Author Archives: hannahsowdinc

Is my skin dry or dehydrated?

What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Dry is a skin type and dehydrated is a skin condition.

Dry skin comes from lack of oil in the skin and is usually genetic or age related since oil production slows with age.

Dehydrated skin comes from lack of water in the skin and can depend on the environment, both inside and outside the body. Dehydrated skin is often a transient condition.

Skin can be any combination of dry or oily and dehydrated or hydrated.

Surface dehydration is very common due to lifestyle factors such as drinking too little water, drinking too much alcohol, extreme weather conditions, or over exfoliation.

What’s the best way to treat dry or dehydrated skin?

Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Stop drinking alcohol. Topical skincare products work to seal moisture in your skin so hydration from within is important.

A hydrating serum should be your first step after cleansing. Apply moisturizer on top of the serum to lock in hydration.

Always wear SPF. Skincare products with SPF form an invisible film on your skin to protect you from the sun, this does double duty to protect you other harsh elements as well.

If your skin is oily yet dehydrated, you will benefit from a lightweight hydrating serum and moisturizer. Keeping your skin properly hydrated will help balance excess oil production.

Hydrated skin is healthy skin!

The Oxygenceuticals AstroDome Facial

The Oxygenceuticals AstroDome Facial is the newest addition to the treatment menu at Hannah Sowd Skin Care.

The Oxygenceuticals AstroDome Facial is an 8 step treatment that combines pure oxygen, LED therapy, near infrared, and anion with a serum infusion chosen for your skin type. This cutting edge technology from Korea is designed to to improve problematic skin conditions and rejuvenate the complexion. 

This high tech treatment is uniquely effective because it can be customized to suit any skin type. The infusion serum and oxygen dome setting can be changed according to your skin type and condition the day of the treatment.

The benefits of LED therapy include skin rejuvenation, brightening, elasticity improvement through collagen activation, acne reduction, wound healing, and reduced inflammation. Your Astrodome Facial will include blue, red, or violet LED depending on your skin condition.

The 8 step AstroDome Facial protocol is designed to improved skin texture, even skin tone, sooth damaged skin, increase skin elasticity, refine pores, and heal blemishes.

Book your treatment now!

Welcome to My New Home!

Hannah Sowd Skin Care is now located at The Healing Arts Building, 1801 Bush Street, Suite 201.

The new location is less than 2 blocks from the former storefront, on the south side of Bush Street at the intersection of Octavia (across from Octavia Restaurant).

1801 Bush Street is the large white building with a garden courtyard in front, the entrance is located thru the courtyard. The sign on the corner says Healing Arts Building.

The new studio is on the second floor with a large window for light and air flow. The second floor is accessible by one flight of stairs or a short elevator ride.

There is a parking lot south of the building, off Octavia, which is run by the Queen Anne Hotel (located on the corner of Sutter and Octavia). You may park in the lot for $5 per hour. Please pay the hotel directly if you choose to use this option.

Please make a note of the details in your Genbook confirmation email before your next appointment. It will contain an access code for the front door of the building as well as the public restrooms which are located on the first floor of the building. Allow yourself enough time to use the restroom before your appointment begins.

If you arrive early for your appointment, you may let yourself in the building and relax in the waiting area in the second floor hallway. There are also chairs in the garden if the weather is nice (and you are wearing sunscreen!).

When my office door is closed, I am with another client; please do not knock or try the door handle. The door will be left ajar when I am ready for you. You may text me if you have questions, I generally have my phone on Do Not Disturb while at work so I won’t receive a phone call.

I look forward to seeing you in my new studio!

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I’m not alone when I say the last year of my life has strayed from the norm and been downright rough at times. My entire world shifted, sometimes good and sometimes bad.

I love a good routine so constant shifting isn’t my happy place, I’ve made extra effort to include things in my day to day life that make me smile.

Here are a few of my favorite things at the moment:

Early morning walks

I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful neighborhood so out my front door in any direction and I’ll see a view that has me reaching for my camera. In the COVID-era, the less populated streets of the early morning feel safer and moving my body is always a great start to my day.

R&Co Spiritualized Dry Shampoo Mist

I could say I wash my hair once a week because it’s healthier but the fact is, it seems like a lot of work when I’m not going out. But I’m still exercising and my husband has to live with my dirty hair so I was super excited to find R&Co Spiritualized Dry Shampoo Mist. Spray it on at night and wake up feeling soft and clean.

Cult &King Balm

During an online consult with a new client she mentioned her love for Balm from Cult & King. Of course I jotted it down in my notes and jumped right on Google. With excessive hand washing and no professional nail services, my hands and feet were waiting for this product.

