Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

New Year’s Skincare Resolutions December 29, 2011

With the end of 2011 rapidly approaching this would be a good time to take stock of both your skincare products and routine and see if either are in need of a change.  Now a while back I wrote a post  that basically said if your skincare regime is working for you there is no need to change it up.  I still stand by that post and everything I wrote in it.  So what I am proposing here isn’t a total change of your skincare products but a reevaluation of  your skincare products and routine for the new year just to make sure everything is working for you.

To begin ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your top skincare concerns and are both the products you are using and your daily routine addressing those concerns?  For instance if sun damage is bothering you are you using a lightening or brightening serum daily and applying enough sunscreen in order to prevent more damage?
  • Are you making sure that you are preventing future skin damage on a daily basis?  If you aren’t using an antioxidant serum every morning now is the time to start.  And once again sunscreen is a must daily.
  • Have you updated your skincare regime to reflect the weather?  For instance in the winter most people need a moisturizer if they live in a colder climate.  In the summer you might need to add a shine blocker to your routine.
  • Are you protecting all your skin?  A lot of people neglect their hands and chests.  Invest in a hand cream with spf in it so that protecting your hands from sun damage becomes super easy.  Be sure to remember to bring all your skincare products down your neck and chest when applying them morning and night.

Also be sure to look at expiration dates on all skincare products (if they have them) especially your sunscreen.  Throw out all products that are passed their expiration date, that have changed color, or separated.  This includes make-up as well.  Make sure you clean your make-up brushes often; I recommend once a week, especially if you have acne.  Make-up brushes can harbor lots of bacteria.

Resist the urge to buy the newest skincare products on the market or the products featured in the most ads.  Make a New Year’s resolution to research before purchasing products.

Further Reading:


Should You Get A Sonic Cleansing Brush? December 26, 2011

About two months ago I started using a Clarisonic Mia cleansing brush in the evenings to remove my make-up.  From time to time clients have asked me what I think of these cleansing brushes, and I also knew that many estheticians use the professional version of the brush during facials.  I even heard from the nurse at a dermatology practice that I should be using one.  The reason I waited so long to try one of the brushes for myself was the cost since the cheapest version is over a $100.  (Keep in mind that Olay does make a much cheaper version of the brush)  Eventually I saved up my credit card points and got my brush.

If you read women’s fashion magazines regularly, like I do, you will inevitably come across mention of Clarisonic brushes and how great they are.  Touted as the best way to remove make-up and truly cleanse the skin these sonic cleaning brushes have a loyal following.  But do you really need to use one?

What Are The Benefits of a Sonic Cleaning Brush?

According to the Clarisonic website using one of their brushes:

  • Leaves skin feeling and looking healthier
  • Removes 6X more makeup than cleansing with hands alone
  • Helps skin care products absorb better
  • Pores appear smaller
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes
  • Gentle enough for use twice a day
  • Soft, non-abrasive for different skin types

Without proper cleansing, pollutants, oil and bacteria accumulate on the skin, clogging pores and causing blackheads, blemishes and dullness. This prevents serums and moisturizers from performing to their fullest potential.

Sonic cleansing better prepares your skin for skin care products. Compared to manual cleansing, using the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System allows for up to 61% better absorption of Vitamin C. Better absorption allows creams, serums and moisturizers to work their best.

Additionally, Clarisonic says that their brush is good for all skin types and is gentle enough for people with acne and rosacea and can be used twice daily.

And how does it work exactly?  This is the same sort of technology like your electric toothbrush (and indeed the company that created the Clarisonic brush first created a sonic toothbrush).  The sonic frequencies from the brush create 300 movements per seconds, once again according to the company website, in order to remove make-up and dirt more efficiently from the skin.  These movements also whisk away dead skin cells sitting on top of your face and this, of course, makes your skin feel softer.

But Is A Sonic Cleansing Brush Really For Everyone?

So after reading the Clarisonic website or a fashion magazine article about the brush you probably want to go out and buy one immediately.  But I want to caution my readers about a few things before you spend your hard-earned money on a sonic cleansing brush.

Dr. Leslie Baumann pointed out a few interesting things about such cleansing brushes on a post on her Yahoo! blog:

… anyone with sensitive skin – and acne-prone skin is indeed sensitive – should actually avoid these vigorous scrubbing products, which can exacerbate inflammation.

Rosacea and the tendency to experience skin allergies are further indications that you should not be using an abrasive exfoliant or a vigorous cleansing brush. Similarly, anyone with very dry skin should avoid exfoliating, which may compromise an already impaired skin barrier and worsen dryness.

That is not to say, though, that facial brushes are universally bad. Resistant types in particular can benefit from more intensive exfoliation. Remember, in my skin-typing system, “resistant” is the opposite of “sensitive” – but resistant types have their own set of concerns:

Because their skin is literally thicker, they have to work a little harder to get beneficial ingredients to penetrate. And one great way to do that is by sloughing off dead skin cells before applying other products.

 So if you have skin that can tolerate facial brushes, there’s no reason not to use them. Just be aware that they offer no more benefits than a good facial scrub (I love the Alchimie Forever Excimer Plus Gentle Antioxidant Refining Scrub, for example), although they may be a little more fun! When you consider some of the brushes out there, though – like Clarisonic’s Skincare Brush, the gold standard of facial brushes that retails for almost $200 – fun might not be worth the premium.

Paula Begoun has even harsher words for these brushes.  Here are some highlights from her Beautypedia review of the Clarisonic cleansing brush:

We’re not saying that Clarisonic’s brush is not a good way to clean skin. What we are saying is that it is not the only nor is it the best way to clean skin or remove makeup. Without question, it is needlessly expensive and not something anyone should go into debt for out of concern their skin is not getting clean enough. Besides, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can check out the similar cleansing brush system from Olay’s Pro-X brand (this retails for around $30).The only other published piece of information about Clarisonic simply described how the sonic cleansing worked to provide consistent results and help loosen debris trapped in pores due to the oscillating brush head. Sounds promising, but the piece was written by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the company that, you guessed it, sells Clarisonic (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2006, pages 181-183).This brush will certainly help clean skin (and for that reason it deserves a Good rating), but it won’t reduce wrinkles, pore size, or blemishes–at least not to a degree where you’ll be glad you splurged on the system. The basic system includes two brush heads (for normal and sensitive skin); a Delicate brush head is available for separate purchase (all brush heads cost $25 apiece). The Delicate brush is recommended for very sensitive skin; however, regardless of brush head chosen, I’d use caution if you’re attempting to use Clarisonic and have rosacea or sensitive skin.NOTE: If you decide to use this or any other cleansing brush on your skin, please be gentle. Overzealous usage can lead to inflammation that can hurt your skin’s healing process. Pay attention to how your skin responds and discontinue (or reduce frequency of) use if you see signs of irritation.

 So Should You Buy A Sonic Brush?

I think that if you wear a lot of make-up daily or have very thick and/or oily skin then investing in a sonic cleansing brush is a good idea.  If you have rosacea and/or papules and pustules from acne (or from severe rosacea) then I don’t think a sonic cleansing brush is for you.

My experience with my Clarisonic Mia has been interesting.  The first time I used it I was shocked by how soft my skin felt immediately after using it.  But when I went to use my brush the following morning my skin turned red and felt irritated.  Now I use my brush every evening, and only in the evening, with my gentle cleanser to remove my make-up and then I cleanse with my GloTherapeutics salicylic acid cleanser.  I’ve wondered for a long time if I am really removing all my make-up completely at the end of the day before bedtime.  There are so many make-up products, especially foundations, that are close to impossible to remove.  Since I strongly believe in making sure your face is properly cleansed at the end of the day, I felt like a Clarisonic brush would be the perfect way to make sure that was accomplished.  I am glad that I invested in a Clarisonic because now I feel that I am truly removing all my make-up in the evening, but having said that I am making sure that I don’t over do it with the brush as well.  Even though I have oily, resistant skin I am only using my brush once a day, and I use the sensitive skin brush head for the brush.

If you own a Clarisonic brush, or one of the similar brushes, please share your experience below.

Further Reading:

Photo from


Skincare Tip: Don’t Over Do It! December 22, 2011

Mae West may have said “too much of a good thing is wonderful”, but when it comes to skincare the exact opposite can be true.

Time after time I see clients who over do it when it comes to skincare product usage.  Some of the biggest skincare product abusers are teenage girls.  In their zeal to get perfect skin they believe that if a little salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will clear up their breakouts, then a lot of both ingredients is even better.  In the long run such enthusiasm makes their skin dry, tight, and actually, in some cases, prone to more breakouts since if they severely damage their skin’s protective barrier more bacteria can actually enter and flourish on the skin.  Eventually this could lead to more breakouts.  Numerous times I also see clients who think that they need every product on the market in order to treat their acne – a scrub, a salicylic acid cleanser, Retin-A, a toner, benzoyl peroxide, etc., etc.  Sometimes, to quote Mies van der Rohe, “less is more”.

The same holds true for someone who is using strong anti-aging products with ingredients like glycolic acid, Retin-A, and lactic acid (just to name a few anti-aging ingredients).  Go over board and you are just left with raw, red, and irritated skin that could be continually flaky.  This is especially true in the winter when the lack of humidity in the air (if you live in a cold climate) causing almost everyone to have dehydrated and tight feeling skin.  You will actually do your skin a favor by pulling back on the use of your strongest products in the winter.  Overdoing it with stronger ingredients when the weather is cold outside just sensitizes your skin leaving you vulnerable to more skin problems in the future.

Listen to your skin and pay attention to how your skin is reacting to the products you are using.  Change up your skincare routine as needed –  keep in mind the weather, your overall health, and how your skin is looking and feeling.  Pulling back on product usage may actually help your skin in the long run.

One last tip: there is no skincare product you can never OD on and that is sunscreen.  Keep using it and use sunscreen enthusiastically all year round!


Image from


Snooping Around December 19, 2011

Prevention magazine has a great new online feature. They’ve asked dermatologist to snap a photo of their medicine cabinet and explain what skincare products they use daily.  The only common product that all four dermatologists featured each use daily is sunscreen, otherwise what they use varies.  Some of the doctors featured are more interested in making sure they have antioxidants in all their products while others focus more on anti-aging.  All four do use make-up daily and offer great make-up tips.

Have a look – this feature is a lot of fun!

Related article from AllureSkin Secrets From the Children of Dermatologists


Creating a Skincare Routine: Nighttime December 15, 2011

Your nighttime skincare routine doesn’t need to be complicated, just make sure to keep a few things in mind when planning out your steps.  Before you go to bed make sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed and take the opportunity to treat your skin for any ongoing skincare issues.  This treatment could be an anti-aging treatment or a hyperpigmentation treatment; it just depends on what your skin needs.

First and foremost, you MUST cleanse your skin and remove your make-up before going to bed.  I cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to making sure your skin is healthy and beautiful.  If you wear make-up be sure to do a double cleanse in the evening.  Make-up can be very stubborn to remove so when you wash your face twice you can be sure you’ve removed everything.  Your first cleanse could be with a make-up wipe or a gentle cleanser and your second cleanse, if you need it, could be with a salicylic or glycolic acid cleanser.

Before bed is also the right time to exfoliate.  How your exfoliate is up to you; you can use a scrub, a serum, or a cleanser with added acids to it.  Exfoliate at least twice a week.  Some people can even exfoliate every night.

Next treat your skin.  If uneven skin tone and dark spots are your main skincare issue apply a serum that will help fade spots.  If fine lines and wrinkles are your main concern use a prescription Retin-A or OTC retinol to smooth skin.  If you suffer from breakouts apply benzoyl peroxide at night.

Moisturize if your face feels tight and/or dry.  Not everyone needs a moisturizer at night (or during the day).  Go by how your skin feels in order to determine if you need a moisturizer.  There is no needs to buy a specific moisturize labeled “nighttime” if you already have a moisturizer that you like.  Howver, if your daytime moisturizer has spf in it I would certainly save that for daytime use only.  Not that the sunscreen will hurt your face at night, but for the simple reason that you are wasting product meant for daytime by applying it at night.

