Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Buying Skincare Online – Yes or No? March 29, 2012

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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Is it ok to buy skincare products online? Is it even safe to buy skincare products online? I don’t mean safe as in will your credit card number be stolen, I mean safe for your skin.

There are numerous, numerous websites that sell a multitude of skincare products from drugstore to high-end to physician brands. There are numerous reasons to be wary of websites that claim to sell authorized products from different brands. Be very careful before purchasing both skincare and make-up products online. Ask yourself the following questions before purchasing online and keep the following tips in mind as well:

  • Does the brand I want to buy actually authorize online sales? I’ll give an example. Where I work we sell the physician dispensed skincare line Obagi Medical. Obagi can only be sold through an authorized reseller and is never sold online through a third party no matter what some other website may lead you to believe. Some of Obagi’s products are prescription only like Retin-A and 4% hydroquinone and in no way shape or form can those products be legally sold online. They can only be sold through a physician’s office.
  • You could easily be buying fake products when you buy online. Unless you purchase from a reliable source or authorized reseller you could be receiving fake products. I’ve heard stories of people receiving broken and defective products bought over the internet. Additionally, unless you are a cosmetic chemist how do you know what is in your product is actually what you thought you were buying? I’ve heard of products being switched for something else entirely and the consumer pays the price.
  • Read consumer reviews of websites before purchasing through them. It is easy to find purchaser feedback on online sellers. Sites like amazon and ebay make getting feedback on sellers a priority. If you don’t like what you read move on. There is no reason to purchase from someone who has a low rating.
  • The bigger the better. Sites like Sephora and Ulta sell a large volume of numerous skincare lines so you can trust that what you see is what you’ll get. The fact that these sites have a large volume of sales also means that products have not been sitting around in a warehouse indefinitely leading them to go bad, get contaminated, or expire.
  • Read return policies carefully. Make sure the site you are purchasing from will take back skincare and make-up products (used or unused). I recently made an online make-up purchase from both a site and brand that I know well only to discover when the product arrived that I had completely misunderstood what products I was buying (goes to show that you really have to read through a product description before purchasing instead of relying on the photo as your guide) and that the site did not let you return make-up (even if you never opened it). So I got stuck with my mistake purchase which wasn’t so bad in the end, but it wasn’t what I really wanted in the first place.
  • Never, ever buy prescription products online! This is both dangerous and illegal. You are putting your safety at risk when you do this.

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Further Reading:

Image from sugar-and-spice.com

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How Much Does Your Beauty Regime Cost You? March 26, 2012

Recent false reports have claimed that Hollywood star Jennifer Aniston spends $8,000 a month on her beauty regime.  The reported hefty price tag included not only pricey skincare products and treatments but Aniston’s workout routine as well.   Aniston denied the reports saying to People:

“Although I am a sucker for an amazing moisturizer, love a great facial, have been using the same cleansing bar since I was a teenager and have always been a dedicated tooth-brusher, reports that I am spending eight thousand a month on a beauty regime are greatly exaggerated,” she says.

So what’s the true total? “By my tally,” she shares, “this month I’m in for about two hundred bucks.”

Of course this got me thinking – how much do I spend a month on my beauty needs?  It will take me some time to figure that out (ok – in all honesty I didn’t really want to take out the calculator and figure it out, but I guess depending on the month I use beauty products and make-up worth anywhere between $50 to $100), but ultimately does it really matter?  If you think that you look good you feel good, and investing in one’s self shouldn’t be anything to be embarrassed by.  In the end, can you really put a price on feeling good?

Feel free to share your thoughts below about pricy beauty routines, regimes, and products.

Image from beautylish.com

 

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

 

Alcohol and Your Skin March 19, 2012

How does drinking alcohol, particularly drinking alcohol excessively, affect your skin?  Truthfully it isn’t a pretty picture.

