Thursday, September 18, 2014

Facial frequency

How often should I get a facial? I hear that question every day—or at least when I see a new client. Once a month is a common recommendation for getting regular facials. Every 28 days or so (sometimes a bit longer if you’re older), your skin cells regenerate. New cells are coming up to the surface and flattening out to form the uppermost part of the epidermis, while older cells are being shed. When you have a facial once a month, you are supplying the newly forming cells with good nutrition through increased blood circulation as well as getting rid of dead cells ready to come off. A facial in effect enhances the natural life, death, and removal of skin cells.

Having a facial more often, once a week for instance, would be even more beneficial for your skin. But few people have the time or the money to do this. If I could, I would have a facial once a week and a massage every day. But for most people (myself included), this is a fantasy. My point is, more often is always better than less often when getting regular facials. And regularity is the key word. Rather than having a treatment once a week for a few months and then not seeing the inside of a salon for nine months, getting a facial less often (every four to eight weeks), but consistently, will yield the best results. You will receive immediate short-term benefits from a single facial treatment, but only by having regular, consecutive facials will you experience long-term results.

Another consideration is the condition of your skin. People with problem skin will want to have facials as often as possible to help keep their skin on the road to recovery. Skin that is broken out can really experience good results from professional treatments. Those of you with few or no problems will benefit from regular, monthly facials as well. Everyone needs extra exfoliation, more hydration, and deep cleaning no matter the type or condition of the skin. I can definitely tell a difference in a client who has had monthly facials over a period of several years. There is a certain clarity and softness to her skin that is unmistakable. The lines are less noticeable, and her skin, quite simply, looks healthy. Usually she has a good understanding of her skin and knows the value of consistent care.

The importance of professional treatments cannot be overemphasized, but without daily at-home care, professional facials can only take you so far. Optimum results occur when incorporating good skin care habits at home as well as facials in a salon. Time and money usually dictate how often you can have a professional treatment. First spend your money on good at-home products (since you’ll be affecting your skin on a daily basis), then try to have a facial every four weeks. If this is not possible, six to eight weeks would be my next recommendation. Even getting a facial seasonally will do a lot to help prepare your skin for whatever changes the weather will bring.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sugar & Skin: One client's story

I try to be aware of what I put into my body. I drink a lot of water, take vitamins, and I really watch my sugar intake. I am 24 years old and am struggling with acne along my jawline and chin. I definitely see an increase in the breakout around my period, so I think it is mostly hormone- and stress-induced.

Since reading your book, I am extra aware of sugar in my diet. But I will be honest—I do give in to the occasional chocolate fix (and those Girl Scouts are around again). I also know there is a lot of hidden sugar in my diet. My daily intake consists of two teaspoons of sugar in my coffee in the morning, a mid-afternoon yogurt (which I know is high in sugar), a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sometimes a cookie or small piece of chocolate, and then wherever sugar is less obvious in other things in my diet.
If this is an example of watching sugar intake, it is about watching a lot of sugar going into her mouth. No wonder she is having skin problems! Usually when people come to me for advice, they don’t have so much obvious sugar in their diet. But here, with this example, I hope you can see how much sugar this client is eating—every day. If she would simply and totally rid all of the above mentioned sugary foods from her diet, I would be very surprised if she didn't experience significant clearing with her skin.

If someone is sugar-sensitive, the sugar in the coffee alone is too much sugar—especially on a daily basis. That this client is experiencing any problems with her skin, severe or not, is absolutely no surprise. Yogurt, plain with nothing added, is the only yogurt I recommend eating. You can always add fresh fruit, like bananas, apples, etc. But if you eat yogurt with fruit added during manufacturing, just look at the label—you are getting a lot of “hidden” sugar. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be a great meal on the run, but it is loaded with sugar. The jelly is obvious, but I’ll bet the peanut butter has sugar in the ingredient list too. If it is from a health food store, perhaps not. It may just be peanuts and oil. But a grocery store product will contain sugar. Cookies and the “occasional chocolate fix” are only going to compound this young lady’s problems.

Her program is simple: eliminate at least all of the above-mentioned items from her diet. In Timeless Skin, I recommend going on a three- to ten-day sugar fast. Sometimes limiting the amount of time you will abstain from something makes the process a little easier to get through. I don’t advocate reintroducing the same amount of sugar into your diet that you were eating before the fast. But sometimes just taking a break from sugar completely will give you the extra willpower you need to begin to reduce the amount of sugar you are getting on a daily basis. Once you stop feeding the problem, your blemishes will (hopefully) be a thing of the past.

There are many posts on this blog that can help you achieve healthy, clear skin. Please read these when you can!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hyperpigmentation: A few Q & As

I have a problem with a pigmentation spot on my face that will not go away. I’ve had it since childhood and have tried everything to get rid of it—hydroquinone, Retin-A, AHAs, everything, but with no success. I assume the spot is caused by sun exposure. It looks very much like the age spots older people get. I have extremely fair skin, so sun damage really shows up on my skin. What would you recommend?

Your dermatologist may be able to remove the spot with a laser; you’ll have to go have a consultation and see what your options are. But keep in mind, any amount of sun you receive will increase the pigmentation—the darkness of spots. So the best preventative measure would be to always have your spot covered, even if it is simply by your hand as you are walking to and from the car. And definitely wear hats and use sunscreen when you are outside for any length of time.

Is the spot located in a place where sun easily gets to it when you are driving a car or even sitting in the passenger seat a lot? This is a common occurrence and means every time you drive or sit in the car, the spot is going to receive a lot of UV sun exposure. This is true even if your car windows are tinted. Granted, this darkened glass may inhibit some radiation, but not enough to stop hyperpigmentation.

Consult with a dermatologist if you are truly looking to remove this spot; perhaps he or she will be able to assist you. Also, if you are prone to hyperpigmentation, even if you were able to remove a particular pigmentation spot, there is no guarantee that same place or another place on your face won’t turn dark in the future.

I have noticed I am getting brown freckles on my forehead.
This is simply pigmentation. When we are exposed to the sun, and especially as we get older, pigmentation irregularities are bound to happen. With sun exposure comes sun damage, sometimes in the form of simple freckles.

Hyperpigmentation is not a fun thing to have; but luckily it’s not life-threatening, just a nuisance. So make covering your face a daily habit. Be aggressive about keeping direct sunlight off your face and wherever else you have developed hyperpigmentation. To read more about pigmentation irregularities, there are more posts on this blog under hyperpigmentation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Extras—Do more to have healthy skin

There are two steps you’ll want to add to The Basics 1-2-3 Program on a weekly or biweekly basis that are important for maintaining healthy, problem-free skin. I call these two steps The Extras. Although they are called “extras,” I really consider them to be “essentials.” These important steps are exfoliating and using a clay mask.

Exfoliating removes the dead cell buildup on your face and leaves your skin soft and smooth. A clay mask deep cleans the pores and soothes your skin. The Basics are your daily maintenance, but The Extras can take your skin one step closer to being its best.

See the post The Basics 1-2-3 Program for more information on what your daily routine could (should) look like.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Using dry skin products on oily skin—STOP THE INSANITY!

The following is a case where knowledge really is power.

A client came in for a facial, complaining of congestion all around her nose and cheeks. She had experienced this for over a year and was unable to get any clear answers as to what might be going on with her skin. During the treatment, I asked her what had changed in her life a year or more ago—especially with her skin care routine. She did change skin care products right around then, but she didn't feel this was the problem.

After looking at her skin, I agreed that it was indeed congested. I really felt it was product-induced rather than a problem with too much oil production. Why? The pores were clogged in a way that just didn't seem consistent with over-production of oil from within. Her skin had a spongy quality to it, like it was getting too much moisture. It looked puffy and felt oversaturated.

My client admitted to using too much product when she moisturized and that she'd previously switched to dry skin products. She was doing this because her skin felt "dry," although she wasn't oil-dry just dehydrated. These two conditions can feel the same ("My skin feels dry.") but the treatment, whether for true-dry or dehydrated skin, is not the same. Minus the congestion and current problems, her skin was normal to normal to oily.

  • Step one: stop using so much product!  
  • Step two: start using products for combination or normal-to-oily skin.  
  • Step three: exfoliate and use a clay mask as often as possible. Two to three times per week would be a good start, and then once a week after the congestion has diminished. Exfoliating will help remove accumulated surface dead skin that can make skin feel dry. Clay can greatly improve the condition of her pores, helping to clean out the superficial debris and keep her pores from enlarging.
This client did what many people do—she treated her normal to oily dehydrated skin like true-dry skin by overmoisturizing. Understanding the condition of your skin—specifically the oil content of your skin—is crucial to treating it properly. I see this over and over again: A client like this one thinks because her skin feels dry she has true-dry skin. And in many instances that just isn't the case. Hopefully you'll read information here and on my website and have a better understanding about the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Then, after applying this knowledge, you can enjoy the benefits of proper skin care.

My client's skin, by the way, has dramatically improved. After switching to a more appropriate moisturizer for her actual skin type as well as using less product, the spongy quality to her skin has all but disappeared. And the congestion she was experiencing has been cut in half at least.

Please read the other posts on this blog about dry skin issues and dehydrated skin. This misunderstanding between true-dry skin and dehydration is something that keeps coming up with my clients—and their problem skin. Sometimes (not always, of course) the problem is misinformation.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Teenage Skin

Many of my clients have asked what they can do for their teenagers' problem skin. Or sometimes they simply want to start their teens on a good skin care program, but don't know where to begin. Whether your kids have problem skin or not, there are some basic habits teenagers should try to develop that can have a positive effect on their skin. I have written this section specially for them.

