Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Winter Skincare Tip: Use Glycerine November 20, 2016

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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.

 

Photo from Amazon.com

 

Winter Skincare Secrets January 6, 2014

I grew-up near Chicago, and though now I live in a much milder climate I have certainly not forgotten those Midwestern winters (and honestly I don’t miss them at all).  Even if you live in a place that doesn’t have winters as harsh as Chicago your skin can still go through a number of unpleasant changes during the colder months of the year.  Luckily with a few easy tweaks to your skincare routine you can make it through the winter with happy, healthy skin.

Change Your Facial Cleanser But Keep Exfoliating

If your skin starts to feel extra dry during the winter one of the first things you should do is look at your facial cleanser.  Now it the time to switch to a gentle, cream based cleanser.  This type of cleanser is even fine for those people with oily or acne prone skin though people with this skin type might want to use a cleanser like this once a day in the morning as opposed to twice a day.  Or if you really can’t give up your regular facial cleanser use a moisturizing toner afterwards in order to help balance out the drying effects of your cleanser.  (I like Epionce Balancing Toner).

Don’t stop exfoliating – just exfoliate less or with a gentler product.  Don’t use harsh scrubs in the winter to exfoliate.  Instead use scrubs with round beads not nut particles which can scratch and damage your skin. Or use a cleanser or serum with gentle acids in it like lactic acid.  Lactic acid not only exfoliates but brings moisture back to the skin as well.  When dead skin cells build up on epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) your moisturizer cannot penetrate and work as well as it should.  As long as you gently remove those dead skin cells you are helping your skin and not hurting it during the winter.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

I cannot emphasize enough how important using moisturizer is during the winter.  I’ve seen cracked, bleeding hands too many times to count.  I can spot dry hands from a mile away (I’m only exaggerating slightly).  Step up your moisturizing routine during the winter.  First of all, don’t shower or soak in very hot water.  I know this is a hard one, but hot water actually dehydrates your skin.  Moisturize your body immediately after bathing when your skin is still a little bit damp (damp not wet).  Switch from a lotion moisturizer to a cream based moisturizer.  This is both true for the moisturizer you use on your face and on your body.  Use a thicker and heavier moisturizer such as a body butter with shea butter or cocoa butter (look here for some suggestions for moisturizers to try) for your body.  Put small containers of moisturizer by all your sinks so you can immediately moisturize after washing your hands.  Use gloves when cleaning your house and washing the dishes.  Be sure to have a small container of moisturizer with spf in it in your bag so you can even moisturize on the go.  Gently exfoliate your body as well.  I recommend dry brushing.  Lastly, use a humidifier at home in order to add moisture back to the air around you.  Just using a humidifier at home can make a huge difference for many people’s skin.

My favorite thing that I have read about moisturizing in a long time is a post by Lab Muffin about how to layer your moisturizers for utmost effectiveness.  Follow this advice; it will help you immensely if you are suffering from day winter skin.

Chapped Lips

Many people suffer from chapped, even bleeding lips throughout the winter.  According to Natural Health Magazine this happens because:

“Our lips are very susceptible to drying out because they’re a thin layer of skin that’s exposed to the elements all the time,” says Diane Berson, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell University Medical College in New York City. “They’re also made up of mucous membranes, which dry out easily.”

(From Lip Service)

So what can you do to prevent or heal chapped lips?  Actually a lot.  Once again according to Natural Health Magazine:

To get your lips back in kissable form, you need to first rid them of dry, flaky skin. After brushing your teeth at night before bed, try gently rubbing your lips with your toothbrush or a damp washcloth, then slather on a thick layer of lip balm to leave on while you sleep.

Look for a balm that contains moisturizing oils to heal your lips along with wax to protect them from further damage. If you’re going to be outside, pick a formulation with an SPF to minimize the impact of the sun.