If you are a frequent drinker you are continually dehydrated which in turn affects your skin negatively in a few ways.  Your skin cannot regenerate collagen well if you are dehydrated, and furthermore dehydration contributes to dull looking skin.  These two factors combine to make skin look old and wrinkled.  Alcohol redistributes bodily fluids which then collect in the thin skin under your eyes causing eye puffiness.  Lastly, when you drink in excess you tend to wake-up numerous times during the night, which in turn disrupts your beauty sleep, and leads to a whole host of problems for your skin.

If you suffer from rosacea it is particularly important to forgo excessive drinking (and for some people drinking alcohol at all).  Alcohol not only causes facial flushing for those people with rosacea but it can exacerbate rosacea symptoms like facial redness and ruddiness.

So while drinking in moderation may actually be beneficial to your health, keep the excessive imbibing to a minimum in order to save your skin.

 

Source and Further Reading:

 

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Facials 101 March 15, 2012

Every once in a while I come across a great post on another blog that I feel I need to share immediately with my readers.  The latest one comes from one of my favorite beauty blogs Gouldylox Reviews which is a wonderful resource for anyone since it is filled accessible beauty information and make-up ideas.

Recently Gouldylox Reviews published a fantastic post called What to Expect at Your First Facial.  Truthfully, I couldn’t have said anything better myself!  The post goes step by step through the facial process – from arriving at the spa to entering the treatment room, and even includes really on target tips about how to tell if you are being treated by a good esthetician or not.  I always get a little nervous when I see that people are writing about spas and estheticians since, unfairly and unfortunately, estheticians can get a lot of bad press.  So I very pleased when I read through this post.

Here are some of the things, according to Gouldylox Reviews, that set a good spa and esthetician apart from a so-so one:

Since not all spas are created equally, here are my guidelines for what I look for. I’m picky, so if certain things don’t bother you, then carry on.

1. The esthetician must take time to ask you how you are hoping to benefit from the appointment (unless you are a regular client and they know you really well).

2. If they glower at you when you mention you use drugstore skincare, I would not return again. Nothing irks me more than snobby estheticians who try to profit by making you feel less, looking down on because of how much you spend on your products. Skincare can be very expensive. Many drugstore brands work beautifully and many very expensive brands do not. It’s a personal decision and anyone that makes you feel less than for not using expensive products is missing the point. They should be concerned with what is best for you. It could be that a Kate Somerville product may be perfect for you. But if you can’t afford the price tag, it should not affect the quality of care you receive.

3. The treatment rooms should be quiet and clean. Your esthetician should not smell of smoke, including her hands, or chew gum. Call me picky, but these two things make me insane and feel dirtier, not more clean.

4. They should always observe your modesty.

5. They should be knowledgeable about all products they use or recommend. Skincare is changing at lightning speed, and like any professional, it’s important to stay on top of what’s available and how it works. This includes products as well as treatments like lasers, peels and other medi-spa options.

Finally, if you are happy with the service, you should tip 20%. If you were uncomfortable or unhappy with your service, you should politely tell them why, so they can change and suit your needs better. A good spa will want to know how to improve your experience. While it’s great if you can financially swing a facial each month, it does your skin good even if you can only go quarterly.

Fabulous advice!  I agree wholeheartedly that estheticians should not be trashing a client’s home care regime – no matter where her products come from.  If someone asks me what I think about a specific product I’ll give them my honest opinion, but only if they ask.  Having said that there are some estheticians out there whose whole shtick (aka personal gimmick, attitude, ploy, or persona) is to have a “I know better than you” attitude.  Some people actually like this and don’t mind when the esthetician trashes their skin, their home care routine, and choice of skincare products.  I guess they think that the esthetician is an expert so she knows what is best for them.  Or perhaps they like being around forceful personalities.  Who knows?  Personally I don’t like when people treat me in a condescending way so I try to avoid doing this with my clients at all costs.  Plus I want my clients to come back and see me (and refer me their friends) so I want to make sure that they feel good about their experience.  In my book putting someone down doesn’t equal a positive spa experience.

