dream, but without proper rest your body will age faster.
  20. Learn to manage your stress. Although it is not directly linked to aging per se, stress is surely an indirect and important part of how you will age. Stress isn’t going to magically disappear from your life, but learning to manage it and finding time to relax and breathe throughout the day will help you in the short-term and the long-run.

Obviously some of these are not doable or desirable to abstain from completely (like having a glass of wine at the end of a long day), but hopefully this list will be a reminder of the many ways you can help to keep your skin looking its best by avoiding certain substances or activities whenever you can.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yonka’s PHYTO 152—Revitalizing rosemary body cream

PHYTO 152. If you love Yonkas rosemary aromatic, you will love this body cream! From Yonka headquarters:

“Phyto 152 helps to firm tissue, diminish stretch marks, and maintain a well-shaped breast. Relieves tired legs providing freshness and well-being. Its toning fragrance also provides an incredible energy. 

Phyto 152 is a phyto-aromatic body cream that deeply energizes and promotes natural vitality. It dramatically firms and tightens the vulnerable tissues of the throat, decollete and bustline, maintaining a well-shaped bust. This anti-sagging cream combats free radicals responsible for aging signs.
Phyto 152 firming, energizing cream works for all skin types to firm to revitalize the body. Well-being and freshness are returned to fatigued, tired legs. Stretch marks as a result of pregnancy or weight gain are diminished.

  • Firms and tightens tissues
  • Maintains a well-shaped decollete and bust
  • Reduces stretch marks
  • Energizes fatigued extremities
  • Fights sagging and free radicals that cause signs of aging
Essential Ingredients:
  • Rosemary extract & essential oilintensive firming, anti-aging
  • Beech bud peptideshydrates, rejuvenates, restructures
  • Aloe veraheals, soothes
  • Hazelnut oilbalances, liposolvent, nourishing
  • Plant glycerinnourishing, hydrating
  • Vitamin Eantioxidant, nourishes, protects
  • Yonka “Quintessence (essential oils of thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary)nourishing, balancing
Directions for use:
  • Apply the PHYTO 152 morning and/or night after the shower or bath with Phyto-Bain on slightly damp skin, concentrating on the relevant areas
  • For strengthened firming action, use the cream in combination with Galbol 190 concentrate

I love to use this cream on my legs after a hard workout, hike, or run. It really does give a “lift to my step, and the rosemary aromatic helps to relax meinside and out!

For more information, see:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What is Folliculitis?

Yes, even dogs can get folliculitis.
Folliculitis is a persistent infection caused by either bacteria or possibly a fungus within the hair follicle. It occurs due to shaving, long-term irritation, or even restrictive or tight clothing. Folliculitis should not be confused with pseudofolliculitis barbae, otherwise known as ingrown hair. This happens due to hair curling back down into the follicle wall instead of coming up out onto the skin’s surface, which is the reason pseudofolliculitis barbae tends to occur more often with African-American males or any men with curly hair.

Believe it or not, there is a condition called hot tub folliculitis or pseudomonas folliculitis. Like standard folliculitis, it is a bacterial infection within the hair follicle, but as the name implies, it is contracted by sitting in a hot tub! Usually the infection is located where the water meets the skin; around the neck, upper arms, and upper back areas.

I actually know several clients who have experienced this condition. It starts with a hot tub that is not well-ventilated, perhaps sitting inside a garage, and fungus multiplies in the water. Although poor ventilation seems to be a common factor, I have a client who was in an outdoor hot tub at a resort, and everyone who participated developed pseudomonas folliculitis, which looked like little red bumps all over their upper bodies and faces.

Regardless of how you got folliculitis, getting rid of it is what is important. Mild cases of folliculitis will respond to topical antibiotics that you can get either from your dermatologist or over the counter. Remember, the prescription treatment will be a stronger version than the store-bought kind.

Don’t wear tight or restrictive clothing over the affected skin, and I would steer clear of using harsh products on the area—even sunscreens. Due to the chemicals in sun products, this may further irritate the skin and cause a longer recovery period. However, if you are going to be exposed to the sun, you obviously need to use a sunscreen, but if at all possible avoid these types of products until the skin condition clears up.

For a man who has folliculitis on his face, shaving can delay the healing process. Every time you go over your face with a razor, you are probably causing further irritation. Be sure to prepare your beard and use a softening shaving cream or gel. It would be best to shave in the direction of hair growth. This won’t give you the smoothest shave, but it will help to lessen the irritation caused by the razor. After shaving, apply a soothing aftershave product, and then apply your antibiotic cream to the affected area. If you don’t use an antibacterial treatment, the bacteria inside the hair follicle will persist.

The timetable for recovering from folliculitis varies with the individual. Sometimes it can take months for this condition to clear up, so be patient and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

For more information, see:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Botox anyone? What is botox? Plus a client’s cautionary account

What is Botox? 

I call this “Magic Poison.” And essentially, that is exactly what Botox is. It is actually the botulism bacterium (botulism toxin) that is injected into specific areas of the face, usually the forehead and between the eyebrows along with other areas. The poison renders the surrounding muscles paralyzed. Once the site is injected and the muscles are paralyzed, you are unable to express or move that area of your face. Without daily and constant expressing, lines do not furrow into the skin. So Botox, by paralyzing the muscles, indirectly helps to reduce the deepening of wrinkles. It lasts four to six months and has to be reinjected to continue the benefits.

