Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Decoding Skincare Ingredients – What They Really Mean January 12, 2012

I’ve already mentioned numerous times in this blog how understanding skincare ingredients makes you a better educated skincare consumer.  The more informed you are can help you both save money and buy the most effective products instead of just believing the marketing hype from cosmetic and skincare brands.

Luckily there are numerous great and easily accessible resources out there in order to understand skincare ingredients.  Here are some of my favorite sources:

  • The Beauty Brains – this website is written by cosmetic chemists and they have numerous posts that just analyze ingredients in skin, hair, and make-up products
  • Future Derm – the author of this site also analyzes ingredients in numerous skincare products
  • Use Paula Begoun’s online ingredient dictionary in order to analyze and understand skincare ingredients on your own

Recently I came across two articles that succinctly explain some of the more hyped skincare ingredients.  The first article is from Prevention magazine and it provides information about some widely promoted new skincare ingredients:

Epidermal Growth Factors: EGFs have the ability to promote cell growth and wound healing if used in the right amount, but they’re very hard to keep stable—and still extremely expensive.

Repair Enzymes: Inside your body, these types of proteins may facilitate skin renewal, but they’re difficult to stabilize in skin creams. Only time will tell whether they’re truly revolutionary.

Peptides: These proteins can improve skin’s appearance, and some companies claim they’ve found ones to fix damaged DNA. Experts say it’s possible in theory, but there’s no good proof it’s happened yet.

I also recently found a post from The Beauty Brains from back in 2008 that talks about well-known skincare ingredients.  While I don’t entirely agree with everything The Beauty Brains have to say about every ingredient (particularly their comments on antioxidants and Vitamin C) I do like the fact that they cut through a lot of the BS and marketing lies from cosmetic and skincare companies to deliver useful information to their readers.

The bottom line is this – keep educating yourself!  There will always be new skincare ingredients being hyped, but it is easy to stay on top of these things.


Further Reading:



Related Posts:

Photo from


Snooping Around December 19, 2011

Prevention magazine has a great new online feature. They’ve asked dermatologist to snap a photo of their medicine cabinet and explain what skincare products they use daily.  The only common product that all four dermatologists featured each use daily is sunscreen, otherwise what they use varies.  Some of the doctors featured are more interested in making sure they have antioxidants in all their products while others focus more on anti-aging.  All four do use make-up daily and offer great make-up tips.

Have a look – this feature is a lot of fun!

Related article from AllureSkin Secrets From the Children of Dermatologists


How to Fix Your Aging Eyebrows October 6, 2011

Filed under: Aging,beauty — askanesthetician @ 5:30 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again – having a well-groomed eyebrow makes a huge, positive difference in how you look.  But as we age our eyebrows change – they become sparse, the hair grays, or they become overgrown.

Luckily there are many quick fixes for all these issues.  If any of the above eyebrow issues sound familiar think about having a few products on hand in order to look your best.

Sparse Eyebrows:

As we age our hair can thin out.  If your brows have become sparse fill them in with brow powder.  Choose a color that either exactly matches your brow hair color or one that is slightly darker.  Use a small, stiff angled brush to apply the powder.  Be sure to tap your brush after dipping it into your brow powder so that you don’t apply too much powder then use short strokes to apply the powder to your brows.  If you feel like you overdid it take a spoolie brush or a disposable mascara brush and gently run it through your brows to remove excess powder.  You can also use a brow pencil to fill in your brows or a combination of brow powder and pencil.   You can set everything when you are done with brow gel – either tinted or clear.  One last tip – use Latisse to grow your brow hairs back in.  Just as Latisse makes eyelashes longer, darker, and thicker it will do the same for your eyebrow hair.  You can also try Rogaine on your brows for similar results.  One thing to keep in mind when it comes to Latisse and Rogaine is that they work on hair follicles that are still active; they will not work on hair follicles that have died.

Graying Brows:

Depending on how many gray hairs you have in your brows the technique you’ll use to cover them will vary.  If you have a few gray brow hairs consider using a brow marker, like TouchBack BrowMarker (there are many other products out there as well), to cover those few gray hairs.  Sometimes it is even enough to use tinted brow gel on your brows to cover the grays.  The most permanent solution for gray brow hairs is to have them dyed professionally either by an esthetician or a hairstylist.

Overgrown Brows:

Our hair can become long and coarse as we age making our brows look unruly.  The best solution for this is to trim your brow hairs.  Using a spoolie brush or a clean mascara brush push your eyebrow hairs up.  Use a small scissors to trim the ends off the hairs.  Brush the hair back into place to see if you trimmed enough.  Also brush the hairs down and then trim any that appear excessively long.  Once your brow hair lies flat again use a brow gel to keep it in place.  Trim your brow hairs as often as needed.



No Excuses: Everyone Can Easily Care For Their Skin July 14, 2011

Estheticians hear a lot of things while we are taking care of our clients.  One thing we always ask clients the first time they come to us for a facial, or sometimes every time they come to us for a treatment, is what is their home skincare regime – products, steps, etc.  I cannot tell you how many times a client tells me that they don’t wash their face everyday or do little to nothing to their skin at home.  Not caring for your skin twice a day at home is such a missed opportunity.  Everyone should care for their skin twice a day – no excuses.  A home skincare regime doesn’t need to be confusing or complicated.  It doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time either.  Everyone needs to use just a few products a day – once again – no excuses!

I was pleased when I came across the following Prevention article – 5 Worst Skin Mistakes – which clearly explains why so many typical excuses people use to explain why they don’t care for their skin are just wrong.  Believe me – I’ve heard all these excuses too many times to count.  I like the article so much, and its online version is very concise, that I’ll copy it all here:

1.  I’m too tired to cleanse  “It’s been a long day, and the last thing I want to do is wash my face.”

Excuse Buster: The 2 minutes it takes to cleanse before bed helps ensure a fresh-faced look for years. “Sleeping with dirt, oil, and makeup on causes acne and enlarged pores,” says Audrey Kunin, MD, an associate clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. To easily remove debris, keep no-rinse face wipes in your nightstand.

Try: Boots No7 Quick Thinking 4-in-1 Wipes ($7; Target) or Pond’s Clean Sweep Age Defying Wet Cleansing Towelettes ($6.50; CVS).

2.  SPF is for summer  “I don’t need sunscreen, it’s winter!”

Excuse Buster: Exposure to UVA rays, the primary culprit behind aging, happens all year long. And because they can penetrate glass, you’re susceptible even when you’re indoors, says Fredric Brandt, MD, a New York- and Miami-based dermatologist. The number one way to guard against this and keep skin looking youthful: Every day, use a sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF 30 that’s labeled broad-spectrum. For the best protection, choose one that contains either avobenzone, Helioplex, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

3.  Products are too pricey   “Taking care of my skin costs too much.”

Excuse Buster: To save, shop at drugstores. Studies show that mass products are as effective as (and sometimes more than!) more expensive lines. “Look for active ingredients, not fancy labels,” says David E. Bank, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Columbia University/Presbyterian Hospital. The most effective anti-agers include retinoids, AHAs, peptides, vitamin C, and hydrators such as hyaluronic acid.

4.  My efforts are futile  ” I’ve tried almost everything, and nothing seems to work.”

Excuse Buster: It can take at least 8 weeks to see the results of many ingredients, so give products time to deliver their benefits.

5.  My skin is too sensitive  “Exfoliating makes my face red and irritated.”

Excuse Buster: Getting rid of dead cells helps soften wrinkles and brighten skin, but aggressive scrubs can lead to redness and irritation. To slough safely, choose a chemical exfoliator, such as glycolic acid, or gentle cleansing beads. Avoid scrubs with an uneven texture, such as walnut shells. Exfoliate just once or twice a week; if you’re using an OTC or Rx retinoid or AHA, it alone provides sufficient skin sloughing.


One great point from the article is the fact that you need patience in order to see results from a new skincare routine.  Though the article states that it takes 8 weeks to see results, I typically tell my clients to wait 3 months before giving up on their new routine.  This is especially true when it comes to treating acne and hyperpigmentation.  There are absolutely no overnight cures for either of these skincare problems (and I hate the fact that so many beauty ads promise that there are!).  So don’t give up on your products unless you have really given them a chance.

Finding both the right products for your skin and establishing the right daily skincare routine for you might take some trial and error, but it certainly doesn’t have to take a lot of your time or money.

At the very least make sure you have the following products at home:

  • the correct cleanser for your skin type 
  • a treatment serum if you need one.  That could mean an anti-acne treatment or a serum that helps with hyperpigmentation
  • an exfoliant to use at least once a week.  This also doesn’t have to complicated.  You exfoliant could be a scrub or mask you simply apply during your shower twice a week.  Or even easier – a serum or lotion you apply before bed.
  • A moisturizer if you need one
  • A sunscreen – this is not negotiable!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs sunscreen year round.

And if you really want to break it down even further – wash your face twice a day and use sunscreen in the morning (and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day).  Now – everyone can perform those two steps, right?

Believe it or not, though I definitely do not do this myself, I do like the recommendation above that if you are really tired at night (or let’s face it – lazy) to use wipes to remove your make-up and cleanse your face.  I even have a client that uses baby wipes at night.  Baby wipes are super gentle so I have no objection to their use on your face.  One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to go to sleep with your make-up on and without washing your face.  Even if you don’t wear make-up just think of all the dirt and grime from pollution that has built-up on your face during the day.  Ugh!  You definitely want to get all of that off.

As for not spending a lot of money on skincare products – it is definitely true that you can find effective skincare products at your local drugstore.  In order to make sure you are buying the best products be sure to do a little research before blindly buying (use my blog as a guide, for instance  🙂 ).  Be sure not to be swayed too much by ads in glossy magazines.  Those ads get away with as much as they can legally – their claims are far from accurate.


Further Reading:

If you still have questions about product choice or steps in creating a home skincare regime please use some of my older posts as guides –

And here is a link Paula Begoun’s advice on how to put together a skincare routine.  Begoun heavily pushes her own products along with her recommendations and though her products are good I wish her advice would come without the sales pitch.  I also think that her skincare routine could definitely be abridged if you felt like it.  Once again – use Begoun’s advice as a guide not a be all and end all.  (Please see my post Paula Begoun – Friend or Foe to the Skincare Consumer for my take on Begoun, her advice, and products)


%d bloggers like this: