Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Wrinkles and Pimples At The Same Time: Solutions May 5, 2014

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This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook.  The reality for many women is just as they start to see wrinkles on their skin (perhaps around the eyes or on the forehead for example) they still get an occasional pimple.  This can be both frustrating and confusing.  Yet it isn’t so difficult to find one solution for both skincare issues.

I would like to point out that the skincare phenomena I am writing about here is not adult acne.  While adult acne is definitely on the rise, I am referring here to people who are probably in their late 30s, early 40s and are starting to see the emergence of fine lines while still occasionally experiencing breakouts (for women perhaps around the time they get their period).  This is also different from women who are undergoing menopause and find that they are all of a sudden breaking out.  I’ve blogged about both adult acne and menopause’s effects on the skin in the past.  Those posts are listed below if you would like to look at them.

In my opinion what is happening here is simple: you are starting to see fine lines because sun damage from years before is now becoming visible, and you are still experiencing an occasional breakout because of your hormones (especially those related to your period) and/or stress.  Just as I see the cause of this skincare issue as fairly straightforward so is, in my opinion, the solution: add a retinol cream to your skincare regime at night, make sure you use sunscreen daily, and use an antioxidant serum every day.  Be sure not to go overboard in order to improve the appearance of your skin.  Do not start using anti-acne products meant for teenagers such as Stridex or Clean & Clear.  These products will be much too harsh for pretty much anyone who isn’t a teenager anymore.

Retinol is the ideal skincare ingredient for people experiencing both fine lines and an occasional breakout because it can treat both issues simultaneously.  I’ve written about retinol and Retin-A before in my blog (you can find the posts below), but I’ll explain again why this is a great skincare ingredient.  As Lab Muffin explains in the post Fact-Check Friday: What Does Retinol Do? :

Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Other forms of vitamin A in skincare that you may be familiar with include isotretinoin (better known as Accutane) and retinyl palmitate (another topical ingredient found in many creams).

Things retinol can help:

– fine lines and wrinkles
– skin roughness and dullness
– skin firmness
– pigmentation from age spots
– acne

Retinoids are skin cell normalizers so that means that they speed up skin cell turn-over which will help clear up breakouts, and retinoids help rebuild collagen so they will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. As such adding a retinol product to your skincare regime is the perfect solution for both fine lines and breakouts.

Just keep a few things in mind when using retinoids (I’m quoting Lab Muffin again):

Retinols can be irritating to the skin, and cause dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, you should introduce it into your routine slowly (don’t use it every day to begin with), and use extra hydrating moisturisers.

Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Pick a retinol product in an airtight, opaque container to improve its shelf life.

Using retinol with other excellent skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can speed up the skin renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and wrinkles faster. However, the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6) than the pH for AHAs (3.5). While there isn’t much research on how quickly the pH of skin readjusts itself, waiting an hour or so in between applying the two is a safe bet, or even using one in the morning and one in the evening.

Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. Wear extra sunscreen when you use retinol so you don’t completely reverse its beneficial effects!

Lastly, keep in mind that you cannot use Retin-A or retinols when pregnant or nursing.

 

So how would this anti-aging, anti-acne skincare regime look?  I suggest cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser, applying an antioxidant serum in the morning (such as a Vitamin C serum in order to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen, further prevent the signs of aging, protect your skin from inflammation), and then using a sunscreen with a spf between 30 to 50 (you can also use a separate moisturizer before your sunscreen if you feel your skin needs it).  In the evening after cleansing apply a retinol cream followed by a moisturizer.  Pretty simple, right?

 

Recommended Products:

  • While I am not familiar with all the recommended products in this article I like the approach of this skincare regime since the recommended products are not too harsh.  Remember there is no need to buy just anti-acne products if you only experience an occasional breakout.
  • Cleanser:  I suggest using a mild cleanser such as CeraVe or even Cetaphil.  You don’t need to use an anti-acne cleanser.  That would be overkill for most people.
  • Antioxidant serum:  See my previous posts below for more information about why you want to use an antioxidant serum and in particular a Vitamin C serum.  There are quite a few good (and even great) Vitamin C serums out there, but at the moment my recommendation is to buy one from South Korea.  OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum is excellent and super affordable (even when you factor in the shipping costs). I am using it now and love it.
  • Moisturizers and Sunscreens:  Choose your products according to your skincare needs and the weather in the area you live in.  Some people may need a richer moisturizer and others not so much especially if you live in a humid climate.  Now that Target is selling some of my favorite skincare lines making them accessible to all I would recommend Laneige Water Sleeping Mask as a moisturizer (don’t be put off by the name; it’s a moisturizer), particularly as a nighttime one, and any La Roche-Posay sunscreen, particularly Anthelios Ultra Light spf 60.
  • Retinol Creams or Serums:  There are also numerous retinol products on the market including ones from Roc and Neutrogena, but for my money I would try either La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Renovating Acne Treatment (if you have blackheads and more than just the occasional breakout) or La Roche-Posay Redermic R (if you only have an occasional breakout).

Further Reading:

 

Wrinkles: What They Are Exactly and What Causes Them March 27, 2014

Filed under: Aging,beauty — askanesthetician @ 12:35 pm
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In anticipation of moving very soon I’ve been trying to go through different parts of my home and get rid of everything I don’t need.  I am a hoarder.  No, not the kind that you see on one of those reality shows that can’t walk through their home because of the vast accumulation of things, but the more subtle kind that saves articles, refuses to donate clothes she hasn’t worn in years, and somehow has collected seven blank, decorative notebooks over the years (in my defense all those blank notebooks were gifts).  It is really time that I move without taking things with me that I will never look at or use again.  So this week I went through all the esthetics related materials that I had at home and discovered articles that I had saved from years ago.  I looked things over, I evaluated if I really needed to save the information, and some of the articles I actually found online so I pinned them onto my skincare board on Pinterest.  Though Pinterest has indeed revolutionized the way I save information for future reference (and no I don’t think using the word revolutionized is too dramatic) not all the esthetics related material I read online can be pinned.  So sad.  So I still have a binder with articles, but at least the binder is now very organized.

One article that I saved was from Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Solutions website entitled The Anatomy of a Wrinkle.  The article succinctly explains how wrinkles form and what factors contribute to the formation of wrinkles:

… all wrinkles are caused by the same chain of events within the skin.  Age causes uppermost epidermal cells to get thinner and less sticky, which allows moisture to seep out in turn making skin drier.  Oil glands begin to slow down, which contributes to dryness as well.  A bit deeper in the skin, supportive scaffolding (i.e. collagen and elastin) breaks down, and skin loses its smoothness and tautness – leaving it no other choice than to wrinkle and sag.  In the skin’s lowest layer, the subcutaneous layer, fat cells begin to shrink, so they are less able to “fill in” or plump out damage in the skin’s other layers.

And what factors can contribute to the formation of wrinkles?  Dr. Baumann explains:

Sun exposure:  The damage caused by UV rays does a number on our skin’s supportive matrix, mainly collagen and elastin.  Think about it … wrinkles appear on the face, neck, chest, backs of the hands and forearms – all places that are most frequently exposed to the sun.

Facial expressions: You know what happens when you fold a piece of paper too many times?  A line becomes etched and it’s impossible to smooth out.  That’s exactly what happens in areas of the face that are responsible for facial expressions.  This is why the areas around the eyes and lips and on the forehead are often the first to show wrinkles.

Skin color:  Pigment plays a protective role, so those with lighter skin have less natural defense against damaging UV light.  Conversely, darker skins usually show wrinkling much later in life, and they have their melanin to thank for that.

Genetics:  As with many other beauty and health concerns, your DNA dictates how wrinkly your skin will get.  If your mom looked great well into her 60s, it’s possible you will, too, as long as you’re not baking in the sun every chance you get.

Now what is the best way to prevent wrinkles and/or treat them?  Dr. Baumann recommends the daily use of sunscreen to prevent wrinkles and retinoids if you already have wrinkles.  To those recommendations I would recommend following anti-inflammation diet and incorporating antioxidant serum, such as a Vitamin C serum, into your daily skincare routine.

One more thing – another thing about looking through things you’ve saved is discovering that you have already used the above mentioned article in a post.  I briefly toyed with the idea of just updating the old post (it is almost three years old), but in the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new” I wrote this new post instead.

My Related Posts: 

Image from laserskinsolutions.com

 

Is Your Pillow, Pillowcase, Or Sleeping Position Giving You Wrinkles? September 3, 2013

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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If we don’t already have enough to worry about when it comes to skin aging it turns out that perhaps how we sleep or on what we rest our head can hurt our skin.  As with most skincare subjects this topic is highly debatable so let us check things out more closely.

It’s hard to sleep on your back but should you do so in order to prevent wrinkles?  It turns out that a lot of experts actually say “yes, you should sleep on your back”.  Take for instance this exchange from The Huffington Post:

…  we’re pulling apart the thinking that the way you sleep can exacerbate wrinkles. New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of “Skin Rules,” breaks it down for us.

This all started a few months back when I was getting a facial. I asked the aesthetician why the fine lines around my eyes seemed to be more noticeable on the right side of my face. “Do you sleep on your side?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. I’ve been faithfully sleeping on my right side my entire life. “Well, that’s why,” she pointed out. Dr. Jaliman concurs: “The way you sleep does affect wrinkles — that’s why some lines are called sleep lines. If you crunch your face against a pillow you can get them.”

“It’s best to sleep on your back, although most people find this difficult,” says Jaliman. Indeed. Every attempt I’ve made to become a back-sleeper usually ends back at square one, i.e., comfortably on my right side. “One way to do this is to put a U-shaped bucky pillow around your neck and to prop yourself with other pillows all around you so you don’t turn in your sleep,” advises Jaliman.

(From Does Sleeping on Your Side Cause Wrinkles?  Beauty Myth or Not?)

WebMD actually refers to the American Academy of Dermatology when telling readers to sleep on their back.  I had to find the original reference from the AAD and here it is:

  1. Try to sleep on your back. Do you wake up with sleep lines on your face? Sleeping on your side or your face causes these lines. In time, these lines turn into permanent wrinkles.

(From What Causes Our Skin to Age)

There are even pillows that help achieve wrinkle free sleep.  Allure explains:

Do you have fine lines, wrinkles, or crow’s-feet? Well, maybe it’s because you’re not sleeping on a pillow shaped like Transformers. At least according to the plastic surgeon who designed the JuveRest, a pillow that supposedly reduces the wrinkles acquired by smooshing our faces into our pillows while we snooze.

“My patients are often surprised to learn there are two types of wrinkles on their faces: those caused by expression and those caused by facial distortion from pillow contact during sleep,” says Goesel Anson, the inventor of the pillow. Side and stomach sleepers are the most vulnerable since they spend a third of their lives pressing their delicate visages into heretofore thought totally innocuous bags of goose down.

The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow’s totally un-pillowlike shape minimizes contact between the fabric and your face, thus reducing wrinkles … .

(From Sleep Wrinkles?  The Lego Pillow Might Be For You)

Don’t want to invest in a special pillow?  Can’t sleep on your back?  Maybe all you need to do is use a satin pillowcase.  Again I’ll refer to The Huffington Post article:
If sleeping on your back is absolutely impossible, don’t worry, all is not lost. “A few tricks to avoid sleep lines is to get satin pillowcases as opposed to the usual cotton pillowcases. The face slides against the satin pillowcase so that it doesn’t crunch against it, and no sleep lines are formed. Beauty sleep pillows are also an option, they are made with a special foam and have a unique shape which helps alleviate pressure on the face.”

Ok but does anyone disagree with the above advice?  The Beauty Brains certainly do.  Take for instance what they wrote in the post Does Sleeping on Your Face Give You Wrinkles?:

Long time readers of the Beauty Brains may recall the debate that raged over our post on “Are silk pillowcases good for your skin.” At the time, we took the position that there is no data showing that contact between your face and the pillow case causes wrinkles. A new study published in the June 2013 of Dermatologic Surgery seems to support our position.

