Thursday, December 31, 2015

5 Things To Do For Your Skin In 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Here are 5 ways to ensure your best skin as we move into 2016! I look forward to seeing you all in January....

1. Out with the old.
Take a look in the bathroom cabinet. Yes, it's time to toss all that expired product and anything you haven't used this year. Say goodbye to the old, discolored, unreadable jars and tubes. If you haven't used it, didn't like it, or didn't see results, it's time for it to go. While you're at it, toss the old makeup sponges and applicators, and wash all your brushes.

2. In with the new.
So now that there is space in your cabinet, maybe it's time to try something new! Is there something you're missing in your routine, or something you want to address? With so many great ingredients out there, adding in or replacing just one piece can be a game changer.

3. See your skin therapist.
Lost after #1 and #2? The new year is a perfect time to check in. Your skin therapist can help you decide what to keep and what to tweak in your current routine. Travel, diet, and lifestyle over the holidays take a real toll on your skin, so it's a perfect time for a facial too.

4. Commit to your routine.
The key word here is "your". For something to work, you have to do it. Really assess what you have time, budget and are willing to do on a daily basis. For some, it may be a completely new protocol, for others it may just be the commitment to wash their face every single night, no matter what. Baby steps are still steps!

5. Wear sunscreen.
Oh I know, you grow weary of my pleas. Think of it this way. We know UV causes free-radical damage in the skin. The skin does it's best with its own resources to battle this. By wearing sunscreen every day, you free up those resources to do a myriad of other things instead. Not to mention the bonus of skin cancer prevention and whole lot less premature aging.

As always, don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you or answer questions in 2016!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ingredient Spotlight! Niacinamide

I recently posted an article from New Beauty on Facebook and Twitter, which was titled "The Miracle Skin Care Vitamin You're Probably Not Using". I thought, hey, my clients have been using products utilizing this ingredient for well over a year. But just in case you haven't heard of it.....
Image credit:


What is it? A physiologically active form of Vitamin B3 used in skin care formulations. You can find it in serums, moisturizers, masks and professional treatments.

Claims: There are a lot of skin care claims made for this multifunctional ingredient. Niacinamide is said to help the skin repair itself and maintain its barrier, reduce the appearance of pigmentation (when used in certain percentages), regulate sebum (oil) production, and possess both antioxidant and calming properties. Yes, That's a lot!

Concerns raised: Wait for it....  None!
I can't find any (not even from a certain website, which I won't give press to this time around)! This is a very good thing, most ingredients have at least a caveat or two.

What I've found: There's a decent amount of research out there on this ingredient, including a study on safety, one on the ability to inhibit melanin transfer (lessen the appearance of pigmentation or dark spots), and another showing a range of anti-aging benefits.

Bottom Line: I absolutely love this ingredient and suggest it both in formulations and use it in my treatments as well. Aside from the scientific literature, I've seen a noticeable change in the skin of clients using products with niacinamide. Perhaps more importantly, so have they! Its multidimensional benefits, combined with the range of skin types that can use it make it a hero in my book.

Find it in: Total Age Corrector, Clarifier, Refiner, Redensifier, Eye serum, Rapid Repair

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Anniversary To The Dermis!

I can't believe it has been just over one year since I started The Dermis! This experience has been very rewarding, as well as challenging for me. Finding time to research and write posts while still working with clients and running my shop has been a test! But then I went back and read my introductory post about why I decided to start The Dermis, all of it still rings true.

One small change I'll be making in the coming year is linking to some of my recommendations when applicable. While I've really tried to deliver non-brand specific information, the feedback I've received from clients has been to include more info on what I personally like and carry when appropriate.  I'll be doing this in the least disruptive way possible, discreet links for those of you who want to be taken to my shop, or to a specific product description. I've also looked at which types of posts seem to resonate the most with you, and will gear upcoming content in that direction.

Finally, thanks to everyone who asked questions, gave feedback, and yes, found my typos. (I have no doubt I will be generous with many more in the year to come.)  Onward!

