Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mature Skin

Mature skin is commonly used to describe a skin type, but actually, the word mature is arbitrary and only suggests the person in question is older. But how old? Old enough to have true-dry skin? Yes, as you age the oil glands tend to put out less and less oil, but even someone in her 20s can have true-dry skin. Would she use a cream for mature skin? Products for mature skin usually have special ingredients that repair and regenerate skin that has “broken down.” But many people could use these special benefits even though their skin may not be classified “mature.”

My issue with mature skin products is the marketing approach: trying to get older people to buy special (usually more expensive) creams. These products may manipulate older people into thinking they can repair a lifetime of natural aging when actually they cannot undo the past. My contention is that everybody—every skin—has specific and special regeneration needs, not just mature skin.

Finally, if a person with mature skin doesn’t actually have dry skin and uses one of these specialized products with a lot of oils in a heavy cream, watch out! As I’ve stated before, age and true-dry skin don’t necessarily go hand in hand. You are not guaranteed to have oil-deficient skin as you get older. It’s just not as simple as that. If you go to the department store and someone sells you a mature skin moisturizer, unless you do have true-dry skin, you could be headed for some skin care problems, most likely congestion or clogged pores.

Be careful how you classify your skin. Skin type should start with how much (or how little) oil your skin is producing. This is based on you as an individual, not on your age.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Post-pregnancy skin sensitivity

Hi Carolyn,
Thank you so much for the adorable card you sent Quinn [the new baby]. She's doing great. Her skin is sensitive like mommy's. I've actually had some issues lately with extreme sensitivity on my upper cheeks under my eyes. It started a few weeks ago. It might have been a reaction to some eye cream, although I had been using it for a while. I imagine my hormones are still going crazy since I'm nursing. When it really flared up was when I used some pretty old Gommage. I haven't exfoliated for a couple of weeks, but I really need tomy skin feels kind of bumpy and dry. So I thought I'd try the gentler gommage I used to use. Let me know what you think. 

Yes, right now and probably until you have stopped breast feeding and gotten your normal [menstrual] cycle back, you may experience unusual things with your skin (and body)—similar to when you were pregnant. Lots of reorganization is going on inside so once again, mama suffers! I wouldn't worry about the old Gommage (303) as far as it still being good. More likely it is the citrus in that particular product that is causing the reaction. For now, yes you will still want to gommage, so the 305 will be a better option. Put the 303 away but don't throw it away! Once your body has readjusted and gotten "back to normal" you probably can use things you might not be able to right now. If you have a cream you use on your face with no reaction, perhaps try to use that temporarily under your eyes.

Sorry you're having issues. Just go look at your little Miracle if you get down about your skin. She comes firstforever! And your skin, your body, will get back to normal eventually.

For new moms: If you have a reaction, just put that particular product away for now and don't throw anything away if you've been using it in the past without issues. Give your body some time to get through all the intricacies of being pregnant, giving birth, and breast feeding before terminating any products you've used that are now causing problems. And like I told this client, go look at your little miracleand smile!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What casuses rosacea?

If you have rosacea, you will want to take stock of several things in your life that may be affecting your condition; these are called triggers. And remember, what bothers you may not bother another rosacea sufferer. However, finding out what causes other people to have flare-ups may help give you ideas. Let’s go through the triggers.

The most common trigger is vasodilation. This means anything causing the capillaries to expand. Known vasodilators include: alcohol, caffeine, hot water, hot weather, flushing/blushing, spicy foods, sun, tanning beds, steam rooms, whirlpools, hot drinks, anger, exercise, menopause and the flushing associated with hot flashes, some medications, especially stimulants like ephedrine (found in many cold and allergy medications), herbal energy pills, stress, and extreme hot or cold. That's quite a list, yes?!
I also think vasoconstrictors are potential triggers, here again backing my theory that rosacea is first and foremost a vascular condition. Vasoconstrictors include: smoking, air pollution, cold weather, cold water, and ice (applied to the face). [NEVER do this, by the way—rosacea or not!]

A mistaken link to rosacea is alcoholism or simply drinking alcohol in any amount. This, no doubt, comes from W.C. Fields who had a form of rosacea that affects the nose (it causes severe redness and swelling) called rhinophyma. And although alcohol can cause all kinds of problems including vascular changes, it is certainly not the only cause of this disease. Alcohol is a common trigger, but there are lots of people who suffer from rosacea, even rhinophyma, who have never touched alcohol in their lives.

