Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

My Beauty Regrets February 12, 2013

This post was inspired by two separate posts I read online.  The first was Beauty Regrets I Wish I Knew In My 20s from My Beauty Bunny and the other was ATB Learning Curve: 10 Beauty Lessons I Learnt in My 20s from Addicted to Blush.  (Full disclosure – I found the second post since my blog is mentioned in the post.  Before then I did not know of this blog, but I am finding it quite fun to read a beauty blog from India)  Though I am well past my 20s, and nearing 40 more and more with each passing day, I did find parallels in my beauty regime to what the ladies mentioned in their posts.

Overall I try not to have regrets when it comes to anything or everything in my life.  But try as I might, of course, I do still have regrets.  Mine mostly revolve around something I should have said to someone or something I shouldn’t have said to someone.  I’m a work in progress but aren’t we all?

So without any further delays my beauty regrets are as follows:

  • Not taking sun protection more seriously sooner.  I started using a moisturizer with SPF in it back in high school (or at least I think I did, maybe it was college), but now I know I didn’t use enough and I never reapplied.  I have the sun damage to prove it.  In the last few years I’ve become a sunscreen fanatic, and I am never without a sunscreen at all times so that I can reapply.  Many people think I am insane because of my sunscreen fanaticism, but I don’t care :).
  • I wish I had learned about skincare ingredients sooner.  Until I started studying esthetics about five years ago I got all my beauty information from glossy fashion magazines.  Not that those magazines cannot provide helpful information for the consumer, but they are certainly just one perspective on a complicated and far-reaching subject.  Once I started my esthetic training I discovered a wealth of publications for estheticians that I currently read and blogs that help me sort through all the beauty mumble jumble out there (for a list look at the right hand side of my home page under “links I love”).  I also started reading lots of books by dermatologists which I have found very informative (look under “book reviews” for my reviews).  Better informed you are the better choices you make when it comes to taking care of your skin.  Lastly, always remember to keep an open mind.  I am constantly learning new things from my fellow estheticians, the reading I do, and from taking care of different client’s skin.
  • I wish I had understood the link between skin health, particularly acne, and food earlier.  Last year I read quite a few books about skin health/beauty and food.  What I found most fascinating was the information about an alkaline diet and skin health.  (You can find more information about this in my two earlier posts Is An Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin? and Book Review: Stop Aging, Start Living)  I also wish I had realized sooner how awful sugar is for your skin and health.  I am still trying to break my sugar addiction.  (For more information on how terrible sugar is for your skin see this post of mine)
  • I regret not doing chemical peels sooner.  Chemical peels are a great way to treat a myriad of skincare conditions including, though not limited to, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines.  (For more information about chemical peels see my post 13 Reasons You Should Get a Chemical Peel from an Esthetician)
  • I wish I had learned to apply make-up earlier.  I’ve reached the point in my life were I really look better with some make-up on instead of none.  It took me years and years and years to get over being intimidated by make-up, any make-up.  I can’t say that I am great at applying make-up, but I do have simple routine down pat.  Make-up is also a great way to be creative without having regrets since you can simply wash your face and be done.  (I recently discovered Lisa Eldridge’s make-up tutorials.  Check them out!)

So what are your beauty regrets?  Share below!

Image from http://www.underconsideration.com

 

The Benefits of Facial Massage January 31, 2013

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about how facial exercises are a waste of your time but a facial massage is very beneficial for your skin.  In this post thought I would expand on why facial massages are so helpful for your skin and your overall wellbeing.  Last year I even had a client who would just come to me for facial massages, not a full facial.  She was originally from Europe and explained to me that this was not an unusual treatment, just having a facial massage, in Europe.  I could definitely understand her thinking.  I believe that a facial without some sort of massage is not really a facial.  That is how strongly I believe in the benefits of facial massage.