Though I also agree that an esthetician should be up to date on the latest skincare, make-up, and treatment options available I think you need to evaluate this criteria from a very personal perspective.  If you know more than your esthetician about the latest innovations in skincare and the newest and greatest thing in the beauty industry is important to you than perhaps you should think about finding someone else to go.  But if you just want to relax for an hour and don’t care if your esthetician knows all about the developments in laser technology than you can asess your esthetician on different criteria.  That is a truly personal choice.  But as pointed out above since the whole skincare industry changes at lightening speed, if your esthetician hasn’t heard of something but is open to finding out about new things take that as a positive not a negative.

And if you are a beauty junkie or novice I suggest subscribing to Gouldylox Reviews for on-target beauty tips.

Further Reading:

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Image from www.facefactsclinic.co.uk

 

What Is Dermal Micro Needling? March 12, 2012

Ever feel like the universe is looking out for you?  I know that may seem like an exaggeration, and I would agree, but I found it interesting that just as I was starting to research this blog post, and failing to find real, scientific information about dermal micro needling, I discovered that the there was a great article on the subject in the February issue of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling.  Not only did I come across the article I just mentioned pretty soon after coming across that article I was finding articles about micro needling from legitimate sources in different places.  So with the help of these articles let’s jump right into the whole subject of micro needling.

 

All About Dermal Micro Needling

According to the article from LNE & Spa:

The principle of skin needling is to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen.  DMN involves the use of a sterile roller, comprised of a series of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin.  Medical needling is performed under a local anesthetic; the needling device is “rolled” over the surface of the face to create many microscopic channels deep into the dermis of the skin, which stimulates your own body to produce new collagen.  At a microscopic level, proliferated skin cells, such as fibroblasts, migrate to the point of injury and transform into collagen fibers, resulting in increased fiber strength and elasticity.  This treatment improves your skin by increasing production of collagen, facilitating natural repair and growth and making the skin stronger and thicker.  The new collagen fills depressed scars and wrinkles from the bottom up, lifting the depression so they are level with the surrounding skin.  This process takes two to three months to produce visible results, and can also help thicken thinner, fine skin types.

There are a few different type of dermal rollers, which is what the dermal micro needling devices are called.  The ones designed to be used at home have shorter needles than those used by physicians.  Dermal micro needling can be combined with other skincare treatments and products in order to enhance the collagen building results.  Additionally, the procedure can be used on all skin types.  The side effects are mainly varying degrees of redness; the amount of redness depends on how long the needles used were and how deeply they entered the skin.  Potential complications can arise if the healing skin isn’t cared for properly.  Those complications can be infection, scarring, an outbreak of cold sores if you are prone to getting them, and even post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can last up to 12 months.   Proper care after treatment involves the use of healing creams or ointments along with a broad spectrum spf for the first day or two after the treatment.  Depending on what you want to fix about your skin you may need between 3 to 8 treatments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

 Yes or No?

To quote the article, again, from LNE & Spa:

DMN has been used successfully to treat fine lines, wrinkles, lax and sun damaged skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks; improve acne ice pick scars; and induce hair’s regrowth.  It has also been used to tighten skin after liposuction.  The advantages of this procedure are that the skin becomes thicker, with an increase in collagen deposition exceeding more than 400 percent.

But for all this positive talk about DMN there are naysayers as well.  On About.com they have this to say about DMN:

Does It Really Work?

Depends on who you ask. Personally, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos – so dramatic, in fact, they made me even more skeptical than before. However, there have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars. On the other hand, I have seen TV interviews with doctors who have seemed  to be saying that its real value lies in its mechanical exfoliation action on the skin. In researching how it works, it seems like it certainly could be effective for at least some of the conditions it claims to treat. However, I also believe that only time will tell just how effective it is, and whether or not it’s worth it.

