SkinSense Wellness Blog
Read on to learn about the latest news and tips to stay healthy, happy and ageless. We scour our trade journals and consult with many other health professionals to make sure the advice and recommendations we make are safe and beneficial. If there are any topics you would like to hear about, please let us know.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. We all experience varying levels at different times and in many situations. Under these circumstances the brain’s hard-wiring system kicks in. When it perceives a threat, the brain signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response and is a normal bodily reaction that is meant to protect us. However, because we now live in a world of nonstop stress most of the time, our alarm systems rarely shuts off!
Without stress management and over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems including a myriad of skin issues.
Hormones, neuropeptides and other signaling molecules released during stressful times may be second only to sunlight in aging the skin. And the really bad news? Women are more prone than men. That means wrinkling, loss of tone and increased levels of sensitivity, particularly as we age.
Additionally, proteins and DNA in the epidermis and dermis are broken down by prolonged periods of stress and this in turn can cause acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and hives.
Feeling bad about the way we look makes us less social and more isolated. This aloneness diminishes the production of Oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
What to do?
It is unrealistic to imagine we can ever live a stress free life but we can commit to developing coping skills that maintain balance, even at the worst of life’s moments.
Here are some of my favorites:
Getting outdoors and in touch with nature. Hiking, gardening, sitting on a park bench all reconnect us with our natural surroundings.
Breathing deeply and meditating. Not just when we are really stressed but at regular times throughout the day.
Disconnecting from social media for a day or if that sounds unimaginable, half a day!
Changing your mindset. When a challenge presents itself, think of it as an opportunity for personal growth.
Have a supportive tribe so you don’t waste time with negative or toxic people.
Sweat out tension with a workout.
Curl up with a good book.
Watch a comedy.
Play with a pet.
And of course, my favorite, get a massage and a regular facial at SkinSense.
Confucius once claimed: “True quality of life comes from lasting harmony between body and mind.” This is a goal worth aiming for.
A life without humor is no joking matter. We all love a good laugh and the feeling it gives us – and there is a reason – there are true health benefits to a good giggle or hearty chuckle that can be essential to our well-being. UCLA Medical School established a Humor Research Task Force after Norman Cousins managed his pain with laughter therapy and now there is actually an American Association of Therapeutic Humor. Babies begin to smile within the first few weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Children laugh on average 200 times a day whereas adults only 26 times daily. Experts recommend that we get a good 15 minutes of deep belly laughter every day and here’s why.
Laughter attracts us to one another and in turn makes us more attractive and sociable. Think of the feeling you get from telling a good joke and having people respond favorably.
Laughter is relaxing and relieves stress, tension, pain and conflict and inspires hope. It triggers the release of happy hormones – endorphins that activate the body’s opiate receptors causing an analgesic, calming effect. It also allows us to let go of inhibitions and defensiveness and as a result we feel more connected to each other. It can improve heart health and even help with weight loss.
Laughter can balance cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure too. This hormonal steroid produced in the adrenals helps us cope with stress but when over produced can make us susceptible to illness, weaken our immune systems, and interrupt our sleep.
So let’s consider ways to get a good dose of daily laughter.
Be social with fun people who don’t dwell on the negative.
Smile a lot.
Be prepared to laugh at yourself. It can shift your perspective and very often offer a solution where there was a problem.
Find a good comedy or sitcom and watch with friends.
Try laughter yoga.
The message here is laugh lots and live longer. Exercising those facial muscles regularly will also make you appear more youthful.
As Victor Hugo wisely quoted: “ Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
The power of scent can make you feel something. It can remind you of places, people, your favorite food experiences and beyond that, can change your mood completely. Smell begins in the olfactory region behind the bridge of the nose. It is connected to the limbic system in the brain which has a very potent sense of recall that can trigger memories from way back!
And talking of way back, essential oils have been used for centuries. There are all kinds of references about kings, queens, lords and ladies all the way down to peasant folk using oils and herbs on a daily basis to fragrance themselves, their homes and to keep themselves healthy. Even Sir Walter Raleigh used a strawberry and rose cologne every day!
It has recently been discovered that Alzheimer patients lose their sense of smell as their memories diminish and for the record, women have a stronger sense of smell than men. So how to harness this extraordinary power?
There are many ways to incorporate essential oils into your daily life. Most oils are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. We use grapeseed oil as a base at SkinSense and sometimes evening primrose oil if the skin is very dry.
In the home:
With these cooler evenings, add aroma to your fireplace by applying ten to twelve drops of essential oil to a dry log. Let the oil permeate the wood for at least a couple of days before burning.
Refresh the air by adding twenty drops of your favorite oil to a small spray bottle filled with water. Shake before use and spray as desired. This natural air freshener won’t irritate your sinuses.
Relax your mind at the end of the day with Chamomile, Lavender, Bergamot or Cedar wood in your bath water or a diffuser. And talking of diffusers, they also help in the kitchen too, and pretty much every room in the house.
A diffuser on the desk containing a blend of spearmint, rosemary and lavender will keep you alert, able to concentrate on the most challenging of tasks.
And while commuting, lemongrass and sage can keep you alert and safe. Dab a few drops on a Kleenex or on your wrists or temples.
Always include an essential oil with any massage you receive – the citrus oils are mood enhancing and of course, lavender is super relaxing. Ylang-ylang and jasmine add a romantic touch.
For meditation, combine frankincense, cedarwood and geranium.
To sooth a headache use peppermint, chamomile and lavender.
To hydrate dry skin, use a blend of rose and geranium and apply under your night crème.
Finally, with the holidays around the corner, take a blend of lavender and tea tree on board when you fly and dab a little under each nostril. It will keep those winter germs at bay!
Essential oils are curative of mind, body and spirit so inhale deeply and stay calm in these challenging times!
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.