Additionally, Dr. Jessica Wu recommends:

  • Use a thick ointment instead of a stick lip balm. Ointments help heal cracked skin, while sticks can be waxy and ,when dragged across delicate lips, can make them more irritated. Try Aquaphor (available at drugstores), Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1, or Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25. Some of my patients prefer to use sweet almond oil or coconut oil, which are safe enough to eat.
  • Apply a thick layer before going to bed, especially if you wear a dental appliance at night. Some people who wear a night guard or retainer end up breathing though their mouths, which dries out the lips.
  • Avoid matte and long-wearing lipsticks, which have a drying effect. Instead, rub a thin layer of ointment over your lips when you get up in the morning. Let it soak in, apply another layer, then apply a moisturizing lipstick or gloss. I like Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick, and Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm.
  • Avoid licking your lips. While it will temporarily moisten your lips, repeated lip licking will end up drying them out even more as the saliva evaporates. Also avoid picking or peeling off dead skin, since this can slow healing.
  • If the chapping persists more than a few weeks, or if you see blisters or oozing, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Nonhealing scabs or crusts can be a sign of an actinic keratosis, a potentially precancerous growth, while oozing can indicate an infection.

A Few More Tips

Keep using your sunscreen!  Our skin can still get sunburned and damaged even from weak winter rays.  Keep using your sunscreen and reapply throughout the day as usual.

Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Foods such as salmon and nuts contain this fatty acid (DHA) which helps to restore moisture to your skin from the inside out.

Sources and Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from ohioinsurance.org

 

Thursday Tips and Interesting Articles November 15, 2012

Today’s post isn’t one of my traditional posts.  Instead I just wanted to share some interesting articles and blog posts that I came across in the last few days.

Happy reading!

Image from blogs.lynn.edu

 

How to Treat Dry Winter Skin January 16, 2012

 

As soon as the humidity and temperature drops almost everyone feels like they need a moisturizer for their skin.  With winter really upon us it’s probably time to change-up your skin routine a bit, if you haven’t already.  Treating dry and sensitized winter skin isn’t that hard.  Tweak your home skincare routine a little in order to restore moisture and balance to your skin.

Why Your Skin Becomes So Dry in the Winter

For a technical explanation on why our skin feels so dry and irritated during the winter, for those who like that, I’ll turn to the Skin Inc. article Understanding and Fighting Winter Itch by Dr. Ahmed Abdullah (if you want a less scientific explanation skip ahead):

Physiology of the stratum corneum

To understand skin hydration, it’s necessary to look at key components of the stratum corneum—the outermost layer of the epidermis that makes skin impermeable, and protects deeper skin tissue and the body at large from bacterial invasion and other environmental aggressors.

The stratum corneum is comprised of corneocytes, which are flattened, dead skin cells; desmosomes, the proteins that hold the corneocytes together; and intercellular lipids. Under a microscope, these components appear to be arranged in a brick-and-mortar manner, with corneocytes serving as the bricks, connected by desmosomes, and lipids playing the role of mortar that surrounds and protects the corneocytes. Collectively, these components create a physical wall intended to prevent moisture loss. However, the individual roles of corneocytes and lipids are equally important.

Corneocytes are mainly composed of keratin, which holds water and gives skin its strength, along with various other compounds called natural moisturizing factors (NMFs). As humectants, NMFs not only hold water, but also attract it; thus, they are essential to the skin’s flexibility and water-holding capabilities. However, they’re water-soluble, which is why skin dries out upon extended water contact from showering, bathing, swimming and hand-washing.

intercellular lipids are comprised of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. In the stratum corneum, their role is to prevent the loss of NMFs from within the corneocytes. On the topmost layer of skin, they combine with sweat to form the thin acid mantle—the chemical barrier that kills bacteria and regulates moisture loss. What’s more, lipids lubricate the skin and, as such, are a major factor in ensuring smooth texture.

Environmental impact on the stratum corneum

For the stratum corneum to properly protect the body, it must be elastic and flexible, which is only possible when the skin is properly hydrated. Normal, healthy skin is 20–35% water. Each day, it loses approximately a pint of water through transepidermal water loss (TEWL), the continuous process by which water leaves the body and enters the atmosphere via evaporation and diffusion. However, when humidity drops, as it does in cold-weather months, there’s a dramatic increase in TEWL as the dry air pulls moisture from the skin. When the skin’s water content drops below 10%, it begins drying and brings discomfort characterized by redness, itchiness and flakiness. With less water in the skin, the production of NMFs becomes impaired and lipid levels fall, setting in motion a vicious cycle that is hard to remedy.

Add to the mix ongoing or prolonged exposure to irritants, such as soap and even water, and you have a far worse situation. This exposure causes the skin’s acid mantle to disintegrate, which further increases the rate of TEWL and decreases lipid levels. The result is even drier skin that may crack and even become infected.

With less water and fewer lipids to lubricate and protect it, skin no longer exfoliates properly. This is what results in the excessive buildup of dead cells on the skin’s surface, giving it an ashy appearance. It also results in an overall degradation of skin health; skin can no longer properly heal itself.

The short, and very easy to understand, explanation about the cause of dry skin during winter?  I’ll quote Barney Kenet, MD, a dermatologist from New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, from the WebMD article What’s Causing Your Dry Skin?:

“Dry air is probably the most common cause of dry skin, especially during the winter,” says Kenet, “It draws the moisture right out of the skin.” Dry skin during winter even gets its own name: winter itch.

While cold, harsh weather does dry your skin, another big problem in the winter lies indoors — the dry heat churned out by your furnace. (During the summer, air conditioning can have a similar effect.)

Tips to Fix Dry Winter Skin

First and foremost, if your skin is feeling dry, tight, and even itchy – simply moisturize.  Start off moisturizing twice a day, in the morning and the evening.  If you feel like you need to moisturize more than do that.  Be sure to apply your moisturizer to damp skin.  Once again according to Dr. Kenet in the WebMD article:

“You have to put on moisturizer when your skin is still damp,” says Kenet, author of How to Wash Your Face. “That way, the moisturizer is trapping the moisture still on your skin.” Your skin shouldn’t be sopping wet — just pat yourself dry with a towel and put it on. Let it soak in for a few minutes, and then towel off the excess, Kenet says.

It is especially important to moisturize your hands multiple times during the day.  If you use hand sanitizer get one that is a moisturizing formulation.

Don’t take long, hot showers or baths.  Limit your time in the shower so that the warm water doesn’t further dry out your skin.  Don’t use drying bar soaps when you shower.  Switch to milder and thicker shower washes during the winter.

Invest in a humidifier for your home and even for your office.

Bundle up when you go outside so that your skin isn’t directly exposed to the air.

Eat Omega-3 rich foods like cold water fish, walnuts, and flax in order to fortify the skin’s natural oil retaining barriers.

Don’t put away your sunscreen!  Sun protection is as important in the winter as it is in the summer.

Finding the Right Moisturizer

I’ve been using Trader Joe’s Midsummer’s Night Cream moisturizer for years on my body after the shower and find it to be a very cost-effective and great body moisturizer.  When I need an extra boost of moisture for my face I like to use a B5 serum.  GloTherapeutics and Skinceuticals make good ones.   You could also use a moisturizing mask once or twice a week to add moisture back to the skin.  For more product ideas check out this post by FutureDerm about her favorite winter skincare products.

You actually don’t need to spend a lot of money on a moisturizer in order to find an effective one.  Once you settle on one use it often for the best results.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Related Posts:

Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Have I Finally Found My Cure for Chapped Hands? January 10, 2011

For the past few winters I have suffered greatly from fissures* on my thumbs.  The fissures are painful, and no matter what I have tried in ordering to heal them they never seem to go away.  Last winter I thought I had found the perfect cure for my ailment when I purchased a liquid bandage product that was supposed to cover and protect my wound while acting as an antiseptic as well.  It simply did not work (and it smelled terrible).  So this year as the temperature dropped and my now annual problem returned I became almost desperate for a solution.

