If you travel, packing an inflatable bath pillow can help you enjoy your
bath-time while on the road. They are inexpensive (usually under $10)
and won’t take up much space in your travel bag. Simply deflate, put the pillow (if already used) in a plastic bag or baggie. Once you're in the hotel room or guest area, inflate, run your bath and enjoy. I hope you brought some bubble bath or bath salts with you, too!
Just saying the word astringent connotes a drying, tightening, caustic liquid you would put on problem or oily skin. This term is at best antiquated and doesn’t really apply or equate to the term toner any more.
If you are using a true astringent with alcohol (the bad kind) as an ingredient—stop! Don’t use it another day. Throw it away (or if you just purchased it, return it), and know you just gave your skin a huge break from a harmful product.
Astringents in years past almost always contained alcohol—on purpose—and some toners still do. Alcohol is used to dry up the oil on your face, therefore helping your oily skin, right? The truth is, using the bad kind of alcohol, like the kind used in some types of toners, is one of the worst things you can do to your skin. Instead of promoting health, alcohol destroys the healthy balance your skin requires to function properly, which can promote problems. Drying up oil actually puts your skin in a state of emergency in a sense and causes your oil glands to produce more oil to compensate for the loss (caused by the drying effect of alcohol).
Unfortunately, toners and astringents are sometimes lumped together even though in reality they are very different (if by astringent you mean a product containing high concentrations of alcohol). If you have oily skin (or any skin type) do not use a toner with alcohol, no matter if it’s called an astringent or not.
To understand why you want to use a toner along with a few more articles, see:
I’m 27 years old, and I have very oily skin. In the past, I’ve
had overall good
skin. I’ve always had a good regime; your 3-step program plus
exfoliating and using a mask at least once a week. I also see my aesthetician every few months. But for the past 6-8
months I’ve developed a lot more breakouts. And now I have dark spots left over from the bigger blemishes.
I know more or less
what is adding to my problem: I got off birth control pills about six
months ago (I was on them for about two years), I just went back to
school, and I work a lot of hours at my job. So my stress level is
definitely high right now. I welcome any suggestions you might have. Too
bad your salons are so far away from me!
emailer exemplifies how stress can cause dramatic effects in your body,
which affects your skin. She has a lot of stress from work and school,
plus the added stress of going off hormone medication (the Pill). Six
months ago she got off birth control pills; six months ago her skin became
problematic. I tell my clients that it can take six months to a year or
more for your body to readjust after going off the Pill. For some it may
be a longer or shorter timeframe, and for others going off the Pill may
not affect their skin at all. Patience is an important practice to
Have you recently gone off birth control
pills and are now experiencing breakout? Did you just begintaking the
Pill and find you have problem skin? You must question all things,
including stress, as either contributing to your skin’s condition or
helping it to clear. (The spots she is referring to are probably due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.)
As I will
continue to say, the breakouts are there for a reason, or reasons. I
like to look at problem skin as your body sending you a message, a
signal that something needs to change in order for the skin to clear up.
Hopefully you can identify the cause or causes of your problem skin. Remember: knowledge is power. Be honest with yourself and with how you are
contributing to the breakouts. Whether it’s through diet, poor skin
care habits, or something else, own up to your part of the process and
take some steps to help your body free itself of the toxins it is
expelling through your skin.
What effects does humidity—especially during the summer months—have on my skin?
Humidity, like during a rainy day (or season), is actually good for the skin. It simply helps to hydrate whatever it comes in contact with, therefore your skin. So normal humidity from moist weather superficially hydrates your skin (even in a dry climate like Colorado).
Humidity during the summer and in extremely humid locations (like Houston, TX for instance) can cause the oil glands to become more active. This makes oily skin oilier. Because humidity during the summertime can make us sweat more, this can translate to more
When I was working in Dallas, I had many more clients with
issues of what I’ll call humidity breakout than I do here in Colorado, where the air is very (very) dry. Keeping the skin clean and well-exfoliated, no matter where you live or what your skin type, is my best advice. How?
Using a non-alkaline cleanser (daily, morning and night)
A clay-based mask for deep cleansing (1-2 times weekly)
And whatever your exfoliator of choice is to remove the dead cell buildup (which is hopefully Yonka’s Gommage!)
