Why Cetaphil Isn’t As Awesome As It Seems

cetaphil gentle skin cleanserMany of my clients are surprised when they find out that I don’t love Cetaphil. I mean, it can’t be all bad if your dermatologist recommended it, right?

I generally don’t get worked up over cleansers, simply because they rinse off. Of all the steps in your skin care routine, I’m more concerned about the stuff that stays on your face, like serums and moisturizers. I always tell my clients that as long as it’s getting you clean, not irritating your skin, and not drying your skin out, I’m fine with it. But let’s take a quick look at the ingredients in the cleanser that claims to be “gentle and non-irritating.”

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

(from cetaphil.com)

Breaking down the ingredients list is pretty easy. There’s not a lot here. First we see water, which is standard for most cosmetic formulas. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are both fatty alcohols, used for emulsifying and moisturizing.

The next ingredient that catches my attention is sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, meaning it releases oil and dirt from the skin and creates that foamy texture we love so much. The problem is that SLS can be stripping for dry skins (which may explain the inclusion of cetyl and stearyl alcohol to neutralize the stripping effects), and it can also be an irritant. I’ve talked about SLS before, and my number one recommendation for irritated skin is stop using products that contain SLS. So why would you include this in a product that claims to be gentle?

The final ingredients are preservatives, which are three different parabens: methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. While I am not someone who is concerned about parabens as a toxic ingredient, and I believe they are generally safe to use, I do know that parabens are an allergen for a percentage of the population. Because of this, I generally recommend that my clients with hyper-allergic skin avoid products with parabens.

The truth about Cetaphil is that dermatologists recommend it for two reasons. The first reason is that it doesn’t have any of the obvious irritants in it like synthetic fragrances or dyes. But the primary reason your derm may have told you to use Cetaphil is that the makers of Cetaphil ship thousands of samples to dermatologists across the land, making that recommendation easy. Amazingly, dermatologists know more about disorders of the skin than they do about products (generally speaking, of course there are exceptions), and they often have neither the time or the desire to shop the drugstore shelves to figure out what cleanser is best for every skin type and concern you may have. Also, most dermatologists (especially male derms) don’t consider a cleanser’s ability to remove makeup in their recommendation.

My beef with Cetaphil is pretty basic. First, I take issue with any line claiming to be gentle while using the harshest surfactant out there. Second, before I became an esthetician, I tried Cetaphil. I found it drying, and it stung my eyes. Additionally, I think it does a terrible job removing makeup. I hate to use a makeup remover and a cleanser; I want one product to do the whole job. So for me, Cetaphil never cut it. If you absolutely love it, and it’s not irritating your skin, I don’t have a problem with my clients using it. But keep these things in mind, and if you find yourself suffering from dryness or irritation, you may want to swap your cleanser.

 

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

The Ingredient Chronicles: Benzoyl Peroxide

Chances are, if you’ve ever tried an acne treatment product, you’ve used something with the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide.acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an active ingredient used in many prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments. It kills p. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. By killing the bacteria, you eliminate a major cause of frequent breakouts. Some experts classify benzoyl peroxide as a topical antibiotic, but many dermatologists use benzoyl peroxide to help enhance the performance of other topical antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin. Because benzoyl peroxide is primarily used to kill bacteria, it is most effective on inflammatory acne.

Although we don’t fully understand the mechanisms of how benzoyl peroxide works, we do know that it seems to kill bacteria by adding oxygen to the skin. When benzoyl peroxide is applied to the skin, it breaks down into two parts- oxygen and benzoic acid. Since the p.acnes bacteria thrives in an oxygen free environment, adding oxygen to the skin essentially kills off the bacteria.

I’ve heard many people complain that benzoyl peroxide seems to stop working. I used to think that you could develop a resistance to benzoyl peroxide, as consistent use would eventually cause more resistant bacteria (think: MRSA and other super bugs). But while researching this article, I’ve learned that, while there is concern about resistant p. acnes bacteria, benzoyl peroxide appears to be the solution, rather than the cause. Many researchers feel that the resistance comes from ingredients like clindamycin and erythromycin, and that benzoyl peroxide lessens that likelihood.

