Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

I Tried It: Micellar Water January 5, 2017

landscape-1439483238-micellar-waters

Micellar waters are not a new skincare product.  They have been used in Europe, from what I can gather mainly in France, for quite some time.  In the last two years or so they became a hit States side, and more and more companies (both large and small) have come out with their version of this cleansing product.  When I first heard about micellar waters I was very intrigued, and when I saw this Garnier one on sale at my local drugstore I had to buy it.

Micellar water is said to gently cleanse the skin and has the added bonus of not having to rinse it off after using (more on that later in this post).  If you are one who likes to go camping (not me!) or spends days at outdoor festivals (once again not me!) having micellar water on hand means you can cleanse your face without having indoor plumbing nearby. It is also a good solution for making yourself presentable after a long flight when you are stuck freshing up in a cramped airplane bathroom.

The use of micellar waters as a skincare cure-all has been catching on recently.  You can find quite a few articles in the mainstream beauty world toting micellar water as the next great thing for your skin for all sorts of reasons such as the hard water you use to rinse your face after washing it destroys your skin so using a micellar water, which you don’t rinse off, is better for your skin.  Or that it must be great if the French love it.

For more information about how hard water affects our skin please see my post Hard Water and Your Skin.

The Science Behind Micellar Water

When I finally learned the in-depth science about micellar water via The Beauty Brains I realized that micellar waters were just mild cleansers.  There isn’t really anything special about them except perhaps for the fact that you do not need to rinse them off after use (once again more on that in a bit).  I suggest listening or reading to The Beauty Brains entire explanation about micellar waters, but I’ll share a few highlights here:

Micelles are structures that are formed when surfactant are dissolved in water. Remember that surfactants, short for surface active agents, are used in beauty products as cleansers and emulsifiers that help mix oil and water soluble ingredients.

If you look at the chemical structure of surfactants they typically have a long oil soluble tail and water soluble polar head group.  When surfactants are present in water at a certain concentration, they begin to assemble into larger structures based on the water soluble/oil soluble parts of the molecule. The oil soluble tails try to group together to get away from the water. The lowest energy state for them is to have all the tails together so they are shielded from water by the polar head groups – which again, water soluble. Think of it as a ball or sphere of surfactant molecules with head on outside, tails facing inside.

These spheres of surfactants are called micelles and the concentration of surfactant required to form them is called the Critical Micelle Concentration or CMC. …

Yeah, if you look at the ingredient list for products that claim to be micellar waters they tend NOT to use traditional, high foaming surfactants. Instead they use a combination of nonionic surfactants, which tend to be milder on skin. One of most common nonionic surfactant used in micellar waters is Poloxamer 184.  …

So overall, yes, these MW products are likely to be milder than many other cleansers. And, unlike traditional foaming cleanser’s they don’t necessarily have to be rinsed. They may even provide more of pleasant after feel than other cleansing products.

I have to say that companies have done a great job marketing these products. Somehow, these seem so special that they should be really expensive.

As you can see from The Beauty Brains explanation marketing hype plays a big part in the popularity of micellar waters.  Yes, someone with sensitive, easily irritated skin could find them to be helpful for their skin, but there are many more mild cleansers on the market that will probably be just as good, if not better, for their skin.

You can also get a great explanation (with helpful pictures) by reading Lab Muffin’s post about micellar water.   This post brings up a good point at the end – do you need to rinse off the micellar water even though it says you do not?  The rinse may be needed because of the surfactants that can potentially be irritating if left on the skin.  My skin never feels great after using micellar water; instead it feels like there is a layer of, well, something still on my skin after using the product, but I only use it as the first step in a double cleanse so I do rinse my skin after using a micellar water.  You need to play it by ear, but if you are using micellar water at home and as your only facial cleanser definitely consider rinsing your face after using it so that the surfactants do not stay on your skin.

My Experience

I use micellar water on a regular basis as the first step in a nightly double cleanse.  As I wrote above when I don’t rinse it off I do not like how the micellar water feels on my skin. I think micellar water is a great way to remove make-up, if you are washing your face with another cleanser afterwards.  I do find using a new cotton pad each night environmentally wasteful; I haven’t found a way around this issue yet.  Micellar water does not do a particularly good job at removing my eye make-up, but in my experience after trying a great number of make-up removers, nothing does.

Bottom Line: micellar waters can be a gentle way to cleanse your face, but they are not a miracle cleanser no matter what some people may claim.  Instead they are simply another mild cleanser.  Marketing hype can definitely blow things out of proportion.

Image from Cosmopolitan

 

Book Review: The Japanese Skincare Revolution December 6, 2016

51bambfqanl-_sx350_bo1204203200_I had wanted to read this book for a long time since I am fairly obsessed with all things Japanese – the culture, the food, their skincare esthetic.*  After it was part of my Amazon wishlist for years I finally took the plunge and purchased it.  I wish I could say that I loved the book, but unfortunately it disappointed me in so many ways.

The Good

The book started off great with wonderful, inclusive advice not just about skincare but about how to lead a fulfilling life.  Not only does the author Chizu Saeki suggest taking a few minutes a day to really tune into your skin (advice I love), she also makes sure her reader knows that each person is unique and that uniqueness should be celebrated.  She encourages her readers to embrace what makes them different and special, instead of trying to be like everyone else.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:

My message is simple: anyone who desires to be beautiful can be beautiful, and the power to do that is in your own hands.  A major principle of the Saeki method to get to know your skin and care for it yourself according to its condition.  To do this, you make full use of your hands.  Your hands are the ultimate tools – they can gauge your skin’s condition like a sensor and smooth wrinkles like an iron.  They can also warm and soothe tensed-up skin, making it more receptive to skincare ingredients. (Page 9)

Don’t fuss over every spot and line on your face.  It isn’t as if their presence diminishes your worth as a woman.  Most brown spots and lines can be erased with patience, and, at any rate, the overall demeanor and luster of your face are far more important in determining the impression you give.  (Page 15)

Of course, it’s nice to have good skin – which is why I’ve carefully attended to my face through the years.  But keep in mind that flawless skin isn’t everything.  Beauty isn’t something to be plastered on from the outside; it’s fake unless it also exudes from the within.  (Pages 15-16)

Interestingly enough, though Japanese women, like Korean women, are known for their multiple step home skincare routines Saeki actually encourages her readers to do less to their skin in order for their skin to look good.  For her a few products work best.  She puts an emphasis on how you apply those products to your face and encourages everyone to do daily facial massages.   This is all great advice.

My favorite part of the book were the different facial massage techniques.  Though I know how important facial massage is for the overall look and feel of your skin, I neglect my own face on a regular basis.  Since reading this book I have made sure to massage my face, even just for a few moments, daily and to do a little lymphatic massage as well.  The book includes a few nice of ideas about how to moisturize dry lips or prepare your skin before an important event.  Saeki writes about the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to have beautiful skin and why you need sunscreen daily.  All excellent advice.  She even writes about how an active imagination leads to positive thoughts will positively benefit the look of our skin in the end. Though all of this is first-rate skincare advice, it is also very basic advice.  No new ground is being broken here.  Much to my immense disappointment there wasn’t much else that I took away from the book.  For me this book certainly wasn’t revolutionary.

The Bad

Saeki encourages her readers to do facial exercises.  Please don’t get me started on why facial exercises are a waste of time; read this post of mine instead.   There is very little truth to some of the skin science she writes about.  Don’t listen to what she writes about how our skin functions.  Listen to The Beauty Brains instead.  Pressing a serum into your face will not help that said serum penetrate all the way down to your dermis.

