Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Spray Bacteria On Your Skin? Well, Yes! March 12, 2017

motherdirt2

Some time ago I wrote an article for About.com about the so-called caveman regime which simply means you stop washing your face.   I’m definitely one of the last people to tell you to stop washing your face.  My belief in how important face washing is was only strengthened by what I read happened to people’s faces when they stopped washing them.

There are a variety of reasons why people decide to stop washing their faces – their skin is sensitive and they feel like facial cleansers are harming their skin instead of helping it, they think they are applying too many chemicals and products to their faces, or they connect a certain lifestyle choice (like eating a Paleo diet) with not washing their face, i.e. do as the cavemen would have done.  As I already wrote above after reading about what happened to people’s skin when they didn’t wash their face, I definitely was not about to try this myself.  I’m the last person who wants a build up of dead skin cells all over their face.

One part of what I read about these no-wash experiments was intriguing – people who had sensitive, easily irritated skin found that their skin calmed down after they stopped washing it.  This could be true because of what happens when you stop washing your face. Firstly, dead skin cells build up and literally sit on top of your skin, but not washing can actually restore your skin’s protective barrier (or acid mantle) which potentially could mean your skin will start “behaving” better – will be calm, acne free, less irritated, not red, etc. By not washing your face you are allowing your skin to perform its duties – protecting, hydrating, and healing.  One reason for someone’s skin improving in both look and texture after they stop washing it or stop using all other skincare products as well is the fact that bacteria, good bacteria, starts proliferating on the surface of the skin.  This good bacteria helps to kill acne causing bad bacteria and provides the skin with protection from outside sources that can irritate it.  The more good bacteria on your skin means that skin conditions like eczema and rosecea won’t flair up as much.

The idea of increasing the good bacteria on the skin, allowing the skin to heal itself, and just basically getting out of the way of “interfering” with your skin’s functions is a skincare idea that I find very intriguing even though my own daily, far from minimalist skincare routine is the opposite of those skincare ideas.  I’ve been reading about bacteria and probiotics (good bacteria) in skincare products for years and wrote a post on this topic in the past.   While not every expert thinks that applying topical skincare products with pre-biotics, probiotics, or bacteria to the skin is helpful, the number of products with these ingredients keeps growing (pun intended).  There is also the fermented skincare trend which came to the West from South Korea.

Mother Dirt Products

At this point you are probably wondering what all this has to do with photo at the top of this blog post.  Let me explain.  After my article on not washing your face was published on About.com I received an email from a PR person asking if I wanted to try Mother Dirt products.  What did my article have to do with this company’s products?   Well Mother Dirt sells bacteria to spray on your body and heal your skin.  Yes, bacteria you spray on your face or somewhere else on your body.

This product is far from something that was created overnight in order to jump on a skincare trend.  In May, 2014 an article appeared in The New York Times Magazine that chronicled the writer’s experience with not washing (body or hair) for a month and twice a day spraying her body and hair with ammonia-oxidizing bacteria instead.  After an initial gross period, the writer reported that her skin was softer, smoother, and breakout free because good bacteria had started to grow on her skin. Once the month ended and the writer went back to using regular skincare products and washing as she had before the good bacteria disappeared from her skin.

The skin friendly bacteria discussed in this article eventually made its way into Mother Dirt’s signature product – AO+ Mist, and is now available for all consumers.  While the Mother Dirt website is very thorough and is great at explaining both the science and the everyday use of their products, I’ll elaborate a little bit here as to what the product is supposed to do.  Mother Dirt’s proposes that in today’s world people are “too clean”, washing down the drain on a daily basis the good bacteria on their skin that is supposed to protect our skin and keep it healthy.  When this occurs our skin suffers – becomes sensitive and easily irritated, red, acne appears regularly, and our skin is dry.  Having healthy skin is as easy as spraying this mist on our skin at least once a day.  The company says that with regular use you won’t need as many skincare products including deodorant. Keeping all this in mind I was obviously intrigued.  So when the company offered to send me some products to try for free I jumped at the chance.

My Experience Using Mother Dirt

My Mother Dirt products arrived via messenger in a cool, silver padded envelope (yes, I am easily impressed by shiny things).  The company sent me a few bottles of the AO+ Mist, their cleanser (which has no SLS, more on that later), and their moisturizer to try for free. The company also makes a shampoo that they did not send me to try which is too bad since I would have loved to try it.  I suffer from seborrhea on my scalp and always use a special, medicated shampoo so I would have been happy to see if this product would have helped to relieve my itchy scalp.  The real star here in the AO+ Mist.  The other products are meant to treat your skin gently without getting in the way of the good bacteria that is supposed to start growing on your body.

