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Must-Have Masks

15 MINUTES, TWICE A WEEK, CAN SAVE YOUR SKIN!

Nothing beats getting a facial. Seeing your esthetician once a month can help keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and blemish-free. But what you do at home is crucial to extending the effects of your facial and maintaining overall skin health. You may have your daily duties dialed in, but using a mask twice a week will help take your regimen to the next level.

Exfoliating Masks. Chock full of natural fruit enzymes and plant acids, exfoliating masks can accelerate cell turnover by gently dissolving dead skin.

Clay Masks. If you have oily, clogged, or congested skin, a clay mask can really help. Ingredients like sulfer, kaolin, charcoal, and bentonite draw out imperfections while purifying the pores.

Cream Masks. Cream masks are perfect for dry, dehydrated, and aging skin types. Depending on the types you choose, they can help hydrate the skin while brightening, lightening, and soothing.

Sheet Masks. These easy-to-use paper masks have the same properties as cream masks with no clean up! Simply take the mask out of the package, place it on your face, and remove after 15 minutes. Add a glass of wine and a movie and it’s the perfect Sunday night!

SPF BS

4 myths about sunscreen debunked!

1. The higher the SPF the better. I hear this a lot. Here’s the deal: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. Go any higher and there’s barely a detectable increase in protection. In fact, the FDA has proposed new labeling rules that cap SPF at 50+. And remember that the higher you go, the more chemicals you introduce into your skin. Is an additional 1% protection worth it?

2. Pick physical sunblocks over chemical sunscreens. Hmmm, not necessarily. I like products that have both. The physical ingredients (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) provide a wall between you and the sun, which is great! They also start working immediately, unlike chemical sunscreens that take 20-30 minutes to absorb into the skin. But physical sunblocks can also feel thick and look pasty, making them harder to wear. Chemical ingredients (oxybenzone, avobenzone, PABA) are absorbed into the skin and filter/deactivate UV rays. When you combine the physical and the chemical ingredients together, you get an easier-to-wear powerhouse product that protects from all angles.

3. But chemical ingredients cause cancer, don’t they? Once again, the organic activists have extrapolated scientific findings to the point of absurdity. A widely publicized study claimed that chemical ingredients mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine system. But in that study, oxybenzone was directly fed to mice in huge doses, not applied to the skin. And while oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin, it is absorbed in much smaller concentrations. No study has ever shown it to cause cancer in humans. It’s also worth noting that none of the health organizations have recognized the findings.

4. My moisturizer/makeup has SPF, so I’m covered. There’s a dirty little secret about dual-purpose products that the manufacturers won’t tell you, and it’s all about dilution and efficacy. An SPF goes into your moisturizer as 30…that’s what the bottle says anyway. But there are a lot of ingredients in moisturizers that don’t play well with SPF ingredients, breaking them down and turning your 30 into more like 7. Additionally, SPFs are very drying, thus counteracting the hydrating properties of your moisturizer. And don’t even get me started on SPFs in makeup and how nobody applies a thick enough layer to get that level of protection. Bottom line: keep your SPF separate.

Skin Care for Men

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Metroman!

Chances are your man isn’t as committed to skin care as you are. I’m guessing  that his regimen involves a bar of Irish Spring in the shower, or at best, swiping your $100 serum and using half the bottle in one application. And I’ll bet that getting regular facials is about as common as braiding your daughter’s hair. In honor of Father’s Day, let’s examine how good skin care can make him look and feel like a brand new man. And let’s face it, some days wouldn’t YOU like a brand new man?

Histology of men’s skin: So we all know that men have more testosterone. But what does this mean to their skin? Well to start, a thicker epidermis, more oil, and larger pores. These factors, along with shaving and a lack of sunscreen, can lead to significant issues if left unchecked.

Do they even care? Most men brush off vanity like crumbs on the kitchen counter–in front of their women anyway. But when they’re on my table, they really do open up about crows feet, sunspots, blackheads, redness, and wrinkles. Who knew that they actually think about their facial flaws and genuinely want to fix them? They just won’t admit this to you.

