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.



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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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Just the FAQs: If I Get A Chemical Peel, Will I Look Like Samantha From Sex and the City Did?

Samantha gets a chemical peelThe episode of Sex and the City where Samantha decides to get a “freshening” peel just days before Carrie’s book launch party is probably one of the most iconic moments in skin care. Not only did it put chemical peels on the map, it struck fear in the hearts of women everywhere, leading them to ask estheticians, even ten years later, “If I get a chemical peel, am I going to look like Samantha did when she got one?”

I love to recommend peels. Chemical exfoliation is my preferred way to get rid of dead skin cells. But without a doubt, people are nervous when they hear the word peel. Visions of red, flaking skin flash through their minds, and who wants to look like that? So what should you expect if you get a peel? The answer is, as always, it really depends.

First, it depends on who’s giving you the peel. The law governs who can do what peel in what strength. My license doesn’t even allow me to do a peel that would give you the severe redness and flaking that you see in this episode. Barring an adverse reaction, the most I can do without a doctor’s supervision is cause a bit of flakiness and flushing for a few days. If you’re at a dermatologist’s office, you are more likely to get a peel with “downtime,” or, a peel that will make you want to hide under a black veil for a few days.

Next, it depends on the strength of the peel. This is the tricky part to predict. Someone who is used to exfoliating (a regular glycolic or retinol user) will probably be more tolerant of stronger peels. Someone who’s recently used a prescription though, may find that their skin reacts more noticeably. Generally I recommend that if you’re going to get a peel, you should stop all prescriptions for seven days beforehand.

Samantha hides her chemical peel under a veilMild flaking is not the end of the world. It just means that your skin is healing. Remember that we break the skin down in order to build back stronger, and flaking is just a sign that stronger skin is growing. I will camouflage flaking with a great primer with lots of dimethicone, an ingredient that conceals texture by laying on the surface and filling in. Try Smashbox Photo Finish Primer if you need some help.

As a reader of this blog, you are obviously a savvy consumer. And savvy consumers ask lots of questions. Before agreeing to a peel, you need to ask about it. Specifically, how much flaking should I expect? How red will I be, and for how long? What home care should I use in the following days? How much pain can I expect?

The only mistake that Samantha made here was making her “impulse purchase” without thoroughly considering the side effects. Her skin probably looked great after ten days. Chemicals peels need to be thought about for an extra minute or two, but they are nothing to be afraid of.




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Just The FAQs: Will That Make Me Break Out?

can products cause acneThis particular question is always a hot topic. People are always quick to blame their skin care for the problems they’re having. The truth of the matter is, sometimes breakouts just happen. Sometimes it happens at the same time you change your skin care routine. I can’t tell you if something will make you break out without also looking at the rest of your routine and your skin type. I don’t often find that one single product is the only reason.

Acne can be complicated by many things, but it always comes down to three factors: excessive oil, a build up of dead skin cells, and bacteria. There may be underlying causes that influence one of these factors, like diet, hormones, or stress. Knowing this, there are only a few ways that a product can cause acne. I will say that some skin care can affect breakouts, but it is not nearly as common as people think. Here are a few cases where a product can cause acne.

  • Adding excessive oil to the skin. If you are already very oily, and you start using a product that has oils or occlusive ingredients like mineral oil, petrolatum, or even shea butter, you will break out. Because your skin doesn’t need more oil, the occlusives block the pores, therefore leading to more clogs. Add a little bacteria to the party, and you have a breakout.
  • Purging the skin. Whether skin really purges is a point of debate, even among skin care professionals. I believe it happens in very specific instances, and not every time you change your skin care. It might happen if your skin is already clogged and you start using something that contains retinol or salicylic acid. These ingredients break down debris in the pores, and you may experience some breakouts. Ultimately, you are reducing the likelihood a breakouts long-term since you are keeping the pores clear. Short-term, it’s no fun.
  • Causing allergic reactions. Acne is not a common allergic reaction. Most allergic reactions look like itchy red skin, rashy red bumps, or flakiness. Allergic reactions do cause inflammation though, and if you have conditions that are favorable for breakouts, it may make it more likely. Inflammation constricts a clogged pore, creating the anaerobic environment that bacteria thrives in. And voilà! Pimple.

In order to know if something would make you break out, you have to look at your skin care routine as whole, and how often you’re currently breaking out. [Tweet this!] Are you acne-prone, but not well controlled? Most people have a natural tendency to break out. It’s just what the skin likes to do. People tell me that they can only use a certain product or they break out. My reaction to this is that they need to be on an acne control regimen that will keep the pores clear and prevent breakouts long-term, because their skin is naturally prone to clog. I once read a quote from Dr. Dennis Gross, founder of MD Skincare, and he stated that it takes six weeks to form a breakout. If that’s true, then it can’t be the product you started using last week.

