Saturday, September 19, 2020

“Is Dr. Bronner soap OK to use on my body?”

I know you say not to use products that aren’t pH balanced on my face. But what about my body? I love Dr. Bronner’s lavender/castile soap but didn’t know if I should continue using it.

Yes, its OK to use Dr. Bronner products on your body. I have used their (liquid) peppermint soap for decades as my body cleanser. Just know all of their soaps are not pH balancedthey are all alkaline products; I tested them years ago and Im sure nothing has changed. That means this soap can be more drying than an acidic (on the pH scale) soap would be. For me, I love Dr. Bronner productsespecially the wonderful peppermint aromaticand because I always use lotion on my entire body after a bath or shower, the moisture gets put back that is lost using an alkaline product.

I do not recommend using these products on your face. Not the bar soaps or their liquid soaps. I’ve said many times that I am meticulous when it comes to what I use on my face. With my body I am a lot more lax as far as what I use. I tend to go less expensive with body products and, as in this case with non-pH balanced Dr. Bronner soaps, I use what I like and make sure I compensate for the alkalinity.

If you try just once to wash your face with your favorite Dr. Bronner lavender soap, I know for a fact you will never do that again! Your skin will feel so dried out and dehydrated—especially since you’ve been using high-quality, pH balanced products (Yonka) on your skin for so many years.

I have written several articles about how to test the pH of your products, whether face or body, and I highly recommend you take a look and see how to do this simple step. Then there will never be a question of whether or not a product you are using is right for your (facial) skin or not—in other words: is it pH balanced or alkaline. A very important distinction.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Sugar, wine, and breakout

I understand your stance on sugar and it causing problems with people’s skin. What about wine and its sugar content? Can drinking wine cause breakout?

When grapes are picked, they contain about 24% sugar by weight. That is a lot of sugar! During the fermentation of wine, yeast eats up this sugar and expels alcohol. So the process of making wine does reduce the amount of sugar in this alcoholic beverage. During most of my adult life, I was rarely if ever affected by the sugar content in wine. I didn’t breakout from wine (that I know of) and I am one of the most sensitive people when it comes to sugar.

Sweeter wines will have a higher sugar content, drier varieties will have less sugar. Dessert wines, of course, will have the highest sugar content of all. Because grapes are some of the sweetest, most sugar-concentrated fruits, and wine is made from grapes, you will find a higher sugar content in wine than other alcoholic libations. If you are sensitive to sugar, you may break out from drinking wine—it’s not out of the question. I’ve talked a lot about my own sensitivities to sugar, and following is yet another, perhaps surprising example of how sugar, in all its many forms, can affect your body if you are sensitive to it.

A few members of my family are wine makers. They have a small vineyard on their property and make wine for their personal consumption. One of the benefits, aside from having access to wonderful wines that are home grown, is I can have them test the RS (residual sugar) in any bottle of wine. I have asked to have two different bottles of white wine tested in the past few months because I had developed canker sores in my mouth for no obvious reason. Obvious meaning I ate ice cream or had a cookie or two, which even now at 59 will cause these sores to form.

Since on these two occasions, months apart, I had really bad canker sores, I had these wines tested and sure enough: they both had a high RS. Amazing! And problem solved. Neither one of these wines tasted particularly sweet—I don’t like sweet wine—but still they both had high residual sugar and that means I simply won’t drink them. If you’ve ever had canker sores, you understand why. It’s nice to have the RS confirmed by a wine maker with all the testing tools, something that is probably not readily available to most people, but if you get blemishes or canker sores after drinking a new bottle of wine, your body’s reaction might be the only test you need.

Although I no longer get blemishes if I eat things that are sugary, I am still prone to canker sores—something I also had a lot of when I was a very young girl. Both then as a young person, well before my teenage years and now after menopause, my hormones weren’t surging and therefore I didn’t then and don’t now get blemishes. But due to my extreme sensitivity to sugar, with these high RS wines, I developed canker sores. I find this so interesting!

My experience, although just one, is an example of the power of sugar and how even though you might have grown out of skin breakouts, if you are sensitive to sugar it can and probably will still affect you throughout your life. I find this fascinating and it keeps me from eating or drinking anything that has even a modest sugar content. Except for the rare time when I just give in and let go of my normal abstinence and just live a little!

