Friday, June 30, 2017

Breakouts, dermatologists, picking—this client has it all in her questions!

I am 27 years old and have fair to medium skin tone. I have combination skin; oily in the t-zone with frequent breakouts on the chin, around my nose, and between the cheek and mouth area, especially around my cycle or when I’m under stress. I have mild breakouts, but they never seem to cease.

I have tried numerous products along with making visits to dermatologists and even switching to a birth control pill that claims to help with acne breakouts. I am guilty of picking at those annoying little bumps and using alcohol. I have also used topical products such as benzoyl peroxide and products that contain salicylic acid.

My skin seems to have become less oily this year, but it still keeps breaking out! Since reading your book I have stopped wearing foundation, except to cover blemishes. I have stopped going to the tanning salon, started to drink lots more water, have been trying to limit the amount of sugar I consume in my diet, and have become better regimented about cleaning my face twice a day.
In addition, I am concerned about all of the various products and medications that I have used, and cost is important to me at this time. I would like to continue to make skin care a top priority.

I am including this email because I want to break it down and see if I can clear up some important points as well as give you some solutions to your problem skin.

I am 27 years old and have fair to medium skin tone. I have combination skin; oily in the t-zone with frequent breakouts on the chin, around my nose, and between the cheek and mouth area, especially around my cycle or when I’m under stress. This is a pretty standard description that I hear. She has light to medium skin color, normal to oily skin, with occasional breakouts during or around her period and usually under stress as well.

I have mild breakouts, but they never seem to cease. That the breakouts are never-ceasing says to me that there is something she is doing (ingesting or using) that is continually feeding the breakouts, as mild as they might be.

I have tried numerous products along with making visits to dermatologists and even switching to a birth control pill that claims to help with acne breakouts. Ortho Tri-Cyclen® is the birth control pill that is advertised to help with acne. For some women this pill (or any birth control pill) may help with breakouts, and for others it can cause problem skin.

I am guilty of picking at those annoying little bumps and using alcohol. I have also used topical products such as benzoyl peroxide and products that contain salicylic acid.
Picking, especially if done incorrectly, is not a good thing. Alcohol will not help the problem in the long run—or really even in the short term. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid aren’t the best things to use on blemishes and can be too harsh—depending on what kind of products they are in.

My skin seems to have become less oily this year, but it still keeps breaking out! Since reading your book I have stopped wearing foundation, except to cover blemishes. I have stopped going to the tanning salon, started to drink lots more water, have been trying to limit the amount of sugar I consume in my diet, and have become better regimented about cleaning my face twice a day. It sounds like she didn’t have a very good or consistent routine, both in her skin care program and also in her diet and lifestyle habits. She made a few common mistakes. She used “acne control” products that are so prevalent out in the marketplace, along with not drinking very much water, eating a lot of sugary foods, and not being consistent with washing her face on a daily basis.

In a word: NO!
And then there was the tanning salon. If you listen to the owners or people who work at these establishments, you will think this form of UV exposure is the safest thing in the world. Because of her acceptance of the safety of tanning beds, I am going to question what else she may be doing that is contributing to her skin problems that she also may think is OK. All in all, if she just does the “right” things and cuts out all the other stuff she has been doing, my guess is her skin will reflect this better care, which up until now it had not been receiving.

In addition, I am concerned about all of the various products and medications that I have used and cost is important to me at this time. I would like to continue to make skin care a top priority. I agree on all counts. There are so many products to choose from out on the market, along with prescriptions available from doctors. I encourage you to become a responsible consumer; know what you are taking and its effects on your skin and body.

If you find products that work for you, money may become secondary. If you can stick with something that makes a difference, you will save money by not needing to experiment anymore. I think making skin care a top priority is a great choice. It sounds like change from the past is what she needs in order to have clearer skin in the future.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yonka Products for Teen Skin

I wanted to post some information to help you put together a skin care program using Yonka products if you are (or have) a teenager with or without problem skin.

Click on any product name to be taken to its corresponding article on this blog.

Also, in general, I don’t have a teen use eye cream. Other than hormones surging, a teenager’s skin is functioning perfectly and they do not need to use eye cream. Usually I will start recommending products for the eye area sometime in a persons 20s.  

You first need to determine the amount of oil your skin produces to truly understand which products to use. Please read:

I am a teenager with no-problem skin:

I am a teenager with problem skin and breakout

In many cases with teens (and adults, too), if there is a lot of breakout, I will first have them go through a whole tube of Creme 15using morning and nightthen assess their skin again. If breakout is still going strong, I will keep them on Creme 15 am/pm going forward.

I am a teenager with blackheads, no breakout


I am a teenager with oily skin


I am a teenager with acne

If you have problem skin or acne, please read articles under those categories to get the needed help with these skin issues:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Oil-Absorbing Sheets: Are they good for my skin?

Clean & Clear Sheets: Instant Oil-Absorbing Sheets by Johnson & Johnson are not the only “sheets” on the market; they are probably the most popular and easy to find.

True to the advertising, these absorbing sheets will indeed temporarily remove excess oil from your skin. What I found when I used them (as an experiment) is they also create a feeling of dryness—obviously due to the removal of the natural oils in your skin.

If you have excessively oily skin, it would be most helpful to figure out why you are so oily in the first place. This information is not the quick fix of these oil-absorbing sheets, but it can give you long-term relief from oiliness. However, these sheets will immediately take away the shine you may experience.

I would say it is OK to use them on a temporary basis, but don’t get addicted to them. My skin, after using them every day for just one week, went through a dry, flaky period until I stopped using them. I don’t have severely oily skin; I do have normal skin with some excess oil in my nose area.

As with any new product you are using, monitor your skin. If you are beginning to see changes for the worse, stop using the new product and opt for something more beneficial. Sometimes products like these oil-absorbing sheets are convenient and seem like a good thing, but in the end, your skin will tell you if you can use them long-term or not.

For more information, see:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Timeless Skin—book review

The following is from readerviews.com. I attempted several times to get permission to use it here.

Timeless Skin: Healthy Skin for a Lifetime
 by Carolyn Ash

Reviewed by Kim Peterson 
for Reader Views (May 2006)

For those wanting to know how to take care of their skin—young or old—Timeless Skin offers a good how-to covering the basics and beyond. Easy to read and easy to understand, Ash explains the “what and how” of the three essential steps: cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Then she covers some important extras such as exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and deep cleaning the pores. All these steps can be done at home.

A most appealing aspect of her book is the information provided on professional facials. She explains the importance of the deep cleaning, exfoliation, hydration and relaxation available through professional facials. She details how often to use the services and lists important questions to ask when determining where to go. Ash also includes the different types of machines and why some are helpful and some actually aren’t. Her section on what to expect alleviates any trepidation first-time clients might experience.

As a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant, I have received a lot of training about skin. I found that I knew a lot of what Ash shared in her book. Of most interest, and new to me, was the information about essential oils and natural and herbal remedies beneficial to our skin. I plan to try some of her suggestions.

Ash devotes a portion of her book to skin types. Her assessment of damaged, sensitive and mature skin will assist people who are unsure whether they have these problems and what to do about them.

I appreciate her mandate to never use soap on your face. I like her straightforward discussion of the sun’s impact. And, I respect her no-nonsense assessment of the current trends and fads in skin care.

This keeper has earned a place on my bookshelf—but I won’t leave it there. Any time I raise a question or experience a memory slip I plan to consult Ash’s book to continue maintaining my skin’s health for years to come.

I also recommend this book for younger readers just becoming familiar with the long-term needs of their skin. Perhaps, they can avoid some of the mistakes and skin damage we “sun worshipers” caused ourselves during the sixties, seventies and eighties.

For more information, see:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Does picking at my skin cause scarring?

You mention that skin picking can cause damage. What kind of damage, and is it reversible?

Picking can but doesn’t always cause scarring. However scar tissue doesn’t just go away (it’s usually irreversible damage), so if you tend to scar if/when you pick at your skin you are probably going to live with that visible damage going forward.

When you pick without care, you are basically causing a little tear or injury to the skin. It has to heal, and in that healing process, a little scar could form. Not always, but it’s definitely possible. You must at least utilize the basic steps I have described in an earlier article (see link below) or you are asking for trouble.

But even then, even if you do everything right, you still may cause scarring. It all depends on how careful you are when you extract your skin and also how skilled you are at doing it. Also if your skin tends to be prone to scarring easily, this may happen more in your case than in someone whose skin is a bit more resilient.

Remember, part of the “skill” of extraction is knowing when to quit.

For more information, see::

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Premature aging and what to do now

I am 36 years old and have lots of sun damage. Ive had several precancerous moles removed from my body, so I know my face has really gotten it, too. I am starting to notice: deep furrows between my brows (it’s hereditary), large pores on my cheeks and forehead, lines on my forehead, sun (or age) spots on my cheekbones and around my eyes, loss of elasticity around my eyes, a thinning of the skin around my eyes, and these horrible cords are starting to develop on my neck!

