Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

What I’ve Been Reading May 14, 2015

Filed under: Recommended Reading — askanesthetician @ 2:09 am
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A Woman Reading

I might not find time to blog like I used or read as many articles about skincare and beauty as I would like, but I’ve done enough reading lately to have a number of articles that I want to share with my readers here.

Those readers who follow my Facebook page know that I’ve been sharing quite a few articles about the nail industry lately.  Last week The New York Times published two very important articles that exposed the dark side of the nail industry in the United States.  The first article detailed the extremely exploitative work practices for workers in this industry, and the second article explained the health risks that workers suffer from because of the chemicals in nail products.  Happily, the articles caused a flurry of reactions both from New York’s governor and from the woman who regularly use these services.  Here is a list of all the relevant articles:

Now for some non-nail related articles.

Summer is on its way so and so are the sunscreen articles:

Once again I’ve come across an article about beauty elixirs or drinks, drinks that promise perfect skin.  I’ve written about this topic in the past here on my blog (see my articles Can You Drink Your Way To Firmer Skin? and Drink Your Way To Firmer Skin – Taste Test) so let me be clear – looking to a drink to clear your skin or make it firmer is generally a waste of time.  Instead invest your money in good skincare products and a proper and balanced whole foods diet.

If you read my previous post (which was from this past winter) than you know that I am writing the skincare articles on about.com.  You can easily keep up to date with my articles by following my Pinterest board devoted to that topic.

Lastly, just for fun.  It turns out that there is now a BB cream for nighttime use.  I can’t even imagine what they will think of next.

If you’ve read any interesting beauty related articles lately please share a link below.

Image: “A Woman Reading” by Camille Corot from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

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:

 

 

What I’ve Been Reading January 18, 2013

The Oiran Komurasaki of Kadotamaya Reading a Letter

 

Before you go out and make your own beauty products read this post from The Beauty Brains:   Is DIY Mascara Safe?

Gouldylox Reviews gives you straightforward advice to getting great skin in Gouldylox Beauty Bootcamp 102: How to Get and Keep Great Skin.

Allure presents three simple steps to preventing dry hands in How to Prevent Dry, Cracked Hands in Winter.

The New York Times explores oxygen spa treatments and oxygen based creams and serums in Oxygen Bubbles Into Facial Care Products.  For more information about oxygen treatments see my posts Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against and Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe?

New Beauty discusses a sunscreen pill in Sun Protection in a Pill: The Results Are In.

Prevention helps you figure out how to make your moisturizer more effective in Why Your Moisturizer Isn’t Working.

Whole Living tells you how to use coconut oil as a beauty product in 3 New Skin Care Uses for Coconut Oil.

 

And lastly, but certainly not least, Dr. Leslie Baumann shares skin sins in The 10 Biggest Skin Mistakes – this is a must read!

 

 

Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Oiran Komurasaki of Kadotamaya Reading a Letter by Chobunsai Eishi (Japanese 1756-1829)

 

The Risks of Over Exfoliation December 5, 2012

Usually I can’t say enough good things about exfoliation.  In my eyes regular, at home exfoliation is one of the most essential things you need to do to maintain healthy and beautiful skin.  Depending on your skin type, how your skin is feeling and looking, and what exfoliation product you use you can exfoliate every day or just twice a week.  The thing is – you need to exfoliate.

Why exfoliate?  New Beauty explains why succinctly:

There are many benefits of regular exfoliation. As we get older, skin-cell turnover slows down and exofoliating can help speed up the normal shedding cycle. Exfoliating can rid the skin’s dull, outer layer as well as all of the flaws that reside there, like fine lines, dark spots and blemishes. Plus, your skin-care products can better penetrate your skin. Here are our top four reasons to exfoliate on a regular basis:

1. Even out skin texture. “The granules polish the skin, leaving it with a softer, smoother texture. It’s like using sandpaper on coarse, unevenly textured wood—step-by-step it becomes smooth,” says Los Angeles aesthetician Ole Henriksen.