Benzoyl peroxide has some other functions that can be helpful for acne control. It also works as an exfoliant, helping to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of blackheads. I feel that benzoyl peroxide is not as effective at unclogging the pores as salicylic acid, so if you have a lot of blackheads, you may want to introduce that ingredient into your routine.

Benzoyl peroxide comes in all forms. You can find it in cleansers, spot treatments, moisturizers, and serums. If you’re using a wash, you can leave the cleanser on your skin for a few minutes as a mask. If using a serum, it can be applied all over the skin or just on spots. You can even just treat the areas of the face that break out the most often. You can find it in strengths from 2.5% to 10%, though many studies have shown that higher percentages are no more effective than lower ones, but higher percentages often cause more adverse reactions, such as redness, flaking, and dryness.

Though this ingredient can be very effective, like many ingredients, benzoyl peroxide has its downside. I find that many of my clients react adversely to benzoyl peroxide, more so than other common acne treatments. I’ve even found that people can use benzoyl peroxide for years before suddenly developing adverse reactions. Because of this, I like to recommend that you limit your usage as much as possible. If you have been using it twice daily, try cutting your usage down to once a day once your skin starts to clear. If you remain breakout free, try going to every other day. Eventually, you may be able to stop using benzoyl peroxide entirely. Or you find that you need to stay on a routine that uses benzoyl peroxide just a few times a week.

It’s also important to remember that benzoyl peroxide includes…peroxide. This means that it will bleach clothing, sheets, and towels. It is one of the biggest complaints about benzoyl peroxide, but it’s also the easiest to fix. You can get some cheap white pillow cases or towels to use. If you’re applying it to the body, apply it at night and wear inexpensive white tee shirts to sleep. Also keep in mind that if you’ve tinted your brows or lashes, benzoyl peroxide may cause the tinting to fade faster.

If you’ve been using benzoyl peroxide and you’re suffering from adverse reactions, I have a few ideas. First, try using a lower percentage. Research shows that lower percentages are just as effective as higher ones and equally effective. Less isn’t always more when it comes to skin, so don’t worry about backing off a little. Next, try using the benzoyl peroxide less frequently. If you’re using it twice a day, try once. Once a day, try every other day. If cutting the number of applications down doesn’t work, try a light weight, oil free moisturizer underneath your benzoyl peroxide product. Finally, if these tips don’t work, try something that stays on the skin for a shorter period of time, like a wash just a few times a week. You’ll still get the bacteria eliminating benefits without as much irritation.

A final thought to keep in mind. Benzoyl peroxide and retinol don’t mix. If you’d like to use both ingredients, make sure that you use one in the morning and one at night. It will help to minimize irritation, as well as maintaining the integrity of the individual ingredients.

 

 

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The Cinderella Effect

cosmetic effect of skin carePeople ask me all kinds of questions about skin care products. There are a few questions that people should ask, but don’t.

People never think to ask about the Cinderella Effect.

The Cinderella Effect is a product that has instant, visible results to the eye or to the touch, but that disappear as soon as you wash the product off. These products often give an immediate smoothing effect, making pores and fine lines seemingly disappear. The skin may feel incredibly smooth. Some products even provide an instant lifting and firming effect.

This effect isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a nice addition to a product. Who doesn’t need a little help with smoothing and firming? The important thing to ask is, do I also get a long-term effect with this product as well? Make sure to look for your active ingredients to verify that the product is doing more than just temporarily filling in.

If you feel a product and the skin looks and feels smoother instantly, check the label. Is there an ingredient ending in -cone on the label, like silicone or dimethicone? If so, you know that there is a Cinderella effect going on. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other good, effective ingredients, but don’t get swept away with an instant smoothing or lifting when you are looking for a long-term maintenance or repair.