While I do agree that you don’t need to go overboard with the number of products you use daily in order to have lovely skin, the fact that she says you should exfoliate just with a scrub without any mention of retinol or facial acids perplexes me greatly.  The way she asks her readers to figure out their skin type and her analysis of each skin type is also very elementary.

The Too Bad

Perhaps if I had purchased this book years ago before the Korean skincare craze arrived in the United States I would have found it more valuable.  The thing is most, if not all, of the advice found in this book is easily accessible in thousands of online articles about Asian skincare routines.  I’ve written both here in my blog and on About.com about Korean skincare repeatedly. Though, of course, there are differences between Korean and Japanese skincare routines there is much that is the same – investing time in caring for your skin on a daily basis, performing facial massages, etc.  You could purchases this book in order to have an easy way to look at how to perform the massages in the privacy of your bathroom instead of doing them in front on your computer.  But frankly, you could take your phone into the bathroom with you, find a facial massage video on YouTube, and perform the massage in private.  No book needed.

One of the more prominent homecare ideas Saeki repeatedly mentions in her book is making what she calls a “lotion mask”.  This is essentially a DIY sheet mask.  It’s great that the book contains an easy “recipe” for how to make a sheet mask at home with the skincare products you already have on hand.  But with every store now selling sheet masks for very little money, do you really need to make your own?  You could if you are like me and don’t want to buy a sheet mask ever again after this summer’s sheet mask scandal.  Masking on a regular basis certainly does wonderful things for your skin, but there is no need for you to whip up those masks on your own if you don’t want to.

Bottom Line:  While some parts of the book were charming this really isn’t a must read and certainly not a must buy.  If you want to read a book by an esthetician as opposed to a dermatologist read Complexion Perfection! by Kate Somerville instead.  If you want to know more about Japanese skincare just Google it.

 

*If you are as obsessed with Japan as I am I suggest watching videos from Begin Japanology.  I learned many interesting things about Japan from these videos.

My Related Posts:

 

A Slew of Interesting and Important Sunscreen Articles July 21, 2014

Filed under: skin cancer,sun protection,Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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Allure magazine’s Daily Beauty Reporter recently published a few excellent posts about sunscreen that I decided to share here all at once instead of posting them piecemeal on my Facebook page:

 

 

Looking Forward after Looking Back: 2013 Summary December 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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Peace & Love

Since today is the last day of 2013 it’s that time of the year:  the time for my annual end of the year blog summary!  Wordpress sent me their annual report with their end of the year statistics about my blog: which posts were most popular, how readers found my blog, which posts received the most comments, etc., etc.  Though I always enjoy looking at my official WordPress statistics, this year I decided I wanted to do my own year end summary, something a little more personal.  I thought I would share links to my favorite posts from this year.  (At the end of this post I will share a few statistics from the WordPress report)

2013 has been a significant year for me professionally.  I started working for myself from home; I am now my own boss.  (For more information about my business please visit my website www.hanahtetro.com.  The site is in both English and Hebrew)  Being my own boss is both exhilarating and scary at times, but I am excited by the challenge and look forward to building my skincare business and helping people love their skin.

I have to admit that I wrote fewer blog posts this year than I have in previous years.  Sometimes my skincare information muse seemed to leave me as the events of my life rushed around me this year.  I found it hard to find the time to write posts.   The posts I am listing below as my favorites from this past year maybe didn’t get the most views or comments, but I learned a lot by researching and writing the posts or just enjoyed sharing the information in the posts with my readers.

My favorite posts from this past year can be divided into a few categories:

Skin Conditions and Diseases:

Skincare From A Scientific Perspective (Or At Least I Tried to Present It as Such):

Obsessions or Skincare Issues and Products That I Keep Writing About:

New Features and Topics:

According to WordPress my most popular posts (those that got the most views) were all posts I wrote in previous years which WordPress says is good since that means my writing has staying power.  Thank you WordPress :).  Pinterest and Facebook, as in previous years, were the top referring sites to my blog, and my blog readers came from a total of 194 countries.