I decided that everyone in my family needed to try the products.  My husband suffers from dry, itchy skin, my son has dry skin, and my daughter has easily irritated skin.  I did momentarily consider ditching all my facial serums, nightly retinol cream, and morning peptide cream to see how my skin would react to spraying the bacteria on it, but I just couldn’t do it.  Instead I decided to use the spray twice a day on my chest.  My chest is an area of skin embarrassment for me.  It is covered by red dots that sometimes have white heads on them.  At first I thought I had acne there and tried to treat my skin for acne. Nothing changed.  Eventually I realized that I simply had skin irritation in that area that looks like a lot like acne.  I always think twice before wearing a shirt with a v-neck because the area is most unsightly.  I hoped that using the AO+ Mist would clear up my skin irritation by helping my skin heal itself.

My husband and son dropped out of this skin routine experiment a day after they started. They had no interest in remembering to use the spray.  My daughter is still quite young so she had no choice other than to be part of this experiment.  I used the spray on her after bath time, washed her with the soap, and moisturized her with moisturizer.  I sprayed the mist on my chest and underarms, washed with the soap, and moisturized with the moisturizer.

I was pleased to see that the soap was SLS free.  SLS can be quite irritating to many people’s skin and though some companies have taken it out of their products it is still very widely used.  I’ve decided to avoid SLS for my daughter’s skin since she has experienced red, itchy skin in the past that cleared up once I started using a SLS free soap on her skin. Despite having no SLS in it, the soap still foams very nicely and cleaned the skin well yet gently.

Mother Dirt states that when it comes their moisturizer less is more which turned out to be true but it took me time to realize just how much I really needed and how to use it.  In addition, if you think of moisturizers as always being creams this product will confuse you since it is a liquid.  It feels and looks like an oil.  It does moisturize effectively once you get used to its feel and figure out just how much you need.  I can’t say how long it will actually last you, but I think you could easily have it on hand for about 2 months or more.

But you are probably wondering about the bacteria spray more than any other product I tried.  You need to keep in in the refrigerator once you open it (or even before) so it is cold when you spray it on your skin.  This made the product less than pleasant to use during the winter. Though I did spray it once or even twice a day on my underarms since it was winter I really couldn’t tell if it helped balance out the bacteria in that area and made deodorant less necessary since I don’t need much deodorant as is during the winter.

Now did the mist helped heal the skin irritation on my chest?  Well yes it did!  It took over a month to see a difference which didn’t surprise me since real skin changes take time.  I didn’t wash that area with soap during the time I used the spray (not even with the Mother Dirt soap), but water did wash over the area each time I showered.  My skin finally became little, red bump free after using the AO+ Mist.  BUT as soon as I stopped using the spray the bumps returned which is quite frustrating.

When it came to my daughter’s skin the products kept her sensitive skin irritation and rash free.  Her skin was also soft.  I passed along one bottle of the AO+ Mist to a friend who had hormonal breakouts on her back.  She definitely saw an improvement in her bacne after regularly using the product.

Would I Recommend Mother Dirt?

I would definitely recommend Mother Dirt products for people with sensitive, easily irritated skin, and those who suffer from regular breakouts.  These products will not get rid of hyperpigmentation for example or treat cystic acne, but they definitely can be helpful for people with sensitive skin.  People who want products with few and easily understandable ingredients will like Mother Dirt’s products.  I applaud the company’s transparency and innovation.

 

 

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Winter Skincare Round-Up December 14, 2014

 

Winter can bring about a lot of unpleasant skin changes – dry and itchy skin, red and irritated skin, cracked hands, chapped lips.  Fun, right?  As always I want to help my readers best care for their skin under any weather conditions, but instead of writing a new post about winter skin care I’m going to share my older posts on the topic.  Looking back at my previous posts I realized I had covered so many issues related to winter skincare that, at the moment, there wasn’t something new to add.

Happy reading and wishing you beautiful and healthy skin during the winter!