According to the Skin Inc. article by Lydia Sarfati, Facial Massage: Experience the Benefits, there are quite a few ways that facial massage helps clients:

When performed correctly, massage can provide clients with a wealth of benefits for their health and skin. Specifically, facial massage:

  • Stimulates circulation;
  • Detoxifies;
  • Stimulates sebaceous production;
  • Relaxes the nerves;
  • Releases toxins trapped between the tissues and muscles;
  • Oxygenates skin tissues;
  • Provides physiological and psychological benefits;
  • Aids in the extraction process;
  • Hydrates by bringing nutrients to the surface layer of the skin;
  • Increases lymphatic flow; and
  • Eases muscle tension.

Almost every skin condition can benefit from a facial massage.  Your esthetician just needs to know what type of massage to perform on each client according to what is going on with their skin.  In another Skin Inc. article, this one by Danae Markland entitled Facial Massage: More Than Relaxation, different types of massages for varying skin conditions are explained:

Massage can greatly benefit acne, rosacea and other inflamed skin conditions. Acne is a wound to the skin, and increasing blood flow encourages the healing process. Many skin care professionals are taught to avoid massage with acne clients because of the risk of cross-contamination and overstimulation. Although this is a valid concern and many traditional massage techniques are not appropriate for acne sufferers, light manipulation for a short period of time increases blood flow, which brings oxygen to the skin, killing the anaerobic bacteria responsible for breakouts and providing significant improvement. Similar to acne, rosacea and other sensitive skin conditions involve chronic inflammation, which also benefits greatly from the enhanced circulation associated with massage. When dealing with acne and other inflamed conditions, limit massage time to no more than 10 minutes.

There is no denying that massage of any kind improves the appearance of the skin for a short period of time after a treatment. This instant improvement is again due to an increase in blood flow and, ultimately, an increase in cellular oxygenation. As with many aspects of the skin, circulation decreases with age, leading to a dull appearance. Massage improves circulation, leading to a more youthful complexion. Clients who smoke and those who engage in air travel regularly also benefit from enhanced circulation, because smoking and air travel limit the amount of oxygen obtained by the cells, leading to lifeless complexions.

YouTube is a great way to see different types of facial massage since each esthetician eventually develops her own facial massage technique.  In my opinion there isn’t a “right” way to perform a facial massage.  As long as it feels good than your on the right track to relaxation and healthy skin.

Image from massage-ce-solutions.com

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Honey January 24, 2013

If you are a fan of DIY facial masks you’ve probably come across more than one recipe for at home facial masks using honey.  Why does this ingredient repeatedly appear in DIY facial treatments?  It turns out for a few very good reasons.   Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin, is antimicrobial, and an antioxidant.

According to Shape magazine honey helps the skin(and your overall health) in a few different ways:

1. Skin ailments: Everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and radiation-associated ulcers have been shown to respond to “honey dressings.” That’s thanks to the hydrogen peroxide that naturally exists in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.

2. Mosquito bite relief: Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.

3. It’s an immune booster: Honey is chock full of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage. It can also contribute to heart health as well as protect against cancer.

4. Digestive aid: In a 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.

5. Acne treatment: According to preliminary research, Manuka, and Kanuka types of honey can effectively treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back, and chest.

(From 5 Health Benefits of Honey)

Future Derm highlights honey’s beauty benefits thusly:

Honey’s combination of vitamins, antioxidants, sugars and amino make it produce hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid — acidic solutions that are frequently used to clear dirt and bacteria from wounds.  It is due in part to its numerous antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide that honey is often lauded as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent — good news if you have oiler skin that could collect dirt more easily, have superficial wounds and scarring, or if you just need something to give your skin a little extra cleaning (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

But honey’s effectiveness doesn’t just stop with being a skin cleanser – there is substantial evidence for its role in wound-healing. Coupled with its hydrogen peroxide, honey provides amoist environment for skin to repair itself, encourages epithelialization (skin cell regrowth), granulation tissue formation, (a type of connective tissue), and wound healing.  Plus, honey can reduce swelling and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, meaning that it very may well reduce pain and irritation from skin lesions (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery)

Honey is also good for dry skin, especially skin disorders such as Eczema and Psoriasis. These two skin ailments are characterized by their excessive dryness, itchiness, inflammation and irritation. After using the a mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax three times a day for two weeks, 80 percent of the eczema patients had reduced symptoms of itching, scaling, and oozing from lesions. 63 percent of the psoriasis patients also reported significant improvement in symptoms (Complementary Therapies in Medicine).