Standard Jumpsuit Alex Mill

Working from home, the seeing clients on video calls, walking the dog; none of it requires an “outfit” yet wearing leggings and a tee shirt makes me feel underdressed. Then I discovered the Alex Mill jumpsuit collection, they make several variations but I love the Standard. It’s functional yet surprisingly flattering. Comfortable enough to lounge around the house but pulled together enough so I can run to the store without changing. Highly recommend.

Yoga With Adriene

You probably already know and love Adriene but for the 2 of you that haven’t tried one of her YouTube classes yet, now is the time. I saw her referred to as “the Mr Rogers of yoga” and that’s pretty much spot on. You don’t need to be flexible and you don’t need a yoga background.

Milk Frother

The majority of my meals are coming from my own kitchen these days and that includes coffee drinks. A few months ago, I broke down and purchased an inexpensive gadget to froth milk, I should have done it sooner! Turns out frothy milk is the answer to early morning happiness.

High Frequency Wand For Acne

The high frequency wand is a relatively inexpensive tool used to help combat acne breakouts at home or during a facial.

Think of this electric wand as a high tech spot treatment which employs argon gas to kill bacteria. 

You will find a number of options available on Amazon for less than $100, most are categorized as “argon” or “neon”. 

Argon is a blue or violet light which kills acne bacteria. Neon is an orange light designed for anti-aging, I’ve never seen results from a neon high frequency- invest in a good LED panel for anti-aging benefits. 

The wand comes with an array of attachments, I like the “mushroom” for ease of use. Most importantly, keep the wand moving at all times. Holding it in one place can damage your skin!

Sadly, Drinking Alcohol Does Accelerate Skin Aging

I’m a proponent of a balanced lifestyle. I want to believe I can treat and hydrate my way out the negative effects of occasional alcohol consumption.

Am I fooling myself? Probably.

We know drinking alcohol dehydrates our body and makes the skin less elastic. Alcohol also increases blood vessel dilation which leads to redness, puffy eyes, and inflammation.

The older I get, the longer these after effects (and the pounding headache…) seem to hang around.

Sadly, there’s evidence to show the impact doesn’t stop there. Alcohol consumption accelerates the aging process of the skin and there’s no way around it.

Effect of alcohol use. Regression analyses suggested a relationship between alcohol use and aging severity that was statistically significant for under-eye puffiness, mid-face volume loss, and blood vessels on the cheeks.”

Under-eye puffiness, mid-face volume loss, and blood vessels on the cheeks? Ugh. Regular alcohol consumption affects much more than just the hydration levels of our skin.

Corrective treatments for volume loss of the face and broken blood vessels require expensive, invasive procedures like dermal fillers and lasers.

It’s time to rethink my alcohol consumption!

“I tried a sample of a skincare product, it didn’t “work”.”

Skincare samples are cute and fun, everyone loves getting free samples.

Skincare samples generally hold 2-5 applications of a product. If your skin needs exfoliation sometimes a product can deliver “wow” results from a single application but using most products a handful of times will not determine the longterm results.

The best way to determine if a product will work for your skin is using it on a regular basis for 30-60 days or two full skin cell cycles.

So what is the point of skincare samples?

Samples are a great way to experience the texture and scent of a product. They are wonderful if you have allergies or if you prefer a certain sensation in your skincare routine.

When a moisturizer feels too heavy or light, a cleanser too rich or foamy, we may form a mental block when it comes to our skincare routine.

Your skincare routine should make you happy!

Don’t force yourself to use a product because you think it’s “good for you” if you don’t like the way it feels. The skincare market is saturated with options and sample sizes are a good way to find what will please your senses.

Want a 3 Day Turnaround Kit of product samples created just for you? Have an Online Skin Care Consult with Hannah!

Should I Use The Same Brand For My Entire Skin Care Routine?

The short answer? You don’t have too.

If a skin care product is formulated correctly, it should work well in a variety of situations.

Any skin care product that is dependent on what comes before or after in the application process should be sold as a kit.

When building your skincare routine, pay attention to the active ingredients in each product instead of the brand.

Your daily routine should include a retinol for evening, a vitamin c serum (or other antioxidant) for day, and a good physical SPF. These can be from the same brand of three different brands that each work well for your skin.

The idea that products need to work as a team was very popular in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s nothing more than a dated sales pitch!

Is Your Skin Suddenly Dry?

After 6+ months of wearing a protective face mask and dealing with breakouts, your skin feels dry and dehydrated. What’s going on?