Have you ever stopped using a product because you felt it made you break out? After reading this, do you still think it was the product?



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Just the FAQs: Can My Skin Care Stop Working?

skin care productsI love this beauty urban legend. And it’s one of my favorite myths to bust. Here are a few reasons why you can’t become “immune” to your current routine.

You get used to your results. If you are using something that works, it will continue to work. Unfortunately, we just get used to seeing the glow in the mirror. Just like any other part of your body, your skin uses nutrients and discards waste. Once a nutrient is depleted, you need to feed your skin again. It doesn’t use a nutrient once and never need it again. If you take a vitamin C supplement, your body uses what it needs and discards the excess. Next week, you’ll need more.

  • Your skin’s needs may change. Let’s revisit the vitamin C analogy. If you are sick, your body may need more help to repair. Then you need more vitamin c than before because of what’s happening, not because you got used to the amount of vitamin c you were taking in. Circumstances changed; your needs changed. Your skin functions the same way. If you are stressed out, your skin may be depleted of more vitamins than usual, increasing your need for more. It’s not that your skin is used to the products. Your needs are different.
  • Your products have expired. Yes, in this case, they probably have stopped working. Expired product means less effective ingredients. Less effective ingredients mean less noticeable results. But this doesn’t mean that a new bottle won’t work as the first one you purchased.
  • We get bored and a shiny new product beckons from the pages of Allure. Even though I know that skin care doesn’t “stop working,” it’s always fun to try something new… and that’s okay! It’s good to do something different to mix up a routine, but be careful of shocking your skin too much or too often. But I encourage you to dig deeper if this is the case. Make sure that in your restlessness, you don’t throw out a product that really works for you in lieu of something less suited.

So never fear, you don’t have to give up a favorite product. You don’t need to switch up your skin care routine for fear of becoming “immune” to it. But if you’re not seeing the results you want, try a smaller tweak and keep your favorites on hand.

Just the FAQs: Do Pore Strips Work?

girl uses pore strip to get rid of blackheadsThere are few questions that surprise me. What surprises me about this particular question is how often I hear it from the guys that come in for facials. I’ve even answered this question from guys while watching football.

The short answer is, no, pore strips don’t work. [Tweet this!] But if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t have a short answer for anything in skin care.

Pore strips are used by wetting a strip of fabric with a special adhesive and applying it to the nose. It then forms a bond with any blackheads. When you remove the strip, the blackheads are supposed to be pulled out of the skin and removed with the strip.

Blackheads are created by a build up of excess oil and sebum that collect in the pore. The surface oxidizes and turns dark. I’ve talked about how blackheads are formed in more depth in other posts.

So why doesn’t a pore strip work?blackhead cross section

  • The surface of the blackhead is not usually flush with the surrounding skin, as you can see in this illustration. The pore strip cannot adhere to the blackhead if it is actually below the skin. Therefore, it can’t be pulled out.
  • Even though blackheads seem like they would be pretty solid, most are not. Most blackheads are oily in texture, so even if you can remove the top oxidized portion of the blackhead, the pore still contains the rest of the oil and sebum. This means that in a matter of days, you will just have a new blackhead.
  • If the blackhead is in fact a solid blackhead that could adhere to a pore strip, I promise you that it is not going to come out by yanking something off your nose. In a facial, I use enzyme masks, steam, and special solutions to dissolve blackheads and make the surrounding skin more pliable, and I still have to work pretty hard to dislodge them.

Some people will argue with me and tell me that they see something on the other side of the pore strip after they’ve removed it, but most of that will be hair. And even if you did get a clog, there is still more debris in the pore. Mostly I think that pore strips just irritate skin and make it more sensitized. The only way to truly get pores clear is to get manual extractions in a facial. Save the money you’d spend and invest in a facial or a good, pore detoxing product.




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Just The FAQs: Do I Need a Deep Cleansing Facial?

Often when I ask a new client what their primary reason for getting a facial is, they respond that they need a deep cleansing. The deep cleansing facial is a Deep cleansing facialpopular treatment on most spa menus.  But I think the concept of deep cleansing is unnecessary and even a little misleading. Usually what we’re doing is more exfoliation to get deeper into the pores. Unfortunately, what most people think of as a deep cleanse generally leaves the skin stripped of natural oils, which can cause more problems than it solves.

