Sunday, January 25, 2015

Evening Primrose Oil for PMS and more

I was first introduced to evening primrose oil in my mid-20s when I had very oily skin that was prone to breakout. The reason I started taking this supplement, however, was to help me through the intense pain I used to have with menstrual cramps. Evening primrose oil really helped to ease the tension brought on by PMS and helped alleviate a lot of the discomfort from cramps. At the same time I noticed evening primrose oil seemed to be helping with my breakouts and even the overall oiliness of my skin. I started suggesting it to my clients with problem skin, and they also had similar results.

Evening primrose oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs). These fatty acids are necessary in the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances. These substances are vital in regulating different systems in the body, including your oil glands. Therefore, getting an adequate supply of EFAs can actually help to reduce oiliness. See Essential fatty acids—yum for more information.

If you decide to try evening primrose oil, you’ll have to experiment with dosage to find what works for you. For PMS and cramping, I would take 1-2 500 mg capsules morning and night at the onset of ovulation and increase the dosage to maybe 3-4 capsules twice daily until the end of my period. For problem skin, you might try 2 capsules twice daily. If you don’t notice improvement, try up to 4 capsules two times a day and see if that brings about a positive change in your skin.

Evening primrose oil is also another hangover helper. Six to ten capsules taken before bed on a night you had (perhaps too much) alcohol will go a long way to reduce the symptoms of a hangover. (See Holiday Hangover Helpers.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Smoking & Skin

I’m a daily smoker. Honestly, I’m not going to stop smoking, but I am concerned about what it is doing to my skin. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the redness in my skin?

You don’t need me to tell you that smoking isn’t good for you. There are no two ways around it: smoking cigarettes causes numerous physical problems. I do appreciate this woman’s honesty, although I hope she is concerned about what smoking is doing to her entire body—not just her skin.

When it comes to smoking, there are definitely effects to the skin, long- and short-term. Smoking causes a constriction or closing of the vascular system, including the already weak capillaries that carry blood to and from your face. What you are doing by smoking is, in essence, suffocating your cells by causing less oxygen and vital nutrients to be transported throughout your body. Less oxygen to the cells means less nourishment and a decreased ability to get rid of toxins. This can show up as gray-looking skin—skin that is lacking oxygen.

Smoking affects collagen, and if you’ve ever seen a heavy smoker’s skin up close, they tend to have a lot of fine lines and wrinkles. Smoking causes a loss of healthy collagen, which creates wrinkles through collagen breakdown. Add to this the constant pursing that occurs around the lips as the mouth hugs the cigarette, and you have a recipe for increased wrinkling; it happens partly from the cigarettes themselves and partly due to the constant motion smoking causes with the facial muscles.

As if this wasn’t enough, nicotine is a neurostimulant, which can cause problems with getting sound sleep, yet another potential consequence from smoking. Not getting adequate rest brings with it a whole host of problems, not the least of which is that the body doesn’t have enough quality time to recuperate and regenerate. This can age you whether you smoke or not.

The tar that accumulates in your lungs inhibits their natural ability to self-clean. Do you get sick frequently? Perhaps smoking is to blame. Not only does smoking deplete your immune system, inhibiting its ability to fend off foreign invaders, it also causes excess mucus to form, narrowing the air passageway and leaving you susceptible to infections like bronchitis, colds, and the flu.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of coronary artery disease, lung cancer, and emphysema. Even if you don’t smoke but you live with a smoker, you are not immune to the effects of his or her cigarette smoke. You are still breathing in the toxic chemicals that are being thrown off by the burning tobacco and paper. Although you are not drawing the same amounts of tar and nicotine into your lungs, make no mistake about it—you are exposing your body to the harmful effects of smoking. This of course is known as secondhand smoke.

As far as the emailer’s concern with redness, depending on the severity of her condition and the doctor she goes to (what lasers they have available), getting the broken capillaries lasered may help her skin look less red. Obviously, as long as the cause (smoking) is ongoing, so too will be the aftereffects (redness, among other things).

If you are going to do things that are known to be harmful (or less than healthy) to the body, at least get familiar with the side effects, whether from alcohol, medications (prescribed or not), or cigarettes. No matter your habit, be smart and know how it is affecting your body. Then take measures to try to make up for the imbalance by trying to balance things out nutritionally and supplementally.

Of course, the best course of treatment would be to remove the offending habit, and in this case it is smoking. Luckily, there are many different programs available today to kick the habit and enable you to enjoy better health—and skin.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caffeine does more than just wake you up

Sometimes my clients surprise me. Today was no exception. Sometimes I don’t know everything about a given client, even if she has been coming to me for years. The client Im about to tell you about is one of that variety.

Brooke has been my client ever since I moved to Boulder, so about 7 years. When she came in for her first facial, I did what I do for all my new clients—I filled out an extensive consultation form to keep tabs on the goings on with her and her problem skin.

Through the years Ive been seeing Brooke (she is a regular, monthly client), there have been a few times Ive gotten new-to-me information about her health or lifestyle that for whatever reason didnt come out in our initial visit. Sometimes things change over the years and therefore without me asking or the client letting me know, important information may slip by me.

That could not be truer than with Brooke. During her last facial it was revealed to me that she has been quite a coffee consumer. In fact she has the equivalent of 8 shots of espresso—per day—if not more. She always starts the day with two 4-shot lattes. And inevitably later in the day she has a few more coffee drinks. Brooke said she may even have as many as 12 shots in a day. To say I was shocked to hear this would be an understatement.

This information came out because I was remarking about how good her skin looked. For years Brooke has suffered with problematic skin as well as some health issues related to her thyroid. She has a clean diet (really), doesnt eat sugar or drink alcohol. Hormonally there have been some complexities, and sometimes medications shes been taking has taken a toll on her skin. Lately, however, she has found new treatment paths, lessened or changed her medications, and her skin has improved significantly with all the changes.

But today there was a further change for the better. The inflammation I normally see around her mouth and chin area was all but gone. The red, infected blemishes that she still has occasionally were not there. For the first time—perhaps ever—Brookes skin looked healthy. The coloring was perfect and it was clearer than Ive ever seen it.

After mentioning the improved look of her skin was when she told me an acupuncturist she was seeing put her on some Chinese herbs (“that taste like Im licking the sidewalk, she says!) and told her to cut out caffeine. As I told Brooke, had I known about her huge daily caffeine consumption, I would have told her to cut down or cut it out as well!

Brooke is an all or nothing kind of gal, so most likely she really wont touch coffee again—ever. For any of you who know youre drinking too much coffee (because your skin is suffering or due to other problems caffeine consumption is causing), have one or two cups a day but not eight cups. Moderation can work for many people, but if you are the type of person who is having too much and cant just have a little, try slowly cutting down then perhaps cut caffeine out completely and switch to tea or hot water and lemon. (Brooke mentioned she found a caffeine-free tea, Yogi tea, that she buys loose-leaf, puts in her espresso machine and has found it to be an excellent substitute for her espresso addiction.)

Look for upcoming post Myth: Coffee is good for your skin to get more detailed information on why coffee is not great for your skin. In the meantime, take a look at your caffeine intake and perhaps adjust your daily consumption if necessary.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Dry Hands? A simple solution for happy, hydrated hands

Years ago I came to a place in my life where I could not stand to have dry, scaly hands anymore! Getting through a Chicago or Colorado winter is really challenging unless you have a plan. My hands are in water a lot because of my profession; during each facial my hands are in water or liquids many times. When I’m home, the last thing I want to do is compound my already dry hands with more hard water. So at home I have succumbed to wearing rubber gloves. I wear them to do the dishes, I wear them to clean the house, I wear rubber gloves whenever I want to keep water—especially hot water—off my hands.

At first, I felt silly and confined. But I bought rubber gloves that really fit my hands, and therefore my dexterity is improved over when I was wearing more oversized gloves. I can feel through the gloves, and my hands don’t suffer with exposure to water or cleaning supplies. Putting a little talc, like baby powder, inside the gloves will help your hands get in and out of them easier.

Wearing rubber gloves may sound like an obvious solution, but I have asked many people who have problems with dry hands, and most have not yet discovered the benefits of wearing them. I noticed an immediate difference in the level of dryness of my hands once I started to use rubber gloves. I didn’t have to apply lotion as frequently, and my skin just felt better in general. I don’t do special hand treatments, like paraffin or warm oil with gloves. These would be wonderful, but I just don’t have the time or inclination to do any more than I have to do to have smooth-feeling skin on my hands. Give rubber gloves a try!

I don't personally use these, but why not? Have fun!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pregnancy & tired legs

As with all maladies associated with being pregnant, nothing is going to totally eradicate them. This is also true for tired legs. But incorporating a few extra steps into your daily or weekly routine can help to relieve some of the heaviness you may be feeling.

Stimulating the circulation in your legs is the best course of treatment. A dry-brush massage is a good way to get the blood flowing through your legs. Using a body scrub in the shower is another way to invigorate your tired legs. Getting a body massage (if possible) is an excellent way to help release tension and improve blood circulation. There are massage therapists who specialize in treatments for pregnant women. Not all therapists do, but call around and see if there is someone in your area who does this kind of massage. There are even massage tables specially made for pregnant ladies. Maybe you don’t want a full body massage, so just consider getting a massage on your tired legs. Or get your feet worked on. Whether you self-massage or hire someone to do the work for you, manipulating the muscles through massage is an excellent way to help relieve some of the symptoms of tired legs.

Soaking in Epsom salts can temporarily lessen the tired feeling in your legs, but consult with your doctor to be sure you can add products to your bathwater. Although extremely hot baths and whirlpools are not recommended (you can sweat to regulate your body temperature, but the baby can’t), relaxing in a warm tub of water with soothing salts or essences can help improve the circulation in your legs and bring you relief.

There are products on the market made specifically to help tired, heavy legs. They may contain essential oils and/or other ingredients to help stimulate and improve circulation. You may want to try some of these and see if they make a difference.

Finally, sometimes just elevating your legs can help with some of the discomfort. It can help to get the blood away from your feet where it tends to pool. Taking the load off your tired, swollen legs can go a long way in helping them feel better. It’s a simple remedy, but it can really bring relief.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yonka’s Masque No. 1—it’s not a mask, it’s the Best Moisturizer—ever!

I have several favorite products in the Yonka-Paris skin care line. Masque No. 1 (going forward, Ill call it Mask 1”) is definitely one of them. If youve read any of my other posts describing Yonka products and directions for use, you know that Gommage and Optimizer Serum are my other two favorites. So there it is, my three favorite Yonka products. I love many others in the line, but these 3 top the list—absolutely.

Mask 1 was introduced around 2007. It was never meant to be a mask, per se. It isnt even listed in the “mask” section of Yonkas price and product list. Why they made the decision to use the word masque in its title, I have no idea. I do, however, think that was a big mistake. Unless you take the time to read up on this product and only go by its name, you will never have the opportunity to use it as it was intended: as one of the most wonderful hydrating creams ever made.

This gel-cream moisturizer with delicate floral aromas provides immediate, time-released, deep hydration: +54% after 1 hour and +96% after 8 hours. Intensely relaxed, the skin immediately appears smoother, softer, and plumper.

Im not sure about the claims Yonka makes in terms of the above information given for Mask 1. I am not disagreeing with the results, which are wonderful, rather with the %s and seemingly scientific findings that I simply cannot justify. However, the results are clear with the experience of much better hydration, whether 96% after 8 hours or not. The hydrating quality of this moisturizer cannot be disputed.

Essential Ingredients:
  • Imperata cylindrica, aloe vera, PCA, plant glycerinhydrating 
  • Silicon derivativeregenerating 
  • Vitamin Aregenerating
  • Jojoba, sandalwood, phellodendron, barleyanti-dehydrating, repairing
  • Bacopa monnieraantioxidant
  • Vitamins C and Eantioxidants
  • Bisabolol, vitamin B5soothing
  • Essential oils of rose, jasmine, shiurelaxing
Directions for use: In the morning and/or evening, after cleansing and spraying on Yonka Lotion toner, apply Mask 1 to your face and neck.

I currently use Mask 1 day and night. In the summer months, I will use another Yonka moisturizer during the day (and sometimes at night, too) because I dont need the deep hydration Mask 1 gives me when its really hot outside. I do sometimes reach for it, even in the warmer months, if my skin feels like it needs extra moisture. Your skin will always give you signs and signals as to what it needs. Your job is to learn its language and apply (or remove) accordingly.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How NOT to apply a clay mask

So often I see photos of models with clay masks on their faces, and so often it is applied incorrectly. Granted, these people are posing in a photo shoot and are not really applying the mask for skin care benefits—although some are regular folks posting selfies from their home facials. No matter, you see these photos and most likely think this is how to apply the mask. Please do not follow these as examples of where to apply clay mask.

I have several photos in this post with my comments about whether or not the mask is applied appropriately. Please follow this advice to get the most out of your clay mask application.


In this photo, many important places on this models face are not covered with clay. Above her lip and around her mouth in general, under her eyes, (Im guessing) the sides of her face in general, and just below her chin. All of these spots can be problem areas for many people, so by not putting the mask there, youre missing out on the deep cleansing and anti-inflammatory benefits (especially directly under the eyes) of using a clay mask.


This application is somewhat better. Although Id put the mask directly under the eyes and closer to the mouth—so you cant see the facial skin—along with a bit further under her chin. In this photo, there really isnt clay near her hairline on the sides of her face, so Id definitely apply the mask closer to her hairline.


This is better—closer to her mouth and more on the sides of her face. However, the clay is totally absent directly under her eyes. Also, Id apply a bit more on her forehead close to the hairline.


Here again, the mask is applied to most places on her face, but its missing close up to the lips, eyes, and her whole face hairline area. Also this is starting to dry, so be sure to always keep a clay mask moist on your face—never let it dry! Please read How to use a Clay Mask.


This is pretty good—close to the hairline and up to her lips. It looks like the clay wasnt applied under her eyes. Even if you use cucumber slices (or something else), still apply the clay directly under the eyes to get the full anti-inflammatory benefits. Unless you have breakout or problem skin issues, you really dont need to apply clay on the neck tissue—its totally optional. Usually in my treatment room I will apply an appropriate moisturizer in a thick layer on a clients neck, unless she has breakout there. (Read future post At-home facials—Advanced steps.) Breakout always gets clay mask application.


This young lady has done it right! She went all the way under her eyes, which is so important and usually overlooked. (The clay in a mask, having anti-inflammatory properties, helps to reduce puffiness under the eyes.) Although you always want to keep the mask moist, especially under the eyes, apply it like this woman has. She got the clay all the way up to her hairline, all the way up to her lips, and solid around her nose. Good job!


Finally, the mask is applied well here, perhaps too well (going up into her hair)—again, these are all for photographic purposes not an actual person using a mask at home. However, you can see how the mask is drying. A great effect for the photo, tragic for her skin! The cracking you see with the mask is actually what is happening to her skin underneath. Need I repeat this yet again—Do not let clay dry on your skin! It dries your skin out, and you never want to do that.

There are many posts about the use of clay masks. Please read through these to understand the outstanding benefits of using this essential tool for healthy skin.