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Horrible Hormones

If you can’t beat ’em, treat ’em!

Hormones play a huge part in our skin’s health and appearance. They are essential in regulating all activities of the body including growth, reproduction, mood control, digestion, metabolism, and skin function. It’s only when they fluctuate that they wreak havoc on our faces.

Hormonally Induced Pigmentation. Commonly referred to as “pregnancy mask,” Melasma can occur any time hormones change. Lactation, contraceptive use, perimenopause, and menopause can all trigger the body to produce more melanin, resulting in large, dark patches that look like stains on the skin. And while the sun doesn’t cause Melasma, it can definitely make it worse.

Hormonally Induced Acne. Hormone fluctuations, especially during puberty, menstruation, and perimenopause, can create an environment where acne flourishes. These fluctuations trigger an increase in oil production that causes the pores to clog up under the surface. Stress can also be a factor. While it doesn’t cause acne, it can definitely make it worse by increasing cortisol levels that lead to additional oil production and inflammation.

Food Induced Hormones. We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” But most of us don’t realize how much food affects our skin. Dairy, gluten, and sugar can stimulate excess oil production that can lead to clogged pores and pimples. They can also kick-start a process called glycation, which breaks down collagen and causes wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance.

What Can You Do? Hormonal effects are best treated with a combination of spa services like corrective peels, microderm, and facials combined with at-home products such as lightening serums and acne gels. Talk to your esthetician to see which treatments would work for you.

The Classic Skin Care Regimen

KEEP SKIN HEALTHY WITH THESE SIMPLE STEPS

There’s a lot of confusion out there about skin care. Which products do you need? What order should they be applied? Can you keep it simple? Everybody’s needs are a little different, but the basics are the same. Here’s my personal regimen for keeping skin of all ages healthy and looking great.

MORNING–5 STEPS

1. Cleanser
A lot of people tell me they don’t wash their face in the morning. But here’s what’s actually going on while you sleep: You drool, you sweat, your partner drools and sweats cuddled up to you…on your pillow. Your skin and hair produce oil. And then you rub your face in that all night long. Wash it all away with a quick cleanse during your morning shower.

2. Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is an essential ingredient for keeping skin healthy. It hydrates, it brightens, it fights free radicals, it lightens pigment, and it even helps filter UV rays. Which is why it’s the perfect serum to apply in the AM.

3. Eye & Neck Cream
The skin around the eyes and on the neck is very similar: thin, sensitive, small pores, and the first to lose elasticity. And your regular moisturizer just won’t work because it’s not formulated to penetrate this type of tissue. Pick a product specifically designed to treat these areas and keep crow’s feet and turkey neck at bay.

4. Moisturizer
It doesn’t matter if you’re dry, normal, oily, or combo, a moisturizer is essential to keeping your skin balanced. A lot of oily skin people tell me that they just don’t think they need it. But using a moisturizer will actually reset your skin’s hydration levels so you’ll produce less oil in the long run.

5. SPF
Sun protection should always be used as a separate product. Don’t buy combo products like moisturizers or makeups that include SPF because they drastically dilute in the bottle. What started as SPF 30 dilutes down to like SPF 7. And since SPF ingredients are drying, they decrease the efficacy of the moisturizer, too.

NIGHTIME–3 STEPS

1. Cleanser
It’s perfectly fine to use the same cleanser morning and night. But at the end of the day, you might need something with a little more kick to remove your makeup, sunscreen, and the day’s pollution.

2. Retinol Serum: Retinols are the gold standard for fighting fine lines and wrinkles, triggering collagen production, and reversing sun damage. Breaking out? You can substitute an acne serum here instead.

3. Moisturizer: Use the same one from your AM routine. I don’t believe in a “night cream, ” unless you really need a lot of hydration and can’t handle the feel of a heavier moisturizer during the day.

TWICE A WEEK

Exfoliator
Cell turnover slows as we age. And the subsequent buildup of dead skin cells leads to problem skin. Exfoliation helps treat acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, dullness, and pretty much every facial flaw you can think of. Scrubs and enzymes are the best choices for home care. Take it up a notch with a monthly peel or microdermabrasion at the spa.

Treatment Mask
Follow your exfoliation with a treatment mask. Pick one or two that address your skin’s needs. A purifying mask for acne or oil. A moisturizing mask for dehydration. A brightening mask for pigmentation. They’re fun! And 20 minutes twice a week really makes a difference.

EXTRAS

Acne Spot Treatment
Always have a good spot treatment on-hand for those pesky pimples.

Toner
I love a good treatment toner after I cleanse. Depending which one you choose, it can help hydrate, tone, resurface, and restore you skin’s pH levels. But if you’re trying to keep things simple, you can skip it.

Ritual Day Spa’s Bride Guide

HOW TO LOOK YOUR BEST ON YOUR BIG DAY.

If you’re a bride-to-be, chances are you’re using one of those countdown checklists that tell you what to do every month leading up to your wedding. When to buy your dress. When to book the venue. When to find a photographer. But most lists don’t include any schedule on how to get “you” ready for the big day. Until now…

12 MONTHS PRIOR

Get Monthly Facials: Make up artists can cover a lot, but wouldn’t you rather have glowing skin? Getting monthly facials can help correct physical flaws like acne and brown spots so you’ll look your best on your big day.

Change Your Regimen: Your at-home products might be just fine under normal circumstances. But this is your wedding! You need to make sure you’re using the right products to achieve your skin care goals. And there’s no better person to help you chose them than an esthetician.

6 MONTHS PRIOR

Start Shaping Your Brows: Nothing frames your face like great brows. But great brows take time. Since you may need to grow them in or start training them in the right direction, see your esthetician as early as possible.

Get Monthly Back Facials: Most wedding dresses show a little skin. And you don’t want blemishes, pigmentation, or dry patches stealing the show. Back facials can help clear things up so you’ll look flawless from every angle.

3 MONTHS PRIOR

Start Getting Monthly Massages: Planning a wedding is stressful. And extra stress can take its toll on both your body and your skin. Monthly massages can help alleviate the mental pressure and keep Bridezilla at bay.

Start Waxing: No doubt you’ll want to be hair-free and carefree on the big day. But if you’re not a regular waxer, you need start now to ensure your skin gets used to it. Plus, starting to wax a few months prior helps the hairs sync up so you’ll stay smoother longer. Arms, legs, lip, bikini–we do it all!

1 MONTH PRIOR

Book Your Spa Bridal Shower: Who doesn’t love a little pampering? Ritual Day Spa is the perfect venue to host your friends and family for a bridal shower that’s truly unique.

Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine

YOUR WARDROBE ISN’T THE ONLY THING YOU NEED TO CHANGE.

It’s spring! Time to box those boots, store those sweaters, and clean those corners. But what about your personal products? Since your skin changes with every season, it’s the perfect time to change your skin care routine, too.

Throw Out Old Products. Most lotions and potions have a one to two-year shelf life, but cluttering your cabinets with products you’re “saving for later” is just not worth it. Bacteria could grow. Expiration dates could pass. And efficacy could degrade. Toss ’em! Like that box of Benadryl that expired in 2010 and those pants that “may fit again one day.”

Switch Your Moisturizer. Dry winter skin caused by heaters, ski trips, and colder climates clearly calls for a heavier moisturizer. But the temperate weather and humidity of spring means your oil production should normalize, and you’ll want a lightweight moisturizer to keep things balanced.

Trade Your Retinol for Peptides. Retinol is the gold standard for anti-aging. But using it during sunny seasons can be dangerous, increasing the likelihood of pigmentation and chemical burns. Spring is a great time to switch to a peptide product that will continue triggering collagen production without the risks of retinol.

Get a Facial. There’s no better way to prep your skin for spring than with a facial. Slough off dead cell buildup, clear out impactions, and get advice on what your skin needs this season.

New You X2

THESE POPULAR RESOLUTIONS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN, TOO.

Efficient? Productive? Multitasker? If these adjectives describe you, then you need a New Year’s Resolution that pulls double-duty. Check out these suggestions below. At face value, they’re clearly good for you. But the kicker is that they’re good for your skin, too.

Stop Smoking. Next to sun exposure, smoking is the biggest provocateur of premature aging. It asphyxiates the skin, which causes clogged pores, collagen breakdown, wrinkles, and a dull, lackluster appearance. Also, the constant puckering creates vertical lip lines that are impossible to erase.

Eat Better. Carbs and sugar kick-start a process called glycation, whereby sugar molecules bind to protein structures in your skin. This makes them weak and dysfunctional, which surfaces as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance. They also cause a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the hormones that stimulate oil production and breakouts.

Quit Drinking. Excess imbibing has been linked to Rosacea, dehydration, and not washing your face before bed–all of which lead to inflammation that can break down collagen, create wrinkles, and provoke acne.

Get More Sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body increases its production of a hormone called cortisol. And when your cortisol levels get too high, inflammation ensues. This can trigger acne and eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. Additionally, the resulting dehydration from too few ZZZZs causes puffy eyes and dark circles.

Take More Time Off. Countless studies have been done on the effect of stress on the skin. And they all say the same thing: stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. So book that extra vacation. Spend a “sick day” at the spa. Your face will thank you!

The Truth About Organic Skin Care

“ALL-NATURAL” IS NOT ALL GOOD

The topic of organic skin care is a hot one. The media and marketing have painted a horrific picture of “chemicals,” parabens,” and the “toxic” nature of any product that is not “all-natural.” So I completely understand why people have switched to shopping at Whole Foods for their beauty needs. But I stand steadfast on my personal pulpit. Organic products are not good for your skin, and they don’t deliver results.

Blasphemy, right? Now don’t get me wrong, I love botanical and natural ingredients. But these ingredients must be combined with their synthetic brothers and sisters to actually work.

The Skin Won’t Absorb Natural Ingredients Without Help. Eating blueberries, carrots, and the like is great for the body. But the skin is not so hospitable. If your skin doesn’t recognize an ingredient applied topically, it will reject it in the form of allergenic reactions, acne, irritation, and the breakdown of collagen. In order for the skin to accept and absorb these unknowns, they must be mixed with biogenic ingredients (ingredients found naturally in the body) as well as lab-derived delivery systems designed to penetrate.

Chemicals and Parabens are Not Evil. In fact, they create stability in products that make them safer to use and more effective. You might have heard about some studies that said parabens were endocrine disrupters linked to breast cancer. But did you hear that these studies were later disproven? No, because the media didn’t want to admit that they jumped the gun on creating a panic. Thus cosmetic manufacturers were forced to go paraben-free, not because they were dangerous, but because the truth was swept under the rug.

Organic Products Don’t Deliver Results. It’s true. They’re simply unable to incorporate and use active ingredients such as peptides, retinols, and vitamins to fight aging. And natural ingredients that have beneficial properties like blueberries (antioxidant) or sulfer (anti-inflammatory) just won’t penetrate without the help of cosmetic chemists and lab-derived bonding ingredients. So get the best of both worlds…use products that contain both!

It’s Peel Season!

TIME TO GET TOUGH ON FACIAL FLAWS.

Everybody knows how much I love peels. This versatile form of chemical exfoliation sloughs off dead skin while triggering new cell production. Why is this important? Because almost every facial flaw–from acne to congestion to wrinkles to pigmentation–is rooted in exfoliation. And now that summer is over, it’s the perfect time to start sloughing!

Myth: Peels are Scary! I understand that the concept of a “peel” is a little foreboding. But there are so many wonderful options today that allow you to choose a pace that suits your lifestyle. You don’t have to peel to get results. In most cases, you won’t peel at all. And you definitely won’t look like Samantha from Sex & the City.

Light Peels. These can be added on to a facial or received a la carte. We offer AHA (lactic/glycolic), BHA (salicylic), and pumpkin peel formulations to ensure the perfect fit for your skin type.

Medium-Depth Chemical Peels. These stronger lactic peels from industry-expert PCA Skin are a great choice when you want to get a little more aggressive. We offer both TCA and Jessner formulations that are completely customizable. They take a little at-home prep work, and work best when done in succession, but can dramatically improve your skin with little to no downtime.

As an interesting side note: we get a lot of calls from people asking percentages on our peels. The strength of a peel has more to do with its ph level than the actual percentage. A 10% glycolic, for example, can be a lot stronger than a 30% glycolic if it is formulated with a lower ph. So if you are one of those people shopping for peels on Amazon, be very careful. These ph levels are rarely divulged so you don’t know what you are really getting.

Friendly Fare

Eating Your Way to Better Skin.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Sure…we get it. Eating well and drinking lots of water lead to a healthier body. Not a lot of argument needed. The lesions caused by std resources take the form of painful blisters that eventually open, forming ulcers, and then crust over. In men, the sores can be found on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus, inside the urethra, or on the skin of the thighs. But what some of us don’t realize is how much food affects our skin. Check out some Do’s and Don’ts below:

Try These:

Salmon. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fishes like Salmon help combat inflammation that can break down collagen and elastin. They also strengthen the cell membranes, allowing the cells to hold more moisture for a brighter, plumper, and more youthful complexion. Can’t stomach this seafood staple? Try fish oil supplements instead.

Kale. Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV rays. It’s also rich in Vitamin K, which helps diffuse dark under-eye circles. Plus, just one cup gives you your entire day’s requirement of skin-firming Vitamins A and C.

