What I’m Loving Now: Summer Essentials

Summer is upon us, and it’s time to switch up products in your skin care routine. I love summer, but it definitely requires some makeup and skin care product tweaks. Since I love to be in the sun, my summer essentials center around ones that protect my skin from UV damage by amping up my sunscreen but allow me to indulge in sidewalk cafes and afternoons in the park. Here are some of the things I rely on to keep my skin healthy in the summer.

Sunscreen is so important in the summer. And for sunscreen, the key is bareMinerals SPF 30 natural sunscreenin reapplication. So how do you reapply like you should without messing up your makeup? I love the bareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen. There are lots of touch-up sunscreen powders on the market, but I like this one because the brush is soft, and the sunscreen comes in several tinted powders to prevent that blue cast that mineral sunscreens are infamous for. Another bonus of touch-up sunscreens like this? You get a mattifying bonus if you’ve gotten a little shiny.

Korres Yoghurt Cooling Gel After-SunThe KORRES Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel is one of my summer essentials. If you’ve ignored my advice about reapplying your sunscreen and gotten a nasty sunburn, this is one of my favorite rehabilitation products. It’s lightweight, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating. It has a cooling sensation when you apply it, so it takes the heat out of the burn. And yogurt has natural healing properties to repair damaged summer skin.

 

I like lighter textures in the summer, so I usually iS Clinical Hydra Cool serumswitch my skin care routine to use just a serum underneath a sunscreen. Skin that’s been in the sun is usually skin that’s dehydrated, so I try to get as much hydration as I can. One of my favorite hydration serums is the iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum. It’s light, super hydrating, and even includes a brightening agent to control summer pigmentation.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye liner, Zero

 

 

Sweaty summers make me switch to waterproof eyeliners. The Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil is one of my all time favorite eyeliners. I’m a black eyeliner kind of gal, so my favorite color is Zero, but sometimes it’s fun to wear a bright turquoise like Deep End or funky purple like Vice.

Sircuit Cosmeceuticals Savior Problem Skin Cleanser

Summer increases oil production, and that increases the tendency to break out. Even my super dry skin can get too greasy and break out in the summer, so I keep it under control by using a salicylic acid wash a few times a week. My favorite is the Sircuit Skin Savior problem skin cleanser, which breaks down oil and helps unclog pores, as well as having a light cooling effect from a touch of menthol.

These are a few of my favorites. What are some of your summer essentials? Tell me in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook.

 

 

See a product here that you think would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

4 Brow Shaping Mistakes DIYers Make

I rehab brows that have suffered any number of terrible fates.  When it comes to brow imageshaping, I see many of the same mistakes over and over. If you’re a DIY kind of gal, make sure you’re not committing these brow sins.

  • Starting the arch too close to the nose. Starting the arch too far over leads to brows that are too thin and uneven. I call these tadpole brows. Because, yes, that’s what they look like. You’ve created a bald spot, and now your brow has round head and a thin tail.
  • Over-trimming. Trimming too much of the brow leaves too little for the tail. When the tail is too thin or too short, you seem to have half of a brow. Half of a brow is not a cute look, so make sure you leave plenty to work with.
  • Standing too close to the mirror. Take two giant steps back and look at the big picture before you tweeze. Looking at the small view leads you to take too much hair, which ultimately leads to an uneven line and too-thin brows.
  • Ignoring the rest of your facial features. People are so scared to have thin brows that they often leave them too thick. If you have delicate facial features, you need a delicate brow shape. Bushy brows draw attention away from the eyes. We want balance, and like Goldilocks, we want this just right.

Need to put your brows into rehab? Start by letting them grow in as much as possible. It may take months for them to fill in, so this is a great time to practice self-restraint. You can grab obvious strays, but steer clear of the brow line. You may want to consult with a professional to get on a treatment program.

Decide where the brows should start and end by using a straight line from the corner of the nose through the corners of the eye, as the photo above indicates. Your arch should start on the line between the corner of the nose over the pupil of the eye.