2. Fight the signs of aging. With age, the skin’s ability to naturally exfoliate slows down. When the skin is laden with dead cells, lines, wrinkles and dryness become more apparent. “Removing dead skin reveals fresher, brighter, younger looking skin,” says Mt. Pleasant, SC, dermatologist Marguerite Germain, MD.

3. Prevent blackheads, whiteheads and breakouts. When the pores get clogged with dead skin and oil gets stuck beneath the surface, pimples can occur.

4. Minimize dark spots. Long after a blemish has healed, a red, brown or purple mark may remain. But each time you exfoliate, you’re removing the top layer of skin to diminish the appearance of discoloration.

(From Four Reasons You Need to Exfoliate)

And what are different ways you can exfoliate?  Once again I’ll turn to New Beauty to explain:

Manual Exfoliation: exfoliates with beads or spheres
This involves physically removing dead skin with scrubbing spheres or beads, which are massaged into the skin by hand. Some ingredients, like ground-up nutshells, can tear the skin and potentially cause infections, so if you choose to use a manual exfoliant, make sure that you use one with beads or spheres, which are less likely to scratch the skin.
The Upside : Quick and easy to use, manual exfoliators are available in a variety of forms and are best for normal skin types.
The Downside: May aggravate acne or sensitive skin.

Enzymatic Exfoliation: exfoliates with fruit enzymes
Ideal for sensitive and mature skin, enzymatic exfoliators contain enzymes that are derived from fruits like pineapple, pumpkin, kiwi and papaya to purge the skin of dead cells.
The Upside: Can be used on extremely sensitive or reactive skin because they tend not to irritate since there is no physical scrubbing. Plus, they’re excellent for really cleaning out clogged pores.
The Downside: “Enzymatic exfoliators take longer to work because you have to let them sit on the skin for awhile,” says Kirkland, WA, dermatologist Julie Voss, MD.

Chemical Exfoliation: exfoliates with acids
Good for acne-prone and sun-damaged skin, chemical exfoliators rely upon ingredients like alphahydroxy (AHAs), betahydroxy, lactic, malic, tartaric, salicylic, retinoic, uric or glycolic acids to break the bond between the dead skin cells, dissolving and removing them.
The Upside: Deep cleans pores, making it a good choice for oily and acne-prone skin types. Exfoliators with AHAs offer anti-aging benefits too.
The Downside: Can cause sun sensitivity and may be too irritating for dry skin. “These exfoliators are usually found in cream or lotion form, rather than being part of a cleanser, so they require an added step,” says Dr. Voss.

But sometimes too much of a good thing well is just too much.  That brings us to the risks of over exfoliation.  Go overboard with exfoliation and risk red, irritated, dry, flaky, and even thin skin.  The New York Times T Magazine article The Peel Sessions explains:

… the search for perfection often leads to just the opposite. Instead of achieving plump, soft skin, some women are winding up with visages that are “thin and kind of stretched, almost like Saran wrap,” according to Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, an assistant professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and the director of the Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center in New York. “It puckers like the material would if wrapped tightly on something and looks like if you pricked it with a pin, a clear fluid would come out.”

This is the over-exfoliated face. For the past few decades, the most dominant recipe for radiant skin has called for removing the dead layers of epidermis to reveal newer, brighter, less-wrinkled skin. But not everyone knows just how often to slough, and some women have been misled into thinking that the more often you do it, the better. Or women exfoliate constantly to ensure that anti-aging or anti-acne serums are delivered more effectively. Exfoliate too frequently, though, with chemical peels or Retin A, and you could encounter a multitude of problems: redness, a strange waxy look and, over time, the thin skin Alexiades-Armenakas described. It can look crepelike and translucent, with capillaries showing (if you’re Caucasian), and is far more prone to fine lines, not to mention increasingly vulnerable to cancer-causing UV rays, than untreated skin. For those with darker complexions, overpeeling can also cause hyper-pigmentation, which can be permanent. …

At-home treatments can have their downsides as well. Retinoids like Retin A increase skin turnover and should be used at the correct strength and frequency. “Everyone used to put it on every night — you brush your teeth, you put on your Retin A,” Enterprise recalled. “Cheeks were getting very thin and people had that glossy look. That waxy skin makes you look older and can make you look dated in the same way your hair or makeup can.”