Now here's the first goofy video I made about hand cream back in the Fall of 2014, it's one of my most popular posts! :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cleansing Q&A!

I've been getting a lot of cleansing related questions lately so I thought I'd group them all in one post. There are always exceptions and caveats of course, but this can serve as round-up of some of the more common questions.

How many times a day should I wash my face?
  • As a general rule, morning and evening.
  • If you're working up a sweat, or doing some Bikram yoga in between, then add in a post-sweat (gentle) cleanse.
  • Always wash with a skin type appropriate cleanser. Too much cleansing, or using a cleanser with harsh surfactants (see what to avoid below), can damage the barrier, dry you out, and contribute to inflammation. This is especially important if you're adding in a post-workout cleanse. 
  • Most importantly, evening cleansing is not optional! It is essential to remove the makeup, sunscreen, sweat, oil, dirt and pollutants that accumulate throughout the day. (You know who you are.)

What ingredients should I look for in a face wash?

It's important to cleanse according to skin type and condition. There is no one-product-fits-all solution. Personally, I like to alternate a cleansing lotion or oil in the evening for makeup removal, and a gel cleanser for the shower in the morning. There are a ton of great ingredients and of course they're not all mentioned here. The good news is there are enough options to suit both your skin and you preferences. (In my practice, I currently carry 9 different cleansers to cover all the bases!)
Here's some general recommendations:

  • Dry: Cleansing oils, lotions and milks are great for a drier skin or as a pre-cleanse for makeup wearers.
  • Acne/Clogged: Look for performance ingredients like salicylic acid (or willow bark) or 4-terpinol (a non-irritating tea-tree extract) to assist with clearing and healing.
  • Aging/Mature: Protect skin and keep it supple with ingredients like panthenol,  omega-rich black cumin and black raspberry, and antioxidants.

Which ingredients should I avoid at all costs?
  • SLS/SLES: I recommend avoiding Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfates as they have been shown to be irritating, and can damage the skin's barrier. (For those who LOVE their foamy cleansers, there are milder non-sulfate options such as yucca or disodium cocoamphodiacetate.)
  • Coconut Oil: Steer clear of coconut oil if you EVER get clogged pores or acne,  it's highly comedogenic. Despite being all the rage right now, it's not for everyone.
  • Soap: A lot of people are still using soap. Why avoid it? It's actually more drying and disruptive to the skin's barrier than a lot of the foaming surfactants. On top of that, soap does not rinse cleanly, and can leave a residue that will impede products applied after from penetrating the skin.

Are there any benefits of washing with water alone?
  • In a word, no. :)
  • By definition, cleansing is a process of removing makeup dirt and oil. You need a cleanser to whisk these away, rinsing with plain water just won't do the trick. 
  • There has been a recent boom in "cleansing water" or micellar water, but this is not plain water. In these products, surfactants are suspended in the water to attach to dirt and oil. More of a "cleansing lotion", if you will, that is applied like a toner.

Have a question I didn't answer? Send me an email at or feel free to leave it in the comments section below!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

6 Things You Should Be Doing About Your Clogged Pores Or Adult Acne (But May Not Be)

Adult acne and clogged pores are a huge complaint for a lot of you out there. I know it seems unfair to battle both signs of aging AND breakouts at the same time. Believe it or not, for 70% of acne sufferers, the onset is in adulthood, so you're not alone. I've been lucky enough to take a number of classes this summer on adult acne and clogged skin with Dr. Mark Lees. I wanted to share 6 things you should be doing to get moving towards clear skin for the long term.

