Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Skincare Survival

Chilly Winter weather can contribute to making our skin become dry and even irritated which can be pretty uncomfortable and well…not very pretty!  It's not just about esthetics and comfort either. Well-hydrated skin provides a protective barrier made up of our bodies own lipids that keeps out infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi.

There are skin-saving steps you can take to protect your lipid barrier and keep your skin functioning well and looking and feeling it's best even during the coldest winter weather.

There are two types of dryness our skin can experience: Lipid dryness: Lipids are oily substances our skin produces naturally. When the skin is lipid deficient, water escapes from our skin and causes dehydration which is another type of dryness.  This is called TEWL Trans Epidermal Water Loss. When we have a well functioning lipid barrier it will bind with water and our skin will look and feel hydrated and function properly.  When our skin gets very dry and dehydrated it can develop microscopic cracks in the dermis which can be pathways for bacteria to get in and cause inflammation and thus even if you have dry skin and especially if it's dehydrated you can suffer from acne, eczema, dermatitis, etc. Sometimes these conditions can be reversed by simply getting your skin to its proper hydration levels.

Hydration is important for the skin's health but also of course for our appearance. When our skin is dehydrated it can develop fine lines especially around the eyes and lips where the skin is naturally thinner and has less oil glands. Dry and dehydrated skin will be more droopy and saggy, will look older and wrinkles will appear deeper.

What to do?
Skin Saving Tip 1:
Use a more moisturizing day and night cream.  If you use a light lotion you might consider a cream in the winter season. It's especially important to use a more hydrating night cream since while we are sleeping our body and our skin of course, being the largest organ of our body, becomes dehydrated. You want to look for a moisturizer with ingredients such as lipids, grape seed extract, hylauronic acid, polyhydroxy acids, etc.

Skin Saving Tip 2:
Avoid extremely hot showers or baths - lukewarm is best and use a creamy/milky cleanser instead of a soap based one. The cream cleansers will still clean your skin but won't strip your lipid barrier. Try taking a milk bath once a week since the natural lactic acid in milk exfoliates a little but also binds moisture to the skin. You can add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil like Jasmine or Lavender for added aromatherapy and therapeutic relaxation benefits. Don't forget to apply moisturizer on slightly damp skin to lock in that moisture.

Skin Saving Tip 3:
Consider adding a Serum to your regimen. Serums are liquid and penetrate the skin very well and then you apply your moisturizer over it. During the day a serum with Green Tea, Plant stem cells, Grapeseed  Extract, Algae Extract, etc. and at night a collagen boosting serum with peptides, hylauronic acid and if you are really dry a serum with some lipids. I call serums the "green juice of skincare" because they have so many active ingredients and are easily assimilated into the skin like drinking a big glass of celery/cucumber/spinach juice - lot's of nutrients going to all of your cells.

Skin Saving Tip 4:
Don't forget to wear an eye cream day and night - during the day to protect and at night to heal.  The skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body and there aren't any oil glands. Also, very cold winter weather can make your eyes tear and the salty tears can dehydrate the thin sensitive skin around the eyes. Your eye cream should be richer than the other creams you use and it's important to use a cream that's specifically formulated for the eye area.  I like eye creams with no fragrance or color additives, since those can be irritating. You should be able to apply an eye cream all the way to the lash line on upper and lower lids as well.

Skin Saving Tip 5:
You may want to hold off on using your toners and astringents that have a high level of alcohol in them during cold weather months. The alcohol can dehydrate and really dry out the lipid barrier. The toners may be more necessary in the summer when your oil/sweat glands are more active. There are great toners that are alcohol free and contain hydrating ingredients such as hylauronic acid, rosewater, polyhydroxys, etc.

Skin Saving Tip 6:
Keep your lips kissably soft!  Honey is a great moisturizer, since it has natural humectants and natural sugars which gently exfoliate. You can take a little brown sugar and mix it with a dab of honey or olive oil for a gentle lip scrub. Try to stay clear of petroleum based products for lips since it's an occlusive ingredient no moisture can get in or out and you will become dependent on wearing it for your lips to feel moisturized.

