Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Adult Acne: Causes and Treatments May 31, 2012

Filed under: Acne — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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There are few things that are more frustrating than acne.  Once we reach our late 20s we figure that we shouldn’t have acne any more but that isn’t true for many, many people.  Case in point Selma Hayek.  Hayek revealed in the May, 2012 issue of Lucky magazine that she suffered from terrible acne as an adult:

“My skin?! When I was 25 and I left being a soap opera star in Mexico to go try to be a movie star in Hollywood and all of Mexico was laughing at me? And I could barely get work as an extra? You want to talk about bad skin? I had acne. And this acne was so bad, it sent me into a severe, severe depression. Like I couldn’t leave the house. I’d wake up in the morning and lie there and touch my face before I got up, just to prepare myself to look in the mirror! “The next stage with that sort of depression is food: too little, or too much. Guess what I did? I mean, I was fat and broken out, I couldn’t leave the house and I couldn’t pay the rent!” A friend, she says, saved her: “Alfonso Cuarón—amazing director—he came to the house. He did not play it down, he did not try to say, Oh you look fine. He said you can’t do this to yourself and taught me to meditate, relax. I got myself back together!” She also went on Accutane. “I didn’t want to, but it cured it. Since then my skin’s forever sensitive and dry.”

Hayek certainly is not alone when it comes to suffering from acne as an adult.  According to The New York Times article When ‘Younger’ Skin Is Not A Blessing:

More adult women are getting pimples than ever before, according to a study presented in March at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting. Today, clinical acne afflicts the complexions of 45 percent of women ages 21 to 30, 26 percent of women ages 31 to 40, and 12 percent of women ages 41 to 50, according to the study, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital.

What Causes Adult Acne?

Just as with teenage acne hormones play a major role in the formation of adult acne.  As the WebMD article Is Your Skin Hormonal? explains:

Just as you may see a little thinning in your hairline or the slight shadow of a moustache, more blackheads and blemishes are a sign of aging. “About a third of women will get adult acne, usually in their early 30s, even if they didn’t have breakouts when they were younger,” says Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Stuart Kaplan. “Starting in your late 20s, estrogen levels decline faster than testosterone.” Because testosterone is an androgenic hormone, it increases masculine qualities (hence the new facial hair) and boosts oil production, plugging your pores and causing blemishes. The difference between adult acne and the teenage type? Small red bumps (not painful, cystic pimples) are more common when you’re older, according to Kaplan, and acne along the jawline or around the mouth are a telltale sign that you’re dealing with a hormonal breakout.

 Furthermore, according to another WebMD article, Adult Acne: Why You Get It, How To Fight It, adult acne is caused by:

Adult acne is caused by sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Sebum clogs pores, which attract bacteria and become inflamed. For some adults, breakouts are a result of hypersensitivity or overproduction of androgens (male hormones). But an imbalance in both male and female hormones (estrogen) can also cause breakouts. For women, this can happen during pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause. Some medications, such as corticosteroids, and cosmetics can also contribute to the development of acne.

 There can be even more causes for adult acne which include:

  • Changes in humidity or weather
  • Cosmetics, skin products or hair products
  • Family heritage or hypersensitivity
  • High-sugar food & drinks that increase oil production which blocks pores
  • Hormones from dairy products, pregnancy or menstrual cycle
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
  • Smoking
  • Stress, which can trigger cortisol that may result in pore-clogging oil

(Source: How To Get Rid of Acne: 6 Treatments You Haven’t Tried!Future Derm)

If I see a client who has tried everything to get rid of their acne I always ask them about their diet and suggest trying a low-dairy, low-glycemic diet.  For some people changing their diet is really what helps their acne.  I also truly do believe in a strong link between what is going on with our skin and our stress levels.  Though I know it can be very, very difficult finding a way to relax can be very helpful for your skin.  But let me emphasize again, as I have done in the past in this blog, that everyone is very different and what could trigger your acne could be something completely different than what triggers your best friend’s acne.  I love Chapter 3: Targeting Your Acne Triggers from the book Healing Adult Acne by Richard G. Fried, MD, PhD because it helps you really track and figure out what is happening with your skin so that you are no longer playing a guessing game about what is causing your acne.