1. Check for comedogenic ingredients in both your skin care products, and cosmetics.
  • This is listed first for a reason. Great home care can be undone by one pore clogging step in your routine, and this includes your makeup. Use caution when purchasing "oil-free" products, they can substitute comedogenic ingredients to replace the oil. How can you know if something is comedogenic? Your skin therapist is a valuable resource here. I always request a full list or photos of products from all my clients who express problems with clogged pores or acne, and check the ingredients for them.
2. Treat the skin consistently, not just when a breakout or acne is visibly occurring.
  • We've all done this, right? Our skin breaks out, we use some products. Our skin clears up, we stop. (Insert buzzer noise here.) Big mistake. Your acne and skin congestion is starting at a level that is invisible to the naked eye. Even your skin therapist's magnifying lamp can't see it. It's important to get on a good program and be consistent, even when your skin looks clear.
3. Moisturize.
  • Many prone to breakouts skip this step fearing it will clog the skin. But with the right formula, the skin keeps its very important barrier intact, and can counteract surface dryness that can occur during the onset of some treatments. All skin needs hydration.
4. If you have to, choose products over a facial.
  • Wait, what? Yes, I just said that. Facials are a great for extractions and a clearing boost, but if you have budget constraints, always get your quality products first. You've heard this analogy from me before, but it's true: If you went to your dentist once or twice a year, but never brushed or flossed your teeth in between (gross), what would your teeth look like? The same applies to your skin, and especially in the case of clogged pores and acne. One facial can't do for acne what weeks of a morning and night routine can. Consistent home care is key.
5. Always wash your face last in the shower.
  • This is an easy one that people just don't think of. Some of the products we use in our hair, while fantastic for that purpose, contain ingredients that can cause congestion on our face. If you cleanse in the shower, be sure to do it last, and don't neglect the hairline, neck, and around the ears.
6. Treat both the outside, and the inside.
  • I'm a firm believer in the skin-gut connection and getting to the root of the problem. For chronic problems I believe in a 2-pronged approach and recommend my clients see a nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner. Quality advice on diet and supplementation can have a huge impact on the skin over the long term.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oxybenzone (Just When I Thought.....Part 3)

Still with me? Part 3 of 3 today on the issues raised by the EWG's sunscreen guide. I swear I'll give you a break from posts about sunscreen after this (for real this time). Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3) is a UVA/UVB absorber and photo stabilizer used in sunscreens.

Claim: Oxybenzone in sunscreen acts as a hormone disruptor.

The guide itself does not provide any sources for this claim.
I did dig around the EWG's website and found a chart on sunscreens with listed references for their claims about oxybenzone:
Janjua 2004, Janjua 2008, Sarveiya 2004, Gonzalez 2006, Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012
(They were listed name and year only, with no links to the actual studies, but I have found them and included the links if you want to read for yourself. I'll refrain from comment on why they've made it so hard to get the information.)

After reading the studies and a variety of opinions, here are some of my takeaways:
  • Oxybenzone was found in a high percentage of the urine samples in 2 studies. However, this alone only shows that the body is metabolizing a substance, not accumulating it, or attributing a function to it.
  • There have been studies showing hormone changes in zebrafish embryos and rats, but these studies involved radically high doses. In the case of the rats it was given in their food. This can hardly be equated to a topical application. 
  • Again, the oxybenzone was fed/applied in isolation, not in a skin care product or formula. Worth noting, the 2001 study is not referenced on the website, although the findings are implied.
There just isn't any evidence to back up the claims of endocrine disruption in humans. I can't find any studies referencing actual symptoms in humans after exposure to oxybenzone. Contrary to some tricky language used in EWG's guide, oxybenzone is considered safe for use in the European Union. In fact, the EU allows for a higher concentration (10%) than the U.S. (6%).

Personally, I think further testing on potential environmental impact would be a good idea, considering some of the animal studies. In my opinion, if the amounts used in personal care products are found to impact lower life forms and/or the water supply, then it will be time to reconsider the use of oxybenzone.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Retinyl Palmitate (Just When I Thought.....Part 2)

In this post I wanted to address the claim from the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) sunscreen guide that retinyl palmitate is a toxic ingredient.

