I just finished a phone conversation with one of our spa’s guests. She came to the spa a few months ago to celebrate her 50th birthday. She was traveling from the East Coast to Portland, found us online and came out for a day of multiple treatments. After her facial, I gave her my usual dose of education that was applicable to her skin concerns. She picked up a few home care products that we thought would best fit her needs.
A few weeks later, she sent a really nice email sharing how she enjoyed her time. She was also amazed at how great her skin felt not just after the treatment but also after implementing some of the basic changes to her skin care routine. She wanted to know a little bit more to completely transition her entire routine to the product line that we work with. It really got me thinking that I would like to share with everyone the tips and tricks on how to make your skin care more effective and less complicated.
Our body regenerates overnight. For the skin, it means its acid mantle is replenished. Acid mantle is a slightly acidic (between 4.5 – 5.5 pH), protective film that covers your skin and is made up of oils, fatty acids, amino acids, lactic acid and the skin’s own natural moisturizing factors. These protective oils waterproof skin and help keep the skin cells tight and flat (like roof shingles), protecting you from the elements like wind, cold and water and making it harder for bacteria and other microbes to get a toe-hold in your skin. Your acid mantle can be washed or scrubbed away and it can also be neutralized by alkaline soaps and body washes that raise the pH of your skin above 6. If you get that tight squeaky-clean feeling after washing, you’ve probably just stripped away your acid mantle which increases your chances of skin damage and infection.
Look for a properly pH balanced cleanser (hint: just because a cleanser is labeled for sensitive skin does not mean it is pH balanced) and use it in the evening – double cleanse if you wear make-up.
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Yes, I know that this may sound crazy to you since these ingredients are everywhere. Many skin care professionals and skin care companies base their practices and product lines on acids, peels and other ingredients that ultimately wreak havoc on your skin. We have been treating the skin as if it was independent from the rest of the body, a wrapping rather than the organ of detoxification and elimination that it is. Most of the ingredients that have been made heroes for certain conditions cause inflammation on the skin. For example, benzol peroxide is often used in acne products. Some people experience temporary improvement in their breakouts when they start using it, because effectively the ingredient causes inflammation which suppresses the skin’s ability to purge and detoxify. As a result, breakouts stay compacted underneath the skin and even though there may be less of those red, inflamed ones, we have done nothing to address the root cause of acne (hint: it is not an infection; we must look to the digestive, immune and hormonal systems to find a root cause). Long-term use of many of these ingredients is detrimental to skin’s health, its dermal layer is thinned and its top layer is sensitized.
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Unless you wear covering over your head and face, the skin on your face is always exposed to UV rays. That includes when you are sitting in traffic, walking around and shopping, or sitting next to a window. When you add up the hours of exposure over lifetime, you can easily see how much more exposure the face gets as opposed to let’s say, our belly. When we think about sunblock, we are often thinking about hot vacation days and protecting ourselves from sunburns. However, the damaging ultraviolet rays come through on cloudy days as well. Anytime the UV rays reach the skin, they stimulate the production of melanin, the skin’s pigment as its natural protection from the UV rays. There are three different types of melanin – eumelanin, pheomelanin and neuromelanin. Eumelanin makes us develop a suntan and gives color to brown and black hair. That converts UV rays into heat with almost 100% efficiency. Pheomelanin is found in those with red hair and pale skin. Neuromelanin is found in the neurons in the brain.
So, when our face is repeatedly exposed to the UV rays, eventually the DNA of cells will get damaged and will not be able to keep up with the production of melanin to protect the skin. When the body recognized the damage, it triggers the production of a melanin deposit as an umbrella of protection over the area of damage. That deposit is what rises to the skin surface and eventually shows up on the skin as what we label a sunspot.
The best way to prevent these and assist the skin is to apply physical sunblock daily – cream with minimum 10% concentration of non-nano particle zinc as the only active ingredient.
We know that when we are on vacation on the beach, we must reapply our sun protection to prevent getting a sunburn. On the other hand, we don’t usually realize that we need to reapply our sunblock for our face every day to ensure that our skin gets the protection it needs. Most of our guests tell me that they apply SPF lotion every morning and they believe that it gives them proper protection; they often mention how high the SPF factor is that they are using. The reality is that when we apply SPF lotion in the morning, it starts breaking down as it interacts with our natural oils and no matter the SPF, in a few hours, the skin is no longer protected. It is tricky to carry around a face cream and reapply it during the day, especially if you wear makeup. And let’s face it, it is simply not going to happen.