Abuse of drugstore or beauty-emporium products is also a danger. “I’ve done R&D for a large cosmetic company, and unfortunately to launch these over-the-counter peeling agents, the rule of thumb is to recommend twice-weekly use,” Alexiades-Armenakas said. And why is that? “Because if you don’t use it that often, you’re not going to see any results. It’s so weak compared to a dermatologist’s peel, and to compensate for this they have people overuse it.”  …

Of course, disrupting that barrier at just the right rate — either by peels, Retin A, lasers or other means — is how you stimulate the skin into creating collagen. Alexiades-Armenakas is at work on a new method for doing so, testing pixelated radiofrequency technology and ultrasound to push anti-acne or anti-aging drugs into the skin. It’s another form of fractional resurfacing, whose advantage, she said, is that most of the epidermis is left intact. Eventually, according to the dermatologist, this science will make its way into an over-the-counter product, in the form of a hand-held roller.

There remains, however, the conundrum of what to do until those futuristic gadgets arrive. For now, Alexiades-Armenakas recommends relying on a much older technology — that of the body itself. “The skin turns over every 28 days,” she said. “I’m of the firm belief that you’re better off having a strong peel just once a month at most, giving the skin a chance to recover, rebound and rejuvenate itself.”

Furthermore, according to the article Exfoliation: When Is Just Enough … Enough?  by Annet King explains that exfoliation:

… a course of action intended to keep the skin vibrant, supple and youthful, may result in a skin which is more fragilehas less natural ability to protect from UV, is easily sensitized, heals more slowly and lacks in general structural fortitude. Parchment paper comes to mind.

We now know that much of what we call aging is caused by inflammation. And overly aggressive exfoliation, along with other cutaneous assault such as pollution and UV exposure, set off the cascade of dermal interactions known as inflammation.  It is very important to note that skin which is past the age of 25 or so recovers more slowly from inflammation. In fact, inflammation, whether in response to a heavy handed microdermabrasion procedure or some other inflammatory condition such as adult acne, may result in extremely persistent redness—and by persistent, we mean that it may not ever really dissipate.

The good news is, our skin is genetically designed for remarkable resilience. The human skin produces about 1,000,000 skin cells every 40 minutes, which equates to over 36 million skin cells per day. No wonder we think nothing of obliterating them with scrubs, enzymes, acids, sonic brushes and other procedures! …

LESS IS MORE
Gentle exfoliation keeps the debris from accumulating. Today, the market is full of exfoliants which are gentle enough to use daily, such as superfine micropowders and precise dose leave- on serums containing silky microparticles of rice bran, phytic acid or salicylic acid, botanical extract combo’s. These lift dead cell debris, gently resurface using only the mildest bit of mechanical action, and still leave the lipid barrier robust and intact. …

Often, problems arise when clients start to “help the program along” by being over enthusiastic with different products in the confines of their bathroom or while in the gym sauna! Also discuss their comfort-level, perhaps from years in the gym with masochistic fitness trainers, many consumers believe that pain is required part of an effective regimen. This may be true of acquiring a rock-hard six-pack—but it definitely is NOT true of effective skin care.

NIX THE MIX
Combining products and procedures “freestyle”, without the close supervision of a licensed therapist, is where consumers often get themselves into trouble. The trumpeting claims of lunchtime lasers and other medi-office procedures along with powerful products may prove irresistible, especially with the advance of age, and especially with the impending arrival of a pivotal life passage such as a high school reunion or a daughter’s wedding.

Lastly, another reason to stop with over exfoliating – you may be causing breakouts.  According to Allure:

Convincing people that they’re exfoliating too much “is one of my great challenges,” laughs [ Ranella] Hirsch, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine. “Over-exfoliating is probably the single most significant cause of breakouts. For some reason, people think exfoliating means ‘torture my skin like it has secret government information.'” In particular, Hirsch shakes her finger at skin-care overachievers: “The person who is exfoliating too much is also putting on actives [such as Retin-A and salicylic and glycolic acid], is doing facials, is doing microdermabrasion. Each of those things on their own is good, but when you add every form of treatment together it leads to injury.”

So how can you exfoliate effectively?  Once again according to Allure:

Hirsch insists that for the most part skin knows how to exfoliate itself and says using just one exfoliator should be enough. And instead of having a set routine for how often you use your product, leave it up to your face. In other words, don’t exfoliate because it’s 7AM—exfoliate because you feel like you need to. “You have to listen to your skin,” says Hirsch. “Something that’s right at one moment can shift in real time. Just listen and adapt.”

Bottom Line:  Everyone needs to exfoliate just don’t overdo it.  Check in with your skin regularly to see if you need to adjust your exfoliation routine.  Strive for balance (I know – much easier said than done)  Experiencing breakouts and clogged pores turn to a salicylic acid product for exfoliation.  Flaky yet normal skin?  You could use a gentle scrub.  Want an effective anti-aging product?  Find the right retinol or Retin-A product for you.  Just remember – when your skin starts to feel irritated and sensitive or is constantly red you could be overdoing it.  Then it is time to reevaluate your exfoliation routine.  Keep in mind that correct exfoliation will make your skin soft, smooth, and bright.  Since everyone is different don’t look to others – figure out what your skin needs.  Check in regularly with your skin to make sure you are doing what is best for your skin.

My Related Posts:

Image from realbeauty.com

 

Thursday Tips and Interesting Articles November 15, 2012

Today’s post isn’t one of my traditional posts.  Instead I just wanted to share some interesting articles and blog posts that I came across in the last few days.

Happy reading!

Image from blogs.lynn.edu

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Witch Hazel October 28, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinical Studies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Reading:

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

 

 

Image from http://theabsoluteglamour.com

 

Beauty Briefs: BB Creams Are Over, Here Come CC Creams September 10, 2012

I toyed with the idea a while ago about writing about BB creams but decided against it when I realized that I had nothing new to add to the discussion.  In case you need a recap, BB creams were first developed in Germany but caught on in popularity in South Korea.  These creams only started recently appearing in the US market, but it is easy to find one in all price ranges since they’ve become popular very quickly.

In theory I like the idea of BB creams since they are really souped up tinted moisturizers.  Not only are they meant to hydrate and provide some coverage (like a light foundation), but they also include added ingredients that can act as a make-up primer and are anti-aging or anti-acne.  They also include sun protection though my great fear remains that people think they are getting enough sun protection from a product like this.  Always use a separate stand alone sunscreen.  Please!

Though it is not labeled a BB cream the one I’ve tried is called Miracle Skin Transformer.  I consider it a BB cream since it is a multi-tasker – it is tinted, hydrates, has spf, and contains antioxidants as well.  I first discovered it when I received a free sample with a Sephora purchase, and I thought that it made my skin look amazing.  A few months later I bought a travel size at Sephora.  Interestingly enough now that I have the product at home I don’t quite like it as much as I did when I had the sample.  I can’t figure out what would have changed about the product and how it looks on my face, but something did change.  Not that it looks bad, simply my skin doesn’t look as fresh or dewy as it did when I applied the product from the sample.  Nonetheless I still think it is a good product.

Just as US consumers were getting used to the idea of BB creams, it turns out that they are on their way out.  Here come the CC creams.  Allure explains:

Still trying to wrap your head around BB creams? (Pssst, we’ll help you out. They’re souped-up moisturizers that cover like a sheer foundation and treat various skin-care concerns such as acne or wrinkles.) Well now there’s a whole new category of multitasking formulas: CC creams. Short for “color and care” or “color and correct”, CC creams are essentially BB creams on steroids.