What is retinyl palmitate?
Retinyl palmitate is an ester, consisting of vitamin A and palmitic acid. It is included skin care preparations as an antioxidant and cell regulator. It is also approved by the FDA for use as an additive in food, as well as a supplement. For our purposes we'll be focusing only on its use in sunscreen.

Claim: Vitamin A in sunscreen causes skin damage and is can cause skin cancer.

This is good time to introduce a term called "cherry picking".
"Cherry picking has a few different definitions, but it is most often thought of as the process of selecting a small amount of information or data to attempt to prove a point, while ignoring contradicting information. When cherry picking information, a person may end up with a faulty theory or position on a topic because all relevant information was not considered. A person might choose information in this way either on purpose or inadvertently, such as when a person might inadvertently only look at data that is easy to find, presenting a false impression. The term is more commonly used with someone who purposefully ignores contradicting information, however."
The first claim is that retinyl palmitate is carcinogenic. The implication is that the FDA funded National Toxicology Program (NTP) study from 2000 showed this to be true. Here are the problems:
  • study was done on mice, with retinyl palmitate isolated, not in a cosmetic preparation or sunscreen
  • the hairless mice used have a thin epidermis, which allows for more UV penetration, and have a propensity to develop more cancerous tumors
  • the study actually failed to show a link with statistical significance, and even if it had, you then have to assume the findings are 100% comparable to a human reaction

The second claim is that retinyl palmitate causes free radical activity and damage to skin cells. There have been studies linking retinyl palmitate to free radical damage in the skin (1, 2) but it's important to note three points.

  • The studies were again done isolating retinyl palmitate's reaction to UV, not in a skincare or sunscreen formula. 
  • This does not take into account the natural antioxidants in the the skin that counteract free radical activity, not to mention the antioxidants that would be within a well formulated sunscreen
  • Our bodies encounter (and make!) free radicals all the time. It's a complex stew of interactions and vitamin A acts like an antioxidant within this structure. Touting results that were created in a vacuum just doesn't make sense, the skin doesn't work that way.

I believe the concerns about retinyl palmitate are not supported by the science. But, if you only read the cherry-picked elements out of the studies that the EWG presents, I see how it could be alarming at first. Bottom line? Retinyl palmitate was, is and will continue to be a valuable ingredient in our arsenal of chemicals used in skin care formulations. I've linked to all the complete studies above and listed some additional sources below if you want to dig in. Next up is Oxybenzone!

Links to more info/sources:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Just When I Thought I Was Done Talking About Sunscreen (Part 1)

Whew! I took a month off of writing posts after a whirlwind of a May. I had a tidy pile of ideas and topics for The Dermis when BAM! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published their 2015 sunscreen guide. Somehow I had blocked out that this guide comes out annually, as well as the misinformation and fear and that goes with it. After a slew of well-meaning, rational folks began posting and reposting on Facebook and Twitter–to be honest–I had a moment.

Ok, it was more like a tirade. Fortunately, this only occurred within earshot of my partner and my dog (sorry guys). I have taken some slow, deep breaths and have realized this is the perfect time to talk about the EWG, what is being suggested by the guide, and what I think about it. I'll be breaking this into 3 separate entires. So just when you thought you free from my sunscreen posts.......

I learned a new term last week: internet crank

From Geraint Lewis and Michael J. I. Brown of
"....examples of the tactics used by online cranks, such as emotional escalation, errors of omission, dismissing experts and proclaiming to support science while simultaneously undermining it."
While not being used to refer to the EWG, I thought it expressed perfectly what I felt was going on when I read the report. So before I get to refuting some more specific points, it's important to discuss where I think the root of the problem comes from. The EWG's report is based on an arbitrary system and scale that they have created themselves, with no generally accepted scientific standards. It is not peer reviewed.

