Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Winter Skincare Tip: Use Glycerine November 20, 2016


Lately my skin has been feeling very dry and even tight even though I use facial oils on a twice daily basis and moisturizer both morning and evening.  I believe that the weather where I live is pretty much to blame for this skin issue.  Currently, it is cool first thing in the morning and after sundown, but during the day it can still be quite hot (low 80s).  Some days it also windy with poor air quality.  For my skin this has been very drying.  I started trying to think of a way I could easily add moisture back to my skin.  My skincare routine, no surprise, already involves multiple steps, but since my skin was crying out for hydration I decided that I needed to add yet another product to the mix.

I remembered that I had a bottle of vegetable glycerine that I hadn’t really figured out how to use yet (not in my personal skincare routine and not on my clients during facials).   When I bought the glycerine I had this idea that it would be a good way to hydrate dehydrated skin.  Why?  Glycerine is a great humectant which means it attracts water to the skin and also seals that moisture into the skin. Then I recalled that I had pinned a link to a DIY recipe for a glycerine moisturizer.  The recipe is super easy:  1/4 cup glycerine to 1 cup distilled water.  You can add a little essential oil if you want.  Everything goes into a spray bottle.  Viola!  I just eyeballed the amounts when I made my own spray, and instead of essential oil I added some rose water.

The first time I used it I sprayed it directly on my face.  Take it from me – do not do this! Glycerine feels very heavy on the skin.  Instead of my skin feeling hydrated and refreshed after spraying this homemade product on my face, my skin actually felt gross and sticky.  I suggest spraying some of this product into your hands and pat it onto your face, pressing it gently into your skin.  Do this right after washing your face and before applying any other products in your routine.  I can definitely say that my skin feels much better since I added my glycerine spray to my routine.  My skin is much softer and doesn’t feel tight anymore. I’ve also started spraying it on my hair since my hair is always super dry.  I don’t recommend putting glycerine directly from the bottle onto your skin since it can feel heavy, thick, and sticky.  It is best to dilute it with distilled water or rose water (or another liquid product).  Be sure the shake your spray bottle before each use.

If you give this a try be sure to comment below and let me know if it worked for you.  If you are already a fan of glycerine for skincare let us know how you use it on your skin.


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Dry, Cracked Heels: Causes and Treatments April 17, 2013

Dry skin on the heels, even cracked skin, is a fairly common problem that can be treated at home.  Be sure to give your feet some extra TLC year round, not just in the summer when you are wearing sandals.


So just what causes dry, cracked skin on our heels and feet?  There are more than a few causes for this condition, but first let’s remember everything our feet do for us on a daily basis.  The Skin Inc. article Sole Searching by Vicki Malo gives great overview on this issue:

The amount of pressure exerted on the feet gives a good indication that the skin on the soles must be very different than on the rest of the body.

The skin of the soles

The skin of the epidermis on the soles of the feet is much thicker; up to 1.4 mm and comprised of five distinct layers. It has to be thicker to withstand the amount of stress and pressure placed on the soles with every step. There’s more: The skin on the soles of the feet has an additional layer in the epidermis, and the skin cells are packed together in a strong, congruent membrane. The skin on the bottom of the feet also has four times more sweat glands, but does not have hair or sebaceous glands. Due to these functional features of the skin on the soles of the feet, it does not respond as readily to typical skin care techniques practiced elsewhere on the body.

The outermost layer of the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum, is crucial to the skin barrier. Made up of overlapping layers of cells, the stratum corneum keeps vital nutrients in, and damaging substances and elements out. Healthy skin keeps in moisture and protects against the entry of bacteria, fungus or viruses. Unhealthy or dry skin creates a portal of entry, leaving the skin traumatized and unable to perform its job of protection.

Lifestyle and foot issues

So why do you see so many clients with dry skin on their feet? A lot of the reason has to do with lifestyle. Today’s is a fast-paced, high-stress, super-sized lifestyle. Lack of exercise, and a diet high in sugars and simple carbohydrates can lead to a breakdown in the circulation of the lower limbs and increased incidences of diabetes. Lifestyle is the greatest contributor to developing chronic venous insufficiencies (CVI). Venous insufficiencies lead to a disruption in the function of the skin, breaking it down at an intercellular level. There are no capillaries in the epidermis; however, the skin is nourished by diffusion from the capillaries in the underlying dermis. If the capillaries are compromised, proper blood supply (nourishment) cannot be provided to the epidermis of the skin. Impaired elimination of metabolic waste due to CVI impairs the sweat glands, diminishing sweat production on the bottom of the feet. The tissue disturbances further cause a breakdown of the lipids, which are responsible for holding the cells together. The breakdown of the lipids causes the hydrolipid film to break down, leading to transdermal water loss. The skin loses elasticity and has less potential for regeneration. The intercellular water loss compromises the integrity of the skin leading to micro lesions, such as dry skin. Micro lesions are a portal of entry and can cause skin issues, such as athlete’s foot.

There are many other reasons that one can suffer from dry heels and feet such as cold weather, indoor heating, improper foot care, and standing on your feet all day.  There are even specific Ayurvedia explanations for dry and cracked heels:

Painful, cracked and dry heels is a predominant cosmetic problem and has been termed as Padadari in Ayurveda and has been explained inKshudra Rogas in Sushruta Samhita. There are innumerable remedies for cracked foot in Ayurveda and let’s have a look at the promising Ayurvedic essential oils for healing heel fissures.

Causes for cracks or fissures: Human foot is the powerful part of the body helping one to withstand all severe climatic conditions and roam around, yet it is this part of the body that is often neglected. Cracks on foot have no age limit and it can affect anyone for that matter irrelevant of the sex, color and origin. The major causes for cracks or heel fissures are:

  • Cracks are occupational especially for farmers and other people who are involved in laborious tasks that demand standing always, which lead to huge pressure on the foot forcing it to develop cracks.
  • Prolonged standing on hard floor and this is the reason why most of the homemakers develop cracks.
  • Dry, dull and lifeless skin that lacks moisture, especially during winter has the tendency to develop cracks.
  • Uncomfortable, not so fitting or open back footwear compels pressure on the foot, while widening and deepening the cracks.
  • Obesity or excess accumulation of fat and deficiency of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
  • Dry, hot, humid and tropical climatic conditions make your feet dull, dry and hard paving way to develop cracks.
  • Aging and skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot etc.
  • High exposure of feet to dust, dirt, germs and other harmful organisms leading to infection in the foot.
  • Excess sweating of feet or other causal illnesses like thyroid and diabetes can also cause cracks on the foot.

Symptoms: Cracks generally appear on the external or outer walls of the heels, when it is thick and dry. The symptoms of cracked foot are dry, itchy and painful heels with flaky and red patches and partition of skin looking like root hairs. When left unnoticed, fissures may start bleeding with excruciating pain and might even lead to developing Calluses, Cellulites, and Lymphangitis etc. Anyone with cracked feet will have greater discomfort while walking and the cracks can act as a dangerous channel for bacteria, virus, fungi and other harmful organisms to enter into the body and complicate the situation.

(From Ayurvedic Treatment for Cracked FootEssential Depot)

Treatment Options

Now that we know the cause of dry and cracked heels what about the cure?

If you simply suffer from dry skin on your heels and feet you need to use a moisturizer with gentle acids in it in order to exfoliate and hydrate your feet.  Apply nightly after soaking your feet or taking a shower.  You can even wear cotton socks during the night if you want to in order to help the moisturizer penetrate deeper into your feet.

For very rough feet you can purchase a callous remover lotion or gel that is applied to the feet for about five to ten minutes.  After that time has elapsed file the skin gently with a pumice stone or foot file.  Finish with a moisturizer.

If your feet are cracked you need to use a product formulated for such a condition so that your skin can heal.

Bottom Line:  Though dry and cracked heels are an unpleasant phenomena this is a common skin condition that can be treated at home.  The key to proper treatment is finding the right product for you and using it daily.


At Home Treatments:

I found a few different at home treatment protocols that I thought were relevant to share:

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Moisturizer Musings November 19, 2012

I came across a few things lately related to moisturizers that I thought would be good to share with my readers especially now that the weather is getting colder most places.

Future Derm recently addressed a number of common moisturizer misconceptions.  The issue I found most interesting was that of moisturizers with spf versus sunscreens:

Moisturizers with SPF versus Sunscreens

Incorrect Definitions:

I don’t actually know how people (in their minds) differentiate moisturizers with SPF from sunscreens. But I always see people give this distinction, without giving an explanation. For example, a reader recently commented that:

“… HOWEVER, the LRP is actually a MOISTURIZER with SPF rather than a straight sunscreen.So I was wondering if the PCA Sunscreen you recommend is moisturizing as well or would it require an additional moisturizer?…”


Now that we’ve defined what a “moisturizer” is, a moisturizer with SPF is therefore just a leave-on product that contains occlusive agents AND UV filters, and may also contain humectants, emollients, and other beneficial ingredients. What about sunscreens? I honestly don’t know what to say, except that sunscreens are the exact same thing. They can certainly be “moisturizing.” In fact, a common complaint is that “sunscreens,” especially those that contain inorganic UV filters like titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, are TOO moisturizing, greasy, emollient, and/or heavy. So I don’t understand how this distinction was imagined in the first place. I mean, anything with an SPF rating is measured the same way; a “moisturizer” with an SPF of 20 and a “sunscreen” with an SPF of 20, will both provide the same initial level of UVB protection.

Correct Definitions:

Moisturizers with SPF and sunscreens are the exact same thing: leave- on products that contain occlusive agents AND UV filters, and may also contain humectants, emollients, and other beneficial ingredients.

After reading the above analysis of moisturizers with spf versus sunscreens I thought – why did this never occur to me before!?!?  Truthfully I can’t say why I needed to read what someone else had written about this in order to realize that it was true.  The real key here is finding the right product for you and using it – make sure that you use it every day without fail and that you use enough of it.  A tiny drop of sunscreen (or moisturizer with spf) will not give you enough protection, and make sure you reapply throughout the day.  Sunscreen only lasts two to three hours.

The Importance of Moisturizer

Recently I reviewed the book Stop Aging, Stop Living by Dr. Jeannette Graf.  My review focused on Dr. Graf’s dietary and lifestyle advice and how an alkaline diet helps your skin look and function at its best.  When it comes to hands on skincare advice Dr. Graf’s is very straightforward and easy to follow.  I was struck by her insistence of the daily use of moisturizer for all skin types.  Here is her advice about using moisturizer during the day (pages 112-114)

It doesn’t matter whether your skin is dry, oily, combination, or normal.  You need moisturizer to replace moisture lost during cleansing and seal in that moisture so it does not escape.  Your skin type may affect what type of moisturizer you use, but not whether or not you use it.

Moisturizers replace lost water and hold it there with humectants (water-binding agents).  In other words, they add moisture to your skin and prevent existing moisture from escaping.  Although your skin naturally retains moisture through small molecular weight compounds called natural moisturizing factor (NMF), it needs a layer of fatty acids (lipids) above the NMF layer to seal in this moisture and prevent it from evaporating.  Showering, cleansing, sun exposure, wind, dry heating and air-conditioning, swimming, and other factors remove these fatty acids on a nearly constant basis.  If you don’t use a moisturizer to replace this lipid layer and seal in NMF, your skin’s natural moisture evaporates, resulting in dry, thin, tight, older-looking skin.  …

Look for a moisturizer that advertises an SPF of at least 30.  During the winter months, when UVB rays are weakest, you can get away with an SPF of 15.  This SPF will protect your skin from sun damage during short outdoor activities, such as going to and from the car.  Apply it first thing in the morning rather than waiting until you are ready to head outdoors.  Although glass blocks sunburn-inducing UVB rays, it does not block much of UVA.  Your SPF protection will last about an hour*, so reapply (or touch up your mineral makeup, which also provides some sun protection) before going outdoors later in the day.

Make sure the sunscreen and/or sunblock in your moisturizer is broad-spectrum, with wording on the packaging that says it protects against both UVB and UVA rays.  …  As an added bonus, any antioxidants in your moisturizer (vitamins C, E, grape seed extract, or green tea) will enhance the protection from your sunblock as well as provide protection from environmental pollutants.

Finding the perfect moisturizer may take some trial and error.  Try free samples whenever possible, and trust your instincts.  If your skin feels shiny or greasy, the moisturizer is too rich for your skin type.  If your skin feels tight and dry, it’s not rich enough.  If you have combination skin, you may need two different moisturizers – a gel or a sheer sunscreen for the oily areas and a thicker moisturizer for the drier areas.  If you have very dry skin, you may need to double your efforts, both using a rich moisturizer that contains no SPF or anti-wrinkle ingredients and applying a separate SPF product on top.  This first layer moisturizer should contain humectants and emollient lipids such as ceramides and evening primrose oil.  Evening primrose oil is the richest source of gamma-linolenic acid, a type of essential fatty acid that is soothing and particularly moisturizing for the skin.

As for the evening Dr. Graf has the following to say (pages 119-120):

Moisturize and Renew

Use a different moisturizer at night than you use in the morning.  At night, your skin is renewing itself, so you need a moisturizer that helps the skin to perform this important function.  That comes down to one important ingredient: retinol.  This highly studied skin care ingredient has been proven to even skin tone, promote elasticity, build collagen, and renew skin cells, promoting the birth of new skin cells as well as protecting the ones that already exist.  It’s the most important skin care ingredient, apart from sunblock, no matter your age, complexion, or skin type.

Retinol is a natural form of the vitamin A that is found in yellow and green vegetables, egg yolks, and fish oils.  It’s the most abundant form of Vitamin A found in the skin.  We learned about the benefits of retinol in the 1970s, when researchers began using it to treat acne.  They noticed a side benefit to people who used Retin-A (a very strong prescription form of retinol).  Their skin began to look younger.  Retin-A seemed to reverse sun-induced aging in the following ways:

  • Decreasing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improving collagen production
  • Enhancing elasticity
  • Improving skin tone and texture
  • Enhancing skin lightening and minimizing age spots

It was most effective on the people who needed the most help – on skin that already had suffered lots of premature aging due to sun exposure.  Retin-A is not available over the counter.  You need a prescription for it.  Over-the-counter retinol moisturizers, however, have also been shown to reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging – and without all the irritating side effects of prescription Retin-A.

To choose a moisturizer, follow these tips:

  • To avoid redness or irritation, start with the lowest retinol cream you can find, slowly working your way up to increasingly stronger creams.
  • Look for a retinol cream that is formulated for sensitive skin.
  • Buy a cream from a respected company to ensure stability and safety.  Respected companies include Johnson and Johnson, Neutrogena, and Roc.
  • Don’t step using retinol once your appearance improves.  You need to keep using retinol to maintain the results.


So there you have it – two interesting opinions about moisturizers.  My take on the issue is that you should find a moisturizer that is right for you and use it.  How your skin looks and feels and the climate that you live in will definitely influence which moisturizer is right for you.  Just as Dr. Graf explains it might take some trial and error to find the right moisturizer for you but once you do your skin will thank you.


My Related Posts:


*Yes, I know that I wrote above that your sunscreen lasts two to three hours and Dr. Graf says one hour.  Who’s right?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that you should reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.


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Moisturizer Myths January 31, 2011


I think there are a few big myths about moisturizers that most people seem to believe.  One is that moisturizer can get rid of wrinkles.  Another myth about moisturizer is that it is a vital anti-aging tool.  Yet another myth about moisturizer is that you need one every day, twice a day. 

So what exactly does your moisturizer do?  And what can’t your moisturizer do?

First let’s debunk the idea that a moisturizer will get rid of wrinkles.  That is simply impossible.  What a moisturizer can do is temporarily plump up wrinkles and make them appear less obvious.  But a moisturizer cannot bring about a true change in regards to your wrinkles – you need plastic surgery, laser treatments, or Retin-A to truly erase wrinkles.   But if you want your skin to temporarily appear smoother and for your wrinkles to be less obvious than a moisturizer can help you temporarily achieve that goal.

So if you want to stay looking young as long as possible do you need a moisturizer as part of your anti-aging arsenal?  Not necessarily.  You need to use a moisturizer if you feel that your skin is dry (lacking oil) or dehydrated (lacking water).  Not everyone needs a moisturizer.  You might find that you need a moisturizer during the winter but not during the summer.  A moisturizer is not a must have skincare product like a great cleanser or an antioxidant serum. 

What is a good way to tell if you need a moisturizer or not?  Wash your face and then wait about 10 to 15  minutes.  During those 10 to 15 minutes do not put anything on your face.  After you’ve waited think about how your face feels – is it tight or dry feeling?  Then you need a moisturizer.  If you notice flakes on your face after the waiting period than you need to gently exfoliate and then use a moisturizer.

Now that you know what your moisturizer cannot do – what does a good moisturizer actually do?  Actually what a moisturizer does is very straightforward.  A moisturizer will keep the skin hydrated, help the skin’s barrier function work properly which means it keeps moisture in but bacteria and other undesirable elements out, and helps keep the natural moisturizing elements in the upper layers of the skin replenished.  And do remember that you don’t need to go overboard when applying moisturizer.  Use about a penny size worth of moisturizer on your face and neck to begin with.  If you feel you need more moisturizer than add it a little bit more at a time until you feel that your skin is well hydrated.  And one last tip on applying moisturizer – if at all possible apply moisturizer to your skin while it is slightly damp.  That way your skin locks in the water and that adds to the hydration your skin is getting.


Facial Waters: What Are They? August 13, 2010


I must admit that until very recently I was a bit confused and skeptical about the concept of facial waters.  I wondered if they were just an overpriced, bogus product promoted by skincare and beauty companies to make money off of suckers.  Ok – so I was more than a bit confused and skeptical about this product.

Recently I finished reading Leslie Baumann’s book The Skin Type Solution and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of her book (see my review) I did learn a few new things including what exactly facial waters are and how they benefit the skin.  I have to say that I was intrigued.  Facial waters can definitely be of benefit for those with dry skin or as a temporary solution for when you are in a low-humidity environment like an airplane (see my earlier post Airplane Travel and Your Skin for more skincare travel tips).


What Are Facial Waters and How Do They Benefit The Skin?

According to Dr. Baumann (pages 198,199, and 216 of her book):

Facial waters come from thermal springs.  They do not contain chemicals such as chlorine that are added to our tap water to keep it free from algae and other organisms.   The constituents of the water vary according to the source.  Vichy water contains sulfur, while La Roche-Posay water contains selenium and has been shown to be effective in treating eczema.  Both selenium and sulfur can be anti-inflammatory.

Spray facial water on your face just before applying eye cream and moisturizer.  The moisturizer and eye cream will help trap the water on the skin, giving the skin a reservoir to pull water from.  This is particularly beneficial in low-humidity environments such as the dry winter air, on airplanes, in air-conditioning, or in windy locales.

Essentially facial waters deposit much needed water and soothing ingredients onto the skin.  I like the idea of using a facial water in combination with a traditional moisturizer.  If you find that your regular moisturizer isn’t doing the job consider adding a facial water to your regime before throwing away or switching your product altogether.  Perhaps the solutions to your dry skin is only a spray away.


Products to Try


Further Reading:



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