Thursday, July 30, 2015

Yonka’s Masque 103—Detoxifying Clay Mask for normal to oily and problem skin

YONKA CLAY MASK is a great at-home treatment for breakout as well as for all-around clean, healthy skin. Clay absorbs oil and draws impurities to the surface while calming and reducing inflammation. Clay also stimulates blood circulation, getting oxygen and nutrients to the cells, which makes a clay-based mask good for all skin, no matter what “type.” 

Masque 103 is best for normal to oily or problem, acneic skin. This version has a higher concentration of clay making it more detoxifying and clearing. (Masque 105 is better for true-dry and sensitive skin. With a lesser concentration of clay, it is perfect for cleaning out the pores of even the most sensitive skin. Even if you have true-dry (oil-dry) skin, you can always use a good deep cleaning.) All skin types can benefit from the circulatory acceleration that comes from using a clay mask.

 Masque 103 can be used in several ways:
  • As a mask, covering the entire face and left on for 15 minutes, once to several times per week. *Remember to keep the mask moist by spraying with water or toner.
  • As a spot treatment, dotted on the blemish at night before bed and left on while you sleep. If the spot is medium to small without a lot of infection, this dotting method can really reduce its size overnight. Help For Breakouts will give you more detailed information.
  • For an extra-strength cleanser, mix equal parts clay mask with your cleansing milk, gel, or wash creme and cleanse as you normally do (apply/massage/rinse). See Advanced Steps for Cleansing.
Essential ingredients:
  • 3 clays
    • Montmorillonite (France)—detoxifies, oxygenates
    • Bentonite (France)—tightens, 
    • Kaolin (China)—balances secretions, purifying, clearing
  • Borneol—purifying, clearing
  • Sage essential oil—detoxifies, antisepticizes
  • Orange essential oil—astringent, antisepticizes 
  • Wild thyme essential oil—decongests, antisepticizes
  • Essential oils of lemon and lime—astringent, toning
  • Yonka “Quintessence” (essential oils of thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary)—purifying, balancing 
Directions for use:

Use clay once a week. If you have a lot of breakout, mask 2-3x per week.

  • Apply this aromatic cleansing mask in a thick layer to the entire face after cleansing or after using Gommage
  • Leave on about 15 minutes
*The mask needs to stay moist the entire time it’s on your skin. If you let this (or anything) dry on your skin, it will just dry out the skin’s surface. One step forward, two steps back. This is what I recommend:
  • Apply mask and immediately spray your toner liberally over entire face
  • After 5 minutes or so (whenever you feel the clay start to dry), you will need to spray again and can either use your Yonka toner or get a spray bottle and fill with filtered (clean) water
  • Keep mask moist until you remove it
  • After 15-20 minutes, remove mask with tepid, room temperature water (never hot or cold)
  • After pat-drying your skin, spray the toner and apply your moisturizer
Please read How to use a Clay Mask. It has important information and more detailed instructions on how best to use Masque 103 (or any clay-based mask).


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nose strips—good or fad?

What are pore cleansing strips? 

Pore cleansing strips are a very well-marketed skin care fad. I wish I had been an investor in these products because I’m quite sure they have made millions. You can find a package of a dozen or so strips for under $10. If only a fraction of the country bought just one box, well you can do the math.

Years ago when these strips first came out, it seemed like every single client was asking me about them. I tried hard to find a store that had them in stock, but couldn’t. Finally when I found some, I immediately went home to see what all the buzz was about. I followed the instructions, and when all was said and done, I was not impressed.

You are instructed to wet the pore cleansing strip and place it over your blackheads. (The first strips out on the market were specifically shaped for the nose. Now several companies make them for other parts of the face as well.) After the strip dries on your skin, it is ripped off (like a bandaid—ouch!) to reveal debris the sticky strip has pulled out of your pores. For those of you who don’t know, the main ingredient in the pore cleansing strip that does the grabbing is an essential ingredient in hair spray. It’s called polyquaternium-37, and it acts like glue to pull out plugs from below the surface of your skin.

Once the strip is ripped off, the skin underneath may look red and irritated. Long-term use has the potential to cause capillary damage at the pull-off site. Yes, it does pull out some of the superficial debris that your cleanser doesn’t get. Yes, it is OK to do something like this once in a while, but you wouldn’t want to use these on any kind of a long-term, regular basis. A clay mask is a far superior way to deep clean your pores. You can apply a mask to your entire face, not just small sections. And clay is soothing to the skin. Pore cleansing strips, once removed, are anything but soothing. (See Why use a Clay Mask?)

I’m sure this fad product is popular with teens who think it’s cool to see the junk from their pores left on the strip. Some people may see these strips as an easy way to get rid of blackheads, but be forewarned: pore cleansing strips are one of those shortcuts to good skin that do not deliver. True deep cleansing of the skin is found through consistent practice of good skin care habits, not from using a well-marketed, ineffective fad product. Like many things in life, the effort you put in usually equals the results you receive.