"What they are doing is developing their own system for evaluating things," said Dr. Warwick L. Morison, professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins and chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation's photobiology committee, which tests sunscreens for safety and effectiveness. "Using this scale to say a sunscreen offers good protection or bad protection is junk science." 
Dr. Morison has no financial ties to sunscreen makers, and his work with the Skin Cancer Foundation is unpaid.
The methodology used to determine the rankings, as well as who all is involved is hazy and hard to pinpoint. Here's a great infographic outlining the differences between the methods of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) and the EWG. According to their website, the CIR reviews and assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner, and publish their findings in peer reviewed scientific literature. The CIR has often taken heat for being industry-funded organization and yet, in comparison, its process seems way more transparent to me.

Thanks to Of Faces and Fingers for the infographic. (If you want to read a great in depth post about safety and methodology in regards to parabens you can find it here.)

So while widely read and accepted, I don't find the EWG's website a consistent or credible source of information. Now you know why. Next up? What they're saying about Retinyl Palmitate.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Demystifying SPF

For this post, I wanted to help to demystify the FDA's SPF rating system. There is so much confusion and misinformation regarding the numbers on the bottle and what they mean.

So what is SPF?  What does it do?

SPF means "sun protection factor" and refers to protection from UVB rays, or the rays most responsible for burning the skin. The SPF number refers to an extension of time a person can be exposed to UV radiation before initial reddening of the skin occurs. For example, if an individual would normally start to redden after 5 minutes of exposure, an SPF of 10 - with proper application - would give him/her 50 minutes.

There are some very important things to clarify. First, this number is extraordinarily individual and a bit arbitrary, as any "safe" time in the sun will be different from person to person. Second, the SPF rating does not give any indication of protection from UVA rays, the rays that age the skin.
There is also the danger of false security. The lack of a burning response often keeps people out longer, exposing themselves to more UV radiation, skin aging, and cancer risk.

A higher SPF number also indicates protection from a larger percentage of the sun's rays, but again this can be misleading. An SPF of 15 screens 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 comes in at 97%, and SPF 50 at 98%. In my opinion, anything over SPF 50 is not really worth the return. The active ingredients needed to achieve that really high SPF could cause irritation, especially to a sensitive skin. Ironically, those with sensitive skin often opt for a higher SPF number, thinking it will provide their delicate skin more protection. Also of note is the FDA's decision to no longer legally recognize labeling above SPF 50.

So what SHOULD you do?
  • Look for a sunscreen with a SPF between 30 and 50, that also lists the product as "Broad Spectrum" (the only indicator of UVA protection)
  • Wear hats and sun protective clothing (If you can see through it, UV can get through it)
  • Seek shade between the hours of 10 and 4
  • Reapply immediately after swimming or sweating, or as a general rule every 2 hours

I hope this clears things up a bit! There are still a whole slew of topics I didn't get to this month, so I may be peppering some additional sun protection posts throughout the summer months. Have a question I didn't get to? Please feel free to email or leave it in the comments for me!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tips For Choosing A Facial Sunscreen

With so many facial sunscreen options - making a selection can be daunting! Here’s a few tips by skin type to make your process easier.

Lightweight formulas that absorb into the skin work best. Common active ingredients are avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. Avoiding physical blocks like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that sit on the surface of the skin can make all the difference in making a formula tolerable and not too“greasy” for an oily skin.

Acne prone:
A lightweight formula is again a must, but be cautious of oil-free formulas, many contain pore-clogging ingredients like isopropyl myristate. Resist the urge to skip the sunscreen, UV protection allows the skin to focus resources elsewhere, keeps inflammation down, and will reduce that post-pimple discoloration.

Look for physical blocks like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide- they sit on the surface and can feel great as well as providing a bit of protection for dry skin. As dry skin is very often sensitized as well, look for a formula safe for sensitive skin, or one boasts some barrier-repair or anti-inflammatory ingredients.

The skin with a bit of both worlds can usually tolerate various formulasincluding some that blend both physical blocks and those that absorb into the skin. Combination skin can also benefit from some multi-tasking, look for antioxidants or other skin boosting ingredients added in.