Some products may use polymers that tighten as they dry to create a lifting a firming effect. These products can be tougher to detect in an ingredients list. Make sure to ask questions about how a firming product works.

Skin care products with a Cinderella effect can be fun to have as a part of your routine. They can be great day-to-day, or they can give you that boost you want for a special occasion. I always want my readers to understand exactly what you are getting in terms of results from your skin care products. Don’t be wooed by the immediate benefits, unless that is what you are looking for and know that you are buying. Always remember to ask about the long-term effects as well, to be certain that you’re getting the results you want. [Tweet this!]

 

 

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How To Pick the Best Sunscreen

how to pick the best sunscreenIt’s that time of year. The sun is shining. The weather is warm. Who doesn’t want to be outside? But being outside more means that you need to up your sunscreen protection. And who hasn’t stood in the sunscreen aisle at the store and been completely overwhelmed with the options? How do you find the best one?

The first decision I make is based on the sunscreen ingredients. There are two kinds of sunscreen ingredients: inorganic sunscreens, or mineral filters, and organic sunscreens, or chemical filters. Don’t let the inorganic or organic labels confuse you. Mineral filters are generally considered the “natural” sunscreen, because the minerals occur in nature. Both types of sunscreen ingredients protect from UVA and UVB damage, but they do it in completely different ways. Mineral sunscreens (inorganic) work by deflecting UV rays away from the skin, essentially acting as a mini-mirror. Chemical filters (organic) work by absorbing the UV rays and neutralizing them before they can hit the living layers of the skin and cause damage.

Although both types of sunscreens are approved by the FDA, there are pros and cons to each.

Chemical filters

Chemical filters work by neutralizing UV damage in the very uppermost layers of the skin (the stratum corneum). Chemical sunscreens have had the most controversy in the last few years. Originally they were the most effective forms of protection. Now, we know that they are more likely to cause adverse reactions and allergies in reactive skin types. Although we don’t always know why sunscreens cause allergic reactions, there is some speculation that, because chemical sunscreens release small amounts of heat as they neutralize UV rays, more reactive skin types might be overstimulated by this and more likely to react.

These seem like overwhelming negatives, so why would you choose a chemical sunscreen? The simplest answer is that even with all the negatives, they are still effective at protecting the skin. They are easier to formulate with and can be used for lightweight products. They are easy to apply and do not feel as greasy. They also do not create the blue tint on deeper skin tones that mineral sunscreens can cause. If your preferences lie in formulation, you may prefer a chemical sunscreen.

Mineral sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens use the ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They are typically less likely to cause reactions because they lay on the surface of the skin instead of penetrating to the deeper layers, making them inert. Additionally, zinc oxide is a known anti-inflammatory and can soothe irritated skin.

Mineral sunscreens are reflective, and I believe they provide better protection against pigmentation. UV rays are deflected before they have a chance to cause damage.

Unfortunately, with mineral sunscreens, formulations generally turn out thicker and creamier. If you are a dry skin type, this may be fine for you. But oily and acne prone types may find it difficult to find a mineral sunscreen that is lightweight. Darker skin tones may also have complaints; mineral sunscreens are famous for leaving a blue, ashy cast. Because the minerals are white, they can be difficult to blend.

Here’s a breakdown of what skin type may prefer which kind of sunscreen ingredient:
[column-group]
[column]Chemical Sunscreens
Oily skin types
Acne prone skin types
Deeper skin tones
People who prefer lighter textures
[/column]
[column]Mineral Sunscreen
Dry skin types
Reactive or allergic skin types
Pigmented skin tones
People who prefer natural ingredients
People who like creamier textures
Children
[/column]
[/column-group]

After you’ve decided which ingredients are right for you, you’ll need to pick your number. SPFs go up to 100 these days, but an SPF of 30 is 97% effective when used correctly. Keep in mind that higher SPFs require a higher chemical load, as it becomes more difficult to formulate high SPFs with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Allergic or sensitive types may find it difficult to use sunscreens with high SPFs for this reason.

