Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Ingredient Spotlight: Witch Hazel October 28, 2012

Filed under: Ingredients — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
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Allure places it in its ingredient hall of fame, Paula Begoun says to avoid using products that contain it.  So what who should you believe?  What does witch hazel do for your skin?

Let’s begin with some facts about witch hazel:  it’s a very commonly used cosmetic ingredient that comes from the bark and leaves of the hamamelis virginiana plant.  I learned the following from the book The New Ideal in Skin Health (pages 318-319):

Topically used to treat cutaneous inflammation, swelling, itching, injury, hemorrhoids, insect bites and stings, minor burns and irritations.  Active elements include bitters, essential oils, gallic acid, and tannins.

Types of Products:  Skin fresheners, astringents, local anesthetic, vein cosmeceuticals

Functions:  Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, astringent, elastin synthesis stimulant

Adverse Effects:  The alcohol content contained in witch hazel can be a skin irritant

Clinical Studies:

a.  One clinical study shows Witch Hazel to be less effective in reducing UV-induced erythema than 1% hydrocortisone.

b.  It was shown to reduce inflammation and pruritis in 36 atopic dermatitis patients.

Why does Allure love witch hazel so much?  In the Daily Beauty blog post entitled Ingredient Hall of Fame: Witch Hazel they explain

For centuries, witch hazel has been known for its soothing and cleansing properties, but right now, one of our Web editors is going completely nuts over the stuff. While searching for an alternative to her over-drying cleanser, she tried a witch hazel-infused one, and it did the trick, degreasing her skin, without drying or stripping it.

“Witch hazel is a natural astringent,” says Kenneth Beer, a cosmetic dermatologist in West Palm Beach. “It removes surface debris and oil, and has a long history of safety and efficacy.” Hmm. No wonder why it’s in tons of popular face cleansers, treatments, and atomizers.  …

Bottom line: Witch hazel is the Madonna of skincare ingredients—it takes many forms and has been around forever.

But before you rush out to buy some witch hazel keep a few things in mind.  My Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients has the following to say about witch hazel (I have the 6th edition of the book, page 546):

One of the most widely used cosmetic ingredients, it is a skin freshener, local anesthetic, and astringent made from the leaves and/or twigs of Hammamelis virginiana.  Collected in the autumn.  Witch hazel has an ethanol content of 70 to 80 percent and a tannin content of 2 to 9 percent.  Witch hazel water, which is what you buy at the store, contains 15 percent ethanol.

[So then the question really becomes – what does ethanol do to your skin?  Well that readers is a whole other debate that I really can’t get into here in this post (or would want to).  Cutting to the chase – ethanol is an alcohol and there are varying opinions about how alcohols (we aren’t talking about alcohol that you drink, by the way) impact the skin.  I would suggest reading the following blog posts from Future Derm for more information about ethanol and about alcohol in skincare products:  Why Alcohol in Skin Care is Safe, Despite What Paula Begoun Says and Is Ethanol in Skin Care Products Safe?)]

Just how is witch hazel transformed into an ingredient that can be used in cosmetic products.  The Beauty Brains explain in their post How Does Witch Hazel Work?:

In its natural form witch hazel is a shrub that can grow to be 10 feet tall, or more. It has oval leaves and slender petals. In autumn,  the plant is harvested by cutting the branches to the ground and chipping the wood and leaves into little bite size pieces. This mulch is then transferred to large stainless-steel vats where it is steam distilled for thirty-six hours. After “stewing” the extracted mixture is condensed and filtered and ethanol is added as a preservative. (Depending on the exact processing, the witch hazel may contain more or less tannins. The mixture of plant parts also controls the tannin content – bark contains 31 times more tannin than the leaves.) The resulting liquid is bottled and sold to drug stores as “witch hazel.”

Paula Begoun’s objections to products containing witch hazel rests on the fact that you don’t know what you are getting in your product and because of possible skin irritation.  She explains:

Commonly used plant extract that can have potent antioxidant properties (Sources: Phytotherapy Research, June 2002, pages 364–367; and Journal of Dermatological Science, July 1995, pages 25–34) and some anti-irritant properties (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, March-April 2002, pages 125–132). However, witch hazel’s high tannin content (and tannin is a potent antioxidant), can also be irritating when used repeatedly on skin because it constricts blood flow. The bark of the witch hazel plant has higher tannin content than the leaves. Steam distillation for producing witch hazel water removes the tannins, but the plant’s astringent qualities are what most believe give it benefit. Alcohol is added during the distillation process, the amount typically being 14–15%. Witch hazel water is distilled from all parts of the plant, so in that sense you never know what you’re getting, though the alcohol content remains (Source: http://www.naturaldatabase.com; http://www.drugs.com). Depending on the form of witch hazel, you’re either exposing skin to an irritating amount of alcohol (which causes free radical damage and collagen breakdown), tannins, or both. Moreover, witch hazel contains the fragrance chemical eugenol, which is another source of irritation.

Personally I remember drying my face out with the use of a witch hazel astringent when I was a teenager with acne.  Now I know that the added ingredients in the product caused my skin to feel dry and tight not the witch hazel itself.  As a stand alone ingredient witch hazel has many skincare benefits.  When buying a product containing witch hazel look to see what the witch hazel is mixed with to make sure that you are getting the real benefits of this ingredient and not suffering side effects from the other ingredients in the product.

