Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Sephora Sun Safety Kit April 29, 2010

Sephora and The Skin Cancer Foundation have teamed up once again to sell a Sun Safety Kit for only $25.  That small amount of money gets you 11 trial size sun protection products in a cute pink bag.  In the kit you’ll find sunscreens, moisturizers with sunscreens,a lip balm with sunscreen, a self-tanner with sunscreen, and make-up with sunscreens.  And the best part, if getting all those products for $25 wasn’t enough for you, 100% of the net profits from the sale of the kits goes to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Enjoy shopping!


Do You Really Need An Eye Cream? April 27, 2010

Do you ever feel that a salesperson is just trying to sell you an eye cream in order to make a sale and that you definitely don’t need one?  Or do you ever wonder why you need an eye cream at all?

As a self professed product junkie I, of course, use an eye cream, but does everyone need one?  My answer would actually be – no, not everyone needs a separate eye cream. 


When You Don’t Need A Separate Eye Cream


If the skin around your eyes and under your eyes is no different from the rest of  the skin on your face than just use your regular moisturizer and sunscreen (yes, your sunscreen too) in your eye area.  Yes while the skin around your eye area is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face that doesn’t mean that you still need a separate eye cream if the one you are using for your face doesn’t irritate your eye area.


When You Do Need A Separate Eye Cream


I’ve already addressed two of the most vexing eye area problems in my blog already – dark undereye circles and puffy eyes.  If you suffer from either of these common problems then you will want to use an eye cream that addresses those issues. Or if for instance you find that your face is oily but your eye area is dry then I would recommend using an eye cream.


Recommended Eye Creams





Further reading:  Eye Creams: Fact and Fiction by Paula Begoun





Ingredient Spotlight: Green Tea April 26, 2010

I want to address the issue of green tea in two different ways in this post.  First I’ll explain how drinking green tea benefits your health, and secondly I’ll explain how the topical application of green tea helps your skin.

And as always please note that I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor, but I am careful to pass along information from reputable sources.  Please see the end of each section of this post for my sources.


The Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea


So why do you want to drink green tea as opposed to black, oolong, or white tea?  Or as opposed to coffee?  In an article on WebMD Julie Edgar explains:

More than a decade’s worth of research about green tea’s health benefits — particularly its potential to fight cancer and heart disease — has been more than intriguing, as have limited studies about green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.

Green tea’s antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis.

Because of green tea’s minimal processing — its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas — green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated.

The EGCG in green tea is responsible for most of anti-cancer and antioxidant claims made about green tea.  According the Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection:

EGCG can suppress the inflammatory chemicals that are directly involved in skin reactions, including acne.  Green tea has more antioxidants than black, but both help squelch free radicals and subdue inflammation.  Aim for four to six cups of tea per day.

While most of the studies about green tea and its anti-cancer benefits have been done on mice many doctors believe that it isn’t a huge stretch to think that green tea may help prevent cancer in humans.  Furthermore, Dr. Fredric Brandt writes in his book Age-less drinking green tea can also offer the following health benefits:

  • Restricts the increase of blood cholesterol
  • Controls high blood pressure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Suppresses aging
  • Deters food poisoning
  • Fights viruses
  • Reduces the effects of smoking cigarettes



Sources and Further Reading



Topical Green Tea Creams and Serums – What Do They Do?



Ok – so perhaps I’ve convinced you to start drinking green tea.  Now why would you want to put a green tea product on your face?  As already explained green tea contains powerful antioxidants so that is already one great benefit for your skin (see my early post about antioxidants for more information about why you want to use skincare products with antioxidants in them).  Studies show that topical green tea may reduce the damage of UV rays on the skin.  While the polyphenols (or antioxidants)  in green tea don’t actually block sunlight themselves they do interfere with uncontrolled cell division which leads to cancer.  When applied topically green tea protects both essential tissue elements and antioxidant reserves in the skin.  So basically the bottom line is that when applied topically green tea helps to repair UV damage on the skin, is a strong antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and has anticarcinogenic benefits.  Just remember though when applied topically green tea probably helps reduce UV damage to the skin you still need your sunscreen.  A green tea serum is not a substitute for a sunscreen.

Dr. Ellen Marmur points out that if a skincare product contains the 5% green tea extract necessary for it to be effective topically the product should be brown.  My favorite topical green tea products are Replenix® CF Cream and Serum .

Sources and Further Reading


Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against April 23, 2010

So what are oxygen treatments?  What are oxygen creams?  And above all – should you try one or the other or even both?

Why Our Skin Needs Oxygen


Skin that lacks proper oxygen flow looks dull and sallow.  Look at a smoker’s skin: their skin is wrinkled, dull, and even yellowish which results from not enough oxygen being delivered to skin cells and a lack of circulation.  But oxygen does so much more for the skin than just make it look vibrant and healthy.  According to Dr. Peter T. Pugliese writing in Skin Inc. magazine:

Oxygen revitalizes the epidermis and stimulates cellular growth by increasing cellular proliferation. It will kill surface bacteria, deep anaerobic bacteria and fungus. Oxygen will supply energy to the epidermis and to the dermis, helping to heal any small wounds and irritations. In the dermis, it will help produce collagen and elastin and help restructure the extracellular matrix. Oxygen is a micronutrient and it will assist with many metabolic processes in the skin. Lastly, it is critical for many enzyme reactions, and the presence of oxygen can often accelerate these reactions.


What Conditions Benefit from Oxygen Treatments?


Three skincare conditions that respond well to oxygen treatments are: acne, rosacea, and aging skin. 

Acne responds well to oxygen treatments since oxygen is anti-inflammatory, kills acne-causing bacteria, and even reduces swelling.  The same characteristics help treat rosacea since there appears to be a bacterial component to this condition.  Aging skin benefits from oxygen treatments because of oxygen’s ability to boost cell production and strengthen collagen and elastin.  Following a oxygenation treatment your skin will feel very soft and look plumped.


Oxygenation Treatments in Spas


There are a number of different oxygenation treatments available that are administered by professionals.  These treatments are effective because the skin has been properly prepared and by that I mean the skin’s protective barrier has been temporarily removed in order to allow for proper ingredient penetration.

There are three-step oxygen treatments that help deliver oxygen deep into the epidermis so that clogged pores are cleaned out and circulation is stimulated.  These treatments can temporarily turn you very red because they are stimulating, but by the next day you should have a great glow to your skin.  If you suffer from acne you should see an improvement in your condition after this type of oxygenation treatment.  These type of treatments are recommended before a big event such as a wedding so that you have a healthy glow on the day of the event.  Just don’t get the treatment the same day as the event since you will probably turn very red from the treatment.

There are also oxygen facials that in involve a pure oxygen mist being sprayed on the skin.  A mask is applied afterwards to help seal in the oxygen that was just sprayed on the skin.  This is usually the type of treatment that you hear celebrities have received.


Oxygen in Home Care Products


Home care products that contain oxygen claim that their products contain a stabilized form of oxygen that can penetrate the epidermis.  Companies that use oxygen in their products claim that their products can either flight acne or aging.

If you are interested in trying a home care product with oxygen here are two to look for:  Bioelements Power of Oxygen and GM Collin Oxygen Puractive+Cream


The Controversy


So getting an oxygen treatment sounds great, right?  Truthfully I’ve seen great results from professional three step  oxygenation treatments, but the whole issue of oxygen treatments and oxygen skincare products is quite controversial actually.

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur is her book Simple Skin Beauty (page 298):

Oxygen, as a topical ingredient, is completely ineffectual.  Although I’m sure that an oxgyen facial makes your skin glowing and radiant, the effect has nothing to do with oxygen.  The machine used for this facial treatment has a hose-like attachment that discharges pressurized oxygen along with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum.  The moisturizing mist is what plumps the skin and makes it temporarily look and feel dewy.  The use of oxygen cosmetically claims to a wound-healing effect on the skin.  This may stem from the fact that hyperbaric oxygen treatment has been proven to help heal wounds, but placing a patient in a hyperbaric chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs, which in turn delivers it through the blood to injured tissue, is not the same as having air and water sprayed onto your face.  It is impossible to infuse skin cells with oxygen from the outside.  It cannot purify or moisturize the skin, although too much oxygen has been known to generate toxic oxygen radicals that damage skin.  For that matter, I have no idea how a cream or lotion could contain a stabilized form of oxygen, which is a gas.  … In this case, the science behind oxygen as a skincare ingredient is pretty easy to see through.


While Dr. Marmur makes a pretty compelling argument there is another side, of course.  Writing in Skin Inc. Jeffrey Lapin explains that:

Some new product and treatment technologies are increasingly designed to put the proper level of oxygen, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients back into the skin. There are currently many creams, lotions, masks and sprays available to clients to put oxygen onto the skin. Because of the multitude of choices available, it is important to teach your clients that oxygen placed on the surface of unprepared skin will not penetrate beyond the epidermis. Yet, oxygen placed on the surface of the skin is a good thing. Oxygen is a natural antibacterial agent that effectively fights bad bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. This can help with surface acne and helps to fight infection from open wounds.



Conclusion – Decide for Yourself – Keep Reading


Personally I am torn on this issue since, as I already stated, I’ve personally seen great results from professional oxygenation treatments, but I also feel that speculation about oxygen as a skincare ingredient is warranted.  Below you’ll find many sources for further reading to help you make up your mind for yourself:


Combination Skin April 22, 2010

I thought the above photo did a great job of illustrating what combination skin is.  Basically what combination skin comes down to is this – your T-zone is oily (and usually acne prone) and the rest of your face is either normal or dry.  Your T-zone is your forehead, nose, and chin – the areas marked with the gray mask in the model above.