Pore cleansing strips are a quick fix to a long-term problem (clogged pores) and will more than likely disappoint you and quite possibly cause problems with your skin. Use these strips once or twice, for novelty’s sake, then go back to your more serious skin care routines. See The Basics 1-2-3 and The Extras—Do more to have healthy skin for more information on what your routine should look like.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dermatitises (skin inflammations) explained

Dermatitis is an umbrella term describing a general condition of inflammation (itis) of the skin (derma). If you think you have a form of dermatitis, go see your dermatologist. He or she will be able to prescribe medication (usually topical) that can help get rid of this often annoying skin condition. Let’s look at the different types of dermatitis.

I first want to say that all of the photos in this post are very bad cases of each individual dermatitis. Many of you will only have shades of what you see below. I put the worst-case scenarios here so you can see what each skin condition looks like. Minor examples simply wouldn’t exemplify these skin irritations like the bad cases do. My hope is that you never have the type of severe cases shown here!



Allergic contact dermatitis. This dermatitis goes by the names contact dermatitis, allergic dermatitis, and allergic contact dermatitis. No matter which name you prefer, the symptoms are the same.

Allergic contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin caused by contact with a particular allergen. It can cause a rash or even blisters, usually confined to a specific area that often has clearly defined borders. These allergens can be anything from ingredients in cosmetics, metals found in jewelry like nickel, and plants such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Even some chemicals used in clothing manufacturing or laundry detergent can cause skin inflammation.

Many of my clients have intolerances to nickel in jewelry, sometimes called earlobe dermatitis. This shows up as crusty, scaly skin on the earlobes. Nickel is usually a component of inexpensive jewelry, not solid gold, platinum, or silver. As long as cheap earrings are worn, the dermatitis will persist. Because this irritated skin can be unsightly, once you realize you have an intolerance to nickel, you will choose not to wear the cheaper type of jewelry—out of necessity.

Rubber is another common allergen causing allergic contact dermatitis. Latex, like rubber gloves, and spandex, usually found in elastic wastebands in pants, bra straps, and underwear can cause this type of skin allergy. Exposure to some rubber found in shoes can also cause parts of your feet and toes to have problems.

Ingredients in skin care products can cause allergic reactions in some people. Irritations and reactions are two different things. Allergic contact dermatitis will show up as a rash or a scaly, even crusty patch of skin, whereas an irritation from a product may simply cause an unpleasant sensation.

I have a client who came into my office with a strange red patch of skin near the right side of her mouth. It wasn’t a blemish or anything that resembled problem skin, but it was persistent and bothering my client. After questioning her, I found out she talks on a cell phone—a lot. She said her phone got wet one day and ever since then she has noticed this skin irritation. Bingo! No doubt there was some type of reaction with the wet metal constantly pushing against her skin, and finally she developed allergic contact dermatitis. Even without water being a factor, just constantly pressing a phone against your skin is enough to cause a reaction—if you are susceptible. See Rashy breakout around your mouth? A client’s question.

Truly, there are numerous offenders that can cause allergic contact dermatitis. The best way to treat it is to keep the offending substance away from the skin. As long as the allergen is present, the skin will continue to react. If you think you are having an allergic reaction to jewelry, clothing, skin care products, or something else, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. Then you will know for sure what you can and cannot wear, use, or be exposed to.



Backs of toddler’s legs with eczema.
Eczema. Sometimes called atopic dermatitis, eczema is yet another form of skin inflammation. Eczema comes in many shapes and sizes. Most commonly, I have seen it on the eyelids. Next (and this is where I tend to get eczema) is the cheeks and outer nose area.

It can show up as red, blistering skin, and oozing or weeping can even occur if it is left untreated. Eczema usually looks and feels scaly, can be red or brownish in color, and there tends to be a thickening of the skin where the dermatitis exists. When found around the eye area, the lines and wrinkles there seem to increase overnight. The skin is red and irritated and almost always the affected skin itches.

Technically, the origin of eczema is unknown. Many times skin conditions are thrown into the “unknown cause” category. But the truth is, something is causing the condition, although it may be too difficult to figure out what. The word unknown usually says to me that something other than an allopathic medical explanation is needed.

I try to look from a wholistic viewpoint—looking at the body as a whole, not just the symptoms it is producing. This includes looking at lifestyle and the possible stress it may be causing in your body. Physical symptoms can be caused by many things, including something as intangible as mental stress. Therefore, I believe eczema is stress-induced. In other words, it happens due to stress—whether it be internal body stress or emotional stress from the outside world. (Yes, I spell holistic with a “w” because truly it means the whole body.)

Red, scaly, itchy skin = ezcema.
If the body is unable to produce gamma linolic acid (GLA), sometimes eczema is the result. Taking evening primrose oil, which is rich in GLA, can help to alleviate symptoms of this type of dermatitis. You may want to give this supplement a try and see if it helps you. Evening primrose oil is so good for your body in general, if it helps specifically with eczema, so much the better! You could even open one of the capsules and massage a drop or two onto the affected area for some relief. See Evening Primrose Oil for PMS and more.