What are some of your favorite tips to keep your skin feeling and looking good in the cold?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's the deal on facial peels.....

As we get older it becomes more and more important to exfoliate. As we age our cellular turnover rate slows down and peels "trick" our skin into thinking it's younger by removing the bonds that hold the dead skin cells to the surface and stimulating the collagen underneath the surface which gives us a smoother surface but a more plump dermis underneath which will make our skin look healthy, glowing and tighter. If you want the look of smaller pores then peels are a must. Scrubs can make them looks bigger since you are massaging a granular object into the pore - over time this can stretch your pores. Dead skin cells do not reflect light the way the new ones do so exfoliating will also give you that healthy glow. It will also allow the expensive serums and moisturizers you use to penetrate better thus allowing them to be more effective. When the serums are sitting on top of dry dead skin cells they can't work very well.

Peels also because they remove the intercellular glue make our pores more compact. There are lots of acids and enzymes also can be used. It's important to use the right type of acid/enzyme for your skin type.

I generally will recommend light gentle peels instead of scrubs since scrubs can cause tiny tears in the pores which can lead to larger pores over time, slackened skin and dehydrated skin which can get "cracks" in it where bacteria can hide and cause more breakouts. A gentle polish with a very fine scrub is definitely okay once in a while. We just never want to over-exfoliate.

10 Quick Facts about Peels:

1. It's best to do peels at night and then apply your serums, moisturizers - while you sleep your amazing body is hard at work and  naturally repairs. You wake up with smooth glowing skin!

2. Mandelic Acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid which comes from the Bitter Almond is an ideal acid for oily and/or acneic skin because of it's lipophilic properties.

3. Our dead skin cells do offer protection from the sun so if you are doing peels make sure you are using a broad spectrum SPF 30 every day and being careful about the sun.

4. Glycolic Acid is derived from the Sugar Cane and was discovered in the late 1960's  by Dr's. Van Scott and Yu-  and still considered to be the "gold standard" in the skincare world.

5. Lactic Acid is a very gentle AHA that is also very hydrating.

6. Citric Acid is a powerful brightening AHA - makes it a great treatment for sun damage (brown spots) and/or PIH - Post-inflammatory pigmentation and acne scars

7. Salicylic is a BHA (it's lipophilic like Mandelic) and is good for acne and is anti-inflammatory

8. PolyHydroxy acids "PHA's" are very hydrating and are my personal favorite way to exfoliate since they bind moisture, exfoliate well and cause no irritation even in the most sensitive of skin.

9. Glycolic Acid is the smallest AHA and penetrates skin the quickest which can feel like stinging from mild to severe. If you are sensitive start with a lotion with Glycolic in it and use a couple nights a week and apply your moisturizer over it. I don't recommend applying AHA's during the day. Protect during the day - exfoliate and correct at night.

10. Too much exfoliation can lead to sensitized skin so we want to only exfoliate when we need to. A licensed Esthetician  or a Dermatologist can help you navigate the stronger peels. There are home peels that are super gentle and can be done daily and the peels in an Estheticians's office are usually 30% plus AHA's. Some peels are self neutralizing while others are washed off.

A lot of us saw the Sex and the City Episode where Samantha had a chemical peel and are afraid of peels and rightly so after seeing that episode...It stayed in our minds as a blister-ridden visual reminder that peels can be dangerous. More is definitely not better when it comes to exfoliation.  I always tell my clients to think of peels as "passive" exfoliants while scrubs are of course physical exfoliants and start with very gentle, yet safe and effective peels and talk to your Esthetican if you want the strong stuff! I like to use very gentle peels that don't cause inflammation. There is a new field of study called "inflammaging" and it's all about how inflammation leads to aging and the gentle treatments will get you to the same goal without any downtime so I would give them a try. You have nothing to lose but dead skin.

I use a very gentle peel whenever my skin starts to look a little dull or if I'm getting a break-out and  peels always refresh my skin, heal the blemishes quickly and bring it back to life.
Have you ever done a peel? If so what did you think?
Happy Peeling!