Users should know that there are several different strains of honey whose efficacy can vary, such as the medical-quality Manuka and Revamil. If using pure honey, take caution — honey is able to support the bacteria that cause gangrene and botulism, and are typically treated with gamma irridation to eradicate these bacteria (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

(From Lancome Tonique Confort Rehydrating Toner Review)

Many sources claim that not all honey is the same and you actually need to use raw honey in order to receive all the benefits described above.  In an article from Beauty at Skin Deep the benefits of raw honey are explained:

It should be noted that not all honey is created equal. Most of the honey found in grocery stores has been processed with heat, which kills off healing enzymes and destroys a lot of the nutrient-rich content. But, raw honey hasn’t been processed and will give your skin the healing benefits that it needs. Also, if you have allergies, try a patch test first and/or ask you physician if raw honey is a right for you.

BENEFITS

Raw honey is an amazing natural beauty solution for all skin types because of its healing skin benefits. It does wonders for a wide variety of skin ailments including:

Acne and enlarged pores
Rosacea
Eczema
Hyperpigmentation
Sensitive, mature, and dull lifeless skin

With its natural pH level of 4.5, raw honey falls within skin’s naturally healthy pH range. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties make it great for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.

Depending on where the honey is collected from, it contains many nutrients and minerals excellent for skin health such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and calcium. It also acts as a humectant drawing moisture to the skin and is perfect as a gentle cleansing solution for even very sensitive skin. When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties which helps heal acne and impede bacterial growth causing more acne

(From Skin Benefits of Raw Honey)

Personally I’ve never tried honey, any type of honey, as a facial treatment, but I do find the information on it intriguing.  If you’ve ever used honey at home as a skincare treatment please comment below.

Sources and Further Reading:

Important read about the benefits of honey and the false marketing claims of beauty companies:

While researching this post I found that a lot of sources repeat the same information about honey over and over so I’ve highlighted just a few resources below.

Image from self.com

 

Hard Water and Your Skin January 16, 2013

A few months ago I moved from Chicago to Israel and my skin went insane.  I had breakouts galore and overall my skin went from looking nice to a complete disaster.  Now try going to esthetician job interviews when your skin actually looks like it needs the help of an esthetician.  Not pretty.  (Luckily I found bosses who understood what was going on with my skin and overlooked it, hiring me anyhow).  I’ve written about the issue of your skin going psycho in the past so I had a pretty good idea of what was causing my skin woes.  I also met other people who had moved around the same time I had and were experiencing similar skincare issues.  So I realized that what was going on wasn’t completely personal.  In my case I blamed the following issues for my skin issues: change in the climate I was living in, different food, stress, and hard water.  In order to treat my skin, specifically my breakouts, I started using my strongest skincare products (Retin-A and salicylic acid serum from Epionce) more often than I had before.  As with many skincare problems my skin started to calm down around the three month mark of being in my new home.  Of course I still have breakouts occasionally but nothing like when I first moved.  I’ve also recently adjusted my skincare routine because of the winter.

What happened got me thinking about how hard water affects our skin so I decided to investigate and share what I learned with my readers.*

eHow explains how hard water hurts your skin in the online article The Effects of Hard Water on Skin:

Hard water is comprised of high concentrations of undissolved minerals, such as calcium carbonate and dolomite. Although hard water contains these elements, it is not detrimental to your health, but it is harsh on your skin.  …

Damage to Healthy Skin Cells

  • Hard water can cause damage to healthy skin cells. The elements such as zinc, lead, magnesium and calcium found undissolved in hard water will break down the elastin and collagen found in healthy skin cells. When this happens, the skin becomes vulnerable to sun damage through harmful ultraviolet rays.

Acne

  • Since hard water is composed of undissolved minerals, acne can occur on a more frequent basis. Hard water dries out the skin, depriving it of natural oils. This causes skin irritation, which leads to acne breakouts.

Dry Skin

  • The insoluble minerals found in hard water wind up settling on the surface of the skin and cause itchiness and dryness. In severe cases, the skin will become inflamed, crack, and bleed.

Ineffective on Germs

  • Skin is more prone to germs when washed with hard water because it actually coats the skin with a dull film, due to the insoluble minerals in it. When this happens, the body’s natural oils are unable to reach the epidermis of the skin, and this leads to failure in the skin’s natural antimicrobial properties.

Self magazine investigates the issue even further in the article Is Your Water Causing You to Break Out?:

The problem with hard water is that its high mineral content prevents it from properly reacting with soap and, instead of triggering a lather, it creates a soapy layer on the skin. This not only clogs pores, but also irritates the skin, making it itchy, flaky and dry.

“These impurities in water make it difficult for soap and shampoo to wash off, leading to dryness of the skin and scalp, which directly irritate skin and cause redness and rosacea,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, Manhattan                                    dermatologist and founder of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare product line.

There’s also a correlation between hard water and skin disorders, like eczema. “The minerals, such as calcium, that are found in higher concentration may cause loss of moisture in the skin, which can lead to irritating conditions, such as eczema,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger. Research at the University of Nottingham found that, out of over 7,500 school-age children, eczema was significantly more common for those living in hard water areas than those living in soft water areas.

It’s not just a matter of converting hard water to soft, which can be achieved with an at-home filtration system, because this does not take care of the heavy metals–like iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and lead–that cause skin issues. “An at-home filtration system is not an effective means of safeguarding the skin because the heavy metals are microscopic and present in the actual solution of the water,” says Dr. Gross.

So what are these heavy metals actually doing to our skin?

According to Dr. Gross, the impurities cause a chemical reaction with the skin’s natural oils, changing the consistency of the oil from a liquid to a wax, which in turn, clogs the pores and leads to acne. They have the same response to creams, even those that are non-comedogenic.

“After the face is washed and dried, the impurities from water still remain on the face and cling to the skin,” says Dr. Gross. “Even though these creams are formulated with oil-like substances specifically created to not block pores, when the creams come in contact with water impurities left on the face (after it has been washed and patted dry), the remaining impurities cause the oil-like substances to clog the pores.”

Also, the impurities found in tap water can act as free radicals, which bond with healthy skin cells and then destroy them. This in turn leads to the breakdown of collagen and leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.  …

But Dr. Gross thinks it’s just a matter of time until dermatologists start considering the havoc water is wreaking on our skin. He wasn’t concerned much with water, either, until the skin woes of patients at his Manhattan practice led him to investigate further. “They would return from trips in the U.S. or abroad with irritated skin–even though they were using the exact same skincare regimen,” he said. Concluding that their skin issues resulted from the variation of city water, Dr. Gross began running lab tests on tap water nationwide. “I was shocked by the variation of heavy metal content from city to city,” he says.

In his research, Dr. Gross found that each metal pointed to a certain skin issue. He considers iron–with high amounts in Los Angeles, Park City, and New York–to be the most detrimental metal found in tap water because the accumulated deposits get energized by the sun, which has been linked to some cases of skin cancer. But for those individuals who are breakout prone, he says that calcium and magnesium are the two elements that will cause the most damage. “Both of these elements cause one’s own oils to become comedogenic and form waxy plugs that clog pores and lead to further breakouts, inflammation, flare-ups and irritation,” he said.

Some, after making this discovery, have quit tap water cold turkey–opting to cleanse with anhydrous (no water necessary) products or bottled water (so Paris Hilton). Washing with distilled water often leaves those unaccustomed with a “slippery” feeling, as the water instantly lathers and dismantles the soap scum later that lingers on skin.