For more information, see:

Sensitive Skin: all links so far

sensitive skin

  • Rosacea & sensitive skin product Q & A (upcoming)

Product Recommendations: all links so far

product recommendations

Also see

If you are looking for Yonka product recommendations 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Recommendations for a few clients with sensitive skin who are looking for all-in-one type products

I am looking for a hydrating night cream that will also provide some exfoliation or cell renewal. My skin is reasonably sensitive, so I can’t use retinol products. What would you recommend for face and body?

The conventional approach for this person would be to put her on an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) cream that would both moisturize and have some exfoliating abilities. But conventionally is not the way I would help her. She has already told me her skin is sensitive, so any of the acid products (including AHAs, topical vitamin C, and products with retinol in them) would not be wise for her to use. These types of ingredients will simply further her sensitivities.

I am not a fan of a product having several jobs. I think a moisturizer should moisturize and, in this case, a separate exfoliator would be in order to give this woman the exfoliation and cell renewal she is looking for. Why is it that we want all-in-one products? Because exfoliation is so important to all skin and ages, it is imperative to do this step separately, rather than use a moisturizer with exfoliation capabilities. Those abilities are limited, I assure you.

My recommendation for this person would be to get a good night cream that is appropriate for her particular skin type, and also purchase a good exfoliator that she can use on the sensitive skin she describes. This is where a gel-type peel or gommage comes in handy. It will do an excellent job of getting rid of the dead cells, which also helps to step up cell renewal, while at the same time not irritating her sensitive skin.

My skin seems to be a little red lately on the cheeks. I am 55 years old, so my skin needs some firming abilities and a good moisturizer. Can you give me some ideas?

Do you use AHAs or Retin-A on your skin? The cheek area usually seems to show the signs of capillary damage more so than other parts of our faces. I think this is primarily because when we get flushed, it usually shows up in the cheeks. So be sure not to use AHAs or any other irritating ingredients, including retinols and topical vitamin C products. Also if you get your face in the hot shower water, over time this will definitely cause redness in the cheek area, among other places.

As far as firming, there is nothing short of surgery that will truly lift the skin or firm it up. At 55 you are probably showing the signs of what 55-year-old skin looks like. This may not be consistent with how you want it to look, however.

There really is no cream that will tend to all of the needs of this client. She wants something to help with redness, sagging skin, and hydration. As an aesthetician, I would try to tackle the most prominent problem first. If, for instance, this person really did have a lot of redness, that is where I would concentrate my efforts. Any cream she uses will have moisturizing abilities, but no cream will really be able to firm flaccid skin. I would counsel her on the need to keep hot and cold water off her face and to be aware that sun exposure also affects capillaries, along with alcohol, smoking and caffeine. These can all affect the redness on her cheeks.

If her skin was dehydrated and true-dry and the redness was minimal, I would probably concentrate on having her exfoliate to alleviate any dead cell buildup that may be inhibiting superficial hydration. If her skin was true-dry (oil-dry), I would give her a hydration booster (a glycerin or even oil-based liquid) and an overall good moisturizer for her skin—one that had the capability to help the redness.

It’s not uncommon for people to try and get as much as they can from one product. But when it comes to skin care, especially the facial skin, you always need to start with skin type (how much oil your skin is or isn’t producing) and then look at any other particulars. With this information hopefully you will be able to make informed decisions when it comes to your skin care products.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sugar & Skin: all links so far

sugar & skin

Pregnancy: all links so far


Medications Oral & Topical: all links so far

Medications: Oral & Topical

When it comes to taking or applying prescription medications, the best source for information is your doctor writing the prescription. Any and all information in these articles is coming from clients and my opinions as an aesthetician on how they might best take care of their skin. In that, I will give the following statement that is also in both of my books:

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not a physician, and the ideas, procedures, and suggestions in this blog and in these specific articles are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a trained health professional. The author is not responsible for any damages, losses, or injuries incurred as a result of any of the material contained in this blog and disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this blog. Consult your physician before adopting the suggestions in this blog, as well as asking about any condition that may require diagnosis or medical attention. By following the instructions contained herein, the reader willingly assumes all risks in connection with such instructions.

If specific medications are mentioned, they are listed in parentheses.
  • Hydroquinone skin bleaching cream (OTC & prescription) (coming soon)
  • Renova the Retinoid to the rescue? (upcoming)
  • Retin-A: Q & A (coming soon)

Also see

Acne: all links so far


Acne can definitely be a balancing act

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Acne, medications, pregnancy—“I need your help!”