 

Photo from wallalay.com

 

Beauty after Baby September 2, 2014

 

Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child

 

 

Any mother with a newborn or a baby knows one thing for sure – your baby’s needs always come before yours.  That’s just the way it is.  Finding time for yourself, not to mention household chores, sometimes seems like the most impossible thing ever when you have a baby at home.  Depending on how much sleep you are getting, probably very little, taking care of yourself quickly falls by the wayside once you have a baby.  So I’m here to remind you that even when you have no energy or it seems to silly to invest in your appearance because so many other things require your immediate attention, that you should and can take five to ten minutes a day for yourself each day.  Believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds when you’ve had four hours of sleep or when your baby decided to start their day at 5 am.  It’s hard; it seems pointless, but consider giving it a try.  Yes, if you had an elaborate skincare routine before you gave birth you probably can’t keep up with it now.  Don’t beat yourself up about that.  Keep in mind that when you feel good about how you look (even if you haven’t lost all the baby weight and that takes lots of time) your outlook changes about everything around you.  So don’t neglect yourself after you’ve had a baby.  Do take a few minutes each day to concentrate on your appearance; there is nothing selfish or wrong about that.

In no particular order here are some tips for a fast beauty routine when you have a baby at home:

  • Remember to wash your face – at the very least at night.  Once you’ve gotten your baby to sleep (or passed off childcare to your partner) take a moment to wash your face.
  • Use sunscreen!  Take a moment in the morning to apply sunscreen.  In case you need a reminder about why sunscreen is so important take a look at this video.  If your skin really needs a moisturizer use one with SPF in order to cut-down on skincare routine steps until you have more time for yourself.
  • Find an under-eye concealer you like and use it.
  • Use multitasking make-up products like Nars The Multiple which is for both lips and cheeks.
  • Think about what beauty or make-up product always makes you feel good and use it.  Is that product mascara?  Or a facial mask once a week?  Don’t give up those feel good products.  The baby can cry for a moment while you apply your mascara and everything will still be fine with the world.
  • Is there a beauty service that you really can’t live without?  Well don’t!  For a lot of women getting their eyebrows professionally waxed is just something they can’t give up and in my opinion shouldn’t.  Eyebrow waxing when compared to other beauty services is one of the fastest and cheapest services out there.  You can probably even bring your baby along to your eyebrow wax so keep up with having well groomed  brows.   Remember that having your eyebrows waxed or tweezed can change the look for your entire appearance for the better.  For other people their weekly manicure is a must so I fully endorse finding the time to keep up with the beauty service that makes you feel like yourself again after giving birth.  Keep in mind that there are many estheticians and nail techs that will come to your home to provide services so if you really can’t leave your baby or don’t want to have the service come to you.

 

I strongly believe that the better we feel about ourselves the better parents we can be.  So even if it’s only a few minutes each day take that time for you.  Even your baby will appreciate it.

 

Further Reading:

 

Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child by Kitagawa Utamaro

 

 

Back to Basics: How to Cleanse Your Face January 22, 2014

This is the first post in what will be an occasional series for this blog – back to basics.  Sometimes it’s just important to review and discuss those daily skincare steps that we may take for granted.  I’ll kick things off with talking about how to properly cleanse your face.  I’ve addressed this issue before in my blog; see “my related posts” below for my other posts on this subject.  This particular post was inspired by something I read in the book Heal Your Skin by Dr. Ava Shamban (see my review of the book here).

Properly cleansing your face is an essential step for everyone, not just for those people who take their skincare routines seriously.  Clean skin is something to everyone needs and benefits from.  Think about the first steps of any facial – it’s always a double cleanse.

I’ll start with Dr. Shamban’s advice since her book inspired this new series (page 32):

How to Wash Your Face

This section may seem obvious, but a good technique for skin cleansing is just as important as your choice of cleanser.  To wash your face:

1.  Pull your hair back so that it’s easier to clean your whole face and neck.  This way you won’t transfer hair products to your clean skin.

2.  Wet your face by splashing it gently with room temperature water.

3.  Put a dollop of cleanser about the size of a medium (14 mm) to large (18 mm) pearl into the palm of your hand.  Rub your palms together to spread the cleanser evenly.  Gently massage the cleanser into your face, avoiding the eye area.  Be sure to apply the cleanser about a quarter inch into your hairline to remove built-up hair products and to address any acne that may be present in these areas.  Don’t forget to cleanse under your chin and the back of your neck.

4.  Rinse thoroughly by splashing your face or by using a clean, wet washcloth.

5.  Pat – don’t rub – your skin dry with a clean cotton towel.  If your skin is particularly dry or sensitive, leave your skin damp.  Applying moisturizer to skin that’s slightly wet improves absorption of active ingredients and seals in moisture.

In the evening, remove your makeup before cleansing.  Use a premoistened pad or a disposable wipe formulated for gentle makeup removal and tailored to your skin type.  Don’t leave behind any waterproof mascara that might irritate your eyes.  And remember, when you are in the shower, wash your face last – after you have rinsed off any shampoo or conditioner.

Though Dr. Shamban recommends using a disposable wipe or premoistened pad for make-up removal I suggest using either the gentle cleanser of your choice (which you then have on hand to wash your face with in the morning since most people just need a gentle cleanser in the morning) or an oil cleanser such as this or this or this or this.  I always find that I have spend a little of extra time removing my eye make-up; I use 100% pure jojoba oil to remove eye make-up.  (For more information about jojoba oil please see my post)

Make sure you have a separate towel just for your face.  This is particular crucial for those people who have issues with acne, and try to wash your face towel frequently.

It’s very important to remember to double cleanse your face in the evening; as a matter of fact it is essential if you use make-up and wear sunscreen (and I hope all my readers are using sunscreen everyday).  Skin Inc. explains the importance of cleansing twice in the PM:

The problem is that consumers are using heavier oil-based moisturizers and more water-resistant makeup and sunscreens that are not adequately removed with water-based cleansers. Combine this with how quickly average individuals cleanse their skin and too many people are walking around with dirty skin.

For this reason, always recommend a second cleansing to thoroughly remove oils from the skin. As a matter of fact, even if the skin is cleansed twice with a water-soluble cleanser, there still may be some oil-soluble substances that remain.

… When a cleanser is applied to the skin, surface active agents provide the primary cleansing action. During the initial cleansing process, the surfactants are emulsifying the fat or lipid grime, such as sebum, makeup, environmental hydrocarbons and sunscreens, allowing them to be solubilized in the rinse water. Meanwhile, the water-based portion of the cleanser solubilizes the water-soluble debris, namely sweat and some environmental pollutants. Considering the amount of material that potentially collects on the skin, it’s not surprising that this initial cleansing will only remove superficial debris and is not adequate for a thorough cleansing.

Just a splash of warm water and a single pass with a sudsy gel or milky cleanser—even a good one—is not enough. In fact, a light oil-based solvent should be used on the skin first as an initial step. This should not be mineral oil, although in generations past mineral oil and oily cold creams did perform the task of dissolving makeup. Today, there are nongreasy, microprocessed oils that do not require an alcohol-based toner to remove them. The methodology here: Like attracts like. Oils applied to the skin attract the oils produced by the skin for an ideal, nonaggressive cleansing. Water added to the mix allows the combined, released oils to be rinsed away.

(From Keep It Clean)

Lastly, don’t skimp of the time you take to wash your face.  Be sure to massage your cleanser into your face for at least 30 seconds, even up a minute if you have the time and patience.

Bottom Line:  Proper cleansing is the backbone of any good hygiene and skincare routine and doesn’t take a long time to execute.  Make proper facial cleansing a priority and your skin will thank you.

Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from http://www.tipsbucket.com

 

Martha Stewart’s Beauty Routine January 15, 2014

Need I Say More?  Actually Yes, I Need To

Martha Stewart was generous enough to share, in great detail, her daily beauty routine with The New York Times*.  And it is quite a daily beauty routine!  Stewart is a beauty product junkie, and not just any beauty product junkie – a high-end beauty product junkie.  Since she can afford it – more power to her in my opinion, but I digress.  While Stewart also explains her make-up, fragrance, hair, fitness, and diet regimes I’ll focus on her skincare routine in this post.  Let’s start with a few highlights:

I get up a couple hours before I’m supposed to leave in the morning and I’ll put on a mask. …  I’ll do this about five days a week and I don’t repeat the same mask two days in a row. I’ve always done this – well basically since I discovered masks.

Stewart lists four different masks that she uses on a regular basis (just not two days in a row, of course).  I’ll address the fact that Stewart is a product junkie later on in this post because right now I want to address the issue if you need to rotate your skincare products as frequently as Stewart does.  Martha Stewart never outright states that you shouldn’t use the same skincare product each day; I found that idea implied by her beauty routine.  So the answer  to the question if you really need to change your skincare products so often is a resounding no!  I actually wrote about this very issue in my blog almost three years ago in a post entitled How Often Do You Need to Change Your Skincare Products?  In the post I explained:

You need to change your skincare products when something changes with your skin or if you want to treat a specific issue.  For example if you’ve never used or needed a moisturizer before but now you feel that your skin is dry and/or dehydrated you can add a moisturizer to your skincare routine.  Most people might find that they need to change their products as the seasons change. …

Also as the seasons change you’ll find that you need different formulations for your favorite products – instead of a creamy moisturizer you might want to switch to a gel or serum formulation.  You’ll need to change your skincare products/routine as you age since you’ll want to add products with antioxidants, peptides, and other anti-aging ingredients to your routine.  While you are pregnant and nursing you’ll need to stop using certain products like prescription tretinoin creams.

Still not convinced?  Watch this video from WebMD.

Stewart switches between a anti-aging, a hydrating, and a gommage mask (which is a fancy way of saying a mask that helps exfoliate).  Now are all these masks necessary?  Can’t she just use an anti-aging serum, a moisturizer, and a separate exfoliant?  Adding a hydrating mask to your skincare routine in the winter is a good idea for someone who suffers from extra dry, flaky skin during colder months.  Anti-aging masks are a waste of money in my opinion; invest in a good anti-aging serum with retinol for daily use instead.  I believe that Stewart is mask addicted and intervention might be needed.

Moving along.  Stewart tells The New York Times:

I slather myself with serums.

Serums are wonderful.  Once you find the right one you can treat a myriad of skincare issues with it.  Do you need to slather yourself with serums which are usually quite expensive?  Personally I think not.  (For more information about serums please see my post What’s A Serum?)

And now we’ve reached the part of the article that drove me crazy.  Stewart might be a lifestyle guru, but thank goodness she is neither an esthetician or a dermatologist because the next thing she says in the article is just downright wrong:

I use the same products on my body as I use on my face.  I don’t think there’s really any difference between the two, so the more moisturizers and serums you use, the better off you are.

Oy!  Where do I begin?  Once again Stewart is flaunting her product junkie tendency, but more sinister in my mind is her proclamation that our face and body skin are the same and do not need different products.  This is simply not true.  For example, the skin on our face is always exposed to the elements making it more sensitive to environmental factors such as sun and temperature and thus usually in need of extra TLC, the skin on our faces has more sebaceous glands than the skin on our body, and the skin on our face usually shows the signs of aging much sooner than the skin on our bodies because of its exposure to the elements.  Someone, not Martha Stewart of course, may have oily skin on their face but dry skin on their arms and legs and obviously would then different products for those different areas of their body.  As further explanation please read  The Beauty Brains explanation,  in their book Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? (page 53), why you can’t use hand lotion on your face or vis-a-versa:

Three Reasons Why Moisturizers For The Hands and Face Should Be Different

Kay’s question: Is there a difference between moisturizers for your hands and for your face?  Also, is there a reason to use specially formulated antiwrinkle creams rather than ordinary moisturizers that you would use on your hands?

This is one of those cases where there really is some science behind the marketing hype.  Here’s why facial lotions should be different than hand lotions:

1.  Skin on the hands and face is different.

Skin is very thin on your face and thicker on your hands.  Also, your hands don’t (usually) develop acne or blackheads.  Therefore, they need to be treated differently.

2.  Drying Conditions are different for hands and face.

You may wash your hands in harsh soap many times a day; you may wash your face only once or twice a day with a gentle cleanser.  Hands are in and our of dishwater or laundry water; your face is not.  The cumulative effect is that your hands can be much dryer, even cracked and bleeding, and therefore they need stronger moisturization.

3.  The hands and face have different cosmetic needs.

You might want to tighten the little crow’s-feet wrinkles around your eyes, but this isn’t the case on your hands.

The Bottom Line:

For the reasons cited above and more, you need to use products designed to suit your skin’s different needs.  Hand lotions should be heavier barrier creams to protect hands from harsh conditions.  Facial moisturizers should be lightweight, noncomedogenic and many have film-forming agents that tighten skin to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  While hand and face products may share some of the same basic ingredients, the functions they need to perform are significantly different.  Using the right product on the right skin will give you better results.

I hope I’ve sufficiently explained why you need different products for your face and body; as for Stewart’s comment that the more moisturizers and serums you use the better off you are – I have to say that is just silly.  At a certain point your skin simply cannot “absorb” product after product.  The products, instead of performing their function, will sit on top of your skin making make-up application impossible.  Overkill is overkill.  You need the right products for your skin not a crazy number of products.

And now for the good advice from Stewart’s beauty routine.  Stewart uses a hot towel and oils to remove her make-up (she uses either an expensive oil based cleanser or simply Johnson’s baby oil).  This is actually a great way to remove make-up.  I’ve tried a lot of oil based cleansers and still haven’t found a favorite though I do love to use jojoba oil nightly to remove my eye make-up.  Additionally, Stewart is a strong advocate for daily use of sunscreen and proper sun protection when outdoors.  I am glad that she promoted both in this article.  She constantly hydrates while on a plane which is wonderful (for more information about how to care for your skin while traveling see my post: Airplane Travel and Your Skin: How to Care For Your Skin Inflight).  Lastly, Stewart gets monthly facials and how can I argue with that?

And now back to the product junkie point I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  I’ve called myself a product whore or junkie in this blog before but Martha Stewart puts me to shame.  I’ve met more than my share of product junkies since becoming an esthetician as such I have concluded that being a product junkie is definitely a psychological issue not a skincare issue.  Basically it comes down to: “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” feeling.  In my opinion, beauty product junkies always feel that they are missing out if they aren’t trying the newest and greatest products.  I completely understand why someone would want to try the newest products on the skincare market and would chase after trends in skincare.  But please remember the best ingredients for your skin are those with a proven track record, such as retinol and vitamins, and those ingredients have been used successfully in skincare products for years and years.  While skincare products proliferate and the ones you haven’t tried appear shiny and bright take a moment to think: do I really need this?  Does my skin really need this?  Does my skin really look that bad?.  And just because a celebrity or a glossy fashion magazine recommends a product doesn’t mean it is any better than what you are already using.

What more can I say?  Some of Martha Stewart’s skincare routine is excellent but a lot of it is just plain overkill and over the top.  There is no need to go crazy when it comes to your skincare routine or buy multiple soaps or serums.  And please, please remember your face and body DO need different products.

Further Reading:

It turns out I was not the only one intrigued by The New York Times Martha Stewart article.  Here are what some other sources had to say about the article:

*The Gloss points out that Stewart already shared her beauty routine with Allure last year where even more products are listed (spoiler: Stewart is also obsessed with soaps).  The New York Times piece just seems to expand on the lunacy of her beauty regime.  I am hard pressed to understand how she finds the time, while running her lifestyle empire, to devote so much effort her skin.  The routines she details in both publications are that extensive.  (By the way, for an interesting article on how Stewart’s empire is faring read this Vanity Fair article.)

And I have to share two more very “interesting” quotes from the article:

I don’t get clogged pores.

You can be the most beautiful person on earth, and if you don’t have a fitness or diet routine, you won’t be beautiful.

And now I really have nothing else to say.

Image from www.homemadeintheheartland.com

 

So Just What Is Dry Brushing? July 11, 2013

Ever heard of dry brushing?  Never heard of dry brushing?  Ever wondered what dry brushing is?  Here are all the answers.

Dry brushing is a relatively simple process that uses, you guessed it, a dry brush on dry skin.

First lets begin with the benefits of dry brushing.  If you dry brush you’ll have:

  • Skin that is healthier and smoother: removing dead skin cells and opening pores to allow them to “breath” and absorb nutrients.
  • Stimulated lymphatic and circulatory systems: boosting your immune system and increasing circulation to help detoxify.
  • Stress relief: increasing your blood flow reduces stressed areas of the body and stimulates nerve endings in your skin which in turn rejuvenates your nervous system.
  • Reduced cellulite: increasing blood circulation to the skin helps break down and releases toxins that cause cellulite in legs and hips.

(From drybrushing.net)

I must address the issue of cellulite and dry brushing since almost any time you read about dry brushing you’ll find that supposedly dry brushing reduces cellulite.  Please don’t rush out to buy a brush and start dry brushing like mad in order to reduce your cellulite because, sorry to say, I really don’t think that dry brushing will reduce cellulite.  If your skin is smoother from dry brushing than the appearance of your cellulite might be reduced but nothing more.  Most people have some cellulite and there is no cure* for it so dry brush in order to exfoliate but not to reduce cellulite.  (For more information about cellulite see my previous post Can You Get Rid of Cellulite?)

I am not the only one who thinks that the claim that dry brushing will eliminate cellulite is incorrect.  Dr. Weil, guru of integrative medicine, debunks some myths about dry brushing:

The notion that dry brushing can reduce or eliminate cellulite make no sense. Fat is arranged in large chambers separated from each other by columns of connective tissue. If fat overflows these chambers as a result of being overweight, or if the connective tissue slackens with age (as it invariably does), the result is the classic pitting and bulging we have come to know as cellulite. I have never seen any treatment that can effectively eliminate it. An improvement in the “appearance” of cellulite may be in the eye of the beholder, but I doubt that any objective change takes place with dry brushing.

