Friday, November 1, 2013

The Lowdown on Vitamin C

Here's a quickie post!
So lately I've been reviewing theory chapters with the girls and this week we went over ingredients. Let me just say, that I'm constantly reading and trying to understand what beauty experts/skin therapists are ranting and raving about. I've always heard about vitamin C but never really understood it's importance. Not only that BUT products with vitamins C & vitamin E work better together then they do separate. And there is no better way to explain than this lovely little infograph! Read all about it!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Get Some pH Balance in Your Life


First thing is first, pH stands for "potential hydrogen" and is used to measure the acidity of basicity of a product that contains water.

When I teach the pH scale during our chemistry portion, I always get slacked jaws and eyes drifting shut. I'll be honest, if you were to pull out a chemistry test I would, run away with my tail tucked between my legs! It's once you get past the "not knowing/ not understanding" part and relate it back to things you already know...that's when it starts to make sense and gets enjoyable. 

So I always tell this story:

The pH scale represents highschool and ranges from 0 to 14.
People that are "0" which mean that they have no friends, and they are bitter (like an acidic product). (Then I go on into polarity where I say for them to feel better they need to (+) friends.) Whereas, a person that has "14" best friends may have too many fairweather friends that they don't have the time or means to maintain so they might go a little crazy too. (They need to (-) friends.)
And those magical "7"s are juuuusssttt right! Not too little and not too many

Too much of on one side of the scale is a problem...think of it this way...you leave a really low pH chemical peel on your skin, you will experience irritation and sensitivities. You put something with a high pH like..let's say...lye on your skin, this too will cause extreme irritation and sensitivities. So pretty much, my point is that the goal of your skin care regimen should be to find a balance and maintain your skin's pH/health.

Our skin has a pH of 4.5-5.5 and is slightly acidic due to our acid mantle. The acid mantle consists of  our sebum (oil) and other fatty materials and is used to protect our skin. So when people remove all of the oil from their skin, essentially this is a poor move because this eliminates some of our skin's protection factor. A regular bar of soap has such a high pH that it can actually dry your skin and cause your skin to lose moisture. In return, your skin sends a signal to your brain ,"help!" and the brain signals for the skin to produce even MORE oil to compensate. That's why those of you who have oily skin types that wash their face a lot, actually seem to make the problem worse! With that being said, the cleansers that we use are generally on a more alkaline scale, this is used to help neutralize some of the oils and acidity and remove dirt and debris. This is perfectly fine as long as you aren't using too much.  That's why it's really important to use a toner or other products within your regimen to achieve balance.  So moral of this paragraph : STAY AWAY FROM REGULAR BAR SOAP! If you're dry, this could be your culprit and if you're oily, it can make you even more so.

Another thing that consumers don't really consider is when they "cherry pick" their favorite skin care products. A rule of thumb is to usually use the same brand of products of a regimen for at least a month to test it's efficacy. Sure, you may like certain products in other lines BUT you have to take into consideration that all of the products in professional lines are tested and pH balanced with one another. This is ideal when looking for results in skincare, especially if you have challenged skin like acne.

pH is also important when you are looking into AHA's and BHA's or receiving chemical peel like results! Whether you are looking at products are talking to your esthetician about your next treatment, pH plays a part. For example, over the counter skin care products that have AHA's/BHA's usually contain about 15% where as professional products that you can use at home usually have 11-15%. In your head you may think that you are getting the better deal with OTC, however the percentage of these are ingredients only tell you how MUCH of the ingredient it contains. The pH of the product will tell you how effective or "deep" the ingredient will penetrate. OTC usually have a pH of 3+ whereas, estheticians can use a lower pH. And as we visited in my other post, All Acids Aren't Your Friend, these ingredients work better at a lower pH to give to you benefits whether you have acneic, dry, or aging skin!

So whether you are a nerd or not, this little piece of chemistry advice can help you tweek your regimen and can even give you some health benefits ( drinking pH water can help balance your internal pH and therefore help you fight diseases!). To test your pH and the pH of your products look for pH testing kits usually found in the area of your grocery store in the water aisle or online! Maybe there will be another post on pH balancing your body but until then...remember, balance is key!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Beauty Ingredients You Should Avoid?

When you look at the back of that cleanser, the list of ingredients can be a little daunting. Long words you can't pronounce and even numbers start to swarm around your head...and then you see it...that ingredient. Didn't your cousin's best friend's sister tell you that that ingredient could give you cancer?! This situation is all too common. All of the beauty editors in magazines and talk shows want to make interesting beauty segments and "expose" the big bad cosmetics companies. Then your skin therapist or dermatologist prescribes it to you, so what is the deal? This is a situation in which we want to focus on something called TOXICITY reports.

There has been a boom in guests who experience some sort of sensitivity of the skin in our esthetician's and dermatologists offices. Determining what causes the sensitivities are our jobs as professionals but what's becoming a more common variable are the types of ingredients being used in people's every day products. In these situations, we are going to be looking for IRRITATION/ALLERGY reports or even if there are any PRECAUTIONARY instructions included with the products being used.

Finally, you are thrown all of these "super star" ingredients. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon! You stockpile your drawers and practically buy stock in the company that produces products containing them. However, a study comes out a month or two later saying that there was no scientific evidence that supports that it does stack up to it's claims.  This would fall into reports regarding INEFFECTIVENESS.

So these are the points you want to look for when you're choosing skincare, cosmetic products, etc.
  • Toxicity
  • Irritant
  • Precautionary
  • Ineffective 
Toxicity warnings can tell you the degree to which something is poisonous. Studies carried out can be using a certain percentage of ingredient, over a certain time. The question on whether how these studies are carried out could affect the results.
Irritant warnings report substances that can cause inflammation or other discomfort in the body. This may be for a select few, may not include all consumers.
Precautionary warnings are going to be instructions to be followed while using products.
And ineffective reports reveal that ingredients or products do not produce significant or desired results.

Unfortunately, you have to do your own research or understand where the advice is coming from. It's kind of like saying this big TV personality swears up and down on this diet and low and behold...they announce they have a book deal about the diet or are the face of the company who facilitates it! Or the newest and greatest supplement that has been "discovered" which we so conveniently carry in our store! Haha! It's good to have resources but just make sure you have don't have rose-colored glasses on.

Here's an example of one of the lists that I've stumbed on: (bold is cited from Dr. Oz, italicized is my commentary)

  • Fragrances (irritant, can cause inflammation and sensitivities in the skin)
  • Imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea (possible toxicity challenge- preservative that is formaldehyde-releasing, although not a large amount- suggested not to be used on infant. Dr. Oz says can alter the DNA of cells. )
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (surfactant or detergent, used largely in skin cleansers/shampoos. Considered to be an irritant SAID to cause cancer but NO link has been cited)
  • Mineral oil *(precautionary, it can't be used in conjunction with a comedogenic product or it will trap said product in the pores. Otherwise, there's no data saying that it clogs pores.)
  • MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine) (there are some studies that show levels of toxicity although deemed safe by the DEA, normally used as pH adjusters in products)
  • DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol ) (possible ineffective/could be damaging,  skin firming antioxidant. In the book, Dr. Oz states that it causes 'cell damage and swelling' and that it's temporary. In in vitro studies, it's said could cause celltoxicity)
says Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. (aka Dr. Oz) referenced from his book YOU: Being Beautiful (2008)

Obviously, this was a little while ago.  (Now Dr. Oz has Dr. Perricone PROMOTING DMAE, funny huh?) I've done my research on all of the ingredients listed. I've done the Cosmetic Cop (Paula Begeoun) and I've done my Futurederm.com. I finally went to my EWG website! This last website is amazing! It's brought to you by the Environmental Working Group and this organization thoroughly inspects ingredients and products and "grades" them on their potential hazards to consumers that use them. 0-2 being low hazard, 3-6 moderate hazard, and 7-10 high hazard. Check it out :http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

In my research, other ingredients said to be avoided are displayed in this infograph (click to enlarge)

Here are also some more links should you be the avid researcher as I am!

One thing I've learned while researching these ingredients and the millions that are claimed that you should leave out of your regimen- YOU make your exducated decisions. Just like I stated in the my organic skin care post, you can make the decision on what you put onto/into your body. Whether you want to go on what side of the spectrum or only avoid certain things...that's your choice. Just know what the claims are and where they come from. That being said...I think I might rethink what a particular Dr. on TV says...what about you?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Skin Treatment That May Be Too Cool for You

Just kidding! I'm sure you'd be just the right amount of cool to enjoy this treatment!

As an instructor and overall nerd junkie, I get the opportunity of getting to experience a lot of amazing trainings. Whether it be new technologies, information, techniques...I'm down! However because I'm usually teaching, I don't get to have as many treatments as I'd like done. But this time was different and my skin is so grateful!

What I received was a straight peel using 55% lactic and salicylic acid with a pH of around 1.5. The percentage is how MUCH of the hydroxy acids used in the product and the pH is how DEEP it can penetrate. This is not the focus of this post, however it should make a great discussion later I'm thinking!I chose lactic and salicylic blend because I have an oily skin type but experience some sensitivities on my cheeks. I also experience some hyperpigmentation that occurred when I was pregnant with my daughter. Don't remember what hyperpigmentation is? Reread my post :) And don't worry, your skin specialist can help determine what is the plan of action for you.

 After the chemical peel, my esthetician used a "snowball" liquid nitrogen, also known as dry ice, wrapped in a couple of cotton 4x4s and swept it gently and smoothly over my face. In some spas they actually have equipment to place the dry ice in a wand, as seen in the image to the left. The use of the dry ice in my treatment is often referred to as cryogenic therapy. It is also used in physical therapy and dermatology offices, obviously with some different purposes but still great results. In those instances it might be used directly on an area of the skin in hopes to detroy the cells, this is buffered and lightly brushed across the face. It was really soothing and relaxing, I understand why people use regular ice in their regimen but this was at another level! (PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS AT HOME! A SKIN CARE PROFESSIONAL SHOULD PERFORM THIS TREATMENT)

 First of all, you may be asking why the chemical peel?

  • Chemical peels are great for chemically dissolving the intercellular "cement" that holds skin cells together and to the surface of the skin. If this isn't done, then sometimes our skin's texture can feel and look uneven, our pores can be clogged with this debris, and can appear flakey.
  • As these acids penetrate, they in turn stimulate blood circulation which oxygenates and nourishes the surrounding skin cells. 
  •  Bonus! Encourages cell turnover.
  • AND collagen and elastin production!
 Many of you who have experienced peels can probably attest to some of the itching and sensitivity it may cause because of the product penetration. So the cryogenic therapy was such a relief and even provided extra benefits towards my cause!

Next, what are the benefits of the cryogenic therapy?
  • Used as an anti-inflammatory
  • Soothes pain
  • Promotes the constriction of capillaries
  • Increases cell turnover (in turn helping with treatment of hyperpigmentation) by destroying the cells of the outermost layer.
  • Tightens pores (which can benefit acneic clients)
Because of the cold temperatures this was a perfect follow up from the peel since my skin felt a little warm afterwards. Not only that but I had some milia that literally came up to the surface so that they could be extracted. The pores tightened so much that it pushed out the debris and made it easier for my technician to remove the deep blackheads (comedones) in my nose and chin! I loved it. Since it contricts capillaries it helps with the appearance of redness as well as any inflammation. So all my needs were addressed.

Who else would benefit from this treatment?

Those of you who have hyperpigmentation, anyone receiving resurfacing treatments, acneic clients, and even in dermatology offices a similar procedure can be used to remove warts, moles, skin tags, etc. Contraindications for this treatment would be:
  • Impaired sensation. Patients cannot report when they become anesthetic from cold. Tissue damage occurs slightly below temperatures that produce numbness.
  • Impaired circulation: tissue damage may result from vasoconstriction.
  • Open wounds after 48 hours.
  • Hypersensitivity to cold, such as Raynaud's phenomenon, cold urticaria, cryoglobulinemia, and paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.
  • Varicose veins
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Heart disease
  • Chills
  • Skin conditions (rashes, open wounds)
  • Cancer
  • Additionally, ice should also not be used for patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s Syndrome, cold allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.
More can be read here.

All in all, I loved the results! My skin feels super soft and my breakouts are gone. As for my hyperpigmentation, it's definitely lighter but I think I'm going to go another round with this same treatment here in a month. Maybe I need to include before and after pictures this time huh? Thanks again for sticking with me, always have a good time researching more and sharing.

Here's the video I posted earlier and more info on this amazing therapy!

Any skin questions that you might have or have always been interested in? I need your help! Give me topics to go over! If not, I'll do whatever I want to and that may get a little all over the place. And if you have a blog, I'd love to read yours. So add me and I'll do the same! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Cellulite Debaucle

Cellulite is an annoying plight.

It's associated with people that might have a little more to love but it's becoming evident that even the thinner class deals with it too. So that leads us to wonder what's really causing the "hail damage" that plagues us?! It's common belief that if you gain weight that's why you get cellulite. While it can play a part, losing weight won't actually make it go away. Sadly for us ladies, it seems to be that we might inherit some characteristics that make us susceptible to it's creation! With 90 %  of women experiencing this, we try to see a correlation. Well...
Our skin has many functions, one of them being to protect our bodies. Our skin is comprised of three layers- the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the outermost layer that we see every day. In the dermis layer is where our elastin & collagen, reticular fibers, and glands live. And finally, the subcutaneous layer is where our fat and connective cells inhabit. Our focus is going to be on the subcutaneous layer.

Just like we adapt to our surroundings, so do our bodies (kind of like the pigment of our skin remember?) . The role of women from the beginning of time has been to nurture and birth children. While this is not the stigma now, our bodies haven't gotten the memo. The structure of the subcutaneous layer as women allows for our fat cells to become larger. This is because our body prepares for children, we need more cushion and our body seems to widen. In men, they are built to be able to be more active (almost like the "hunter" vs "gatherer") and lean. So their adipose cells don't swell or create much of a pull on the fibers, called septae, that hold the three layers together. Look at the image below:
 The yellow fat cells in that make up the hypodermis-subcutaneous level in normal skin are nestled between the chambers of the fibrous septae. Because they aren't pushing against the septae, there is no pull on the dermis and epidermis. Now looking at skin afflicted by cellulite, the cells are pushing up against the septae. This causes tension on the chambers, causing them to pull "pockets" of the dermis and epidermis. This is what gives the dimpled effect. And again, because women have a predisposition to larger fat cells and even smaller chambers of fat cells, then this is more dominant for us. Men acutally have stronger septae because their chambers and in return, far less likely to get cellulite.
Fat cells aren't the only cause of cellulite, even fluid retention and excess fluid in the subcutaneous layer can cause the fat cells to push against the septae. So that's why even retaining water can make the appearance appear more dramatic. (Also, be careful with deep tissue massage. One might think that you can massage to get the fat cells broken up blah blah blah, but it could increase edema or more fluid to that area. However, MLD could be possibly helpful to reduce swelling.) And that's another way marketers and advertisers can get ya! And that leads us into our next portion...
 Lotions and creams will not benefit cellulite. Because the septae are below even the dermis, no products would be able penetrate that deeply without a modality or machine to aid it. Look at a product closely, does it say that it will remove or get rid of cellulite? Or does it say that it will "improve the appearance" of cellulite? This means your cellulite won't look as drastic. That's why people are finding more results with RID of cellulite with recent technology. Ingredients in products could possibly help with releasing some of the fluid held as well as detoxifying ingredients could help the appearance but would not get rid of it altogether. If eliminating the fluid and toxins that could be causing some inflammation:
  • horse chestnut
  • seaweed
  • glycyrrhetic acid (from licorice)
  • green tea
Those are just a few to look for. Diet and exercise can again, decrease the appearance but once cellulite has occurred, it's there. Otherwise, myth busted...no products will help you get rid of cellulite. Want to know about some procedures that are getting attention? Check out here. I'm thinking this could run into another post. Some of the most popular treatments are types of radio frequency treatments that use audio waves to break down fat cells, endermologie which heats up/applies pressure and "liquefies" fat" and compresses the body, and a new treatment called cryptology which freezes fat cells and kills them (however there may be some challenges with how the body reacts).

Whichever way you go, just make you do your research...know your professional and understand the options given!  Read more should you wish! I have a feeling I will be coming back to this topic, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Like A Rolling Stone...

My dealings with gemstones are limited but they still fascinate me. It began when I was still pregnant, suffering from the nausea and discomfort. I had a really eccentric student who was into holistic medicines and metaphysics who gave me my first crystal. It was a small malachite stone, green, sparkly, and smooth. She told me that malachite was to help with minor pain and give relief. She had also mentioned that it was a protector of children. Consider me intrigued. My  little guru decided to give me a spark's note version on gemstones.

There are many people who suffer from disease- whether it be sickness that affects the body or of the mind. Obviously, they alter our overall health. Just like was mentioned in my post about Chinese Face Mapping, our body is interdependent on one another. It's believed that not only are everything connected within our body but that we are also connected to everything and everyone. That being said, we all have our energy. Our body lives because of the energy, our systems are able to work because of energy. Because crystals and these stones are derived from the earth, they send pure energy. It's said that different crystals are meant to speak or provide different energies. My malachite for example is good for pain relief (also it is used to protector of children and travelers, and also aids in the success of business ventures). So how it would work is that if I'm having pain in my hands I would hold the malachite and concentrate on it's vibration and intention. Pretty interesting. I'm going to go into a little more about certain gemstones but if you want to know more about them check out this website.

I've been reading lately in an Esthetic's magazine about spa treatments utilizing gemstones. Here is the article here- gemstone article. By the way, I love this magazine so peruse around a bit. How exactly is this done, how does it work? Well, the gemstones are chosen by which ones are going to bring the most balance. Now, if your therapist was going to customize every single stone to your life then we'd probably have to have more like a therapy session rather than a consultation. Instead, therapists will utilize the seven chakras and balance based on the stones that align all seven.

I'm getting into some pretty alternative stuff, some of it I'm not as versed on than I would like to be but I'll go ahead and try to give it a shot! A chakra is a power point that helps circulate energy (aka prana) throughout the body. Should one of the chakras be off balance or blocked, this could lead to challenges in physical, spiritual and mental health because the energy is out of whack.

Crown (7th)- Located at the top of the head. It's function is understanding. It's inner state is bliss. The color is violet and it's stone that represents it is Amethyst. Balancing this chakra is said to give vitality to the cerebrum.

Third Eye (6th)- Located in the center of the forehead above the eyebrows. It's function is seeing, intuiting. It's inner state is I know. Balancing this chakra helps psychic perception and balance the pineal gland. It's gemstone is indigo, sapphire, azurite. It's color...indigo!

Throat (5th)- Located in the throat. It's function is communication, creativity. It's inner state is synthesis of ideas into symbols. It's color is bright blue. It's stones are sodalite, blue lace agate, lapis lazuli. Balancing this chakra is important for the speech and communication of areas to the brain.

Heart (4th)- Located in the center of the chest. It's function is love, its inner state is compassion, love. It's color is green and it's stones are peridot, rose quartz, malachite. Balancing this chakra is important for the circulatory system, heart, and rhythm.

Solar Plexus (3rd)- Located in the area above the navel area. It's function is Will, power, and it's inner state is laughter, joy, and anger. It's color is yellow and it's stones are amber, topaz, and citrine . Balancing this chakra is associated with calming emotions and frustration, ease tension, and helping to better utilize intuition.

Sacral (2nd)- Located in the lower abdomen, genitals, womb, it's function is desire, sexuality, pleasure and procreation. It's color is orange and it's stones- coral and carnelian. Balancing this chakra is associated with sexual vitality, physical power, and fertility.

Root Chakra (1st)- Located at the base of the spine. Its function is survival and grounding, it's inner state is stillness and stability. It's color is red and stones are garnet, ruby, onyx, obsidian. Balancing this chakra gives energy to the physical body, controls fear, increases overall health and helps grounding.

So the spa treatments look very similar to the picture. You would receive a normal facial but during a point crystals would be laid on the chakra point and allow the reverberations of the gemstones. Once your chakra was balanced then is said that your plights of health or emotion would be diminished or gone. So your energy that once could not flow are cleared and energy can now carry out to it's intended destination. For example, if you were suffering from anxiety then your Root Chakra would the focus and where a gem would be placed to help with your prana or lack of prana.

Now just as I promised...a little something something about some other gemstones:


Copper has long been used as a healing metal, especially for arthritis and rheumatism. Copper has been used with blood and metabolism disorders. Copper acts as a conductor when worn on the body. Copper will help the healing effect of any stone when both touch the body.


Amethyst is a gemstone often worn by healers, as it has the power to focus energy. A healer will usually wear several pieces of jewelry with amethysts set in silver, especially an amethyst necklace. The person to be healed will have an Amethyst to hold while the healing is being done. The healer will place another piece of Amethyst on the area of the body in need of healing, the heart or lungs usually.
Amethyst is used for problems in the blood and in breathing problems. Amethyst crystal clusters are used to keep the air and life force in the home clean and positive.


Diamond does not have a specific healing nature. It does supplement the energy of other gemstones. The Diamond will increase the power of the Emerald and the Amethyst to a higher level. Healers often have rings or necklaces set with Diamonds surrounding the Amethyst.
Care must be used when wearing a Diamond necklace as it can block the energy flow if the wearer has negative thoughts or feelings

Which one is your favorite?

So while there is no scientific proof that gemstones are good for the skin (see my Bling Worth the Buck post), that doesn't mean that they aren't beneficial for the soul right? So those are just a few, if you want to know more refer to the link I gave above! I don't know about you but I'm going to choose my jewelry pieces a little more wisely. And me and my Malachite are going to be a lot closer from now on.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Rage Over Organic

Nowadays, you have people standing in the aisle of their stores looking at the ingredients of everything. 'Natural' and 'organic' are plastered all over the front of the fronts of skin care, makeup, hair products. This is understandable because medical professionals are saying that what we put on the skin can be more dangerous than eating or drinking them. This is because substances that we ingest are broken down and filtered by our stomach, intestines, liver, and kidneys, whereas products that are absorbed by our skin go straight into the bloodstream. So since many of the ingredients in our skin products are getting more and more foreign to us, we might be at risk. Therefore, the safer thing to do is go the more natural route. (PRO!)

What is organic?
First and foremost, there is NO definition in the cosmetics universe for what "organic" means. If we were to be frank, the real definition of organic means, "was once living or contains carbon".
The FDA doesn't really regulate products that claim to use organic ingredients but if they claim to be 100% organic, they will follow the USDA's guidelines for labeling. So let's think about this...arsenic is organic and that's just one example! There are also plants that can be irritating to the skin when applied topically. So, organic isn't always the way to go. (CON!)

A lot of natural fruits that can be used in skincare contain antioxidants, however,  and are beneficial to the skin if used topically. Just like toxic substances are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream, so are the beneficial products placed onto the skin! Antioxidant's rock and fight free radicals which can be a cause for signs of aging. (PRO!) That being said, antioxidant rich ingredients are sometimes used as the preservative for helping defend the concoction from bacteria and degradation....but just like the fruits and veggies you get fresh at the market, these products will start to eventually spoil. This means that the shelf life is very short so you have to use them quickly. Short shelf life = spending money frequently on these products (CON!) But that's really up to you.

Are organic products just as good?
We have celebrities and celebutantes gush over their organic products and advocate for a "chemical free" regimen but they still go under the knife. So what's giving them their look, the organic skin care line or their face lift? An example would be sunscreen. The best form of sunscreen is going to be with physical sunscreen ingredients, which are inorganic. (CON!) As we've learned, physical is more effective in protecting us from UV and in return, keeping our skin safe from harm and aging symptoms. Here's what an article has to say,

"Sunscreen is a vital component to any skin care regimen, yet any product that's certified organic must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. That means any sunscreen labeled organic doesn't contain enough of the necessary active ingredients to protect you from the sun. Organic cosmetics manufacturers know this too; honest ones make a point of noting that their sunscreen products cannot be certified organic, but less scrupulous companies mix up a cocktail of organic oils and imply that the product is useful for sun protection while failing to tell consumers the SPF level the oil contains."

Find more from that article here .

How do we know what's best?
Beauty Brains is a really interesting resource that comprises of savvy scientists that dedicate their work to helping consumers steer clear of false advertising and not wasting money on expensive products that don't work. Beauty Brains in their Money Saving Cosmetics Reports has a term that they call "greenwashing" where advertisers will say that it's ingredients are natural or organic, however when you look at the ingredients listed, they are only can be created in a lab!If a product says "used with 100% organic ingredients" that means that some of the ingredients may be organic but that the product may still contain synthetic ingredients! GOTCHA! So be aware of this! Check your ingredients! Paula Begoun has an awesome website with an ingredient dictionary that's really extensive- www.paualschoice.com.

If you are environmentally conscious though, organic skin care lines are usually just as green as their consumers. So if you are adamant about helping reduce your carbon footprint and being a friend to mother earth then an organic product line may help you! Not only that but sometimes they are actually linked with organizations that help with their community or for those in need. (definitely a PRO!)

Another wonderful resource that is my new found favorite is FutureDerm.com, again, another site dedicated to what's REALLY going on with your skin and the products you're using! (Here's their article)

Bottom line, you shouldn't think that the cosmetics industry is out to get you but it's still good to be aware. While organic ingredients and products are good for you, sometimes they aren't as results driven as ingredients manufactured or recreated in labs. You don't have to be all or nothing but if you are then make sure you know your sources

Need more nerdy research? Check out Kimberly Snyder, one of my favorite bloggers and nutritionist! She's awesome, love her.

Want a list of organic skin care lines? Here is the USDA website that has organic skin care companies information. Below is a list of USDA Certified Organic Skincare companies;

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

You're nominated!

Was the notification I received this afternoon at lunch! So exciting to be nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Beauty4Free2U! Thank you for the honor, thank you for thinking of me as a candidate! If you haven't already gone- check out her blog here, where this pretty lady offers a way to get very neat beauty samples. Go, you have to now!

What is it?
This is an award for up and coming bloggers, to recognize and help spread the word for their hard work. So other 'favorites' can be advertised and network with one another. I'm a fan, I love this concept so I'm taking a break from the normal theme to do this. Plus, why not?

How does it work?
So for the Award, here are the rules:
Step 1: Answer the 11 questions that I have asked
Step 2: Choose 11 more Bloggers (under 200 followers)
Step 3: Ask the new Bloggers (11) a set of 11 new questions
Step 4: Contact the 11 Bloggers and let them know they have been tagged.

Questions to me-
1. Why did you start blogging?
I saw a plethora of blogs doing reviews but little attention on answering why products are suited for them. Because some don't have the knowledge, they make swift judgments that cost them money and time. Who likes being consciences of their skin? So I figure I would teach people about the skin and better yet, to understand THEIR skin so that they can make their own educated choices.
2. What 3 beauty items would you bring to an island you have to live on for 6 weeks?
Uhoh, hard question. I'd have to say of course  1. sunscreen...hey I write a skincare blog, it's a given.  Specifically, Dermalogica's Sheer Tint Moisturizer SPF 15 (I hear 30 is coming soon). 3-in-1 product, awesome! 2. pH water and 3. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar (LOVE these colors and lasts forever, I'm a lip color gal).
3. What is your favorite Mascara?
It changes, I have students who work at ULTA and they always tell me what's big sellers.
4. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Feed my eight month old daughter!
5. What is the one make-up item you can not live without?
Lip color! I think having bold lips can transform a look.
6. Which foundation can you recommend?
Not much of a foundation wearer....
7. What is the one thing you would like to do before you die?
I think I'd like to travel more!
8. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Sometimes I think it's going into teaching! But I love it!
9. Is there anything in your life you would go back and change...if so what and why?
No, I am where I am today because of it. Maybe I would have stayed in school as long as possible!
10.What is that one thing that you think about that always put a smile on your face?
Spend time with my daughter, Piper.
11. What are your future goals?
Continue teaching, I'd love to travel and teach workshops to professionals and maybe even beauty seminars for consumers. Who knows! All I know is that I want to help people.

My nominees!

Isabella Ruggeri

Miles Sims

Jamila Robertson

Hazel Barker

Neeti Shukla

Chelsea Henderson

Dina Sotoodehfar

Balsam Wadair

Cheyenne Gibbs

Paola Arredondo


Your questions-
1. What inspires you to blog?
2. How long have you been blogging?
3. What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
4. What's your favorite beauty product at the moment?
5. What do you do for a living?
6. What are five adjectives you would use to describe yourself?
7. Guilty Pleasure?
8. What's the last book you read?
9. Who is your beauty mentor?
10. Do you have a skin care regimen? If so, what does it consist of?
11.  What's your next blog topic?
That was fun! Thanks for the opportunity and please spread the word!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Your Face Is the Thumbprint to Your Health

I get the best topics from my students, not only because they challenge me to no end but because they are thirsty to know. I was given permission to share a little of one of my lovely ladies' projects over Chinese Face Mapping. It's the art of diagnosing internal problems by taking into consideration the location of blemishes, lines, spots , and wrinkles in particular zones of the face. This practice is a part of a wider spectrum of alternative medicines & therapies called Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM. Facial Reading has been traced back to the 6th century and is based on the belief that our face is a thumbprint of our internal health.  It's very similar to Reflexology where the organs can be accessed through areas of the foot.  While we as skin therapists can't diagnose someone, this can give us the ability to educate our clients and help them take preventative measures.

So how is it done? Well the belief is that all of the organs are interdependent on one another and of course skin being the largest one. So each are grouped into certain categories that represent a circle of influence. The five categories are represented by five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood.
The organs are represented in the graph. And you'll also notice that the green arrows corresponding to the other elements symbolize a connection. An example would be that the liver affects the heart (indicated by the green arrow) and if there is something wrong with the heart it can be reflected by the nose (shown by the smaller colored arrows).  Again, all the organs have connections. When one is challenged, it's affects others, and is represented through others also.

I want to give a specific shoutout to my very brilliant student, Amy Ford for the following information! I got permission to use it and since it's right on the money, I thought I'd share what each markings in each zone of the face could mean.

The forehead is linked with the fire element.
The upper part of the forehead is associated with the bladder, the middle with stomach digestion, and the lower with the small intestine. Sensitivity on the middle of the forehead, for example, could relate to poor diet and sluggish digestion, which may be a result of eating too late at night. If there is irritated, red skin on the top of the forehead, it could relate to poor urination or a bladder infection. Spots and lines on the forehead point to congestion from too much oily food or dairy. After a heavy meal that is stressful on your digestion (meat, dairy, bread, pasta, grains, and poor food combining or overeating) or a stressful day, lines on the forehead can appear more pronounced

Your nose corresponds to the earth element, indicating a connection to the stomach, spleen and pancreas network. Symptoms of internal discord typically show up as a pimple on the tip or side of your nose. Broken capillaries or redness across the bridge of the nose could reveal alcohol abuse, or it may simply mean excessive worry and stress, which taxes your earth element network.
Redness, puffiness and breakouts around the nostrils and lower cheek indicate too many dairy products, which produce mucus and congestion in the lungs. You may be on the verge of a bronchial infection if this area suddenly becomes red and dry.

The chin area is related to the water element, which is internally associated to your kidney and bladder organ network, including the hormonal system and glands. Blemishes, discoloration and dark patches of skin around the chin and mouth could indicate problems within the kidneys or bladder. Recurrent acne breakouts around your chin may signify a hormonal imbalance. You may notice that the breakouts occur on opposite sides of the chin each month in unison with the particular ovary that happens to be ovulating. The problem is most often due to the body producing excess estrogen or testosterone and tends to be coupled with irregular menstruation in women and prostate symptoms in men.

The middle of the chin, however, relates to the elimination process of the bowel. If you have a breakout or irritation there, this would suggest a current imbalance, whereas those people with a permanent dimple may have a hereditary weakness in this area. If the chin is red and swollen, it may mean that there is a structural weakness in the organs, candida or stuck energy in the abdomen. 

In Chinese philosophy, the under-eye area relates to the kidney/liver area, which is the half moon-shaped area under the eye. Dark circles may indicate your elimination is weak. The darkness can reflect excess toxins and the need for a system cleanse, or simply that the body would benefit from more water to aid its functions. If the area is puffy and blue, you are working too hard, depleting your adrenals, eating too much rich food and causing an imbalance in the fluid balance of the body. However, if the area is dark brown and has a congested look, your liver is showing signs of "liver energy stagnation". This could mean that your liver is stressed, possibly through pent-up frustration or anger, or rich food and alcohol. If this indication is combined with one-sided headaches, jaw tension and two vertical lines between the eyebrows, you could find that fat and hormone metabolism is affected. If the two vertical lines from the end of the eyebrows are combined with two smaller hook-shaped lines, this means that the gall bladder is also showing stress.

Look at your ears, and if they are redder than the skin on your face, you are overworking your adrenal glands. 

The cheek zone relates to the lungs. If you notice changes on the hollowing of your cheeks, it could be a sign that you're not breathing properly. The cheeks can be red and irritated and may feel spongy to the touch if you tend to have sinus congestion, asthma, or live in a polluted area. Any of these symptoms may also mean there could be increased sensitivity to certain active skincare products, so patch testing and the minimalist approach are advisable.

If there are broken capillaries, this could be from stress of the lungs associated with smoking. Dehydration over the cheeks may be the result of a recent cold or reaction to cold, sinus and flu medication. If you have persistent breakouts across your lower cheeks, it may be because this area relates to the gums and back teeth. The breakouts in this area that can’t be explained otherwise may be caused by dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, gingivitis or perhaps irritated wisdom teeth. A trip to the dentist could be the solution.

People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma have a tendency to have a reddish, scaly eczema, a slight rash or slight bluish-green hue along the right cheek. This indicates too much heat or inflammation in the respiratory system, or a lack of oxygen from bronchial constriction.

The mouth shows the energy of the stomach and intestines, and the lower part of the face relates to the lower abdomen.

The lips correspond to your intestines; swollen or red lips indicate inflammation and congestion in the digestive system, usually from overeating or poor food choices. 

Cracked, peeling and dry lips mean your system is dehydrated. You will notice dry lips also accompany constipation. This can be caused by eating a lot of dry food, such as bread, chips, crackers or salty foods. Dry lips also indicate that you are very low in healthy probiotics in your gut and that the ratio of good and bad bacteria in your system is out of balance. Cracking lips are also a sign of gastric stress, so this should be considered if you’ve been worried about something recently.

The top of your upper lip reveals how your stomach is functioning, and the bottom of the upper lip shows the condition of your small intestine. If the lower lip protrudes, this shows a sluggish colon. A yellow color around the mouth and lack of tone in the mouth indicate that the digestive energy is weak and a change of diet and enzymes are needed. On the other hand, a green color indicates that the liver is the prime cause of the problem.

This "treatment" is not as popular in Western medicine and so it's harder to find a specialist who performs treatments like Face Mapping. So with so few in practice, the legitimacy of the treatments haven't been scientifically proven. However, their is one specific study that correlates with Face Mapping in particular. Several prestigious Western medical journals, including American Journal of Cardiology, have reported a high correlation between a diagonal earlobe crease and coronary artery disease in people under age 70. So what's to say that if one study is correct that there isn't any connection with the rest!

So how else are estheticians using this information?
 Skincare professionals have utilized this practice and has even specified it to help clients understand the reason for their breakouts. This can also help your skin care professional customize your treatment and you with choosing the products you use! I've included a picture and graph for you to do your own reading. So if breakouts keep reoccurring in specific places, check it out. Again, this isn't a for sure diagnosis but could help point out what might be happening with your body.

Want to know more? Read on here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You Put WHAT On Your Face?!

I love researching and learning about new things in the beauty and skin industry and sharing what I learned with my class. I have a lot of students who bring articles to me and we have open discussions on what they have heard or read about. Recently, an article was left on my desk that literally made me squirm. It's title? "Too Slimy? Live, crawling snails used in Japanese facials" on the TODAY website.

So, I can't summarize this article any more than what the title describes! Although, this was recently presented to the public it's actually something that's been happening for a while now. (Actually, TODAY may be running out of beauty material because they have reported something similar in 2011.) Slime from snails are actually being utilized in skincare and cosmetics in other continents but are making it's way to the U.S. What's the deal with the slugs right? It's being reported that these snail's trails contain glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. All of these have been used to keep these creatures healthy and their skin intact while they make their way over rocks and under heavy flower pots and such. Glycolic helps with the cell reproduction and stimulating a healing response. Hyaluronic acid actually holds 1000 times it's weight in moisture and can help keep the skin hydrated and plump. Finally, antioxidants help fight free radicals and can combat aging. Wonderful ingredients present! However, these ingredients might be more pleasant in another medium and can be found elsewhere. But the experience itself would be interesting.