1. Keeping your skin clean is of paramount importance. Generally, you use soap to wash your face. This presents problem number one. Almost all soaps have high alkalinity. Alkaline cleansers should not be used, especially by people (young or old) having problems with their skin. Alkalinity strips all surface oil and water off your skin, leaving it depleted. The oil glands will usually pump out more oil to compensate for the loss. Adding to this excess oil, your skin might become dehydrated from the soap. So your face may feel dry (although it's simple dehydration), yet will look and feel oily at the same time. Confusing, isn't it? Liquid Aveeno or Cetaphil cleansers would be good alternatives to soap. They are inexpensive and do a good job of cleansing. 

So keeping the skin clean with a non-alkaline cleanser is the first rule to follow. Just as I would instruct adults, you should be washing your face both in the morning and in the evening. Getting into good skin care habits early on will benefit you down the road.

2. Rinse off your face immediately after exercising. This is very important. All that salty sweat is basically toxic waste (toxins) being released from your body. It is coming out of your body, and you need to complete the elimination by thoroughly rinsing your face with water until you can't taste the saltiness anymore. Many clients who were experiencing sweat-related problems had a significant reduction in their breakouts using this quick rinse-off method.

3. Don't wash too much. If clean is good, then surely washing several times throughout the day must be better, right? Well, it's not. Since soap dries out the surface of your skin, you are essentially forcing your oil glands to pump and pump and pump to keep the surface lubricated. Even using non-alkaline cleansers can overstimulate the oil glands, giving rise to oilier skin. Although it is important to keep the skin clean, you don't want to create more oil. Washing twice a day is a good guidelineand always after sweating. If you feel the need to wash another time in the day, then do so. But in general, don't wash too much.

4. Abrasive scrubs are out if there are problems with infection (red bumps, pimples, blemishes, zits, and/or acne). Blemishes can easily be opened up or irritated with the abrasive particles contained in a scrub. Like open wounds, a scrub can leave these blemishes subject to even more infection and makes them take longer to heal. If no infection is present, scrubs are fine to useas long as they are used with care. You never want to rub too aggressively with a scrub. Please be sure your skin is already wet when applying the scrub. Never use one on a dry skin. Why? Too much pulling and not enough glide.

5. Pimple-drying agents should not be used on problem skin. This includes oxy products, blemish pads, etc. These products are very harsh, to say the least. They're being used on skin that is infected and inflamed. This tissue needs soothing, calming, antibacterial products used on it, not harsh, caustic creams.

6. Food does affect your skin. There are plenty of books and many doctors who will disagree with me on this issue. However, I have seen too much evidence to believe otherwise. It just doesn't make sense that what you eat doesn't affect everything about you, including your skin. It's like saying I can fill up my car's gas tank with orange juice, and this won't affect how it runs. A car requires a certain type of fuel to run efficiently, and so does your body. If you put low-quality foods into your system, sooner or later your system (your body) will rebel.

During the teen years (I know this was true for me), eating healthy, well-balanced meals isn't necessarily the norm. There tends to be a lot of sodas and sweets, and usually a more than occasional fast-food burger and fries. Even if your stomach can survive this, it is doubtful your skin willnot for any extended length of time. I think your body can tolerate all kinds of abuse for a short period of time, but after your time is up, your body will rebel. It will start creating symptoms of overload. One of these "symptoms" is breakout.

And to top that off, kids are bombarded by advertisements in teen magazines to use oxy this or "zit remover" that. As I've said before, these products do little more than irritate the skin and put the irruption in a dormant (inactive, not cleared up) state. Become aware of how food may be affecting your skin.

7. Don't pick. I know this is an impossible request. I feel it is my duty to at least address this issue even though I'm quite sure faces will be picked at by their owners. It's human nature. But truly, my recommendation is to leave your face alone. Read my post: A Note to All Pickers for more information if you just can't stop this habit.

When to start your kids on a skin care program. When your children are starting puberty, it would be beneficial to start them on a good skin care program. If they aren't having any problems with their skin, at least make sure they are cleansing morning and night with a non-alkaline cleanser. That's a good start, and later down the road you can add other products (toners and moisturizers, exfoliators and masks) when needed. But at such a young age, and if no problems are present, their skin is functioning optimally and won't need a lot of extra care. And when I say morning and night, I completely understand the likelihood of that is low. Many of my adult clients don't wash twice a day. Hopefully you can get your kids to wash at least once and hopefully two times every day. Miracles do happen :+)

If your teens are having problems, it's time to get them started on a good program of cleansing, exfoliating, and using a clay mask to help keep their breakouts to a minimum. Exfoliating and using a clay mask are additional steps that can help make a difference in their skin.

Numerous clients have found good results for their teenagers' skin by following the previously mentioned steps. Not all teenagers are going to follow a skin care routine, but I have found if they see good results from following a simple program, they will be more prone to following through with it on a regular basis.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stress + the Pill can = breakouts. Once client's story

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!

This 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 the Pill; 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 exercise.

Have you recently gone off birth control pills and are now experiencing breakout? Did you just begin taking 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. Treat the system, not just the symptom.