I am confused about what to do in the morning. I want to wear sunscreen during the day because of all of my sun damage, but I also want to address my age-related concerns. How many of these products can I combine together? Will putting too many layers on my face start to clog my pores? Would AHA products help with my sun damage? See how confused I am?!

At 36 and already having suspicious places removed, it is obvious this woman has had a lot of sun in her life. With the description of all her “problem” places, I’d say that the sun exposure she’s received so far has indeed caused premature aging. I would have to see her in my salon to make an accurate assessment, but 36 is young to have so much going on.

Since this emailer has already had precancerous growths removed, I would absolutely insist she wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. There is no point in trying to reverse the signs of aging while at the same time throwing caution to the wind and not inhibiting further damage.

The changes she is noticing in her skin are the signs of aging. Lines deepen, pores may tend to enlarge, and the skin can definitely start to thin. With accelerated aging due to over exposure to the sun, this process, well—accelerates. That means that at 36 years old she may be experiencing aging skin that someone in their late 40s or even 50s may start to show. Sun not only can cause skin cancer, but premature aging as well.

Addressing the age-related problems is not so easy. What I would address is her acceptance policy on the inevitable. I realize that is not what she or any of you want to hear, but that is the truth as I see it. We are all aging on a daily basis, and this emailer is starting to really see the changes that are occurring in this natural process. Of course, she may be experiencing some acceleration in the aging of her skin because of past (and current) sun exposure.

She’s right—if she piles on too many creams to handle all of her concerns, she will probably end up with rebellious skin, which might mean breakouts. My recommendations would be to
  • Wear a good sunscreen daily
  • The age or sun spots she is complaining about will fade if she keeps direct sunlight off her face, and wearing daily sunscreen will help to a small degree with that as well
  • Absolutely use eye cream if she isn’t already
  • If pore enlargement is a problem, using a clay mask will at least keep the pores cleaned out (but won’t shrink her pores)
She could go the route of surgery for her neck concerns. A cosmetic surgeon seeing the actual person will be better able to assess the situation. She could use Botox for her furrowing brow and maybe even a peel or laser for her aging concerns. All of these procedures and more are available to all of us if we want to change our appearance. However, this surgical approach is not my approach.

Now in my 56th year, I understand how surprising it can be to look in the mirror and see more rapid changes occurring on and around the face. My philosophy has been and continues to be about accepting the aging process (with grace). Fight if you want to, but choose your battles wisely. You can spend a lot of money either through surgery or expensive products promising to make you look younger. Finding the beauty in the aging process is the route I chose to take time and time again.

For more information, see:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Running & Skin Care: How to take care of your skin after a long run or any type of exercise

If you are a runner, undoubtedly you are usually exercising outside. Your skin, therefore, is going to be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, which is problem number one. Problem number two: so far, there have been no decent solutions to the dilemma of hats to wear while running. Your choices are either a visor or a baseball cap, neither of which offers your face much coverage. If you stand outside wearing a baseball cap or visor and go somewhere where you can see your reflection, you’ll see that only your forehead and parts of your upper cheeks and nose are shielded from the sun. The rest of your face, the bottom two thirds, is exposed.

Are you a runner who has discoloration on the lower half of your face, especially your cheek area? Since you are exposing your face to sun when you run, even if you are wearing a cap, you are going to see the discoloration increase over time. This condition is called hyperpigmentation, and avoiding direct sun exposure is truly the only way to keep the dark color away. There are bleaching creams and products that are meant to help even out the skin tone, but if sun exposure continues, so will the pigmentation irregularities.

Always wear a waterproof sunscreen when you run. It will stay on your skin through all the sweating that occurs as you exercise. You still need to wear a hat that shades as much of your face as possible, and waterproof sunscreen on your exposed body as well.

Anytime you sweat, you want to be sure to get the sweat off your face and neck before it dries on your skin. If it dries, it can cause little irritations on the surface of the skin. If nothing else is available, at least splash rinse at a drinking fountain or carry extra water in your car for this purpose. Don’t allow the sweat to dry or you may have to contend with small breakouts as long as you are exercising hard enough to sweat.

Be aware of your skin. Since you are exercising outside and exposed to the sun, know your moles so you can see if any of them change over time. I highly recommend an annual visit to your dermatologist so they can keep tabs on the goings on of your skin as well.