I’ve heard this complaint from numerous clients over the past week so I’ll share my thoughts.

The skin loses moisture as we transition to fall/winter so part of the change is normal seasonal fluctuations.

Here in the Bay Area, we are experiencing extremely windy weather conditions which saps moisture from the surface of the skin.

Face masks made from cotton will absorb moisture, including from the surface of your skin.

What can I do for my seasonal dry skin?

  1. Switch to a silk face mask.
  2. (If you can safely) remove your mask for 15 minutes every 4 hours to give your skin a break.
  3. Check your water intake. When wearing a protective face mask, we are less inclined to sip water throughout the day. 
  4. Wear your physical SPF! This can help prevent excessive moisture loss and protect the skin from wind and cold.
  5. Add a serum under your moisturizer.
  6. Make sure your diet includes enough healthy fats like nuts and avocados.
  7. Use a gentle exfoliant once a week to remove dead, dry skin and allow moisture to absorb.

Do you have questions about your skincare routine? Have a Virtual Skin Care Consult with Hannah.

How Often Should I Exfoliate?

Your exfoliation routine depends on your skin type, your environment, and the product you are using.

Oily and acne prone skin requires more frequent and aggressive exfoliation but it’s not a step to be skipped if your skin is dry.

The skin cell cycle slows as we age and regular exfoliation is the best way to assistant sluggish cells. Exfoliation allows new skin skin cells to flourish and can encourage collagen production.

Oily and acne prone skin can benefit from daily exfoliation to keep pore buildup to a minimum. Dry skin needs a gentle exfolation 1-2 times a week, depending on external factors like the weather.

What Exfoliating Product Should I Use?

There are three main categories of exfoliating products: physical, chemical, and enzyme.

Physical exfoliants use rough particles and friction to remove dead skin. These products are wonderful to exfoliate skin on the body. They often come in the form of salt, sugar, or pumice scrubs.

Physical exfoliants are not appropriate for most skin types to use on the face. The rough pieces can cause micro tears in the skin and the amount of friction necessary to remove dead skin leaves many skin types unnecessarily red and irritated.

Chemical and enzyme exfoliating products are better suited for the face.

Enzyme exfoliants are appropriate for most skin types. Enzymes are made from fruits acids and work on the surface of the skin. They gently digest dead skin cells and promote glowing skin. Enzyme products require several minutes to do their magic and can be assisted by steam from the shower.

You can safely use an enzyme exfoliant several times a week. It will assist with clogged pores, dry skin, blackheads, and rough patches.

You can use an enzyme exfoliant weekly and a chemical exfoliant nightly, especially if your skin is oily and you are prone to clogged pore.

Chemical exfoliants work below the skins surface to promote new skin cell turnover and collagen production. These products include ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, retinol, and lactic acid.

Chemical exfoliation is very popular and effective. Start slow and build your tolerance to this type of product, it is possible to compromise your skin barrier with too much chemical exfoliation.

Add one chemical exfoliating product to your night time routine. You may need to begin with every other night to build tolerance. Commit to using the product for 90 days to asses the results. Make sure you are getting enough hydration and sun protection during the day.

Do you have questions about how often you should be exfoliating? Have a Virtual Skin Care Consult with Hannah.

The Virtual Skin Care Consult

This year hasn’t gone as planned (and I don’t think I’m alone!). I’ve had to pivot my business plan so many times I’ve lost count.

One thing is certain, I miss seeing clients.

Since the future of face to face services is uncertain, I created a Virtual Skin Care Consult.

A Virtual Skin Care Consult gives us an opportunity to discuss your skin care needs “live”, I can see what is going on with your skin at the moment and give you real time feedback.

Every consult begins with an online intake form. If you are a brand new client you will complete a new set of of forms, if we have worked together in the past you will provide an update for me.

When I receive your intake information, I do a careful assessment before we schedule time to meet. The virtual meeting takes place via FaceTime, Google Meet, or Skype. The consult takes about 45 minutes, depending on what we need to discuss.

Each consult is different, we talk about what you need right now. We can discuss a specific issue or work on an entirely new skincare routine. It’s your time so we can work on whatever you need.

I enjoy the virtual consults so much! I’ve established relationships with new clients thousands of miles away and gotten a peek into the lives of local clients quarantined at home.

To schedule a Virtual Skin Care Consultant click here or shoot me an email with any questions.

Self Care When You Can’t Get A Massage

Prior to quarantine, I had a professional massage every 3-4 weeks. March 13 was my last massage appointment so I’ve been creative with ways to keep my body relaxed.

