4 Mistakes Even Beauty Experts Make

I’m on a mission to get good skin care information out there. It’s the main reason I started writing this blog. So I get frustrated when I hear the same beauty myths persisting. Here are a few things that I hear even beauty experts get wrong.  mistakes even beauty experts make

  • Drinking enough water will cure chapped lips and dry skin. [Tweet this!] There are many benefits of drinking water, but sorry, this just isn’t one of them. I hear people say this over and over, and I feel like Debbie Downer every time I say that it won’t. It’s the Salad Dressing Theory. Oil and water are not interchangeable. Drinking more water cannot replenish a lack of oil.
  • Your skin needs to breathe. Your skin doesn’t have lungs. [Tweet this!] Your skin can’t even absorb gases from the outside environment. In fact, it’s hard enough to get your skin to absorb solid nutrients. I even cracked open my super skin nerd text-book Physiology of the Skin for scientific confirmation on this one, and sure enough, Dr. Pugliese has many things to say. First he states that “the skin uses very little oxygen since 90% of the metabolic process in the skin is anaerobic, or does not require oxygen.” He also states that “oxygen is a gas, and gas will diffuse into other gases before it will dissolve into anything else.” Basically, your skin isn’t absorbing the air because the air can’t penetrate the skin. It’s not breathing. And no amount of makeup or lotion will change that your skin doesn’t breathe.
  • Fair skin is sensitive skin. I’ve had dozens of estheticians insist that I am sensitive, simply because my skin is light. The color of the skin doesn’t dictate sensitivities. Fair skin has a tendency to be thinner, but even that doesn’t mean that doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be more sensitive. I go back to my soapbox about what sensitive skin even means. I define sensitive skin as someone who has frequent reactions or many allergies. Skin of all colors can be allergic to an ingredient. Skin of all colors can have an adverse reaction to a product or get an irritation.
  • Products with alcohol will dry out your skin. We need to split hairs here. If you’re looking at a toner with SD alcohol or denatured alcohol in it, yes, it will probably dry you out. If you’re oily or acne prone, you might need that drying or extra help killing bacteria. If you’re dry, it may not be a good idea. If you are looking at a cream, chances are that product has cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, or stearyl alcohol in it. These forms of alcohol are all fatty alcohols, meaning that they are actually moisturizing. I don’t know enough about chemistry to be able to explain why these different ingredients are still all alcohols (chemistry experts, chime in!), but I promise you that fatty alcohols are important in a moisturizer and won’t dry you out.

Have you ever heard any skin care myths that you know aren’t true, but you hear everywhere? Shout out in the comments and tell me what they are!

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The Salad Dressing Theory

difference between oil and water in the skinI often hear people tell me that their skin is dry because they haven’t been drinking enough water. In fact, I’ve even had other estheticians reprimand me for not drinking enough water to cure my own dry skin. This persistent myth drives me crazy because it’s not even scientifically possible.

First, let’s define the terms. Dehydrated skin lacks water. Dry skin lacks oil. Any skin type can be dehydrated. In fact, most skin types are dehydrated because so many things we do strip water from our bodies. Since the skin is the first line of defense, even dry air can steal water from your skin.

Now let’s talk about my salad dressing theory. Oil and water don’t mix in your skin, just like they don’t mix in a vinaigrette. You have to shake a salad dressing to get both flavors. It’s the same in the skin; one cannot replace the other. Healthy, balanced skin has just enough of each.

Drinking water is good for you for many reasons. Not one of those reasons is because it moisturizes your dry skin. Since dry skin lacks oil, the only thing that solves the problem of dry skin is adding an oil. I like healthy, botanical oils like jojoba or argan oil. If you want to eat your way to moisturized skin, try avocados, flax seed, or nuts. Drinking water actually won’t hydrate your skin either. It’s virtually impossible to drink enough to hydrate from the inside. The best way to solve a dehydration problem is to add a hydrating serum to your daily routine.

Oily skin doesn’t necessarily need a moisturizer; it has more than enough oil, by definition. It needs a hydrator. This is exactly what an oil-free moisturizer is since there are no oils to moisturize. I do think that oily skin can benefit from a lotion simply because it helps to seal the water into the skin, but truly oily skin can just use a serum and be fine. Dry skin needs to be moisturized, which is how we add the proper oils to skin. Since dry skins are often dehydrated, these skin types may want to use a hydrating serum as well.

It’s important that you understand the difference between these terms so that you can be sure to treat your skin appropriately. You can’t solve your dryness with water. This isn’t a pass to skip water drinking completely, but, as always, remember to treat your skin for what is actually wrong to get the best results.

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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The Anti-Aging Myth

I feel like I’ve heard it all when it comes to anti-aging. It’s often my clients’ number one concern, even if they’re just 25. I’ve seen every manner of claim from skincare products and marketing companies. But, in my opinion, most anti-aging products miss the mark…and not because they make claims that may or may not be true.

There are many factors that contribute to a more “seasoned” appearance. In my mind, many of these concerns are often overlooked when people shop for an anti-aging product. If you don’t address all of the factors that make you look older than your age (or, maybe just not younger than your age), you will still look older!

Texture

The texture of your skin is the number one reason that people look older to my esthetic eye. It’s the first thing I notice when I assess a client’s skin. Does the texture appear rough? Uneven? The good news is that this is the easiest problem to fix! Look for an exfoliating mask with glycolic or lactic acid that you can use 2-3 times per week, or a serum with the same ingredients, but in a lower percentage that you can use daily. Another option, depending on the extent of the texture and other concerns, may be retinoic acid. Retin-A can only be prescribed by your dermatologist, so be sure to use it according to his or her direction. Retinol is a lower percentage of the same ingredient and can be found over-the-counter. Retinoic acid can often cause irritation, so be sure to minimize your usage if you experience redness, flaking, or sensitivity.

Pigmentation

Ah, the concern that is near and dear to my own heart! People often think my freckles are cute, but to me, they are merging together into large brown spots and muddling my complexion. Research has shown that people will guess that someone who has uneven color to their skin is older than someone who has more fine lines! With this tidbit of information, I feel that every single person of every single color should have some form of pigment control in their arsenal, starting the minute that you begin a skincare routine. This can come in the form of a vitamin C serum (look for ascorbic acid or tetrahexadecyl ascorbate- my favorite form) or in a botanical brightener (try ingredients like arbutin, mulberry extract, or bearberry extract, to name a few). If pigmentation is already a concern for you, use one of each!

Ruddiness

Ruddiness is diffuse redness that is always present. This is often a sign of advanced sun damage, and often comes coupled with pigmentation. Here, look for anti-inflammatory ingredients like vitamin C (yes, again), aloe, green or white tea, and azulene. Make sure that your routine is gentle, using enzyme peels instead of scrubs, which can aggravate redness.

The true secret to having better, younger looking skin is targeting your routine to address specific concerns. Anti-aging products cover a broad range of concerns, so try targeting your concern with a serum and hopefully you will see better results. Fine lines may not be your biggest worry!

Water, Water Everywhere

I often hear clients sheepishly tell me that they are dry because they haven’t been drinking their water.  Fortunately, from your skin’s perspective, that old 64-ounce-a-day rule doesn’t really apply.

The first and most important reason is a matter of definition. Hydration refers to the water content of the skin, while moisture indicates oil content. Dry skin is lacking oil, and since, just like in salad dressing, oil and water don’t mix, you can’t moisturize your skin by applying or drinking water. [Tweet this!]

Another problem with trying to hydrate your skin internally is simply the fact that it’s virtually impossible to take in enough water to significantly increase water content of the skin. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to take in enough of any single nutrient to see a specific benefit on the skin. Your body works on an emergent basis, meaning that it prioritizes your vital organs over your skin. Although you want your skin to look great, your body doesn’t so much care as long as the skin isn’t broken. So it sends all that hydration (or other nutrients) to your stomach, your heart, your lungs, or your brain.  But don’t misunderstand this statement… your skin is absolutely affected by your diet. It’s just affected in more general ways, such as in the glow or the clarity of the skin. Drinking water can help a lot in these areas, especially if you’re drinking water instead of a high calorie sugary beverage!

Finally, the most glaring inaccuracy of this myth is that we don’t actually need to drink 64 ounces of water in order to be adequately hydrated.  Any nutritionist will tell you that we get most of the water we need from fruits and veggies, so those of us that eat lots of those probably don’t need to drink a lot of water on top of that.  Even coffee doesn’t dehydrate the way most people think it does. For more, I’ll refer you to my go-to nutrition source, the Nutrition Diva, who discusses this in more scientific detail.

So, now how to hydrate your skin, if not by drinking water? A few tips:

  • Serums that have a watery texture and use ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid, glycerin or aloe can be great for leaving a little water in the skin. Make sure to layer this under a skin-type appropriate moisturizer in order to seal that hydration into the skin.
  • Spritz an alcohol-free toner on before you moisturize. This is the only purpose to a toner, in my opinion. It leaves the skin damp, and the moisturizer can again lock it in. Rosewater, inexpensive and easy to find at most health food stores, is perfect for this.
  • If you’re oilier, use an light-weight moisturizer that has some of the above listed ingredients in it. Avoid mineral oil.

Remember that you can be oily and dehydrated, as well as dry and dehydrated. Hydration is a skin condition, not a skin type.  Most people benefit from more hydration.  Hydrated skin is fuller, plumper, and softer.  So spritz on that toner and stop beating yourself up for not getting a full two liters of water every day.

 

 

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