First God created man, then he had a better idea…
What’s the difference between men and women… besides our genitals, of course? It’s pretty interesting how, biologically speaking, we all start out as women. So, you’re a little embryo – a little fetus, and around 5 – 6 weeks if you have a Y chromosome it develops, and you start making testosterone and sexually differentiate.
However, the differences between male and female skin only emerge from puberty and onwards. These variations determine the type of skincare routine and products one should use, so let’s compare…
Dermatologists have found that the male dermis is about 20% thicker than a woman’s and that is why men tend to have fewer superficial fine lines than women. But they are more prone to the deep wrinkles that are caused by repeated facial expressions. Frown and smile lines for example.
Collagen and elastin production
Both men and women have specific hormones which help promote collagen and elastin production. Testosterone in men and estrogen in women. Collagen and elastin are proteins that act as the main building blocks in the skin, keeping it tight and firm.
As we age the level of both proteins diminishes. While this process happens to both men and women, they taper off at different rates. Men lose collagen and elastin at a constant rate throughout their adulthood, but gradually. Women start losing both less quickly until they hit menopause, and then the loss happens very rapidly and results in thinning, saggy skin, and wrinkles.
Oil levels and pore issues
Sebum, the skin’s natural oil, helps hydrate the skin and mixes with fat molecules to form a protective coating on the skin, defending it from harmful pathogens and bacteria.
But too much of a good thing can become a problem. Men have more oil glands or sebaceous glands than women. In fact, it has been estimated that men produce twice as much sebum than women overall. They also have larger and a higher number of pores. This combination can result in clogging and lead to acne.
Shaving doesn’t help either. It exacerbates the skin surface and can cause irritation, ingrown hairs, and even more breakouts – particularly if the beard growth is heavy and curly.
Impact of lifestyle choices on skin
Although genes play a role in how we age as a whole, our lifestyle choices can also have a powerful effect. Unfortunately, men often engage in behaviors that can speed up skin aging.
Exposure to UV rays is a primary cause of premature wrinkles in both men and women. However, men are more likely to work outdoors than women and spend long periods of time in the sun without protection – sunscreen and hats for example.
Bad habits like smoking, not getting enough sleep or exercise, and poor diet can factor in too.
Finally, men generally lack the same skin care knowledge that women are taught from an early age. This gives them a significant disadvantage in preventing wrinkles and in recognizing the signs of aging.
Skincare Advice for Men
To keep your skin in the best possible condition, cleanse every morning and evening with a non-irritating product suitable for your skin type. Keep your skin moisturized and if it is oily choose a non-greasy face lotion which will keep your face feeling hydrated all day without causing blocked pores.
If you have a beard covering part of your face, it’s especially important to keep the skin underneath it properly hydrated. Dryness under the beard can be uncomfortable, resulting in itchy, flaky skin, and even beard dandruff.
Skincare Advice for Women
Every good skincare routine starts with washing your face using a cleanser that offers gentle exfoliation and anti-aging benefits — think AHA acids, plant-derived enzymes, or even fermented ingredients. Then use an antioxidant serum containing a cocktail of vitamins — most popular are vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, resveratrol, and niacinamide —to guard against free radical development that causes degradation of precious collagen.
For moisturizers, look for a formula that contains hydrating ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalene, and glycerin. These formulas will replenish skin and lock in hydration for the day.
A good eye cream that depuffs and hydrates the eye area, and a collagen-boosting product like a peptide cream or growth factor serum are also great additions to a morning skincare routine.
Lastly, for both men and women, apply sunscreen. A mineral SPF of at least 30 with zinc oxide and antioxidants to support protection against environmental pollution.
For more skincare and wellness tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We will be happy to see you.
“Dear acne, the saying ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ does not apply to you.”
In my past blogs I’ve mentioned that I suffered from acne in my teens. Curiously, they were not confined only on my face but on my body too, particularly on my back. They were huge and red; it was painful… enough to warrant a visit to the dermatologist. After consistent application of medication and following the doctor’s advice, it cleared up after 6 months or so.
