If you want healthy skin, the best place to start is with a healthy lifestyle and an excellent skin care routine. Nutritious food, adequate sleep, regular facials and good quality skincare products are the building blocks for maintaining a glowing complexion that gets noticed. However, there is one often-overlooked factor in skin care that might be affecting the health of your skin—pollution.
Like it or not, pollution is a fact of modern life. When we talk about heavy pollution, many Asian cities come to mind. We have all seen images of people wearing masks to work every day in Beijing, Tokyo and Delhi. But the effects of toxic air are also being seen in many ways in western cities, like Paris, New York and London.
Closer to home, with the heat upon us in Los Angeles, the smog has returned and unfortunately, the fires. Plus, here in the southern part of California, we did not get the rain we anticipated earlier in the year, and that has added to the level of unfriendly particulates in the air. This toxicity is having a very detrimental effect on the quality of our lives here and worldwide.
The Bad News: The real culprits?
Traffic pollution is particularly bad for the skin. Tiny particles called PMs that contain nitrogen dioxide and other harmful chemicals have now been linked to cancer, wrinkles and aging. It has also been discovered that these particles can actually penetrate into the skin, stimulating the melanocytes which then produce an overabundance of pigment and brown spots. Additionally, there is evidence that toxins can increase the production of extra blood vessels which cause redness, irritation and rosacea. One final point to take into consideration is that pollution can actually heighten the intensity of UV light and cause even more damage to the skin tissue. Never have SPF’s and EPF’s been so important.
The Good News: What to do?
On the bright side, modern technology is not only helping us understand these issues but is coming up with some protective measures and great products we can use to neutralize the damage without all of us having to wear biohazard suits every time we step outside.
We need to get back to beauty basics in a serious way and that means paying great attention to our night-time rituals as well as our morning routine.
Double cleansing at night is now an absolute necessity in today’s polluted environment. A deep pore cleanser will remove the grime that builds on our skin during the day. Using two types of cleanser – an oil or cream based product before the deep pore formula – can ensure that every scrap of make-up is wiped off. This is very important if you are using mineral based make-up – which I love – but it can adhere to the skin more than traditional formulations.
Whatever routine you chose, make sure it is thorough. Adding a Clarisonic brush to your cleansing routine is very helpful. For sensitive skins I would recommend only 2-3 times a week; less sensitive, once a day. And I am a huge proponent of following with a toner. Toners re-establish the pH of the skin and prepare the way for hydration and treatment products. Night-time cremes and serums should be an area where you invest more time and money. Alternating products that contain Retin-A, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, peptides, ceramides, stem cells and AHA’s really makes a difference to how the skin ages but don’t overdue the exfoliating. We need to protect our skin barrier as much as possible these days and being over aggressive can create vulnerability to the environment. This is an area where your aesthetician can advise you and work out a routine that gets the best results.
Add Niacinamide – vitamin B3 – to your EPF ingredient list ( environmental protection factor.)
Switch to mineral cosmetics on top of your SPF to add an extra veil of protection during the day.
Use an air purifier at night to reduce indoor air pollution.
Change pillow cases at least twice weekly.
Continuing research will provide more ways to protect us from the damaging effects of pollution but taking steps now will make a big difference to how healthy our skin will be as we age.
After working out, shower immediately. Cleanse the face and apply a hydrating sunscreen before leaving the gym. Running errands straight away without doing this causes breakouts and irritation.Clients prone to back breakouts should bring a clean t-shirt to change into.
Always cleanse your skin in the morning. During the night your skin goes to work repairing itself and absorbing the treatment products you have applied before bed. And there is such a thing as indoor pollution that can be equally as unhealthy as outdoor. So a gentle cleanse in the morning gets rid of any residue and gives you a fresh start.
Never go to sleep without cleansing off the day’s make-up and pollution. According to the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, every night you don’t cleanse your skin, you age three days more quickly. And yes, I am trying to scare you into the bathroom!
Always exercise before a facial – working out afterwards can cause additional break-outs.
Wipe off your cell phone several times a day. It attracts dirt and make-up that can cause clogging. Have a special holder for your phone so that it stays cleaner and is easier to find.
Always wash your hands before cleansing your face.
Tools to Help:
Carry travel sizes of cleanser, toner and moisturizer/SPF in your gym bag and a clean t-shirt.
Store wipes in your bag to keep your cell phone clean. Hand sanitizers can work too.
Use ear buds whenever possible.
As we all know, oxygen is essential for life. It makes up about 20% of the air we breathe, depending on where we live. But it is important when discussing skincare treatments to differentiate between oxygen entering the body through respiration versus the benefits of topically applied oxygen. When applied in too large amounts to the skin, oxygen can have a detrimental effect and produce free radicals.
However, at SkinSense we use a controlled and measured delivery system that enhances penetration without forming free radicals.
This solid state oxygen treatment uses no hydrogen peroxide or gas wands and all the activity is generated by enzyme action which suits a variety of skin conditions.
Here are the main benefits:
Stimulates collagen production by increasing cellular activity. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.Calms rosacea and acne by reducing bacteria levels on the skin surface.
Ideal for deep cleansing clogged, congested and acneic conditons.
Speeds recovery after laser treatments, peels and microdermabrasion.
Facilitates the absorption of active ingredients applied after treatment.
Tightens the skin surface and leaves the complexion glowing and refreshed.
Oxygen can be performed as regularly as once a week, but results are evident after just one treatment. In other words oxygen facials are the perfect tool to combat the pollution and stress of city life and provide all of us a welcome opportunity to have a continually healthy, glowing complexion.
Today we have some great tools available to tackle the aging process on both the top and in the deeper layers of the skin – all in one session.
At SkinSense, microcurrent has become a very popular electrical protocol that we offer to all our clients interested in keeping the skin firm, toned and youthful. Originally used in the medical field to treat stroke victims, Bells Palsy and for pain relief of injured muscles and tendons, we perform microcurrent as a stand-alone treatment or as an add-on to other facial protocols.
Here are the main benefits:
Tightening – the low-level electricity combines with our bodies’ own electrical impulses to trigger movement – rather like taking your skin to the gym for an exercise session.
Glucose production – microcurrent can also trigger a chemical reaction at a cellular level that enhances the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) by almost 500%. This is the fuel that energizes all cellular activity in the body and is essential to cellular health.
Microcurrent has a very calming effect on Rosacea and skin which tends toward redness and irritation.
It can also soften scar tissue, improve circulation and get rid of puffiness by stimulating lymph flow which clams environmental sensitivity and allergies.
Topically, AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) can be naturally derived but in skin care today are mostly synthetically produced. The most popular AHA’s are Lactic and Glycolic acids and we also use Mandelic acid at SkinSense.
The main benefits are:
Treatment of sun damaged skin and pigmentation.
Normalizing hyperkeratinization – skin that appears over–thickened and dull.
Increase in exfoliation of dead skin cells which tends to slow with aging.
This combination of topicals and electricity has an immediate effect on the skin – benefits that make the skin appear immediately youthful and radiant and that also last long past the day of treatment. We are currently offering this combination treatment for $130.00 – a savings of $70.00 – so book now and Spring forward with a magical glow!
I get asked this question by a client at least once a day at the spa… Are home skin care devices just for people who can’t afford a facial or maybe are too busy to go to the spa? Will I get the same results I get here at Skin Sense?
Technology is always changing and improving. Ultrasonic cleansing brushes and hair removal devices have had the best track record so far according to Philips and Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd., two global aesthetics consultancy companies who track these devices. That might be because results are immediately tangible – less hair, cleaner pores – and fit easily into one’s daily routine – cleansing and shaving.
Anti-aging devices are a little harder to assess and some are so high-tech that they need FDA approval. Many of these devices are quite costly as well ($500.00- $1,000.00.) They also need to be used 10-15 minutes a day for several weeks before seeing results. And some of the more sophisticated devices could potentially damage your skin if used incorrectly or on the wrong skin type/color.
Maybe most important – how many times have any of us purchased workout equipment with the best of intentions only to have it collecting dust three months later? Compliance and consistency are your skin’s best friend. I think only the most disciplined and leisurely of us could comply with the recommended use of these home devices. And honestly, isn’t a relaxing 75 minute treatment at Skin Sense where we use the most cutting edge and proven electrical equipment more appealing and doable for the majority of us? See our post “Electricity R” post.
So in conclusion, I don’t think we have reached the point where the fountain of youth can be found in our bathrooms or anywhere at home. But I do think that at home devices, once proven safe and effective, can be used by the disciplined client as an adjunct to a regular skincare routine while prolonging the benefits gained from regular visits to Skin Sense.
Do you get an occasional pimple or are you dealing with full blown acne? With the help of our in house acne expert, Nancee Daly, we have comprised a list to keep your skin clear and healthy any time of the year.
No HOT yoga when dealing with acne. Yoga practice is great for keeping the mind and body de-stressed which in turn controls hormonal activity. But HOT yoga, where there is excessive heat and sweating can cause more break-outs and irritate an already unbalanced skin. Heat also ages the skin so keep it cool.
Probiotics, as already mentioned, help to restore some of the healthy bacteria (Microbiota) that antibiotics can wipe out. The Microbiota are essential for maintaining our immune systems so find a probiotic formula that contains at least 50 billion cultures and as many bacteria strains as possible.
Cleanse thoroughly every night – if necessary two to three times before toning and make sure that the cotton pad you use to tone is completely clean before moving on to the rehydrating and rebalancing phase.
Add a holistic approach with Reishi mushrooms, red clover, peppermint, saw palmetto, black cohosh and green tea. These all control the presence of androgens and can reduce the severity of acne.
Watch the sugars in your diet. Simple sugars in particular are highly inflammatory. Candy, sodas, ice cream, alcohol and white foods are the main culprits. Dairy foods can also exacerbate acne and check that any supplements that you are taking do not contain iodides.
We recommend that our male clients sterilize their razors after each use and that our female clients make sure that every trace of make-up is washed off at the end of the day. This often means several cleansing steps and plenty of toning.
Make-up brushes should be washed every week and most important NO PICKING!! Check out my post “Stop picking on me”. When a painful break-out begins to erupt, ice it for 15 minutes 2-3 times a day. This will not only help to reduce the severity but also the scarring.
Change pillow cases at least twice a week and wipe off smart phones with an antiseptic wipe after each use.
Finally make sure you hydrate inside and out. Plenty of water keeps the system flushed and healthy and a light topical serum or hydrating lotion will help to rebalance the skin. Don’t eliminate moisturizers. The right one will help, not hinder, the healing process.
Hormones and acne:
Puberty is often associated with acne break-outs and at SkinSense we regularly counsel teenagers about skin hygiene and sensible dietary choices as we clean their skins. But many male and female clients develop acne later in life after navigating puberty and pregnancy without any problems. This can be due to excessive stress and in women it frequently signals approaching menopause, as estrogen levels drop allowing more free testosterone to take control.
Tip: Spironolactone (Aldactone) is an effective oral androgen blocker that helps to control this kind of late onset acne. (For women only.) Ask your doctor for details.
The formation of an acne lesion occurs when the skin is oily and begins to shed excessively, clogging the pores and supplying a food source for Propionibacterium (p. acnes). This creates inflammation and an immune response.
Identify the type:
Comedonal, Inflammatory and Cystic acne are the main categories used to define this condition. For the first two, a mix of topicals including salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids, with tea tree and camphor for spot treatment is very effective. Sometimes oral antibiotics are necessary to treat inflammatory acne but don’t stay on these for too long and always take a good probiotic at the same time. The redness and scarring is easily treated with an over the counter or prescription retinoid. Build slowly – one or two nightly applications a week – to avoid irritation and always wear a sunscreen during the day.
With both Comedonal and inflammatory acne regular cleaning and rebalancing facials are really helpful to bring the breakouts under control. At SkinSense, we often use a Mandelic Acid peel and an enzyme treatment that incorporates Niacinamide and Pumpkin extract to get rid of scarring. Oxygen facials are also great for a deep clean, killing bacteria, calming and revitalizing the skin.
Cystic acne is a more serious type of acne with deeper inflammation and a higher risk of scarring. It needs to be tackled quickly. If after three months oral anti-biotics don’t do the trick then Accutane is often recommended. Aczone is a topical medication that is non-irritating, reduces inflammation and can be used along with Accutane. Accutane does have some potential risks for certain individuals so make sure your dermatologist explains these to you and monitors you closely while you are on the medication. Gentle cleaning facials are useful in these cases to clear the skin and calm any redness.If Accutane is not a choice you would make, then there are other options and lifestyle plays an enormous role in how you can rebalance and correct acne.
Great skin requires commitment and discipline – two words that can strike terror in a lot of peoples’ hearts. But the benefits always outweigh the effort. Follow these twelve tips and you will be beaming from ear to ear.
Have regular ( preferably monthly) customized facials and take care of your skin AM & PM.
Use sun screen.
Drink half your body weight in water.
Take your vitamins AM & PM.
Eat at least three fruits and five vegetables a day and keep your diet 80% alkaline and 20% acidic.*
Get to bed by 10.30 pm at least five nights a week.
Exercise at least four times a week for an hour.
Don’t pick your skin.
Don’t drink sodas.
Hang upside down for fifteen minutes every day. (Yoga counts).
*Read “Stop Aging, Start Living” by Jeannette Graf, M.D.
As we all know, oxygen is essential for life. It makes up about 20% of the air we breathe, depending on where we live. It is important when discussing skincare treatments to differentiate between oxygen entering the body through respiration versus the benefits of topically applied oxygen. When applied in too large amounts to the skin, oxygen can have a detrimental effect and produce free radicals.
At SkinSense, however, we use a controlled and measured delivery system that enhances penetration without forming free radicals. This solid state oxygen treatment uses no hydrogen peroxide or gas wands and all the activity is generated by enzyme action which suits a wide variety of skin conditions.
Here are the main benefits of oxygen facials:
Stimulation of cellular activity which reduces the appearance of fine lines by increasing metabolic function. Reduction of redness and bacterial activity associated with Rosacea.
Leaves the skin calm and even.
Soothes inflamed skin and acne.
Provides a calming follow-up treatment after laser, acid peels and microdermabrasion.
Increases the absorption of active ingredients applied after treatment. Improves the appearance of scarring and lightens sun damage.
Tightens the skin surface and leaves the skin glowing and refreshed.
Oxygen facials can be performed as regularly as once a week, but the results are evident after just one treatment. In other words, oxygen facials are the equivalent to a brisk mountain walk in clean, fresh air. Living in Los Angeles that provides all of us a welcome opportunity to have a continually healthy and radiant complexion.
I have written about many different ingredients over the years, particularly the new ones as they come on to the market and seem to be the next best thing! And following on from my last blog, “The Discipline of Great Skin Care” there really are some effective products and ingredients available today that have stood the test of time and have made a huge difference to how our skins age.
One I have not addressed yet is stem cell extract. Just to be clear, there is no relationship between human stem cells and plant stem cells that are used in skin care. I want to avoid any misunderstandings for ethical, political and philosophical reasons.
The advantage of plant-derived stem cells is that they are unspecialized or meristematic, until they receive a signal from the host plant to differentiate or change. Meristematic cells are generated from a defense response from the plant when it is cut. The responding callus contains stem cells that are now neutral. As they carry the entire DNA gene expression of the plant, they can turn themselves into any particular cell that is needed to heal or regenerate. At this stage these cells are cultured in the laboratory, become a usable active ingredient that eventually, when applied topically can trigger cell renewal and repair. The first research into plant stem cells was done on a variety of apple in Switzerland in the 18th century which seemed to have the ability for long-term self-preservation.
More recently, other plant extracts have been tested including edelweiss, gardenia, sea fennel, grape and lilac. The role of these plant derived ingredients in skin care products is to protect against free radical damage caused by pollution, UV exposure, inflammation and photo-aging. And the results can be dramatic. Smoother, toned skin with improved elasticity and firmness.
Stem cell harvesting does not damage or endanger the plant because a very small amount of tissue is needed and easily replaced by the host plant.
I have been in the skincare industry for many years and this is one of the most significant partnerships between nature and science I have used to date. Add some of the other great ingredients we now have at our disposal – ATP, peptides and hyaluronic acid to mention three – and we can seriously delay the effects of gravity!! Plant stem cell extracts offer us a promising and earth-friendly anti-aging tool that deserves serious examination.
Sam Dhatt, Skin Inc. magazine, October 2012. “Plant Stem Cells: The Next Generation of Skin Care Technology.”
Ivana Veljkovic, Skin Inc. magazine, January 2012. “The Science Behind Today’s Anti-aging Ingredients.”