Treatment Options 

First and foremost, I would never recommend reaching for the same anti-acne products that are marketed to teenagers in order to treat your adult acne.  For many adults milder anti-acne products work best.  Having said that the one prescription topical skincare product that is both anti-aging and anti-acne is Retin-A (or tretinoin, its generic name).  There are many different forms of Retin-A available so I suggest seeing a doctor for a run down of your best options if this is the way you want to treat your skin.  Doctors also have available to them in-office light and laser therapies that can effectively treat acne with little or no downtime.  Going to an esthetician for an evaluation of your skin can help you as well since estheticians can also recommend a good home care routine for you.  If your acne is really severe you may have to take medication, but this is a decision that you and your doctor can make together.

According to Bethanee Jean Schlosser, MD, PhD as quoted in Skin Inc.‘s article Hormonal Factors Key to Understanding Acne in Women here are some steps you can take to prevent and treat acne:

  • Schlosser advises patients to use noncomedogenic and sensitive skin products in order to reduce the formation of new acne lesions and to minimize skin irritation.
  • Mild cleansers should be used twice a day.
  • Avoid cleansers or other skin care products with scrubbing particles or a gritty texture, because they can irritate the skin.
  • Use a noncomedogenic moisturizer daily.
  • Apply the appropriate amount of topical acne medications (enough for a very thin layer, generally a pea-sized amount for the face) to the skin. Using more medication than is recommended will not produce better results, but may cause more irritation or dryness.
  • When starting treatment with topical retinoids, Schlosser advises that the therapy should initially be applied three times a week in order for the skin to get accustomed to it. Over time, the frequency of the medication should be gradually increased with the goal of using a topical retinoid every night.
  • Avoid picking, squeezing, popping, or otherwise manipulating acne lesions to minimize trauma to the skin and help reduce the risk of scarring and secondary bacterial infections.

“With acne, it’s important for patients to understand that there are no quick fixes, and none of the therapies used to treat acne work overnight,” said Schlosser. “Clients need to be consistent when using their acne medications and realize that they may not see the full effects of their treatment regimen for eight to 10 weeks—and in many cases, some type of maintenance therapy is required for long-term clearance of acne. ”

Bottom Line: Do not give up hope if you suffer from adult acne!  There are numerous treatment options available and lifestyle changes that you can make in order to control your breakouts.

Further Reading

If you have the time I recommend reading the articles I quoted from above.  Here are some more interesting articles about adult acne:

My Related Posts:

Image from clearogen.com

 

Cause: Hats On For Skin Health May 28, 2012

With May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, quickly coming to an end I wanted to highlight a cause I just found out about – Hats On For Skin Health.

This organization aims to help albinos in Tanzania, a country with an extremely high rate of albinism,  protect their very sensitive skin from skin cancer.  As their website explains:

Hats On For Skin Health is a global campaign to spotlight the deadly effects that sun rays can have on the sensitive skin of albinos. Through a worldwide effort, the program aims to raise funds to purchase hats and other sun-protective items for albinos living in Tanzania, a country in East Africa with one of the highest rates of albinism in the world.

Skin cancer in Africans with albinism.

For a variety of reasons including social stigma, lack of education, and limited job opportunities, manual labor in the hot African sun is often the only work available to albinos. Prolonged sun exposure threatens the lives of tens of thousands of albinos living in East Africa, but few understand the sun’s damaging, if not deadly, effects. 1

Rates of skin cancer among albinos in the countryside are much higher than they need to be for want of simple, inexpensive protective measures and health education. 3

Preventing sun damage is key to preventing skin cancer.

A study conducted in northern Tanzania reported that although albinos previously died between 20 and 30 years of age, today they can live considerably longer because of preventive sun protection. 4

Many factors play a role in skin cancer prevention, including education about sun avoidance, sun blocks and shade provided by protective clothing such as large-brimmed hats and clothing with long sleeves. Albinos and parents of albino children must be informed about the disease and how to prevent sun damage.4

When you donate to this organization your money goes toward the following cause:

Your Hats On For Skin Health donation will go a long way to preventing skin cancer by providing a hat and other sun-protective items to albinos in East Africa and supporting regional outreach and education efforts through the Regional Dermatology Training Center in Moshi, Tanzania.

So if you are looking for a way to help others I suggest considering donating to this cause.  What I learned on the organization’s website I found both frightening and heartbreaking.  It is great to know that a hat can make such a great difference in another person’s life.   Think about donating today.