Further Reading:

Besides for the articles mentioned above I also suggest reading:  Spotlight On:  Witch HazelFuture Derm

 

 

Image from http://theabsoluteglamour.com

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Products Worth Trying? October 22, 2012

Recently I came across quite a few intriguing skincare and make-up products I thought I would share with my readers.  I haven’t tried any of these products so if you have please comment below.

I’m a big fan of using a lactic acid exfoliating product during facials (I used to use GloLactic with much success during facials as long as the client wasn’t using Retin-A.  If the client used Retin-A and you put this product on their face they generally could not handle it) so my ears perked up when I heard of a whole product line based on milk (lactic acid comes from milk).  The product line is called Dairy Faceand the website explains why they use milk in their products:

Milk has been prized as a beauty care ingredient since cows roamed the Roman Empire. It’s rich in unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins A, D, E, C and B12, and offers amazing nutritional benefits for the skin.

Almost all facial creams include fats and oils to help keep skin healthy. Well, milk is an utterly nourishing source of natural fat. One drop of milk contains over one million superfine, easily-absorbed, nutrient-rich balls of fat that quench your skin’s moisture-thirsty cells.

Your skin will also love the lactic acid found in this dairylicious ingredient – which helps to break down and remove dead skin cells and helps to stimulate collagen production.

Milk has other naturally occurring nutrients – peptides and protein. Dairyface is the first yogurt specifically formulated to contain pre- and pro-biotics for topical use on your skin!

Another interesting thing about this line is that it needs to be refrigerated.  Once again according to the products website:

Cold is the next hot thing in skincare.

The solution is as simple and everyday as refrigeration.  It’s fresh, natural dairy, after all. Keeping Dairyface products cold means there’s no need to add synthetic or other harmful preservatives. Dairyface works with local dairies to source live milk cultures, then combines them with other beneficial fruits, vegetables and herbs, to bring a powerful and gentle skin care from nature to you.

I have no idea if the products in this line work as described, but I do find the concept and main ingredient appealing.

Further Reading:

A good primer can make a lot of difference with how your make-up goes on and how your skin looks.  After reading a positive review of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer  on Future Derm I would like to give this product a try in the future.  In the meantime I try to keep excess shine away by mixing a little Smashbox Anti-Shine with my sunscreen each morning.

I’m much more of a lip gloss girl than a lipstick person, but the problem with glosses is that you have to keep reapplying them throughout the day.  Enter Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar which promises the following:

OCC Lip Tar combines the longevity of a lipstick, with the ease of application of a gloss. Goes on slick and moist, and dries down to a satin finish. Ultra-saturated in color, Lip Tar contains an unprecedented amount of pigment – a little goes a very, very long way! An intense yet featherweight layer of color that never looks or feels heavy. Meant to be mixed, Lip Tar comes in concise array of colors for a limitless selection of shades made by you! A simple, elegant formula that contains Hemp Oil, Peppermint Oil and Vitamin E, OCC Lip Tar feels as good on the lips as it looks!

This product is 100% vegan and cruelty-free (cruelty free is a must for me) and according to Allure it really does last all day long.  Furthermore, once again from Allure:

A few months ago I came across a little tube of brightly colored pigment fromObsessive Compulsive Cosmetics called Lip Tar. It was unlike anything I had seen before: It had the opacity of a matte lipstick, the consistency of a gloss, and a satin finish. “I think the best way to describe it is concentrated lipstick,” said the creator of the brand, makeup artist David Klasfeld. “It’s lipstick in its most basic form—just pigment and a natural oil base.” Since then, I’ve seen more and more of these lipsticks popping up: Stila Stay All Day Liquid LipstickYves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stains, and there’s more to come. In August, Guerlain will debut Rouge G L’Extrait, and Hourglass Cosmetics is coming out with a full-coverage liquid lipstick called Opaque Rouge.

The only downside to these concentrated lipsticks is that you have to move quickly and be extra precise because they dry so quickly. I like to put them on starting in the center of my bottom lip, dotting on just a little bit and then smoothing the color out to either side, bringing it closer to the lip line with the tip of the sponge applicator. If you can’t get the hang of the applicator, though, you can also dip a tiny lip brush in the tube, which makes it easier to follow the curve of your cupid’s bow. And while they’re intensely pigmented, they aren’t at all heavy or gross, so they’re actually perfect for summer—I promise they will not budge in the heat.

(New-Product Alert: Lipstick Concentrate)

And lastly, thinking about doing a cleanse?  (I have but I know I would break after a few hours and stuff french fries and chocolate into my mouth)  Now there are skincare products to use in conjunction with your cleanse since it is a well known fact that cleanses can cause temporary skin issues (breakouts, dryness) as your body detoxifies.

Once again – if you’ve tried any of these products please share your thoughts below.

 

Image from paleoplan.com

 

Chemical Peels for Darker Skin Tones October 16, 2012

Recently a blog reader who was African-American asked if it was safe for her to get a chemical peel.  My answer was resounding “yes, but” and by that I meant – yes, but make sure you are careful.  The reason for my warning?  The darker your skin tone the more prone you are to hyperpigmentation which means you can receive a chemical peel you just can’t have a very deep one.

First let me just refresh your memory, in case you need it, to the benefits of chemical peels.  The WebMD article Chemical Peels and Your Skin explains what peels can do for your skin:

Chemical peels can be done on the face, neck, or hands. They can be used to:

  • Reduce fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth
  • Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging
  • Improve the appearance of mild scars
  • Treat certain types of acne
  • Reduce age spots, freckles, and dark patches (melasma) due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills
  • Improve the look and feel of skin

Areas of sun damage may improve after chemical peeling.

After a chemical peel, skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen every day.

According to the Skin Inc. article Understanding Darker Skin Tones does a good job of explaining the unique issues facing darker skin tones:

Despite prevailing misconceptions, if you’ve got darker skin, you’re not immune to the effects of sun damage and premature aging. While the rules of cleanse, moisturize and SPF apply to everyone, darker tones do need unique care. Mona Gohara, MD, assistant clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine department of dermatology in New Haven, CT, a key promoter of skin care awareness and sun safety in non-Caucasian populations, explains the chemistry and concerns of darker skin.

1. What is the basic skin biology of people of color?

There are three layers that comprise the human skin: the epidermis, the dermis and fat. Within the epidermis there are pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is the substance that confers skin color. People all have the same number of melanocytes, regardless of complexion–the browner you are, the more melanin you are producing. In short, melanin determines skin color. Melanin has many different functions in human skin. Most importantly, it provides inherent protection against the sun and is a natural antioxidant.

2. What are some of the common skin issues affecting people with darker skin tones? Are these issues different than people with lighter skin tones and if so, why?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a condition that occurs more frequently in individuals with darker skin. It is localized skin darkening that occurs after trauma or inflammation. For example, when people of color get a pimple, for some reason melanocytes rev up and produce more melanin. As a result, when the lesion fades, the skin gets darker. The same phenomenon applies for cuts, bruises and resolving rashes. To treat PIH, you need to use an SPF of 30 or higher every day, and give it time. Other remedies such as hydroquinones, retinol, glycolic acid and chemical peels can also help speed up the process.

So how can you make sure that you are helping your skin instead of hurting it when you get a chemical peel?  According to the article Peels and Hyperpigmentation by Pamela Springer from the July/August 2012 issue of Skin Deep you need to keep the following things in mind:

Generally, peels and other exfoliating agents are used to resolve photodamage, fine lines and wrinkles, and dyschromias (the brown spots associated with aging).  These conditions are most often seen in individuals with lighter skin coloring, Fitzpatrick I-III.  Those with pigmented skin, Fitzpatrick IV-VI, are more likely to have conditions such as dark postacne lesions, hyperkeratosis, pigmentary reactions, pseudofolliculitis barbae, or textural changes.  But despite the disparities, dark skin is not as complex as one would image, and it will respond well to superficial chemical peeling as long as certain protocols are followed.  …

The outcome of a chemical peel is determined by how well the skin has been prepared.  For darker skin, the concern is avoiding PIH [post inflammatory hyperpigmentation].  Peels that penetrate too deeply can generate heat or erythema (redness) while on the skin, potentially altering melanin synthesis and/or causing abnormal melanin distribution.  Deep penetration can also destroy the melanocyte, leaving an area of the skin void of color.

To decrease this risk, the client should be placed on a pretreatment home-care regimen for four to eight weeks (depending on how dark the skin is) prior to a scheduled light- or medium-depth peel.  During this time, the goal is either repair the acid mantle or to perform other treatments that will enhance the outcome of the peel.  If the acid mantle is intact, the home-care regime should consist of a skin-lightening agent, 2-5 percent glycolic products, and a full-spectrum sunscreen.

There should be visible reduction of dyschromias after two to three weeks of the home-care regimen.  Priming the skin in this manner will go a long way toward eliminating post-peel complications.

The article further points out that manufacturer instructions for peels can be modified in order to work for darker skin tones.  For instance a peel that is supposed to be left on the skin for 5 minutes should be left on for 1 or 2 minutes on darker skin tones.  There are numerous peeling agents that can be used successfully on darker skin tones such as:  lactic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and jessner’s solution.

Tips for Before and After A Peel

If you are considering a peel and have a darker skin tone do some of research before getting a peel.  If you have a spa or doctor’s office in mind for where you want to do the peel ask to come in for either a facial or at the very least for a discussion with the esthetician who will performing the peel.  This way the esthetician can understand your skincare concerns and see your skin before the peel.  This is also the right time to assess what sort of pre-peel regime you need to be on at home in order to both enhance the peel results and to prevent any complications for arising.  This pre-peel consultation and/or facial is essential for the receiving the best result with your peel.  The esthetician should be able to clearly explain what type of peel she would choose to do on your skin and why and how she might modify the peel because of your skin color/tone.  You should also discuss post-peel treatments in order to calm the skin and prevent any PIH.  If you have any allergies, have had an adverse reaction to a skincare product or ingredient in the past, are on any medications and/or prescription skincare products, or spend a lot of time in the sun all of these issues need to be discussed in length with your esthetician before having a peel.  Also keep in mind that sometimes the best results from peels come after a series not just from one peel.

Bottom Line:  Anyone with a darker skin tone can benefit from a chemical peel as long as they properly prepare their skin before hand, receive the peel from someone who knows the risks in involved with peeling darker skin tones, and practices proper post-peel care.  Chemicals peels remain a viable and great option for a host of skin issues for all skin colors and ethnicities.

My Related Posts:

General Reading About Chemical Peels:

Articles About Ethnic Skincare:

Image – Three Friends by William H. Johnson from sparklepony.blogspot.com

 

Can Anyone Use Retin-A? October 11, 2012

Recently a long-time reader of this blog (thank you Louise for all your support!) asked me to address the issue of Retin-A use in my blog from a different angle than I have before.  So far the posts I’ve written about Retin-A have been an overview post on the subject (All About Retinol) and another post explaining why Retin-A remains the anti-aging superstar ingredient that it is (Back in Vogue: Retin-A).  Though this post will have some overlap with my past posts about Retin-A and retinol I do hope that this latest post will help explain how anyone can use Retin-A or retinol effectively and just how to do that.

I think it is best to start this post with a summary – what does Retin-A do and what is the difference between the different Vitamin A derived ingredients we see in skincare products?  Dr. Leslie Baumann does a good job of breaking things down:

First and foremost, retinoids speed the rate at which skin cells turn over, which means they thin the layer of dead skin cells and help keep healthy, younger-looking cells on the surface. Retinoids also promote the skin to produce more collagen while preventing the breakdown of existing collagen.This thickens the dermal layer of skin and helps minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Here’s the lowdown on the different members of the retinoid family, which are all derivatives of vitamin A.

Beta carotene: If you eat too many carrots and your skin turns orangey yellow, it’s because you’ve ODed on beta carotene. (Don’t worry, it’s actually good for you.) This is a great antioxidant, so it’s important to get beta carotene from food. Don’t waste your money on topical creams with carrots or beta carotene because it does not absorb when applied to the skin.

2.Tretinoin (Retin-A): Perhaps the best known retinoid (and the gold standard for skin improvement), tretinoin got its start as an acne treatment before its inventor, Albert Kligman, MD, realized that patients on the medication had less wrinkles than those who were not. Dr. Kligman then developed Renova, a tretinoin cream that got FDA approval for the treatment of wrinkles. A little fact: Tretinoin does not cause sun sensitivity, however it is less effective when exposed to UV light, and this is why it’s best used at night. Other brand names of tretinoin now include Atralin (formulated with hydrating glycerin), Refissa, and Retin-A Micro.

3.Adapalene: This is considered a second-generation retinoid because its chemical structure is different than naturally occurring retinoids. The brand name is Differin, and it is more stable when exposed to the sun and less irritating. The prescription EpiDuo contains adapalene and benzoyl peroxide to help fight acne. In recent news, adapalene is now available as a generic.

4.Tazarotene: A third-generation retinoid, this is stronger than adapalene, less irritating and more sun-stable. I like it for patients who have been able to tolerate tretinoin and/or adapalene without any problems.

5.Retinol: This is the over-the-counter version of tretinoin, but the big drawback is that it’s very unstable, and the product packaging is crucial for its effectiveness. Johnson & Johnson has had the patent on retinol packaging, which is why my favorite OTC retinols are from RoC and Neutrogena. It’s much weaker than tretinoin, but studies do show it works to improve wrinkles. I like to start my patients on retinol and then work them up to tretinoin, and then tazarotene.

6.Retinyl esters (retinyl palmitate and retinyl linoleate): These ingredients are broken down into retinol once they’re applied to the skin. However, it takes time for them to absorb which is why there’s some controversy surrounding retinyl palmitate—based on a report by the Environmental Working Group. They aren’t irritating (because they don’t really absorb), but they don’t really work, so I say skip them.

7.Retinaldehyde: This penetrates better than retinyl esters, but not as well as retinol (which is why it’s less irritating). If you’re looking for results and bang for your buck, stick with retinol or a prescription.

(From Retinoids: An Essential Ingredient for “Wrinkled” SkinSkin Type Solutions LibraryTips)

As great as Retin-A is for the skin many people cannot use it because it causes them too much irritation.  The Vogue article The Return to Retinol explains:

The thing is, Retin-A and its various prescription descendants (Renova, Tazorac, Differin)—may have launched a thousand lineless faces, but they also launched as many irritated ones: scaly, red, angry. In those early days (fifteen years ago), retinoids could be used only at night because of their sensitivity to light; they could make skin extra-sensitive and made time in the sun, even incidental exposure, a cardinal sin. “Everyone was really excited from the beginning, but the big issues were dryness and irritation—mostly because people would apply too much,” says dermatologist Fredric Brandt, M.D., the New York– and Miami-based skin-care Svengali who has thousands of seemingly ageless women in his thrall (retinoid enthusiasts Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow included). But even when skin wasn’t in outright crisis mode, a telltale sort of “retinoid face” could develop: spookily taut and shiny, like Barbie plastic. This is because the retinoic-acid molecule works a little too well: It’s so tiny it can penetrate all the layers of the skin, prompting extra-speedy cell turnover and exfoliation in the process. “You’re helping fix photo-aging, brown spots, acne, roughness, and collagen breakdown,” says Brandt. Miraculous, yes; gentle, no.

So what can you do in order to prevent irritation if you want to use Retin-A (and I personally strongly recommend Retin-A for those people who want to combat the signs of aging or who have acne and have tried numerous other anti-acne treatments to no avail), but cannot live with flaky, irritated, and red skin?  Start off slowly – use a retinol, an OTC product, before using a prescription product. You can try a product that is meant for sensitive skin like ROC Retinol Correction Sensitive Night Cream  (truthfully I don’t know how well this product works, but it worth a try if you have sensitive skin or are wary of trying a stronger product)  first before working your way up to a stronger product.  In a sense you will prepare your skin to tolerate stronger prescription products in the future.  According to Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty there are a few other ways to prevent skin irritation associated with using Retin-A (pages 278-279):

Prescription retinoids are the strongest and most effective form of retinoic acid.  Over-the-counter products contain milder vitamin A analogs; either retinol or retinyl palmitate (retinyl palmitate beign the weakest).  In order to have an effect on retinoid receptors, these must be converted to retinoic acid inside the body, and that conversion may not happen with the trace amount of low-strength vitamin A contained in a beauty product.  Although the results are therefore inconsistent, an OTC retinol might be worth at try if you’re skittish about using a prescription medication or if you have especially sensitive skin.  Stabilized, high-strength retinol may be somewhat effective, but look for one that states the percentage of retinol on the label.  Otherwise there’s probably just a tiny, ineffectual amount in the product.  (Personally, I would rather use a prescription retinoid with a percentage of medication that I know works.)

Side Effects:  Retinoic acid is a drug and there are risks associated with its use.  Since it decreases sebum (remember, this is still an acne medication), it makes the skin extremely dry.  (If that’s the case for you, applying moisturizer on top of retinoic acid is the answer, and it won’t dilute its potency.)  It makes the skin photosensitive, so daily sunscreen is a must – which is also why retinoic acid should be used at night.  It tends to irritate even moderately sensitive skin, so be careful not to overdo exfoliants such as glycolic acids (one a week is plenty).  For the same reason, be sure to stop using retinoids three to five days before having any skin procedures done, from simple waxing and facials to medical peels or lasers.  For those who have a hard time tolerating even a low-dose prescription retinoid, I recommend trying short-term applications: apply a pea-size amount over the whole face and neck, leave it on for fifteen minutes, then rinse it off.  You may get the same benefits as wearing it overnight.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even though having flaky and red skin is a side effect from using Retin-A it is a temporary one.  Your skin will get used to the product and those skin irritations will gradually disappear.  But if you live in a cold or dry climate your skin might constantly feel dry with Retin-A use.  Simply use a moisturizer twice daily at least or more if necessary to combat this dryness.  Be sure to wait about 10 or 15 minutes after applying your Retin-A before applying your moisturizer on top so that you allow the Retin-A to absorb properly into your skin.  Lastly, keep in mind that Retin-A comes in a wide variety of formulations.  Refissa, for instance, is a 0.05% tretinoin cream that is buffered so that it causes much less irritation for the user.  Many people do not peel at all when they use this product.

Summary of Different Ways to Prevent Irritation When Using Retin-A:

  • Only use a pea size amount for your entire face.  There is no need to use more.
  • Start off slow – use your Retin-A only twice a week or every other night for at least two weeks before determining if you want to use it more often.  For some people using Retin-A twice a week is enough.
  • If you are wary of using a prescription product start off with an OTC product.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.  After using a product like this for a few months you can move on to prescription one.
  • Ask for a prescription buffered product like Refissa if you know your skin is reactive and/or dry.
  • Work through the initial phase of irritation. That means be patient – you’ll see results in about three months.  Don’t give up on the product before then.  If you start and then stop and then start again using Retin-A your skin will get stuck in phase one of use.  Simply put your skin will constantly be irritated and red.
  • Use a moisturizer on top of your Retin-A.  Some of my favorite moisturizers to combine with Retin-A use are the renewal products from Epionce.  Be sure to wait at least 10 minutes after applying your Retin-A before applying a moisturizer on top.
  • Avoid irritating your skin further by overusing other facial exfoliating products like glycolic acid.  Products with Vitamin C can even be too irritating for some people if they are using Retin-A.
  • Use sun protection daily.

OTC Products 

I don’t want to call this recommended products since I haven’t tried any of them, but all the products below come from reputable companies:

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from anti-aging-skin-care-guide.com

 

Facials, Facials, Facials: Extractions, Breakouts, and What to Do Post Facial October 8, 2012

While researching my book review post about Dr. Jeannette Graf’s book Stop Aging, Start Living I discovered the website Well and Good NYC and spent way too much time going through the site instead of writing my book review.  Though the site has a very organic, holistic, and natural slant which isn’t for everyone, and I found myself not agreeing with everything I read on the site, there was still plenty of  information on the site that interested me.  For example the few articles that I read about facials.

I’ve devoted quite a few posts in this blog to facials since they are my bread and butter as an esthetician, and I want people to better understand them since I find that there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about facials.  Certain questions come up regularly when it comes to facials such as:  do you perform extractions during your facials (if you need them then absolutely yes), why did I break out after my facial?, and can I put on make-up after my facial?

Extractions

My philosophy about extractions is that if the client has blackheads and clogged pores the esthetician should try to extract them after properly preparing the skin for extractions.  I do not recommend doing extractions on your own at home since you can easily damage the skin.  Estheticians are trained to prepare the skin properly for extractions, know how much pressure to apply and for how long during extractions, and also know how to calm the skin after extractions are over.  Yet it turns out that not all estheticians agree with this outlook.  According to the article Extraction Wars:  Aestheticians Face Off Over Pore Pressure:

For many facialists, extractions play a starring role in a skin-care treatment, with steaming, cleansing, and exfoliating all playing skin-care backup. For others, extractions are cruel and unusual, banned by the Geneva Convention of Aesthetics.

Nothing makes a New York City facialist get on her soapbox quicker than mention of performing extractions, the act of enticing a pore or pimple to give up its impurities (a plug of dead skin and oil). It’s a topic with two opposing camps—and no middle ground. One person’s pinnacle of cleanliness is another’s trauma to the skin. …

The brass ring is clear skin. But most of us are dotted with blocked pores and bumps that we can’t fully clean ourselves—or we shouldn’t. “I don’t want my clients doing it themselves,” says Wright. “You need to know what to look for, what not to touch, and apply the right pressure. I’m good at it,” says [Jillian] Wright, [owner of Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Care] who admits she finds the task incredibly satisfying, “like a treasure hunt.”

Congestion can be partly managed by skin-care products at home, and you can exfoliate blackheads so they’re less visible, but the contents of pores just don’t come out on their own, says Wright. “They just fill and fester and stretch pores to the size of saucers.”

But what about the estheticians who oppose extractions?  What is the reason behind their refusal to perform this service?   According to the article:

In this camp are skin-care professionals who call extractions a “harsh invasive practice” that can leave the skin looking worse for wear. It’s an idea shared by luxe holistic-leaning spas like Sodashi and many French beauty brands. (You’d be hard pressed, ahem, to find a spa in Paris that does extractions.)

“Respecting the skin” is a cornerstone of Clarins, which frowns upon pore pressure to free the dirt and trapped sebum inside them. “We work with the skin, not against it, says Ewa Wegrzynowska, Clarin’s National Skin Spa Training Manager. “Pulling and pressing the pores weakens them and the skin fibers like collagen and elastin.”

Your skin looks good in short term, concedes Elena Chang, an aesthetician at  Clarins Madison Avenue Skin Spa. “But in long run, you’ve got damaged skin that’s lacking strength and elasticity.” And maybe an extra broken blood vessel or two, they say.

Personally, I see no reason to stop doing extractions.  Even following the proper procedures you help people’s skin not hurt it.  I also do not extractions if I see no blackheads and clogged pores.  Those clients luck out with me – they get a longer facial massage.

For my fellow estheticians – Skin Deep published a very informative article about performing extractions called Essential Extractions.  Well worth reading.

Breakouts After A Facial

Sometimes it happens and it’s a bummer.  A few days after a facial instead of your skin looking fresh, feeling smooth, and being blemish free you get a pimple.  It’s happened to me with various clients (including my boss’ daughter once) and though I know it can happen after a facial, it still bums me out to hear about from a client.  The article Should Facials Cause Breakouts? breaks down the reasons for what could cause breakouts post facial:

If you get a facial and your skin breaks out the next day, it’s easy to blame the facialist for flubbing your just-exfoliated gorgeousness. (And investment.) But it may not be her fault. Just what makes skin breakout after a facial treatment—and who’s to blame?

To find out, I asked leading aestheticians—Caitlin Conn, skin care director of Exhale spas, andElena Rubin, the facialist-founder of Ethos Wellness in Soho—for their take on the most common causes of post-facial breakouts.

1. The Chinese Cure

Elena Rubin says that two things are equally true: The skin should not break out after a facial. Yet it’s normal if it does. The latter she attributes to the “Chinese cure,” a term used in acupuncture, which means sometimes the skin (in this case) gets worse before it gets better. “Skin can take the treatment as a sign to detox. And some people have three years of built-up sebum, dead skin cells, and sunscreen in their pores,” says Rubin.

2. Poor Pore Prodding

As a facialist, “you have to be really careful that you finish what you start,” says Caitlin Conn. “A facial stirs up bacteria, and leaving it behind after extractions can absolutely cause a post-treatment breakout.” Conn likes to use anti-bacterial gadgets like light therapy (looks like a Lite-Brite panel or a glowing paddle) and high-frequency wands (sounds like a bug-zapper) immediately afterward. “These technologies are very quick and healing,” says Conn.

3. Over-Reacting Skin

“Some skin reacts to steam, facial massage, new products, or to the very potent drawing power of clay,” says Conn, and it can cause a breakout. “Clay draws out impurities almost too quickly. I’m cautious about using it and may just apply it across the nose in a thin layer, while using a hydrating mask on the cheeks…”

4. Over-Eager Extractions

A good facialist should allow plenty of time preparing skin for extractions—not just with steam, but with exfoliants and pore-opening oils and massage, says Rubin. “It’s about luring out the contents of the pores, not forcing them out,” she explains, a cosmetic courtship with your skin. “Then, maybe I’ll make a second pass over the skin after the oils have helped loosen them.”

5. Skipping the Cool Down

In addition to allowing the skin a 20-minute warm-up for extractions, plenty of time is needed for calming any blotches, inflammation, and irritation from extractions, says Conn. “No one should have welts or bleeding or blotches on their way out the door.” In other words, you should never leave the spa looking like you’ve had a deep cleansing facial, even if you have.

6. It’s Not a Makeover!

A facial isn’t a makeup application. It’s more like a workout at the gym. It doesn’t necessarily make you beautiful the first visit, says Rubin. Unless it’s a red-carpet facial (a treatment intended for immediate radiance or lifting only), “the benefits kick in after a few days, when the skin’s like, ‘Oh, wow. Now I can function better without that dead layer of skin and clogged pores.”

I thought the explanations offered in this article did an excellent job of explaining why you can breakout after a facial.  Personally I usually keep it simple when explaining to a client what happened.  I explain that a facial can bring to the surface a pimple that has been forming beneath the skin (the same is true with chemical peels as well).  Sometimes your skin simply looks worse before it looks better.  It is best to assess the true results of your facial about a week after you had it done, especially if your skin is acne prone.  If your skin is dry you should hopefully reveal radiant and soft skin immediately following your facial.  One last thing to keep in mind, sometimes what you might perceive as a pimple is irritation to your skin instead.  Perhaps a product was used on you that caused your skin to react, perhaps to become red or have small bumps appear.  This too should subside with time, but be sure to mention any post-facial reactions you had to your esthetician before your next facial.  You may even want to call the esthetician you had the facial with so that she can make a note in your chart.  That sort of feedback is actually appreciated by estheticians.

What To Do and What Not To Do After A Facial

I always make sure my facial clients leave me with sunscreen on and a few skincare tips as well.  For instance many times I will tell my client not to do anything to their face until the following morning after a facial simply because I’ve already done enough during their facial.  If  I’ve exfoliated, extracted, massaged, and applied a mask to your skin why would you need to then go home, wash your face, slather your face with AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) or Retin-A?  Sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much.  According to the article What Not To Do After A Facial Treatment you should avoid doing the following post-facial:

1. Don’t visit the steam room or sauna.
Why? You’ve been cleaned and steamed. Heating your face up is just going to strip away your just paid-for glow. Ditto working out. (Not that we like to give you an excuse.)

2. Don’t have a massage.
Why? How does a toilet-seat-shape imprint on your newly poreless complexion sound? Book it before your facial.

3. Don’t wash your face. (Make that, don’t touch your face.)
Why? You’ve just had it washed by a professional who spent 59 minutes more on cleansing your skin than you usually do. You can skip this step in the spa shower and at bedtime.

4. Don’t use at-home peels or Retin A/Renova for at least 72 hours.
Why? Alpha-hydroxy acid peels plus vitamin A is a recipe for redness. Give your skin a two- or three-day break from potent at-home products after a treatment.

5. Stay out of the sun.
Why? Even incidental sun exposure can cause sun damage and skin cancer. And since 100 percent of facials involve a scrub or a peel (anti-aging facials often include both), you’ve got a new batch of vulnerable skin cells on the surface that can easily burn.

6. Don’t pick.
Why? If a facialist leaves pimples behind, it’s usually because they’re not close enough to the surface yet. Leave your pimple for a day—a deep-cleansing facial can make a few naturally surface within 24 hours. Or call your facialist about a follow-up extraction visit, the facial equivalent of a bang trim.

7. Don’t apply makeup.
Why? Okay, you can apply makeup. But why not use your skin-perfecting facial as an opportunity to go au naturel? And if you’re skin isn’t at its best afterward, it’s time for a new facialist.

Personally I think the advice not to use Retin-A for 72 hours is a bit much.  I usually recommend to clients that they can return to their normal skincare routine the day after a facial.  Applying high quality, non-pore clogging make-up such as mineral make-up post facial is fine, in my opinion.  Sometimes people go back to work or out to dinner or run errands after a facial and feel more comfortable with make-up.  Having a mineral make-up on hand to apply following a facial can be an asset to your esthetics business not a detriment.

My Related Posts:

Image from globalfashionreport.com

 

Beauty in South Korea October 1, 2012

Sometimes I think that this post should really be called “the post that keeps on giving”.  After having the initial idea to write this post I started researching the idea and found numerous references and blogs to help me with the post.  But then even when I wasn’t researching this post I would keep seeing information online that related to the post like Allure‘s blog post The Top Skin-Care Consumers Are … Korean Men? or New Beauty‘s Korean Exfoliation That Can Be Had At Home post.  Beauty is big business in Korea, and it is time that the rest of world really paid attention.

I became interested in the beauty industry in South Korea when I read the following in Marie Claire magazine:

“Ninety percent of the skincare products I use are imported from South Korea. They’re about 12 years ahead of the States in terms of technology,” says Mary Schook, the beauty guru and New York-based owner of M.S. Apothecary. In the skincare world, South Korea has become the new France. It’s outpacing other countries in beauty innovation faster than you can say “glycolic peel” (which in Asia is totally démodé, by the way).

“Koreans aren’t about stripping the skin until it looks like something you want to ice skate on. They’re into nurturing it,” says Schook, who also introduced eyelash extensions (yup, a South Korean invention) to New York almost a decade ago. She’s like our Christopher Columbus to Korea’s New World.

For the past decade, South Korea has been a buzzed-about secret among beauty diehards. “It’s so funny that Americans are only now getting wind of it,” says Sang A Im-Propp, a Seoul-born, Manhattan-based handbag designer who has modeled in ad campaigns for AmorePacific, a popular Korean cosmetics brand. (She swears by the Time Response Skin Renewal Crème.) But the secret’s out.

Korea’s skincare boom goes back to its famous beauty regimens, which, for the average Korean woman, includes roughly 18 products per day. Dr. Seung Yoon Celine Lee, a dermatologist based in Seoul, attributes the obsession with flawless skin to royal aspirations. “Bright skin meant that you came from a noble family. The concept carries on,” she explains.

“The demand for whitening helped create new technology treatments, such as lasers and photo facials,” adds Dr. Susanne Bennett, a Korean-American holistic doctor who lives in California and specializes in antiaging skincare. (Lee points out that laser treatments in Korea are so omnipresent, they now cost 80 percent less than they do in the U.S.)

(Read more: Korean Skincare and Beauty Products – South Korean Perfect Skin Beauty Secrets – Marie Claire)

This little article really got me interested in the beauty industry in South Korea so I kept searching for more information.  I learned the following from the website Cosmetic Business in the article South Korea – Riding the Korea Wave:

In common with other Asian nations, demand for perfumes and make-up is low. Skin care is the dominant category, particularly with regard to moisturising and whitening products. However, South Korea’s skin care market has its own idiosyncrasies. The current trends are for BB creams (sparked by the surgery creams pioneered in Germany, which are currently hugely popular amongst Koreans as foundation) and organic and/or herbal ingredients.

There is considerable brand variety in South Korea. For example, Amorepacific offers ten lines, while L’Oréal offers 14 of its 33 global brands. South Korea’s most popular brand is Amorepacific’s Sulhwasoo. Launched in 1997, it is a premium skin care brand whose ingredients include ginseng, a herb that Amorepacific pioneered as a cosmetics ingredient 35 years ago. Sulhwasoo includes skin care foundation but no other make-up.

“Asians believe that clean, clear skin reflects beauty, rather than colourful make-up. Maybe the high penetration rate of high definition TV helps,” says Lee [Seon-joo of Amorepacific’s investor relations department]. “We use natural, organic and herbal medical ingredients, such as ginseng, green tea and bamboo extract for our skin care products. We always try to find something that differentiates.”

Other sub-categories are catching on. “UV protection is very strong, anti-ageing is very strong,” says the foreign company executive. “In the past, Korean men did not have a skin care routine. They rarely even used aftershave. Now they use skin care – toners, lotions, essence and even eye cream. Men’s products are soaring.”

Amorepacific, which offers men’s lines for most of its brands, including Sulhwasoo, Hera and Laneige, launched a hair loss shampoo last year and is working on a range of specialised functions. “We are trying to upgrade our brand with more functional products,” Lee adds. “This trend is hot in the market right now and will get bigger in coming years. The functional shampoo category is growing strongly.”

Something else that fascinates me about the beauty industry in South Korea is how skincare has been embraced by men there.  According to a report by CBS NewsMakeup Grows In Popularity Among Men in South Korea –  South Korea has become the male make-up capital of the world.  (For some counter perspective on this fact check out this article in The New York Times about how American men are embracing the use of eye creams, yet hide their use of these creams.  It should also be noted that American men are starting to use cosmetics to enhance their appearance but the trend is nowhere near what is happening in South Korea)  According to the CBS report:

South Korean men spent $495.5 million on skincare last year, accounting for nearly 21 percent of global sales, according to global market research firm Euromonitor International. That makes it the largest market for men’s skincare in the world, even though there are only about 19 million men in South Korea. Amorepacific, South Korea’s biggest cosmetics company, estimates the total sales of men’s cosmetics in South Korea this year will be more than $885 million.

The metamorphosis of South Korean men from macho to makeup over the last decade or so can be partly explained by fierce competition for jobs, advancement and romance in a society where, as a popular catchphrase puts it, “appearance is power.” Women also have a growing expectation that men will take the time and effort to pamper their skin.

Evidence of this new direction in South Korean masculinity is easy to find. In a crowded Seoul cafe, a young woman takes some lipstick out of her purse and casually applies it to her male companion’s lips as they talk. At an upscale apartment building, a male security guard watches the lobby from behind a layer of makeup. Korean Air holds once-a-year makeup classes for male flight attendants.

While U.S. cosmetics companies report growing sales in male cosmetics, American men are often wary of makeup. “Men Wearing Makeup a Disturbing Trend” was how American columnist Jim Shea titled a recent post.

In South Korea, however, effeminate male beauty is “a marker of social success,” according to Roald Maliangkay, head of Korean studies at Australian National University.

Amorepacific Corp. offers 17 men’s brands, with dozens of products to choose from, and operates two Manstudio stores in Seoul that are devoted to men’s skincare and makeup.

South Korean men are barraged daily with messages in popular media suggesting that flawless skin is a crucial part of any plan to get ahead at work and romance.

“In this society, people’s first impressions are very important. A man’s skin is a big part of that impression, so I take care of my skin,” said Kim Deuk-ryong, a 20-year-old student.

It wasn’t always this way. The ideal South Korean man used to be rough and tough.

Things began to change in the late 1990s, when the South Korean government relaxed a ban on Japanese cultural goods, exposing South Koreans to different ideas on male beauty, including popular comics featuring pretty, effeminate men.

James Turnbull, a writer and lecturer on Korean feminism, sexuality and popular culture, said the economic crisis that hit South Korea in 1997 and 1998 also played a role in shifting thinking. Struggling companies often fired their female employees first, angering women who had already seen their push for equal rights take a backseat to protest movements against Japanese colonizers and the autocratic governments that followed.

“The times were ripe for a sea-change in the popular images of men in the media,” Turnbull said. Women, as a result, began questioning the kinds of men society told them they should find attractive.

In 2002, large numbers were attracted to a hero of South Korea’s World Cup soccer team, Ahn Jung-hwan, who became a leading member of the so-called “flower men” – a group of exceptionally good-looking, smooth-skinned, fashionable sports stars and celebrities who found great success selling male cosmetics. Men everywhere began striving to look like them, with the encouragement of the women around them, and a trend was born.

A decade later, ads featuring handsome, heavily made-up male celebrities are an unavoidable part of the urban scenery.

Personally, as I already stated, I find the beauty industry in South Korea fascinating.  As a matter of fact I thought it would be great fun one day to take a “beauty vacation” to South Korea to explore products and procedures up close.  Anyone want to join me?

Further Reading:

As I explained at the beginning of this post I found lots of information about the beauty industry in South Korea while researching this post online.  Here are some of the more interesting things I found:

       Skincare Tips:

       Shopping for Beauty and Skincare Products in South Korea

        Korean Skincare and Beauty Brands to Check Out

        Learn about Korean Spa Culture

        Related Articles

Image from ourvanity.com

 

 
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