Scrubs (both for face and the body) are
excellent at gently removing dead skin and debris
off the surface of your skin. A scrub is a good exfoliation choice at any time and
especially if you’ve been out sweating on a hot summer’s day.
Don’t let sweat dry on your skin, or you may experience tiny bumps or irritations just beneath the surface of your skin—wherever you have been sweating, face and/or body. If you don’t have access to water or for whatever reason cannot rinse the sweat off your skin, do so as soon as you can. You really don’t want sweat to dry on your skin!
Treating skin that is affected by humidity isn’t that different from helping to clear breakout and problem skin caused by another reason. The main difference is you can always cut down on sugar or whatever may be causing a breakout diet-wise, but you can’t just pick up and move away from a humid environment that you might call home. Keeping your skin clean and well-exfoliated is always your best bet for healthy-looking skin.
When was the last time you put anything on your elbows? This area is truly a Forgotten Place on many people—including those as young as teenagers.
Moisturizing is the most important thing you can do to keep your elbows from looking like they just stepped off an elephant. If you have a special hand cream, smooth a little on your elbows as well. This skin needs attention and should become a part of your Forgotten Places routine.
You can also exfoliate your elbows. It’s not something I personally subscribe to, but exfoliation certainly helps skin, no matter where it is located. Be careful while using an exfoliater on your elbows. Although this skin may feel tough, it is very thin skin and can be sensitive to too much abrasion.
As far as sunscreen goes, when putting it on your arms, get some on your elbows too. But for the most part, moisturizing is the main step you want to include when taking care of your forgotten elbows.
only difference between problem skin when you’re expecting and when
you’re not is just a matter of control. When you are pregnant, your body
and how it functions is essentially out of your control. I tell my
clients (especially first-time pregnancies) to (metaphorically) throw
theirs arms up in the air and resign themselves to these changes. This
is usually not welcome news.
a relaxed attitude about the changes that occur in your body—and your
skin—is very important. Consider adopting The Serenity Prayer (by
Reinhold Niebuhr): “God, grant me the serenity to accept the
things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom
to know the difference.” When you’re pregnant, serenity and
wisdom will be your greatest allies. You can control your skin (raging
hormones) just about as well as you can stop your belly from growing. If
you realize early on that you are not in control of your body and the
baby is, you will fare a whole lot better.
Case history one.
A client of mine, Merry, was pregnant with her first child. Merry, then
27, had been coming to me for a little over five years. Her skin has
always been clear with a few blackheads around her nose and chin along
with constant slight dehydration. She has a sensitivity to sugar, but
unless she has overindulged in the sweet stuff or it’s “that time of the
month,” her skin doesn’t usually breakout.
after she got pregnant, her skin began to go haywire. At first she came
in with mild breakout, which for her skin was unusual. As the weeks
progressed, so did her breakouts until finally around the third month
she basically had acne. She went from coming in for facials once a month
to having one weekly. She needed all the extra help she could get.
Merry has a good head on her shoulders. She realized she couldn’t
really do anything about the hormones that were surging in her body. And
she knew she wouldn’t be able to take anything orally for the skin
eruptions since she was pregnant. She decided to wait it out, hoping her
skin would eventually adjust.
I had Merry on a program of constant at-home care. First I recommended a lot of exfoliating with a gel-type peel (like Yonka’s Gommage)
to help rid the surface skin of dead cells, which could lead to more
congestion. Next she used a clay mask that helped draw impurities and
plugs up toward the surface and soothed her irritated skin. I also had
Merry dot clay on any spots that were infected and sleep with the dots
on overnight. She used a clay mask on her entire face several times per
week. Exfoliating and using a clay mask were essential in keeping her
skin under control—from the outside.
was another important addition to Merry’s skin control program. It is
easy to use and is essential in helping tackle problem skin. When you
dot a small amount on any infected areas, the antibacterial properties
in this essential oil will curb bacterial growth and help to clear the
blemish without drying it out. As I’ve explained in articles on problem
skin, you want to attend to the breakout with products that not only
help to clear your skin, but also soothe the irritations as well.