Tips for everyone:
If you don’t like it, whether it’s the smell, feel, tint, or whatever, move on! Sunscreen that sits on your shelf isn’t helping anyone. Utilize your esthetician/skin therapist as a resource! Most will happily sample you, or do a free consult- or take a test run of something you’re considering post-treatment, and see how it feels that day.

* As you you read this I'm in the middle of a digital detox! Please forgive a slight delay in responding to comments or messages. I will be back 5/26!

Friday, May 15, 2015


People have a lot of questions (and a lot of confusion) about sunscreen. For this post, I thought I'd tackle UVA and UVB. There is some great in depth information here from, but here are some key points.

  • Think A for "aging".
  • UVA penetrates the skin deeply and plays a big role in photo-aging the skin and causing wrinkles.
  • The strength of UVA rays is consistent throughout the day, penetrates cloud cover, and glass.
  • Mainly responsible for tanning.
  • The words "broad spectrum" are your only guide to knowing if your sunscreen protects from UVA. Unfortunately, the amount of UVA a sunscreen must protect from to be listed as broad spectrum, did not make it into the FDA monograph.
  • Think B for "burning".
  • UVB is responsible for damaging the superficial layers of the skin, and causing redness and sunburn.
  • Reflective surfaces like water, snow, and ice can create a "bounce-back" effect - multiplying the amount of UV radiation that hits the skin.
  • UVB is strongest in the US from April to October, between 10am and 4pm, but can burn skin year round- especially at high altitudes.
  • The "SPF" rating on your sunscreen ONLY applies to UVB, and refers to extending the length of time it would take for the skin to first show signs of redness, it does not refer to UVA protection.
*graphic credit -

I'll be breaking down the SPF definition mentioned above in more detail in a future post, when I return after Memorial Day!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Melanoma Monday

Today is Melanoma Monday- bringing attention to the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 73,000 new cases of Melanoma are predicted to be diagnosed in 2015. 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually.

You can download a free body mole map, and finds loads of information here from the American Academy of Dermatology.

UV radiation is a known carcinogen. Be safe!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

There Is No Such Thing As Sunblock

The most recent changes to the FDA's sunscreen monograph consider a product labeled as sunblock misbranded and subject to removal from the marketplace. In an attempt to make things clearer for the consumer, here are some terms you should NEVER SEE on your sunscreen label, or heard made as a claim:
  • sunblock
  • waterproof/sweat-proof
  • claims of protection over 2 hours
  • SPF rating listed over 50
No sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.

This is the biggest take-away. I believe using the term "sunblock" gives a false sense of security of protection that isn't really there.

Again, we're talking semantics. If a label, or its representative makes some of the claims above, move on to another brand. The deadline for these changes is long past. And hey - let's stop saying it too!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

In honor of Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, I'll be doing some themed posts all month long. First off, I'm loving the change from "Skin Cancer Awareness" month. Yes, we should all be aware of skin cancer but I think the new title hones it in nicely. With that in mind, I'll be posting about skin cancer, sunscreen and debunking some myths. Time permitting, even another fun Adobe voice app clip.

While I try to be brand neutral and don't promote products when posting here, I am making an exception this month.
All sunscreen is 20% off all month, in my shop, and in the office. Just enter the code SUNSAFELY at checkout, if you're ordering online.
You can find them here: my soapbox!! :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm Back! UCLA Extension 2015 Update

I'm back from LA! I thought I'd do a quick blog post on my experience, rather than a Facebook post.

I just returned from a 4 day intensive course at UCLA Extension: Cosmetic Ingredients and Regulations for Beauty Professionals. It was taught by industry legend and leading ingredient expert Rebecca Gadbury - this class was amazing!

What exactly did I learn? The course covered a lot. We were defining terms, and identifying sources and functions of chemicals in the ingredient lexicon. The regulation of the industry, labeling laws, claim substantiation, and the steps of product development were all covered.