I have a client who was having her hardwood floors refinished. She has what I consider to be a mild case of rosacea. She came in for a facial during this floor refinishing phase, and I could see a noticeable flare-up of her rosacea. Not only had the redness in her skin increased, but the poor-quality air in her house was causing severe sinus problems as well as a developing cough. I mention this case study to illustrate how things that might not be on the trigger list may still be culprits in causing your rosacea to flare up. Be consciously aware of your environment and what may be affecting your body and therefore your skin.
Be sure to read more articles on rosacea, as well as other categories like sensitive skin and others that will help you with this skin condition.

Monday, September 22, 2014

MYTH: Soap is a good cleanser

I'm not a fan of soap as a general rule. The ingredients used to make it a hard bar are generally harsh and better kept off your face. You may feel soap really gets your skin clean—and you're right. But soap gets it too clean. It may make your skin feel squeaky clean, but in reality, you've just stripped all the oil and all the water off the surface of your skin. This will give you a taught feeling (which you may associate with clean), but your skin is now stripped!

You don't have to strip everything off in order to get a good, general cleanse. And when your skin is stripped, it is left vulnerable until the proper pH is restored. It's as though you're moving out of your house or apartment, and you not only take all your belongings and furniture, but you also pull up the carpet, take the wallpaper down, and peel the paint from the walls. Soap has a similar effect on your skin.

The best way to clean your skin is with a water-soluble, milky-type cleanser. Almost all companies include a cleansing milk, cream, or wash in their product line that is water-soluble.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blackheads & Whiteheads

What is a blackhead? Technically termed a comedo or comedone, a blackhead is an open pore clogged with debris (dead skin and oil or sebum). A comedone is dark or black because oil inside the pore reacts to the oxygen in the air (it oxidizes) and turns dark. Tiny specks of melanin (the dark pigment in your skin) are also present in blackheads, contributing to their color. Finally, dirt and debris from the air can darken the debris in an open pore. Blackheads are considered noninflammatory and contain no infection.

Why do blackheads occur? Blackheads form as a result of too much oil trying to get to the surface. The pore can only handle so much oil at one time. The result is congestion (clogging) and a blackhead or plug is formed. The reason for this excess oil can be hormonal, dietary, or genetic. Sometimes using a cream (moisturizer) that is too heavy can cause clogging. Alkaline soaps strip the skin of oil and water, sometimes making the oil glands pump more oil to compensate for the loss. This can create blackheads.

What to do for blackheads. Keeping the skin clean through daily cleansing is the first step for reducing the potential for blackheads. Since dead skin and oil clog the pores, getting rid of this surface debris will help maintain cleaner skin. Exfoliation is another important step in keeping blackheads away. Regular exfoliation keeps the surface of your skin smooth and free from a buildup of accumulated dead cells. This, therefore, helps to keep the pores from clogging. Finally, using a clay mask will deep clean open pores, helping to keep blackheads to a minimum.

What is a whitehead? Whiteheads (also termed milia) are closed pores that are clogged. They contain the same debris as blackheads, but since there is no pore opening, the debris in a whitehead has nowhere to go. Because dead skin covers the opening to the pore, sebum doesn’t mix with oxygen in the air and therefore maintains its natural white or yellowish color. Thus the term whitehead. Milia are also considered to be noninflammatory.

Why do whiteheads occur? Whiteheads can form for similar reasons as blackheads: hormones, genetics, and heavy creams. I have found clients who consume large amounts of dairy products (mainly milk) tend to form a lot of whiteheads. The forehead seems to be the primary place for these dairy-induced milia to show up. Dehydration can sometimes cause whiteheads. When the dead cell buildup is thick, layers of dead skin easily cover the pores, creating milia.

What to do for whiteheads. Since whiteheads by definition are closed pores, an opening must be made in order for the debris to come out. Therefore, I recommend having milia professionally removed. I am not a proponent of self-extracting, especially in regard to milia or any other closed pores. In the case of whiteheads, self-extraction can lead to disaster. Trying to extract whiteheads without creating an opening will force the debris farther down into the follicle wall, causing the potential for infection and a much more noticeable problem.

Usually a whitehead continues to grow, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, continuing to collect debris that has nowhere to escape. Large milia are easier for an aesthetician to extract. The debris will be forced to the surface due to its ever-increasing size, and through professional extraction it can be removed for good.

The simple rule to follow for self-extracting is this: blackheads (open pores) are usually extractable, whiteheads (because they are closed pores) are not.

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!