I recommend pure mineral powder with at least 10% zinc as an easier option to reapply sunblock with. Be careful, there are many impostors and powders that are labeled as mineral. They often have minerals in them but they are also full of other fillers, making them less effective. The easiest way to test the purity of your mineral powder is to put some in a glass of water and let it sit for 24 hours. If after 24 hours it is still floating on top and the water is perfectly clear, you have a pure mineral powder. If the water has turned brown and muddy-looking, then you have a mineral powder wannabe and we should help you find a more effective product. I love mineral powder that comes inside of a brush because it is so easy to use. It does not make any mess, and you can leave it in your purse or the center console of your car and reapply every time you get in. It just refreshes your makeup and gives your skin the protection it needs. You can use it on the back of the hands, neck, décolleté, on your kids and husbands – no stinging or running into the eyes.
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The skin is not a wrapping of the body that is disconnected from our body. It is our largest organ. It is an organ of detoxification, elimination and it is reflecting what is happening in the rest of our body. The skin is a messenger that is often trying to give us signs about imbalances that are happening in our digestive, endocrine and immune systems. We are often unaware of those connections and instead try to masque the symptoms of skin conditions with topical products. Any inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, or hives and rashes are various ways the body is using the skin as an organ of detoxification to show hormonal or digestive imbalances and remove what it does not like such as yeasts like candida. Using topical ingredients such as benzol peroxide, acids or retinols might give you a temporary illusion of results because these products cause inflammation of the skin and suppress the skin’s ability to detoxify and purge.
Most often when we look at the skin of a guest that has acne and is using the common topical, we still see the congestions and breakouts on the skin. But they are imbedded deeper and do not result in as many red pustules but make no mistake, the condition was not improved and the health of the skin is worsened. To add insult to injury, these inflammatory conditions are often prescribed long-course antibiotics. Antibiotics are not effective because inflammatory conditions are not a result of an infection and moreover, they further harm the digestive system and worsen things like candida imbalance. So, treat your skin as the deserving organ it is and along with using topical skin care products that support the health of your skin, make sure your digestion is working like clockwork, hormones are balanced and the immune system is strong. Find an esthetician that collaborates with a naturopathic doctor in your community or that has additional training in holistic health and nutrition.
If there was only one topical product that you could use on your skin, I would guide you toward a high quality physical sunblock. If I get a teenager in for a facial, that is the one product I spend a lot of time teaching them about. Signs of aging of the skin are 90% a result of cumulative exposure to the UV rays – we are talking about the sum total of the hours our face is exposed to the UV rays over a lifetime. There are so many sun protection products and unfortunately most of them are loaded with junky ingredients, hormonal disruptors and don’t do what you think they do. So, you want to look for a sunblock that ideally has zinc oxide as the only active ingredient. You want the zinc oxide to be non-nano particles zinc oxide. Sometime you can find ones that also have titanium dioxide and that is ok as long as that ingredient is non-nano particles. You want the zinc oxide to be at least 10% concentration so that it is effective and gives you enough coverage. Often when you find a sunblock that meets those requirements, you will realize that it leaves you white as a ghost. There are a few sunblock products on the market that coat their zinc, so that it does not leave the skin white but these can usually be purchased only through a licensed esthetician. You can also use mineral powders that have color and contain zinc. These products have pigment and therefore solve the issue with zinc-based creams leaving you white. Do not just pick up any sunscreen. Find an esthetician who will take time showing you different options and explaining the details of sunblock. If you are already putting a sun protection product on your skin in the mornings, it might as well be one that is effective.
Serum is the second product that can change and improve how your skin behaves. If a serum is properly formulated, it will help deliver ingredients to the cells that repair any DNA damage the skin has suffered and keep the skin healthy. Just like any other product, it is important that the serum is formulated in a way that the ingredients penetrate into the layers of the skin where the body can utilize them. Find a skin care provider that will help you look at your existing skin care routine, analyze the ingredients in the products that you are using, and help you simplify it and make it more effective.
Daily drink at least as many ounces of water as ½ of your body weight in pounds. Increase that amount if you drink any caffeinated beverage or are active and lose water through perspiration. Sip on your water throughout the day to keep your cells happy. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, juice some lemons or antioxidant-rich fruit extracts.
I invite you to come find us on our website SpaRemedease.com. You will be able to sign up for a trial gift card that you can apply toward your first treatment of $75 or more. I encourage you to sign up for a digital skin analysis, along with your first skin treatment. It will help us be more accurate and effective with your treatment plan and home care recommendations so that you can finally see the improvements in your skin and overall health that you desire.