Here’s what you should look for if you want to book a deep cleansing facial.

  • In order to be effective, there needs to be some sort of boost in the exfoliation phase of the facial. The added exfoliation removes more dead skin and softens clogs, going a little deeper than what you can do at home. This freshens the complexion and makes extractions easier. If you are booking a deep cleansing facial, make sure it includes a bump in the exfoliator, above what is offered in the basic facial. If it’s a regular facial, you may want to spring for the add-on peel.
  • We need to do extractions. Some specific deep cleansing facials have extra time added for extractions, but it is not necessary in my opinion. But let me stress, you cannot have a successful deep cleansing facial without extractions. [Tweet this!] Otherwise, I’m not doing anything for you that you can’t do at home. If someone is charging you for a deep cleansing facial and they are not doing extractions, they are stealing your money.

So do you need a deep cleansing facial? The people who do are generally very oily and/or acne-prone, and they need a more aggressive method for getting the debris out of the pores. Look at your nose in the mirror. Do you have lots of visible blackheads? Is the texture of your skin bumpy? Are you oily within an hour of washing your face? If any of your answers are yes, you may want to consider a deep cleanse.

Before you book a deep cleansing facial, ask yourself what you really need. Take a close look at the description on the spa menu. Compare the description of the deep cleansing facial to the one for the regular, or basic facial. If they are charging you more, what are they adding? If they don’t have a specific deep cleansing facial, ask your esthetician. You can still get that deep clean feel without the fancy name. Upgrade your peel. Extra extractions can be helpful for a small percentage of the population, but most people just don’t need that much time. In fact, sometimes it can even reach a point of being detrimental. Ask if you are unsure of how much time you’ll need. If you’re concerned about oil and debris on the surface of the skin, you need to look at your daily cleanser, not a facial. And, if you’re concerned about blackheads, maybe there are ways to tweak your home care routine to better address your concerns.



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Just the FAQs: Do I Need Extractions?

When I ask if someone would like extractions in their facial, sometimes my clients ask, “Is that when you pick my skin?” Proper extractions are not quite the same thing as picking. Extractions are the gentle removal of clogs and blackheads. When I do extractions, I do many things beforehand to prime the skin and soften the clogs, so that I can get as much debris out of the pore as possible while causing minimal damage to the surrounding skin. It’s not just about popping a whitehead and hoping for the best. And, from years of experience, I generally know whether a clog is ready to come out or if it needs a little help from some products at home.

Estheticians who do not believe in extractions generally argue that extractions damage the surround tissue and that the skin should be Extractions during a facialallowed to function on its own. I am in favor of extractions, because I believe that the skin’s functions naturally lead to clogs, and that it needs help moving them along. I also believe that good preparation and careful extractions do not have to cause damage to the surrounding skin.

So do you really need them in a facial? I say yes.

  • A clog in the skin is one step closer to a blemish. All acne starts with a clog that then becomes infected with bacteria. So if you are concerned about acne (and who isn’t?), you certainly want to remove clogs that make it more likely for you to break out.
  • Glowing skin is even toned. If you are trying to get your best glow going, you don’t need blackheads marring an otherwise clear surface.
  • Pores, like trash bags, stretch when there is something inside of them. Having a blackhead makes the pore appear larger. Cleaning the pores out allows them to shrink to their original size.
  • Blackheads and clogs can cause an uneven texture. Skin that glows is smooth, so extractions get us closer to that goal.

The worst part about extractions is, yes, they can be uncomfortable. Clogs have a tendency to accumulate in sensitive areas, like the folds of the nose. It often takes some directed pressure to get the pore fully cleared, and it’s not always enjoyable. And even good extractions may leave your skin pink in some areas. But they should not be torturous. You should find an esthetician who will work with you on your pain tolerance and desired level of extractions. I like to check in with my clients to see where they are at. Some days you may be more sensitive than others or have a lower pain tolerance.  You might have an important event and we should be less aggressive. I always try to work within my clients’ limits. Extractions may be uncomfortable, but they should not ruin the entire experience.

Facials are great because, as an esthetician, I can do lots of things to get your skin radiant. Extractions are just one part, but they are a big part of that process. Even if it’s not your favorite time in the facial, try not to skip the extractions. And remember you can help your esthetician out!  Using products at home that help to minimize blackheads can make a huge difference in the ease of the extractions. And of course, when you get extractions regularly, it becomes easier each time. So it helps to be consistent!


Just the FAQs: Do I Have Sensitive Skin?

I can say honestly that the most frequent concern I hear about skin is sensitivity. When I ask about skin conditions, most people describe their skin as very sensitive. But this description is vague because skin can be sensitive in a A woman with bandages protects her sensitive skinvariety of ways. It is important that you are clear about how your skin is sensitive when picking out products for your routine.

  • Skin that is prone to allergies. This is typically my definition for sensitive skin. You have used many products in the past, and they have frequently caused redness, burning, itching, stinging, or flaking. This is usually indicative of an allergy. Try to figure out if the products had something in common. Were they all acne products? Did they have synthetic fragrances or dyes? Finding the root of the allergy is helpful here, as you will learn what to avoid in the future.
  • Skin that is prone to redness. Skin that is easily reddened is challenging to treat. There are many factors that can cause redness. Do you get red when you work out? When you touch your skin? If you wax or tweeze your brows? When you apply product? If you get red from heat or touch, treat your skin with anti-inflammatories like vitamin C to calm it. If you get red when you apply product, take a look at your products and check that you aren’t misusing an exfoliant or that you don’t have an allergy. You may also want to check with your doctor for other factors, such as rosacea.
  • Skin that is prone to breakouts. Breakouts are frustrating and often persistent, but they do not necessarily indicate an allergy. Unless you are also prone to redness, stinging, or allergies, I generally describe this skin as acne-prone, not sensitive. Try treating your skin with an acne control serum and avoid heavy moisturizers.
  • Skin that has been sensitized. This is self-inflicted sensitivity. It is typically sudden and temporary. It is often caused by prescription products or overuse of aggressive exfoliants. If your skin is suddenly flaking or stinging, first take a look at your routine. Are you using a new prescription? Even oral medications can cause skin sensitivity. In the case of a prescription, check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if it is a common side effect. Have you added a new products to your routine?  Check the active ingredients. Are you overusing glycolic, salicylic acid or retinol? Try using that product less and see how your skin does.

Skin sensitivities are complicated and are not often solved by simply purchasing a product targeted to sensitive skin. Unfortunately many of the products that have a label claiming that they are safe for sensitive skin still have lots of common irritants in them. In fact, I have never heard a brand claim that they were not good for sensitive skin! So it is vitally important that you figure out what triggers your skin and pick your products accordingly. Only you can be sure what will and will not cause trouble!



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Just the FAQs: How Often do I Need a Facial?

As I do my initial consultation before a facial, I usually ask when you had a facial last. My clients often get a guilty look as they admit that it’s been “a while,” or “longer than I can remember.” So the next question I hear is, “How often should I get a facial?”

This is a tough question that varies with the individual. The easiest answer is that you need a facial as often as you Woman getting a facial at a spa. need your pores cleaned. Skin will always make blackheads and clogged pores, and some skin types make them faster than others. So if your blackheads seem to come up regularly, then you might need a monthly facial. If you don’t notice as many blackheads, you may be able to get a seasonal facial.

But facials have many benefits other than just getting those pores cleaned out, many of which people overlook when thinking about whether or not they need a facial.

  • Professional exfoliation. I’m a believer in the importance of regularly getting a professional peel. I work with products that are safe but are stronger than retail products. This deeper exfoliation stimulates cell turnover rates and rids the surface of excess dead skin. When you remove layers of dead skin, the products that you use at home penetrate better, which in turn gets you better benefits and longer lasting results.
  • Massage. It’s more than just a means of relaxation. It has many therapeutic benefits. It stimulates blood flow and draws oxygen to all layers of the skin. This helps to stimulate healing, lymphatic drainage, and nutrient delivery. Also, massage tones and relaxes muscles, which allows them to relax and contract as they should, leading to a softer, smoother complexion.
  • Professional consultation. In a facial, you get an hour to ask me questions about your skin. I analyze your skin and consult with you. This is a great time to figure out how to get more from your routine and check whether you’re using what’s really best for your skin and concerns.
  • Relaxation. Yes, relaxation is incredibly important to good skin. [Tweet this!] Furrowed brows and clenched teeth create repeated muscular movement that can eventually cause wrinkles. Additionally, chronic stress can change hormone levels in a way that can increase breakouts and stop nutrients from getting to your skin. Taking a little time to relax can reverse the aging effects of stress. Sometimes that hour you carve out for pore cleaning is also the only hour you have to relax and unwind.

Your need for regular facials really boils down to what your concerns for your skin are and what results you want. There are some treatments and skin conditions that must be treated more regularly, even weekly. After you achieve your desired result, you may be able to switch to a maintenance schedule and get facials monthly. Consult with a professional that you trust, who can guide you in setting up a customized program.



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