 

Does Brush On Sunscreen Give You Any Sun Protection? May 24, 2012

The first post I ever wrote for my blog was entitled: Brush-On Mineral Sunscreens – Do They Give Enough Protection?.  In this post I went over the pros (portable, good way to reapply sunscreen over make-up) versus the cons (expensive, perhaps really not giving you enough sun protection) of using mineral brush-on sunscreen.  I concluded the post by recommending these products as a great way to reapply your sunscreen over make-up during the day and while you were on the go.

As much as I have been a devotee to these products for about three years I always had this nagging suspicion at the back of the head that perhaps they weren’t really giving enough protection at all.  One thing that clued me in to this was when I would try to demonstrate on the back of my hand how these products work to a client or a friend you couldn’t even see that I had anything on the back of my hand.  I was also hard pressed to even tell how much product was coming out of the container or if any product was coming out at all.  Additionally though I was a devoted, daily user of my brush-on sunscreen the product was used up very, very slowly which lead me to believe that nothing was really coming out when I was applying it.  So how much sun protection was I really getting?  (On the other hand,  since these products are so expensive that wasn’t such a terrible thing)  Since I also always caution people to never rely solely on their make-up with spf in it for their sun protection needs how different are brush-on sunscreens from make-up really?

While these suspicions were percolating in my head I came across the following from Future Derm in her post The Ugly Truth About Makeup and Moisturizers with SPF:

Why SPF Powders Aren’t Giving You the Protection You Think

Any powder product requires about 14 times the amount of normal powder application to receive the SPF listed on the package.

You see, the average face is about 600cm2 (although that varies from person to person, of course). This means the average woman needs to apply about 1.2g of facial powder to get the SPF stated on the product’s label. However, most women only apply about 0.085g of powder at a time – fourteen times less than you need to get the SPF listed on the package!

Of course, there are always two sides to every debate.  In the June issue of Vogue they write the following about brush-on sunscreens in a mini article entitled Summer Skin Savior: Sunscreen in a Brush (page 119):

The fact that sunscreens lose most of their efficacy after approximately 90 minutes in the sun is something most of us prefer not to think about, since we feel we’ve done our duty applying a thin film, under our makeup, at the about 8:00 in the morning.  Is anyone really going to slather on another layer over foundation?  (Exactly.)

This summer, salvation comes in a brush.  The new powder sunscreens – lightweight mineral blends that provide chemical-free broad-spectrum protection (ideal for sensitive skin) thanks to micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – are the ultimate multitaskers.  They dust on invisibly over makeup (some even come with a hint of bronze), and ingredients like silica and cornstarch absorb excess oil, leaving a smooth matte finish.  “I use them a lot because I hate a four o’clock shine,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist.  She’s also a fan of the high levels of zinc: “Physical block is like wearing a shirt on your skin.  You really get so much more protection.”  Plus, she adds of the slim tubes, “it’s something you can throw in your bag, and it won’t spill because it has a brush.”  Reapplying just got really easy.

Reading what Vogue has to say does make for an interesting argument, but as for what they have to say about these powders not being messy that simply isn’t true.  I’ve tried a few of the brush-on sunscreens and had the tubes crack and break causing the powder to pour out all over my car and bag.  Not fun, definitely not mess free.  But also the Vogue blurb reads like an ad for the sunscreens as opposed a well researched and science backed article.

Because of the reasons stated above in the Future Derm post, I started experimenting with reapplying cream or lotion sunscreen mid-day over my make-up and found that this worked fine.  My make-up stayed intact.  I still have a brush-on sunscreen in my bag for on the go touch-ups, but I’ve decided that I shouldn’t rely on it even as a way to just reapply sunscreen during the day since I wasn’t really sure how much, if any, sunscreen protection I was getting when using the powder.  Instead I have it with me for emergency reapplications of sunscreen and for cutting down on mid-day shine.  I still do think that using a brush-on sunscreens is better than not using anything at all and going out in the sun without any protection, but I definitely would advise my readers to use a lotion or cream sunscreen first before using this kind of product.