Which one is right for you?

Now the million dollar question: which sunscreen is right for you?

My preference is to use a strictly mineral sunscreen, but it may be difficult to find a mineral sunscreen that is only mineral. Many formulations that use a mostly mineral sunscreen may still include some chemical filters simply because it keeps the product lighter. Often I will layer my sunscreens and use a mineral powder on top to get as much protection as possible while still keeping textures light.

Ultimately, the most important step in sunscreen is the application part, so make sure to buy one that you will use. The sunscreen that protects you best is the one that is on your skin, not in the drawer. [Tweet this!]

 

 

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

How To Find The Best Skin Care

It’s the eternal beauty quest… what is the best skin care? Who makes the best moisturizer? What cleanser is best? In mythe best skin care retail sales days, shoppers would come up to me and ask me, “What is the best skin care?” I would quietly ask them to follow me down a dark hallway, past all the other moisturizers. We’d pass the troll that guards the hidden door into a secret room, where there on a table, under a single beam of light, sits one single jar of the only good moisturizer in the store, which I’ve only showed to this customer because they asked for the best. When you use it, you’ll never break out, all your wrinkles will disappear, your checking account will never be empty, and your house will always be clean.

Just kidding.

There’s no troll.

Perfect moisturizers don’t exist. They don’t exist because everyone has a different opinion on what the perfect moisturizer should be like. So the question should not be “What’s the best skin care?” The question should be, “What’s the best skin care for me?” [Tweet this!]

For example, I was helping a client the other day whose primary complaint was that she was breaking out often. I asked her what she was using and she told me she was using a well known brand. I asked if she was using a product targeted for acne, like a treatment serum or even a cleanser, and she said no. She was using products that might be generally good, just not good for her, because they don’t target her primary concern.

So how do you find a skin care product that’s good-for-you? Here are a few tips.

  • Decide what your primary skin care concerns are. This is the magic question. If you could change one thing about your skin, what would it be? If there’s a bunch of things, prioritize your list. You’ll probably be able to treat a few things at once, but you want to make sure that your primary concern will be targeted.
  • Look at peripheral benefits of the skin care products. Do you want paraben-free? Do you want a natural skin care product? Do you want a moisturizer that fights acne and wrinkles?
  • Set a price. Remember that if you want a product that has many specific features, you may need to be willing to spend more. What is most important? It might be nice to be paraben free, but you might not be able to find skin care that fights acne and wrinkles, has no parabens, and is less than $30. You may have to decide which feature is the one that can be sacrificed.
  • Feel it and smell it. Textural differences and fragrances are very important. If you don’t enjoy using the product because it feels greasy or smells funny, you won’t use it. Your skin care is guaranteed to fail if it just sits in a drawer. [Tweet this!]

I want to know. What is most important to you when you buy a moisturizer or other skin care product? Do you make decisions based on price? Ingredients? A friend’s recommendation? Tell me in the comments below!

 

 

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Truth in Advertising: A Look At Natural Skin Care Claims

I’ve been talking about natural skin care recently, and on Monday, I talked about how to tell if a product is really natural. Since natural skin care claims aren’t regulated, it’s up to us to decide what natural means. As I was walking around my local drugstore, buying my 3 million count bottle of allergy medicine, I looked at a few products that made natural claims. Here I’m going to share with you my thought process when I review a skin care product for myself or recommend it for a client.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing LotionI looked at some Aveeno products first. Aveeno can be hit-or-miss to me. Sometimes their ingredient choice disappoints me, so I make sure to check before I buy. The first product was a body moisturizer, the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which claims to moisturize for 24 hours and protect and prevent dry skin. It also claims a unique oatmeal formula, which sounds like natural skin care to me.

The first ingredient I see listed is dimethicone, listed as an active ingredient in the Drug Facts panel. Dimethicone is an ingredient found in many moisturizers, foundation primers, and prescriptions. It Aveeno Daily Moisturizer ingredientsprovides barrier protection and slip. It’s a great ingredient, but I don’t consider it natural. Looking at the inactive ingredients, I see oat flour listed (avena sativa kernel flour). So here is evidence of the unique oatmeal complex.

The next four ingredients could be derived naturally, but they are usually synthetic ingredients. Glycerin can be natural or synthesized as well. We don’t know which it is. Petrolatum is a great ingredient for repairing the barrier function of the skin, but also not something I’d consider natural (even though it does technically come from the earth).

Overall, this product doesn’t meet my standards for natural skin care. A closer look at their packaging only claims active naturals, not entire product naturals, and the oatmeal complex is definitely there. Sneaky, sneaky. The product will be effective as a moisturizer for super dry and potentially irritated skin, but this is a perfect example of a regular product masquerading as a natural skin care product.

 

Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerThe next product I looked at was a newer product from Neutrogena, the Neutrogena Naturals Multivitamin Nourishing Moisturizer. I’ll admit that Neutrogena got one big eye roll from me when I heard about their natural skin care line. I don’t have a problem with Neutrogena in general, but it’s my least favorite of the drug store lines. Clients always tell me that they use Neutrogena for their sensitive skin, and I don’t think it’s all that friendly for sensitive skin. So I had my eye roll ready when I flipped this box over to inspect what Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerNeutrogena was calling “natural.”

I have to admit when I’m wrong. I was impressed with this Neutrogena moisturizer and the integrity of the ingredients. I like that they include the source for all their ingredients, letting us know that they’ve been naturally derived. I do have a couple of complaints though. I wish that they hadn’t included fragrance, which can be seen clearly listed down towards the bottom. Fragrance isn’t a great thing for sensitive skin. This product has taken great lengths to formulate without a bunch of unpopular ingredients (parabens, phthalates, dyes), so I don’t know why you’d then add a fragrance. I also hesitate to call this a “multivitamin” moisturizer, since the only real vitamin I see listed is vitamin E (tocopherol) and some extra botanicals, mostly as the very last ingredients.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Wrinkle MoisturizerThe final product I looked at was a product from Garnier, which I’ve always thought of as a natural skin care line. I use a lot of Garnier hair care, but I hadn’t looked at of one of their skin care products recently. I see the ads for this pro-retinol from nature all the time, so I picked up the Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer with SPF 15 to see what it was all about.

I flipped over the back of the box and the first thing I noticed was the Drug Facts panel with theGarnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, sunscreens sunscreens listed. The three sunscreens listed are all chemical filters. I have mixed feelings about chemical sunscreens, and current research is also mixed. For a natural skin care product, I think that a mineral filter is a better option, since it is both natural and effective.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, ingredientsNext I looked at the inactive ingredients section to see what else is in here. I got about a third of the way down before I spotted my first botanical, argan oil (argania spinosa kernel extract). Since ingredients are listed from the highest percentage to the lowest, this isn’t looking good for a “natural” product. I see some rice protein and some natural fragrance components (linalool). The pro-retinol from nature is the fifth ingredient from the end, which makes me doubt its efficacy. In order to get the benefits of retinol, you need a more significant percentage.

I was surprised and disappointed as I looked at these ingredients. I thought Garnier was supposed to be natural skin care. I mean, all the packaging is green? Yes, I fell for the marketing as well! Another look at the front of the package cleared up my questions. Garnier only claims that the retinol is from nature… not the entire product. We find another normal product capitalizing on a natural trend.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a product expecting it to be natural, only to find out that it was just clever marketing?

 

 

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How To Tell If Your Natural Skin Care Is The Real Deal

how to tell if your skin care is naturalEveryone wants natural skin care these days, and I’ve talked about the fact that there is no regulation for this term before. My readers are savvy skin care shoppers, so I want to help you figure out if a brand is really natural, or just capitalizing on a trend.

