Thursday, April 10, 2014

Basic Steps of a Facial Skin Care Routine: CLEANSING

There is no reason why you can’t have great skin if you really want it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to get it and the advice is not “one size fits all”. I will take you through each of the essential steps of a skin care routine one step at a time and explain to you what you should do at each step based upon your skin type.

The first step to taking care of your skin is choosing the right cleanser. The purpose of washing your face is to remove dirt, oil, make-up, and pollution from the surface of your skin. However, it is easy to derail your skin’s natural oil balance by over cleaning or using a cleanser that is too harsh for your skin type. Cleansers vary by the amount and types of detergents, moisturizers, emollients, and other ingredients. Avoid cleansers with harsh, toxic detergents (such as sodium lauryl sulfate and its analogs, and parabens), soap and alcohol. I prefer cleansers with natural ingredients, they are just as effective and more healthy for you.

Your skin naturally produces oil to protect itself from pollution and damaging environmental factors. The protective layer of oil on the surface of your skin is called the “acid mantle” and it is good for you. If your skin is too oily then your skin is over producing oil; if it is dry, then it is not producing enough oil. When your skin is properly cleansed the oil will achieve the proper balance, your face will be protected and your complexion will be radiant.

Oily Skin

If your goal when you are cleansing your skin is to scrub hard and go for that super squeaky clean feeling – then you are damaging your skin because you are stripping it of its natural oil. You will now force your skin to produce even MORE oil because it is so depleted, thereby making your condition WORSE. It will make you more susceptible to bacterial infection and pollution. Plus it will be scratched, sore and irritated.

Pimples, blackheads, and clogged pores are caused when dead skin cells are trapped on the surface of your skin because of excess oil. Bacteria then get trapped inside the pores and cause all sorts of problems for you. Gentle daily exfoliation is important. Choose a gel cleanser with alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) and beta hydroxyl acid (BHA). Salicylic Acid is a BHA that penetrates deep into your pores to kill the bacteria growing inside. AHAs like Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid help to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells from the surface of your face so that they don’t clog your pores. 

You will need to wash your face 2x per day, not more unless you are doing something that has caused a lot of dirt or sweat to be deposited on your face. If you are too oily during the day, blot your face with a tissue.

Dry Skin

Over washing is one of the biggest contributors to dry skin conditions. The best thing you can do to reverse this condition is to only wash your face once per day – in the evening before bed. During the night while you are sleeping you will not have created enough oil to necessitate a morning face wash. All you will need to do in the morning is to rinse your face with warm water and massage it gently with your finger tips.

Use a soap-less milky or cream cleanser in the evening. Dampen your face with water, put the cleanser on a cotton pad and wipe your face. Depending on how dirty your face is you may need to use a couple of cotton pads. If your cleanser has oil in it that is totally fine; oil dissolves dirt, oil and grime best.

Sensitive Skin

The chemicals, fragrances and colorings in skin care products can cause dryness and irritation. If you have sensitive skin you can look for cleansers that are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, or you can proceed in a totally natural way by cleansing your face with oil. As I stated above, oil dissolves oil and grime easily. Grapeseed Oil and Jojoba Oil are the best because the composition of these oils is very similar to your body’s own natural sebum oil, so neither will clog your pores and they will both get absorbed very easily by your skin. An oil cleansing will leave your face moisturized and completely non-irritated. Place a few drops of oil on a cotton pad and wipe until you remove the dirt. Depending on how dirty your face is you may need to use a couple of cotton pads. In the morning just rinse your face with warm water and massage gently with your finger tips.

So in summary:

How you wash your face can make a difference in your appearance. Follow these tips to help you keep your face looking healthy:

  1. Use a natural, gentle, non-abrasive cleanser.
  2. Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips or cotton pad to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge, or anything else can irritate your skin.
  3. Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
  5. Limit washing to no more than twice a day and after sweating. If you have oily skin wash your face once in the morning and once at night, if you have dry or sensitive skin wash only in the evening; as well as after sweating heavily. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin. Wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.

In my next blog post we will visit the Toning step.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

pH - Why you should give a pH*k

First of all let me tell you that you are not alone in being clueless about how to wash your face. Despite all the info available, no one really understands. I will admit that prior to going to beauty school I really didn't know either... I wasn't clueless, but I clearly wasn't taking care of my face properly and it was evident - breakouts; dull, dry skin; fine lines; and  hyperpigmentation (dark spots). I was using a lot of make-up to cover "my flaws" which was only making the problems worse.

Proper skin care stops and starts with your skin's pH balance. Before you can cleanse properly you NEED to know how it will be affected by the products you are using so you can make sure you are using the right stuff. Your skin is the first line of defense your body has to the pollutants, toxins, and microbes in the environment. There is a thin, protective layer of oil and secretions on the surface of your skin called the "Acid Mantle". The average pH of most people's skin is 5.5 , which is slightly on the acidic side. When this level is damaged and changed by the products we use, inflammation will occur - we will breakout, have dry skin, or exhibit worse reactions.

The pH scale goes from 1-14. Water is 7, which is right in the center and is neutral. The closer you get to 1 the more acidic, the closer you get to 14 the more alkaline. Lemons have a pH of 3 and chemical peels are 3 or less. Cleansers and bar soaps tend to have pHs of 9-10.5. Using products on either extreme end of the scale will strip away natural oils causing dryness and irritation making the skin more susceptible to acne because the proper level of acidity is needed to inhibit bacterial growth on the skin.  If your skin starts to look dry or red, if it becomes more sensitive, or if you notice an increase in breakouts, you may be using a product too strong for your skin, or you may be applying it too often. 

Skin Cleansing Steps

1.   Cleaner: The first step to properly cleansing your face is DO NOT USE BAR SOAP!!!!!!!! Look for a cleanser with a neutral pH or one on the slightly acidic side which may contain some fruit acids in it. NEVER-EVER go to bed without washing those disgusting bacterias and microbes off your face. No matter how tired you are get your ass into the bathroom and wash. Absolute worst case scenario, have a box of make-up removing wipes on your night stand and use them.  
  • If you have mature or dry skin, only wash your face in the evening. You will not have created enough oil on your face by morning to need another cleansing. Just rinse your face in the morning with water and apply moisturizer.
  • If you have oily skin you will need to wash both morning and evening.

2.   USE TONER! Yes, you do need to use toner. Any expert who tells you that it is unnecessary needs to have his/her expert license revoked. An alcohol-free toner or one with Witch Hazel on a cotton pad is needed to remove the remnants of the cleanser and any dirt and oils that were left behind. Toner will bring your pH level back down to the acidic range after having been exposed to the alkaline range because of the cleanser. Unless you have cystic acne, do not use an Astringent, that has way too much alcohol in it for the average adult or teenager. But here is the most important part of this step that you will not read on the bottle... after toning your face, you MUST rinse with water. The toner, if left on your face, will bring your pH level down to a too acidic of a level and also cause dryness and inflammation.
 3.   Apply Moisturizer  
  • At night while you are sleeping your skin is most active at repairing itself. So this is the time to apply good night cream with active ingredients that will feed and heal your skin cells. Night creams are not designed to protect your face, they are designed to nourish your skin and deliver active healing ingredients. Using the same cream both day and night will not benefit you and may actually cause damage to your skin. 
  • During the day apply a cream that is designed to protect your face from the sun and environmental pollutants. You want a product that will reinforce your acid mantle so that bacteria can't penetrate into your pores.
4.   Spot Treatment. If you have acne then go ahead and apply your pimple spot treatment on top of the moisturizer.

There you go, that's it! 3-4 simple steps and you are on your way to amazing skin. It's really just that easy.

2012 Before photo of me after I finished beauty school. Fine lines, hyperpigmentation, & skin losing elasticity.

After photo of me 2014. Effects of proper skin care and RF treatments. Brighter, tighter, healthier skin.

First A Little About Me...

It's been a long time coming, but I am finally getting around to starting this blog so that I can dump all my knowledge in small edible pieces on anyone who cares about their skin and health. 

Eating healthy, physical fitness and beauty have been my passion all my life. Currently, I am in my mid-40s and get mistaken for being 30 or younger all the time. People are usually in complete shock to find out my real age. My lifestyle has a lot to do with this: 
  • I don't smoke or do drugs
  • Drink in moderation
  • Am a vegetarian
  • Keep my stress levels to a minimum
  • Get lots of sleep: 7-9 hours
  • Am an avid walker & hiker
  • I don't bake myself in the sun - NEVER tan my face
  • Do regular Tripollar Radio Frequency treatments to keep my body's collagen and elastin production optimized. This treatment reduces wrinkles, tightens skin, and helps to decrease fat and cellulite.
  • Use natural skin care products with performance ingredients (I will expand upon this in future posts).

I honestly believe that I will continue to look better and better with age - instead of the opposite. It would give me great joy to help all of you in your quest to look better and feel better. It really isn't difficult, but there is no magic wand or one single thing you can do to fix everything. Beauty is a lifestyle. Once you obtain the knowledge, adjust your mind-set and commit to doing your part, it becomes second nature. You won't feel a sense of deprivation, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, greater self-confidence, and a sense that not only are your doing better for yourself, but for the world.

With this blog I hope to be able to educate you about skin care ingredients, give you how-to tips on caring for your skin type, talk about the latest innovations in skin and body care, educate you on the importance of proper diet, and raise your level of awareness of the different facets of the beauty industry. If at any time you have any questions or want me to discuss a particular topic of concern to you, feel free to email me and let me know.

When you know better - you do better!