While the face is a common site for acne, it can affect any body part that has oil-secreting glands or hair follicles, including your chest, shoulders, and your back. In fact, back acne, also referred to as bacne, affects more than half of people with acne. Bacne is the result of an accumulation of dead skin cells and oil [sebum] within the pores in the skin, combined with an overgrowth of a common skin bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes, which triggers an inflammatory response.
Bacne can be particularly stubborn to eliminate, hard to prevent, and can leave deep scars. As with acne on the face, bacne is most common in teens and young adults, in the years when the sebaceous glands are most active because of hormonal fluctuations. But it can also appear at different times according to a person’s health and lifestyle.
Here are a few self-care tips to get rid of bacne, keep your back clear and acne-free, and prevent it from coming back… no pun intended.
1.Shower regularly especially after a workout.
Poor hygiene won’t cause bacne, but good hygiene will help prevent it and clear blemishes. I recommend daily showers and immediately after exercise or any activity that generates perspiration.
2. Exercise safely.
Exercise increases circulation and generates heat, which causes increased production of skin oils and perspiration, perfect food for bacteria. Always change into clean clothes before and after exercising and put a clean towel on exercise machines and mats at the gym. These days most equipment is kept extra clean and sanitized so that’s a bonus.
Avoid synthetic fabrics; choose cotton and light-weight, loose-fitting clothes that allow the skin to breathe and perspiration to evaporate quickly.
3. Keep fabrics clean.
Change other fabrics that frequently touch your skin. For clothing, change daily with a clean shirt or top. And change bed linens twice a week to keep sloughed-off skin cells and oil away from your back.
4. Treat gently.
- Do not shower in really hot water and avoid antibacterial soaps, astringents, and abrasive scrubs that can make your acne worse.
- Choose body washes that say, “noncomedogenic” or “oil-free” on the package to avoid clogging your pores. Tea tree body wash and lotions work well.
- Exfoliate gently two to three times a week using a soft sponge and a mild scrub. Change the sponge regularly as sponges can harbor bacteria.
5. Keep wet hair away.
Conditioner and hair-styling products left on the hair are a frequent cause of blemishes on the back. After shampooing and conditioning in the shower, pull long hair forward and wash the back to keep the residue of hair products off your back. And don’t leave wet hair on your back after swimming.
6. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure
Contrary to popular belief, the sun will not dry pimples or clear up acne. It simply dries the skin surface making it harder for skin cells to slough off and sebum to be excreted naturally. Sun damages cells and weakens the skin on all parts of the body making it more vulnerable to blemishes and aging.
Use a mineral based facial sunscreen on areas that tend to break out, that includes your back, chest, and shoulders. These SPF’s are formulated to avoid clogging.
7. Use an over-the-counter treatment.
For mild back acne, over-the-counter acne creams and gels containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur can help get rid of blemishes and prevent new ones from popping up.
8. Watch your diet
Keep a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and well sourced protein, and avoiding sugar and fats, helps to keep skin clearer. Drinking plenty of water and minimizing alcohol intake can also help.
9. Visit the salon
In the last month we’ve seen an uptick in the demand for back facials in my salon. This time of year, a series of back facials is a great idea. The whole back area from waste to neck is treated to a full facial procedure. Clearing the back during the winter months means you will be ready for the joys of summer next year.
If self-care measures, home remedies, and salon treatments don’t improve back acne, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
For more wellness tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or check out our other blogs. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We have re-opened our doors and are happy to welcome you all back.
“Chemistry… if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.”
My 7th grade chemistry teacher was the first to introduce me to the pH scale by using litmus paper. We could establish the pH value of any liquid by dipping the paper into the liquids and then watching to see what color the paper turned. For example, it would show red for vinegar (acid) and blue for milk (alkaline.) Purple represented a neutral pH. It was fun!
So, what exactly is pH?
The term “pH” refers to “potential of hydrogen”. It concerns the activity of hydrogen ions (ions are molecules that carry a positive or negative charge) in a water-based solution. Hydrogen makes up two thirds of water, water being two hydrogen molecules plus an oxygen molecule, H²o.
The pH of a solution is indicated by a numeric scale that runs from 0–14. Anything below 7 (which is pH neutral) is considered acidic, while anything with a pH greater than 7 is considered alkaline, also referred to as basic.
How does pH relate to our bodies?
In our bodies, blood or cytoplasm are the “solutions” in which the required ions are floating. The normal pH of human blood is 7.35–7.45. Anything above or below that could have negative effects on our health.
With the growing interest in the microbiome in recent years and the ecosystem of our body, the principle of pH balancing is again brought to the forefront. This holistic approach believes that the foundation of healthy digestion is built on a simple eating system that maintains an ideal acid/alkaline (pH) balance in the body. Seventy per cent of the immune system is based in the abdomen and 90% of the tryptophan needed to make serotonin for the brain — essential to ensure we feel good — is made here.
As far as food intake goes, the suggested pH ratio would be a diet of two-thirds alkaline and one-third acid-forming foods. So, to take a step in the right direction, let’s outline a few alkaline foods that we can incorporate in greater quantities and some acidic foods we can eliminate.
Raw, green leafy vegetables like chard, kale and spinach are all excellent alkaline-rich foods. So are avocados, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, coconut, cherries, grapefruit, lemons and watermelon. A healthy way to start and end each day with an alkaline system for example, would be with a cup of warm water flavored with half a lemon.
Things to avoid would be white flour, coffee, red meat, too much alcohol, simple carbohydrates and artificial sugar.
How does pH affect our skin?
Our skin’s surface and uppermost layers are naturally acidic, making it compatible with acidic skin care products. The skin’s average pH is 4.7 and although the pH of our skin increases with age, it remains acidic.
Our skin has a protective film on its surface that’s known as the acid mantle. It plays a vital role by working with skin-natural ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, enzymes, sweat, and even our skin’s own oil to protect skin’s surface and lower layers from external threats.
The skin’s acidic pH also plays a role in keeping its delicate microbiome balanced. An acidic microbiome makes it more difficult for harmful pathogens to multiply but lets the good stuff flourish. Frequently disturbing skin’s pH to a strong degree can lead to or worsen many problems, including common skin disorders (eczema, acne, rosacea, and wrinkles) and that dry, tight feeling from washing with bar or liquid soaps (most soaps are alkaline). Using highly acidic (pH 2.5 or lower) or alkaline (pH 8 or greater) products causes a significant disruption in skin’s pH too.
To avoid problems, look for pH-balanced skin care products (between pH 4 and pH 7). How do we do that when skincare products in the US don’t show the product’s pH? An easy solution would be to get a pH test kit available online for home use.
So, getting healthy glowing skin is really easy. All it takes is a few simple and inexpensive tweaks to your beauty routine and your diet.
For more skincare tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or check out our other blogs on Medium. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We have re-opened our doors and are happy to welcome you all back.
“I guess chemistry is just another word for love.” — Scott Thompson
Do you remember in 7th grade science where we would test vinegar and milk with a litmus paper and the paper would turn light pink or purple? Depending on the color that the paper turned that was it’s pH value. That’s how we first learned about the pH scale — the acidity and alkalinity of substances. We learned too how all these different acids and alkalines work together in our environment as well as our bodies to keep things running smoothly. Well, it’s the same thing with skin. That’s why it is not unusual to talk about the pH level of a skincare product.
The letters pH stand for potential hydrogen, as hydrogen is the element that controls the levels of either alkalinity or acidity in a formulation. Acidic products range from 0–6.9 and are often used to exfoliate or peel the skin; alkaline products range from 7.1–14 and can be used in cleansers or to neutralize acidity. Very often moisturizers are formulated to be neutral (a pH of 7) to bring the skin back into balance. Too much acid or alkalinity is irritating for the skin, so the pH is always carefully calibrated.
The optimal pH value of skin on most of our face and body lies between 4.7 and 5.75. As mentioned above a pH of 7 (that of pure water) is considered neutral. Anything below that is acidic and above it alkaline, so skin’s natural pH is mildly acidic. Skin maintains its barrier best around 5.5 — slightly acidic. At the ideal pH (5.5), the skin is able to maintain a good barrier (the acid mantle) and, together with natural oils, moisturizers and bacteria, function as a true protective defense organ.
More recently, the principle of pH balancing has been applied to our general wellbeing. This holistic approach believes that the foundation of healthy digestion is built on a simple eating system that maintains an ideal acid/alkaline (pH) balance in the body. 70% of the immune system is based in the abdomen and 90% of the tryptophan needed to make serotonin for the brain — essential to ensure we feel good — is made here. So in order to live a long and happy life it obviously pays to keep our abdomens happy!
As we all know, in the case of romance it is often quoted “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But what we are talking about here may not involve the foods and habits we are recommending!
And how does all this reflect in the skin? Well, too much acidity triggers eczema, inflammation, acne, boils, rosacea and wrinkles. So all of these conditions could be greatly improved by maintaining a more alkaline system. Obviously, exercise and relaxation are essential as well as drinking the right amount of water. Men need more water than women on a daily basis. If you eat plenty of vegetables and two or three fresh fruits a day, you can fill half your required fluid quota easily.
How do we do that? The suggested pH ratio would be a diet of two-thirds alkaline and one-third acid-forming foods. This takes some adjustment. So, to take a step in the right direction, let’s outline a few alkaline foods that we can incorporate in greater quantities and some acidic foods we can eliminate.
Raw, green leafy vegetables like chard, kale and spinach are all excellent alkaline-rich foods. So are avocados, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, coconut, cherries, grapefruit, lemons and watermelon. A healthy way to start and end each day with an alkaline system, for example, would be with a cup of warm water flavored with half a lemon. Also adding turmeric, garlic, ginger and flax seeds to your diet along with a good probiotic will keep the gut healthy and the skin glowing.
Things to avoid would be white flour, coffee, red meat, too much alcohol and artificial sugar. Also minimize your intake of fermented foods — they are acidic in nature. Stick to moderate amounts of sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. These will add vitamins to your diet and anti-inflammatory benefits too.
For more information on the science behind beautiful glowing skin, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701 or visit our website. We offer a virtual consultation and home service facials to our valued clients. Let’s talk!
“I’m not waiting for the stars to align… just my hormones.”
In my teens, I was at my ugliest. For the most part, I suffered from acne, bad hair days, and was just skin and bones (dogs thought I was a treat). Eew! So glad to be over that phase. The culprit… hormones.
So, what are hormones? And what do they do in the body?
Hormones are chemical messengers of the body produced by several glands transmitting messages to organs to control and regulate most major bodily functions such as hunger, reproduction, and our emotions. Hormones affect our skin too and are a huge component of how our skin looks.
There are several types of hormones in the body with different functions. However, I find the major stress hormone — cortisol and the happy or love hormone — oxytocin most interesting as they definitely affect the way we look and feel. And stress, unfortunately, is a constant presence in our lives exacerbated by the pandemic and the events of the past year. While love and happiness is what we need more of.
Let’s take a closer look at these hormones and what they do…
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It increases sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain function and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. However, too much produced by long term and extreme stress causes our skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more sebum a.k.a. oil. And too much oil in our skin can clog our pores and lead to breakouts.
Other ways cortisol shows up on our skin is through signs of aging. Increased cortisol production can accelerate the aging process, leading to the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
Lastly, if you have skin conditions such as rosacea or psoriasis, you might experience flare-ups when you have high cortisol production.
On the other end of the hormone spectrum, we have Oxytocin produced in the hypothalamus. Oxytocin is often referred to as the ‘happy’ or ‘love hormone’ because of the physical and psychological effects it has on the body. It plays an essential role during sex, orgasm, childbirth, and lactation to aid reproductive functions, and it influences social behavior, including the ability to bond and be emotionally balanced. What is most interesting is that it can also be used as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and intestinal issues, all of which directly affect skin health.
Oxytocin also helps reduce inflammatory factors which promote skin healing and boost our immunity. Less inflammation and less inflammatory skin disorders lead to less acne.
So how do we access and balance these titans of the hormone world to obtain that glow we all hanker for?
Getting into a good mood is the first step. A good mood helps to keep your hormones in check, which means that annoying imbalances that can be at the root of skin troubles won’t be such a problem.
Meditation, diet, exercise, laughter with friends, hugging, cuddling, kissing, sexual intimacy with your lover, and occasionally indulging yourself, can make a big difference to your mood. Other ways include listening to music, getting a massage, petting your dog, performing acts of kindness, and spending quality time with your loved ones.
And forgive me if this sounds too simplistic, but there is some research that suggests that people who smile a lot tend to look younger — perhaps it’s the result of oxytocin being released. The words of that old ballad “smile though your heart is breaking” totally makes sense now. Smiling not only tricks your skin into behaving but might even lift your spirits.
The goal is to reduce stress and increase happiness.
For more skincare tips, check out my other blogs on Medium or call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701. We offer a virtual consultation, in-salon treatments, and home service facials to our valued clients.
“Too much of a good thing can be taxing.” — Mae West
This week I received a frantic call from a client who had purchased an over-the-counter retinol product and glycolic acid peel. Unfortunately, she used both at the same time and her skin reacted badly — it was red, irritated, and flaky. Yikes!
There are just too many topicals available now, over the counter and online, including glycolic acid, various vitamin A derivatives, and at-home peels. These skincare products, when used wisely and under the supervision from either a dermatologist or aesthetician, can stimulate the production of collagen and elastin — the building blocks of the skin that keeps it looking youthful and plump. As we age these proteins begin to diminish and that is when lines and wrinkles begin to show.
These topicals work by causing a small amount of localized trauma. So many women assume that skin irritation is part of the cell renewal process. And when the reaction is mild and short lived, it can be. But tolerating anything more serious or chronic is just inflaming the skin.
Another ingredient that can also contribute to irritating oxidative damage is benzoyl peroxide, a mainstay of professional and at-home acne treatments. So instead of healing the acne it worsens it.
Certain acids, particularly those of smaller molecular size like glycolic acid, have been shown to reach the dermis or true skin where inflammation takes place. Molecularly larger acids, such as lactic, malic, pyruvic and tartaric, don’t tend to penetrate the dermis, making them gentler on the skin and less likely to spark inflammation. They are also naturally occurring substances in human skin which makes them more compatible to a wider range of skin conditions.
More isn’t always better. Overtreatment can have an adverse effect on your skin’s appearance and health. It can result in inflammaging. This means that when the skin has chronic, persistent inflammation it can actually age prematurely. Instead of a toned and firm complexion, the skin looks red, irritated, and broken out.
As with any skin concern, inflammaging can worsen with prolonged sun exposure.
So, what can you do to reverse inflammaged skin?
- Take antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, and adaptogen-rich supplements. Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals. They work to counteract the effects of stress in the body and on the skin. This will help protect and boost the skin’s antioxidant response system.
- Support the Skin’s Barrier. Look for products that contain ceramides, hyaluronic acid, (HA,) plant butters, cholesterol and squalene. Make sure these ingredients are plant based. They all reduce water evaporation which keeps the skin soft and hydrated.
- Moisturize. Blend your retinol product with a moisturizer — this buffers the skin and reduces any reaction. A pea sized amount used twice a week works for most people.
- Stop doing at-home glycolic acid treatments — leave those to the professionals.
- Look for chirally correct products, where ingredients occur in their purest form. This can help further maintain the efficacy of other ingredients and minimize the risk of adverse side effects.
- Make sure you use an SPF 30 everyday whether you are indoors or outside. Without good ventilation indoor pollution can be twice as bad as outdoor.
- Keep it simple. When your skin is irritated stick to a basic routine.
Lastly, be patient. Your skin needs time to recover and won’t heal overnight. Allow a few weeks of consistent use to see a calmer, smoother skin, and fewer lines.
In an industry that is constantly updating itself, the advent of inflammaging serves as both a wake-up call and a challenge to product developers, cosmetic companies and skin care professionals alike. And more than ever, it’s definitely about education. The skin care game is transforming itself scientifically to consider environmental concerns and the effect pollution has on our skins. It is our job to keep up and stay informed!
For more skincare tips, check out my other blogs on Medium, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701. We offer a virtual consultation, in-salon treatments, and home service facials to our valued clients.