Real skincare issues arise with the combination skin type when you treat your entire face as if it was oily or as if it was dry.  You actually need to treat your face in sections.  Don’t worry that you will need to buy two whole sets of products.  You’ll probably just need one or two extra products in order to keep your skin in balance, and as always, the key here is balance.   You want to degrease your skin of its excess oil and then hydrate the dry areas so that all your skin looks and feels great.

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty (page 67) you’re lucky if you have this type of complexion since it means that your skin is resilient and can pretty much use any type of product that you want on it.  She considers combination skin to be the closest thing to a “normal” skin type and recommends using products that are labeled “noncomedogenic” – won’t clog pores – and only using toner on your oily T-zone if you need it.


Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin


  • Cleanse with a gentle cleanser: Good ones to try are CeraVe and Cetaphil
  • Use a toner only on your T-zone if you are still oily there after cleansing: You could try Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Toner
  • Use a hydrating antioxidant serum: A good one to try is Replenix® CF Cream and Serum which has green tea and caffeine
  • Use an oil-free moisturizer with spf or just an oil-free sunscreen year round: I really like PCA Skin’s Protecting Hydrator
  • Reapply your sunscreen with a mineral sunscreen: I like Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral spf 30.  This will also cut down on shine during the day
  • If you get very shiny during the day: Use oil-blotting sheets like Sephora Matte Blotting Film
  • Moisturize at night with an oil free moisturizer
  • Use an oil absorbing mask on your T-zone if that area continues to breakout or be excessively oily
  • Exfoliate regularly with a salicylic acid product: You could use a cleanser with salicylic acid, a lotion, or a scrub.  A salicylic acid product will keep your pores clear of oil and dead skin cells and prevent breakouts, and it is also anti-inflammatory.  If you continue to have breakouts use a benzoyl peroxide lotion as well on the areas where you breakout.


And remember – keep everything in balance.  Never be too drying or too moisturizing with your skin.

Further ReadingSkin Care Solutions for Combination Skin Paula Begoun.  As always with Paula Begoun – you don’t need to follow all her advice percisely, use it as a guide.


A Few Of My Favorite Things April 20, 2010


I would describe myself as a product junkie so I am always trying new things.  But there are a few products that I won’t give up and truly love. 

  • Make-Up RemoverDermalogica PreCleanse – I’ve mentioned this product before, and I’ll mention it again.  PreCleanse is a great way to remove your make-up before cleansing your skin in the evening.  It even removes stubborn eye make-up
  • Moisturizers with Sunscreen:  PCA Skin Products  – I use the moisturizer with spf for normal to oily skin daily and love it.  It feels light and not at all greasy or heavy.  I love the Face and Body moisturizer for my body during the summer.  It is a great way to get enough sun protection and moisturize at the same time.
  • Face Powder: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder – I had wanted to try this product for a long time but was skeptical if all the claims made about the product were true.  Turns out it is a great product that leaves your skin looking fabulous, and you don’t need a lot of the product to get great results.  I even found a smaller size of the powder at my local Sephora store for $15.  Only problem with this product – it’s messy so be careful when you use it.
  • Brush On Sunscreen: Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Spf 30 – a great way to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.  It’s portable, and you don’t have to worry about messing up your make-up if you use this sunscreen.  Also eliminates shine so what’s not to love?
  • Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil – doesn’t budge.  Urban Decay is a great cosmetics company that is committed to no animal testing.  They have great vegan make-up brushes and an eyeshadow primer that really works.
  • Body Moisturizer: Trader Joe’s A Midsummer Night’s Cream – a wonderful thick body moisturizer, and 16 fluid ounces costs about $7.

Great Skincare Ingredient: Vitamin C April 19, 2010


It seems like everyday a different skincare company is announcing the discovery of a new and great antioxidant that is better than all the other antioxidants discovered so far.  Truly there is no “best” antioxidant.  It is great idea to use a variety of antioxidant in your skincare products.

Vitamin C is definitely an antioxidant worth looking for in skincare products.  This water-soluble antioxidant has a proven track record for being an effective skincare ingredient.  Not only does it protect the skin from free radical damage, it plays an important role in collagen production, it slows down the effects of sun damage on the skin, it helps boost the effectiveness of sunscreen, and over time it can brighten the skin.  And like all other antioxidants Vitamin C can reduce inflammation in the skin.  Frankly there is no reason not to give it a try.

There are many different forms of Vitamin C that you will find in skincare products.  The best forms of Vitamin C, which means these forms of Vitamin C are stable and effective, are: ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.  Vitamin C deteriorates in the presence of light so it is important to look for a closed, opaque container.  Skinceuticals sells a great Vitamin C serum in a non-opaque container.  They say that there form of Vitamin C will not breakdown in the presence of light. 


Vitamin C Products Worth Trying




Sources and Further Reading




And don’t forget: Don’t mix copper peptides and vitamin C –  using the two together, even if they are in separate products, just cancels out the effects of both.


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