Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Ingredient Spotlight: Rice/Sake in Skincare Products July 28, 2011


In the July/August issue of Skin Deep, the publication of the Associated Skin Care Professionals (a professional esthetician organization I belong to), I came across an interesting article about how rice and sake, which is made from rice, benefit the skin.   According to Shelley Burns, author of the article, sake can make the skin soft and beautiful.  How exactly?

Sake is made from rice, a staple in the Japanese diet.  The high nutrient content of rice includes the B complex of vitamins and minerals.  Externally, it can be used as an exfoliant or in a spritzer to hydrate the skin.  It can also be used in a bath, if you are not inclined to drink sake.  In fact, before soap was invented, the Japanese would make loofahs by adding rice bran to washcloths.

Since rice has wonderful benefits for the skin, many sake brewers also make skin care products as a side business.  The process entails removing the hull and germ from unmilled rice.  The rice is then steamed and fermented using yeast and bacteria.  This fermentation process breaks the rice down to a low molecular weight, allowing the molecules to deeply penetrate the skin down to the keratin layer. …

Rice-based skin care products can also increase ceramide production, critical in slowing the aging process.  Ceramides are natural fats that help form skin structure; they are the glue that holds the cells together and locks in moisture.  By increasing ceramide production, moisture is secured, allowing for a warm, healthy glow.


If you want to try the benefits of rice on your skin without investing in products that contain rice Burns offers the following advice:

Boil Japanese rice (Oryza sativa var. japonica), making sure the rice is covered by at least one inch of water.  You will be using the water, so you want to ensure the rice does not absorb it all.  Strain the water from the rice, let it cool, and use it as a face wash or wash your hair with it.

The rice water acts as a toner, reduces the appearance of pores, and adds shine to your hair.


Kojic acid, a fairly well-known skincare ingredient that claims to help lighten hyperpigmentation, is actually created as a by-product during the manufacture of sake.  While many tests have shown that kojic acid is quite effective inhibiting melanin production it remains a highly unstable ingredient that quickly loses its effectiveness when exposed to light or air.  Because of this issue there is a high rate of allergies and skin irritations that have been linked to kojic acid.  In order to overcome those issues manufacturers use kojic dipalmitate instead of kojic acid in skincare products, but unfortunately there is no research proving that kojic dipalmitate works as well, or at all, as kojic acid.  So if you are interested in using a product with kojic acid in it in order to lighten hyperpigmentation be sure to check the ingredients of the product before you purchase it to make sure that you are really getting the right ingredient in your product and not just wasting your money.




The Science Behind Spa Treatments July 25, 2011


Global Spa Summit, an annual meeting of spa professionals and leaders, has launched a new web site that aims to present science based evidence for why popular spa treatments offer many health benefits.  The site is called Spa Evidenceand according to an article on Skin Inc. the portal:

consolidates clinical evidence about 22 key spa therapies, including yoga, reflexology and aromatherapy, from four existing databases: Natural Standards, the Cochrane Library, Pub Med and the Trip Database.

Through the website you can look up information and scientific studies about such diverse topics as yoga, ear candling, foot reflexology, and reiki.  So now the next time someone questions why you need that massage you can use science to prove to them to your health benefits from it.

And if you are wondering what certain spa treatments are, not to mention if spa lingo confuses you, be sure to check out The Associate Skin Care Professionals online Skin Care Glossary for explanations on a whole wide variety of spa related topics.


Sunscreen Basics Easily Explained July 21, 2011

I have my husband to thank for this post since he emailed me the link to this blog.  Though this is a design blog it contains a pretty great post on sunscreen.  But this isn’t your typical written post; the post is an illustration/graph covering sunscreen basics so the images and the words work together seamlessly to convey a lot of good information.  See below:



Me being me there are two points I have to quibble with.  The first one is the repetition of the EWG’s “information” on dangerous sunscreen ingredients.  Keep in mind there is a lot of debate on this topic and few experts agree with the EWG.  (See my post Nothing New: The EWG’s 2011 Sunscreen Report for more details on that subject)

Yes, the sun feels great and does our body’s good, but there is never an excuse for going outside without sunscreen on.  (See my post Let’s Debunk Some Sunscreen Myths for more information on sun exposure and Vitamin D)


Make-Up Mistakes That Age You July 18, 2011

Make-up can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It all comes down to what products you choose to apply and how you apply them.  Even a little make-up can go a long way in making you look and feel fabulous.