They’re designed to offer more coverage than BB creams but still go on sheer, they moisturize better, and they contain hard-core anti-aging ingredients. Look out for the first CC cream to hit the U.S. this October: Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting Moisturizer.

Future Derm isn’t so excited about either BB or CC creams.  The post How is a CC Cream Different From a BB Cream? explains and highlights a few important points:

A CC cream is a color correcting cream, meaning that it is a brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

On the other hand, a BB cream is a non-brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

BB creams are typically laden with hydrators to create a dewy finish, which are not so great for acne-prone or oily skin.

CC creams, on the other hand, are typically oil-free.  …

Delivery systems matter.  Ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and other alcohols, as well as advanced delivery systems like liposomes, are commonly used to increase the skin’s absorption of ingredients.

Unfortunately, BB and CC creams typically are designed to be make-up products.  Yes, you will get benefits.  But I’d take 10% vitamin C in a serum over 10% vitamin C in a BB or CC cream any day!

I love the idea of multi-tasking skincare and make-up products that help cut down on the amount of time you spend prepping in the morning.  I just think you have to very careful before you buy something.  Remember my warning about not relying on a BB cream, a CC cream, or your make-up for your sun protection.  Additionally, keep in mind what the Future Derm post said about delivery systems in products.  Just because a product includes fabulous sounding ingredients doesn’t mean that they are actually getting into your skin and providing you with any benefit.  If you have a BB cream that you like I see no reason to stop using it and I see no reason not to try a CC cream, but don’t expect miracles.  Sometimes the newest thing on the market just makes a scene only to disappear.  Tried and true products are always around.

Further Reading:

Image from glamour.com

 

Always Judging June 25, 2012

 

Ever feel like the whole world is full of haters?  I think we all have days that make us just want to hide in the house and stay away from all other people (and lets be honest the internet as well).   And to be perfectly honest – when we aren’t feeling like someone is judging us we are probably judging someone else.  I realize that more and more especially if I stop during the day and evaluate what I have been thinking.  Without even realizing it I’m at it again – judging someone.

I think we judge others simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  I think it is human nature to judge, unfortunately.  And breaking that habit is very, very, very hard.

The actress Ashley Judd recently made headlines not for her new TV show but for her appearance while promoting that show.  Judd’s face appeared significantly more puffy than it had in the past, and many people and media outlets rushed to judge and conjecture why she looked that way.  To say that the people were mean and judgmental would be a vast understatement.  The comments were cruel and derogatory.

Judd decided to address the storm of criticism directed at her appearance, and she did so in a op-ed piece in The Daily Beast.  Here are some of my favorite parts from Judd’s article:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public.

As much as I liked Judd’s article I was equally impressed by Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure, who take on the controversy.  I’ve written numerous times in the past in this blog how much I like Wells’ take on all things beauty, and she actually made me like her more after reading her June letter to the editor:

[Judd] humanized the issue of beauty criticism, saying that it not only hurts but also demeans and reduces us all to our least interesting, least powerful aspects.

She’s right.  And when she asks, “What is the gloating about?” I might say, “How much time do you have?”  Judd was talking about nasty comments she received for something she didn’t do, but I also object to the stigma attached when a woman decides – for her own reasons, which don’t necessarily include self-loathing or “internalized patriarchy” – that she would like to get Botox or wrinkle-filling injections or lipo or a face-lift.  Those are perfectly legitimate options, too.  And if Judd or any other woman chooses to undergo these treatments, there should be no shame in that.  Being a natural beauty is excellent – and lucky.  Attaching a moral judgement to a cosmetic treatment is as unfair and ridiculous as carping about someone who colors her hair.  It wasn’t so long ago that women who wore lipstick or rouge were accused of moral turpitude.  The argument hasn’t changed.

 

What can we learn from all of this?  Perhaps to give ourselves and others a break.  Try for one day or even one hour to judge less.

 

For a great blog post about how to deal with haters see Rae from Scatterbraintures post:  Haters Can Cause Premature Aging – If You Let Them.   Check it out for her great advice on how not to let haters bring you down.

 

Image from wilmu.edu

 

Back in Vogue – Retin-A April 16, 2012

While we are in pursuit of the latest and greatest skincare ingredients and the newest products that promise to miraculously give us perfect skin overnight we can lose sight of the tried and true skincare ingredients and products that really work as promised.  Case in point – Retin-A.

Vogue magazine recently published an article about Retin-A extolling its virtues and explaining its history:

All retinoids—the umbrella name for a class of compounds that encompasses retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol aldehyde, and a host of others—are derivatives of vitamin A, one of the body’s key nutrients. Vitamin A’s mighty chemical makeup was identified in 1931, and the man who isolated and described it, Swiss chemist Paul Karrer, was rewarded with a Nobel Prize for his efforts. Retinol was a slightly rickety compound, prone to quick degeneration when exposed to oxygen and light. But by the 1960s, researchers were metabolizing retinol into its more stable (and more active) cousin retinoic acid and were beginning to understand its tremendous power in skin-care applications. Retin-A—a brand name for retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin)—was FDA-approved in 1971 as a prescription-strength treatment for acne, but dermatologists noticed almost immediately that a lot more than just breakouts were vanishing. Scores of patients began reporting a reduction in fine lines and hyperpigmentation, and the stampede began.

“Vitamin A is the go-to skin-care ingredient,” says Jennifer Linder, M.D., a Scottsdale, Arizona, dermatologist and chief scientific officer for the clinical line PCA Skin. “The best anti-ager is sunscreen; the next is vitamin A. Nothing else approaches it,” she says. Virtually all skin-care experts agree on this point—and in today’s world of peptides, growth factors, glacial water, and extracts from rare Corsican flowers, that’s saying a lot. “You can imagine that the question dermatologists get asked every single day is ‘What really works?’ ” says Linder. “Retinoids trigger change in the skin to make it look clearer and more youthful; they actually help skin get back to a healthier place. And there’s strong, strong clinical data behind that.”

What does Retin-A do exactly for the skin that is so effective?  Allure sums it up well:

HOW IT WORKS: Retinol speeds up cell turnover, sweeps away the dead cells that cause dullness, and boosts collagen and elastin by stimulating cellular repair at the deepest level of the skin. It also pumps up circulation by increasing blood-vessel formation, so skin looks healthier.

While Retin-A is the most effective anti-aging product on the market and can help erase both fine lines and acne for some people it can be irritating.  Known side effects of Retin-A include redness, irritation, dryness, and flakiness.  Keep in mind, though, that these side effects do not last forever.  After a few weeks, once your skin adjusts to the product, you will no longer experience those side effects.

Also remember that there are numerous prescription strengths and non-prescription versions of Retin-A available so there really is a formulation out there for everyone.  Once again I’ll turn to the Vogue article to explain:

In an attempt to tame the wildness of retinoic acid, researchers revisited its milder parent molecule, retinol. For decades it had been neglected as a skin-care ingredient because it was even trickier to stabilize than retinoic acid. The genius of retinol, researchers realized, is that it isn’t active when applied to skin. Retinol goes on in an inert form and is then switched to on-mode by your own skin. Your cells receive the retinol, hang on to it until they’re ready, and then convert only what they need into retinoic acid. This has tremendous benefits, says dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D.: “It dramatically reduces the negative effects of retinoic acid—the peeling, sun sensitivity, redness—but has all the same fundamental results. It just takes a little longer to get there.”

The latest breakthrough has been in making retinol stable enough to live in a bottle with other active ingredients. (Until recently, says Linder, some over-the-counter products touting retinol as an active ingredient were largely ineffectual, as the retinol frequently degenerated well before application.) In the past few years, cosmeceutical companies have made big advances in the microencapsulation of retinol: The retinol molecules are each surrounded by a tiny polymer film, like a slim-fitting suit of armor that protects it from light, oxygen, and other aggressors. When you apply the cream to your face, you create chinks in the armor, which frees the retinol to do its work.

There are so many different ways to adjust Retin-A or retinol use.  You do not have to use it every night to get great results.  If you live in an area that is cold during the winter you can use your Retin-A twice a week during that season and then bump up your use during the summer when the weather is warmer and there is more humidity in the air.  You might need to experiment a bit, but in the end you’ll figure out the right strength and how many times you need to use it a week in order to see great results with your skin.

I love Retin-A so much (I use a prescription version that is 0.05% strength and apply it three times a week at night) that I always wonder why everyone isn’t using some version of Retin-A or retinol.  If you haven’t tried Retin-A yet consider it, and if you have used Retin-A or retinol in the past but stopped figure out a version that will work for you.

Sources and Further Reading:

My Related Post:
  • All About Retinol  – a relative older post of mine, but a goody (if I do say so myself)

Image from prescriptionmedications.biz

 

My Beauty Business Icons April 2, 2012

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

Allure published a list of their beauty innovators a while ago and that got me thinking: just who are my beauty industry icons? Allure named Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor, Bobbi Brown, and Charles Revson (founder of Revlon) as their beauty innovators since combined these five transformed the face of American beauty (or should we say faces?). While of these entrepreneurs have made lasting and important contributions to the American beauty industry I decided that my beauty icons were a little different (except I do agree about one of the people mentioned above). I’ve been thinking about this post for some time and finally decided that it was time to publish it even if, at the moment, only four people came to mind whom I wanted to highlight at this point. I have a feeling there will be a part two to this post in the future.

The four people I want to talk about in this post are: Bobbi Brown – make-up artist and mogul, Jane Wurwand – founder of Dermalogica and advocate for women everywhere, Linda Wells – editor-in-chief of Allure magazine, and RuPaul – drag superstar and role model. I know it is a diverse crowd, but why leave anyone out?

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown began her make-up empire because she saw a hole in the beauty industry for make-up that real women wanted and needed. Allure explained it best in their piece about Brown:

As a makeup artist in the high-artifice times of the late ’80s and early ’90s, Bobbi Brown sensed that something was missing from the marketplace. She wanted to wear makeup that enhanced rather than transformed, that celebrated uniqueness and was easy to apply. So she made it herself, starting with a pinkish brown lipstick that instantly took off. But as much as women loved Brown’s colors, it was her underlying philosophy of self-acceptance that really struck a chord. “Beauty isn’t about looking perfect,” she said. “It’s about celebrating your individuality.”

Reading The New York Times‘ recent article about Brown, The Mogul Next Door, made me admire her even more. Brown seems down to earth and approachable and is really committed to helping others . She very actively supports Dress for Success which helps women from disadvantaged backgrounds find, prepare for, and keep professional jobs. Not only does Brown really does want all women to feel great about how they look she gives them the tools to do so. I have Brown’s book Makeup Manual which I really love. This book really helps someone learn to apply make-up beautifully – for daytime or nighttime looks and for all ethnicities. I learned how to do a smoky eye from this book. I feel that Bobbi Brown sets a great example for anyone looking to succeed in the beauty industry. She also shows that nice girls can finish first.

Jane Wurwand

I am sure that unlike Bobbi Brown few people outside of the spa industry have heard of Jane Wurwand, founder and owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute (which offers post-graduate education for estheticians). In my opinion, the fact that Wurwand isn’t as well-known as Brown is a shame. As an esthetician I find Wurwand to be a great role model. Wurwand’s online bio from Dermalogica explains her key beliefs and causes:

Two core concepts guide the growth of the brand, as embodied by Jane herself: the transcendent power of human touch, and the far-reaching effects of education. These dual qualities have not only shaped the success of Dermalogica, but also provided a social blueprint for women’s financial success in every country and economy.

