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

 

Check This Out: What I’ve Been Reading January 30, 2014

Lately I’ve read quite a number of interesting skincare related articles so I thought I would share them with my readers.

First up I wanted to talk about a website not an article, actually.  Caroline Hirons is a well-known esthetician in the UK.  I had actually looked at her website quite some time ago, but I recently rediscovered it through a tip from my loyal reader Rae (be sure to check out Rae’s blog Scatterbraintures!).  There is a lot of skincare information on this website.  I recommend reading the “cheat sheets”  (found on the right side of the home page) for solid, practical skincare advice.  If you do not live in England, I don’t, her product recommendations are not very relevant unfortunately.  While I do think that most of the skincare information that Hirons shares is great, there two things in particular that I disagree with her on.  The first is that Hirons keeps bashing products that contain mineral oil.  I wrote a long post in my blog about how mineral oil isn’t bad for the skin. If you haven’t already read my post (Why Does Mineral Oil Have Such A Bad Reputation?) please give it a look in order to get another perspective on this controversial skincare ingredient.  Secondly, Hirons seems to be a mission against foam cleansers (she claims they are needlessly drying and strip the skin).  I happen to disagree with this opinion as well.  I currently use a foam cleanser and do not find it drying at all.  So as with all skincare advice though I really do think that Hirons has mostly great skincare advice to share, be sure to keep an open mind and don’t think that everything she writes is true.

Now on to the articles I want to share:

If you’ve read any interesting skincare related articles lately please share links below!

Image from awesome-desktop.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

 

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

 

Anti-Aging Musts April 5, 2012

Creating an anti-aging skincare routine isn’t all that hard. If you keep a few key things in mind you’ll help your skin look great now and into the future.

Though I don’t advocate going crazy with anti-aging treatments when you are in your 20s do start thinking at that time about protecting your skin. As the Web MD article 10 Ways to Slow the Aging Process explains:

Think the early twenties is too soon to see signs of aging skin? Dermatologists see them commonly.

“The earliest signs of aging really start around the eyes. You can start to see some fine lines, and then on the face in general, some broken blood vessels and sun spots,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Typically, the more sun exposure, the greater the damage, she says.

Fortunately, the twenties and thirties are also prime decades for women to learn how to counter sun damage and other factors that age the skin, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is also director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“What you do for your skin or against your skin will have ramifications as you age,” she says.

First, younger women must understand the pitfalls. For instance, Waldorf sees many who still embrace tanning. Often, they wrongly believe that skin aging is something to worry about down the road, not in their youth, Waldorf says.

Another common habit that damages young skin: smoking.

Ok so the article already mentioned two of the big no nos – sun and smoking. Here are more tips about those and other anti-aging musts:

  • Use sunscreen daily, even when it is overcast outside. When spending the day outside wear a hat and sunglasses, and reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours when spending the day outdoors. Don’t forget that you get lots and lots of sun exposure even when you are going about your normal daily activities like driving, walking around the neighborhood, sitting by a window, and running errands.
  • Don’t smoke – smoking ruins your skin is so many ways. See my post below for more information about smoking and your skin.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – exercise, practice relaxation techniques, and eat right. When you take good care of yourself it shows in your skin.
  • Use skincare products with antioxidants in them to protect your skin from pollution, free radicals, and the sun.
  • Use a retinol or prescription Retin-A skincare product starting in your 30s in order to correct skin damage, smooth your skin, build collagen, and treat acne (if you need to).

My Related Posts:

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from hghwatch.com

 

What Is Dermal Micro Needling? March 12, 2012

Ever feel like the universe is looking out for you?  I know that may seem like an exaggeration, and I would agree, but I found it interesting that just as I was starting to research this blog post, and failing to find real, scientific information about dermal micro needling, I discovered that the there was a great article on the subject in the February issue of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling.  Not only did I come across the article I just mentioned pretty soon after coming across that article I was finding articles about micro needling from legitimate sources in different places.  So with the help of these articles let’s jump right into the whole subject of micro needling.

 

All About Dermal Micro Needling

According to the article from LNE & Spa:

The principle of skin needling is to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen.  DMN involves the use of a sterile roller, comprised of a series of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin.  Medical needling is performed under a local anesthetic; the needling device is “rolled” over the surface of the face to create many microscopic channels deep into the dermis of the skin, which stimulates your own body to produce new collagen.  At a microscopic level, proliferated skin cells, such as fibroblasts, migrate to the point of injury and transform into collagen fibers, resulting in increased fiber strength and elasticity.  This treatment improves your skin by increasing production of collagen, facilitating natural repair and growth and making the skin stronger and thicker.  The new collagen fills depressed scars and wrinkles from the bottom up, lifting the depression so they are level with the surrounding skin.  This process takes two to three months to produce visible results, and can also help thicken thinner, fine skin types.

There are a few different type of dermal rollers, which is what the dermal micro needling devices are called.  The ones designed to be used at home have shorter needles than those used by physicians.  Dermal micro needling can be combined with other skincare treatments and products in order to enhance the collagen building results.  Additionally, the procedure can be used on all skin types.  The side effects are mainly varying degrees of redness; the amount of redness depends on how long the needles used were and how deeply they entered the skin.  Potential complications can arise if the healing skin isn’t cared for properly.  Those complications can be infection, scarring, an outbreak of cold sores if you are prone to getting them, and even post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can last up to 12 months.   Proper care after treatment involves the use of healing creams or ointments along with a broad spectrum spf for the first day or two after the treatment.  Depending on what you want to fix about your skin you may need between 3 to 8 treatments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

 Yes or No?

To quote the article, again, from LNE & Spa:

DMN has been used successfully to treat fine lines, wrinkles, lax and sun damaged skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks; improve acne ice pick scars; and induce hair’s regrowth.  It has also been used to tighten skin after liposuction.  The advantages of this procedure are that the skin becomes thicker, with an increase in collagen deposition exceeding more than 400 percent.

But for all this positive talk about DMN there are naysayers as well.  On About.com they have this to say about DMN:

Does It Really Work?

Depends on who you ask. Personally, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos – so dramatic, in fact, they made me even more skeptical than before. However, there have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars. On the other hand, I have seen TV interviews with doctors who have seemed  to be saying that its real value lies in its mechanical exfoliation action on the skin. In researching how it works, it seems like it certainly could be effective for at least some of the conditions it claims to treat. However, I also believe that only time will tell just how effective it is, and whether or not it’s worth it.

Furthermore, according to Annet King in her article for The International Dermal Institute Skin Needling: Hurting or Helping? – there are a lot of variables that one has to keep in mind when considering dermal micro needling:

Effects on the Skin: Medical vs. Skin care
Most of the claims about wrinkle reduction and new collagen growth come from the manufacturers of the rollers or those members of the medical community who are associated (remunerated) by those companies. What’s important to keep in mind is that in most cases, patients in the study also used a topical Retinoic Acid or Retinol based product in conjunction with the skin needling. However some independent dermatologists do claim to see positive scar reduction outcomes in their patients, and another upside is that it does offer a cost effective alternative to fractional laser resurfacing. In general, skin needling is a long term commitment of 1-2yrs of combined in office and at home treatment.

The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller. Therefore the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin and drawing fluids, i.e. blood and lymph. With the variances of effects skin needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use. Whichever method is observed, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. As with many methods, it’s vital to respect the boundaries of medical, professional, and at-home tools, and skin benefits shouldn’t be confused. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and crystal-containing scrubs come to mind! The marketing hype can baffle the end user and incense the professional!

Different Needles Different Outcomes
A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.

The longer, thinner needles around 1.0mm or 1.5mm in length are more hazardous; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is much higher. Extreme caution must be used as this is considered highly invasive and high risk. It may also be beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice. Therefore, this procedure is best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory would be ideal to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.

In my opinion the jury is definitely still out on this skin treatment.  I would like to see more real scientific research done on the subject before offering a concrete opinion if this is a skincare treatment to pursue.  If you are an esthetician who does micro needling I would love for you to comment below, and if you have tried micro needling please comment below as well.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from Derma-Rollers.com

 

Acupuncture Facelifts – Do They Really Work? January 5, 2012

In the quest to look younger many women turn to surgery, skincare products, and injections.  I’m all for looking your best because when you feel that you look good those positive feelings radiate out into the rest of your life.  The traditional Western ways to stay looking young involve injectable fillers, Botox, and even cosmetic surgery but it turns out that there are other ways to look younger such as trying facial acupuncture.

Personally, I am a very strong believer in acupuncture.  I have been going regularly to an acupuncturist for over a year and a half and love it.  I love acupuncture because it helps me with stress relief, PMS relief, and overall well-being.  Also acupuncture treats the body as a whole and does not separate emotional wellbeing from physical wellbeing.  I think a holistic outlook on health, including skincare health and beauty, is important.

What is Acupuncture?

Here is a great summary of what acupuncture is and how it works:

Traditional  acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of natural medicine that dates back  approximately 5,000 years. It has developed from careful observation of the  workings of the body and how the environment affects it. The principle behind the  medicine is to view and treat the body, mind and emotions as a single unit,  working on the cause of the illness, not the  symptoms. In many countries it is a primary form  of health care; in the hospitals in China it  is used directly alongside Western Medicine.
Here is a simple analogy to get a basic understanding of how our body is viewed in Chinese Medicine: Think of the body as a complex system of water pipes which need to be in good health for     everything to work smoothly. When a blockage develops in a pipe somewhere it affects the workings of the entire system and generates symptoms. This is akin to what happens when an injury or     disease affects our body. These “pipes” which run all over our body are called meridians. The “water” which flows through them is named Qi (Chi). The Chinese mapped out these meridians over the course of almost a thousand years. By inserting a needle into specific points along these pathways, the blockages can be removed and harmony returned to the body. Whilst  several research studies are being performed to explain how Acupuncture works  in a Western Medical Framework, these scientists have not yet been able to  explain how it works exactly; however, they have provided solid evidence that  acupuncture does in fact work very well.

The benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine are:

• Drug-free pain relief without the side effects

• Boosts the immune system against disease

• Treats the cause as well as the symptoms

• Effectively treats many common ailments

• An all natural form of Medicine

• A good form of maintenance and prevention

• Can prevent chronic conditions from further deteriorating

 (Source:  Traditional Healing Acupuncture Clinic)

Facial Acupuncture 

How exactly does facial acupuncture work?  According to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, one of the leaders in practicing and teaching facial acupuncture in the US, facial acupuncture is:

… a safe, painless and effective treatment for renewing the face as well as the whole body. Fine lines may be entirely erased, deeper lines reduced and bags around neck and eyes firmed.

Fine needles are placed at a variety of acupuncture points on the face, neck and around the eyes to stimulate the body’s natural energies, or Qi. Since muscle groups are addressed as well the acupuncture points, the face lifts itself, via the acupuncture points, through the muscles’ toning and tightening action. The needles also stimulate blood and circulation, which improves facial color.

Benefits

Constitutional:

  • Improves acne (caused by hormonal imbalance)
  • Helps menopause, perimenopause, PMS and other GYN issues
  • Helps sinus congestion and headache
  • Improves hyper- and hypothyroidism
  • Reduces symptoms of toothache, TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, and Bell’s palsy
  • Helps headaches (except severe migraine)
  • Treats diarrhea and constipation (most digestive issues)
  • Helps to eliminate edema and puffiness
  • Benefits eyes, ears and brain
  • Can help insomnia and dizziness
  • Helps depression and aids self-esteem

Facial:

  • Improves collagen production and muscle tone
  • Helps reduce bags and sagging tendencies
  • Helps eliminate fine lines and diminish larger wrinkles
  • Helps reduce double chin and lift drooping eyelids
  • Improves metabolism
  • Tightens pores and brightens eyes
  • Increases local blood and lymph circulation
  • Improves facial color
  • Reduces stress and promotes total health and well-being

Short and Long-Term Effects of Facial Acupuncture

After the first treatment, one usually observes an increased glow to the complexion, the result of increased Qi and blood flow to the face. The person’s face appears more “open”, there is a clarity in the eyes (“clear Shen”), and the patient appears to be more rested; wrinkles start to lessen and the skin appears more toned.

A significant difference in their appearance can be ascertained following the 5th to 7th treatments; even more marked changes in wrinkles, skin tone, etc. The impression of relaxation and calm is more pronounced; they appear as if they have returned from vacation. Lifting of the jowls, neck and the eyes has begun and is usually noticeable. With continuing treatment, constitutional issues like digestive complaints have been ameliorated or subsided.

By the end of a series, the patient should look and feel 5-15 years younger. These results may vary slightly, depending upon how well the patient has taken care of themselves during the process, and afterward. At this stage, booster treatments provide ongoing support within a normal process of aging.

If you are interested in pursuing facial acupuncture as an anti-aging method be aware of the fact that there is quite an investment of time required to see results.  (This is true with any acupuncture treatments since Traditional Chinese Medicine works differently and more slowly usually than Western medicine techniques and medications).  Once again according to Mary Elizabeth Wakefield:

How Long is the Treatment?

Constitutional Facial Acupuncture™ involves the patient in an organic process, in which a series of treatments is necessary to achieve maximal effect. After an initial session, practitioner evaluates the patient’s response, and then can determine the number of follow-up visits that will be required:

After this evaluation, and taking into consideration other variables such as stress, diet, lifestyle, genetic inheritance, proper digestion and elimination, sleep, emotional balance, and age, the following durations of treatment are customarily recommended:

  • Usually 12-15 treatments;
  • 20 treatments for smokers or people whose skin tends to sag, i.e., who manifest jowls, “turkey wattles,” droopy eyes, etc.

It should be noted that age is not as crucial as might be estimated; an older patient with a healthy lifestyle may in fact have a better prognosis than a younger person who is prone to dissipate themselves.

Treatment Timeline:

  • 2 times a week (if possible), for 45 minutes to 1 hour; or
  • 1 treatment per week, 90 minutes

Maintenance Treatments:

Within the normal parameters of aging, the completion of a series of treatments should be effective. To ensure the persistence of the results, ongoing maintenance treatments are recommended:

  1. Every 2 weeks for 2 months following the completion of a treatment series, then once a month for an indefinite amount of time;
  2. Of course, the patient can also embark upon a subsequent series after a week’s respite

Cost of the treatments varies widely according to who you go to and where you live, but overall investing in this treatment could be less costly in the end than getting surgery or regular fillers and Botox (or both).

Of course not everyone is so gung-ho about facial acupuncture as an anti-aging cure-all:

Rhoda Narins, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, says she thinks acupuncture has its place, especially as a pain reliever. But she doesn’t believe in it as a replacement for cosmetic treatments such as surgery, Botox injections, and the like. “Acupuncture doesn’t stop the muscle movement that creates lines,” she says. “Botox does.” Nor can acupuncture tighten or “fill” the skin as surgery or injectable fillers such as Restylane can.

Too many “extreme makeovers” on television are leading many of us to believe that a new look is a no-muss, no-fuss proposition. “That’s just not the case,” says Narins. “Changing your appearance is not something that should be taken lightly.”

(Source:  Acupuncture: The New Facelift?  WebMD)

If you feel that you want to try facial acupuncture you can find an acupuncturist through Mary Elizabeth Wakefield’s referral list.

Further Reading (and lots of first hand accounts from those who tried facial acupuncture):

Photo from skincarebeautyzone.com

 

 
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