In my search to find a quick, easy, and effective way to reapply my sunscreen I decided to purchase Shiseido’s Sun Protection Stick with SPF 35.  This is a solid and very portable sunscreen that you can just swipe across your face making reapplication a snap, and in my opinion, you also are getting real sun protection when using this product.  (I heard about this product from one my favorite blogs Scatterbraintures so thanks Rae!)  I decided to get translucent shade and was actually disappointed when I got the product and tried it for the first time since it actually looked white on my face until I rubbed it in well.  I’ve used this stick sunscreen on my son and niece as well and you could definitely see where I had applied it on their faces.  The so-called translucent shade left a distinct white cast on their skin (on the plus side, using a stick sunscreen on a child is very easy)  So I suggest perhaps getting one of the tinted ones.  The tinted shades can also be a perfect, light make-up for some people so that is an added bonus.  (I also just discovered Sun Bum Sunscreen Stick which is oil-free but haven’t tried it yet)

I think that life is only worth living if you are constantly learning, and learning comes from questioning.  So dear readers – after much thought and research I have to conclude that purchasing a brush-on sunscreen isn’t such a great idea.  Carry your lotion (or stick) sunscreen with you and reapply as needed.  That is the only way you will be sure that you are really protected from the sun.  Save your brush-on sunscreen for getting rid of mid-day shine.

Image from thesnowmag.com

 

The Secret to Getting Compliments During Your Pedicure May 21, 2012

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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I don’t know about you but my least favorite part of a pedicure is when the nail tech uses her file board to soften my callused heels and smooth out my rough skin.  Not only do I find this part painful, I also find it to be very ticklish.  I squirm and squirm in my chair just wishing that we could move on to the next part of the pedicure.

Just the other day when I went to get a pedicure the nail tech was very surprised (and pleased) by how smooth my feet were and that there was barely any need for her to use that dreaded foot file paddle on me.  The secret to my smooth feet?  Alternating the use of the two different products after every shower.  After I shower I either use:

  • Philosophy Soul Owner which has glycolic and salicylic acids to gently exfoliate the skin and moisturizing ingredients to hydrate
OR

While I love to use both products, alternately, on my feet you could choose one or the other for your feet.  Use the Epionce product if your feet are cracked and painfully dry.  This cream heals the skin barrier so that your skin can properly retain moisture and be healthy.  If your feet are not cracked this is simply a great moisturizer (good for your lips too!).

Use the Philosophy product if your feet are rough and you need to get rid of dry, flaky skin.  Since this product has both moisturizers and gentle acids in it, it does double duty in terms of getting your feet sandal ready.

Though you can skip a night here and there when using a product like this I do recommend using them year round instead of just during the summer.  This way your feet stay smooth and hydrated all year round.

Your feet and your nail tech will thank you!

Image from coronadobeautysalon.com

 

There Is No One Size Fits All In Skincare May 17, 2012

This post was prompted by a group of clients at our office who all knew one another.  One of the clients had been using one of our skincare lines for a very long time and with great success.  When her friends started a similar regime the original client was surprised to see that the products we recommended for her friends weren’t exactly the same as what she was using, and the original client also wondered why her friends weren’t reacting the same way to the skincare products as she had.  Of course this got me thinking about how everyone’s skin is different and that – there is absolutely no one size fits all in skincare.

While many, many people may have exactly the same skincare issues as you do – let’s say fine lines, dryness, and sun damage – that doesn’t mean that you and everyone else with the same skincare issues will use the same products or even need the same products.  You need to keep other factors in mind when comparing skincare routines.  Everyone is unique.

Keep the following things in mind:

  • Do you have any allergies?
  • What is the climate like where you live?
  • Do you spend lots of time outdoors?
  • Are you sensitive to any skincare ingredients?
  • What’s your age?
  • What is your main skincare concern?
  • How much time and inclination do you have to devote to your daily skincare routine?
  • What is your budget?
Everyone is going to answer the above questions differently and for that reason everyone is going to have a different skincare routine.  Of course it is inevitable that people are going to compare what skincare products they are using with the products their friends are using and that can be a good thing.  But don’t get bogged down in making sure that everything is the same.  As the saying goes – variety is the spice of life.

 

Image from teradatamagazine.com

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 14, 2012

If there is one consistent subject that I write about repeatedly in this blog it is sun protection.  There is a very good reason for that – non- melanoma skin cancer has reached epidemic rates in the US.  May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month so I wanted to share some important information about the subject with my readers.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

Skin cancer is a lifestyle disease, affecting young women, older men and everyone in between. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime; 13 million Americans are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

But there is good news: because skin cancer is chiefly lifestyle disease, it is also highly preventable.