As a passionate advocate for mentoring and entrepreneurship, Jane writes and speaks frequently about the specific financial needs of women, especially in the developing world. Within the context of the skin care profession itself, comparatively modest licensing requirements and initial capital investments costs offer many women unusual access to financial independence. This experience is further enriched, socially, culturally and politically, by the fact that 98% of all professional skin therapists are women, and that these professionals attract a clientele which is 92% female—literally creating more woman entrepreneurs than any other industry in the world.

Through her work in many areas of philanthropy, education and women’s business development, Jane now champions her brand, via The Dermalogica Foundation, to create and support similar opportunities for women in other professions through a hand up, not a hand out. Jane shares the view that the future for world-economy depends upon the ability for women, especially marginalized women, to financially support themselves and their children. In January 2011, through her foundation and in partnership with Kiva.org, Jane launched a global initiative to empower women worldwide called FITE – Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. The first microlending Web site that solely focuses on women entrepreneurs, FITE will help a minimum of 25,000 women to start or grow a business in over 57 countries around the world.

I think that it is great that estheticians have such a strong advocate for estheticians’ continuing education and success. I really admire Wurwand’s committment to helping women everywhere achieve financial independence. If you want to know more of what Wurwand thinks of a whole range of subjects be sure to read her blog. She’s feisty and opinionated, and I love it.

Linda Wells

Anyone who has read my blog with any consistency knows that I love Allure magazine (of course I even began this post by mentioning the magazine).   I love Allure for the make-up tips and tricks and for the up-to-date, excellent skincare information.  Yet another reason why I am a devoted reader of Allure is because of its editor-in-chief Linda Wells.  I wish Wells could be my friend since I feel like I know her just from reading her monthly letter from the editor in the magazine.  There is a realness to Wells’ attitude about beauty and celebrities that is refreshing and a pleasure to read.  Ok while I may be a die-hard Allure fan I feel like most people can really find something of value in this magazine in order to enhance their beauty routine.  Wells always seems to find the right balance between trying to look good and youthful without going overboard and being fake.  Lastly, unlike some beauty magazine editor-in-chiefs she really seems far from aloof which makes me like her even more.  And Allure almost never has articles about how to land a guy and what the newest sex position is.  It’s a magazine for intelligent women who just want to look good.

Coming in as a close second for my favorite editor-in-chief of a beauty magazine is Joanna Coles of Marie Claire magazine.  I “discovered” Coles while watching Project Runway All Stars where she was the mentor for the contestants.  I love the fact that Coles is straight-forward without being mean, that she’s intelligent, and a great advocate for women, especially working women.  I just wish I liked the magazine she edits more.  And by the way, am I the only one out there that develops “crushes” on magazine editors?  It must be a side effect on my life long fascination/addiction to glossy beauty and fashion magazines.

RuPaul

I know that my inclusion of RuPaul in this list of my beauty business icons may seem odd to many and quite a stretch given the category, but here’s a fact about me – I love drag queens. And I really love RuPaul. Yes, sometimes RuPaul can be over-the-top and outrageous, but I also think that she is very beautiful and glamorous. I also believe that RuPaul is a great role model and not just for gays or aspiring drag queens. I think everyone can learn more than a few self-esteem lessons from this drag superstar. Though RuPaul is really an entertainer above all and not a beauty maven, in the past RuPaul has been a cosmetic spokesperson (as the first face for MAC’s Viva Glam make-up whose sales support HIV/AIDS awareness), as well as a music star, and now a mentor to other drag queens on his show RuPaul’s Drag Race (and yes, I have watched the show, well I watched one season all the way through). If you read any of RuPaul’s books or bio you’ll see that RuPaul has struggled with finding his place in the world, low self-esteem, and substance abuse issues. Having overcome all of these I really believe that RuPaul serves as a gorgeous role model for anyone looking to express themselves without shame or embarrassment. Lastly, RuPaul proves that true beauty knows no boundaries.

I would love to hear who you admire in the beauty industry. Please share below.

image from papermag.com

 

 
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