Aloe vera gel is another treatment you can try. The soothing nature of the gel can ease your irritated skin as well as help to heal the area. It wouldn’t be my first choice to help with dermatitis, but if it’s all you have at the moment, it will probably help to some degree.

Commonly, topical cortisone creams and ointments are prescribed for eczema. You can also purchase cortisone over the counter (OTC), although the strength will be less than the prescription kind. If cortisone helps, the skin condition could have been eczema; if cortisone doesn’t help, it probably is something other than a dermatitis.

For more information on this common dermatitis, read upcoming posts Eczema anyone? and Scaly, dry skin on your eyelids? It could be eczema.


Perioral dermatitis. A client wrote, “I get this red, scaly, bumpy stuff under and around my nostril area.” This is a good description of perioral dermatitis. It is a red, sometimes bumpy rash around the nostrils and sometimes down around the mouth. Peri means around or about, and oral indicates the mouth. So perioral means surrounding the mouth, although this condition pertains to the redness around the nostril area as well.

Applying a topical cortisone cream or ointment to the affected area is going to give you the best results. This type of dermatitis can be very persistent and sometimes hard to completely clear up, and you may want to get a dermatologist’s prescription for the stronger form of cortisone.

I was reading a medical book explaining some different treatments for perioral dermatitis. One of the recommendations, tetracycline (an oral antibiotic), was said to be a good treatment—one of the best. Unfortunately, dermatitis is stress-induced. Therefore, if you continue to be under stress and even if your perioral dermatitis cleared up after taking the antibiotics, more than likely it will return when your body’s immune system is weakened by the stress. Antibiotics, by their very nature, distress and suppress the immune system, so taking tetracycline seems to me like it might keep you moving in a vicious circle.

In this same manual I was reading, perioral dermatitis was listed under Sebaceous Gland Disorders, leading me to believe that this type of dermatitis also includes unusual sebaceous activity along with the rashy dermatitis of the outer skin. This makes sense due to the usual location of perioral dermatitis—around the nostril area and sometimes going down to the outer edges of the mouth. The nose has so many active oil glands and the folds of the nostrils can become clogged with oil, so this is an easy place for problems to occur.

As I mentioned, tetracycline or even minocycline (another antibiotic) are prescribed to treat perioral dermatitis. And just like with acne (another condition these oral antibiotics are commonly prescribed for), taking medicine orally does next to nothing to help figure out the actual cause of the problem. And it is by finding the cause that you will find your greatest and most long-term relief.



Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is an inflammation of the upper layers of the skin, causing a red, scaly, itchy rash in various locations on the body. The eyebrows, eyelids, scalp, sides of the nose, and even the skin behind the ears are the most common places to find this form of dermatitis. Other areas where the skin folds (under the arms, breasts, and buttocks) may also be affected. This condition may cause not only flakiness but greasy or oily-looking skin. Dandruff (flakiness on the scalp) is actually seborrheic dermatitis.

Weather seems to affect this condition. You may find seborrheic dermatitis worsens in the winter, and improves in the warmer months.

Seborrheic dermatitis is most common in people who have oily skin and oil-prone hair, although it is not limited to these oily types. Sometimes even infants can develop seborrheic dermatitis due to the hormone changes after birth. Babies can also develop what looks like diaper rash, but really may be a case of seborrheic dermatitis.

Treatment consists of a hydrocortisone ointment (as in most cases of dermatitis) as well as a medicated shampoo for cases of seborrheic dermatitis affecting the scalp. As with any and all cases of dermatitis, consulting with your dermatologist is the best course of treatment. He or she will be able to guide you to the best medications and can track the progress of your skin.


Keep in mind, when it comes to treating dermatitises, what works for one person may be irritating to someone else. Using creams, salves, or oral medications on skin inflammations may bring relief for some, but be prepared that your experience may be different. Please contact your dermatologist if you have a skin condition that doesn’t respond to your home treatment and just won’t go away. Dermatitises are treatable but only if you get treatment!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Is pressure breakout a problem for you (or your kid)?

Granted, most people will not be wearing this type of restrictive head gear. I put this photo here to make the point that pressure from gear + sweat can = breakouts.

Football helmets, chin straps, and sweatbands are a few possible causes of pressure-induced skin problems. This type of sports gear can inhibit elimination, causing sweat to pile up in certain areas, which can cause irritation and potential breakout. Even continually sleeping on one side of your face can cause a kind of pressure breakout.

Keeping any sweat from drying on the skin will help keep irritation and breakout away. Splash rinsing with water is your best bet to get all the sticky, sweaty goo off your face. No matter where you are, you’ll usually have access to water. Know that the longer the sweat stays (and dries) on your skin, the more potential for problems down the road. This is especially true if the drying sweat is an ongoing occurrence, like with sports that you’re involved with on a daily or several times weekly basis.

If you don’t have access to water, at least wipe as much of the sweat off your face as you can with your shirt or a towel, if one is available. See No Sweat for more information.