Although I’ve never had a pregnant client whose doctor said “no” to
essential oil use, do consult with your OB/GYN before using essential
am happy to say Merry’s skin eventually returned to normal. It took
about four months after the birth of her child to clear up, but she no
longer has any new breakout. She did have some temporary discoloration
from the problem skin she experienced. Pustules and deep cysts take
weeks—sometimes months—to completely clear from the skin. Even after the
infection and redness is gone, the damaged tissue still has to make its
way up to the surface and be sloughed off. Be patient and know that in
most cases, your skin will eventually return to normal.
Case history two. Another
client, Melissa, has a different kind of skin malady brought on by pregnancy. Melissa has beautiful, flawless skin. She is 38 years old,
the mother of a 2-year-old son, and is 6 months pregnant. When she was
pregnant with her first child, she started noticing brilliant red “dots”
on her face as well as her upper chest or décolleté area.
was pretty concerned about this redness since her skin is milky white,
making these dots very prominent. I assured her they were part and
parcel of her pregnancy. I knew this because earlier in my career, I had
gone through a total of three pregnancies with one client who developed
these same red spots with every pregnancy. After each baby was born,
eventually the dots disappeared.
Technically, these bright red or purplish dots are called spider angiomas,
and may appear due to an excess of estrogen. They are basically dilated
capillaries that look like red lines radiating from a central red dot.
Once the baby is born, the hormone levels return to normal, and the dots
will usually disappear on their own within three to six months.
enough, about three months after Melissa gave birth to her son, the
dots started to disappear. Cut to the present: pregnant again, and lo
and behold, the red dots have reappeared. Now, as with so many things
after the first pregnancy, Melissa has a proven history of developing
these spots and the relief of knowing they do go away.
I have said, your body is not your own during pregnancy. Things that
show up in that nine-month time period many times will go away—on their
own—soon after you have given birth and/or finished breast-feeding.
Remember, nothing is forever, and this includes skin irregularities
developed during pregnancy. Keep your eye on the prize—the miracle you
Basal cell carcinoma is a very
common form of skin cancer that you need to know about. Over 2.8 million
people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma annually (in the United States alone), and that number
is only going to increase as the years go by. Basal cell carcinomas
occur in the basal cell layer of the skin and are primarily caused by
are many different looks to basal cell cancers; sometimes they may just
look like regular moles on the skin. They don’t have clear-cut
identifying markers, like, for instance a melanoma. Unlike this deadly
form of skin cancer (melanoma), basal cell carcinomas rarely spread to
other parts of the body. The most common area for this type of skin
cancer to surface is the face, ears, even the scalp. They also can
appear on the upper part of the back and chest. Sometimes the spots can
bleed, and as you will read, left untreated basal cell carcinomas can
I hope you understand the importance of getting funny-looking moles or places on your face (or anywhere) you have questions about checked by your dermatologist. The key is to listen to your
intuition and don’t be reluctant to get things checked out.
Don’t have a skin doctor? Click on American Academy of Dermatology to get some ideas on finding one in your
area. Remember: Don’t wait—get your moles checked today!
Are you experiencing the pain and itching of a bug bite or even a bee sting? Have I got a few pain-saving remedies for you!
Essential oil of peppermint is the fastest (and most aromatic) way to stop the itching of a bug bite. Just put a drop on any mosquito, chigger, or flea bite and within a few seconds, the itching will stop. I’ve even put it on nasty fire ant bites (the kind that hurt) with great results.
Another wonderful use for peppermint oil: put one drop in your mouth and be instantly refreshed. It’s better than any breath mint or mouthwash you can imagine. With peppermint, less really is better, so only use one drop in your mouth or you will be sorry! In other words, a little goes a long way. I like to apply it on to a Q-tip and then swab the inside of my mouth.
A few words of caution: Never get peppermint oil in or around your eyes. It will burn like nothing you’ve known before! That goes for all essential oils but especially peppermint. This is one reason I like to use a Q-tip when applying this particular oil. Then I won’t accidentally get the peppermint on my fingers and inadvertently rub my eyes at some point afterwards.
If you don’t want to mess with the drama of peppermint, essential oil of lavender is another pain reliever that can also help take out the sting, itch, and inflammation of bug bites. Lavender, like peppermint, is easy to find at your local health food store. I recommend staying away from lavender blends—you want straight (sometimes but not always French) lavender. Where the lavender was harvested isn’t as important as getting the pure, unadulterated essential oil. Again, look for it in your health food store.
