Monday, March 30, 2015

Help for Back Breakout

In a popular beauty book, the author recommends using dishwashing detergent followed by benzoyl peroxide for back breakouts. Now, I am only one person, but I have a fair amount of common sense. I can see how the author thinks if detergent gets the grease off her dishes surely it would be an acceptable product to use on human skin. Because as we all know, skin and porcelain and/or glass are virtually the same thing, right?

OK, I’ll stop being sarcastic and just tell it like it is. Using dish washing detergent on your skin is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of! I did a TV show where I had degreasing detergent on the table of what not to use on problem skin. I once knew a client who put dishwashing detergent on her blemishes in an attempt to dry them out. She thought, perhaps as the above mentioned author does, that a degreasing agent would degrease her skin. But the results for my client were irritation coupled with severe peeling on and around the blemishes. I can’t imagine what would happen to the skin on your back if you applied dishwashing detergent even just one time, and then followed it with another known skin irritant: benzoyl peroxide.

This author goes on to recommend applying the dishwashing detergent not with your hands but with a bath brush. You have not only set up the potential for irritation using a product never intended for human skin, but to add insult to injury you are going to ensure severe irritation by using a brush to massage in the product! Is she crazy? No, just very ill-informed. She is not an aesthetician or even a person who has had any experience (from what her bio reads) with skin on a real, up close and personal level. As with anything, look at the source.

The kind of advice in that book is the kind of advice I recommend avoiding at all costs. Those suggestions might look good in a magazine or flash advertising, but to actually be recommending this for readers who have problem skin on their backs (or faces, or wherever) is preposterous. I can only hope that if you choose to read books like that one, you will also use your common sense. How much sense does it make to use dishwashing detergent (meant for dishes and glassware) on your delicate skin? If your answer is, “It kind of makes sense,” then I will just tell you straight up: don’t do it! Dishes are dishes, but human skin is a living organ that needs special care.

With that said, you're here to get help with back breakout. Because we are dealing with skin, its location is less relevant than you may think. As long as you are producing infected blemishes, you want to essentially treat them the same no matter where they appear on your body.

I get a lot of breakout on my back. It is practically impossible for me to reach this area. What can I do to help the problem, and why does my back break out in the first place?


When it comes to treating the skin on your back, it can be challenging. But there are ways you can get to that skin, even if you have to employ another person in the process. The answer to why you are breaking out there is the same as if you were having breakouts on your face. Internally something is out of balance, and in my opinion, diet is most likely at the root of the problem.

Watch your sugar intake. See the category sugar/skin to find out more about how this common ingredient can cause a lot of problems with skin—namely breakouts. Water is one of the best things for your body. If you aren’t currently drinking enough (or any) water each day, start now to drink more water, which helps to rid toxins from your body. If you sweat a lot, are you able to rinse it off your back? Or does the sweat just sit there on your skin for long periods of time? This can be a source of irritation and potential breakout, especially if you are sweating during workouts. Rinse the sweat off your entire body before it has a chance to dry on the skin. See No Sweat.

If you can afford it, get a back facial at a salon or spa. Call first to be sure they offer this service and if you have the time, go by the establishment and see where you will be receiving the treatment before you even make an appointment. Why? Some facial chairs just don’t translate into good tables for back facials. You want a versatile chair that will ensure your comfort during the process. The salon may have you lie on a massage table, which is fine. Ask them to prop up your feet if that makes you feel more comfortable. They probably have a bolster to put under the tops of your ankles for this very purpose.