Consider sleeping on your back.  It is actually true that sleeping on your side or stomach can lead to deeper wrinkles.  A satin pillowcase may also help keeps wrinkles at bay.  If you wake-up in the morning with puffy eyes or bags underneath your eyes sleep with your head slightly propped up in order to allow fluid to properly drain instead of pooling underneath your eyes and giving you bags.

And in order to look your best in the morning make sure you get enough beauty sleep.  Getting plenty of sleep really can make a difference in your appearance.

Sources and Further Reading:

Related Blog Posts:


Creating a Skincare Routine: Morning December 12, 2011

Creating a solid morning skincare routine doesn’t need to be a burden or time consuming.  Believe me, I know how pressed for time one can be first thing in the morning.  Keep one word in mind when planning your morning skincare routine: protection.  I’ll repeat that word – protection.

Do you need to cleanse your face first thing in the morning?  Not necessarily.  If your skin is dry, tight, or sensitive when you get up consider just splashing your face with lukewarm water in the morning.  If you have active breakouts try using a cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in the morning.  If you don’t fall into either of the above categories then use a gentle cleanser in the morning.  Gentle cleanser is fine for combination skin as well as normal, normal to oily, or normal to dry skin.

Use an antioxidant serum.  Which serum you choose to use if completely up to you – just use one!  Antioxidant serums fight free radical damage caused by the sun and pollution, are anti-inflammatory, and help boost the efficiency of your sunscreen.  There is no best antioxidant, contrary to what cosmetic companies will have you believe.  There are so many great ingredients and protects out there so choose one that fits your skincare type and your budget.

Moisturize if your skin feels tight and dry.  Not everyone needs a moisturize daily; decide if you need one by how your skin feels.

Lastly, before applying your make-up apply sunscreen.  Sunscreen is a MUST year round for EVERYONE!

Sources and Further Reading:

Related Posts:


Testing Beauty Products December 8, 2011

Recently I wrote a post all about peptides  in which I presented data both for and against the use of peptides in skincare products.  I wanted to present some information in this post that piggybacks onto that previous post.  In an article entitled Anti-Aging Products: Understand the Fine Print found in the Tips section of the Skin Type Solution website Dr. Leslie Baumann breaks down what the term “in-vitro testing” means when it comes to skincare products.  I felt it important to share this information in order to help my readers become savvy skincare product consumers.  Just because an ad for a skincare product says that it was “tested by dermatologists” or “has undergone testing” doesn’t really mean the skincare product or ingredient will actually be effective on the skin.  I’ll quote Dr. Baumann in order to explain:

“In vitro” is Latin for “in glass,” so when you see this referring to some sort of clinical testing, it means the results are based on lab testing – as opposed to testing on actual human skin.  “In-vitro” skincare ingredient testing involves skin cells in a petri dish, which means that the ingredients’ ability to penetrate to the deeper levels of the skin cannot be assessed.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but in most instances, these “in-vitro” results don’t translate to human skin – or treating the beauty concern or skin condition that the product is claiming to be effective for.  Thing of it this way … No matter how great an ingredient works on skin cells in a glass dish, it’s useless if ti cannot penetrate the upper stratum corneum layer of the skin and get to the deeper cells.

And now for Dr. Baumann’s example which ties into my previous post about peptides:

One example of an ingredient with great “in-vitro” results that does not translate to skin benefits is the family of peptides.  In the lab, peptides have been shown to boost collagen production, reverse skin damage, lighten discoloration and much more.  But while many skincare companies tout these “in-vitro” results, they fail to disclose that most peptide molecules are too large to penetrate the skin – which means they can’t possibly deliver their in-lab results in real life.  Peptides also have a short shelf life and often interfere with other ingredients found in anti-aging formulations, so there are many reasons that peptides in skincare products are not very efficacious.

Bottom Line:  If a company is promoting their breakthrough skincare product based solely on “in-vitro testing” think twice before buying it.