For more information, see:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Food & Skin: You ARE what you EAT

This marvelous machine that we walk around in takes us wherever we want to go. We are not just a bunch of muscles and bones built for locomotion; we are so much more than that.

Cars need gas, oil, window wiper fluid, etc. They need certain types of products in order to perform optimally. If we are looking to burn fuel efficiently inside our own bodies, then why would we put junk and poison in our mouths? We’ve all done it, but when are we going to realize the connection between fuel and energy? Stop, take a look at what is going from your hand to your mouth and then how you feel. Do you see and/or feel a connection?

In regard to fueling this wonderful machine, I believe we are what we eat. Food equals fuel. How are you fueling your machine?

I like equating our bodies with cars because for some reason we take into consideration how a car works and take for granted our own machine, our bodies. You would never dream of getting into your car for a long drive with the gas gauge on empty. Every time you skip a meal, this is essentially what you are doing. Do you eat to live or live to eat? Either one is valid, but do you eat to fuel the machine, or does the way you eat have a detrimental impact on your body?

People are always asking me, “What are the best foods to eat for my skin?” I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, but I believe in following common sense and becoming aware of how certain foods are affecting our bodies. If we eat a healthy, balanced diet filled with all the “right” foods and very little of the “wrong” foods, our bodies will do well, and therefore our skin cells will also reap the benefits of this healthy diet. Instead of focusing on what foods to eat for your skin specifically, I recommend using food to keep your entire body functioning at its best; this will in turn have positive effects on your skin.

Connect with your food. If you are wondering what to eat for your health and for healthy skin, ask yourself this question: Am I about to eat health-producing food or health-reducing food? Of course, there are many healthy foods that may not be healthy for you, but start at the beginning and acknowledge whether the majority of the food you are eating is providing an environment for your body to benefit from. Are foods that are alive, foods that contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, and foods that are health-producing foremost in your diet?

Packaged or manufactured foods (generally found in boxes or cans) are not going to contain the high volume of nutrients that live food does. One benefit of packaged foods is they are required to list ingredients, and many provide a helpful nutrient guide that includes calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate content. You can learn a lot about the foods you eat by reading these labels. You will be amazed at how many poor-quality ingredients are used in the manufactured foods that you eat.

As with skin care, exercise, or in this discussion about food, keeping things simple is best. Keeping it simple with food means grilling rather than frying, eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned, and steaming or stir-frying veggies rather than sautéing them in butter. Try drinking water instead of sodas and caffeine-laden teas and coffee drinks; and why not skip dessert once in a while, or skip it altogether. Use sweets as a separate treat to have every now and then.

I believe in moderation. One of my favorite sayings is “Everything in moderation—including moderation.” Sometimes you have to break away and have some “bad” foods or drinks. But don’t make these poor-quality choices a mainstay of your diet. Make them a treat. Something that you look forward to—especially since you’ve been so good about what you’ve been eating. Remember, your body is a machine and food is its fuel. How are your fueling your machine?

For more information, see:
“Everything in moderation—including moderation.”

Sunday, June 4, 2017

To steam or not to steam in a facial treatment

A blog reader left the following comment on my post One facial experience—not a great one:    

Hi Carolyn! I was reading on your blog about not using steam in your facials, and I’m wondering what you use in its place? Do your clients ever ask if you could use the steam on them or question you why you don’t use it? Many thanks!

Those are great questions. It is rare that a client questions me about not using steam. If it does happen, it would be on their first visit. Steam is so prevalent in facials that it is a rarity to not have that machine used in a facial.

I can say unequivocally, I have never had a client ask if I could use steam on them. If and when the subject arises I simply explain why I don’t use it and why I don’t recommend it in facials a client may get elsewhere. Once I give them information on how unnecessary it is and how detrimental it is to the delicate capillaries, at that point it becomes a non-issue.

Sometimes in life until a thing is challenged, it just becomes normalcommonplace. This, I believe, is true with using steam in a facial. My first job was with Repechage skin care in spring of 1985. I was a novice aesthetician and wasn’t yet questioning what I had learned in skin care school nor what I was being asked to do within this job. I was trained in school to use steam and steam was what I was told to use in the Repechage facials.

Steam is said to soften the skin for extractions. Or that is probably the main reason aestheticians use it in a facial (although not the only reason). What I found in these first facials I was giving as a new employee was once the steam was taken off the skin, the skin hardened (dried) making extractions harder to perform.