So what does this actually mean? I broadened my knowledge of how different chemicals/ingredients function, why they're needed, and what role they play- based on their form. I can pick through a label more quickly now, and based on what I've learned, determine what fits into my philosophy as helpful and appropriate. I have gained even more respect for all the cosmetic chemists and formulators out there—and I already had a healthy dose of respect!

I will fully admit I am still a bit brain fried from the long days, but I'm also left motivated and inspired by the the vast amount there is still left for me to learn. UCLA will now be offering a certificate in Skin Care, which I will be pursuing over the next 2 years, taking courses every 4-6 months. I met a great group of people, who were nothing but generous with their knowledge from an array of diverse backgrounds.

Thanks for being patient while I was away, I feel very fortunate to have been able to take this time. I can't wait to see where this leads me....stay tuned!

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Dose Makes The Poison

We've all heard this phrase right? Let's think about it a little differently, as it applies to our skincare. How much product we use, when and where we apply it is actually just as important as what is in (and not in) our products. My philosophy on this is very similar to my approach in the treatment room--a modified Goldilocks principle if you will. Not too much, not too little, but just right.

Too much.
You know who you are. If once a day is good, then twice a day must be better, right? If the instructions say use 1 pump, then 4 pumps of this stuff will be fantastic! It's a no-brainer!

Not so fast.

Formulas are designed to work in the suggested amount, and different products work in different ways. Too much of certain performance ingredients could cause irritation, inflammation and damage to the barrier. Trying to "speed up" your result actually may result in extra purchases for damage-control. Not to mention, the additional cost of double-timing it, actually ends up being a waste of money.

Too little.
Ahh... the rationers. (I can't find this word in the dictionary, so we'll call it my own creation.) You're the client who is a little too frugal with their product, and uses it very sparingly- under the suggested amount. You buy a serum that's meant to last approximately 12 weeks, and yours is lasting 24-36 weeks.

By using a significantly lower amount, chances are you aren't getting enough of the performance ingredients to make any noticeable change in your skin.

All products are designed to work effectively when you use the specified amount.  In effect, "saving" or rationing product is a waste of money. You just won't see the results.

Just right.
Find out how and when you should use the products you buy. How much should you use and how should it be applied? How long will the bottle, jar, or tube last? How long to see results? Please don't be afraid to ask these questions if the information is not automatically given to you at purchase.

What if using a product as prescribed falls out of your budget? Let your skin therapist know. There's always a myriad of product options, and she or he would much rather have you on a simplified protocol with realistic expectations (and results!) than a disappointed client. Trust me on this, it's true (every time). If not, time to find a new skin therapist!

So, which one are you?  :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tips For Great Skin This Spring and Beyond....

Spring is here on Friday! As much of the country looks forward to crawling out of a long winter hibernation, it's a great time to focus on bringing your skin back to life as well. Here's some reminders and tips for your best skin this Spring and beyond....

  • Exfoliate away that winter skin.
    Use a gentle body scrub/body cloth to exfoliate away those winter flakes. Be sure to pay extra attention to elbows and feet.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
    All skin needs hydration daily (yes, even oily). Look for facial moisturizers geared to your skin type and use body lotion immediately after showering to lock in moisture.
  • Use an antioxidant serum.
    Spring and summer means more time outside, and that means more exposure to UV light and pollution. An antioxidant serum can help to squash the negative effects of free-radicals and get your skin glowing!
  • Get a customized facial treatment from a pro.
    Our skin changes throughout the year, especially with the change of seasons. This is a great time for some "spring cleaning" or a little boost. Your licensed Skin Therapist is a great resource for any tweaks your home routine may need to look great this summer!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Coconut Oil Caveat

I am honored to have been used as a resource for's piece on coconut oil! Of course, I am the one warning against its use on acne/breakout prone skin! :) Only a person with truly dry skin should ever use coconut oil anywhere near or on their face, due to it's highly comedogenic (pore clogging) properties.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ingredient Spotlight! Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfates

It's here! The first ingredient spotlight post! I have had many clients asking about these two ingredients/chemicals. I'll be breaking it down into a (hopefully) easy to digest format.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

What it does: A foaming agent (surfactant) found most commonly in shampoo, face and body washes. Also found in some toothpastes.

Concerns raised: That both SLS and SLES are irritants and possible carcinogens, through a by-product (1, 4 Dioxane), that occurs in some production methods.

What I've Found: SLS and SLES are skin irritants.(1) (2) I have not been able to find any study that substantiates the cancer risk in SLES. It has not been listed as carcinogenic by OSHA on their material safety data sheets (3), by the American Cancer Society,  or the International Agency for Research in Cancer.

Bottom line: I don't use products with SLS or SLES. Being on a constant crusade to lower inflammation in the skin, I see no need to start off with a cleanser that may cause irritation, even if in a formulation made to buffer that (too much inflammation being the source of all evil....don't get me started). We have other options. The cancer risk? From what I've read- I'm not concerned about the risk. With that said- the point is moot since I don't use it in my practice.

Want to see something featured in the ingredient spotlight or have questions? Email me or leave a comment!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What's In A Title?

Fair warning: soapbox post! So I was getting my next post ready, when I came across an article from

Although not about skin care products, it struck a chord with me (translation: I got really mad). It underscores the importance my previous post about language and semantics when we are discussing an issue, or passing on information. The heated, (and sometimes hard to stomach) battle going on in the comments section on Facebook, also seems to mirror the combativeness and polarizing that occurs between different product manufacturers, with different philosophies in skincare. I usually love (including their irreverent name), so I was really disappointed. I had to write about it.

The title reads: "Herbal Supplements Don't Contain What They Claim"

Wait.....What? ALL herbal supplements? EVERY kind? From every company? Big? Small? Organic? Mainstream? Specialty? Says who? (I'll stop.)

In reality, no, just a misleading title. Four large companies did get busted and received cease and desist letters from the FDA. Read the letters here. But you wouldn't know this unless you read the article in it's entirety. The title makes a very inappropriate blanket statement. And let's be honest, the title is as far as most people get.

Disclaimer: I do use herbal supplements religiously. I'm no specialist on herbs, but I see an amazing functional medicine practitioner/acupuncturist who IS an expert, and I trust him implicitly with what I put in my body. I know for a fact he has done exhaustive research and carefully chosen companies that batch-test for purity, and are sticklers for formulation. So to throw all those reputable companies and the people that use them under the bus? Frustrating, unjust, and not factual. Read carefully, thoroughly, and always beyond the title!

Have you read something that freaked you out about your products? Let me know, I'm happy to give you my take. You can always email, or leave it in the comments section.

Rant is concluded. Now I'll get back to your originally scheduled post- Sulfates in the Ingredient Spotlight up next!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Skin Care Hack: Tinted Sunscreen

Happy New Year to all!! I hope 2015 is treating you well. This one's a quicky! 

I have been looking into some new suncare products to bring into my practice and found myself still frustrated by the options for "tinted sunscreen". This is a product with enough coverage to even out the skin a bit – but not as heavy as makeup – and your sun protection is included. In theory, what a great idea right? Unfortunately, I've found there are 2 problems:
  • Clients actually use the product like a foundation or concealer and "dab" as opposed to applying an amount significant enough to ensure the listed spf.
  • The bigger problem – the tints available seem to exclude a huge range of skin tones! It's hard to justify bringing a product on board that will only be an option to some of the many, many skin tones I treat.

So here's the easy fix. I have been doing this myself for years! Simply add a very small amount of your favorite concealer/liquid foundation into your daily portion of sunscreen and blend in the palm of your hand. I'm talking about a dab here, so not enough to change the spf coverage when applied. This works best when blended into a sunscreen specially formulated for your face. (Wondering if you need a special sunscreen for your face? Click here.) In about 2 seconds, you've got a custom blended tinted sunscreen. Works like a charm.