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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Squeeze in More Time for Skin Care

how to squeeze in more time for skin care Who needs more hours in the day? Between working a full-time job and building my own business on the side, I need to know where I can apply to get an 8 day week or a at least a 28 hour day. And I know that I’m no different from any of my clients. Sub in a family for the business, or finishing a master’s degree, and my clients are as pressed for time as I am. So how do you stay looking your best? I’ve talked about beating stress before, but when will you action these tips? Here are a few tips that I use to multi task.

  • Do your evening skin care earlier in the evening. Everyone has a moment when they walk in the door and either change clothes, drop a bag, or kick off shoes. Wash your face then, and follow-up with your evening routine. This way you guarantee it’s done before you start passing out on the couch.
  • Mask while you work. I wrote this post with a mask on my face. No joke… I tweeted it here. I figured if I wasn’t getting a full night’s sleep, I might as well cheat one while I work, right? Bonus points for wine while you do it. You can also mask during your favorite TV show, if that’s the only down time you have a week, or while you cook dinner.
  • Benefit from shower time. I do enzyme or hydration masks under the steam in the shower. The steam softens the skin so the mask penetrates better and I get an extra boost to my routine. Plus, it’s easy to remove this way.
  • Mix your serums. I like to spike a hydration serum into my treatment serum and get more bang for my buck. The ingredients of both serums will all penetrate, and it saves me a few extra seconds in the morning.
  • Take just a few minutes to breathe deeply. Ever notice that when you’ve been busy and frantic for a long time, it seems like you can’t remember the last time you took a breath? I trick myself into inhaling. I have calming essential oils by my bedside, and right before I turn out the light, I take just a few seconds to inhale deeply. I’m obsessed with these chakra balancing oils. If this tiny practice of self care helps me sleep more soundly at all, then I’ve done wonders for my skin.

Taking time for yourself can be hard. We’re busy, and it’s just too easy to put everyone else first. If you can carve out even five minutes for some self care, you and your skin will benefit. [Tweet this!] If you do it consciously, even that small amount of time will reduce stress. Take that time. You deserve it!

 

 

Speak your mind! What do you do to squeeze in skin care? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

What Is A Chemical Peel?

what is a chemical peelChemical peels sound scary. With the growing trend towards natural products, people hear the word “chemical” and feel like they’ll be using a bunch of unhealthy, unnatural ingredients on their skin that will cause their skin to be red, irritated, and flaky. But chemical peels are a great skin treatment to revitalize a dull complexion, control acne, and jump start an anti-aging program.

First, let’s talk about exactly what a chemical peel is. A chemical peel is essentially a way to exfoliate or remove dead skin. There are two kinds of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Mechanical exfoliation is using a texture to remove dead skin cells. Think: scrubs, Buf-Puf sponges, and microdermabrasion. Chemical exfoliation is using an ingredient to cause a reaction on the skin and release dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation includes enzyme, which works only on dead skin cells, and acid, which releases both dead skin cells and those near death. Acid exfoliation takes living skin cells to stimulate the skin’s natural healing responses and trigger faster cell turnover.

Acid exfoliation sounds scary, but it’s effective and often more gentle than mechanical exfoliation. Your skin is already acidic, and the peel will cause the pH of the skin to drop further, which will release the skin cells. The factor that dictates how many layers of skin you remove is how much the pH of the skin drops. For example, a glycolic moisturizer may only have a pH of 4.0 (compared to your skin’s natural pH of 4.4-4.5), while a peel that you buy at Sephora may have a pH of 3.0. A peel that you may get a dermatologist’s office may go as low as 1.0 or 0.7. The lower the pH of the peel goes, the deeper the exfoliation. That is to say, the deeper the exfoliation, the more you will start to look like Samantha from Sex and the City did after her disastrous peel right before a big event.

Chemical peels don’t have to be full of synthetic chemicals, either. Many of the most common exfoliants can be derived naturally. Enzyme masks generally use extracts from papaya and pineapple to gently dissolve away skin. Acid peels are generally derived from food sources. Glycolic can be from sugar, lactic from milk, citric from citrus fruit, and so on. Check your ingredients list and ask questions if you’ve decided that natural ingredients are important for you.

Peels are my favorite way to get a fast glow. You can remove excess dead skin, nourish, and stimulate new growth all in one swipe. [Tweet this!] In fact, because professionals can access stronger, more effective products, I think springing for the add-on peel in a facial is a great way to take advantage of something you can’t get at home. Use them if your complexion is looking tired, if you’re suffering from acne, or if your anti-aging treatments seem to have plateaued.

 

 

Speak your mind!  Have you ever tried a chemical peel, or are you nervous to try? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

What I’m Loving Now: Astara Green Papaya Nutrient Mask

Astara Green Papaya Nutrient MaskI had been under some stress recently. Since my job requires my skin to glow, I have to lean on some of my own cheats to fake a full night’s sleep. One of my favorite go-to problem solvers is the Astara Green Papaya Nutrient Mask.

I’ve loved this mask since the first time I tried it. It does a bit of everything, so it’s really great for all skin types. It has a little enzyme from papaya which helps to gently exfoliate and smooth the texture of the skin. It also has vitamin C to revive your glow and chamomile to soothe and reduce redness. It smells amazing as well, with some aromatherapy thrown in to calm your mind.

Astara is a brand that considers themselves natural. They pride themselves on using organic and even raw ingredients. And since I encourage my readers to make their own decisions about whether a line is truly natural, a quick look at the ingredient list confirms that almost all the ingredients are botanical extracts.

Tell me what you think in the comments! What masks do you love when your skin is looking a little dull?

 Think this product 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.

5 Commandments for Life Long Good Skin

5 commandments for a lifetime of good skinAfter a long discussion about the best products, my client asked me to name the one thing you absolutely have to do to have great skin for life. I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Instead, I have the five things that you must do to maintain your skin for life.

  • Wear SPF every day. Start young. UV damage causes 80% of aging, including collagen damage, pigmentation, and potential skin cancer. Obviously the best way to avoid the problem of aging is to protect yourself from the biggest cause of it. I am not anti-sun. I am pro-SPF. [Tweet this!]
  • Wash your face nightly. All day long, your skin protects your insides from pollution, dirt, and grime.  We wear makeup, we sweat, and we get oily. Do yourself a favor and wash all that junk off your face before your skin goes into its most reparative state. Bonus points for giving it peptides and antioxidants to use at night.
  • Quit smoking. I know, smokers hate to hear about all the bad things that smoking does. But if lung cancer doesn’t give you a good enough reason to quit, maybe the increased frequency of blackheads and sallow complexion will.
  • Get enough moisture. Maintaining proper moisture levels keeps the skin soft and supple. Hydrated skin always looks younger than dry, weathered skin. Stave off wrinkles longer by selecting a moisturizer with plenty of antioxidants.
  • Exfoliate regularly, but gently. Exfoliation helps to stimulate cell turnover and remove dulling dead skin cells. I prefer enzyme and acid peels because they provide the most complete exfoliation, as well as cellular regeneration and hydration.

I can make a million recommendations to help you get the best skin of your life. But everything boils down to whether you’re taking care of it, not how expensive your moisturizer is. What goes inside is as important as what goes on the outside, so make sure you take care of your skin from the inside out if you want to maintain your skin for life.

 

 

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