I have acne on my chin area and have struggled for years to address it. I don’t eat a lot of sugar and don’t eat dairy and eat very little wheat. My dermatologist has me on Oracea, which is an oral antibiotic that is 40mg doxycicline. It’s supposed to act as an anti-inflammatory and it has reduced my breakouts. He also has me using a benzoyl peroxide 4% wash once a day, and a clindamycin topical. I still always have about 2-3 breakouts on my chin at all times, and when some heal, others form. They tend to be puss-filled.

I read your book and had read many entries on your blog, and I know that all of this is contrary to what you recommend. Yesterday I got a facial and started using Yonka Gommage, which already feels great. I also use a clay mask. I plan to use the gommage and clay mask regularly. 

What I’m wondering is how I can smoothly transition away from the oral and topical antibiotics to a more natural skin regimen without creating major disruptions. I have a few events coming up this summer and I don’t want to make a radical shift that will cause my skin to get worse. Do you have suggestions for how to make this transition? For example, should I stay on the oral medication for another month while weaning off of the topical?

First, if you have a special event coming up, I recommend staying on everything you are using since it sounds like it does have a positive effect. You can always quit using it, but you might not get you skin back in control if you go off. There’s no reason to cause extra stress, wondering what your skin will do if you go off the medications before your events. You have the rest of your life to change things! Stay on the meds from your derm, and do use the gommage and mask—frequently.

With that said, the medications are probably just keeping things at bay. The real issue to me is why are you breaking out in the first place. Without finding out this crucial piece of information, you are just mopping up the mess every time something spills—but you want to find out why the spills are happening in the first place. (Is it the cat?!) Answering that question is where time and experimentation will come into play.

I agree that I don’t want to disrupt things if the meds are keeping things at bay. One thing that really concerns me is that I’d like to try to get pregnant in the next 6-12 months, so I know I need to get off the meds but don’t know how to make the transition.

Have you talked to your pediatrician? Are topical antibiotics a no-no for sure? Even tho you said you don’t eat much sugar, I’d like to know about that part of your diet. What, how much, and any other specific information you can give me.

I think topical antibiotics are okay but the oral is definitely not okay.

Opps, sorry. I misread and didn’t see one is oral. Yes—not while pregnant!

Another question in my mind is how the gommage works with the benzoyl peroxide wash. My doctor wants me to use the 4% wash once a day, but since it’s an exfoliant, can I use the gommage in addition to that? I think the BP and clindamycin are supposed to work in concert. Can I incorporate the gommage into my regimen with all of the other things I use or will my skin be confused?

I don’t eat any processed sugar but I do eat dried fruit. I eat LÄRABARs, which I think are high in sugar. I usually eat one or two apples a day as well. I sometimes eat raisins or dates or figs, but always in moderation. I wonder if that is contributing to the problem?

I looked up “a” LÄRABAR. Unfortunately they contain a whopping 23 grams of sugar, which is not only a lot, it is almost more than the recommended daily allotment of sugar. If you are sensitive to sugar, and you probably are, that alone can cause problems.

I always say anything grown and eaten as it is grown in nature is fine. Apples, even grapes, which are high in sugar, won’t be the culprit in a breakout condition. But dried fruits—not as nature really intended—are high in concentrated sugars and obviously void of water. As you might have read in this post (Sugar in your precious Frappuccinos!) although raisins are obviously not the big offender with that client in that article, they may have been contributing—well they were contributing to her daily intake of sugar.

All of this is extremely helpful and I welcome any more information you might have! Thanks again. 

If you want to see if (how) sugar is affecting your skin, stop ingesting any and all sugar for a month at least (longer would be better) and see the effects. Anything that comes in a package would be out. Dried fruit, because of the concentrated sugars, is out. Apples, or any fruit that is in its natural state is (always) fine. Without quitting sugar for a considerable time—at least a month or more—it’s hard to see the effect. But this is a huge commitment and not one I would go into when fairly soon you will be pregnant and your skin may go haywire anyway.

Probably a more relaxed approach is needed here. If you weren’t planning on having a child soon, my advice would be more proactive. But it’s almost futile to do a lot of sugar abstinence when in a few months or so you are hopefully pregnant and then your skin and how it reacts to the hormone surges is unknown.

With all changes going slowly sometimes is the best idea vs. being in a rush. Perhaps the fact you have some important events coming up will end up be a blessing in disguise. Although you will probably stay on the medications until you’re ready to try going off them (with your doctors advice, as well, of course), going off sugar or at least lessening your intake can be done now and that alone will probably help with your skin problems.

For more information, see:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Quick Tips: all links so far

Quick tips

  • A Quick Tip for using Yonka’s Gommage (upcoming)

Makeup: all links so far


  • Covering breakout with foundation—is that OK? (upcoming)
  • Rosacea & makeup suggestions (coming soon)—dont get too excited, there are actually no recommendations for specific products in this article

Aging Gracefully: all links so far

aging gracefully

Yonka Masks: all links so far

yonka masks

Moisturizing—Face: all links so far


Sunday, September 13, 2020

How are you applying eye makeup and mascara? Here’s a QUICK TIP for anti-aging application!

At the end of one of my skin care talks, one of the ladies in the audience brought up a great point that I wanted to pass along to you. Recently she realized that as she was putting on her mascara she was wrinkling her forehead due to the angle of looking in the mirror and using the mascara wand. She then took into account how many years she had been applying mascara and thought this may be one reason she had so many lines and wrinkles on her forehead. 

Remember, all wrinkles are formed through expression, and raising your eyebrows to apply mascara causes expression lines that usually show up on the forehead. So use this as a reminder to try and find a way to apply your mascara or any makeup you may wear that does not reinforce or even create lines and wrinkles.

For more information, see:

Yonka Product Recommendations: all links so far

yonka product recommendations

  • A client’s new rosacea diagnosis & product clarification: Part 2 (upcoming)
  • Rosacea & sensitive skin product Q & A (upcoming)
  • Use Nutri-Contour to help heal chapped lips (upcoming)
  • Yonka products and Retin-A use (upcoming)

    Saturday, September 12, 2020

    Questions about Yonka’s Hydra N°1 products & hydrating masks

    Hi Carolyn, I have a question about the Hydra N°1 Creme I ordered. Can this also be used as a mask? The aesthetician I go to sometimes uses either Hydra N°1 or maybe the Masque N°1 when my skin is dehydratedI’m not sure. For a daily moisturizer, the Hydra N°1 Creme is sometimes too moisturizing for my (still!) oily skin that (still!) occasionally breaks out. What are your thoughts?

    Actually any moisturizer can be used as a mask. The two main types of masks are clay (my favorite) and hydrating or moisturizing types. As you can read in other hydrating masks articles here, I’m not a fan of moisture masks. I don’t think you really need to purchase a separate hydrating facial mask, instead just you a thick layer of your day or nighttime cream. 

    Some people may balk at that recommendation, but I give it knowing that skin care products can be and are expensive and I would much rather have someone spend money on their everyday products (The Basics: cleanser, toner, moisturizer) than on a completely separate product, which would simply be a thick cream, marketed as a hydrating mask.
    I do not like this kind of policy
    For any of you with red, irritated skin, I think either Sensitive Creme or Sensitive Masque might be  good products to use as a mask especially when your skin is acting up. As with any and all products when you have sensitive skin, you may have to go through some trial and error. When I was a working aesthetician with a salon and clients, I always (always) sampled as many products as I could whenever I could. I let the products do the selling, because if you came to my salon—you got samples, and that was how I sold this product line.

    If possible, get a sample of the Hydra products or any other cream or mask you think might work for your skin. And if you have to purchase in order to try it, be sure you understand the salon or store’s return policy. If it doesn’t work your skin and you can’t return it, opt for another place to purchase your products. And be sure and get a receipt!

    In the end, if you want to have a separate product to use as a hydrating mask—go for it! But to consolidate and save money at the same time, I stand by my recommendation to use your moisturizing cream as a hydrating mask if you feel you need the extra moisture. If the Hydra products work for your skin, great. Then use one of those as a mask when you want to.

    If, as you mentioned, the Hydra Nº1 is too much for your sometimes oily skin, then use another creme that isn’t so emollient as your hydrating mask of choice. A cream is a cream and even a product for an oilier skin if sitting on the surface for 15-20 as a mask will still hydrate the skin underneath. (But you know what I really recommend: gommage!)

    For more information, see: