Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

All the Rage: Konjac Sponges February 26, 2014

konjac-sponge-opener

Chances are you’ve probably already heard of or even tried a konjac sponge.  I’m a little late to the game in explaining and reviewing these cleansing sponges.  But better late than never, correct?

What Is A Konjac Sponge and How Do You Use It?

Dr. Jessica Wu explains what a konjac sponge is and how to use it:

What is a konjac sponge? A konjac sponge is made of plant starch that’s extracted from a type of potato plant. The sponge absorb a lot of water, so it has a unique texture, kind of like a thick piece of squishy felt. It’s more nubby than a dish sponge, but softer than a loofah and has a finer texture than a washcloth so it’s safe to use on your face. Because of its bouncy, rubbery texture, it makes a rich lather and requires less cleanser that you would normally need. It dries quickly, so it’s more hygienic than a washcloth. Plus they are affordable (I get mine for less than $2 each), so you can change them frequently without having to worry about ruining your washcloths with makeup.

How do konjac sponges help your skin? They dislodge dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities to deep clean your skin, so they’re helpful for those with acne and large pores. They can help slough off dead, dry skin flakes that are a sign of sun damage. They can also help remove stubborn, water resistant sunscreen.

How do you use a konjac sponge? First, soak your sponge in warm water for at least five minutes to soften the fibers and avoid injuring your skin. Splash your face with warm water and squeeze a few drops of cleanser onto the sponge. Massage in a circular motion, concentrating on trouble areas and avoiding areas with healing pimples, infections, or abrasions. Rinse face with warm water and pat dry. Thoroughly rinse the sponge with warm water, squeeze out excess, and let air dry.

Personal Experience

First off, what Dr. Wu writes above about the sponge only costing about $2 is completely correct.  Buy your konjac sponge on eBay; most sellers also offer free shipping.  I bought a regular konjac sponge via eBay though the next time I buy one I’ll be trying a charcoal one since charcoal has acne fighting properties.  I did not find that I had to soak my sponge in warm water for five minutes in order to soften it; it took me about a minute to soften the sponge in the shower.  It is definitely true that you need less cleanser when using a konjac sponge; a little bit of your cleanser will foam up brilliantly on the sponge.  For me the most interesting thing about the konjac sponge was how much the texture changed once it was wet.  Dry the sponge is rough and hard, but once you’ve soaked it the sponge becomes incredibly soft.  I liked using the sponge and the price can’t be beat, but I didn’t see a difference in the appearance of my skin when using the sponge.  I think for someone like me who has tough, acne prone skin konjac sponges are a lovely addition to my skincare routine but not a necessity.  I do think that a konjac sponge can be an excellent way for someone with sensitive skin to exfoliate their skin without any irritation.  Plus, these sponges are just fun (and cheap).  I will definitely be buying another one and recommending them to clients with sensitive skin or to clients who are exfoliation phobic (unfortunately I meet a lot of those) since by using a konjac sponge you can definitely gently exfoliate while you cleanse.

Sources and Further Reading:

Photo from Refinery29

 

Korean Skincare Products: Tested December 12, 2013

[SKIN&LAB] Dr.Vita Clinic : Fre-C Sun Protector

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that I am fascinated by skincare products and routines from around the world, and in particular I’ve developed a real obsession (not a scary, stalker one – I swear) with all things related to South Korean skincare and beauty.  Over a year ago I wrote a post called Beauty in South Korea in which I discussed how South Korea (and other Asian countries such as Japan) are world leaders in skincare innovations and trends.  (Don’t forget that the BB craze first caught on in South Korea)

After writing the post mentioned above I spent a lot of time online looking at various Korean skincare products and wondering just how well they worked.  Finally I took the plunge and ordered products from two different websites: Wishtrend and I Buy Beauti.  First a few words about these sites.  Each site has completely different brands, giving the consumer a wide variety of products to choose from.  Though both sites carry mostly skincare products they also have make-up (including lots of BB and CC creams).  Products are presented with lots of information, many times that includes instructional videos (sometimes in Korean, sometimes in English).  The English language is used very creatively on the sites which I found quite entertaining.  Prices are reasonable, and the sites always seem to be having specials as well.  Both sites ship worldwide (Wishtrend ships for a very reasonable fee, I Buy Beauti ships for free :)).  My items were packed very safely (ie lots of bubble wrap) and compactly.  It took about three weeks from the time of my order until I received my products here in Israel; I paid via PayPal each time.  You receive lots of free samples with your order, and I Buy Beauti even included a thank you postcard which I found to be a lovely touch.

I did wonder if the products on these websites were the Korean equivalent of drugstore products like Neutrogena or Garnier or more upscale like those skincare products sold at Sephora.  My attempts at researching this question failed so if anyone knows the answer I would appreciate hearing from you.  Also if anyone knows a good website to purchase Japanese skincare products from, that doesn’t have crazy international shipping costs, I would love to hear from you as well.

With so many products to choose from I had a lot of trouble deciding what to try.  Since at the time of my order I needed moisturizer and sunscreen I concentrated my purchases on those items.  Now that I am finally getting around to reviewing my purchases I’ve noticed that some of the items are no longer available online, but I’ll still review them here anyhow.

Wishtrend Products

When I was making my purchases the weather in Israel was turning hot and humid so I wanted to get a light, daytime moisturizer.  For reasons that I can no longer remember (it might have just come down to choosing according to price since there were so many interesting products to choose from) I bought Klair’s AC Control Lotion with aloe and snail  (I can no longer find the product on the website).  Yes, I chose a moisturizer with snail slime which is a very trendy ingredient in Asian skincare at the moment. As I already indicated when the product arrived I couldn’t figure out why I had decided to buy this moisturizer over another one particularly since I really don’t believe the hype about snail slime and I’m a lifelong vegetarian (yes, I know I was going to be putting it on my face and not eating the slime but I do prefer to avoid products with obvious animal ingredients though I am not a vegan).  But I have to admit that I didn’t have the patience to mail the product back and wait for another (even after the spring on the pump broke and I could no longer get the product out as intended I still didn’t send the product back) so I just decided to use it.  The entire label is in Korean though there is a nice snail smiling at me from the front of the container and that picture can be universally understood.  Apparently the snail is happy to share his slime with me.  Anyhow, the moisturizer itself is very light and just fine.  After using it for months there really isn’t anything else to say about it.  It absorbs quickly into the skin, you don’t need all that much in order to cover your whole face, and it smells ok.  I wasn’t blown away by this product and even if I could I wouldn’t purchase it again.

Another item I purchased was Skin&Lab Dr. Vita Clinic fre-C Sun Protector which is SPF 50 and has Vitamins C and E in the formulation.  This product promised all the things I look for in a sunscreen for summer – a high SPF, contains antioxidants, chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients, and was supposed to be non-sticky, lightweight, and non-whiting on the skin.  The label for this product is in both English and Korean.  In the end I was disappointed by this sunscreen as a summer sunscreen because I found it too heavy on the skin for use in hot and humid weather.  I recommend it for winter use since it actually is quite moisturizing.  As a sunscreen I have no complaints, but the feel on skin was not as light as I expected.  I constantly hear clients complain how sunscreen feels too heavy on their skin, and the feel of this product would certainly cause a lot of whining.

I also purchased a sheet Vitamin C mask which I can no longer find on the website.  This product was a lot of fun.  The product is packaged in a two pouch flat package that is sealed in the middle separating the sheet mask from the Vitamin C serum.  All the words on the label were in Korea, but luckily there are pictures on the package so you can easily figure out how to use the product.  You need to roll the package so that the seal breaks and you mix the mask with the serum.  Then you remove the mask and place it on your face for about 15 to 20 minutes.  No need to rinse your face afterwards; if any serum remains on your face just gently rub in into the skin.  I tried the mask before bedtime and found that my skin felt very soft the next morning.

Additonally,  I received a bunch of samples from Wishtrend that I had a lot of fun trying.  First off I tried Elisha Coy’s Always Nuddy BB 24 which I liked a lot.  It gave very natural, light coverag; I would definitely consider purchasing a regular size of this product in the future.  I also received a sample of Elisha Coy’s Skin Repairing Snail Cream (yes more snail slime) which was fine, but I would not purchase a regular size of this product.

I was also sent a lot of Skin&Lab samples which were lots of fun to play with.  The samples were moisturizers and essences which are labeled by the letter of a vitamin such as C Plus Brightening or A Plus Lifting or E Plus Moisturizing or ACE Triple Action Essence.  I mixed and matched the samples.  In the morning I might have used the moisturizer with Vitamin C and then in the evening the moisturizer with Vitamin A. Essences are an Asian skincare innovation that have a gel-like consistency.  After toning, but before moisturizing, you apply an essence to treat skin issues.  The moisturizers were nice, but I really loved the essences and would definitely consider purchasing one again in the future.

The last sample I received was two anti-blackhead, anti-acne mask both from Caolion: Blackhead Steam Pore Pack and Pore Minimizing Pack.  I actually haven’t tried these products yet so I can’t comment on them.

I Buy Beauti Products

I made just three purchases through this website and two were from the same brand – tn (teen’s nature).  I was looking for a nighttime moisturizer and was sucked in by the video that I found on the page for the moisturizer Moisture Cocktail Cream.  Yes, I fell for the advertising, something I always tell my readers to resist.  Anyhow, this moisturizer is very light with a gel-like consistency.  It is easily absorbed into the skin, has a light refreshing scent, and nice packaging (what can I say – I’m a sucker for good packaging).  I was surprised by the feel of the moisturizer since, as mentioned above, it is a gel not a cream or liquid, but I actually like it a lot.  If you live in a colder climate this is definitely not a winter moisturizer option for you, but it works well in warmer climates or in summer.  It’s also a good choice for oily skin.

For make-up removal I purchased Etude House Eraser Show Cleansing Serum which is a cream version of make-up removal products like Dermalogica’s PreCleanse or DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil.  Apply to dry skin, gently rub into your skin, rinse, and then cleanse with your favorite facial cleanser.  I thought this product did a pretty good job removing my make-up (I have never found a product that removes all my eyeliner and waterproof mascara), and it certainly left my skin feeling soft.  Another plus – though the package is on the small size (75 ml or 2.53 fluid ounces) I have found that a little bit goes a long way, and it has lasted me months. This is a product I would definitely consider repurchasing; it is also very reasonably priced.

I am consistently on the look-out for a sunscreen that I can carry with me in order to reapply, over make-up, during the day.  I gave up on brush-on sunscreens about a year ago because they were constantly exploding all over my purse, but, more importantly, I realized that though they might not mess up my make-up they weren’t really giving me any sun protection.  I tried stick sunscreens and was disappointed.  So when I came across this sunscreen balm (tn Sun Balm SPF 50) that was packaged like a make-up compact I had to try it.  I love this!  All I can say is whomever invented this product is a genius.  The mirrored compact contains a sponge for easy application, and the product itself goes on smoothly and invisibly.  I have definitely found my solution for how to reapply sunscreen during the day.  It’s not messy and won’t explode in your bag like brush-on sunscreen, you definitely can control where you put it on your face and know how much you’ve applied, and it leaves a matte and silky finish on your skin.  Yes, my sponge quickly turned brown since some of my morning make-up was removed when I applied this product, but I never noticed that my complexion looked worse.  I highly, highly recommend this product!

Lastly, with my purchase I received samples of tn Facial Foam Cleanser and Moisture Lotion neither of which I can find on the website (though maybe I’m not looking for the right product; I can’t tell).  Both were fine though nothing to write home about.

Bottom Line:  Overall I was pretty happy with my Korean skincare product purchases.  I will definitely be trying other products in the future.  Both websites mentioned here are well worth exploring and buying from.

** Have you tried any Korean skincare or make-up products?  If yes, please share your experiences below.  Be sure to mention where you bought the products.  **

Image from wishtrend.com

 

Products Worth Trying? October 22, 2012

Recently I came across quite a few intriguing skincare and make-up products I thought I would share with my readers.  I haven’t tried any of these products so if you have please comment below.

I’m a big fan of using a lactic acid exfoliating product during facials (I used to use GloLactic with much success during facials as long as the client wasn’t using Retin-A.  If the client used Retin-A and you put this product on their face they generally could not handle it) so my ears perked up when I heard of a whole product line based on milk (lactic acid comes from milk).  The product line is called Dairy Faceand the website explains why they use milk in their products:

Milk has been prized as a beauty care ingredient since cows roamed the Roman Empire. It’s rich in unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins A, D, E, C and B12, and offers amazing nutritional benefits for the skin.

Almost all facial creams include fats and oils to help keep skin healthy. Well, milk is an utterly nourishing source of natural fat. One drop of milk contains over one million superfine, easily-absorbed, nutrient-rich balls of fat that quench your skin’s moisture-thirsty cells.

Your skin will also love the lactic acid found in this dairylicious ingredient – which helps to break down and remove dead skin cells and helps to stimulate collagen production.

Milk has other naturally occurring nutrients – peptides and protein. Dairyface is the first yogurt specifically formulated to contain pre- and pro-biotics for topical use on your skin!

Another interesting thing about this line is that it needs to be refrigerated.  Once again according to the products website:

Cold is the next hot thing in skincare.

The solution is as simple and everyday as refrigeration.  It’s fresh, natural dairy, after all. Keeping Dairyface products cold means there’s no need to add synthetic or other harmful preservatives. Dairyface works with local dairies to source live milk cultures, then combines them with other beneficial fruits, vegetables and herbs, to bring a powerful and gentle skin care from nature to you.

I have no idea if the products in this line work as described, but I do find the concept and main ingredient appealing.

Further Reading:

A good primer can make a lot of difference with how your make-up goes on and how your skin looks.  After reading a positive review of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer  on Future Derm I would like to give this product a try in the future.  In the meantime I try to keep excess shine away by mixing a little Smashbox Anti-Shine with my sunscreen each morning.

I’m much more of a lip gloss girl than a lipstick person, but the problem with glosses is that you have to keep reapplying them throughout the day.  Enter Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar which promises the following:

OCC Lip Tar combines the longevity of a lipstick, with the ease of application of a gloss. Goes on slick and moist, and dries down to a satin finish. Ultra-saturated in color, Lip Tar contains an unprecedented amount of pigment – a little goes a very, very long way! An intense yet featherweight layer of color that never looks or feels heavy. Meant to be mixed, Lip Tar comes in concise array of colors for a limitless selection of shades made by you! A simple, elegant formula that contains Hemp Oil, Peppermint Oil and Vitamin E, OCC Lip Tar feels as good on the lips as it looks!

This product is 100% vegan and cruelty-free (cruelty free is a must for me) and according to Allure it really does last all day long.  Furthermore, once again from Allure:

A few months ago I came across a little tube of brightly colored pigment fromObsessive Compulsive Cosmetics called Lip Tar. It was unlike anything I had seen before: It had the opacity of a matte lipstick, the consistency of a gloss, and a satin finish. “I think the best way to describe it is concentrated lipstick,” said the creator of the brand, makeup artist David Klasfeld. “It’s lipstick in its most basic form—just pigment and a natural oil base.” Since then, I’ve seen more and more of these lipsticks popping up: Stila Stay All Day Liquid LipstickYves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stains, and there’s more to come. In August, Guerlain will debut Rouge G L’Extrait, and Hourglass Cosmetics is coming out with a full-coverage liquid lipstick called Opaque Rouge.

The only downside to these concentrated lipsticks is that you have to move quickly and be extra precise because they dry so quickly. I like to put them on starting in the center of my bottom lip, dotting on just a little bit and then smoothing the color out to either side, bringing it closer to the lip line with the tip of the sponge applicator. If you can’t get the hang of the applicator, though, you can also dip a tiny lip brush in the tube, which makes it easier to follow the curve of your cupid’s bow. And while they’re intensely pigmented, they aren’t at all heavy or gross, so they’re actually perfect for summer—I promise they will not budge in the heat.

(New-Product Alert: Lipstick Concentrate)

And lastly, thinking about doing a cleanse?  (I have but I know I would break after a few hours and stuff french fries and chocolate into my mouth)  Now there are skincare products to use in conjunction with your cleanse since it is a well known fact that cleanses can cause temporary skin issues (breakouts, dryness) as your body detoxifies.

Once again – if you’ve tried any of these products please share your thoughts below.

 

Image from paleoplan.com

 

Beauty Briefs: BB Creams Are Over, Here Come CC Creams September 10, 2012

I toyed with the idea a while ago about writing about BB creams but decided against it when I realized that I had nothing new to add to the discussion.  In case you need a recap, BB creams were first developed in Germany but caught on in popularity in South Korea.  These creams only started recently appearing in the US market, but it is easy to find one in all price ranges since they’ve become popular very quickly.

In theory I like the idea of BB creams since they are really souped up tinted moisturizers.  Not only are they meant to hydrate and provide some coverage (like a light foundation), but they also include added ingredients that can act as a make-up primer and are anti-aging or anti-acne.  They also include sun protection though my great fear remains that people think they are getting enough sun protection from a product like this.  Always use a separate stand alone sunscreen.  Please!

Though it is not labeled a BB cream the one I’ve tried is called Miracle Skin Transformer.  I consider it a BB cream since it is a multi-tasker – it is tinted, hydrates, has spf, and contains antioxidants as well.  I first discovered it when I received a free sample with a Sephora purchase, and I thought that it made my skin look amazing.  A few months later I bought a travel size at Sephora.  Interestingly enough now that I have the product at home I don’t quite like it as much as I did when I had the sample.  I can’t figure out what would have changed about the product and how it looks on my face, but something did change.  Not that it looks bad, simply my skin doesn’t look as fresh or dewy as it did when I applied the product from the sample.  Nonetheless I still think it is a good product.

Just as US consumers were getting used to the idea of BB creams, it turns out that they are on their way out.  Here come the CC creams.  Allure explains:

Still trying to wrap your head around BB creams? (Pssst, we’ll help you out. They’re souped-up moisturizers that cover like a sheer foundation and treat various skin-care concerns such as acne or wrinkles.) Well now there’s a whole new category of multitasking formulas: CC creams. Short for “color and care” or “color and correct”, CC creams are essentially BB creams on steroids.

They’re designed to offer more coverage than BB creams but still go on sheer, they moisturize better, and they contain hard-core anti-aging ingredients. Look out for the first CC cream to hit the U.S. this October: Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting Moisturizer.

Future Derm isn’t so excited about either BB or CC creams.  The post How is a CC Cream Different From a BB Cream? explains and highlights a few important points:

A CC cream is a color correcting cream, meaning that it is a brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

On the other hand, a BB cream is a non-brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

BB creams are typically laden with hydrators to create a dewy finish, which are not so great for acne-prone or oily skin.

CC creams, on the other hand, are typically oil-free.  …

Delivery systems matter.  Ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and other alcohols, as well as advanced delivery systems like liposomes, are commonly used to increase the skin’s absorption of ingredients.

Unfortunately, BB and CC creams typically are designed to be make-up products.  Yes, you will get benefits.  But I’d take 10% vitamin C in a serum over 10% vitamin C in a BB or CC cream any day!

I love the idea of multi-tasking skincare and make-up products that help cut down on the amount of time you spend prepping in the morning.  I just think you have to very careful before you buy something.  Remember my warning about not relying on a BB cream, a CC cream, or your make-up for your sun protection.  Additionally, keep in mind what the Future Derm post said about delivery systems in products.  Just because a product includes fabulous sounding ingredients doesn’t mean that they are actually getting into your skin and providing you with any benefit.  If you have a BB cream that you like I see no reason to stop using it and I see no reason not to try a CC cream, but don’t expect miracles.  Sometimes the newest thing on the market just makes a scene only to disappear.  Tried and true products are always around.

Further Reading:

Image from glamour.com

 

Cosmetic Botox Turns 10 September 3, 2012

 

In April, 2012 Botox turned 10 years old.  That is it has been 10 years since the FDA gave Allergan approval to sell Botox Cosmetic as a solution for moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows and not just for medical purposes (As many readers may know Botox has numerous medical applications as well).  Now that Botox is so widely used (and even abused some would say) this is a good opportunity to look back over the last decade to see what people had to say about Botox then and the reality of its use today.

Take for instance Dr. Richard Friedman’s piece Cases: A Peril of the Veil of Botox in The New York Times from August, 2002 just after Botox was approved for cosmetic use:

Unlike a face-lift, where the skin is stretched taut like a drum but facial expression is unaffected, Botox paralyzes the underlying muscles that control facial movement and produce wrinkles. Botox, or botulinum toxin, is the neurotoxin derived from the bacteria Clostridia botulinum, the cause of botulism.

Botulinum toxin is the most poisonous substance known and is a potentially potent bioweapon. A single gram of the purified toxin, widely dispersed and inhaled, could kill a million people.

Ingested systemically, botulinum toxin kills by paralyzing the diaphragm, the muscle used in breathing. The toxin prevents neurons from releasing acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. But injected locally, it paralyzes just a small area of skeletal muscle. The effect is temporary, lasting three to four months.

Little is known about the long-term cosmetic effects of Botox. But there is evidence that prolonged use can cause some people to produce neutralizing antibodies against Botox, which diminish or block its effect over time.

Botox had wiped the wrinkles from the woman’s brow but had also robbed her face of some human expressiveness. It made her appear not so much youthful as lifelike — a frozen imitation of youth.

Unlike this woman, many Botox users receive extensive injections above the nose, around the eyes and across the forehead, which deeply alter their expressions.

It made me wonder: Should we become a Botox nation? What are the implications for human relationships? I’m not too worried about the adults; they can figure out that their friends and loved ones are poker faced not because of lovelessness but thanks to Botox. But what about infants and children?

Now some of the above concerns have come true.  There are people who have developed a tolerance for Botox rendering it less effective or completely ineffective for them.  Additionally some people have gone overboard with their Botox injections causing their foreheads to become motionless and their expressions frozen, but keep in mind if Botox is used judiciously this should not happen.  Certainly the popularity of Botox among Hollywood celebrities has greatly contributed to its use amongst the general popular.  While celebrities are at the forefront of the use of new cosmetic products and procedures they can also clearly show the pitfalls of these procedures as well.  (For a good illustration of how this pertains to Botox see Shape magazine’s article Botox: Hollywood’s Most Frozen Faces)

The key to a positive Botox experience and a great result?  Finding an injector, either a doctor or a nurse (In the US any doctor, not just a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon can inject Botox, and any registered nurse can inject Botox.  I would love to know from my readers in other parts of the world about how popular Botox is in their country and who can inject it), who knows their stuff.  If you place yourself in the hands of a skilled injector your face looks refreshed, not overdone.  Your forehead will still move while you look alert and your wrinkles are smoothed.  There has been a great improvement in how Botox is injected since it was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 so the concerns from then as mentioned above, while not to be taken lightly, are not as much of a problem today.

Just how did the FDA approval of Botox for cosmetic use change the anti-aging game?  The impact of Botox should not be underestimated.  According to a Skin Inc. article about the 10th anniversary of Botox being approved for cosmetic use:

“When approved by the FDA in 2002, Botox Cosmetic changed the way that physicians could treat patients who were interested in improving the appearance of their vertical frown lines between the brows,” says David E.I. Pyott, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Allergan, Inc. “Botox Cosmetic has become the No. 1 neuromodulator in the United States and the number of patients considering talking to their doctor about treatment has more than quadrupled to 5.8 million since 2002.”

Botox secured its first FDA approval more than 22 years ago as a treatment for two rare eye muscle disorders, making it the first product of its kind approved in the world. In 2002, the same formulation with dosing specific to frown lines was approved under the name Botox Cosmetic.

“The FDA approval of Botox Cosmetic enhanced the practice of plastic surgery by providing plastic surgeons with a new treatment option for patients seeking to reduce the appearance of vertical frown lines between the eyebrows,” says Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In the decade since Botox Cosmetic was approved, aesthetic specialty physicians–which include dermatologists, oculoplastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons–have developed extensive experience in the art and science of administering Botox Cosmetic to yield predictable results for their patients. These physicians have performed approximately 11 million treatment sessions since 2002 and have also contributed to the extensive clinical database demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the drug.

“The approval of Botox Cosmetic in 2002 dramatically changed our ability to treat our patients by giving them an effective option to treat the appearance of moderate to severe vertical frown lines with a minimally invasive procedure,” says Susan Weinkle, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “Botox Cosmetic has become more accepted by the public, and this treatment has brought more patients into aesthetic practices to learn about other treatments available.”

Though I have yet to try Botox (or Dysport or Xeomin which do the same thing as Botox yet are newer to the market) I am certainly not opposed to trying it in the future.

Have you tried Botox?  Are you open to trying it?  Share your thoughts below.

Further Reading:

There is, of course, endless amounts of information available about Botox online.  Here are some good sources for more information about this product.

Image from allure.com

 

The Beauty Product I Can’t Live Without July 16, 2012

My family and I are in the midst of getting ready for a big move next month so we have started going through our apartment, where we have lived for the last five years, to see what we can donate, recycle, throw-out, and sell before the move.  At the moment I live in chaos while I wait for the movers to arrive in less than ten days to pack our things and load them onto a container.  Instead of feeling like I have less things I feel like our stuff is multiplying and taking over the apartment.  No matter how much I try to part with things there only seems to be more and more things around.

In the past I’ve shared with my readers how I am a beauty product hoarder.  (See my post Are You a Skincare Product Hoarder?)  When we move next month I am planning on bringing with me an entire, large bag just for all my make-up and skincare products. The bag is actually the one I used to use when I was an esthetics student, and I am sure that I will fill the entire thing up with my products.  (a picture of the bag is below)

Going through our home has made me wonder the following things repeatedly:  why do I need all these things?  And can’t I just live with less?  If you think the number of beauty products I have is bad, you should realize that I also hoard clothes and shoes, especially shoes.  I have always had a thing for shoes.  But I digress.  So I got to thinking: if I could only choose one beauty product to have around what would it be?  I realized that I would actually have to have two: sunscreen and tweezers.  I simply cannot live without my tweezers!  Twice a day, at least, I have to pluck stray hairs from my face, chin (always my chin), and my brows.  I’ve been attached to my tweezers for longer than I can remember; without them I feel lost.  I can’t stand feeling or seeing coarse, usually black hairs, on my face.  I have a pathological need to get rid of the hairs as quickly as I can.  I guess if I really had to I could let go of all my other skincare products (my cleansers, my exfoliating lotions, my retin-a, my antioxidant serums, etc.) but never my tweezers.  As for the sunscreen, I think my need for it is pretty self-explanatory.

There is a quote that keeps making the rounds on Pinterest*:

Someone else is happy with less than what you have

At this point in my life this quote resonates strongly with me; I know that this is something I should aspire to – living with less and being happy.

If you could only have one or two beauty products what would they be?  Please share below.  I love comments!

Further Reading:

 

 

Image of tweezers from hairbumpsrelief.com

Image of bag from overstock.com

*Not on Pinterest yet?  I suggest joining.  It is so much fun!

 

Products I’ve Been Trying July 9, 2012

Lately I’ve had an opportunity  to try some new skincare products and make-up.  I thought I would share with my readers what I’ve been trying.

Through this blog I was approached by Sue Nelson from L’bri Pure and Natural skincare who asked if I wanted to their products.  She was nice enough to send me sample sizes of products for both normal to oily skin that I could try and normal to dry products for my friend Sarah to try.  A few things about this line – all the products are aloe vera based* as opposed to water based like most skincare products (check your products and you’ll see that the first ingredient in most skincare products is water), are paraben free (if that is important to you), contain no artificial colors or fragrances, and no mineral oil or waxes.  It does not say anywhere in the literature or website that the products are organic so keep that in mind if that is important to you.

I tried the deep pore cleanser, the deep pore freshener, the oil-free moisture lotion, and the facial masque.  I was also sent a sample of the rejuvenating facial peel, but I can’t comment on it too much because I didn’t bother to read the directions before trying it and completely misused it all up.  My bad.  I have to say that I liked the feel of all the products.  The mask left my face very smooth and soft, but it also tightened to an extreme extent.  I happen to be claustrophobic so having a product on my face that was tight didn’t make me happy one bit, but I was pleased with the end result.  I especially liked the oil free moisturizer because it managed to be rich and creamy but also light on the skin.  A lot of moisturizers for oily skin can feel too light so I liked how this one moisturizer felt and worked.  I think the normal to oily skin products I tried are good for just that – someone with a little more than normal amount of oil in their skin.  I don’t think that these products would work well for someone with active acne breakouts at all.

My friend Sarah raved about the products she tried saying that they she liked the way they felt on her skin and how her skin looked and felt after using them.  She particularly liked the facial masque (the same one that I tried) and gave the line a thumbs up.

In all, if you are looking for a natural skincare line you might want to give L’bri a try.  Of the products I tried my favorites were the oil free moisturizer and the facial masque.

As an aside, if you are wondering why aloe is good for the skin this is what Paula Begoun has to say about aloe in her online cosmetic ingredient dictionary:

In pure form, aloe vera’s benefits on skin are probably its lack of occlusion and the refreshing sensation it provides. Aloe serves as a water-binding agent for skin due to its polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) and sterol content. (An example of a sterol that’s beneficial for skin is cholesterol) Although research has shown aloe also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial qualities, no study has proven it to be superior to other ingredients with similar properties, including vitamin C, green tea, pomegranate, and many other antioxidants (Source: http://www.naturaldatabase.com).

*There are other skincare lines that are aloe based liked Lexli.

Another skincare line I’ve been trying products from and absolutely love is called Tecniche.  I was introduced to this line when I took my oncology esthetics class through Touch for Cancer.  As part of the class we were given full size products to use on the cancer patients we worked with and to try ourselves.  This line is extremely gentle so it can be used by anyone with compromised skin, and it is organic and paraben free.  The line’s tagline is:  “savvy science for healing sensitive skin”.  The philosophy behind the skincare line is explained this way:

Tecniche™ Savvy Science products are the gentlest anti-age cosmeceutical products in the skincare industry, uniting the once-separate branches of cosmeceutical/anti-age and sensitive/healing.

Tecniche™ products are designed specifically for the short- and long-term care of sensitive skin. In the short-term, your skin will be comforted, softened and balanced. In the long-term, the gentle introduction of cosmeceutical-strength ingredients will strengthen and revitalize your skin for a beautiful future.

I certainly do not have sensitive skin, but I’ve loved all the products I tried from this line.  I was so pleased with everything I got during my class that I went and set-up an account with Tecniche so I could buy more products.  So far I’ve tried and loved:

  • Plantae Foaming Wash - creamy and non stripping this cleanser leaves my skin feeling fabulous
  • Jojoba Polish and Jadease Mask worked great during facials and client’s skin was soft and had a great glow to it afterwards (which is always something you want to achieve with facials)
  • The DNA Care Natural SPF 30 is thicker than the sunscreens I usually use but it absorbs nicely and quickly into the skin
  • Joy Mist is a great way to set your mineral make-up and an excellent toner

I’ve bought but still have to try the SupremeC Serum, the Taheebo Nail Balmand Incredible Enzymes.  I was delighted to find Tecniche’s Unscented Massage Oil which I think is amazing.  My regular 100% jojoba oil just wasn’t cutting during facial massages because of all the extremely dehydrated skin I see here in Chicago.  The Tecniche massage oil has been a fabulous addition to my facials.  I highly recommend it to all my fellow estheticians.

I was surprised by how much I’ve loved this line.  I’ve tried a lot of different skincare products over the years so I was very skeptical when I was given this line to try.  But now I love it.  Really!  You can purchase Tecniche through a licensed professional.  It is a great line for all skin types but particularly for compromised skin (like people with cancer) or those with sensitive skin.  One last thing, the other estheticians in my oncology esthetics class also really loved the Tecniche products we all got to try.

I got a chance to try a few Youngblood Cosmetics through my job.  I like my make-up to look natural and Youngblood certainly fulfilled that goal.  I tried liquid foundation, the loose powder foundation, and the moisture tint.  Though I liked all the products the moisture tint was my favorite.  The shadow and blush that I tried went on smoothly and looked fresh and natural.  The primer was excellent as well.  But of all the products I tried my favorite has to be the ultimate concealer.  It worked on my undereye circles, my red spots, and blemishes.  It blended seamlessly into my skin.  A fabulous find!  There are a lot of mineral make-up lines available, but this is definitely one that I can get behind and recommend.  (It was also started my an esthetician; I always like to hear fellow esthetician success stories)

Have you been trying any new products lately?  If yes, please share below.

 

Really, Truly Assessing Your Skincare Routine March 22, 2012

Do you really need all the skincare and make-up products you own?  In the spirit of spring cleaning, since spring is really starting to bloom, take some time to think about your daily beauty routine needs and products.

Now before you think that I am going to ask you to chuck out the majority of your skincare and make-up products let me explain that while I aspire to live a life uncomplicated by material things I am, nevertheless, a hoarder.  A few years ago when I noticed that The Gap was selling skirts almost identical to ones I used to wear in high school and had donated to charity eons ago I decided hang on to all my clothes indefinitely instead of purging my closet, as I should, on a yearly basis.  I never throw out the boxes from skincare and make-up products until I am done using the product.  I keep books and magazines, especially food magazines, instead of recycling or passing them along to the next reader.  So what I am referring to here is really a reassessment of your skincare and make-up routine instead of a true “out with old, in with the new”.

The idea for this post came from reading two different blogs.  One is a blog by a fellow esthetician who is a successful spa owner and has her own line of skincare products - Renee Rouleau.  The other blog is a favorite of mine called Scatterbraintures which follows the very personal beauty explorations and musings of its writer Rae who lives in the Philippines.  Recently both of these bloggers posted about reassessing your skincare products and that got me thinking about the same subject.  The idea behind each post is the same – do you really need all the skincare and make-up products that you own?

Rae from Scatterbraintures took all her skincare and beauty products and stuck them in a big bag calling her experiment The De-Stashing Party.  The idea behind this is simple – you only remove the products you really truly intend on using from the bag and after a week you reevaluate your products by seeing what you took out of the bag and what you didn’t.  Rae explains that she got the idea from The Minimalists.  I believe this is definitely an idea worth exploring.  If I were ever to do this I would do it with my make-up since I really hold on to make-up for way too long, hoarding both colors and products that I really don’t need.  You can follow Rae’s de-stashing experiment through the posts in her blog.  I applaud her for making the effort to declutter her life.

Renee Rouleau’s ideas for assessing your skincare products are of a different vein but extremely helpful as well.  I like her ideas so much I decided just to republish them here instead of paraphrasing them:

Step #1: Pull out ALL of your skin care products and set them on a table. For some, this could be over 30 products, as people tend to hold on to products for a long time, whether they are using them or not. Pull out body care products while you’re at it.

Step #2: Toss what is old. Look at the products and think back to when you purchased them. Has it been over two years? Two years is generally how long products are safe and effective to use. If you can’t remember when you purchased it, chances are it’s been over two years and they may no longer be effective. At the very least, look at the packaging. If the label is peeling or wearing off, that may be an indication that the product is old. Take these products and toss them. They are no longer suitable for you or anyone else. (Tip: For your next skin care product purchase, write the purchase date with a marker on the bottom of the jar or bottle so you’ll always know.)

Step #3:Take the sniff test and look test. With the products that are left, open each one and smell them. Does it smell okay? Even if you know or think you have purchased the product within two years, some products may not have strong preservative systems and therefore may have altered over time. If it smells strange or doesn’t smell right, toss. Then look at the product. Does it look okay? If the product ingredients are separating or it just doesn’t look right, toss.

Step #4: Assess each product for skin compatibility. With the remainder of the products leftover, determine if each product is a good fit for your skin. Do you like the way it feels on your skin? Does it make your skin feel GOOD? Anything that feels irritating, leaves your skin feeling tight or dry, causes unnecessary redness, or your instincts tell you that something isn’t feeling right, toss or donate. Your skin will always tell you when something is a fit – or not – if you just listen closely. And remember, feeling tight after washing does not indicate clean, it’s a sign of dehydration.

Step #5: Check your ingredients. Even if you determine your products are compatible with your skin, certain ingredients when used may not give your skin the best results over time. Look at the ingredient list on each product and avoid these ingredients:

· Mineral Oil & Petrolatum (pore-clogging and suffocating to the skin)
· SD Alcohol 40 and Denatured Alcohol (the “bad” alcohols commonly found in toners. They are extremely drying)
· Isopropyl Myristate & Isopropyl Palmitate (can cause blackheads)
· Synthetic dyes (can be a skin irritant)
· Synthetic fragrances in our skin care products (the #1 cause of allergic reactions to products. Avoid products containing the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the ingredient listing)
· Known sensitizers (ingredients that can cause irritation)
· Heavy oils (will suffocate the skin and leave it feeling greasy)
· Sodium or Ammonium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate (extremely drying and irritating to the skin)
· Apricot kernels, or seed/shell powders (naturally made particles found in facial scrubs can scratch and irritate the skin causing bacteria to spread)

If you determine you have products that contain these ingredients, you may want to toss or donate.

Step #6:Be realistic about what you will and will not use. Okay, so now your collection of products should have narrowed significantly. Read over the directions for usage and then start using them. You have spent a lot of money on these products so put them to good use to get beautiful and healthy skin!

If you do want to donate your gently used or unopened skincare products and make-up Rouleau suggests contacting your local women’s shelter to see if they would accept the donation.  I think this is a great idea.

So pick your project:  are you going to put all your products in a bag like Rae or evaluate them one by one as suggested by Renee?  Either way I think going over your skincare and beauty products is a great way to start off the spring season.

Image – painting by Robert Ryman from 1961 found on www.sfmoma.org

 

Is Cruelty Free Really Cruelty Free? January 2, 2012

I’ve been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for the past 21 years so it stands to reason that I do not use cosmetics or skincare products that have been tested on animals.  I also, of course, make sure that all the make-up brushes are cruelty free as well (Urban Decay makes fabulous, but pricy, vegan brushes and Eco Tools has great lower priced brushes).

Unfortunately finding cruelty free cosmetics is not as straight forward as it would seem to be.  Keep a few things in mind when looking for cosmetics or skincare products that are not tested on animals.  It turns out that terms such as “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals” are not overseen or regulated by any government body and are essentially meaningless.  According to the FDA:

Some cosmetic companies promote their products with claims such as “CRUELTY-FREE” or “NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS” in their labeling or advertising. The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms.

Some companies may apply such claims solely to their finished cosmetic products. However, these companies may rely on raw material suppliers or contract laboratories to perform any animal testing necessary to substantiate product or ingredient safety. Other cosmetic companies may rely on combinations of scientific literature, non-animal testing, raw material safety testing, or controlled human-use testing to substantiate their product safety.

Many raw materials, used in cosmetics, were tested on animals years ago when they were first introduced. A cosmetic manufacturer might only use those raw materials and base their “cruelty-free” claims on the fact that the materials or products are not “currently” tested on animals.

You may ask yourself if cosmetics really do need to be tested on animals in order to be sure that are safe for human use.  The FDA does not actually require animal testing in order to establish that a cosmetic is safe for human use, but they don’t out right discourage its use either:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for assuring that cosmetics are safe and properly labeled. This mission is accomplished through enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), related statutes, and regulations promulgated under these laws.

The FD&C Act does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval. However, the agency has consistently advised cosmetic manufacturers to employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products. It remains the responsibility of the manufacturer to substantiate the safety of both ingredients and finished cosmetic products prior to marketing.

Animal testing by manufacturers seeking to market new products may be used to establish product safety. In some cases, after considering available alternatives, companies may determine that animal testing is necessary to assure the safety of a product or ingredient. FDA supports and adheres to the provisions of applicable laws, regulations, and policies governing animal testing, including the Animal Welfare Act and the Public Health Service Policy of Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Moreover, in all cases where animal testing is used, FDA advocates that research and testing derive the maximum amount of useful scientific information from the minimum number of animals and employ the most humane methods available within the limits of scientific capability.  …

FDA supports the development and use of alternatives to whole-animal testing as well as adherence to the most humane methods available within the limits of scientific capability when animals are used for testing the safety of cosmetic products. We will continue to be a strong advocate of methodologies for the refinement, reduction, and replacement of animal tests with alternative methodologies that do not employ the use of animals.

The European Union certainly thinks that a lot of animal testing should be severely limited.  The New York Times article Leaving Animals Out of the Cosmetics Picture explains:

On March 11, 2009, the European Union banned cosmetics and personal-products companies from testing their products on animals for things like skin irritancy, sensitivity to light and acute toxicity. The decision also banned the import of cosmetics containing ingredients that have been animal-tested in this way. By March 11, 2013, companies will be forbidden from further tests designed to establish longer-term toxicity.

Unfortunately the US lags behind in establishing a ban on animal testing.  According to The New York Times article:

But no such laws exist in the United States. The closest is the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, which was introduced on June 24, 2011, (it has yet to be adopted) and encourages, among other things, the development of alternatives to animal testing.

What is interesting about the fact that the FDA or another government branch hasn’t done more to stop animal testing on cosmetic products is that the majority of Americans actually oppose animal testing for cosmetics.  According to an independent survey conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine :

  • 72 percent of respondents agreed that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical.
  • 78 percent agreed that the development of alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics testing is important.
  • 61 percent said cosmetics and personal care product companies should not be allowed to test products on animals.
  • 58 percent said they would purchase cruelty-free personal care products.

 

So how do you make sure the products you are using are cruelty free?  Look up PETA‘s list of companies that do not test on animals or the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics list of companies.  Each of these groups also has symbol that you can find on cosmetics so keep your eyes open for those as well.  You can also help support bans on animal testing through both of these two organizations.

 

How to Read a Skincare Product Label October 24, 2011

Filed under: Beauty/Cosmetic Products,Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 5:44 am

Education is the key to being a savvy skincare consumer.  One important component to being educated about skincare is knowing how to read a product label.  Knowing how to read a product label helps you make better informed decisions about which skincare products to buy.

Reading skincare product labels can be complicated, mainly because of the indecipherable ingredients found in products.  One way to better understand skincare product ingredients is to buy a cosmetic ingredients dictionary so you can look up ingredients.

When you are looking at the actual list of ingredients keep a few things in mind (well more than a few things).  I like Dr. Ellen Marmur’s summary of how to read a product label (found on pages 274-275 of her book Simple Skin Beauty):

The label must list ingredients from the highest concentration to the lowest, so if the antiaging element you’re looking for, be it niacinamide or vitamin C, is near the bottom, there’s not enough in the product to do anything.  (Keep in mind; a high concentration of the chemical is one way to get it into the skin).  Most often, a cosmeceutical acts primarily as a good moisturizer, which is wonderful, but it won’t have much more than superficial and temporary results.  Most of the ingredients on the label – the water, moisturizers, binders, and preservatives that make up the vehicle – are inactive.  Often an antiaging product includes silicone to provide a smooth texture to the product and make the complexion look smoother too.  It may also contain a little glycolic acid or lactic acid to exfoliate the skin and provide instant gratification.  There elements don’t actually change anything below the surface of the your skin.  At least make sure that the antioxidant or peptide you’re buying is very near the top of the ingredients list.  Decoding the label has limitations, however.  Most of the time a product does not state the concentration or percentage of the ingredients (and it doesn’t have to).  And too high a concentration of some ingredients, such as vitamin C, can be toxic to the skin.  You also can’t tell from the label whether an ingredient, like an antioxidant, is stable or not.

Keep some other important issues in mind when looking at product labels.  Once again I’ll turn to Dr. Marmur’s book for an explanation (pages 110-111):

The FDA does not require cosmetics to undergo approval before they are sold to the public.  Only ingredients that are classified as drugs, elements that affect the structure or function of the body, are in any way regulated.  These drugs are labeled as active ingredients above the cosmetic components, or inactive ingredients.  The manufacturer must provide scientific proof to the FDA that active ingredients are safe and effective.  As far as cosmetic components go, they much be listed in descending order by quantity.  So if water is the first ingredient listed, it’s the most plentiful element in the product.  If an antioxidant is last on the list, there’s probably just a trace of it included.  You should question whether that popular antioxidant or all-the-rage natural ingredient is mainly marketing or has been proven effective in the amount contained in the product.

So before you believe the claims presented in advertisements or beauty articles be sure to turn the skincare product you are interested in buying around and read the ingredients.  Make sure that the ingredients you really want to try out on your skin are amongst the first 5 or so ingredients listed.  If you see the ingredient toward the middle or at the bottom of the ingredient list don’t bother purchasing the product.

 

Further reading and resources:

Understanding product labels, particularly the ingredients, involves continually educating yourself about formulations and ingredients.  Sometimes I wish I was better at chemistry so that I could become a cosmetic chemist so that I could really understand skincare ingredients and formulations.  Luckily, there are many resources out there to help you along.  Here are some of my favorite websites for skincare product information:

And check out what the FDA has to say about cosmetic labeling and labeling claims.

 

 
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