Ask a friend for help. If there is someone in your life you trust to do a good job, ask them to give you a back facial. You could get a back facial as often as you can find someone to give one to you. Just like any treatment for blemishes on your face, the more kind attention you give problem skin, the better it is for helping the healing process.
  • After taking a shower to get yourself cleaned off, lay a towel or two down on the floor and lie face down.
  • Have your helper use a mild scrub mixed with water on your back. If you have large red and pus-filled blemishes, a scrub is not a good idea. It is important to exfoliate back there, but you certainly don’t want to break open the spots and possibly spread the bacteria to other places on your skin.
  • Other than scrubs, a gel-peel (like a gommage) or another type of non-abrasive peel, like a papaya enzyme peel, would be preferable. If you don’t have access to an exfoliant or if it would be inappropriate to use one, just skip to the next step.
  • After the scrub (or other exfoliator) is removed, apply a clay mask.
  • Usually back breakouts are in the upper region, near the shoulders. If your entire back is broken out, you will probably go through a lot of mask, but it is very helpful to get it on the spots. If you don’t have enough mask to go over the entire area, be sure to dot clay liberally on all the blemishes individually—even if they cover your whole back. If possible, spread the clay over the entire area as mentioned above.
  • Ideally you want to keep the mask moist. This way you won’t dry out the outer skin. You can either spray the mask with toner or filtered water. Or, if you are so inclined, your assistant can take tissues and soak them in either toner or water and place them on your skin as a compress where the clay has been applied.
  • Leave the mask for 15 minutes or so.
  • Then you can either shower to remove the clay or your helper can remove it with a warm (not hot) washcloth. Just be sure not to rub hard or scrub with the washcloth.
  • After the mask is cleaned off, I suggest spraying one last application of toner on the area and massaging it in.
  • If you have any medications or special products you are using for the blemishes, apply those last. Geranium or lavender essential oil would be a good choice to help treat the individual spots. (Both of these and essential oils in general are written about extensively on this blog. See categories.)
I have one last recommendation: Don’t let your helper pick at your blemishes unless he or she knows how to extract properly. I have heard countless stories of partners who actually relish popping their mate’s spots. I suppose it is just a natural maternal instinct that we have. But if done incorrectly, this process can cause more harm than good. However, some places may need to be extracted. See A Note to All Pickers—you know who you are!!! and future post  Extractions 1.0 to read up on how to do it for the best results.

Please understand, facials, whether for your back or your face, will not eliminate your skin problems completely. Your breakout originates from a systemic imbalance, and treating the symptom (breakout) topically will only go so far. Treating the problem from the outside can and will help it on many levels, but I want to be sure you are also taking steps to figure out the real cause of the problems. Without figuring out the cause of the imbalance along with action taken toward healthier lifestyle habits, no amount of facials, back or otherwise, will fix the problem at hand.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Basal Cell Carcinoma: David's story

David’s story. My friend David is now sporting a fairly large scar on his left cheek. Although at first he struggled to come to terms with this new facial characteristic, he now sees it as a gift and a reminder of how lucky he truly is. Here’s his story.

It was the summer of 1999. David, like many men, had a small blemish on his left cheek. And, like many men, David decided to do what he always does—try to pop it. The place bled a little bit and seemed to scab over; this went on for several days. He thought perhaps there was a hair caught inside the pore because as soon as the place seemed like it was going away, it would get irritated and red again. Eventually the spot did go away, although a small red bump was left on his cheek.

Every so often when David was shaving, the small red bump would bleed due to the razor hitting it. This went on for a month or two. Then the place scaled over, and he thought finally it was starting to heal. What David didn’t know is that many times when dry, scaly skin grows over a spot (especially one that has bled in the past), it is a sign that something is wrong with that tissue.

During the winter, David started noticing tiny spots of blood on his pillowcase. Perplexed at first, he finally realized the blood droplets were coming from his little red bump. Soon after that he was out to dinner with a radiologist friend who saw the place on David’s left cheek and thought he should get it checked out.

This next part of David’s story is similar to many of the tales I hear. Although he knew something was wrong, and even after a doctor said it looked funny, David still did not get his red bump checked out—not for another four or five months. (This is so typical.)

Finally in June of 2000 David decided he needed to have the strange place (that never went away 100%) on his left cheek checked out by a dermatologist. The impetus for action was because the spot had started to grow and was now almost the size of a pencil eraser. David finally gave in to the possibility something might be up. (Denial is very common when it comes to getting tested for possible problems with our health.)

He made an appointment with a dermatologist. She came into the room, sat down next to David and immediately said she didn’t like the way the place looked. Without hesitation she ordered a biopsy. She was so sure it was going to be a problem that she insisted David schedule himself for surgery just in case the test results came back positive for cancer. When it comes to skin cancer, timing is everything. (Note: Basal cell cancers are not as serious as melanomas, but they still grow and spread and time is a factor nonetheless.) So he scheduled surgery and waited for the test results, which came back positive for basal cell carcinoma.

David went to the clinic where the surgery would take place. He would have Mohs’ surgery, a newer procedure that is used to remove cancerous cells. When David walked through the door, he said it looked like a M.A.S.H. unit; people everywhere were bandaged in the different places they were having skin cancers removed. There were young and old alike in the waiting room. David, at 41 years old, was in the middle age range, not the older range. After looking around at all these people in varying stages of skin cancer and treatment, he got scared and almost walked out.