Why Your Skin Wrinkles in the Bath December 5, 2011

I figure if I want to know the answer to something I must not be the only one out there with the same question.  Lately I’ve been thinking – how come our hands and feet wrinkle after being in the water for a long time?   The reason for that is actually quite simple:

The epidermis is the uppermost (and outermost) layer of the skin.  … The middle layers of the epidermis are where cells release substances including lipids (fats) that help keep the cells and skin as a whole hydrated.  (If you’ve ever wondered why your fingers and toes get wrinkly after being in the water, it’s because these areas produce less fats, which makes them less “water-tight”).
  When researching this post I found out that the above explanation has been questioned recently by some scientists.  An article in Nature magazine explains:

The wrinkles that develop on wet fingers could be an adaptation to give us better grip in slippery conditions, the latest theory suggests.

The hypothesis, from Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist at 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, and his colleagues goes against the common belief that fingers turn prune-like simply because they absorb water.

Changizi thinks that the wrinkles act like rain treads on tyres. They create channels that allow water to drain away as we press our fingertips on to wet surfaces. This allows the fingers to make greater contact with a wet surface, giving them a better grip.  …

When we press down with a finger, we apply pressure from the tip backwards. The sides of the finger are like cliffs where water can easily fall away, but the flat part is more like a plateau where water can pool. Wrinkles form on the plateau because “that’s where all the work has to be done to channel the water away”, Changizi explains.

Not everyone is gripped by the new theory. “This hypothesis is unjustified,” says Xi Chen, a biomechanical engineer at Columbia University in New York. Chen thinks that the wrinkles have a simpler cause: when fingers are immersed in hot water, the blood vessels tighten and the tissue shrinks relative to the overlying skin. This contraction causes the skin to buckle. “It’s a classic mechanics problem,” he says.

But neurosurgeon Ching-Hua Hsieh of the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, says that the process Chen describes does not account for the fact that fingers wrinkle even in cold water, or that they do not wrinkle when their blood supply is cut off. He thinks people should be looking for more explanations of water wrinkling. “I really appreciate the new hypothesis,” he says.

Hsieh and Changizi both note that water wrinkles appear only on the fingers and feet, and that the most prominent wrinkles develop at the ends of digits, which are the first parts to touch a surface.

So who’s right?  Is this new hypothesis about why our fingers and toes wrinkle in the bath correct?  Only time will tell.


The Skincare Products Everyone Needs December 1, 2011

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 6:25 am
Tags: , , , ,

This post was inspired by an article I read in the December issue of Lucky magazine:  15 Secrets From Top Dermatologists.  After looking over the three dermatologists suggestions for essential skincare products and tips for healthy skin I got to thinking about my top products and tips.  So here are my essential skincare products in no particular order:

  • The right cleanser – finding the right cleanser for your skin type is super important.  In a lot of cases you may need to have more than one cleanser on hand at home.  For instance, I always have a gentle cleanser (for removing make-up in the evening and washing my face in the morning) and a salicylic acid cleanser (to fight acne and inflammation which I use in the evening).  Making sure that you properly remove all make-up, dirt, and pollution in the evening sets the stage for proper product absorption and better overall skin health and beauty in the end.
  • An antioxidant serum – there are so many great antioxidant products out there so choose one!  Protect your skin from free radical damage and inflammation daily while also boosting the power of your sunscreen.  Apply every morning after cleansing.  This step maintains the skin you have today and prevents further damage in the future.
  • A specialized product – now which one depends on what your skin needs.  Perhaps you need Retin-A for anti-aging or breakouts (or both).  Or maybe you need a lightening product because of sun damage.  Most people need something extra to help their skin.
  • The right exfoliant – I am a big believer in lotion/serum exfoliants but if you prefer a scrub use that.  Just use something.  Exfoliating properly helps your skin look great and makes sure your other skincare products absorb better.
  • Sunscreen – this one should be a no brainer but in case someone needs a reminder you need a sunscreen daily, yes every single day even in the winter, to prevent skin cancer, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.  So much skin aging is caused by the sun, and there is a simple way to prevent that – use sunscreen.

So now that I’ve listed the skincare products I think everyone should have please share your opinion!  What do you think?

Related Posts:


%d bloggers like this: