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.

How To Save Your Skin From Stress

tips to stop your stress from showing on your faceNo matter how perfect your skin care routine is, we all hit points in life when we look less than radiant. Often it’s stress that zaps your glow. And the last thing you need when you’re feeling run down and tired from stress is looking like you’re run down and tired.

Stressed skin usually looks dull, and a dull complexion needs three things: exfoliation, hydration, and nourishment. [Tweet this!] Stress causes your body to deplete its vitamin stores, and your skin loses its nutrients first. It’s also more likely to break out as cortisol changes oil production. Here are some of my cheats to revitalize skin that needs extra help.

  • Mask, mask, mask. Facial masks can do just about anything you need for your skin. Fresh Rose Face Mask When my skin is looking dull and tired, I let a mask soak into my skin, even if I just squeeze in a few minutes in the shower. Whether I’m getting an extra shot of vitamins, a bit of exfoliation, or even a dose of hydration, my skin loves the help. Some to try? I love the Fresh Rose Face Mask for hydrating and revitalizing. Another favorite is the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel for extra exfoliation.

 

  • Brighten with a multi-vitamin serum or moisturizer. If you’re not alreadyiS Clinical Poly Vitamin Serum using a serum that lists vitamin C or niacinamide among its ingredients, get one now. Since your dull complexion is telling you that you’re lacking nutrients, make sure to add as many as you can. Some of my go-to skin care products are the iS Clinical Poly Vitamin Serum, which covers all of your needs with a blend of glycolic acid, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, or the Astara Antioxidant Light Moisturizer, which infuses tons of botanicals and nutrients into one lightweight product.

 

  • Grab a green juice. Finding time to eat healthy can be a challenge, and stress just makes me want to eat brownies. Maybe I’m the only one? Sometimes it’s easier to drink my veggies on the go. Greens have tons of phytonutrients and vitamins, and giving your body this boost will also help your skin get the nourishment it needs.

How do you save your skin when stress takes its toll?

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.

How To Hydrate

It is still pretty chilly here in the Northeast, and I like to lean on my hydrating serums to transition to spring. Since serums have light weight textures, they are generally the best way to increase the water levels in the skin and a great way to bridge the seasonal gap for dry, dehydrated skin. Proper hydration can also help to plump up fine lines. Many times people mistake tiny fine lines as an anti-aging problem, when it is actually a hydration issue. Imagine a crumpled tissue that would be wrinkled even after trying to smooth it out and how those wrinkles disappear with a small drop of water. Well hydrated skin is also glowing skin, as those plump, healthy skin cells reflect light better.

Need a drink of water for your skin? Look for products with hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, or sodium hyaluronate, which are three names for roughly the same ingredient. [Tweet this!] This naturally occurring ingredient binds up to a thousand times its weight in water, locking in deep hydration, plumping fine lines, and restoring radiance. Get double the treatment by partnering hydrating ingredients with other actives, amping up results and saving you time and money.

 

Murad Skin Soothing Serum redness reducingGetting hydration with a boost of ingredients for redness reducing only makes your skin look amazing. This Murad Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum blends plenty of hyaluronic acid with anti-inflammatories such as chamomile, green tea, and arnica. Apply over a spritz of hydrating mist to get the most of the water binding properties of the hyaluronic. Add in some antioxidants like vitamin C and you have a great product to use under your daily SPF.

 

 

Reduce texture and get your glow going with a glycolic serum that also hydrates andPeter Thomas Roth 10% Hydrating Gel soothes. It may seem counterintuitive to hydrate and exfoliate at the same time, but glycolic can also bind water into the skin. Additionally, exfoliating away dead skin cells allows the good ingredients to penetrate to the living cells that can use them. The Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Hydrating Gel features aloe to hydrate as well as vitamin A, C, and E to nourish and repair. Use at night under your moisturizer.

 

 

 

Eminence Stone Crop Serum Anything that hydrates and fights pigmentation gets my attention. Pigmentation control is one of my primary anti-aging concerns for me and my clients, since studies have shown that people with pigmentation are generally judged to be older than people with wrinkles. The Eminence Stone Crop Serum has stone crop extract to hydrate and bearberry extract to control pigmentation. Safe for morning or night, but don’t forget the sunscreen.

 

 

Every skin type needs more hydration. These are some of my favorite ways to get it. What serums do you love for hydration?

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

Thinking Out of the Box

woman jumping out of skin care boxSkin care companies have put you in a box for years, and I’m here to break you free.

People often confuse skin types with skin concerns. Skin types only indicate how much oil you produce. It’s a sliding scale with very oily skin on one side and extremely dry skin on the other. The center of the scale is balanced skin, or skin that produces just enough oil to be moisturized on its own. Many things can affect your oil production, like seasonal changes, hormonal changes, and medications. Make sure to flex your routine to match what’s actually going on with your skin.

Skin concerns are the specific things you want to change about your skin, like acne, pigmentation, or fine lines. Many people will tell me that their skin type is sensitive, but this is actually more of a concern. No matter what your skin type, you can absolutely treat whatever concern you have in a way that works for you.

Oily skin types generally want to stick with lighter textures. Oil free lotions can be helpful in the summer, but in the winter, be careful of not getting enough moisture. I find lots of oily skin types overestimate their oiliness and get a little dried out in the cooler months. Look for a lotion that is still lightweight but has some botanical oils in it, like jojoba, sunflower, or argan oils. Treat your concerns with serums. Most serums are lightweight enough to not create any more oiliness on the skin, and you can get them to treat any concern you have.

Balanced skin types have the most options of all the skin types, but you are also the ones that need to pay the most attention to external factors. You may find that having a few options for your routine allows you more flexibility. In general, you want to stick with medium weight textures. You may like layering a few serums to help address your concerns and keeping your moisturizer lighter. In cooler months, you may like a bit of a heavier moisturizer. If you’re prone to break outs, keep the moisturizer light and layer the serums to get the right amount of hydration.

Dry skin types can’t get enough moisture. You love a creamy, buttery texture. I’m a dry skin type, and in the winter, creams just can’t be rich enough. But dry skin types need to watch out for going overboard. Creams that are too heavy can lay on the surface of the skin, not only clogging the pores but also preventing moisture from penetrating the deeper layers of the skin. Dry skin types want to embrace layers, maybe using a hydrating serum before a deeper moisturizer. Your skin has more opportunity to absorb many light layers than one super thick layer.

I generally recommend that you pick a cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type and looking for a serum to address your concerns. All skin types can benefit from using a hydrating serum, even just as needed, to help build in additional moisture that is easy for the skin to absorb.

Do you treat for its type, or your concerns?

5 Ways to Get Glowing by Valentine’s Day

valentine card with glowing skinValentine’s Day is just around the corner, and whether you have a date or are looking for one… you’re going to need to get your best glow going! Here are five tips to get you glowing in just a few days.

  • Cozy up with a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C helps to promote blood circulation (therefore detoxing the skin), decrease uneven skin tone, and brightening your complexion all over. You’ll get bonus brightening if the vitamin C is paired with arbutin, licorice root extract, or kojic acid. One of my favorites is the iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum, packed with potent vitamin C to stimulate repair and get the blood moving. Another of my favorites is the Korres Wild Rose Brightening Serum , which uses wild rose extracts that naturally contain vitamin C to brighten and prevent fine lines.
  • Kiss your skin with some alpha hydoxy acids. A little extra exfoliation helps to get rid of the layers of dead skin cells that sometimes build up in cooler months and cause a dull complexion. Add a glycolic cleanser three to four times a week, or try an at home peel once a week for the next two weeks to excavate your glow. Some to try? I love DERMAdoctor Wrinkle Revenge glycolic wash (available in varying glycolic strengths start with 1 if you’re new to glycolic), which is formulated to not cause excessive dryness. For at-home peels, I love MD Skincare’s Alpha-Beta Daily Face Peel, though I feel like daily use can be excessive. I generally recommend using it 2-3 times per week at night.
  • Have a fling with an instant brightening mask. I keep these miracle workers
    on hand for a quick fix. My current romance is with the Boscia Bright White Mask, packed with vitamin C and sea algae to remineralize and revitalize the complexion. Another one to try? I love Fresh Rose Face Mask for hydration and a glow.
  • Commit to complete moisture. Cold weather slows oil production and harsh wind can abuse the skin. Look for skin replenishing lipids such as ceramides, shea butter, and healthy botanical oils like jojoba and argan oils. I get my deep moisture from creams like Sircuit Skin Cloud 9 moisturizer or the Astara Antioxidant Light Moisturizer, which is a little lighter but still a glow getter. Be careful of going too heavy… many moisturizers just sit on the surface, leaving the underlying layers depleted and lacking luster. When in doubt, apply layers of moisture in the form of serums and creams.
  • Cheat your complexion with some cosmetic saviors. I rely on highlighters like Fresh’s Twilight highlighter and Benefit High Beam to fake a glow
    where there was dullness before. I swear by a pink blush like the ever famous NARS Orgasm blush, which has saved me on many an early morning (better for lighter skin tones… try Dolce Vita for deeper skin tones). I also love Tarte cheek stain in Blushing Bride. The gel texture is better for dry skin types because it helps the skin appear more hydrated (powders sometimes make skin look drier, which is opposite of the glow we’re going for).

These are some of my favorite tips. What do you do to save your complexion in the middle of tough skin times?

ribbon heart

Winning the Fight Against Blackheads

Once people start to understand how blackheads are formed, and what must be done to get rid of them, the next question I hear is which product is the best. These are a few things that I look for when I am evaluating the effectiveness of a product.

  • Serums are more effective than cleansers. In general, I prefer serums because they stay on the skin longer, while cleansers ultimately wash off. In the case of blackheads, you need something that can really penetrate the pore, and serums can do that. Also, serums are easier to zone treat (just treating the area where the problem occurs), and you can stop using it if you experience too much drying.
  • Ingredients are key. Salicylic acid is the best ingredient to fight blackheads, but the addition of glycolic acid can really bump up the effectiveness. These two are most important, and after that, the product just gets better if it has other acids like lactic or azelaic (which can often help with pigmentation).
  • The product should have a light, spreadable texture and be free of clogging ingredients like mineral oil or petrolatum.

And here are some of my favorites products that fit this description.

 

blackhead fighterActive Serum by iS Clinical features sugar cane extract (glycolic), bilberry extract (lactic), and willow bark extract (salicylic). It also features arbutin and kojic acid, which can help to brighten the skin. It works on blackheads and the appearance of pores. Because of the salicylic, it also helps with acne. Use this product all over for help with texture and brightening as well.

blackheads

 

Ain’t Misbehavin Intensive Medicated Blackhead Treatment by DERMAdoctor is a treatment designed specifically for blackheads. It uses salicylic acid, glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and a myriad of other great ingredients to work on stubborn clogs. Use it as a zone treatment to minimize blackheads and breakouts.

 

blackheadsBlemish Clearing Serum by Juice Beauty is technically an acne treatment, but its use of salicylic and glycolic also makes it a great blackhead fighter. I love the price of this one. It really spreads, making it a great value. Plus, Juice Beauty utilizes as many certified organic ingredients as possible, which makes it a great choice for someone looking for something natural and paraben-free. Use it as a zone treatment or all over, depending on your concerns.

 

All of these products are great options to help to minimize the appearance of pores and diminish the occurrence of blackheads. There are always others out there to try, but be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure you’re buying something that is effective. And remember that good skin care starts at home, so make sure to invest wisely products that address your concerns the best.

 

 

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.

Out, Acne Spot

Acne… The bane on your existence. I often hear women complain that they thought they would have grown out of their acne as they’ve gotten older, but many women suffer long past the teenage years.

Unfortunately, only men typically outgrow acne. Women grow into acne more than they grow out of it, since the hormone that causes acne for women generally starts up a little later. Some women find that birth control pills can be very helpful in controlling breakouts. This is a very personal decision for many reasons, and it is a conversation that you should have with your doctor.

Acne often deals women a double blow, since most acne products contain potentially drying ingredients such as retinol or salicylic acid. It is a common misconception that, if you have acne, you also have oily skin. You absolutely can be dry and have acne. In fact, I find most women over 25 to be drier. So, how do you balance acne control and dry skin?

  • Pick an acne control serum, and use a cleanser and moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type. [Tweet this!] Do not use acne control in every step of your routine as you are sure to dry yourself out. If you just have one step with acne control, you can drop it out of your routine more easily should you start to dry out.
  • Don’t be afraid to moisturize. If you are already dry, you need to replenish that moisture, as over-drying your skin can actually cause more irritation, tighter clogged pores, and potentially more breakouts. Look for a light-weight moisturizer. Amazingly, it can even have a little oil, as long as it is a natural oil like jojoba, sunflower, or grapeseed oil. Avoid mineral oil, since it is occlusive and can make clogging worse.
  • Pay attention to your skin. If you start to dry or flake, you need to back off your acne control. Take a few days off altogether or just use a spot treatment. Let your skin repair itself. Try a gentle hydrating or soothing mask to replenish and help your skin to heal.
  • Don’t panic if you have one breakout. Blemishes are annoying, but it’s not the end of the world. Everyone breaks out once in a while. Monthly breakouts are unfortunately common; if you are breaking out weekly or more, then you should take action beyond just a spot treatment. Pick one with a little salicylic acid in it, and be sure not to pick.

Acne can be frustrating and persistent. Ask for help from an esthetician or other skin care professional if you are not getting relief. There are many options for treating acne, and it often takes one-on-one help to sort through them.

 

 

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Just the FAQs: When Do I Use That?

With all the different kinds of products out there, one of the questions I get the most often is, “When do I use that?” After the basic cleanser-toner-moisturizer, how do you layer products and still maintain effectiveness? I have a few easy, general rules that can help you sort out your products once you get them home.

  • Use the products that have the lightest texture first. Feel the texture of each of your products. You want to use the product with a watery or gel-like texture first. These products, which are generally serums, penetrate faster and have a higher concentration of active ingredients, and you want that closest to the skin.
  • Use exfoliants at night. Check the ingredients. Does it use an AHA like glycolic or lactic acid? Does it have retinol as one of the active ingredients? These exfoliants can sometimes cause photosensitivity, so it is safer to put it on at night and give your skin a chance to repair. Be sure to use an SPF in the morning!
  • Use your antioxidants in the morning. Does this product contain Vitamin C? Have you got a CoQ10 cream? Is it a multi-vitamin for your skin? Your skin is exposed to more free radicals when you’re running around during the day, so you’ll get the most benefits from antioxidants then. You can always use antioxidants at night; you just want to be sure to use them during the day.
  • Use the more reparative products at night. Does your cream repairs fine lines? Your skin, just like your mind and your body, restores and repairs itself at night. Get the most benefits from your reparative or anti-aging products by giving those ingredients to your skin when it can use them best.
  • When all else fails… Prioritize your routine by your primary concern. You have two light-weight, watery serums. One addresses hydration, and one uses antioxidants. If you want to use them both, use the one that addresses your primary concern first. Is your primary concern is hydration? Put that on your cleansed skin first. Is your primary concern is anti-aging? Try the antioxidant serum first instead. The active ingredients will all benefit the skin, but this way it absorbs the product that fixes your first concern the fastest.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. These are only guidelines, designed to help you build your own customized routine with your favorite products. When in doubt, follow the recommendations of your dermatologist or skincare professional.