I want to thank all my readers from this past year and all those people who took time to write comments and ask me questions either here on my blog or via my Facebook page.  I love hearing from my readers all over the world!  Please keep your comments and questions coming.

I thought I would end this post with a little inspiration from Nelson Mandela.  Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2014!

Nelson Mandela

Quotes all found on Pinterest

 

2012 Summary December 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 8:29 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

The different beauty blogs that I read seem to all be doing some sort of end of the year round-up so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do one as well.  WordPress actually supplied me with statistics about my blog for 2012, but I wanted to add my own touch to the process.

I already wrote a post this year about my most popular posts so I prefer not to rehash all that same information again, but what was interesting to me was that my most popular posts in 2012 are actually posts I wrote in 2010 and 2011.  I’ll share some other information from the report instead:

 

How did they find you?

It is interesting to note how Pinterest, which I didn’t discover until some time well into 2012, has become such a force in sharing information.  If you haven’t checked it out yet be sure to give Pinterest a try.  Just be warned – it’s addictive!

One of  the reasons I like writing this blog is because I get to learn something new each time I write a post.  What were my favorite posts from this past year?  Let me see.  I tried to narrow it down:

The Vitamin C Breakdown  

Adult Acne: Causes and Treatments

Is A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Bad for Your Skin?

Applying Skincare Products One on Top of the Other – Was I Wrong?

Is an Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin?

Achieving the “No Make-Up” Make-Up Look

Facials, Facials, Facials: Extractions, Breakouts, and What to Do Post Facial

Can Anyone Use Retin-A?

Why Does Mineral Oil Have Such A Bad Reputation?

My favorite skincare book that I read this year was Stop Aging, Start Living by Dr. Jeannette Graf.  Read my review here.

In 2012 I discovered two great skincare lines that I am currently using and would wholeheartedly recommend:  Epionce and Tecniche.  And recently I rediscovered Dermalogica.  Dermalogica has a huge range of products so I’ll just highlight two:  for my fellow estheticians I highly recommend doing your facial massage with their massage cream.  The cream imparts a great glow not to mention hydration to the skin, and it won’t clog pores.  I also love the Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque which I use as a night cream.

As 2012 ends I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2013 filled with health and happiness!  Thank you for your past support and keep reading.

Image from blogs.indiewire.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

 

My Most Popular Posts August 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , ,

WordPress makes it easy to learn all sorts of statistics about your blog.  So it is always interesting for me to see which posts of mine are the most popular.

My Three Most Popular Posts

  1. How to Get Rid of Blackheads
  2. 13 Reasons You Should Get a Chemical Peel From an Esthetician
  3. Bumps on Your Arms: Solutions for Keratosis Pilaris

I’ve always found it fascinating that my post on keratosis pilaris is so popular.  The popularity of this post made me realize that this is obviously a common skin issue that many people are seeking relief from.

The Most Popular Search Terms That Lead Readers to My Blog

  1. Blackhead
  2. Sunscreen

And what’s the third most popular term that leads people to my blog?  Blackheads.  Since blackheads are a persistent, widespread, and vexing problem I am not surprised that so many people are searching online for solutions for this issue.

Top Shared Posts From My Blog

The results in this category were particularly intriguing to me.  Here are the top two posts that people shared from my blog:

  1. Are Parabens in Skincare Products Safe?
  2. About

I was actually pleased to see that people shared my post about parabens since there is an incredible amount of misinformation and misunderstanding out there about parabens, their use in skincare products, and their safety.

I was intrigued by the fact that people would share my about page with others.  What makes that page so interesting?

The most popular place to share my posts?  Facebook, of course, followed closely by Twitter.

And speaking of Facebook – if you haven’t liked my Ask an Esthetician page on Facebook yet please do!  I share articles and information there that do not make it into my blog.

And many thanks to all my devoted readers!

Image from muzeview.com

 

 
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