Remember that your brows are sisters, not twins. Each brow is different, and though we aim to make them look as similar as possible, it is not always going to happen. Don’t obsess over something that may never happen.

Revitalash Revitabrow Eyebrow ConditionerAim to have a smooth line above and below. The eye is automatically drawn to what is different, and holes in the brows are obvious. If you’ve overtweezed in the past, you may need to fill your brows in to create a smooth line. You can also try my favorite brow savior, the RevitaBrow Eyebrow Conditioner, which I have seen work miracles on overtweezed brows.

Your brows should enhance your features and frame your eyes, not pull attention. If your brows are well done, you shouldn’t even notice them. Arches that arch just right lift the eyes and make them appear brighter, more open, and youthful. Who wants to miss that opportunity?
 

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Get Your Skin Summer Ready

The rest of the country may have been experiencing summer for a few weeks now, but New York City is officially in the middle of a heat wave. Depending on your skin type, your skin may thrive in the summer, or it may get your skin summer ready turn into a big mess.

Typically all skin types, from oily to dry, will start to produce more oil. The heat and humidity makes us sweatier and, before you realize it, you may be breaking out more than normal. It can also help skin types that are prone to conditions like eczema and psoriasis minimize outbreaks.

Here are some tips to get your skin summer ready.

  • Add a salicylic acid wash. Even drier skin types can benefit from a salicylic acid wash a couple of times a week to help control the excess sweat and oil. If you’re normally a dry skin type, try a salicylic acid wash two to three times a week. Oilier skin types may benefit from daily usage. Most salicylic acid washes are found with a 2% concentration normally, so adjust your usage if you’ve found something stronger.
  • Lighten up those textures. Dry winter skin and harsh climates beg for creamy, rich textures. Summer calls for lighter lotions. Heavy creams combined with extra oil production creates the perfect storm for breakouts. Put your creams aside and look for lightweight or oil-free lotions. You may even like a little oil control this time of year.
  • Try an acne treatment. If the summer heat has you breaking out a couple times a week, it may be time to try an acne-control serum. Your skin may just need that extra control. Look for something with a blend of acids, alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic. Daily usage under a moisturizer will keep your skin clearer.
  • Amp up your SPF. Warm weather sends people outside, whether it’s beach vacations, spending weekends on the lake, or even just dining outside more often. Make sure you’ve got your skin protected when you’re outside by upping your SPF protection. I like to keep mineral powders in my bag for touch-ups if I end up outside, so I can reapply my SPF without messing up my makeup (and getting a little extra shine control). I also recommend swapping your morning moisturizer with SPF to a dedicated sunscreen. I like the lighter combination of a hydrating serum and a sunscreen in the summer and find it’s just enough for even my dry skin.
  • Get a pro peel. I’m a huge fan of peels, and I believe that they are worth the extra investment in a facial. Super oily skin and acne-prone types may benefit from a salicylic acid peel a couple of times in the summer for added oil and acne control. Drier types can still benefit; peels remove excess dead skin cells and help keep pores clear. The caveat? Make sure to wear your SPF and don’t plan to peel right before or after a beach vacation.

 

 

Speak your mind! How do you tweak your skin care routine for the summer? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

The Skin Care Puzzle

skin care puzzleMy job in life is to help people with their skin. Usually this means I’m helping them with a skin care problem. No matter where I am, at the spa or at the bar, I can’t stop until I’ve figured it out. Once someone’s given me a problem to solve, I start collecting information.

People are sometimes surprised at the number of questions I ask, and even what kind of information I’m looking for. But, like a detective, I am piecing together a puzzle. And everything you tell me is another piece of the puzzle. If I can gather enough pieces, I can see the whole picture.

So what kind of information do I need to figure out how your puzzle pieces fit together? I look at all kinds of details. I want to know what you’re currently using, from your cleanser to your prescriptions. Even oral prescriptions for conditions unrelated to the skin can affect how your skin behaves.

I especially need to know about what kind of exfoliants you’re using at home, and how often. Exfoliation is the puzzle piece that is often difficult to get just right. Not exfoliating often enough leads to dull skin, clogged pores, and flakiness. Exfoliating too often can lead to redness, irritation, and more flakiness.

I also want to know about your diet. What you eat or don’t eat can absolutely affect your skin. I’ve noticed that people on low-fat diets can be very dry. Your dairy intake can also affect your acne. If your stress levels lead you to eat lots of sweets, your skin ca be affected. Or you may simply eat fewer healthy foods, also affecting your skin.

Given this huge list of variables, it’s often hard to tell if a product is working well for you. If you are using an anti-acne regimen, but your stress levels are causing you to break out, you will still break out. We might be able to control them more, and diminish the frequency or the severity. Maybe your acne serum will work if it’s partnered with a different cleanser. It can be hit-or-miss to find just the right combo, but the more pieces of the puzzle we have, the faster we can put it together.

People look at skin care products as the end all, when in actuality, it’s only one piece of a very large puzzle. [Tweet this!] All the pieces must fit together to get you beautiful, glowing skin.

 

 

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The Truth About Picking

skin pickingI am a recovering skin picker. My “joke” is that I went to esthetics school because I ran out of stuff to pick out of my own skin. I relapse occasionally, like I did last week when I improperly picked a blackhead and turned it into a nasty mark on my chin. When my acne was at its peak, I struggled not to pick. And I still get frustrated when I get a spot that I can’t seem to let go of.

Skin picking, or dermatillomania, the clinical name for extreme skin picking, can be a serious problem for many people. It can be an annoying problem for even more people. It’s easy to beat yourself up when you succumb to picking. I know from my own personal experience and the experiences of my clients that many people struggle to stop picking their skin.

Picking is more than just wanting to pop a pimple. It can be rooted in causes such as anxiety, depression, stress, boredom, and even anger. Picking a spot can feel like a release, a stress relief, and a feeling of satisfaction. It may give you a temporary high.

I’ve managed to (mostly) conquer my picking with soul-searching, tough love, and some serious skin care. Here’s what I can share about what’s helped me control my picking.

  • Get to the issue behind the picking. When you catch yourself, try to stop and ask yourself what’s really going on. What’s causing you to obsess over this spot? Is it textural? Are you bored? Are you stressed? Are you angry? Just being aware that something else is going on can be a huge help to decoding this habit. As you start to figure out the emotions under your picking, you’ll be able to come up with healthier alternatives.
  • Invest in some solid skin care. The fastest way to stop picking is to stop having stuff to pick. Ultimately, I didn’t conquer my picking habit as much as I conquered my acne. I found that investing in products that worked for me gave me a feeling of control so that I didn’t feel so helpless. And not having the bumps simply removed the temptation.
  • Pick in a healthy way. If I have that bump that’s screaming at me, I make sure to go through my proper picking protocol. Investing my picking time in a method that won’t cause scarring still gives me the satisfaction of doing something about my blemishes, and keeps my mind off further digging.
  • Reward yourself for not picking. Investing in a facial can be a reward for not picking, as well as a deterrent to further picking.  It encourages you to keep your hands off your own pores, as you are spending money to have someone else handle the problem. It also relieves the stress of having that feeling that something is stuck in your skin and needs to be removed.

These tips are not intended to replace the advice of a licensed professional. If you suffer from extreme picking, dermatillomania, trichotillomania, or any other compulsions, help is available. Please reach out if you need help.

 

 

I make a conscious effort to control my picking. Do you struggle? What works for you to stop? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

What Kind of Acne Do You Have?

Do you have acne? I was traumatized when I was diagnosed with acne in college; it felt like the end of the world. I didn’t think my skin was “bad enough” to be called acne, yet there I was in the dermatologist’s office complaining of breakouts I couldn’t control. Now that I work in skin care, I simply see the word as a way to define how often someone breaks out. If you’re breaking out several times a month, or you have more than a couple of breakouts at a time, I consider that acne.