Dark Chocolate. This sweet treat is rich in cocoa flavanols, plant compounds that help protect your skin from UV damage, fight free radicals, and increase blood flow. Dark chocolate also helps reduce stress hormones that can lead to collagen breakdown (wrinkles) and excess oil production (acne).

Avoid These:

Dairy. Lactose intolerance isn’t the only side effect of your love affair with dairy. While yogurt, milk, and other items have plenty of health benefits, certain hormones in dairy products may stimulate the overproduction of oil that can lead to clogged pores and pimples.

Sugar. Cake. Cookies. Alcohol. Certain sweets kick-start a process called glycation, whereby sugar molecules bind to protein structures in your skin. This makes them weak and dysfunctional, which shows up on the surface as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance.

Gluten. Oh sigh…how I love my bread. But high glycemic-index foods have been linked to both acne and wrinkles. First, they cause a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the hormones that stimulate oil production and breakouts. Second, just like sugar, they trigger collagen breakdown through the glycation process discussed above.

Check Out More Face-Friendly Foods >>

Summer’s Over…Why Wax?

On goes the debate over hair removal. Should I wax? Should I shave? What about laser? Can I get away without hair-tending in the winter? Should I tell my friend that Movember is just for men? Well, as expected, estheticians are cheerleaders for waxing year round. And here’s why:

1. Waxing lasts longer than shaving.
Clearly it makes sense that if you remove the hair from the root, it takes longer to grow back. 21 days longer, to be exact. And if you wax consistently, your three hair cycles sync up so you’ll get even more time before those hairs show their heads.

2. Waxing makes hair thinner.
If you shave every day, the constant stimulation of the hair follicle triggers a “healing” reaction where the body floods the follicle with nutrients designed to make the hair stronger. Waxing is done much less often, therefore less stimulation. Over time, yanking out the hair also retards the follicle so hair becomes thinner and may even stop growing entirely. Doesn’t that sound nice?

3. Waxing leads to fewer ingrowns and irritation.
We’ve all dealt with razor burn and ingrown hairs caused by frequent shaving. Waxing can definitely help reduce this since there’s no constant scraping of the skin.

4. Laser overpromises.
Of course there are people who are satisfied with their results, but I have a lot of waxing clients who have tried it and are still showing up on my table. That kind of says it all. Since laser is attracted to pigment, you need really dark hair and really light skin. And it takes a lot more sessions than they say. And after all those sessions, often the hair is not completely gone! I know waxing isn’t permanent either, but at least it’s a lot less expensive.

Check Out Our Waxing Services >>

 

Seeing Spots?

Take a stand against pigmentation

Uneven skin tone is probably the most hated facial flaw amongst women today. And it’s also one of the most difficult to treat. Even if you have success in lightening those stubborn spots, one week in the sun can often bring them back. So what’s a gal to do? The first step is to understand how melanin works, and accepting that if you choose to fight it, it’s a battle that lasts a lifetime. Sigh.

Hyperpigmentation and Sun Damage
Inside our skin we have pigment cells called melanocytes that determine the color of our skin. They also serve as protectors, manufacturing melanin whenever our skin experiences some sort of “injury.” And just like with a tan, the melanin slowly fades away once the injury has healed. But if the skin is injured repeatedly by sunburns, sun exposure, or recurring acne lesions, the melanocytes go into a sort of permanent overproduction that never stops. Some spots can take up to 20 years to develop, and the darker your skin tone, the more melanocytes you have, thus the more prone you are to pigmenting.

Melasma
Often mistaken for sun damage, Melasma is a form of hormonally induced pigmentation that can occur any time hormones change. Pregnancy, lactation, contraceptive use, perimenopause, and menopause can all trigger the body to produce more melanin, resulting in large, dark patches that look like symmetrical stains on the skin. And while the sun doesn’t cause Melasma, it can definitely bring it out.

Treatments
Once pigment becomes permanent, meaning the Melanocytes have entered the state of ongoing overproduction, fighting it becomes multifaceted. First, you have to exfoliate the skin to bring the damaged (discolored) cells to the surface. Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and exfoliants like Retinol are my favorite methods. But just like a penny at the bottom of a pool, as the cells rise up, they often look darker and more distinct before they fade away.

Next, you need to break up and lighten the melanin clusters in order to reduce their appearance. Vitamin C, Arbutin, and Licorice Root all do a good job in this department. Finally, you need to suppress new melanin production with ingredients like Hydraquinone, Kojic Acid, or Niacinamide.

With these simple steps, and a little patience, you can achieve some dramatic results. Just remember to stay out of the sun!