How can you help him? Get him in for a facial. I’m sure you’ve had the frustrating experience of giving your man advice that gets completely dismissed until a professional tells him THE EXACT SAME THING. For some unexplainable reason, the power and potency of this phenomenon is even stronger during a scalp massage. Hmmm…? We’ll convince him that skin care is not just for metro guys named Thad carrying messenger bags and send him home with a simple regimen that even he can follow.

Book him a facial >>

Don’t Believe the Likes

3 skin care trends to avoid (#diyfail)

With the explosion of self-proclaimed beauty bloggers posting on Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube, it’s easy to get sucked into viral trends that promise amazing results. But just because a post gets play doesn’t mean that the content isn’t too good to be true. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.

Pore Strips. We’ve all tried these. You get them wet, press them onto your nose, and then rip them off like a band-aid. Then you stare at amazement at all the blackheads sticking up from the strip. But guess what? There’s more skin on the strip than oil. It literally rips your skin off, and only removes the superficial blackhead top from the surface of your skin. A few days later,  the blackhead reemerges.

Sheet Masks. Sheet masks are the rage right now. We love them in the spa environment, too. But unfortunately, the ones you buy in the store or online are very different than what you receive during a professional facial. Anything sold to the masses is going to be less active than what’s sold to licensed estheticians. Is the Hello Kitty sheet mask you bought on Amazon fun? Sure. But it really won’t do anything except give you a great #selfie.

DIY Skin Care. I understand the lure of kitchen cosmetics. What’s more fun than scouring social media for recipes you can concoct at home? Everyone has the mad scientist gene, but there’s a reason why skin care products are regulated. It takes the knowledge and skill of a cosmetic chemist to create safe, effective formulations. Even if you use the same ingredients, you can easily burn your face (baking soda masks) or rip off your skin (homemade charcoal masks).

Dermatologists & Estheticians

DO YOU NEED BOTH?

There’s always been a sort of rivalry between dermatologists and estheticians. They think all we do is pop pimples and rub lotion on people’s faces, and we think all they do is recommend Cetaphil and write prescriptions for Retin-A. But as a consumer, you need both on your team to ensure a win-win for your skin.

Estheticians Offer:
• A holistic approach to overall skin health which includes the evaluation of products, diet, and lifestyle.

• The ability to immediately address concerns through facials, which might include extractions, advanced exfoliation, and/or targeted hydration.

• The “spa experience,” which blends results-oriented services with relaxation and stress relief.

Dermatologists Offer:
• A task-centric approach to fixing a particular problem.

• The ability to target internal factors affecting skin, including hormones, using prescription strength oral and topical medications/antibiotics.

• More aggressive alternatives such as Botox, fillers, and laser to treat advanced issues.

In basic terms, there is only so much estheticians “can” do and only so much dermatologists “will” do. We can help fade pigmentation, but we can’t “zap” it away. They can help clear up acne, but they won’t extract your blackheads. Sometimes you need a facial; sometimes you need a pill. Seek the services of both professionals and your skin will thank you.

Sweet News

CHOCOLATE IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN YOU THINK!

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Which means the likelihood of receiving a heart-shaped box of chocolates is a pretty safe bet. But often, this sweet treat is met with retreat due its “bad for you” reputation. Well I’m here to say, “indulge away,” because dark chocolate especially has some amazing health benefits.

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

Good for your hair. Dark chocolate promotes blood circulation in the scalp, which leads to increased hair growth. Infused with the goodness of several hair-benefiting ingredients, it also improves the overall health of your tresses, making them super-glossy and voluminous.

Good for your health. It is hard to believe that a sugar-enriched substance can balance the blood sugar levels, improve vision, lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the arteries and heart, and reduce the risk of stroke, but it’s true! Dark chocolate also aids in the production of endorphins that help improve one’s mood. So I can eat chocolate guilt free? I feel better already!

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.

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.