But do you know that there are kinds of acne that don’t break out? The tricky part about acne comes in when someone isn’t having breakouts, but they have what I call textural acne, or bumpy acne. Often, these little bumps don’t come to a head and pop, the way a normal pimple might. Nevertheless, I still consider this acne, even if my client doesn’t.

Let’s look at the kinds of acne that you can get.

Pustular Acne  acne

This is the more inflammatory, infected acne. This acne will generally come up as a localized bump and turn red. It will eventually develop a white head, pop, and then start to heal. This kind of acne is generally cause by a bacterial infection in the skin, and is treated with topical antibiotics.

 

acneTextural Acne

This acne you can feel. Some bumps may be large enough to see. The bumps are either milia, or bumps that are under the surface and don’t go anywhere, or blackheads. Textural acne needs to be addressed because it is often a precursor to pustular acne. It is best treated with retinol.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is the one that hurts. These bumps show up under the skin. They can cause soreness and will often hang around for a long period of time, sometimes even weeks. They often don’t come to a head. Do not try to pop these! Chronic cystic acne will probably require a trip to see the dermatologist, as the infection is deeper than just the surface of the skin.

A Combination of Several Kinds

Most people with severe acne have both textural and pustular acne happening at the same time. The problem is that bumpy acne can become pustular acne easily, since bumpy acne is a prime environment for bacteria, which will inevitably become a pimple.

Each form of acne needs to be treated in a specific way. Pustular acne needs to be treated in a way that kills bacteria, usually with benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin. Textural acne generally requires something to unclog pores, like salicylic acid or retinol. Cystic acne is very difficult to treat topically, but you may find relief if you apply ice to reduce inflammation and numb soreness.

I like to focus my treatment efforts on textural acne first. This takes longer and requires more patience, but if you can unclog the skin, you ultimately will prevent pustular acne by eliminating the environment that produces the pustular acne in the first place.

It’s hard to treat multiple kinds of acne at once, unless your skin is super durable or oily. Acne treatments can be incredibly drying, and using a combination of several products can lead to inflammation, flakiness, and irritation. You may find that juggling your acne treatments with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer provides enough balance. Or maybe you’ll need to use one treatment on one day and another on another day. You’ll need to find the balance that is right for you. Check with your doctor for options if you’re using prescriptions and having trouble.

 

 

 

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Why Your Acne Products Aren’t Working

why your acne products stopped workingAcne. Persistent breakouts. It is one of the trickiest things to treat. And everyone claims to have a magic cure. If you’re an acne sufferer, then you’ve probably tried every product out there.

Unfortunately, acne is more than just a physiological issue.  This means that acne is often a problem that is that is deeper than just a case of too much oil, dead skin, and bacteria. Although all acne boils down to this basic issue, many hidden factors can impact why you might be more breakout prone. Sometimes these issues can make it incredibly difficult to find a good solution.

Hormones have a huge influence on your skin, for both men and women. The good news is, men typically grow out of the hormones that cause acne. The bad news for women is that we typically grow into that hormone. Many women are affected by persistent breakouts for the rest of their lives. Hormonal acne is a subject I’ll be exploring in-depth in a future post.

Let’s look at some other reasons why your acne products aren’t working.

  • You’re not consistent with your regimen. This may not necessarily mean using the same products every night, but it may mean rotating consistently. Your skin needs consistency at this point. Maybe you’ve been switching brands, or maybe you don’t use any skin care most of the week.  Stick with one product line for at least three months, if not six. Put into skin terms: your skin cell cycle is at least 30 days. If you use a product for 2 months, that’s only two skin cell cycles. Changing the skin is like steering a barge. It takes time to reverse a course. You can’t do a 180 in a day.
  • You’re not treating your type of acne with the right kind of product to address it. Not all acne is created equal. There are a finite number of ingredients that can fix acne. One kind of acne may respond better to one kind of treatment, while another may respond better to a different ingredient. For example, benzoyl peroxide is best for an inflammatory acne (the bumps come to a head and eventually pop). Retinol is best for non-pustular, bumpy acne (acne that causes texture but doesn’t necessarily become infected).
  • You’re over-treating your acne. If you inadvertently over-treat and dry your skin out, you will make acne worse. Skin that’s been over-treated also has inflammation because it’s irritated. Clogs become drier and more stubborn and won’t come out as easily. The skin is less pliable. Inflamed skin is more likely to contract around the pores, which creates a favorable environment for bacteria to replicate. And boom. More pimples.

Remember that may not be the quality of the product… it may just be that there is a greater issue causing your acne to be more persistent. Make sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay in the loop as I continue to talk about the kinds of acne and ingredients to treat them.

 

 

Speak your mind! Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

Just The FAQs: Do I Have To Wash My Face At Night?

You’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re tired when you get home. You start to unwind and, before you know it, you’re falling asleep and can do i have to wash my face at nightbarely stumble to bed. So starts the great nightly debate: To wash or not to wash?

Here are a few reasons why the answer is a resounding yes, you must wash your face!

  • It prevents break outs. If you wear makeup, you must remove it. Even light powders can trap excess oil and dirt on your skin, creating a favorable environment for bacteria. Washing removes this bacteria and lets you start fresh with clean skin … and avoid future breakouts. And no, makeup removing wipes don’t count. Even they can leave residue on your skin.
  • It prevents aging. Even if you don’t wear makeup, your skin still needs to be cleaned of excess oil, sweat, and pollution. [Tweet this!] Pollution is a big factor here. All those free radicals in the air land on your skin and wreak havoc. Your cells oxide and thus hasten the aging process. Cleansing can neutralize some of these adverse affects.
  • It prepares the skin for your fancy creams and serums. If you’ve invested any money or effort at all into your skin care routine, you want to apply those products to fresh skin. Removing all make up, dirt, and sweat reveals the healthy skin underneath. Applying your products to this skin means that they will absorb better, meaning you’ll get the results you’re looking for.
  • It reminds you to use the aforementioned fancy creams and serums. Skin care doesn’t stop acne or prevent aging if it only sits in a drawer. [Tweet this!] It must be applied to the skin regularly in order to see results. If you remember to start your routine, you’re more likely to finish it. And your future self will thank you for her radiant glow.
  • It helps you sleep better. Research has shown that having a bedtime ritual relaxes you and can yield a better night’s sleep. Train your brain that when you start your skin care routine, you’re getting ready for a peaceful night’s sleep. The habit will help your mind to unwind faster, meaning that you’ll be getting better beauty sleep while your skin repairs.
  • It guarantees you a few quiet minutes to care for yourself. You spend all day taking care of other people. Don’t you deserve five quiet minutes to invest in the future of your skin? [Tweet this!]

No one is perfect. I’ve inadvertently fallen asleep with makeup on before as well. I’ve used makeup removing wipes in a pinch. But I promise that building this habit is worth it. I’ve offered tips on maximizing your skin care time before, so check them out if you haven’t. And check out one of my personal favorite cleansers as well! On days when you’re really not feeling motivated, remind yourself that you are worth the five minutes that it takes to care  for your skin and yourself.

 

 

Speak your mind! Do you wash up every single night? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

Just The FAQs: What Should I Do About My Huge Pores?

People obsess over their pores. Absolutely. Obsess. Let’s first establish that everything is huge when you are two inches away from a 10x magnifying mirror. Next, let’s establish that you have the poreswhat can i do about huge pores you’re born with. Now that we’re clear on that, let’s talk about what we can do about them.

  • Clean them out. Pores are like garbage bags. You can cram them full of plenty of trash and they will continue to expand. Plus, dark spots like blackheads make pores more visible. So make sure your routine features something to keep them clean regularly and get your facials, since manual extractions are still the most effective to remove blackheads.
  • Exfoliate them. If you dug a hole in the ground, and you threw the dirt up on the sides of that hole, it’d look deeper, right? The same is true of your skin. Dead skin cells don’t always flake off the way they should, which leads to a build-up called hyperkeratinization. This common condition makes pores look larger than they are. The best way to address this is with some form of exfoliation. Pore minimizing products that feature alpha hydroxy acids will help the most here, so look for ingredients like glycolic or lactic acid.
  • Temporarily tighten them. Many pore minimizing products contain ingredients that can temporarily tighten the opening of the pore. In  this case, you are not changing the part of the pore that is below the surface of the skin; you are only affecting the opening at the surface. Some of these products work by causing a small amount of inflammation at the surface, while others work with a cool temperature to simply constrict the opening. This is not be confused with closing the pores. Astringents and clay masks are two such products that may help with this, although the results may last only a few hours.
  • Camouflage them. The marriage of skin care and cosmetics is a wonderful thing, especially when you can rely on a cosmetic product to hide the pores. There are literally thousands of options out there. Look for ingredients like silicone or dimethicone. These products lay on the surface of the skin and keep the makeup from sinking into pores and fine lines. Remember that this is a temporary fix and will wash off at the end of the evening. And don’t worry about pore clogging. Silicone and dimethicone actually can’t penetrate the skin and will form a permeable layer on the surface. These ingredients can be beneficial to many skin types for more reasons than just decreasing the appearance of the pores.

Always remember that you can minimize the appearance of the pores, but you cannot get rid of them. Also, take two giant steps away from that magnifying mirror. Try some of these tips and give yourself a little break on this one.

 

 

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The Kitchen Sponge Theory

My teacher in esthetics school made a huge impression on me. She had many sassy little sayings that have stuck with me. One of them was a way to correct us when we would erroneously ask if something would “open” or “close” a pore. She would always snap back: Pores don’t have doors. [Tweet this!]

It is true. They don’t open and shut. In a facial, when we open up your pores, what we actually mean is that we’re softening the skin. Toners don’t close your pores… they constrict them. Large pores aren’t open, they are visible.

I like to offer a slightly different theory with more explanation. Technically it seems like the pores have opened or closed. kitchen sponge theoryBut there is a distinction here that, if you understand it, you will automatically understand  how to treat other skin care problems.  I like to explain with what I call the Kitchen Sponge Theory.

Imagine that your skin is like a dish sponge. When that dish sponge is dry, it is hard. It doesn’t bend at all. It’d be easy to break. When you first run that sponge under water, the water rolls off. It doesn’t absorb. But if you hold the sponge under water, it starts to absorb it. The sponge softens. It becomes flexible. It bends easily. It absorbs more water.

This change is essentially what we mean when we say that pores open. We are actually making the surrounding tissue more pliable to remove blackheads easily. That sponge bends easily after it’s been run under water, just like steam, oils, and enzymes all soften the skin and the debris within the pore. The skin is more supple and allows me to extract clogs without causing damage. Products absorb better, allowing nutrients to penetrate deeper into the skin. In contrast, toners can constrict pores. They generally do this because the colder temperature constricts the skin and makes the pores less noticeable. (Hint: they’d go back to their original shape eventually.) There are other ways to make the pores appear smaller as well, such as regular exfoliation. Remember that you can change the appearance of your pores, but not the size!

It may seem like I’m splitting hairs. Who really cares if the pores open or if the skin softens? My first response is that the more we understand how the skin functions, the better we can treat it. If you understand the texture of the skin, you’ll understand why it clogs in the first place. Then you’ll understand why you have to go through a process if you want to properly pick (but don’t, because you should come see me for a facial). My next reason is that if you understand this, you won’t fall for tricky sales people who want to sell you ineffective products to “close your pores.” You read this blog. You know better now!

 

 

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