I like what Christopher Hopkins, author of Staging Your Comeback, has to say about make-up after the age of 45:

I believe that we all have an inner spirit and that this entity inside the body is young, alive, and with purpose.  That’s the glory of makeup – it helps you to express your inner spirit more accurately.

When you’re young, make up can be used for art.  You can have fun trying different shades, colors, textures, and combinations.  But as you age, your makeup should become more focused — simpler.  You truly need only the basics.  The rest is fluff for makeup lovers and sales for cosmetic companies.

Many women are so confused with the myriad of options that they’d rather do nothing than try something that doesn’t work.  In other words, they’d rather look plain than foolish.  Still others cling to make up colors and techniques that worked when they were younger, but haven’t learned how to adjust to their age.

Knowing your ideal makeup style that not only balances feature but also visibly lifts the face is one of the key secrets to youthful beauty.

Think up.

UP with your brow arch, up with your eye liner, up with your lip shape, and up with the blush.  Use light and dark to contour areas that may be sagging and to lift with light areas such as brow bone, check bone and the tip of the nose.

As you go through life it is definitely important to take some time now and then to reevaluate your make-up colors and routine.  What worked for you when you were 20 probably won’t work for you when you’re 45.  Make-up trends come and go, but certain rules always hold fast and true.

First and foremost go get your brows done professionally.  Nothing changes and enhances your face like well groomed brows.  Have them done professionally as a guide.  You can try to recreate the look at home, but do remember of all the beauty and spa treatments out there a brow waxing or design is one of the most affordable.  If your brows have become sparser as you have aged start filling them in with brow powder or a brow pencil (or both).  If your brows have gray and you don’t like that consider dying them.  You can try this at home, but at least for the first time I would go to a professional.  Also try not to over pluck.  If you have over plucked in the past you can use Latisse to grow back your brows.  So many people completely underestimate the power of a well groomed brow – don’t be one of them!

Don’t wear dark lipstick!  I cannot emphasize this enough – do NOT wear dark lipstick.  As you age you actually want to use lighter make-up colors as opposed to darker make-up colors.  I understand that a lot of women think that they need to use darker lipstick as they age since they feel that their face have lost a lot of color.  There is an easy solution to this issue – use blush.  Even a subtle application of blush will bring life and vitality back to your face.  Dark lipstick does not do that.

Curling your eyelashes will instantly open your eyes.  Use at least a little mascara to complete the look even if you don’t want to use eye shadow.  And speaking of eye shadow – stay clear of frosted eye shadow since it will enhance wrinkles and creepiness.

Be sure to moisturize your skin for a healthy glow.  Using a tinted moisturizer is a great way to easily even out your skin tone and get a healthy, dewy look all at once.  Set your make-up with transculent powder.

And don’t forget the power of primers.  Face primer will help temporarily fill in wrinkles so that your make-up goes on more smoothly and lasts longer.  Eyelid primer does the same thing for your eye shadow.

Sources and Further Reading:



And in case you need any inspiration be sure to check out how Glenn Close looks on the TV show Damages.  Her make-up and hair style are simple and classic (not to mention her clothes), and she looks like a million bucks.


No Excuses: Everyone Can Easily Care For Their Skin July 14, 2011

Estheticians hear a lot of things while we are taking care of our clients.  One thing we always ask clients the first time they come to us for a facial, or sometimes every time they come to us for a treatment, is what is their home skincare regime – products, steps, etc.  I cannot tell you how many times a client tells me that they don’t wash their face everyday or do little to nothing to their skin at home.  Not caring for your skin twice a day at home is such a missed opportunity.  Everyone should care for their skin twice a day – no excuses.  A home skincare regime doesn’t need to be confusing or complicated.  It doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time either.  Everyone needs to use just a few products a day – once again – no excuses!