I finally hit upon an effective solution by accident.  I received via email Paula Begoun’s review of DERMAdoctor’s Handy Manum Medicated Skin Repair Serum with 1% Hydrocortisone which explained that although the product contained great skin repair ingredients, specifically hydrocortisone which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can heal dry, itchy, and cracked skin, you don’t need to buy a $22 lotion in order to get the promised results.  You can just use the Cortaid or another hydrocortisone product that you have at home.  Well the lightbulb finally went off above my head.  I gathered my OTC 1% hydrocortisone lotion and for good measure my Neosporin as well because I figured a little antibiotic cream never hurt anyone.  I began applying both the Cortaid and Neosporin a few times a day to my fissures and the other chapped areas on my hands and followed that with hand lotion (I really think you can use whatever hand lotion brand you prefer).  Within a few days I finally felt and saw a difference!  One thing I did notice though, I have to keep up with the application of all three products if I want my skin to not crack or chap again.   But overall I have finally found relief from this frustrating skin condition, and I can’t emphasize enough how much this solution has helped me.   (I even created a little portable container with Neosporin and Cortaid in it to take with me in my purse so that I can always reapply when needed.)

Also – if you don’t want to use two products in order to treat your chapped hands and also don’t want to spend a ton of money on a hand lotion like the one mentioned above, I just saw that my local Target is carrying a Cortizone hand cream that contains 1% hydrocortisone.  This lotion costs about $7.  (There are actually two different versions of the cream to choose from)

*Fissures are a crack in the skin that penetrates down to the dermis which means it is deep and thus painful.  Chapped lips are another type of fissures.

Further readingPrevent and Soothe Chapped Winter Hands WebMD

 

Dos and Don’ts for Winter Skincare November 15, 2010

Last winter I wrote a post called Winter Skincare Tips which I think still has great tips for winter skincare.  In this post I would like to expand on the subject of winter skincare a bit after having just read yet another great skincare article in The New York Times Change in Season and Regime.

Winter is a great time to start laser hair or tattoo removal treatments.  During the summer months your skin is likely to be tan to one degree or another.  If either laser hair or tattoo removal treatments are performed on tanned skin you run the risk of a burn or hyperpigmentation.  Plus any area that you are having laser hair or tattoo removal done on needs to be kept out of the sun.  As the days shorten and get colder it is much easier to keep the skin being treated out of the sun as you cover up and stay indoors.   The same logic goes for facial laser treatments as well.  It is imperative to stay out of the sun after facial resurfacing so doing those types of treatments over the winter makes that recovery easier as well.

Winter is also the ideal time to get sclerotherapy or vein treatments done since you will look worse before you look better after such treatments.  In the winter it is easier, of course, to hide the areas you had treated before they are completely healed.

And don’t forget to exfoliate your body over the winter.  By gently exfoliating your body during your shower and moisturizing immediately after you shower you can easily ward off itchy, dry winter skin.  Dead skin cells accumulate on the top layer of our skin during the winter.  As skin cell turnover slows the skin might begin to feel itchy as water evaporates off your body so by exfoliating gently and moisturizing you can stop this process from happening.  While there are numerous body exfoliating scrubs on the market you can make your own at home by combining table sugar with olive oil.  It works and is cost effective though it is a bit messy.

Do get a humidifer for your home.  It can make both you and your skin feel better during the winter.

Do use your sunscreen!  Sunscreen is a must year round.

 

Further reading:

 

Winter Skincare Tips Or Don’t Put Away Your Sunscreen January 29, 2010

 

It is always important to “check in” with your skin at least four times a year – during each new season.  Now that winter is really upon us I felt it was a good time to talk about some winter skincare tips.

Generally the biggest skin issue people have during the winter is dry, flaky skin which makes perfect sense, of course.  Cold, wind, and dry air all take moisture from the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, leaving it dry.  Since our dermis is our skin’s shield from external factors it is important to keep it well hydrated.  Even people with very oily skin might find that they need a  moisturizer during the winter.  There are a few ways to get that extra moisture that your skin needs.  You could simply buy a creamier, thicker moisturizer with more emollients to use during the coldest months of the year.  I actually prefer another method since I like both my daytime and nighttime moisturizers a lot.  I started using a little bit of jojoba oil on my face before applying my regular moisturizers (I buy my jojoba oil at Trader Joe’s; it is about $7 for 4 fluid ounces – very reasonable price).  Jojoba oil will not clog your pores so it is a great choice for any skin type.  You can also use a B5 serum since B5 is very hydrating.  Skinceuticals and Dermaquest both make good B5 serums.  Or you could use a hydrating mask once or twice a week in order to help your skin regain some of its lost moisture.

Make sure that you don’t spend too much time in the shower or rinse your face with water that is too hot.  If you do you are further compromising the skin’s dermis and once again leaving it vulnerable to moisture loss.  If you are using a cleanser with AHA or salicylic acid you might want to switch your cleanser to one without those added ingredients during the winter.  Though both of those ingredients are great they can dry skin out over time and as such generally most people will find that cleansers like that are better suited for the warmer months or when you are feeling especially oily.  Instead of using such a cleanser exfoliate gently about two times a week with a lotion, mask, or gentle scrub.

I find that my hands become extremely dry and even crack during the winter.  Wear gloves when you wash dishes or clean the house in order to protect your hands.  I am constantly washing my hands, partly because I have a two year old and I am constantly washing my hands after changing diapers and wiping his runny nose, so I find I need extra moisture to combat the dryness and cracks.  Lately I’ve been using a Vitamin E oil in the morning and night.  You can even slather your hands at night with A&D ointment which will create a protective barrier over your skin as you sleep.  (Though this is a post about winter skincare tips I will mention that in the summer I find my hands don’t need quite as much moisturizer as they do during the winter, so I simply use a regular sunscreen on them which works great to both moisturize and give me the sun protection I need.  Last summer I used the Target brand Up & Up Face Lotion spf 70 on my hands) 

And above all – don’t forget your sunscreen!  People seem to think once it is no longer summer there is no need to use sunscreen.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  According to an article in Skin Inc. –  “Even on gray winter days, about 80% of both UVA and UVB rays penetrate clouds. And 100% of UVA rays penetrate glass.”  Further more The Skin Cancer Foundation points out: “No matter how many layers we wear, one part of the body — our head and neck area — tends to remain exposed to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation year-round. Not coincidentally, the face, head and neck are where the majority of skin cancers occur.”  I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to use sunscreen daily (I recommend spf 30 or higher and be sure your sunscreen is labeled “broad spectrum” so that it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays) and to reapply that sunscreen before you go outside again after having been indoors. 

And don’t forget to use lip balm with sunscreen (Blistex, which you can find almost anywhere and is cheap, makes a few types of lip balm with sunscreen.  There are also lots of lipsticks and lip glosses with sunscreen).  Lastly, don’t neglect your hands.  Yes, you will probably be wearing gloves when you go outside because it is cold, but do you take your gloves off while driving?  Your car is a confined space, and you are being assualted by UVA and UVB rays while in the car.  There are lots of really nice hand creams for sale that already include spf in them.  Try Neutrogena Age Shield Hand Cream, Peter Thomas Roth, or Studio Gear hand creams.  (And for my Israeli friends I highly recommend this Crema hand cream – Daily Sun Defender)

Since dry air is extremely dehydrating to skin think about getting a humidifier to use at home. 

Sources and further reading:

 

 
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