Hearing he had skin cancer didn’t really faze David. He knew it was treatable and figured the doctor would cut it out of his face, the skin would heal, and that would be that. It wasn’t until he was being prepped for surgery that his demeanor took a sharp turn. David said the moment he knew this was serious was when his doctor drew on his face with a marker. Not only did she circle the actual cancerous lesion, but she drew a line 2 1/4" north and south and another line an inch-wide left and right. (If you haven’t ever had surgery, drawing on the skin at the place of incision is a common practice.) Once he saw all the lines drawn on his face, he realized the area affected was much bigger that he ever expected or realized.

David felt a sense of panic. Was he going to be wearing a big huge scar after all was said and done? He asked the doctor, and she said that because of the Mohs’ surgery, it would be a flat scar, and she would take great care to make the lines go with the natural lines of his face, namely his laugh lines coming down his cheek. She would do the best cosmetic job possible while at the same time being sure to get all the cancer out.

After the procedure, David was talking with the attendant. Since David’s face was already bandaged up, he couldn’t tell the size of the surface area affected. The attendant offered to show him some of the still photographs taken at every stage of the Mohs’ surgery. When David saw the final shot and how much tissue had actually been taken out of his face in order to reach and extract all of the cancer, David was blown away. He was speechless and in a state of shock at the size of the opening in his face.


It took three passes to get all of the cancer. Twenty-two stitches inside and out. David thought it would be a few stitches and no big deal. What he learned is when it comes to skin cancer, it is anything but “no big deal.” He also wished he had asked more questions. He truly had no idea it was going to take almost two dozen stitches to patch his poor face back together. But how do you know what questions to ask when you’re going through something you have never gone through before?

Something David learned after the surgery was that the cancer got so deep, it came very close to one of his salivary glands. If the cancer had gotten down that far, David would have needed radiation as well as the surgery. Radiation? David was feeling luckier by the minute.

Once the bandages came off and David could see the reality of the large scar he now had on his face, he said it really bothered him at first. Then, after the tissue around the scar had healed and he had gotten used to his new appearance, it didn’t bother him much at all. I think any change in our appearance takes time to get used to. But in David’s case, he chooses to see his scar as a reminder of how lucky he is—he dodged a bullet with his salivary gland. And he truly sees the scar as a blessing rather than a curse. A blessing because the alternative he could have faced would have been so much worse.

David has become somewhat of an activist for skin cancer. He even says he can spot a basal cell a mile away and doesn’t hesitate to go up to people, even strangers, and tell them to get checked by a dermatologist.

The moral of the story for David was he knew there was something wrong, but didn’t do anything about it. And the irony was that originally he was worried about having a zit on his face (in the very beginning), and now he has a noticeable scar. David learned a valuable lesson about listening to that inner voice and following through.

David now “butters up” (his way of saying he slathers on the sunscreen) before he goes out. He is in the construction business, so he does spend a considerable amount of time outside—necessarily. He also goes to his dermatologist whenever he sees a spot that looks unusual or that doesn’t perform the way a normal blemish (or mole) does. In closing, David wanted me to tell you this simple thought, “If it doesn’t heal, something’s wrong.” Thank you, David, for sharing your story!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Swimming & Your Skin

I swim a lot. Is there something special I should do for my skin? Is there anything I can put on my face before I swim to protect it? What about after I swim?

If you are a swimmer, you don’t need me to tell you how hard the chlorinated water in a pool is on your skin. I have lots of clients who are avid swimmers (several are on Masters swim teams), and at different times in my life I have been a regular swimmer too. So I know firsthand about how hard chlorine is on skin.

Chlorine, as defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is “a nonmetallic chemical element that is found alone as a strong-smelling greenish yellow irritating gas and is used as a bleach, oxidizing agent, and disinfectant.” It renders anything it is added to free from any type of antibodies and/or germs.

A client once asked me if she should put Vaseline® on her face before swimming in order to keep the chlorine off her skin. Well, that is an interesting idea, but unfortunately I think it will do more harm than good.

Yes, the occlusiveness of pure petroleum jelly will keep just about everything off your skin. Whether or not it will keep the chlorine from going right past the petroleum and into your skin is hard to say; maybe the Vaseline is not a complete barrier. One thing it will do is clog your pores and cause the potential for congestion. While you are swimming you may keep the chlorine out, but how would you get all that jelly off your face afterwards? The only option that has the potential to do the job is using a scrub. This might be OK for some people but not for everyone. And you would certainly want to get all of the petroleum off your face immediately after your swim.

I suppose those of you who are adamant about keeping chlorine off your face could take this extra step, but even for skin-conscious people like me, it’s too much trouble. Therefore, in conclusion, I do not recommend putting Vaseline or any other thick, petroleum product on your face for swimming.

I am going to give you some suggestions on how to take care of your skin after you swim. Some of these things can be done at the gym, or you can wait until you’re home. But whatever you choose to do, make sure to tend to your skin as soon as possible. It has just been immersed in a harsh chemical for however long you’ve been swimming. Give your skin a break and take care of it ASAP.

Your number one concern is to replenish the moisture that has just been stripped from your skin. But first, you want to thoroughly cleanse your face. Do not use the soap at the gym! If you forgot your cleanser, just rinse in the shower and remember to go through The Basics 1-2-3 as soon as you get home. Post-exercise is a good application for a waterless cleanser, something Yonka has recently come out with. (See upcoming post on March 31: New WATERLESS Cleanser from Yonka: EAU MICELLAIRE for more information and directions.)

After cleansing and if you have the time, exfoliating would be beneficial. I would choose a light-textured scrub in a moisturizing base as opposed to a scrub that is thick and doesn’t have a lot of filler cream in it. Using gommage would be great because it is gentle, with no abrasive particles, while at the same time it is hydrating. Either one of these exfoliators will help get rid of some of the dried out surface cells. If you swim every day, you may not want to scrub this often. If a scrub is all you have to use, use it as often as you can without causing irritation to your face.

Next, use your spray toner. Even if you are just getting dressed and planning on doing your skin routine at home, spray the toner on your face before leaving the gym. The moisture from this product will superficially hydrate your outer skin and help to replace the proper pH after being in the pool.

Try applying a hydrating booster underneath your moisturizer. A hydration booster can include a hydrating gel mask, glycerin, or even an oil mixture that you have either made or purchased. For those of you with normal to oily skin, I recommend using a gel-type hydrating mask or glycerin instead of an oil. True oils are tricky to use because you don’t want them to cause breakouts or clog your pores. For true-dry skin, using light-textured oils under your moisturizer after swimming can go a long way to rehydrating your skin. If you have one of these booster products to use, simply apply it to your face and neck, taking a few extra seconds to massage it in really well, and let your chlorine-drenched skin soak it up.

Last but not at all least, use your moisturizer. Finally your skin will get the needed hydration it has been looking for ever since you set foot in the swimming pool! Don’t forget to use eye cream as well. After applying both of these moisturizers, you are ready to go.

If you are swimming at a health club and plan on taking a whirlpool or steam bath after your swim, there are a few extras you may want to do in order to save your skin.

In previous articles I’ve talked about how you don’t ever want to go into a steam room with a bare face. It is damaging to the delicate capillaries, potentially causing couperose (broken capillaries). My solution is to put on a clay mask. This will keep your capillaries protected from the hot steam, and the steam will keep the clay moist, which is better than letting it dry on your face. If not clay, use a hydrating mask instead. You will be helping to get the moisture back into your skin and at the same time keeping your capillaries protected with the mask on your face.

In the past (younger years) I wouldn’t always use a mask when going into a whirlpool. Now, into menopause, I have a lot more heat in my body and I flush very easily. So even just getting into my hot bathtub at home, if I don’t apply a full mask I will at least put a thick layer of moisturizer on my cheeks where I tend to flush. Without this, I can feel my poor capillaries dilating, and over time this is not a good thing.

Although the heat of a whirlpool is not as intense as in the steam room, if you do a whirlpool more than occasionally, I would recommend protecting your face. Use either a clay or moisture mask, hop in the warm, bubbly water and relax after a hard workout in the swimming pool.

Swimming in a chlorinated pool can be hard on the skin, but if you take care afterwards, your skin should be OK.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hidden Sugar: Sugar in Unsuspected Places


The following examples are of less obvious or even hidden sugars that you may be consuming on a frequent or even daily basis. Hopefully this information will help you determine sugar in your diet. When a client tells me they “don’t eat sugar” yet they have (what looks like) sugar breakouts, I start down a list of possible problem foods that perhaps they have overlooked as being “bad.”

Be honest. I find that after asking lots of questions, a client will eventually tell me about some sugary food they are eating—knowing that it is probably a bad thing. Don’t waste this time, just cut to the chase and be up front about how much sugar you are eating. If you have a breakout that seems “unexplainable,” go back in time and see if you can discover how you might have eaten something incidentally that could have caused your skin to erupt, even if it is just a slight breakout.

Do you add anything to your coffee or tea? Some sugar substitutes can have the same effect on your skin as table sugar.

Do you use non-dairy creamer? The first ingredient is corn syrup solids (sugar) and the second ingredient is hydrogenated soybean and/or canola oil (both of these are the bad kind of omega-6 fatty acids). If you are using a non-dairy creamer to avoid the fat of regular half and half cream, or maybe you can’t have dairy products, just know you are consuming “hidden” sugar, among other things.

Do you eat yogurt? Yogurt with fruit already added contains a lot of sugar. Yogurt in and of itself has natural sugars in it, but if you want something added to plain yogurt, add your own fruit like bananas or apples. This way you won’t get all the added sugar except the most natural kind: fructose from fresh fruit. To get an idea of how much more sugar the fruit-added yogurt has, look at the same brand’s plain yogurt to see how much lactose (milk sugar) is in that. Then compare to your fruity yogurt and you’ll see how many more sugar grams you will be spared if you simply purchase plain yogurt and add your favorite fruit to it.

What about muffins? Every time I walk into a coffee shop, I am amazed at all the “cake” they are selling. All of those muffins and croissants are loaded with sugar—hidden and obvious. If you partake in these types of breakfast foods, you are essentially having a piece of cake with your coffee. Non-fat? Usually non-fat foods are extremely high in sugar.

Japanese rice cracker snacks are salty-tasting snack crackers that are loaded with sugar, even though it doesn’t seem like they would be (and they don’t taste very sweet). The first part of the ingredient list goes like this: sweet rice, sugar, soy and tamari sauce, salt, sweet rice wine, corn syrup, natural wasabi snack seasoning [that has sugar and dextrose in its makeup]. Further down the list, sugar and corn starch are mentioned again. As you can see, this is a very high-sugar snack. In fact for a 1/2 cup serving it contains 8 grams of sugar, which is a lot. I know this because I love these little crackers but every time I would eat them, my blood sugar would get wonky and sometimes I’d get a small breakout. Ingredient lists are there for a reason, and I’m so glad we have them!

Ketchup contains tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt, natural flavors. In other words: tomato, sugar, sugar, vinegar, salt, and possible sugar. This seemingly harmless condiment can add lots of extra sugar grams to your daily diet—if you eat ketchup with any frequency.

Propel® Fitness Water is, to me, an example of sugar water. The first three ingredients are water,  sucrose syrup, and natural lemon flavor with other natural flavors. (“Natural flavors.” What’s in that?) The amount of sugar—by grams—looks incidental; this 8 ounce drink has only 4 grams of sugar. But considering you are drinking “water,” this seems like an easy (and unnecessary) way to get a lot of ancillary sugar in your daily diet.

Protein bars are very close to regular candy bars in terms of their sugar content. Even though you are getting better ingredients overall, you still need to look at the sugar grams on the package. Protein bars may make a good meal replacement once in a while, but if you are having problems with your skin and you eat these bars regularly, perhaps you need to rethink their health value for you.

If you are taking Tums® to supplement your diet with calcium, or for whatever reason, have you ever looked at the ingredients? Sucrose [sugar], calcium carbonate, corn starch [sugar], talc, mineral oil, natural and artificial flavors [no doubt containing sugar], adipic acid, sodium polyphosphate, plus various color additives. As you can see, when you eat Tums, you are essentially eating candy, and is Tums really a good calcium supplement substitute? I include it here because one of my clients who was having problems with small, but continual breakouts, was an avid Tums taker. It took a long time to figure out she was getting sugar from this source. I recommended finding alternative ways to get more calcium in her diet.

I don’t eat a lot of junk food, but I like to have crunchy munchies every now and then. One day I chose to get some baked potato chips because they are healthier than fried chips, they contain less fat, and they are crunchy. At the grocery store I neglected to check to see if there was sugar in the ingredient list. Believe it or not, just a few short hours after I ate those chips, my skin broke out a little! I was disappointed to find that these chips are yet another product I wouldn’t be able to eat due to their sugar content. The possibility of breaking out by eating them offsets the pleasure in crunching down on these chips. The ingredients include dehydrated potatoes, modified food starch, sugar, corn oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, soy lecithin, leavening (monocalcium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate), and dextrose.

Soy milk is my favorite example of a product that you don’t think of as being sugar-laddened. Soybeans, soaked, ground fine and strained, produce a fluid called soybean milk, which many people consider a good, healthy substitute for cow’s milk. Plain, unfortified soymilk is an excellent source of high quality protein and B-vitamins. Soymilk is most commonly found in aseptic containers (nonrefrigerated, shelf stable), but also can be found in quart and half gallon containers in the dairy  case at the supermarket. Soymilk is also sold as a powder, which must be mixed with water.
I looked at all the soy milk I could find on the market and morphed their basic ingredient lists (they all have very similar ingredients) to prove to you nonbelievers that soy milk is loaded with sugar. Please note all of the following are ingredients for plain or original soy milks, not the kind containing added flavors. Purified water, organic soybeans, naturally malted corn and barley extract, Job’s tears, organic barley, Kombu seaweed, sea salt. If you read an earlier post, Sugar by many other names, you will find malted barley and, short of finding malted corn, it lists “malts (any)” as being another form of sugar.

Recently, at a specialty store, I did find unsweetened soy milk. Its only ingredients are filtered water and whole organic soybeans. If you drink soy milk, I highly recommend switching to the unsweetened variety, although my guess is that it tastes horrible!

Rice milk doesn’t seem to have added sugar, but on the nutritional facts label it lists the sugar content as 15 grams per serving; four servings per one liter container. Rice milk also has virtually no protein, where soymilk does have a good protein to carbohydrate ratio. Rice milk is almost all carbohydrates. The rice milk I found had these ingredients: purified water, brown rice, sunflower oil, tricalcium phosphate, lecithin, sea salt, vitamins A and D2.

Here’s another personal story to further illustrate my own sugar sensitivities, and perhaps yours. I ordered out from a new Thai restaurant. I usually order chicken and broccoli. The food looked and smelled good, but after the very first bite I could tell there was sugar somewhere in the mix. The broccoli could have been soaked in sugar water (it tasted sweeter than broccoli normally does and, yes, some restaurants do this) or sugar could have been (and probably was) added to the sauce. What a shame. This dish was so sweet that I didn’t want to eat it. I added some tamari sauce to get a saltier taste, but I was still eating a lot of sugar with that meal—a meal that was not dessert.

I remember years ago when I was eating at a popular pizza restaurant, I took one bite of the pizza and couldn’t believe how sweet the dough tasted. I knew I couldn’t eat it. I asked the waitress if they used sugar in the recipe. She checked with the chef and was told they use honey, not sugar. Well, even if that is true, honey is basically the same thing to your skin: sugar.

So if you are eating something that really shouldn’t taste sweet but does, more than likely it has some form of sugar in it. And if you are sensitive to sugar, your skin may react. It may be a small, hardly noticeable reaction, but take note so you can avoid this food in the future or at least know why your skin is broken out. The more aware you become of sugar in your diet, the more aware your taste buds will become.

Don’t discount the fact you may be eating a food that “shouldn’t” be sugar-laddened, but is. This is especially important if and when you are trying to figure out why your skin is breaking out. Perhaps you don’t eat a lot (or any) obvious sugar, but that doesn’t mean sugar isn’t creeping into your life. Start reading labels of the foods you have at home, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are eating out. Find out if there is sugar in your prepared foods and ask for them to omit this problem-causing ingredient—at least in your “regular,” non-dessert foods.

Yum—edamame
HOT TIP: Do you have kids? Or perhaps you work at an office where there is candy laying around, like M&Ms® or another kind of bite-sized sweet? Try putting out baby carrots or cherry tomatoes or the soy product, edamame. They are healthy snack foods that don’t contain artificial sugars.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Starting your youngster on a skin care routine

My daughters are still young—8 years old and 10 years old. When should I start them on a simple skin program?

The best time to begin teaching your kids about taking care of their skin is when puberty starts. It is during puberty that changes begin to take place, although not always in the form of breakouts and other skin issues. Usually before puberty, the skin is functioning perfectly, and there are few if any problems with a child’s skin.