The study, conducted by Dr. Brett Kotlus, evaluated whether or not sleeping on one side of your face causes an increase in wrinkles. Here’s a link to the study Effect of Sleep Position on Perceived Facial Aging however you have to be a member to download the entire article. So to make it easy for you, Dr. Klotus has provided a few key take away points:

  • The study shows no association between sleep side and wrinkles
  • Overall, more wrinkles were seen on the left side of the face (not related to sleep position) but instead attributed to to sun exposure while driving. Other studies have found more skin cancer on the left side of the face for the same reason.
  • The study also calls into question if anti-wrinkle sleep pillows are worthwhile.

In conclusion Dr. Klotus says “I do think that sleep lines come from pillow pressure, but other environmental factors such as sun are more important contributors to wrinkles than sleep position.”

And what about silk pillowcases?  Above I mentioned  the recommendation to use a satin pillowcase, but let us throw silk pillowcases into the mix too.  Plus The Beauty Brains post, Are Silk Pillowcases Good for Your Skin?, is too good not to share:

Stephanie says: Is it true that it is better for your skin to sleep on silk pillow cases?

The Left Brain believes:
There is some evidence, like this Pubmed article, that indicates special silk clothing can reduce atopic dermatitis in children who are prone to that condition. However, I have can’t find any evidence that sleeping on silk pillowcases is really better for your skin. Nonetheless, one brand, Silkskin Antiwrinkle Pillowcases, says they actually fight the signs of aging. Here are a few claims from their website followed by my comments:

1. Gives your skin the chance to breathe naturally

While your skin does perspire and while certain chemicals can clog your pores and cause acne, skin does not really “breathe” so silk doesn’t really make a difference in this regard.

2. Because moisture levels are being maintained throughout the night, deeper lines and wrinkles are not forming.

Moisture loss causes dry scaly skin, not wrinkles. A pillow case can not stop wrinkles from forming.

3. Different from run of the mill silk pillow case as it is made from organic silk which contains amino acids, the building blocks of your skin.

ALL silk is made of amino acids, so the fact that this silk is organic is completely irrelevant. And the amino acid profile of silk is different than keratin protein, which is what skin is made of. And, even if it were the same, it’s not like the amino acids leap off the pillowcase and attach to your skin.

4. Organic silk also has the same pH balance of your skin.

Measuring pH really only makes sense when you’re talking about a water solution. Yes, skin has a optimal pH balance, but the pH of fabric you’re sleeping on is really irrelevant.

5. When sleeping on this pillowcase, your night cream is fully absorbed by the skin and won’t rub off like it usually does, therefore allowing the cream to work to maximum effect.

I’m curious if Silkskin has any actual data to back up this claim. I suppose it’s possible that silk is less absorbent than cotton, which means it could absorb less oils and moisture from the surface of your skin. But even if silk is less absorbent, just the friction of your skin against the fabric as you move around in your sleep is still enough to wipe some of the lotion off your face. Without some kind of test data to show Silkskin has a beneficial effect, I’m skeptical on this claim.

6. Silk stops you getting the dreaded ‘bedhead’ as your hair will simply glide over the pillowcase.

Bed head isn’t just caused by rubbing your hair across the fabric of the pillow. It’s also caused by the warmth and moisture of your perspiring scalp saturating your hair and reforming the hydrogen bonds (also known as salt bonds) in your hair, which results in the bizarre hair configuration you wake up with. Since silk doesn’t stop you from perspiring, it probably has little effect on bed head. But once again, if there’s test data to the contrary I’ll gladly reconsider my position.

7. Dust mites cannot live on silk so the pillowcase is excellent for allergy sufferers.

This is the most intriguing of all Silkskin’s claims. While I found references to very tightly woven pillowcases being used to prevent dust mites from penetrating into pillows, I could not find any legitimate scientific source that answered this question one way or the other.

The Beauty Brains bottom line:

There may be some legitimate benefits to sleeping on silk, but Silkskin makes a number of definitive claims without providing much information to back them up. Maybe it’s true that dust mites can’t live on silk, but I’d rather not take the word of the company trying to sell me the product as proof. A little independent confirmation would go a long way toward making me feel better about buying this product.

Bottom Line:   I have to say that I still debating this topic for myself.  Though I think The Beauty Brains, as usual, make a strong argument against back sleeping and special pillowcases and pillows I still wonder if making some small changes could result in fewer wrinkles down the line.

Further Reading:

 

Image from zuzafun.com

 

How Wrinkles Form September 12, 2011

Filed under: Aging — askanesthetician @ 5:39 am
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We’re all going to get them eventually.  There’s no way to stop from getting a wrinkle though there are numerous ways to try to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and to stop them from getting deeper.

How exactly do wrinkles form in the first place?  Dr. Leslie Baumann explains the process very succinctly:

… all wrinkles are caused by the same chain of events within the skin.  Age causes uppermost epidermal cells to get thinner and less sticky, which allows moisture to seep out in turn making skin drier.  Oil glands also begin to slow down, which contributes to dryness as well.  A bit deeper in the skin, supportive scaffolding (i.e. collagen and elastin) breaks down, and skin loses its smoothness and tautness – leaving it on other choice than to wrinkle and sag.  In the skin’s lowest layer, the subcutaneous layer, fat cells begin to shrink, so they are less able to “fill in” or plump out damage in the skin’s other layers.

There are quite a few factors that contribute negatively to this skin chain of events:

  • Sun exposure:  UV rays breakdown our collagen and elastin.  One of the easiest ways to prevent wrinkles and skin laxity is to be a vigilant sunscreen user – every day (no matter the weather) and to reapply throughout the day if you are outside or by a window.  Yes, aging UV rays can pass through glass.
  • Repeated facial expressions:  Areas of the face, like by the eyes or the forehead, wrinkle because of repeated use of that area.  Just as lines become a permanent part of a piece of paper that has been folded and refolded facial lines become etched in your skin.
  • Genetics:  How your parents aged can work both for and against you.  Some people win in the skin lottery – their DNA actually protects them from aging.  On the other hand, other people lose out when it comes to aging.  Think about how your parents looked in their 60s in order to determine how you may look at that age as well.
  • Skin color:  The lighter your skin tone is the less natural sun protection you have (that doesn’t mean that someone with darker skin can forgo daily sun protection – everyone needs sunscreen).  Darker skin tones show wrinkles later than those with light skin.
  • Your health:  poor health can adversely affect your skin.  The medications you are prescribed can also have a negative effect on your skin.
  • Your diet:  Though there continues to be quite a bit of debate over how our diet affects our skin a few things are clear – it is always best for your overall health and your skin’s health to eat a diet low in processed foods and full of multi-colored fruits and vegetables.  Omega-3 rich foods (fish, walnuts, and almonds for example) are anti-inflammatory which protects the skin from aging.  (Many experts believe that skin inflammation is at the root of skin aging).
  • Lack of sleep and stress:  Both of these factors can cause your body and your skin to age faster than it would normally.  See my previous posts for more information on both of these topics:  No Lie – Why You Really Do Need Your Beauty Sleep and Stress and Your Skin.
  • Smoking:  Cigarettes are a killer.  They kill your body and your looks.  See my previous post for more details:  How Smoking Ruins Your Skin.

I want to end this post on a positive note so let me once again quote Dr. Baumann for some easy advice on preventing and correcting facial wrinkles:

So now you’re probably wondering what you can do about wrinkles?  If you haven’t already started preventing signs of aging by wearing sunscreen every day, it’s not too late.  To repair wrinkles, retinoids are the most effective skincare ingredient available today because they address these aging changes within the skin.  These vitamin A derivatives boost your skin’s collagen production and help thicken the uppermost layer of the skin.  Together, these actions smooth the appearance of wrinkles and keep skin looking its best.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

 
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