I saw a friend at the dog park recently who had just gotten stung by a wasp. I asked if she had any essential oils at home. “No.” I first recommended purchasing peppermint oil, the best one for the job. But truly lavender is infinitely easier (because it isn’t as aromatically powerful as peppermint) and yet does an excellent job of helping take the sting and inflammation out of bites—mosquito, chigger, flee, and bee alike. Here is her email to me: THANK YOU for letting me know about the lavender essential oil for the
wasp sting. It got worse instead of better, but I found some of the oil
in my house this morning. The redness immediately lessened as did the
itching. It’s still hard to bend my finger, but wow—what a difference that lavender made!!!
You are a life saver! [It’s the lavender, not me, but you’re welcome!]
For more information about why you want to have a bottle of lavender essential oil in your home, read:
That is the $64,000 question! There are numerous things that cause breakouts and reasons why breakouts occur. The short list is:
a genetic predisposition
hormonal fluctuations (including puberty, a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breast feeding, menopause, hormone imbalances that can occur in either sex)
intolerances to either products or environment
So, basically the answer is life in general!
What is causing your breakout? I am going to help you answer this question, and so together we can try to figure out what is causing your problem skin. You may not find out the answers immediately, but the following questions and their answers will at least begin to give you a better picture of the possible causes of your breakout. At my salon, by utilizing this list of questions when interviewing clients about their problem skin, we can begin to narrow down potential culprits and help find some answers that have proved helpful in determining what is causing breakout.
To start with, I always like to find out some background on your skin’s condition. In other words, how would you describe your problems?
Are you plagued with only blackheads, or do you have whiteheads instead, or both?
If you have whiteheads, is there any redness in the area, or are they simply bumps under skin that look white or yellowish?
If there is redness, they are technically small pustules. The redness indicates infection, and that means there is bacterial contamination. A true whitehead is just sebum (oil) trapped beneath several layers of dead skin (albeit thin, see-through skin).
What about cysts? Do you experience small to large bumps under the skin that don’t form an obvious pus-filled head?
Are they just red and often painful bumps?
And then there are the breakouts that are what most people mean when they say “breakout.”
These are pustules that are small, medium, or large bumps that are not only red but have a clear and defined puss-filled head as well.
Next, I would ask where is the breakout located?
Is it always contained within a certain area, or does it migrate—changing places and not usually coming back in the same place all the time?
If it is in one or two places always, is it on both sides of the face or usually only one side?
What about size? Is the breakout usually limited to small spots, or do they always appear as big places on your face?
If you continue to get breakout in the same place on your face, it may be due to contact with something. Telephones and cell phones, equipment like sports helmets or pads, even pillows you sleep on can cause a sort of contact breakout. If the places are symmetrical on both sides of your face, this is usually a sign of hormonal breakout.
My questioning the size of the breakout is really just to let me know how deep your blemishes are. Almost always, the bigger the spot, the deeper the infection. Or, if we are talking about blackheads, if they are large, this indicates the pores have been clogged for a long time. Large blackheads don’t generally form quickly. The same is true with whiteheads. They enlarge over time, so the bigger they are, the longer they have been forming.
Did you know that when you drink a 20 ounce soda, you may be getting as many as 16 teaspoons of sugar? Let me repeat that: sixteen teaspoons! Why not just take 16 teaspoons of sugar and add them to a glass of water? Of course you would never drink a glass of water with that much added sugar, yet that is exactly what you are doing when you drink sodas. Plus you get the added “benefit” of a bunch of chemicals that may or may not be carcinogenic (cancer causing).
If I drank just one soda per day, by the end of only one week I would have numerous little blemishes on my face. If I continued for one more week, those spots would become larger and more widespread. Finally, after just a few weeks of consuming only one soda per day, I would have a big skin problem on my hands. That’s because I am sensitive to sugar. Are you?
For some other articles about sugar and skin, see:
Getting regular facials and using high-quality products at home are vital to achieving and maintaining clear, vibrant skin. But I believe you must also care for your skin from the inside out to bring about the best results. Understanding the correlation between internal, balanced health and external beauty is what my work is all about. I'm interested in long-term, obtainable results that help my clients achieve healthy skin...for a lifetime.