This year gave us new challenges, we have fewer outside resources and more stress from the unknown.

In addition to my daily routine of exercise, hydration, and meditation I try to add one or two things that help my muscles relax.

I have a warm bath with Epsom salts 2-3 times a week. This is no substitute for a mineral soak at the Korean Spa but it helps me wind down at the end of the day.

I use my heated neck pillow almost daily, the warm weight keeps my neck and shoulders more relaxed. Sometimes I use it when I’m sitting at my desk and it helps prevent my shoulders from creeping up towards my ears.

I learned about the RoFlex PRO from my Run Club and I love it for self massage of my arms and legs. There’s a bit of a learning curve but once you figure out how it works best for your body, it’s a handy tool to keep around. I’m on my computer more these days and my forearms have felt the change, this tool has helped!

Even when getting regular massage, nothing beats a good session with a foam roller. This is a good comprehensive video to help you get started.

It may be awhile before personal services resume so we decided to invest in a TheraGun. I find it super effective and worth the money, especially if you have a partner to use it on the hard to reach areas. It provides targeted, deep pressure, almost as good as a human!

I look forward to having a professional massage when it’s safe but until then, I’ll keep up my self care routine at home.

Wash Your Face

When was the last time you washed your face? Not just a rinse in the shower but a full 2 minute lather with facial cleanser?

Days, weeks, and months blend together during this extended quarantine and sometimes our routines get lost. 

Our lives look different now versus 6 months ago; work from home, school from home, PPE in public and at work.

Have you purchased a new bottle of cleanser since the pandemic started? If the answer is no, you’re not washing your face enough.

No matter where you spend your day and what you have on your face, your skin continues to shed cells and produce oil. Regular cleansing is the first step to keeping your skin balanced and healthy.

Wash your face:

  • when you wake up in the morning
  • after wearing PPE for an extended period of time 
  • before and after exercise 
  • before going to bed at night

Find a cleanser you love. It should leave your skin feeling clean but not dry or tight. If you like the feel of a cleansing brush or other tool, use it once a day in the evening.

Take the opportunity to massage your face for a few minutes while cleansing. Massage stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage to increase the health of your skin. Make it a ritual!

Do you have questions about cleansing or your skin care routine in general? Schedule a virtual consult with Hannah.

Skin Care For Runners

Distance runners each have a unique skin type, but certain aspects of skin care can apply across the board. Exposure to the elements for long periods of time take a toll on the skin so proper care is important.

Wash your face.

Wash your face morning and night as well as before and after your run.

Yes, I just told you to wash your face 3-4 times on the days you run. And yes, you need to wash your face in the morning before you roll out the door in your running shoes.

Overnight your skin has been busy shedding cells and producing oil. You also (hopefully) have a nice layer of moisturizer or treatment cream on from your evening routine. Start with a clean slate before you get sweaty.

Running in the afternoon? Your skin gets dirty from walking around the city even without makeup. Look at your car windshield after an hour of driving. Or when working from home, look at the windowsill of your open window…

A quick cleanse before you slap on sunscreen and sweat thru a run does a lot to keep your pores clean and your skin healthy.

Find a gentle cleanser that removes dirt and oil but doesn’t over dry your skin. If your cleanser leaves you feeling “squeaky clean”, it’s too aggressive.

Use a physical SPF.

A physical SPF (sometimes labeled “mineral”) is one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Every other SPF ingredient in a chemical SPF.

Physical SPF forms an invisible barrier on the skin to reflect the rays of the sun and keep the surface of the skin cool. It helps prevent sun induced pigmentation as well as protect from skin cancer and aging. This layer of protection also helps minimize skin irritation from wind and cold.

Chemical SPF absorbs the rays of the sun which can heat the surface of the skin. It may cause the skin to flush and doesn’t protect against sun induced pigmentation. Chemical SPF is the sunscreen that burns when it gets in your eyes!

The majority of SPF products marketed for “sport” are water resistant for up to 80 minutes. No SPF is waterproof. A general guideline is reapply every hour if you are outdoors and sweating.

Choose an SPF of 30 or higher and check the percentage of active ingredients to determine the strength. The back of the tube will list the active ingredients separate from the full ingredient list, a good SPF will have at least 10% combined zinc and titanium dioxide.

Double your protection with shade elements like a hat or visor when you will be out for longer than an hour. My running buff works as a face mask AND prevents the back of my neck from sunburn!

Schedule a yearly mole check with your dermatologist. This should cover your entire body and scalp, be sure to point out any moles you think may have changed during the year. Be honest about your sun exposure and sunscreen compliance.