Furthermore, according to Annet King in her article for The International Dermal Institute Skin Needling: Hurting or Helping? – there are a lot of variables that one has to keep in mind when considering dermal micro needling:

Effects on the Skin: Medical vs. Skin care
Most of the claims about wrinkle reduction and new collagen growth come from the manufacturers of the rollers or those members of the medical community who are associated (remunerated) by those companies. What’s important to keep in mind is that in most cases, patients in the study also used a topical Retinoic Acid or Retinol based product in conjunction with the skin needling. However some independent dermatologists do claim to see positive scar reduction outcomes in their patients, and another upside is that it does offer a cost effective alternative to fractional laser resurfacing. In general, skin needling is a long term commitment of 1-2yrs of combined in office and at home treatment.

The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller. Therefore the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin and drawing fluids, i.e. blood and lymph. With the variances of effects skin needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use. Whichever method is observed, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. As with many methods, it’s vital to respect the boundaries of medical, professional, and at-home tools, and skin benefits shouldn’t be confused. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and crystal-containing scrubs come to mind! The marketing hype can baffle the end user and incense the professional!

Different Needles Different Outcomes
A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.

The longer, thinner needles around 1.0mm or 1.5mm in length are more hazardous; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is much higher. Extreme caution must be used as this is considered highly invasive and high risk. It may also be beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice. Therefore, this procedure is best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory would be ideal to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.

In my opinion the jury is definitely still out on this skin treatment.  I would like to see more real scientific research done on the subject before offering a concrete opinion if this is a skincare treatment to pursue.  If you are an esthetician who does micro needling I would love for you to comment below, and if you have tried micro needling please comment below as well.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from Derma-Rollers.com

 

Don’t Neglect Your Skin! Start Early, See the Results Later March 8, 2012

I work for a plastic surgeon and there is a phenomena that I see here at our office again and again.  Women in their late 40s and their 50s come into the office because they suddenly feel that they look old.  It is as if overnight they aged.  Just think – you wait until your late 40s or 50s to invest in your appearance you will end up having to spend a lot of time and money trying to recapture your youth.  Instead – invest in your appearance early on in order to look your best as you age.

Let me be clear that I am not advocating trying to look like you are 20 when you are 40.  I believe in looking both great and appropriate for your age.  Two of examples for what I mean by this are Glenn Close and Meryl Streep (and that is why I used their images in this post.  Also notice how natural, yet flattering both of their make-up is).  I am all for some filler, Botox, laser treatments, and even cosmetic surgery if you feel that you need it, but if you develop good skin habits early then you can actually save yourself the time and expense of having to invest in lots of treatments later on.

Keep a few things in mind – we have a tremendous amount of control over how our skin ages.  About 20% of skin aging is genetic and the rest is caused by the environment – sun, stress, pollution, disease, medication, our overall health, etc.  Following smart skincare steps like protecting your skin from the sun on a daily basis, keeping your skin barrier intact in order to prevent skin disease and chronic inflammation to the skin, eating a diet rich in antioxidants, and not smoking will all help keep your skin looking good.  If you follow all these steps does that mean your skin will never sag or wrinkle?  Of course not, but if you follow a few simple steps everyday you can definitely help maintain your youthful glow and edge for longer.  So keep in mind that when you use your Vitamin C serum every morning you are preserving your skin for the long run – building collagen and fighting inflammation in order to prevent the aging effects of chronic inflammation.  Just because you don’t see a big payoff immediately with how your skin looks after applying Vitamin C doesn’t mean that you aren’t protecting your skin for the future.  Keep the big picture in mind when caring for your skin so that you don’t have to pursue invasive treatments in the future in order to have your outside reflect how you feel inside.

Lastly, remember the following in mind – it takes hundreds of dollars to prevent but thousands of dollars to fix.  So consider investing in your skin as a “must have” and not a “maybe”.

Reference:

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Image of Glenn Close from luxefinds.com and image of Meryl Streep from abcnews.com

 

 
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