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;