Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

What Are Hydrosols? June 11, 2017

hydrosol

I like to think of myself as up to date about skincare ingredients and products, but somehow hydrosols were off my radar until a few months ago.  Now I am a devotee of this skincare product and am happy to recommend their use to other estheticians and clients.

What Is A Hydrosol?

Hydrosols are the byproduct of the essential oil distillation process.  As explained on the website Herb and Hedgerow in the post What is a Hydrosol?:

When plants are steam distilled for their essential oils, this process will release several compounds – some of which are soluble in water and will therefore end up in the hydrosol at the end of the process. Hydrosols contain the water from the distillation process as well as the herbal extracts from the plant. The essential oil droplets will float on top of this distillate and these tiny quantities are then removed to be sold.

Keep in mind that hydrosols are not simply essential oils added to water.   Hydrosols contain all the properties of the essential oil, just highly diluted which makes them much more gentle.  Hydrosols can also be used directly on the skin, unlike essential oils that should never to applied directly to the skin.  That’s what makes hydrosols so versatile and wonderful – they can provide your skin with the all the benefits of essential oils without any fear of irritation and negative reaction.

Be sure you trust your supplier when buying hydrosols since they can be contaminated or diluted with alcohol.

You could, of course, make your own hydrosol if you were so inclined.

How To Use A Hydrosol

Just as essential oils have different properties so do hydrosols.  The properties of the hydrosol are the same as the plant or essential oil they came from, just much more gentle so they can be used even on sensitive, irritated skin.  I work with clients who are undergoing chemotherapy and have very sensitive, compromised skin; I can use a hydrosol on the skin of such a client but not an essential oil.

Hydrosols can be used in a number of ways:  You can

  • use them like a toner – apply to a cotton pad and swipe across the face.
  • add them to a clay mask (or any mask) instead of water.
  • use in your bath
  • spray on your body like a body spray
  • use as a natural room or linen freshener/perfume
  • spray on your skin to cool down
  • after shaving spray or swipe on skin to soothe
  • spray to calm irritated skin

Personally I use hydrosols during facials just like I would toner and I add them to the masks I create for clients at the end of a facial.   But the sky’s the limit – there are a multitude of ways to use hydrosols both for your skin and for your home.

 

*I’m newly obsessed with the website Herb and Hedgerow.  Though the articles on the site are a few years old, I find that they are clearly written, interesting, and very informative.

 

Long Overdue: Product Recommendations February 7, 2017

sunscreenneu

I am embarrassed to say how long ago I tried the products I am going to mention in this post so it’s probably just best I don’t address that issue.  Instead please find my reviews below of a few products I have tried and liked.  Some of the products were sent to me for review, others I purchased on my own.  Let’s begin, in no particular order.

  • No7 Refreshing Toner:  This product I purchased out of desperation.  Two long airplane trips in a row left my skin extremely dry and parched.   I tried to think of something I could do to bring extra moisture back to my skin in addition to my regular moisturizer. This toner did a great job at bringing much needed moisture to my skin.  I recommend this product for someone looking for an easy yet effective way to get more skin hydration.
  • Neutrogena sent me a number of products to try.  Unfortunately most were strong, anti-acne products that weren’t right at all for my skin.  The only product I tried, and loved, was the Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70.  This sunscreen felt great on my skin.  It goes on totally weightlessly, absorbs quickly, and didn’t leave any sticky residue behind.  I highly recommend this sunscreen for use on your body.  It isn’t meant for your face.
  • The kind folks at Meg21 approached me about trying their products many moons ago. This company has an intriguing approach to anti-aging skincare – the main thrust of their message is that glycation is ruining our skin.  “Toxic sugars” (their words not mine) are breaking down the collagen in our skin thus aging it.  Their products contain an ingredient called supplamine that inhibits glycation in the skin thus keeping your skin looking young for longer.  The company was kind enough to send me full size products to try along with a few samples.  Overall I really liked the texture, ease of application, and how the products felt on my skin.  The packaging for their moisturizers is great.  Unlike a lot of moisturizers that are in containers with tops that come all the way off which then exposes the product to the air, these moisturizers were packaged in containers that had a top that did not come off. Instead you pressed down on the top in order to release the amount of product that you wanted to use.  This way none of the moisturizer was ever exposed to the air.  I tried the antioxidant serum (I can’t live without using an antioxidant serum each and every morning), the cleanser, Smooth Radiance Face Treatment, and the Smooth Radiance Advanced Formula. Though I definitely liked the way all the products felt on my skin I did not use them for long enough to be able to tell you if my skin looked any younger or fresher.  I will say though that the science behind the products is definitely intriguing.  If you are looking for a new and innovative way to fight skin aging these products are definitely worth trying.

 

Toner: What Is It? Do You Need One? February 27, 2010

I suspect that I am not the only person you spent a good deal of her high school years drying her face out with the use of toner.  I used a drying, alcohol based toner because I believed that this was a very necessary step in my skincare regime in order to prevent acne.  Luckily I finally realized that the use of an alcohol based toner was unnecessary in order to prevent acne.  It took me some more time to learn that not all toners are created equal and that there are some products labeled “toner” that actually can do some good things for your skin.  Let me explain.

What is Toner?

Toners are a liquid skincare product that is applied to the skin after cleansing, just before moisturizing.  Their use is advertised as a way to remove residue or make-up left behind after cleansing, restore the skin’s natural pH level after cleansing, to close pores, and to even hydrate and treat the skin.  There are actually three different types of toners:

  • Freshners have either no alcohol content or up to 4% alcohol content.  The use of this product is meant for dry, mature, or sensitive skin since too much alcohol will dry out and damage those skin types. 
  • Toners  have an alcohol content for between 4 to 15% and are meant to be used by those with normal to combination skin.
  • Astringents have a very high alcohol content – up to 35% – and are meant for oily skin.  They are meant to remove excess oil from the skin, but because of their high alcohol content most people will find them too drying.  This product is rarely needed since it can do more harm than good.

 

Do You Need A Toner?

 

When you don’t need a toner:    I don’t think that you need a toner every night in order to make sure that you have removed all your make-up or cleanser.  Using  a good make-up remover and the proper cleanser is definitely more than enough in order to make sure that your make-up is all off (the only place you might feel the need to go over again would be the eye area since waterproof eye make-up can be hard to remove).  If after washing your face you feel that you still have cleanser on your face than switch your cleanser.  A properly formulated facial cleanser will certainly wash off your face easily without leaving residue behind.  

The claim that toners will close your pores is a silly claim.  First of all, there is no need to seal your pores shut.  Toners will give you a temporary tightening effect but why do you need that anyhow? 

The issue of your skin’s pH level being disrupted because of cleansing is really only a problem if you use soap, which is very alkaline, to wash your face.  If you use a facial wash or cleanser you won’t have to deal with the issue of your skin’s pH being disrupted.

When you could consider using a toner:  There are lots of toners available that can actually hydrate the skin and even leave behind a number of beneficial antioxidants.  These types of toner are good for use during the summer when your skin feels more oily and you don’t feel that you need to moisturize (your skin isn’t actually producing more oil during the summer; it just feels that way because of the increased humidity in the air).   In addition, there are some people who don’t feel the need to use a lot of moisturizer ever so using a toner could be a great way to add some moisture to the skin and get some antioxidant benefits as well.

If you have combination skin (oily T-zone, normal skin everywhere else) you might consider using a toner with witch hazel extract, lactic acid, or salicylic acid just on your T-zone.  But don’t go overboard since too much toner with the above mentioned ingredients can be drying.  Use them on as needed basis and no more than once a day.

Some toners have ingredients that can actually soothe the skin and reduce inflammation so using a product like that if you have sensitive skin might be a good option.

Lastly, in a previous post I mentioned that some people who have very dry or irritated skin may want to forgo washing their face in the morning.  If you don’t feel comfortable just splashing your face with warm water in the morning consider using a gentle, alcohol free toner in the morning instead of your facial wash.  You will very gently clean your skin that way and also hydrate at the same time.

 

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