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  • The Tricks and Treats of Halloween Skin Care Survival

    Heather HickmanBOO! Happy Halloween!

    Oh yes, it’s that time of year already. Candy, costumes and copious amounts of makeup… sign me up!

    While there is no shortage of websites and You Tube videos demonstrating makeup application techniques to transform you into your favorite vampire, pop star, pirate or super hero, where are the sites with information on removing all of that makeup, while still keeping your skin intact? Right here, that’s where!

    Halloween makeup is generally heavier and thicker than normal every day makeup and is designed to adhere to the face to give a masking-type effect, while depositing color onto the skin. They are high in artificial colors, fragrances, waxes, fats, chemicals and oils, and they are designed to withstand sweat (for stage & screen) and form an occlusive coating on the skin, which may result in comedones, congestion and full-on breakouts.

    Let’s Start With the “Tricks”

    Before you even consider applying that green glitter or black face paint, make sure you have a good protective base. One word: silicones.

    A silicone-based moisturizer will not only provide you with a smooth makeup application, it will impart a protective shield between your skin and your chosen disguise. This can help prevent irritation on the skin from artificial colors or fragrances. Silicones are also a great aid in reinforcing the skin’s lipid barrier layer, particularly if combined with Evening Primrose Oil, which is high in Gamma Linoleic Acid to further enforce the barrier lipids.

    Once the party is over, do not – and I repeat – do not, fall into bed with your fright mask intact. Makeup should always be cleansed off of the skin to avoid breakouts. Un-cleansed skin is dirty skin, as it naturally produces oils, sweat and around 40 million dead skin cells a day; mix that with atmospheric pollutants and the waxes and oils from the make-up and you have a soupy, dirty mixture than can cause a multitude of skin problems and can worsen conditions such as oiliness and sensitivity.

    A hydrophilic (water loving) oil-based cleanser is the key to removing that heavy makeup easily and without sensitizing the skin. Oil attracts oil; therefore this type of cleanser will dissolve all the dirt and grime. Oil-based cleansers are also excellent at dissolving waterproof products and substances you may have used to achieve your chosen look, such as eyelash glue or other adhesives (I’ve never tried it on fake blood, but I’m pretty sure it will do the trick!). Double cleansing the skin is imperative, so a second cleanse can be performed with a skin-specific cleanser.

    Another good “trick” is a leave on exfoliant with a Salicylic Acid base. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) have a larger molecular structure then their alpha hydroxy acid ( AHA) cousins. BHAs are lipid soluble (meaning they are attracted to oil), versus water soluble or water loving (like glycolic acid); BHA’s are also keratolytic, meaning that when used on the surface of the skin, they will effectively penetrate clogged pores and other lipid debris, exfoliating within the pore, making them an ideal formula choice after application of oil and color rich cosmetics.

    Now for the “Treats”

    Okay, if you can look in the mirror & recognize yourself again, it’s time to ensure your skin has plenty of moisture to get over its night of horrors. Start the hydration boost with a concentrated serum. A good bet is Hyaluronic Acid, which is able to hold a thousand times its own weight in water, intensely moisturizing your skin. Then seal and protect with an amino acid rich moisturizer to further hydrate the skin, & voila! You’ve reached your ghoul (sorry goal). It’s like it never happened – what happens on Halloween, stays on Halloween.

    Before you go… One final tip: try to give the Trick or Treaters at least some of the “good” candy; don’t eat it all yourself, you’ll only regret it in the morning!

  • What is Keratosis Pilaris and How Can I Treat it?

    Keratosis Pilaris is a common issue in which dead skin cells block hair follicles, thereby trapping the hair and causing red bumps. The bumps can sometimes become inflamed and appear red in color. Often seen on the arms and legs, this condition can be coupled with dryness.

    So how does one treat this condition? Exfoliate and Hydrate. Use a textured buffing cloth with an exfoliating body scrub in the shower every other day. Then, at least two times a week, sweep a natural bristle, dry body brush gently over your skin. After, stand in a warm bath and exfoliate your skin using a combination of mineral salts and ready-blended aromatherapy oil. Once you have massaged this over your whole body (excluding the face) lie down and enjoy a warm soak while the mineral salts continue to nourish the skin and the oils leave you silky soft. As soon as you get out of the shower or bath, apply a hydroxy acid-based body moisturizer to damp skin, which will both trap precious hydration and continue to gently slough dead cells.

    This routine will gradually help to unplug the follicles, allowing the hair to grow naturally. Improvements can be seen within about one week!

  • Skin Q & A with Dr. Diana Howard!

    Dr. Diana HowardCatch up with Dr. Diana Howard as she answers these common skin care questions!

    Q. How important is cleansing?

    A. Cleansing is the basis to healthy skin and is necessary to remove oils, grime, pollutants, etc. from the skin that can cause sensitivity or congestion, leading to breakouts. It also helps pave the way so that beneficial actives can penetrate the skin. The secret is to use a cleanser formulated for your specific skin condition and to moisturize immediately after. We always recommend at The International Dermal Institute that one use a non-soap cleanser; soap is alkaline and it strips the natural barrier lipid layer from the skin, which can lead to dehydration and sensitization.

    Q. What is the most common mistake people make with their skin?

    A. We self-prescribe when we should be relying on a skin care professional to properly analyze our skin. Most people don’t realize that they can have multiple skin conditions on their face. For example, you may have congestion and excess oiliness in the T-zone, dehydrated cheeks and hyperpigmentation on the forehead. Each of these areas is a different skin condition. Without proper analysis, you may not realize that you in fact have dehydrated skin that is oily.

    People also don’t realize that skin adapts to micro-climates and environments. You need to be aware that the environment indoors can impact your skin as much as a change in seasons or weather outdoors. Likewise, people don’t realize that stress can lead to skin sensitivity; this is an area we have studied extensively at The International Dermal Institute. A professional skin care therapist can help you to understand the relationship of all of these factors and the role they play in your skin condition.

    Q. What steps must you be sure to include if you’re short on time?

    A. Cleanse and moisturize. As we said earlier, clean skin is the basis of healthy skin. Within one minute of patting the skin dry after cleansing, apply a moisturizer that hydrates and seals in hydration. Ideally, use a moisturizer with a built in SPF to protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) damage for daytime.

    Q. What is your best tip for face and body during winter, when many experience dry and sensitized skin?

    A. Keep skin hydrated! You have one minute after bathing or cleansing to trap moisture into the skin. Spray a hydrating mist over the skin and immediately lock in with a very emollient moisturizer. Follow with sunscreen. Don’t forget to use a physical sunblock around the eye area (chemical sunscreens can be irritating to the eyes). Once or twice a week, exfoliate to remove excess dry cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin.

    Q. What’s the difference, the benefits and the negatives of synthetic ingredients vs. natural ingredients?

    A. So many people think that using natural ingredients in skin care products means they must be healthier for you, when the truth be told, there is no proof of that. As a matter of fact, speaking as a cosmetic chemist and a plant biochemist (this is my Ph.D.), I can tell you that plant extracts, as wonderful as they may be, can cause a higher degree of skin reactions than synthetic ingredients when used in cosmetics. Just consider the number of people with hay fever and other plant allergies. The biggest advantage of using a naturally made cosmetic vs. one that has many synthetic ingredients is the marketing hype you can associate with the product and the public’s perception that natural must be better for you. There is simply no proof of this assumption.

    Personally, some of my favorite ingredients for high performance efficacy are ynthetically made. For example, peptides and retinoids are all synthetically made and are by far more effective than any natural or plant-derived active.

    Q. Will scientists ever find a cure for rosacea?

    A. There are many factors that contribute to rosacea and scientists are learning more and more yearly. Like anything else, the more we understand, the greater the potential for developing a treatment for this condition. As a sufferer with mild rosacea, I certainly hope they find a “cure.”

    Q. Mineral Oils and Parabens are widely discussed and criticized today. What is your opinion?

    A. Mineral Oil is an inexpensive solvent that readily removes make-up from the skin and provides an emollient feel when used as part of a cream emulsion. Unfortunately, it can cause milia in many people, especially when used around the eye area. I always think of Mineral Oil as an oil that just sits on the skin and doesn’t really provide any benefit. There are so many other wonderful oils that I would prefer to use.

    As far as the Paraben mess goes, I am very disappointed that the public perception has been misled by certain groups determined to blame Parabens for breast cancer and endocrine disruption; the truth be known even the author of the original research said her work was misconstrued. I have no reservations about using Parabens on myself – that’s how strongly I believe people have over reacted to this.

    Q. What can we expect to see in the future in the skin care industry?

    A. As scientists make further advances in research understanding how the skin responds to the environment and physiological changes (such as aging, vascular conditions, sebum production, etc. ), we will develop and discover new ingredients that can be used to treat these various skin conditions – no doubt in conjunction with advanced laser technology .

    Q. How particular are you about your own skin?

    A. I follow the basic principles of “cleanse, hydrate and treat the condition.” Because I travel quite a bit lecturing around the world, I am forever subjecting my skin to dehydrated environments (like airplanes) and fluctuations in climate and humidity. All of these factors can trigger my rosacea and can create what I call transient skin conditions. Fortunately, I have access to just the right products to treat a rosacea flare-up or dehydrated skin, Also, being over fifty,I am always cognizant of treating the signs of aging. I have my favorite Retinol and peptide products for my skin and eye area. I do recognize that the most important product in my skin care regimen is my sunscreen formulated for super sensitive skin. I use it daily, even in the winter.

    Q. What’s your favorite ingredient?

    A. Without a doubt my favorite ingredient for skin care is Retinol. Not everyone can use this active agent, but it is absolutely the most effective for reversing the signs of aging. When combined with designer peptides, you can optimize the treatment of aging skin.

    Q. What is your greatest beauty tip?

    A. Wear sunscreen, minimum SPF 30, every single day of the year!!!!!!

  • Mechanical vs. Chemical Exfoliation

    Holly SherrardExoliation is an ancient tradition dating back to Cleopatra’s milk baths and Greeks using an ivory blade to scrape skin cells off their bodies. In the early 1920’s, the leather tanning industry figured out that phenol peels don’t only remove the hairs from hides, but they also smooth the leather. Times have certainly changed with the early 1970’s discovery of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and today with multiple options when searching for a soft, wrinkle-free, smooth skin.

    Have you ever noticed that when you go to the beach and walk around in the sand, the callouses soften on your feet? Sand is a type of physical exfoliation, granules which are sloughing off dead skin cells from the body. Mechanical exfoliants are any abrasive material or substance that physically removes cells from the skin. Corn cob meal, silica, date, fig and olive seeds are all types of mechanical exfoliation as well as facecloths, loofahs and dry body brushes. When using these, be mindful to use a gentle touch to avoid leaving micro-scratches on the skin or causing any inflammation.

    On the other side of the exfoliation coin, we have chemical exfoliants which dissolve keratin protein or break apart the bonds (desmosomes) between the skin cells. AHAs are the most common of chemical exfoliants and are naturally occurring acids derived from plant sugars. These ingredients, in particular Lactic Acid, have the ability to stimulate hydration in the skin by increasing the glycosaminoglycans which bind water within the epidermis. Ceramide levels increase, which improves the barrier function of the skin, and collagen production increases. We see a decrease in fine lines, hyperpigmentation and hyperkeratosis.

    Enzymes are biological catalysts which enable chemical reactions in the skin. Papain (Papaya), Bromelain (Pineapple) and Bacillus Ferment all eat away at dead skin cells, revealing a healthier epidermis underneath. (Keep this in mind the next time you have irritated gums after eating pineapple…you have just exfoliated your mouth!).

    When choosing an exfoliant, ensure a proper skin analysis has been performed. Look for a combination of ingredients that work on multiple levels, such as Silica to remove dead surface cells with a synergy of Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Prickly Pear – all excellent ingredients to regenerate the skin cells, brighten the skin and leave a smooth finish!

  • Sensitized Skin and Exfoliation? It’s Possible.

    We all love how our skin feels after it’s been exfoliated: smooth, brighter, revitalized and softened texture. However, for those with a more sensitized skin, caution and due diligence are required when choosing the correct exfoliating product, otherwise (as you would well know) the skin can respond by becoming irritated and red with increased sensitivity.

    People with sensitized skin must not think they a) can’t exfoliate their skin, and b) would not benefit from exfoliation; both would be untrue. There is a simple premise to follow when choosing the correct exfoliating product:

    1. Avoid all scrubs and forms of exfoliation that cause friction.
    2. Use non-friction exfoliants such as hydroxy acids or digestive enzymes. They work by breaking
    down/dissolving the structure of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.
    3. Exfoliate less frequently; once or twice per week is normally sufficient.
    4. A fantastic alternative to an exfoliant, or to use in-between, would be to use a “microfoliant.” This is a
    much gentler option for sensitive skin. A microfoliant lightly and very gently polishes the skin surface
    with a base of Rice Bran Powder, because it is extremely gentle it can even be used daily (for those
    exfoliation junkies).
    5. Use products that contain lots of anti-inflammatories.
    6. Avoid exfoliants that contain artificial fragrance (a known skin sensitizer).

    There is a valid concern that too many people may be over-exfoliating their skin at home. Unfortunately, they tend to subscribe to the erroneous belief that “if a little is good, more must be better”. With repeated over-exfoliation, the inevitable result will be to diminish the skin’s natural barrier function, thereby contributing to a potentially sensitized skin condition and increased dehydration, so it is essential choose wisely when and how you plan to exfoliate your skin.

    People with sensitization should seek out exfoliants that contain the following ingredients:

    Salicylic Acid
    Salicylic Acid exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making products containing the ingredient seem less irritating than Glycolic Acid, even though they are more powerful. The anti-inflammatory effects of Salicylic Acid make it a preferred option for people with sensitization and Rosacea.

    Phytic Acid
    Rice Bran has been used for thousands of years to relieve inflammation, cleanse and soften the skin. Rice Bran contains Phytic Acid, a B complex vitamin which aids in the natural exfoliation process. Gentle in nature, this is a great option for daily microfoliation. Phytic Acid is also terrific for brightening the skin, and increases its luminosity.

    Enzymes
    Enzymes are mild and gentle in nature, and they have the ability to digest and clean-up dead skin cells from the very surface layers of the skin without any aggression. Enzymes such as Papain, Bromelain and Bacillus Ferment are classified as proteases (protein digesting enzymes), which are another great option for sensitized skin.

    Urea Glycolysates INCI: Glucosamine HCL, Algae Extract, Yeast Extract and Urea
    State-of-the-art technology is using acid-free smoothing agents that enhance cell renewal and promote natural exfoliation without any irritation or flaking. Algae, Yeast, Glycosamine and Urea are not pH dependent as are hydroxy acid formulas. They activate epidermal and dermal cells and stimulate cell renewal and the production of Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen. They also provide an overall improvement to skin texture and firmness and are a great option for aging, sensitized skin. These ingredients can be found in exfoliating creams, masks, boosters and serums.

    With the professional skin industry having access to the latest ingredient technology and sophisticated formulators, there are some fantastic, results driven, therapeutic, exfoliating options for everyone suffering from skin sensitivity. Sensitized Skin and Exfoliation? It’s possible!