Clean skin is important regardless of age, so if you wanted to teach them how to properly clean their skin, that would be a wonderful first step to their eventual skin care routine. I’d recommend having them cleanse in the evening before bedtime. After a day of school and outdoor activities, learning the importance of going to bed with clean skin will benefit them in the futureespecially when they start wearing makeup. One of the biggest skin care no-nos is to go to bed with makeup on!

Later on, when they get a bit older, and especially if one or both of them starts having problems with their skin, you can add products and procedures that will benefit whatever is going on. Eventually they will want to do The Basics 1-2-3 throughout their lives along with exfoliating and clay masks (The Extras). For now, simple cleansing is a great start for your young girls.

My teenage daughter is just getting interested in taking care of her skin. Do you have any suggestions as to what a young lady should do?

If your daughter has clean, blemish-free skin, she probably doesn’t need much in the way of a program other than a good cleanser. If she is wanting to start a skin care regime or is already wearing makeup, then here is what I would recommend for a teenager with clear skin. 
  • Have her use a gentle cleanser, like Cetaphil, which you can find at any grocery or drug store. 
  • Follow this with a toner that does not contain alcohol. I recommend putting the toner in a spray bottle. 
  • As far as moisturizer, she may not need one yet, but if so, you may have to experiment before you find one that works for her. It shouldn’t contain much oil, and certainly not mineral oil. 
  • At her age, she really doesn’t need eye cream. She can start using it after she has turned the corner on 20 or so. 
Remember, as a young person, your daughter’s skin is probably functioning perfectly, more so than at any other time in her life. Once she passes into the childbearing years, her skin will be subject to changing due to hormone fluctuations. If shes already well into her teen years, she may not experience breakouts due to hormone fluctuations since she, no doubt, is already having hormone surges.

For more details on what to do and what not to do for your teenagers skin (whether problems are present or not), see Teenage Skin—what you need to know.

Monday, March 23, 2015

MYTH: Before and after pictures

I never consider these types of photographs when determining the effectiveness of a treatment or product and I highly recommend you don’t either. The variables that are possible with before and after pictures are numerous. Lighting, camera angles, clothing color, hairstyle, and even facial expressions can all make the image look better or worse depending on what is needed. I like to turn the photos upside down to lose (or gain) perspective. Remember, these are advertisements meant to sell you something. Please don’t use these pictures as a basis for believing anything.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can you get facials while you’re pregnant? In a word: YES!

I had a conversation with a new client who was in for a facial recently. She is pregnant, in the first trimester, and the day she came in she was feeling a bit nauseous. She needed extra height under her head to help fend off the queasiness.

She was wondering, going forward, how or if she would be able to keep coming in for facials throughout her pregnancy. My experience is this: Some pregnant—even very pregnant—women have no problems lying on a bed during a facial treatment; some women do have issues. It really just depends on the individual. I have many regular, monthly clients who around the middle of the second trimester say, “I’ll see you on the other side,” because they simply are not comfortable lying down for an hour or more trying to relax during a facial. Although some ladies can lie down, in order for these women to enjoy the facial, they need to be elevated in a way that doesn’t work for me (or other aestheticians) giving the facial, so at this point in their pregnancy we just aren’t a good match. And then there are those who simply wouldn’t even endeavor to lie down knowing they wouldn’t make it for five minutes.

Every aesthetician has her own way of practicing. Every facial bed is going to have different angles and abilities to change as per the client’s needs and requests. And with a woman in the home stretch of her pregnancy, sometimes all bets are off and something that was comfortable for her early in her pregnancy just might not be a fit now.

When a client calls who really wants a facial but isn’t sure if she’ll be comfortable, I usually say this: If you truly believe you can relax for an hour or so on the treatment table, by all means come in! Getting a facial is good for the skin and good for the soul. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to recline and unwind—don’t make an appointment. If you won’t be able to fully enjoy and relax during the treatment in a salon, is it worth it to get a facial? I don’t think so. Frustrating perhaps, enjoyable—doubtful. There are many things you can do at home to replicate a facial treatment, albeit you’re doing them to yourself vs. having them done to you. See At-Home Facials—A DIY How To.

Only you can decide if you can lie down for the time it takes to get a facial. One thing I do recommend is getting a facial as soon as you can after the baby is born. Your skin (and your psyche) will need it by then.

All the best to you and the miracle growing inside you!
In both facial photos in this article the aestheticians are standing. Some facialists do this as their way of practice and others may do it to accommodate a client.