Botox has been used for years to help stop eye tics and other medical maladies. Around the 1990s it was “discovered” for its antiaging, cosmetic benefits. It was approved by the FDA for cosmetic use (between the brows specifically) in 2002. It is only administered by a licensed doctor, either a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.

One client’s story. Recently I had sent my client Barbara to see her dermatologist about a mole I was concerned about. She is 47 years old and has beautiful skin that has very few lines. Barbara truly has the skin of a woman in her mid-30s. During her last facial, she told me about her trip to the dermatologist. Luckily the mole wasn’t anything to worry about, but I found what happened later on somewhat disturbing.

The dermatologist asked Barbara to frown in order to furrow her brow, and she gladly obliged. He proceeded to tell her he could inject her “worry lines” (lines that form between the eyebrows) with Botox. Ask anyone to form a line of expression, and guess what you’ll get? A line of expression—a wrinkle. So there she was, feeling like something was wrong with her face, and the solution was being conveniently presented to her in the form of a quick-fix injection. It was such a blatant, bold-faced way to make her feel ill at ease and to endorse the sale of his services. Plus his comments were unsolicited. She was going in to get a mole checked, not to inquire about anti-aging procedures. Even if Barbara had deep worry lines, I still wouldn’t defend this ploy by her dermatologist.

My point in retelling this story is to instill an air of caution in you if and when you find yourself in a similar circumstance. Don’t fall prey to someone else’s opinion of how you should look, especially when the opinion-giver stands to gain $300-$500 for one injection of Botox (or any other corrective procedure). Remember the saying “Let the buyer beware!” 

Getting Botox injections is a personal choice. As an aesthetician, I don't encourage or discourage anti-aging procedures per se, but I do feel Botox is one of the least “harmful” things to do to alter your appearance if that is what you’re looking to do. Far be it from me to tell anyone what to do with their face—except of course when it comes to cleansing, toning, and hydrating: The Basics for healthy skin.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Understanding Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR)

Skin that has seen some sun
People are always asking me what they can do to keep their skin from aging. The simplest answer to that question is to avoid overexposing your skin (your face, in particular) to ultraviolet radiation (sun). I know this is not an easy task, especially when so many activities are enjoyed outdoors in the sun, but if your goal is “anti-aging” you will have to adopt behaviors that support that goal.

When some clients hear me talk about sun exposure and how to protect their skin, I think they hear me saying, “Never go out in the sun.” And that, obviously, is simply not possible—or desirable. It is not about avoiding all exposure, it is about understanding the short- and long-term effects of exposure and how to avoid damaging your skin while enjoying a life spend out of doors. As we all know, too much of a good thing can turn bad. And so is true with sun exposure. Any time you receive ultraviolet radiation (UVR), you are exposed to the negative effects of the sun: waves of radiation coming down from millions of miles away, adversely affecting your skin.

Protection, reapplication, and wisdom are at least three of the components to keeping your skin from getting too much sun.
  • Protection comes through the use of sunscreen, staying in shaded areas when possible, and keeping a hat on and/or protective clothing—especially when you know you’ll be exposed over a long period of time.
  • Reapplication of sunscreen is so important, but I believe this step is usually avoided or ignored. If you are going to have extended time in the sun, taking along your sunscreen is a must. This way you can reapply frequently (and liberally). You can find travel-sized sunscreens at Target and other retail outlets that sell sun protection products. 
  • Wisdom comes into play because without it, UVR will get the best of you. How many summers have you seen people who either fell asleep in the sun or otherwise ignored the fact they were getting over-exposed? Soon after they are walking around in pain and hosting a deep red sunburn. (Aloe vera would really save their skin!) Be smart. Don’t get overexposed. Don’t get caught without protection (whether clothing or products) and keep your UVR exposure to a minimum.

Remember: Sun damage is cumulative. Each year (each day) you rack up more sun damage points, which down the road could equal skin cancer. The following was adapted and used with permission from the American Academy of Dermatology. This information is important to keep in mind in your day to day life, even if you aren’t “sun bathing.”
  • Shade only lessens UVR exposure. Sunburn from scattered or reflected UVR can still occur in shaded areas.
  • Certain surfaces reflect UVR. Water reflects up to 30% of UVR; dry sand up to 18%; concrete 12%; and grass 5%.
  • UVR increases with altitude.
  • 70-80% of the total UVR from the sun on a midsummer day is received between 9am and 4pm.
  • UVR damages the eyes. A wide brim hat reduces the amount of
  • UVR reaching the cornea of the eye by 50%. Sunglasses, if UV protective, can filter out as much as 95% of UV rays.
  • SPF 15 sunscreen protects against 93% of UVR. SPF 30 protects against 98%. As you can see, the difference between the two are not great. Therefore don’t be as concerned about the SPF number on your bottle of sunscreen; do concentrate on applying enough sunscreen and, if exposure is prolonged, you must reapply frequently.
  • Medication can make your skin more sensitive to UVR.

You can prevent (or at least curtail) UVR damage through limited or protected exposure. Please take this information to heart, and always wear sunscreen!

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