Within the article I read about a mention of a "Nightingale feces facial"! Okay, you got my attention. So I set to google and got educated. Thus the Geisha Facial was introduced to me. Apparently, this too is linked to Japan where the geisha's were having trouble with breakouts after wearing that thick, white foundation. Somehow, it was found out that the droppings of a type of Nightingale were the cure! What was the appeal? Well, the excrement is said to be packed with tons of fruit enzymes ( because of the diet of the bird) and allowed the benefits of dissolving dead skin cells, helping unclog pores, and softening and smoothing the skin.  It also said that urea is found in the droppings which, if left on the skin, can moisturize the skin. Who would want to keep it on though? This treatment has been made popular here in the US in New York. You can check out the Shizuka Spa website to get one! No worries, this debris has been sterilized by UV before being ground up into a powder. And hey, Posh Spice raves about it but these enzymes can be found in other venues.

I thought these were TOO interesting to pass up writing about, so has anyone ever heard of these before or had one of these treatments done? Or would you be interested?

Here's a link to some other odd spa/salon treatments.

Are there any other strange skin treatments you've heard of? Love to hear any you might have, email at soskinsmart@gmail.com ! I know my class would enjoy as would I.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Microderm MANIA!

I read an article from a beauty box subscription newsletter where Selma Hayek was being
interviewed. I can't say that she is my beauty icon but she had mentioned Microdermabrasion which is a service offered at my place of business. You can find it here. So as I was reading, I was
kind of in shock that she was making a dig at chemical peels and poor little microdermabrasion...she doesn't advocate for things that "thin" your skin. Honestly, I got a little miffed and decided to search to see if that's what people think of when they hear about these services. My first stop was this article that FIRST described this up and coming model who had treated herself to microdermabrasions and glycolic chemical peels that she thought would help her complexion but in return only made her skin condition worse. Alright, getting more upset when I went on to read their explanation that it is a service that is only recommended periodically...okay we're getting somewhere. So turns out that this lovely lady just didn't get the education on the service and how often she should receive this treatment, not her fault she just didn't know. So I returned to Ms. Hayek's article...why did she think this? Obviously, she has money and could go to professionals that would give her the best treatments and understanding. Oh wait....she's coming out with a skin care line...that's offered over-the-counter.
I'm not going to go into it because I'm sure we all understand the competitive market. However, it's misleading to make general statements without giving facts. Oh celebrities...they think they know everything.

So I'm here to dispel the rumors because, when used correctly microderm can be beneficial.
Microdermabrasion is technically a process used to physically exfoliate the outer layer of skin. This can be done with sodium.... Crystals suspended in creams or through a professional machine which uses the distributes crystals across the skin while a vacuum sucks up the crystals and dead skin cells simultaneously. I'll be speaking on behalf of the professional treatment. There are many forms of microderm, the machine is a crystal microderm while another variation is the diamond-tip microderm which has pieces of diamondlike elements imbeded into the metal head. It is applied on the surface of the skin and utilizes a vacuum as well to remove exfoliated skin cells. Should you suffer from hyperpigmentation, uneven skin texture, scars, lines wrinkles, or comedones- you could benefit from this treatment.

So technically what's happening is the exfoliation is sloughing off the dead cells of the strateum corneum which acts as a protective barrier but can accumulate too many cells and cause clogging of pores. The strateum corneum doesn't consist of just one single layer of cells but multiple should the cells hold tight to the surface and aren't removed. The term "abrasion" means "cut" so the micro cuts on the skin trigger the brain to stimulate a healing response and in return kick starts cell turnover.

A new army of cells are created in the basal layer (the lowest level closest to the epidermis) and pushes the older cells closer to the surface on average every 28 days. As we age this process takes longer. So the frequency of microderms when we are younger can be closer together but as we start to gain some wisdom, you would want to schedule them a little further out to ensure your skin doesn't receive any damage. You also want to make sure your skin is completely healed before getting another one. So where it seems like your skin is getting "thinner" it is, but only for short time and not as dramatic as you may think.

I can't personally tell every single person how long to wait because each skin is different but it's recommended to receive this treatment one to two times a month. One if you already have dry, sensitive skin and two if you are considered more of an oily skin type. Either way, this treatment stimulates cell turnover and also encourages blood flow to the skin which as we know has it's own benefits. It's suggested to have multiple performed in a series, not saying you have to come every week but drastic results don't come from just one treatment.

After the treatment you will want to keep your skin hydrated and SPF is even MORE important now that part of your barrier has been removed.

Should you receive a treatment from someone not experienced, too much skin can be exfoliated if the suction is too high or pressure to firm. You could also experience "striping" were some places were exfoliated to deep and some not enough, causing the looks of lines in the skin. This would only last a while but in the meantime it would look like scabs on your face. You would want to keep the skin moisturized and wear sunscreen religiously to prevent hyperpigmentation. Your skin will heal but it will take some time. So be sure to talk to your skin care professionals and make sure you're protecting yourself by going to spas/offices that perform a full consultation beforehand. If they aren't willing to educate you then they aren't worth your investment in time and money.

There are tons of before and after microdermabrasion pictures on the internet should you be interested in seeing more result. Anyone ever received a microdermabrasion before? Care to share?