Since there is no regulation for the word natural, you must decide what natural skin care means to you. Does it need to be paraben free? Are you simply looking for more botanical ingredients or essential oils? Do you have other ingredients that you want to avoid, like petrochemicals, dyes, or sodium lauryl sulfate? I have my own idea of what natural means, and I’m sharing it here. It starts by flipping over the box and looking at the ingredients.

  • High percentage of natural ingredients and botanical extracts. When you look at the ingredients, do you see a large number of botanicals? Are there only a few words that look like chemicals? Some of those chemically looking words can still be derived from natural sources, so you may want to look them up in a ingredients dictionary like A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.
  • Low to no synthetic preservatives. Skin care products must be preserved some way. There’s really no way around it. Mostly what I’m looking for here is how many preservatives are they using? If they’re using six parabens, I doubt their commitment to being a natural skin care line.
  • No synthetic fragrance. This can be hard to figure out from the ingredient list since even a certain amount of essential oils must be listed as perfume. Your nose will tell you if the product smells like botanical ingredients or a bottle of perfume. When you check the ingredients, does the product smell like the oils and botanicals listed? Beware the product that smells like nothing. Every ingredient, especially botanicals, has a scent. If your product smells like nothing, that may mean that something, like a masking fragrance, has been added to remove or neutralize an unpleasant smell.
  • No synthetic dyes. Check the ingredients list. See anything that looks like Red 40 or Blue 9? Again, I doubt just how natural that natural skin care is if there are dyes.
  • Corporate transparency. I like to see companies openly sharing their practices. It is still marketing, but I respect companies that are willing to pull back the curtain and let us look behind the scenes. I was recently browsing the Tata Harper website, and I noticed that they offer percentages of the organic ingredients for each product. Ren Skincare lists where they derive some of their ingredients that look more like chemicals, which is also helpful if you have allergies. If you’re gung-ho to use the most natural skin care possible, call the company and ask about their ingredients. If they won’t answer all your questions, they may not be as natural as they claim.

You’ll need to make your own decisions about what you want in your skin care and what you consider natural. My goal is to put enough information out there to help you make your own informed decisions.

 

 

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Getting Real About Natural Skin Care

what does natural mean for skin care?Natural skin care is all the rage. It seems every time I turn around, there’s another brand launching a natural line. Unfortunately, this term is not regulated. There is no agency that checks to see if every product that claims to be natural fits any particular guidelines. So how do you know what is natural skin care and what is not? Let’s get real about it.

Natural can really mean anything. Some popular features of natural skin care products are that they are paraben free or fragrance free. Many natural skin care products use a higher concentration of botanical ingredients. This could mean a few extra botanical extracts added to a preexisting formula, or it could mean that the majority of the ingredients are botanical. Again, there is no regulation about what natural means.

Natural does not guarantee anything. It does not mean that it is organic. It also does not mean that it is mostly natural or botanical. It also doesn’t guarantee that the ingredient is good for your skin, even if it is natural. Mineral oil can technically be natural, as can water. It definitely doesn’t mean that the product is automatically better for sensitive skin.

This confusing term means that you need to be an extra savvy consumer. It means that you need to decide what natural skin care means to you. [Tweet this!] Do you worry about preservatives? Do you want a large percentage of natural ingredients? What about fragrance? You may find it helpful to invest in a cosmetics ingredients dictionary to look up some common ingredients. My favorite dictionary is A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.

The key to the truth about a product lies in flipping over the package and reading the ingredients list. What is on that list? The rule that you shouldn’t eat anything you can’t pronounce is great for food, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to skin care. Many ingredients that are good for the skin are difficult to pronounce, and some companies get tricky by putting the Latin name for a botanical on the list. It takes work to decipher. If natural skin care is important for you, it should be worth it.

There are many reputable natural brands that make great skin care. There are tons of natural skin care products that I love. The great thing about the current skin care market is that you have plenty of options for whatever you want. I only want to help you find what is most important for you.

 

 

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The Gym for Your Skin

strength training work outWe live in a “more is more” world. And it’s hard, even for me sometimes, to remember that when it comes to skin care, often less is more.

Cristina Carlino, founder of Philosophy skin care, used to compare using the Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder to yoga and the Philosophy Help He retinol treatment to cardio. I’ve always loved this comparison. I’ve adopted it and expanded it to help my clients understand how to balance their routines with just enough work and rest for your skin.

Retinoids (retinol serums, prescription Retin-A) and AHA peels are like a strength training routine. You can’t work the same muscles every day. You have to take rest days to allow time for muscles to rebuild. You’ll weaken the skin if you use a retinoid every day, just like you’d weaken your bicep and cause yourself an injury if you worked it out every day. You have to have rest days so you can build back stronger and better.

I generally advocate limited usage of AHAs and retinoids for this reason. I like to take time off from these ingredients now and then, or use them just a few times a week. This way, you allow your skin to rebuild on the off days, thus strengthening your skin.

I love ingredients like vitamin C to repair and restore, but you can use anything designed to be anti-inflammatory on your days off. Just as you might take a restorative yoga class after a tough workout or get a massage after a long run, try something designed to reduce redness or calm irritation.

This method of rotating products can make your skin care routine feel complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. You can still use a simple three-step routine; just swap your products on designated nights. Stick with a schedule so that you don’t have to think about it. It takes a while to build the habit, but with a little practice, you’ll have it. And your skin will thank you for it later!

 

 

Natural Skin Care, Naturally Better?

natural organic skin care, sensitive skin care With the surge of interest in organic food, there has also been more interest in organic and natural skin care. But many healthy foods have a health halo; they appear healthy, but they aren’t any better than regular junk food. Skin care products can hide behind the same guise. Like those foods, natural skin care products may not always be the best choice for you.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is better for sensitive skin.

Botanicals can often be more stimulating. Highly concentrated essential oils can overstimulate reactive skins. Ingredients can vary from batch to batch as seasons and farming conditions change. Some reactive skin types can’t handle these changes; they need more consistency.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is not as harsh.

Salicylic acid is derived from the botanical willow bark. Glycolic acid is derived from sugar. Apricot scrubs are completely natural and still incredibly aggressive. Sometimes, your sensitive skin can tolerate a natural form of an ingredient better. Sometimes it can’t tolerate an ingredient in any form. You may just have to experiment.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is less likely to cause allergic reactions.

You can be allergic to any ingredient, even natural ones. Poison ivy is completely natural and sometimes even organic, but you still don’t want to rub it on your face. Additionally, highly allergic skin types may find that the long lists of active ingredients make it difficult to narrow down specific ingredient reactions. They may find a simple list easier to navigate.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is more effective.

Natural skin care products can be incredibly effective. So can clinical skin care ingredients. It just depends on the condition of your skin and the results you desire. Some skin concerns, like acne, can respond well to natural ingredients like willow bark or tea tree oil. More persistent acne may need prescriptions like Retin-A or clindamycin. Your need changes just like your health. You may be able to avoid catching the flu by eating leafy greens and sleeping well, but once you’re sick, you might really need some Nyquil.

Health Halo: Natural skin care products are better for pregnancy.

Essential oils abound in natural skin care products, and they may be too stimulating for the sensitivities that can sometimes arise with pregnancy. There are also differing opinions on what essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy. As a rule, I advise women to avoid hydroquinone, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. Defer to your doctor for any other ingredients.

I really love natural skin care products. I love the light fragrance of the essential oils, the lack of synthetic preservatives and fillers. In fact, I prefer many natural ingredients. But I love the results I get with clinical products, and my skin also looks its best when I mix in ingredients like retinoids. Don’t choose natural skin care over clinical simply for the health halo. [Tweet this!] The best part about the skin care business is that you have plenty of options. What do you choose?

 

 

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