But for those who can’t resist that refreshing rush of H20 pouring down on their faces in the shower each morning, they can opt for products that contain chelators, an organic complex that sequesters the heavy metals on the surface of the skin, preventing them from penetrating into the pores and causing damage. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream is infused with Dr. Gross’s Chelating Complex, which he says “is likened to washing your face with pure H20.”

Personally I don’t think any of my skincare products have chelators in them, but I am going to try to be more vigilant about using toner (I have quite a few and forget to use them all the time) after cleansing in order to make sure that I have removed some of the mineral deposits left on my skin.  One day I would like to get a filter for our water, but in the meantime I’ll just have to get creative.

Further Reading:

*I also need to add that my hair and scalp has been a complete disaster since I moved because of the hard water where I live.  I still haven’t figure out how to fix that issue.

Image from personal.psu.edu

 

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.

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Image from realbeauty.com

 

Why Does Mineral Oil Have Such A Bad Reputation? November 5, 2012

A very long time ago a reader asked me to address the issue of mineral oil in my blog.  I am just now getting around to writing this post.  My apologizes to that reader.

Let me start off with information about mineral oil that I found on the holistic lifestyle website The Chalk Board:

Toxic Tuesday Ingredient Focus: Mineral Oil (aka Paraffinum Liquidum)

WHAT IS IT? An extremely cheap & common petroleum derivative (refined crude oil petrochemical) which is found in 98% of skincare products sold in the US.

HEALTH RISK: Petrochemicals contain neurotoxins which damage the nervous system. Mineral oil forms a film on the surface of your skin that can not be absorbed, thereby blocking the pores and the skin’s natural respiration. It traps dirt and bacteria and blocks the absorption of vitamins/minerals/botanicals that may be in a product. John Hopkins University named mineral oil in cosmetics and moisturizers as the number two cause of aging (first being direct exposure to sun). It may also cause allergic reactions and dryness, as well as promote acne and other skin disorders.

Oy!  If I took everything I read at face value I would be throwing out my beauty products right now instead of writing this post.  Scary information, right?  Extreme information, right?  (I recently did a training with a very well known international skincare company during which the trainer repeated the same information about mineral oil that you see above)  So what’s the truth about mineral oil?  What was written above or is it something else?

In his book The New Ideal in Skin Health Dr. Carl Thornfeldt devotes three pages just to the topic of mineral oil.  He debunks the information above (pages 377-380):

One of the most widely used ingredients for moisturizers is the first controversial ingredient we will cover.  Petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly and white petroleum) and mineral oil have been much maligned from “natural” based cosmetics companies, internet consumer sites and other environmental groups.  These sources erroneously claim that petrolatum and mineral oil are terrible ingredients because they come from crude oil (petroleum) which causes harm to the skin by forming an occlusive oil film, thereby “suffocating” it.  Unfortunately for these sources, this claim defies known human biology. In the body oxygen is transported to the skin by the blood supply, and then diffuses into the epidermal cells – oxygen is not absorbed directly from the air.  Herbal mucilages have been used for wound healing to soothe, protect and heal damaged or abnormal skin for centuries.  These mucilages naturally mimic the occlusive activity of petrolatum and mineral oil.  However, the “suffocating” claim is never used to dissuade use of those types of products.

Mineral oil, also known as soft paraffin, is the liquid form of petrolatum.  All of these ingredients consist of mixtures of hydrocarbons that are byproducts of crude petroleum distillation; thus they are all actually organic, natural ingredients. …

Mineral oil reduces TEWL (transepidermal water loss) by 40%, is equally as occlusive as coconut oil and more occlusive than linoleic acid, yet it does not induce acne.  Mineral oil and petrolatum provide inhibition of excessive inflammatory activity superior to 1% hydrocortisone is treating soap induced contact irritant dermatitis conducted by this author.  It has also been documented these ingredients have anticarcinogenic and mild antibacterial effects.

Many of these misconceptions regarding safety and efficacy of these ingredients are directly related to the quality of the grade.  Technical grade is the least unpurified form of the oil, and is commonly used by machinists to lubricate engines and equipment.  It is known to induce contact reactions in 10-50% of the machinists.  Cosmetic grade is a more purified option.  The highest standard is United States Pharmacopeia (USP) pharmaceutical grade, which indicates that it is essentially free of impurities.  …

Prescription pharmaceuticals and some cosmetic companies do use the highest quality USP grade in their marketed formulations.  Cosmetic companies are not required to use USP grade, even though USP grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered the safest, least irritating moistutrizing ingredients ever found in the skin care industry.  In addition, they are commonly used as a “vehicle” for most substances used in patch testing by dermatologists due to their nonirritating and nonsensitizing properties.  This is a medical diagnostic process used to determine if one is allergic to ingredients in products applied to the skin.

Neither pharmaceutical nor cosmetic grades of petrolatum or mineral oil are considered comedogenic when using the standardized comedogenicity testing.  With the highest comedogenicity rating at 5, these ingredients have tested at a 0-1 rating.  This rating indicates the increased impurities in lower grades appear to be the major cause of adverse reactions including comedogenicity, contact irritant and allergic dermatitis. …

As to claims that people react negatively even to USP grade petrolatum or mineral oil, to date all compounds used in skin care have at least one documented positive patch test response.  Even purified water applied to the skin may activate hives in people afflicted with a disease called aquagenic pruritus.  Thus, while safety testing is imperative, there can always be the exceptional patient that may react negatively to even the safest known ingredient.

If that information isn’t enough to persuade you that mineral oil in skincare products is ok let me present some more evidence.  The Beauty Brains debunked five long-held myths about mineral oil in their post The Top 5 Myths About Mineral Oil – Part 1:

We often see the advice that people should avoid mineral oil at all costs.

This idea is propagated by numerous “natural” companies. Well, this advice is just bogus. It’s not based on any scientific studies. Mineral oil is a perfectly fine ingredient and has been used in cosmetics for over 100 years.

Here are the top 5 Myths that companies tell people to make them afraid of mineral oil.

Mineral Oil Myths

1. Mineral oil is contaminated with carcinogens. While it’s true that some petroleum derivatives contain carcinogenic materials (like some polycyclic aromatic compounds) the mineral oil that is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry is highly refined and purified. It’s purity is even regulated by the US FDA and other international regulatory agencies. There is absolutely no evidence that cosmetic grade mineral oil causes cancer. And there has been plenty of testing done to ensure that fact. We could find no published reports in any of the dermatological or medical journals indicating a link between mineral oil and any forms of cancer.

2. Mineral oil dries the skin and causes premature aging. Mineral oil works as a barrier between the skin and the air. It acts as an occlusive agent which prevents water from naturally leaving your body through your skin. It will not dry out your skin or cause premature aging. Quite the contrary. It will provide moisturization.

3. Mineral oil robs the skin of vitamins. Since many vitamins are oil based, people assume that mineral oil will pull them out of your skin. There is no legitimate scientific evidence that this is true. Mineral oil has no effect on the vitamin levels in your skin.

4. Mineral oil prevents absorption of collagen from collagen moisturizers. Collagen in your skin lotions and moisturizers is too big to actually penetrate your skin. Therefore, mineral oil will have no effect on whether the collagen gets absorbed or not.

5. Mineral oil causes acne. In some people, mineral oil can exacerbate acne problems. However, most people will not experience any problems.

So, if it is not for safety concerns, why would companies be telling you to avoid mineral oil? We’ll look at that in part 2 of our series.

The Beauty Brains Bottom line. Mineral oil is NOT bad for you or your skin. It is one of the best ingredients available in skin lotions and moisturizers. It is also 100% natural taken directly out of our dear Mother Earth.

Next I’ll turn to the blog Lab Muffin to further debunk a few mineral oil myths (From the posts – Is Mineral Oil Dangerous? Part 1 and Is Mineral Oil Dangerous? Part 2):

Mineral oil comes from crude oil… I’m not putting gasoline on my face! – FALSE

While it’s true that mineral oil comes from crude oil, it doesn’t mean that its properties are the same, or even similar to gasoline!

Crude oil is formed when biological material (from algae and plankton) gets buried under the sea. Over millions of years, the pressure transforms the carbon-containing compounds in the once-living tissue into the carbon-containing compounds which make up crude oil.

Crude oil contains lots of different things, mainly made up of carbon and hydrogen only. After it’s been pumped out of the ground, it has to be refined to separate out the different bits.

Apart from mineral oil and gasoline, things that come from crude oil include paraffin wax (found in most candles, and in cheese wax) and asphalt/bitumen. And as you know, candles and gasoline and asphalt are completely different! So just because it comes from the same stuff at the beginning doesn’t mean it’ll look, act or be the same.

Mineral oil is comedogenic and will make you break out – FALSE

Mineral oil appears on a large range of “comedogenic ingredients” lists. Once upon a time (well, in the 1970s), cosmetic companies noticed that a lot of women started getting acne from their makeup products. One scientific study on comedogenicity used the inside of a rabbit’s ear to test whether products caused pimples, and this quickly became the test of choice. However, later on, they found that sometimes the results on a rabbit and the results on a human were different. (Lab Muffin loves rabbits, and this made her sad, because an awful lot of rabbits got ear pimples for no good reason!)

A later study tested products containing between 0 and 30% mineral oil, and found that it wasn’t comedogenic on human skin. The best thing about mineral oil is that (unlike a lot of plant oils) it’s incredibly stable – it doesn’t oxidise, and stays liquid. In other words, it’s not likely to clump up later on, after reacting with oxygen and light, and clog your pores! However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t cause you to break out, since different people respond differently to certain ingredients.

It just sits on top of skin – it doesn’t moisturise! It suffocates your skin – PARTLY FALSE

There are three ways in which moisturisers moisturise – occlusive (covering your skin up so water can’t evaporate), humectant (grabbing water and keeping it next to your skin) and emollient (makes your skin feel soft) actions. Mineral oil is an excellent occlusive, so yes, it does just sit on top of your skin – but it definitely moisturises! In fact, scientists often use it as a standard for comparing other moisturisers. Of course, if you have dry skin to begin with, just putting mineral oil isn’t going to work so well (if there’s not enough water to begin with, there’s not much water to keep in!).

As to whether skin can be suffocated – skin is porous, but it doesn’t really need to “breathe”. What people usually mean by “letting your skin breathe” means washing off the dirty gunk from your pores… dirt can stick to mineral oil, just like it can stick to anything else on your face.

Because mineral oil is really good at being an occlusive, it’s possible that it can block certain nutrients in your cream from reaching your skin – the solution is to put on the active ingredient first, then cover it up with the mineral oil, and the mineral oil will keep that stuff on your skin.

Lastly, now that my sources have debunked the different myths about mineral oil perhaps you are asking yourself – if mineral oil is good for our skin why do I need another moisturizer?  Once again I’ll turn to The Beauty Brains to explain (from Why Can’t I Just Use Mineral Oil?):

Yashendwirh says…I’ve read here and several other blogs that mineral oil, vitamin-E and a few other very inexpensive products are both hydrating and non-comedogenic. Would that make them effective every day go-to moisturizers? That said, what is the benefit of spending anything more than the couple bucks it costs for these products on expensive moisturizer formulas?  Even inexpensive ones that are $10-$20 seem expensive compared to the $3 it costs for an absolutely enormous bottle of mineral oil? We know it works, why would we throw our money at anything else? Would I be doing my skin a massive disservice by forgoing my current moisturizer (clinique gel) in favor of using mineral oil long term?

The Right Brain replies

You certainly won’t be hurting your skin by using mineral oil but you may be missing out on some of the benefits of a fully formulated product. Here are three examples:

1. Balanced moisture
Fully formulated lotions contain water and ingredients that can attract water to your skin like glycerin. You won’t get that with just mineral oil.

2. Non-greasy feel
Compared to modern lotion formulas which feel nice and soft on the skin mineral oil can leave you feeling a bit, well, oily.

3. Special function ingredients
Creams and lotions can deliver sunscreens and retin-A which are both important anti-aging ingredients that you won’t get from just mineral oil.

Bottom Line:  Don’t let mineral oil scare you.  It’s an effective and worthwhile skincare ingredient.

Further Reading:

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What Personality Traits Does An Esthetician Need? August 9, 2012

Filed under: Esthetics/Estheticians — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve been thinking about the contents of this topic for a while now.  What personality traits do you need in order to be a good esthetician?  Why are certain personality traits important if you want to be an esthetician?

I would say that an esthetician needs to have the following personality traits in order to do her job well:

  • be compassionate
  • be a good listener
  • be empathetic
  • be helpful
  • like people or be a people person
  • be open-minded
  • be patient
  • be caring and kind
  • be professional
  • want to always continue learning
  • be genuine
  • have a thick skin
  • be positive

Why did I choose the above personality traits?  When working with people very closely, as an esthetician does, you have to be compassionate, caring, kind, and empathetic because people are going to open up to you both about their skin issues and about their lives.  This is also why you need to be a good listener.  Since estheticians are dealing with their client’s appearance (after all we literally wear our skin for the entire world to see) you have an opportunity to positively impact someone’s life during your time with them by giving them a genuine treatment that meets their skincare goals.  I put the word “their” in bold for a reason – one thing that an esthetician always has to remember is that you are there for the client.  So if the client asks you to apply their make-up a certain way or shape their brows in a strange way you have to consider their request very seriously.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t gently try to steer your client in another direction that you think is better, but if you want to keep that client you need to do so in a gentle and caring manner.

An esthetician has to be both open-minded and like people in order to succeed. I’ve met the most interesting people while doing facials for them, and I have clients of all races and religions.  It is wonderful how cultural and religious barriers breakdown easily while doing a facial so always keep an open mind when meeting a new client.  Having said that you as an esthetician don’t need to tolerate racist or abusive treatment by your clients.  You can definitely set boundaries.  And having learned this the hard way, I can definitely say that you should try to steer away from speaking about politics and religion with your clients unless you know them really, really well.  Those subjects are so personal and sensitive it is easy to both offend or get offended when discussing them.  It is just best to avoid them altogether.

Ideally estheticians should love helping people in a very genuine way.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel to hear from someone that a treatment I gave them or a product I recommended helped their skin look better.  If you are bitter about life your clients will sense that.  Keeping a positive attitude, even if your personal life is falling apart all around you, is vital to being a good esthetician.

An esthetician should be knowledgable about skin functions and products, but she should also have the drive to want to keep learning.  The esthetics field is constantly evolving and changing so you have to stay up to date.  If you don’t like learning new things being an esthetician might not work for you.

Lastly, to be an esthetician you need a thick skin.  I have always been a sensitive person so this last one is still a struggle for me.  Not everyone is going to like you even if you give them a great treatment.  They might never come back to you for reasons you can’t even understand.  And there is always going to be someone who won’t like how you do their eyebrows, or wax their legs, or do their facial.  As long as the naysayers are outweighed by the positive feedback you’re doing fine.  Some days are hard, some clients are impossible and that is why staying positive is always important.  Believe me I know that this is easier said than done especially after seeing a nasty client, but trying to focus on the positive is really the only anecdote to all that negativity.  So many times when someone is nasty to you, you just need to remember – it is all about them and really has nothing to do with me.

So my fellow estheticians who read this blog and those out there who get spa treatments – do you agree or disagree with my above list of personality traits esthetician’s should have?  Let everyone know what you think!  Share away!

Further Reading From My Blog:

Further Reading from Other Sources:

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