As an example of this, I was recently working on one of my teenage clients. She had been to another salon for quite a while and they used steam in the facials prior to extractions. (This client did need a lot of extractions, named large embedded blackheads.) I did what I normally do: instead of steam I used a glycerin-based Yonka product called Dermol 1* on the to-be-extracted places, let it sit for a minute, then performed the extractions. Dermol helps to soften the skin and makes the debris in the pores come out much easier.
*The Yonka Dermols have gone through two changes in the past 5 years, starting with being morphed into one product: Hydralia, and recently this was changed into Hydra+. Still and all, a glycerin-based product works wonders when performing extractions in a facial treatment.

Out of curiosity I asked this client if she felt her (many) extractions went easier with the use of steam in her previous facials or if the extractions I just did on her felt “better”if extractions can feel good in any case! Not surprisingly, this young lady said she noticed a big difference in the pain level of today’s extractions. In other words, my extractions felt better—much less painful. I believe this was due primarily to the use of the glycerin product. It is a must-have for aestheticians.

Granted, I am proficient at extractions and have a good touch when it comes to performing them. But I know beyond doubt that using a softening agent (in this case, Dermol, Hydralia, or Hydra+) vs. using a steam machine is a much better way to perform extractions.

The bottom line is I am not a fan of stream in (or out) of facials. I also encourage my clients to try new things if they feel so inclined, but to monitor their skin to see if, in the case of using steam, redness occurs when it wasn't there or there is more redness than there was before. I have written several articles with more to come about the use or not of steam on the face and why I am so against it.

For more information, see:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

TONER: What to use and what NOT to use

I am asked by many new clients (and some who have come to see me for years) if they really need to use a toner. As I state without equivocation, the answer is yes! Inevitably comes the next question, Which toner should I use?

First of all, you don’t ever want to use a toner with SD, ethyl, or isopropyl alcohol. SD stands for specially denatured; denatured renders it undrinkable. (A bittering agent is added to the alcohol so people won’t accidentally drink it.)

Ethyl and isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) are very drying and not good ingredients for promoting healthy skin. Cetyl alcohol, on the other hand, is a waxy, emollient ingredient found in many cosmetic preparations and is not harmful to the skin. Not all alcohols are bad, just the ones listed above.

Years ago many toners contained alcohol (the bad kind), but it’s not as prevalent an ingredient today. It was thought back then that drying the skin out with alcohol would help dry up oily skin. On the surface, that sounds good. You’re producing a lot of oil, so surely the answer is to get rid of that oily buildup. This, however, is not of benefit to your skin.

Unfortunately, running a cotton ball with an alcohol-based toner over your face is just removing the symptom—the excess oil. And it will undoubtedly cause another problem—dehydration. You need to affect the cause of the problem (overactive oil glands) before you can stop producing the symptom (oily skin). In other words, alcohol or any drying agent is simply drying up the oil, not stopping the oil glands from overproducing.

The cause of a skin condition is usually varied and complex, so treating the symptom seems the easier road to take. But in the end, only treating the symptom can create more problems. And so it is with alcohol.

Like other alkaline products, alcohol strips every particle of oil and water off the surface of your skin, leaving it bare and imbalanced. Your oil glands will tend to pump out more oil to compensate for the loss, which causes the potential for even oilier skin than you started with.

And because you’re removing all the oil and water off the surface, your skin will most likely become dehydrated too. This is all very bad news. Supple, hydrated, well-nourished skin is what you’re after. Using toners with alcohol in them will give you the opposite effect. Just say no to alcohol!

When looking for a toner, I would seek out an ingredient list that is short and without a lot of long, chemical-sounding names. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Why? Because a long ingredient list equals a more complex substance; therefore, the chances are greater for irritation or intolerances.

As with the foods you eat, simple is best. Complex dishes, sauces, and soups made with lots of different ingredients can cause indigestion. There are just too many components for the digestive system to handle. Your skin is really no different. It likes simple, moderate, and gentle products used on it. Water should be (and usually is) the first ingredient in your alcohol-free toner.

Finally, find a toner with an aroma that is appealing to you. Toner remains on the skin, so how it smells will affect your desire to use it or not. Be careful it is not ladened with synthetic fragrance; that, too, can cause problems for your skin. Essential oils (lavender, rosemary, cypress, to name a few) make good ingredients for a toner. They are naturally acidic as well as wonderfully (naturally) aromatic.

For more information, see: