Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can Make-up Actually Improve Your Skin? March 6, 2014

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 8:00 am
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The older I get the more I need make-up.  Though that doesn’t mean that I won’t leave the house without a full face of make-up it does mean that I have realized that a few strategically placed make-up products do make a big difference in my appearance.  Some days I have the time and the inclination to put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara along with my other essential make-up steps, and other days I just make sure that I fill in my brows with brow powder, use undereye concealer, face powder, face concealer, and a little lip tint.  It’s the little things that can make a big impact.  You don’t have to use a lot of make-up to look polished and put together even if all you are doing is going to the grocery store.  No one has flawless skin; everyone has a beauty feature or two that make-up can help look better.  For instance, my brows are sparse so filling them in with brow powder makes a big impact on my face.  I never seem to get enough sleep so using undereye concealer helps me look more rested.  And no matter how much skincare knowledge I amass my skin still has post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, blackheads, breakouts, and blotchiness so using a foundation (either powder or cream) and a concealer makes me feel like I am putting my best face forward to the world (even if that world is just the grocery store clerks and patrons).  Make-up gives you confidence.  Make-up is fun.

But some people still worry that wearing make-up on a daily basis, particularly foundation, is actually bad for their skin instead of good for it.  There is a persistent skincare myth that our skin needs to “breathe” and by wearing make-up we are preventing that important function from taking place.  I’ve already debunked this myth in a previous post: Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe?, but I’ll revisit the topic here briefly. I quoted Discovery Health in that previous post and let me once again share what they had to say about this topic:

Every day, a barrage of advertisements for various cosmetics, oils and ointments assault our eyes and ears, all claiming to “let your skin breathe.” But does your skin actually “breathe”? Does it really take in enough oxygen to keep you alive?

Not unless you’re an amphibian, an earthworm or a Julia Creek dunnart. Although it can’t perform the functions of respiration, your skin can absorb fat-soluble substances, including vitamins A,D, E and K, along with steroid hormones such as estrogen. Many menopausal women, for example, have estrogen patches to thank for their relief from hot flashes, while nicotine patches have relieved cravings for many smokers trying to kick the habit. So, while the skin can’t breathe, it can take substances from the outside and bring them in, including a little oxygen.

The skin and its appendages, such as hair and nails, make up the integumentary system. The word integumentary comes from Latin, meaning “to cover,” and that is the skin’s main purpose — to keep the world out and our internal organs protected. By its very nature, skin does not help us breathe.   …

What does help us breathe is the respiratory system. The respiratory system is responsible for getting oxygen to our blood and removing carbon dioxide from the body. When we inhale, we take in oxygen through our mouth and nose and into the lungs. In the lungs, the oxygen flows into the blood through the arteries, while veins deliver carbon dioxide back to the lungs. From the lungs, we exhale the carbon dioxide back out into the atmosphere, and the process begins again.

So why might we be led to believe that oxygen can pass through the skin?

Misconceptions and Myths

Many people are convinced that we pull in oxygen through our pores, and cosmetic companies capitalize on this belief — at least through unspoken messages — by claiming that their products “let the skin breathe.” If pressed, the manufacturers would probably say what they really mean is that the cosmetics and creams are non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t block pores. This prevents acne from building up, not suffocation. Some companies take it a step further and claim that their products contain oxygen that your skin will absorb. Since your skin doesn’t have the capacity to absorb and use oxygen, dermatologists warn that this is totally bogus. The closest thing to pure oxygen in a skin care product is benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria by oxidizing fatty acids.

Many people believe the urban legend that Buddy Ebsen, cast as the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz,” nearly died because the aluminum in the makeup that gave him his silvery sheen clogged his pores. In fact, Ebsen did wind up in the hospital and was replaced, but it was attributed to an allergic reaction or an infection in his lungs caused by the aluminum dust. Needless to say, the makeup was modified for new scarecrow Jack Haley, and he danced through the role without incident.

Another famous movie incident involves 1964′s “Goldfinger.” After discovering his secretary has betrayed him, the villain Goldfinger paints her entirely — hair and all — with gold paint. Looking at her lifeless body, James Bond explains that the paint closed the pores she needed for respiration. In 1964, it seems, this was a medically accepted belief. The filmmakers took no chances and were careful to leave a patch of actress’s Shirley Eaton’s skin unpainted when shooting the scene.

Having gotten that issue out of the way, let’s focus again on the actual topic of this post: can using make-up actually help or even improve the appearance of your skin?  Esthetician Renee Rouleau certainly thinks so:

The fact is, wearing makeup (appropriate for your skin type) offers a barrier of protection against harmful UV rays. UV rays from the sun is the #1 reason for skin aging. It’s not genetics, smoking, and believe it or not, even age. The sun is the skin’s WORST enemy. Most types of makeup contain sunscreen and even if they don’t indicate an SPF number, most have UV-protecting ingredients like Titanium Dioxide. Based on this benefit from wearing makeup, I never leave my skin bare and never suggest my clients to do so either. So do your skin a favor and start wearing makeup NOW, to prevent wrinkles in your future.

(From Is Wearing Foundation Makeup Daily Bad for Your Skin?)

And what of make-up that promises anti-aging or the like?  The New York Times explored this topic in the article Promises from the Powder Room:

Light-reflecting. Acne-fighting. Energizing. Face powder, long associated with grandmothers and a dusty, chalky look, has been remade. Some companies say the product is not only a cosmetic, but also a face treatment, and are loading it with SPF, antioxidants and vitamins. …

Marketing hype aside, some doctors agree that powders pack more of a punch these days. “People have seen the utility of BB creams; they like getting many effects from the same products,” said Dr. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic dermatologist in private practice in Manhattan and founder of DermTV.com. “These are great for people who want fewer products to apply, and an oil absorber.”

But others say that the “poof — all gone” effects that these powders promise are basically stardust and mirrors. “I’m increasingly skeptical with products that over-promise,” said Ron Robinson, a Manhattan chemist specializing in the technology of cosmetic ingredients and the founder of BeautyStat.com, which reviews new products. “Where’s the clinical testing that validates their claims?”

“The blurring component is true,” he said, but “claims that it will reshape, sculpt and improve wrinkles are benefits few skin-care creams and serums designed to plump and firm the skin can offer.”  …

“There’s a real science to these products and to the ingredients in them, which help and maintain the skin,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. But he pointed out that a powder’s visual effects vanish once the product is removed; its particles are too big to penetrate skin.

As for long-term benefits: “That has yet to be determined,” Dr. Zeichner said. “If you use products like this on a regular basis and take care of your skin, it’s possible these powders can help slow down the aging process.”  …

Dr. Francesca Fusco, a Manhattan dermatologist, says she is firmly pro-powder, at least when it comes to the new modern products. “A powder won’t replace your moisturizer, serum or retinol, but it’s a great added extra,” she said. “For not a lot of money you can get a flawless look. And that’s better than using nothing.”

So when it comes to your make-up should you trust it to transform your skin long after you remove it?  Personally I am still very skeptical that a few extra ingredients mixed into your cream or powder foundation will be your anti-aging or anti-acne answer, but the better you look the better you feel and that is truly transformative.

My Related Posts:

Image from makeupandbeautyblog.com

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How to Clean Your Make-up Brushes September 17, 2012

Filed under: make-up — askanesthetician @ 7:15 am
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I own both expensive and inexpensive make-up brushes.  I would be lost without my Urban Decay Good Karma Powder Brush, but I equally love my Eco Tools brushes which cost me much less.  With proper care your make-up brushes should last you a long, long time. Luckily, caring for your make-up brushes doesn’t have to be a burden.

Why Should You Clean Your Make-up Brushes?

Simply put your make-up brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria that will spread all over your face if you don’t keep your brushes clean.  Furthermore, as Makeup Geek explains in the post How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes Like a Pro:

Makeup brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Think of how much bacteria is on your face daily.  Bacteria and natural oils transmit onto your brushes every time they come in contact with your skin. And if you are using them on clients, you may be picking up germs and transferring them onto other people including you.

Regular Cleaning Will Help Remove:

  • Old Makeup
  • Dirt and Debris
  • Dead Skin Cells
  • Bacteria
  • Oils

Another benefit of keeping your makeup brushes clean is softness. Makeup buildup on your brushes can make them feel scratchy. Cleaning your brushes on a regular basis will help keep them soft and supple. This is especially great for people with sensitive skin.

How Often Should You Clean Your Brushes?