The idea that the method can eliminate “up to a pound of toxins a day,” as some proponents claim, is ridiculous. First of all, the body does a pretty good job of cleansing and purifying itself. If you feel the need, you can help speed the removal of unwanted materials by drinking more water to increase urinary output, taking steam baths or saunas to promote sweating, adjusting diet and fiber intake to ensure regular eliminations, and getting enough aerobic activity to stimulate breathing. In addition, taking the herbal remedymilk thistle supports normal, healthy liver metabolism, aiding its important role in detoxification.

I would take the health claims for dry brushing with a big grain of salt. If you enjoy it and believe it benefits you, there’s no reason not to do it. But if you find that it irritates or inflames your skin, you might want to opt for a less abrasive spa treatment.

Just how often should you dry brush and how do you do it?:

How often: Dry skin brushing effectively opens up the pores on your skin. This is something you can — and should — be doing daily, even twice a day. Your skin should be dry, so the ideal time is in the shower before you turn on the water. Just a reminder, don’t get the brush wet.

Direction: You should only brush towards the heart. Making long sweeps, avoid back and forth, scrubbing and circular motions. Start at your feet, moving up the legs on both sides, then work from the arms toward your chest. On your stomach, direct the brush counterclockwise. And, don’t brush too hard: Skin should be stimulated and invigorated but not irritated or red.

Type of brush: The bristles should be natural, not synthetic, and preferably vegetable-derived. The bristles themselves should be somewhat stiff, though not too hard. Look for one that has an attachable handle for hard-to-reach spots, if necessary.

(From Dry Brushing Benefits: Banish Cellulite, Improve Skin Tone and MoreHuffington Post)

If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, have inflamed skin, or sunburned skin stay away from dry brushing.  I would also advise against dry brushing your face.  There are many more effective ways to exfoliate the face.

Personal Experience

I started dry brushing a few weeks ago before my evening shower.  I have to admit that I do forget to dry brush before some showers, but I have been pretty consistent over all.  I find the process quick and invigorating; it definitely wakes you up.  The one benefit I’ve noticed since beginning dry brushing is that my skin is super soft.  Yes, I moisturize after the shower but this is a level of softness that I can’t remember ever experiencing.  Otherwise, I have to admit, I haven’t seen any other benefits from dry brushing just yet.

Bottom Line:  I would definitely recommend dry brushing as an effective way to exfoliate the skin on your body.  Forget the claims about reducing cellulite and detoxifying the body.  Just dry brush away if it feels good!

*Though there is no cure for cellulite there is a promising new treatment for reducing the appearance of cellulite.  It is called Cellulaze.

Further Reading:

Image from healinglifestyles.com

 

 

Hard Water and Your Skin January 16, 2013

A few months ago I moved from Chicago to Israel and my skin went insane.  I had breakouts galore and overall my skin went from looking nice to a complete disaster.  Now try going to esthetician job interviews when your skin actually looks like it needs the help of an esthetician.  Not pretty.  (Luckily I found bosses who understood what was going on with my skin and overlooked it, hiring me anyhow).  I’ve written about the issue of your skin going psycho in the past so I had a pretty good idea of what was causing my skin woes.  I also met other people who had moved around the same time I had and were experiencing similar skincare issues.  So I realized that what was going on wasn’t completely personal.  In my case I blamed the following issues for my skin issues: change in the climate I was living in, different food, stress, and hard water.  In order to treat my skin, specifically my breakouts, I started using my strongest skincare products (Retin-A and salicylic acid serum from Epionce) more often than I had before.  As with many skincare problems my skin started to calm down around the three month mark of being in my new home.  Of course I still have breakouts occasionally but nothing like when I first moved.  I’ve also recently adjusted my skincare routine because of the winter.

What happened got me thinking about how hard water affects our skin so I decided to investigate and share what I learned with my readers.*

eHow explains how hard water hurts your skin in the online article The Effects of Hard Water on Skin:

Hard water is comprised of high concentrations of undissolved minerals, such as calcium carbonate and dolomite. Although hard water contains these elements, it is not detrimental to your health, but it is harsh on your skin.  …

Damage to Healthy Skin Cells

  • Hard water can cause damage to healthy skin cells. The elements such as zinc, lead, magnesium and calcium found undissolved in hard water will break down the elastin and collagen found in healthy skin cells. When this happens, the skin becomes vulnerable to sun damage through harmful ultraviolet rays.

Acne

  • Since hard water is composed of undissolved minerals, acne can occur on a more frequent basis. Hard water dries out the skin, depriving it of natural oils. This causes skin irritation, which leads to acne breakouts.

Dry Skin

  • The insoluble minerals found in hard water wind up settling on the surface of the skin and cause itchiness and dryness. In severe cases, the skin will become inflamed, crack, and bleed.

Ineffective on Germs

  • Skin is more prone to germs when washed with hard water because it actually coats the skin with a dull film, due to the insoluble minerals in it. When this happens, the body’s natural oils are unable to reach the epidermis of the skin, and this leads to failure in the skin’s natural antimicrobial properties.

Self magazine investigates the issue even further in the article Is Your Water Causing You to Break Out?:

The problem with hard water is that its high mineral content prevents it from properly reacting with soap and, instead of triggering a lather, it creates a soapy layer on the skin. This not only clogs pores, but also irritates the skin, making it itchy, flaky and dry.

“These impurities in water make it difficult for soap and shampoo to wash off, leading to dryness of the skin and scalp, which directly irritate skin and cause redness and rosacea,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, Manhattan                                    dermatologist and founder of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare product line.

There’s also a correlation between hard water and skin disorders, like eczema. “The minerals, such as calcium, that are found in higher concentration may cause loss of moisture in the skin, which can lead to irritating conditions, such as eczema,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger. Research at the University of Nottingham found that, out of over 7,500 school-age children, eczema was significantly more common for those living in hard water areas than those living in soft water areas.

It’s not just a matter of converting hard water to soft, which can be achieved with an at-home filtration system, because this does not take care of the heavy metals–like iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and lead–that cause skin issues. “An at-home filtration system is not an effective means of safeguarding the skin because the heavy metals are microscopic and present in the actual solution of the water,” says Dr. Gross.

So what are these heavy metals actually doing to our skin?

According to Dr. Gross, the impurities cause a chemical reaction with the skin’s natural oils, changing the consistency of the oil from a liquid to a wax, which in turn, clogs the pores and leads to acne. They have the same response to creams, even those that are non-comedogenic.

“After the face is washed and dried, the impurities from water still remain on the face and cling to the skin,” says Dr. Gross. “Even though these creams are formulated with oil-like substances specifically created to not block pores, when the creams come in contact with water impurities left on the face (after it has been washed and patted dry), the remaining impurities cause the oil-like substances to clog the pores.”

Also, the impurities found in tap water can act as free radicals, which bond with healthy skin cells and then destroy them. This in turn leads to the breakdown of collagen and leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.  …

But Dr. Gross thinks it’s just a matter of time until dermatologists start considering the havoc water is wreaking on our skin. He wasn’t concerned much with water, either, until the skin woes of patients at his Manhattan practice led him to investigate further. “They would return from trips in the U.S. or abroad with irritated skin–even though they were using the exact same skincare regimen,” he said. Concluding that their skin issues resulted from the variation of city water, Dr. Gross began running lab tests on tap water nationwide. “I was shocked by the variation of heavy metal content from city to city,” he says.

In his research, Dr. Gross found that each metal pointed to a certain skin issue. He considers iron–with high amounts in Los Angeles, Park City, and New York–to be the most detrimental metal found in tap water because the accumulated deposits get energized by the sun, which has been linked to some cases of skin cancer. But for those individuals who are breakout prone, he says that calcium and magnesium are the two elements that will cause the most damage. “Both of these elements cause one’s own oils to become comedogenic and form waxy plugs that clog pores and lead to further breakouts, inflammation, flare-ups and irritation,” he said.

Some, after making this discovery, have quit tap water cold turkey–opting to cleanse with anhydrous (no water necessary) products or bottled water (so Paris Hilton). Washing with distilled water often leaves those unaccustomed with a “slippery” feeling, as the water instantly lathers and dismantles the soap scum later that lingers on skin.

But for those who can’t resist that refreshing rush of H20 pouring down on their faces in the shower each morning, they can opt for products that contain chelators, an organic complex that sequesters the heavy metals on the surface of the skin, preventing them from penetrating into the pores and causing damage. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream is infused with Dr. Gross’s Chelating Complex, which he says “is likened to washing your face with pure H20.”

Personally I don’t think any of my skincare products have chelators in them, but I am going to try to be more vigilant about using toner (I have quite a few and forget to use them all the time) after cleansing in order to make sure that I have removed some of the mineral deposits left on my skin.  One day I would like to get a filter for our water, but in the meantime I’ll just have to get creative.

Further Reading:

*I also need to add that my hair and scalp has been a complete disaster since I moved because of the hard water where I live.  I still haven’t figure out how to fix that issue.

Image from personal.psu.edu

 

 
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