I was pleased when I came across the following Prevention article – 5 Worst Skin Mistakes – which clearly explains why so many typical excuses people use to explain why they don’t care for their skin are just wrong.  Believe me – I’ve heard all these excuses too many times to count.  I like the article so much, and its online version is very concise, that I’ll copy it all here:

1.  I’m too tired to cleanse  “It’s been a long day, and the last thing I want to do is wash my face.”

Excuse Buster: The 2 minutes it takes to cleanse before bed helps ensure a fresh-faced look for years. “Sleeping with dirt, oil, and makeup on causes acne and enlarged pores,” says Audrey Kunin, MD, an associate clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. To easily remove debris, keep no-rinse face wipes in your nightstand.

Try: Boots No7 Quick Thinking 4-in-1 Wipes ($7; Target) or Pond’s Clean Sweep Age Defying Wet Cleansing Towelettes ($6.50; CVS).

2.  SPF is for summer  “I don’t need sunscreen, it’s winter!”

Excuse Buster: Exposure to UVA rays, the primary culprit behind aging, happens all year long. And because they can penetrate glass, you’re susceptible even when you’re indoors, says Fredric Brandt, MD, a New York- and Miami-based dermatologist. The number one way to guard against this and keep skin looking youthful: Every day, use a sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF 30 that’s labeled broad-spectrum. For the best protection, choose one that contains either avobenzone, Helioplex, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

3.  Products are too pricey   “Taking care of my skin costs too much.”

Excuse Buster: To save, shop at drugstores. Studies show that mass products are as effective as (and sometimes more than!) more expensive lines. “Look for active ingredients, not fancy labels,” says David E. Bank, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Columbia University/Presbyterian Hospital. The most effective anti-agers include retinoids, AHAs, peptides, vitamin C, and hydrators such as hyaluronic acid.

4.  My efforts are futile  ” I’ve tried almost everything, and nothing seems to work.”

Excuse Buster: It can take at least 8 weeks to see the results of many ingredients, so give products time to deliver their benefits.

5.  My skin is too sensitive  “Exfoliating makes my face red and irritated.”

Excuse Buster: Getting rid of dead cells helps soften wrinkles and brighten skin, but aggressive scrubs can lead to redness and irritation. To slough safely, choose a chemical exfoliator, such as glycolic acid, or gentle cleansing beads. Avoid scrubs with an uneven texture, such as walnut shells. Exfoliate just once or twice a week; if you’re using an OTC or Rx retinoid or AHA, it alone provides sufficient skin sloughing.


One great point from the article is the fact that you need patience in order to see results from a new skincare routine.  Though the article states that it takes 8 weeks to see results, I typically tell my clients to wait 3 months before giving up on their new routine.  This is especially true when it comes to treating acne and hyperpigmentation.  There are absolutely no overnight cures for either of these skincare problems (and I hate the fact that so many beauty ads promise that there are!).  So don’t give up on your products unless you have really given them a chance.

Finding both the right products for your skin and establishing the right daily skincare routine for you might take some trial and error, but it certainly doesn’t have to take a lot of your time or money.

At the very least make sure you have the following products at home:

  • the correct cleanser for your skin type 
  • a treatment serum if you need one.  That could mean an anti-acne treatment or a serum that helps with hyperpigmentation
  • an exfoliant to use at least once a week.  This also doesn’t have to complicated.  You exfoliant could be a scrub or mask you simply apply during your shower twice a week.  Or even easier – a serum or lotion you apply before bed.
  • A moisturizer if you need one
  • A sunscreen – this is not negotiable!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs sunscreen year round.

And if you really want to break it down even further – wash your face twice a day and use sunscreen in the morning (and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day).  Now – everyone can perform those two steps, right?

Believe it or not, though I definitely do not do this myself, I do like the recommendation above that if you are really tired at night (or let’s face it – lazy) to use wipes to remove your make-up and cleanse your face.  I even have a client that uses baby wipes at night.  Baby wipes are super gentle so I have no objection to their use on your face.  One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to go to sleep with your make-up on and without washing your face.  Even if you don’t wear make-up just think of all the dirt and grime from pollution that has built-up on your face during the day.  Ugh!  You definitely want to get all of that off.

As for not spending a lot of money on skincare products – it is definitely true that you can find effective skincare products at your local drugstore.  In order to make sure you are buying the best products be sure to do a little research before blindly buying (use my blog as a guide, for instance  🙂 ).  Be sure not to be swayed too much by ads in glossy magazines.  Those ads get away with as much as they can legally – their claims are far from accurate.


Further Reading:

If you still have questions about product choice or steps in creating a home skincare regime please use some of my older posts as guides –

And here is a link Paula Begoun’s advice on how to put together a skincare routine.  Begoun heavily pushes her own products along with her recommendations and though her products are good I wish her advice would come without the sales pitch.  I also think that her skincare routine could definitely be abridged if you felt like it.  Once again – use Begoun’s advice as a guide not a be all and end all.  (Please see my post Paula Begoun – Friend or Foe to the Skincare Consumer for my take on Begoun, her advice, and products)


Let’s Debunk Some Sunscreen Myths July 11, 2011

Prevention Magazine published a great article, SPF Excuses Even Smart Women Make, debunking lots of common excuses on why some people refuse to use sunscreen.  After presenting each excuse the magazine very clearly and precisely refutes it.  For example –

The Excuse: “The chemicals in sunscreen are probably more dangerous than sun exposure”

Reality Check: Sunscreens have gotten some bad press lately, including claims that they contain cancer-causing ingredients. But a recently published review of the studies on which these claims are based should ease fears. “Many of the safety concerns are not well founded—they’re based on petri dish or animal data that doesn’t relate to humans,” says Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ, and coauthor of the review. For example, in one study, mice fed a whopping dose of oxybenzone, a UV-light absorber commonly found in sunscreens, exhibited estrogenic effects, which the researchers believe could cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly. But by Dr. Wang’s calculations, it would take more than 250 years for someone who uses sunscreen daily to be exposed to the amount of oxybenzone used in the study.

Still worried? Use a sunscreen like Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30 Sunscreen ($16;, which has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in lieu of chemical sunscreens.

OR for instance –

The Excuse: “I don’t get a lot of sun”

Reality Check: You don’t have to be on the beach to soak up rays. Most people rack up 14 hours of casual UV exposure per week. And in one study, short spurts of UVA light twice a week resulted in significant damage to the fibers that keep skin smooth and firm in just 12 weeks. Skin care products like makeup and a daily lotion with SPF are great steps, but “the protection is short-lived on hot, sunny days,” says NYC dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, MD. Use a sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all sun-exposed areas to be safe. Supergoop! Save Face Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 ($32; is decidedly ungoopy, meets our experts’ guidelines, and works great under makeup. Another option: Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50 ($13; drugstores).

The other excuses include:

If any of the excuses above sound like something you have thought then click on the excuse in order to see why it just isn’t true.

And lastly I want to offer some proof why the anti-sunscreen excuse – I don’t wear sunscreen so I can get my needed Vitamin D – is silly.  The July issue of Allure offers some illuminating (pun intended) statistics on that point:

200: Number of international units of vitamin D the United States government recommends getting per day.

10,000: Number of IUs of vitamin D the average fair-skinned person absorbs after ten minutes in the midday summer sun wearing shorts and a tank top.

I hope that people realize that they can get all the Vitamin D they need from supplements or from a very, very short time in the sun without sunscreen.  For more information about Vitamin D and the sun please see my previous post – Vitamin D and Sun Protection – which contains links to lots of articles about Vitamin D and sunscreen.

Lastly, I would like to point out that there are so many sunscreens on the market today that there really is a sunscreen out their for everyone no matter if you breakout or not or if your skin is sensitive or not.  (I was slightly horrified to read recently that Liv Tyler doesn’t use sunscreen on a daily basis because she feels that it clogs her pores.  At least, at the moment, she has superior genetics on her side so she still is very beautiful.  I wonder how she will look when all that sun damage catches up with her.)  If you want a really light but effectively sunscreen be sure to check out La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 45 Ultra-Light Fluid for Face or one of their other sunscreens.  I can’t imagine someone complaining about how this sunscreen feels on their face.


Beauty Bargains July 7, 2011

Who doesn’t love a bargain, right?  I certainly can’t resist one.  As a matter of fact one of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog was called How to Be a Skincare Recessionista ; the post was filled with tips on how to save money on skincare and make-up products.  Looking back over that post I still stand by all those tips though the one about Groupon is a bit played out by now and certainly not new or an original idea any more.  None the less, there are beauty bargains galore out there just waiting to be snatched up and lots of free online advice that anyone can access.

I decided to revisit this topic when I saw two recent magazines, Allure and Shop Smart, highlighting this subject in their July editions.  Both magazine issues are filled with advice on how to save money on cosmetics and skincare products.  Allure has lots of product recommendations while Shop Smart focuses more on where to go to save money.

Where to Shop

According to Shop Smart you can get the best deals on top-selling beauty products at HarmonDiscount.  Make sure you avoid shopping at CVS for your beauty purchases.  Shop Smart found that CVS consistently charged more for standard beauty products than other store.  You can also find bargains at Wal-Mart and Target.  Of course it goes without saying that you can browse to your heart’s content and try products at both Sephora and Ulta.  Be sure to sign-up for both those stores’ free rewards program.  And lastly sign-up to receive email updates from so that you can get emails about freebies and promotions at least once a week.  I’ve been able to try new products and get freebies after responding to offers I saw in the emails.  For more tips on how to save on beauty products check out the July issue of Shop Smart.

Best Drugstore Buys

The July issue of Allure is chock full of tips on how to get the most out of your drugstore shopping experience and product recommendations if you are on a budget or just want to save some money.  Some of the magazine’s tips include steering clear of super cheap, aka $1.99,  lipsticks and eye pencils.  The lipsticks can be waxy and disappear quickly, and the eye pencils can be too hard to glide easily.  Interestingly enough make-up products from Germany are usually of high quality, no matter what their price.  Allure also asked celebrities for their drugstore product recommendations and it was interesting to hear what celebrities buy at drugstores.  For example I found out that Iman uses St. Ives Apricot Scrub to exfoliate her body (a great tip) and VO5 Hot Oil Conditioning Treatment every week on her hair.  For more tips look check out these online tips: How to Score Amazing Dollar-Store Beauty Steals and The Top 21 Drugstore Beauty Bargains.

Free Advice

The web offers a huge range of free advice, but it does help to choosy.  Not all the advice is good advice.  The following sites offer lots of free make-up tutorials and are fun to look through:

Prevention also offers some low cost tips in their article 10 Ways to Look Younger on a Budget.   And check out Self magazine’s Favorite Beauty Buys Under $10.

Also follow this advice to find lower priced options of your  favorite high-end products:  My Guide to Finding the Best-est “Dupe: of A Product – Scatterbraintures blog.

Please feel free to share some of your money saving tips for beauty products below.  Happy saving everyone!


Do You Need to Wait In-Between Applying Skincare Products? July 4, 2011

Should your morning or evening skincare routine be a waiting game?  Is there really a need to wait a certain period of time between applying your skincare products?

The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, you need to wait

Why?  First off, if the product itself in its instructions tells you to wait after applying it and before applying another product I would follow those instructions.  For instance, once I had a face primer that said to wait about 10 or 15 minutes after application before applying your make-up.  It took that long for the product to be absorbed.  It also was really annoying, and I ended up giving the product away.  So most of the time when a product’s instructions tell you to wait before applying anything else it is usually because that product needs to fully absorb into the skin and applying anything on top of it would hinder that absorption.  If that absorption doesn’t happen the next products you apply won’t go on as you want them to.  Products can even flake or roll of the skin.  Or if you apply a wet product on skin that is already damp or wet from a previous product you could end up with a big mess. 

Another reason for waiting in-between applying skincare products can be for comfort.  I’ll explain.  It could be that if you apply one product on top of another quickly you could experience uncomfortable tingling.  If you do experience tingling after applying skincare products one on top of the other quickly than apply one at a time and take a moment to do another activity in-between applying each product – such as brushing your teeth, putting in your contacts, getting dressed, etc.  It can be frustrating to have to apply your products piece meal but if the end result is comfortable and beautiful then it is worth it.

No, you don’t need to wait

If you use skincare products that absorb quickly into your skin then just go ahead and apply them one on top of the other without waiting.  As long as you don’t experience any discomfort and have any bad side effects like product pilling or rolling off your face than go ahead and apply quickly.


A few general skincare product application tips:


  • Apply the products with the thinnest consistency first, like serums, before moisturizers and creams.
  • Apply products with the least amount of color before those with more color.
  • Apply skincare treatment products, like antioxidant serums or retinols, directly to your skin after cleansing, then moisturizer, sunscreen, and finally your make-up.


For more skincare product application tips see Allure‘s article about how to best apply skincare products.  Or check out Paula Begoun’s advice on the same subject.


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