Opinions vary on how often you should clean your brushes.  According to Bobbi Brown, make-up artist and mogul, the frequency you clean your brushes varies according to their function.  Brown explained to Allure:

How often should you clean makeup brushes? 
For concealer and foundation brushes, at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product. And because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better. Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.

(From Bobbi Brown Explains How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes)

Though I love Bobbi Brown I have to say that I disagree with her here.  I think that ALL your make-up brushes should be cleaned once a week.  Cleaning your brushes will prolong their life, not reduce it.  Plus anything that comes in contact with your eye area should be very clean so why only clean those brushes twice a month?  Make cleaning your brushes part of your weekend ritual or whenever it would be most convenient for you to remember to do it.

Just How Do You Clean Your Make-up Brushes?

Now here comes the tricky part – there are a lot of different methods out there for cleaning make-up brushes.  I’ll give you a few different ideas to choose from (look for the list below).  No matter which method you choose keep a few things in mind:

  • Makeup Geek suggests washing your brushes at night so that they are dry and ready for use in the morning
  • Bobbi Brown cautions letting your brushes dry on a towel; this could lead to mildew.  Instead, after reshaping the bristles, let them hang over the edge of your counter

Personally I think that when it comes to cleaning your brushes simplicity is best.  I like the method I found in Good Housekeeping (it pretty much was what I was already doing):

I have several makeup brushes that I would like to clean. What method do you recommend?
— Rebecca Stewart, Brandon, MS

Answer

Makeup brushes can hold bacteria, so it’s a good idea to clean them regularly with shampoo or a commercial brush cleanser. First, run water over the bristles, then apply just a drop of shampoo and lather up. Rinse extremely well to get rid of the soap residue, then squeeze out all the water with a towel. Allow brushes to air-dry.

Read more: Cleaning Makeup Brushes — Heloise Hints – Good Housekeeping

One word of caution –  though both Good Housekeeping and Real Simple advocate using a commercial make-up brush cleaner I don’t recommend it.  Those products are mostly alcohol which is drying.  Having said that – these cleaners are good when you need to clean brushes quickly such as in-between use on a few different people in a short period of time.  When you have time and are washing your own brushes simply use shampoo or soap.  I use whatever hand soap I have in my bathroom at that moment.

More ideas on how to clean your make-up brushes:

If you have a favorite way to clean your make-up brushes please share below!

Image from zazzle.com

 

Achieving the ‘No Make-up’ Make-up Look June 4, 2012

Filed under: make-up — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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A while back someone came into our office and wanted to know what few make-up products she could add to her routine so that she looked a bit more refreshed and put together on a daily basis.  After I launched into my lecture about how everyone should use a bit of blush, lip gloss, and mascara daily she asked me what make-up I had on since I looked naturally made-up.  So I had to stop and think about what make-up I wear on a daily basis; make-up that I hope makes me look like a better version of myself without looking overdone.

So here’s the list of make-up I use daily:

  • brow powder
  • clear brow gel
  • eyeliner
  • shadow primer
  • eye shadow
  • under eye concealer
  • mascara
  • pressed powder foundation (applied with a fluffy brush)
  • bronzer
  • blush
  • lip stain or lip gloss
Yes, I use all those products daily in order to achieve my natural looking make-up.  And of course this brings me to the point of this post – how do you achieve a ‘no make-up’ make-up look?
A ‘no-make-up’ make-up look is meant to enhance your best features and conceal your flaws while making you look like a better version of yourself, naturally, in the process.  Creating this make-up look doesn’t have to take a long time, but it does take a few steps.
In her post The ‘No Makeup’ Look  The UnTrendy Girl outlines nine steps to achieving this make-up look.  (The photo that illustrates this post comes from this blog)  I’ll outline the steps:
  • The first step to achieving a ‘no-make-up’ make-up look is to create flawless looking skin.  And let me be clear, I’ve said this in the past and I’ll say it again – NO ONE has perfect skin.  That is why they invented make-up – use it!  Prep your skin with moisturizer and/or primer and use your foundation of choice – liquid, mineral, powder, etc.
  • If you need concealer use that as well.  Some people need concealer on different spots on their face and other people just need it under their eyes.
  • Almost everyone needs blush but bronzer is an optional step.  Bronzer helps to warm up a pale face and give you a healthy glow.
  • For your eyes at the very least curl your lashes and use the mascara of your choice.
  • If you have more time and inclination use eyeliner and shadow as well.  You can use one color of shadow or two or three.  One color from lash line to just above the crease looks the most natural.
  • Now don’t forget your brows – our brows really do frame our face, and it is very important to keep them well-groomed.  My brows are sparse so that is why I fill them in with powder daily.  My brow hair is curly so that is why I set it everyday with clear brow gel.
  • Lastly, use a stain, gloss, or lipstick on your lips.  You can even use a tinted lip balm or chapstick.  Whatever floats your boat.
The queen of natural looking make-up is Bobbi Brown.  Her website has an excellent tutorial in order to teach you all the steps in order to achieve a natural looking make-up look.
So the next time you think that someone you saw or someone you know looks naturally flawless – think again.  Perhaps they have just mastered the ‘no make-up’ make-up look.
For more on Bobbi Brown you can read about her in Voguepedia.
Another article about achieving a natural make-up look from The New York Times T MagazineThe Naked Face.
Also have a look at Lisa Eldridge’s tutorial for a no make-up look.
My Related Posts:

Image from theuntrendygirl.com

 

The Transformative Power of Make-up March 5, 2012

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 6:00 am
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If you like fashion then you are already keenly aware of the fact that Fashion Week has been going on all over the world for the last few weeks – New York, London, Milan, and now Paris.

During all these different fashion weeks The New York Times always has a fun feature called Model Morphsis that allows you to see simultaneously what models look like before and after they are made up for fashion shows. This tool allows the viewer to really understand just how transformative the application of make-up can be.

One more thing – if you are secretly hoping (I’ll admit I kinda was) that the models look terrible without make-up you’ll have no such luck.  But the before photos do make it clear that even models do not have perfect looking skin and show up for work with dark under eye circles.

Have fun looking through the different make-up looks!  Now if I could only have been born with those model cheekbones.

 

Truth in Beauty Advertising – There Isn’t Much Out There January 9, 2012

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 6:05 am
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Perhaps you have already heard that the above CoverGirl advertisement has been withdrawn from publications by CoverGirl’s parent company Procter and Gamble because the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled that the ad was misleading.  I have to say that I applaud both this ruling and the fact that Procter and Gamble withdrew the ad from publications.  One of my pet peeves about the beauty industry is that ads for cosmetics and skincare are so air brushed and unrealistic looking that they set-up unattainable goals for real women about how they should look and can look.

Here’s the scoop on what happened with the CoverGirl ad:

There’s a certain Taylor Swift ad for CoverGirl mascara that you won’t be seeing in American magazines any time soon.

In the ad, for CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara, Ms. Swift’s eyelashes have been enhanced after the fact to look even fuller, and, as a result, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled this month that it was misleading.

In response, Procter & Gamble, the owner of the CoverGirl brand, “permanently discontinued all of the challenged claims and the photograph in its advertisement,” the ruling said.

In a statement, Procter & Gamble said: “Our scientists work very closely with our advertising teams to ensure that benefits are accurately portrayed, and P&G’s policy is to feature visuals and claims that accurately reflect these benefits. As soon as we were aware that the N.A.D. had concerns, we voluntarily discontinued the advertising — a move that the N.A.D. itself regarded as entirely proper.”

This is the first time the advertising division has brought a claim like this against a cosmetics company, said Linda Bean, a spokeswoman for the advertising group.  …

In the Procter & Gamble case, the advertising division looked at both the express claims made in the ad and what was being implied, Ms. Bean said. The express claims were that the mascara would give eyelashes “2x more volume” and that the product was “20 percent lighter” than the most expensive mascara.

But, she added: “The photograph stands as a product demonstration. Your eyelashes will look like this if you use this product.”

The fine print under a photo of Ms. Swift read that the lashes had been “enhanced in post production.”

Andrea C. Levine, a lawyer who worked on the case and who is the director of the National Advertising Division, said on Wednesday: “This isn’t a question of airbrushing. It’s a question of actually demonstrating what your lashes will look like when you use this product.”

Lawyers at the advertising division routinely scour print publications, broadcast, television and social media to find misleading advertisements. They also help settle claims of misleading advertising that competing companies bring against each other.

“The rule is that an advertising has to be truthful, accurate and not misleading,” Ms. Levine said. “What the picture says, the small type can’t take it away.”

(Source:  CoverGirl Withdraws ‘Enhanced’ Taylor Swift Ad – The New York Times)

The UK is well ahead of the US in cracking down on misleading photos and ads for make-up.  Back in July of 2011 ads from L’Oreal and Maybelline were banned in the UK for being overly airbrushed.  British ads are regulated by an independent body called the Advertising Standards Authority which works to make sure that the ads are truly presenting consumers with truthful, not misleading, information.  In the US the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) oversees advertising yet airbrushed ads are very rarely withdrawn or even commented upon by the authorities.  Let’s put it this way – cosmetic companies have a lot, and I mean a lot, of wiggle room when it comes to how they can promote their products both with the images and the words they use.  Buyer beware.

I do have to applaud the attitude and actions of one make-up company – Make Up For Ever.  This company has started running print ads that are not airbrushed.  Hooray!  I hope more companies follow suit.

Further Reading:

Photo from The New York Times

 

If You Can’t Fight Them, Join Them: Interesting Make-up Tip November 24, 2011

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 9:38 am
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I came across the following make-up tip in More magazine that  I found rather intriguing, not to mention ingenious.

Problem: Dark Circles Concealer Can’t Hide

Solution: Turn Your Shadows Into A Smokey Eye

Got chronic circles?  Try making them look deliberate by ringing your eyes with a soft, smoky liner.  Skip black, though: chocolate brown isn’t as harsh.  Then smudge with a clean cotton swab or one that’s been lightly dipped in a dove-gray shadow.

Now you can take or leave this advice, but you have to admit that it is a rather creative way of getting around a very common problem.

But if this tip isn’t for you then be sure to check out my solutions for undereye circles.

 

Make-Up for Acne Prone Skin October 3, 2011

Filed under: Acne,make-up — askanesthetician @ 5:46 am
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One of the most prevalent side effects of chronic acne is low esteem.  It is hard to feel confident about facing the outside world when you feel that you don’t look your best.  For that reason applying make-up to conceal breakouts is important in order for you to both look your best and feel your best.

In her book Feed Your Face Dr. Jessica Wu gives a few reasons to wear make-up if you are acne prone (page 29):

Breakouts are typically caused by bacteria, hormonal fluctuations, and the foods you eat – not by Laura Mercier.  In face, some makeup can even be good for you.  Certain cosmetics can provide SPF protection, which is great for those of us who sometimes forget to put on sunscreen.  (You know who you are.)  Wearing makeup may also remind you not to touch your face as often, cutting down on the transfer of germs from your hands.  And as long as you’re choosing the right makeup for your skin, it shouldn’t make you break out.  If you have oily skin, large pores, or acne-prone skin, look for a water-based makeup that is noncomedogenic.

I’ve had acne for a long time (20 plus years) and am continually finding myself in the position of having to cover up pimples and the red marks left on my face after a pimple has faded.  For these pimples and marks my best friend is a green concealer that helps counteract the redness.  Since red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel when green is applied to red it cancels it out.  Two products to try are Physicians Formula Conceal Rx in soft green (a little bit goes a long way) and GloMinerals Corrective Camouflage Kit.  After applying the green concealer apply a flesh toned concealer on top.  It usually works well to pat concealer on blemishes instead of rubbing or even using a concealer brush, but how you apply your concealer is really up to you.

Using a powder foundation that gives sheer, yet full coverage is a great option for acne prone skin.  Be sure that the make-up is labeled “oil free”, “non-comedogenic”, “ok for oily skin”,  “ok for acne skin”, or some combination of words like that.  Apply with a fluffy brush until you get the coverage that you want.  You could also use liquid foundation if that is what you prefer.

There are lots of make-up products out there that promise to not only conceal your blemishes but to heal them as well with the addition of ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, or sulfur.  It is best not to expect a huge change in how your acne looks when using make-up like this since the percentage of these ingredients in this type of make-up is negligible and will probably not do anything for your breakouts.  It is best to look for anti-acne ingredients in your skincare products as opposed to your make-up.  Buy make-up because of the lasting coverage, the ease of use, and color match instead of all the extras it promises.

For in-depth tips on using make-up for color correction see Beauty Etc.’s Come Color Correct.

More tips:

 

 
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