Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Dermis Is On Hiatus!

I know, I know. There has been quite a lack of new posts here. The Dermis is currently on hiatus. I've been working on 2 projects, outside of my normal client hours that have been taking up all my free time. For a couple of months, I told myself I could still fit everything in. I'm realizing now it's just not possible (while remaining sane). What are these projects? One is geared toward professional skin therapists, and the other a tool for both skin care professionals and clients. That's about all the detail I can go into for now, but you will be the first to know as it reaches fruition!

You can always still send your questions to me at, or via FB or Twitter and I'll respond personally as soon as I can!

With affection & sunscreen,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What Pollution Does To Your Skin

When we talk about pollution, normally we're talking about the assault from urban environments. After the devastating fires in Northern California, a lot of you were asking me about the effects of the poor air quality on the skin. Although we were not in the fire zone here in San Francisco, our air quality in the bay area was rated hazardous for well over a week. (I wore a mask for the worst of it, and I still had a sore throat and a mild sinus headache for days.) Apologies for not having the time to address this with a post at the time, but I still want to do a quick post now to cover some of the impacts of pollution on the skin, and what you can do to protect yourself going forward.

When we are in a polluted environment, free-radical damage can manifest itself in many ways:
  • Irritation/Inflammation - Sensitive skin is activated, rosacea and eczema can flare.
  • Barrier Damage - When not functioning properly, the skin does not hold onto moisture as it should resulting in dryness, irritation and slower than normal healing times.
  • Breakouts - Combine barrier damage and inflammation with particulates in the air (small enough to get into your pores), and the stage is set for breaking out if you're acne prone.
  • Long-Term Damage - Over time, free-radical damage breaks down healthy skin function and premature signs of aging appear (think smoker's skin).
So what to do?
  • Topical Antioxidants - I wrote a whole post about how topical antioxidants can interrupt the inflammation cascade and prevent damage here.
  • Sunscreen - Don't skip this crucial step so your skin will not be fighting additional free radical damage from UV rays.
  • Limit Exposure - Pay attention to the air quality reports, they affect more than just your lungs. Adjust extended periods of time outside accordingly.
  • See Your Skin Therapist - If you're still struggling and your skin seems off, a barrier-repair treatment rich in antioxidants and skin soothing ingredients can get you back on track.

All of us in the Bay Area know someone who has been personally affected by the tragic wildfires in Northern California. The impact will continue for years to come. If you can make a donation, please do so here. If you're a local, head up north and support a community business!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Do You Need A Toner?

Do you use a toner every day? Have you been told it's an essential step in your skincare routine? I've had a number of clients asking me this question lately, so let's cut through the hype/marketing and figure out if you really need to be using a toner.

A little history: Back in the day, when cold cream was the norm for removing makeup, toner played an important role. The cream could not be tissued off completely, and a toner (involving alcohol or witch hazel) was necessary as a second step to remove the film left by the heavy cream.

The marketing hype: Today you still hear about the absolute necessity of a toner in order to "restore the pH balance of the skin" before the application of other products. The skin's pH (potential of hydrogen) refers to the alkalinity or acidity of the skin's surface. If the skin's barrier is too alkaline, it can result in sensitivity, dryness, even a dermatitis-like reaction in some skins. Product penetration can be hampered by the film left by super-alkaline cleansers as well (think bar soap). My issue with this claim? Often this is marketing jargon used simply to sell more product - read why below.

What they're used for now: Obviously the game has changed in terms of cleansing. There are a million options from creams to mousses to foams that rinse completely and do not dramatically affect the pH of the skin. It doesn't make sense to me to use a bar soap or cleanser that's so harsh, you now have to apply the second product just to nullify the negative effects of the first. Toners play a different role now. They are used as a backup or second cleanse. (The recent micellar water trend is essentially a cleansing toner.) They also serve as a way to get performance ingredients into the skin in a liquid form. Here are some examples:
  • Treatment toners for acne-prone skin can deliver a bonus hit of pore-penetrating resurfacers like salicylic acid into the skin
  • Dehydrated skin can receive a liquid dose of hydration under moisturizer or sunscreen
  • Antioxidants can support skin in environments with pollution or high ozone levels, like airplane cabins or urban environments
Precautions: Be careful about formulations. There are still A LOT of toners out there with high levels of SD alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Unless in a dose-specific treatment toner for very oily, or acne-prone skin, I never recommend alcohol in a toner. Why? It can strip surface lipids, dry you out, and cause irritation. Be careful not to confuse the drying alcohols with fatty alcohols like stearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol which serve as emollients or thickeners in many formulations. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled clients off a drying, alcohol-laden toner and had a myriad of problems disappear.

The verdict:  So, do you need to use a toner? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you have one of the conditions listed above? I personally include a face lotion/toner in my programs for acne-prone and clogged-dehydrated skin as I've found them truly beneficial. If you're not dealing with one of those conditions, there are plenty of other products that can deliver performance ingredients.
  • Who's suggesting it? Is the same toner suggested to every person regardless of skin type and condition? (Red flag!) What about time and budget? I really do believe in customizing your home care routine, and a program that works is the one that you do.
  • Do you like using one? Some people just love toners and face lotions, and as long as it's well-formulated for your skin type and condition, knock yourself out.
I hope this helps you navigate the waters (pun intended)! As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions through this blog or at

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

5 Reasons To Wash Your Face (Seriously)

I know what you're thinking. Why the heck am I writing a post about reasons to wash your face? If you missed it, I posted a week or so back on social media about the Cereve study in which they found 60% of men and 48% of women admitted to often not washing their face before bed.  Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. If you're in that group here are 5 reasons to wash your face.
  1. Pollution, dirt, makeup, and sweat
    This is an easy one. Your face gets dirty and sweaty throughout the day. Particulates in the air stick to your makeup and sunscreen. Leaving this on your face invites inflammation (aging) and potential breakouts.
  2. Keep bacteria and oil-production in check
    This is a continuation of number one. If you suffer from breakouts, acne, skin sensitivity, or rosacea, it's important to cleanse away excess oil and keep bacteria in check that can contribute to acne and rosacea flares.
  3. Allow performance ingredients to work while you rest
    Now that you've cleansed the day off of your skin, you can apply skin condition specific products that won't be broken down by UV light or free-radical damage. Use The Pillowcase, and you won't lose them into your pillow case either.
  4. Ritual is a good thing
    Adequate rest is good for your whole body, skin included. A nightly before-bed routine can help signal the body it's time to relax and repair. An evening ritual is an especially helpful way to trigger a relaxation response and prepare both body and mind for bed.
  5. Demodex mites 
    Still not convinced? Maybe these little buggers will help. Two forms of the Demodex mite (folliculorum and brevis) live on humans. While their presence is totally normal, overpopulation can cause various problems. Some theories hold them responsible for rosacea flares, and they can cause infections in eyelids. Did I mention they eat oil and love mascara?😳

Another interesting finding in the survey was that 65% of people don't know what to look for in a face wash. I answered that question in a Cleansing Q&A post I did awhile back. You can find it here.

If you're finding yourself exhausted at the end of the day and often falling asleep without cleansing try this tip I've been suggesting for years: Wash your face when you get home for the day. Nobody said it had to happen after 10 pm. A face that's cleansed and treated with skin appropriate products at 6 pm is in much better shape than the one that skipped it for the day.

There you go. Now go wash your face.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Technology Spotlight: Ultrasonic Technology

Photo Credit: Bio-Therapeutic

Over the last 2-3 years, ultrasonic technology has exploded both in the professional and home skin care markets. I'll be discussing how the technology is used in the skin therapist's office and at home.

Let's break down what it does:

Ultrasonic Technology

Technically speaking: Ultrasonic technology utilizes sound waves with a frequency above 20,000Hz, or above the range detectable by the human ear. These waves are created by a conversion of energy called the piezoelectric effect and travel through the end of the device to the skin. The frequencies used are in a therapeutic range, and not to be confused with diagnostic ultrasound waves that operate at a different frequency.

Translation: In home care cleansing tools, this vibration is passed into the skin, allowing for a deeper cleanse and mild exfoliation as well. Used in a professional setting, both cleansing and exfoliation techniques utilize this technology, which then allows for better penetration of the subsequent products.

Contraindications: Very limited and traditional in scope: pregnancy, professionally resurfaced or ablated skin, very sensitive skin

Bottom Line: If you've had a custom service with me any time recently, you know I love this technology. It's easy to incorporate into a treatment, can be used on almost anyone, and leaves the skin incredibly soft. I am currently taking pre-orders for a home care ultrasonic cleansing tool that I am absolutely in love with. You can read more about that here.  I'll be sure to use it on you during your next treatment!