“About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” says Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Everyone, regardless of skin color, should make staying safe in the sun a priority and incorporate sun protection measures into their daily life.”

In my opinion the scariest phenomena occurring right now is the rapid rise in the cases of melanoma among young women who use tanning beds.  Let me be very clear – tanning beds are not safe!  I wish the FDA would ban them entirely.  If someone tells you that tanning beds aren’t harmful they are lying to you – period.

Since skin cancer is almost entirely preventable the key to protecting yourself (and your loved ones) is in your hands.  Remember to:

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen – 365 days a year.
  • Don’t skimp on sunscreen – apply plenty of sunscreen to all exposed skin and reapply every 2 to 3 hours when outdoors.
  • Seek shade and wear protective clothing when outside.
  • Don’t burn!
  • Never, ever use tanning beds!!
  • Do self exam to check your moles and to see if you have developed any suspicious lesions.
  • See a dermatologist for a professional mole check yearly.
Sources and Further Reading:

Image from skinsheen.com

 

Teen Skincare May 10, 2012

My teenage years were the worst years for my skin.  I had terrible acne that only went away after I used Accutane for three months, and I still have acne scars on my cheeks that serve as a daily reminder of those years.  That acne eventually, years and years later, lead me to become an esthetician since I wanted to learn more about how to care for my own skin, and I wanted to be able to help others care for their skin as well.  Because of how I looked during my teen years I have a soft spot for teenagers and their skin struggles.  The teen years is the perfect time to begin learning to care for your skin, and there is no need for this care to be complicated or time-consuming.

First off, easy does it.  I find that many teenagers think that if a little bit of a skincare product or skincare ingredient is good, then a lot is even better.  That just leads to dry, irritated, and flaky skin.  A lot of the time – less is really more.  The other thing to point out is that there is no need to make every breakout a catastrophe.  I know this is really hard when you are in high school, but if there is any way to put the appearance of a pimple or two into perspective than try to do that.  Perfect skin in really unattainable – believe me.  I know one person, and this includes all my friends, clients, and acquaintances, who I would say has perfect skin.  It just doesn’t exist and that is why they invented make-up.  So try to keep the doom and gloom over how your skin looks in check.

Instead get the basics under your belt:

  • Remember that daily cleansing of your skin is essential even if you are tired at night.  Sleeping with a dirty face just contributes to breakouts and overall dull skin.  Which cleanser is right for your skin depends on if your skin is oily, combination, dry, or breakout prone.  When in doubt consult someone in the know like an esthetician.  If you really can’t be bothered to wash your face at night at the very least use a make-up remover wipe to cleanse your face a bit before going to sleep.
  • Apply a treatment serum/lotion if you need one.  Most teens will need an anti-acne serum or lotion at one point or another.  This doesn’t mean that you need to slather your face with the treatment lotion two or three times a day.  For some teens once a day is probably enough while others may need to treat their skin twice a day.
  • Give new products time to work!  I cannot emphasize this enough – you need to try your new products for about three months before determining if they really are helping your skin.  Constantly switching skincare products is no help to your skin.
  • Be compliant with your skincare regime.  Having great skincare products that just sit in your bathroom is no help for anyone.  They only work, and work best, when you used them daily and as directed.
  • If you can’t figure out what products are best for your skin I would suggest going to get a facial and asking the esthetician to make recommendations.  You don’t need to buy everything or anything she recommends, but at least you can get some knowledgable advice instead of fumbling around in the dark.
  • Don’t pick!  And don’t let someone else pick at your skin either!  Picking only makes breakouts last longer, heal slower, and can leave scars.  Hand off your face!
  • Start using daily sun protection.  I always prefer that everyone has a separate sunscreen that isn’t combined with any other product like a moisturizer or make-up, but better that you have spf in something than in nothing.
  • Don’t go it alone – if you feel like you’ve tried everything and your skin still isn’t looking the way you want it to go see a dermatologist for help and advice.  Doctors can give you prescription products if necessary.
  • Eat a healthy diet and find ways to have fun and relax.  I know that being a teenager is stressful so finding ways to release that stress is actually helpful for your skin as well.
And remember – be kind to yourself.  A lot of teen skin issues are caused by hormonal fluctuations that eventually calm down with time and age.  This too shall pass just like you will finally be done with high school one day too.

Sources and Further Reading:

 
My Related Posts:

Image from mag4disease.com

 

 
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