Two of my favorite sunscreens for running are:

Neutrogena SheerZinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50+

Use a gentle exfoliant.

In addition to your daily cleansing routine, exfoliating once or twice a week will help keep your pores clean and your complexion healthy. I like an enzyme or clay mask (or both) for active outdoor clients.

Enzyme exfoliation is gentle yet effective. The active ingredients loosen dead cells and soften rough spots without sensitizing the skin to the sun. These products generally can be used several times a week with no adverse effects.

Clay masks are also a good form of gentle exfoliation and balancing for combination or oily skin.

I’m not a fan of physical exfoliation for the face (scrubs or face washes with beads). In order to remove dead skin, you have to be quite aggressive with the product which can irritate sensitive skin and cause redness or even micro tears.

Chemical exfoliation (like glycolic acid or Retin A) is very popular and useful for a variety of conditions but it can sensitize the skin to the elements. If you spend more than a few hours a week outdoors, consult a professional before you incorporate it into your routine.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…

Sweating is a funny thing. Initially it encourages our skin to produce more oil but after an extended period of time the skin will lose moisture.

Your skin may feel oily some days but it you still need a good moisturizer with antioxidants to replace lost hydration and help heal the skin barrier.

Nighttime is the best opportunity to replenish your skin. A heavy moisturizer during the day can mix with sweat and lead to clogged pores. 

Topical skin care works to seal in moisture and heal the skin barrier. No amount of topical product can hydrate your skin of you aren’t getting enough water, replacement electrolytes, and healthy fat in your diet.

Have questions about your skin? Book a Virtual Skin Care Consult with Hannah.

Hannah Sowd Skin Care COVID Studio Procedures

*Updated December, 2022*

My goal is to create a safe environment for everyone at Hannah Sowd Skin Care. This post is periodically updated with the latest studio procedures and policies.

The studio is currently open at 1801 Bush Street Suite 201. I am fully vaccinated with my booster shots and all clients must be fully vaccinated to have a treatment at the studio. Please have proof of your COVID vaccination available at your first appointment.

Winter of 2022 has brought us another COVID surge and extreme flu season. Receiving a skincare treatment without a mask may put you at risk even with the precautions in place at the studio.

Please schedule your appointment online and check your confirmation email, it contains important information about building access and a link to the mandatory COVID Treatment Consent Form.

Every client must complete the COVID Treatment Consent Form before each appointment. This form is linked in your confirmation email as well as on the Services page of

Please wash your hands before we begin your appointment. The restroom is located on the first floor of 1801 Bush St. to the right of the lobby and the elevator. The restroom door code is in your confirmation email.

We cannot accommodate guests in the office during your treatment. There are multiple waiting areas in the building as well as the park in front on 1801 Bush St.

Do not come to your appointment if you are feeling sick; a sore throat, loss of your sense of taste or smell, a cough, runny nose, fever, or chills.

Do not come to your appointment if you may have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID.

Contact me ASAP if you are not feeling well and cannot make your appointment, every time slot is valuable. Late cancellations and no call/no show appointments will be charged accordingly.

Window ventilation, multiple air filters, and increased sanitation measures have been implemented throughout the studio to help keep everyone safe. Please let me know if you have questions.

Thank you for your support!

Is Your Face Mask Causing Acne?

The CDC recommends wearing a face covering in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but what about the skin underneath?

Spring is here and outdoor temperatures are rising. My face is sweating more than normal while running errands with a mask and I have a crop of pimples on my chin as a result.

My goal is to keep my skin clear and protect myself (and those around me) so I took a look at my daily skin care routine.

I wash my face morning and night but not when I return from running errands outside (contrary to my own advice). My skin gets dry easily so I added pore therapy exfoliating toner to my routine when I remove my mask instead of a full cleanse.

I swapped my current products for a lighter SPF and day lotion, plus added a spot treatment for my chin. I continued masking on a weekly basis alternating between oil absorbing clay and a hydrating treatment option.

I incorporated a blue LED treatment three times a week to kill the bacteria. This is a good option for spot treating acne at home.

I also washed my mask. At the moment, I rely on one cloth mask with a charcoal filter left over from the California wildfires but I have 2 more on the way. The goal is to rotate 3 masks, keeping them clean on the inside and out.

When I return to work at my studio, I will be wearing a face mask for 8+ hours a day. I plan to keep up the above routine as well as incorporate more exfoliation and hydration.

How has your skin responded to wearing a mask?

Do I Need To Wash My Face If I Don’t Leave My House?

I paused before applying SPF this morning, about to take my dog for her morning walk. When was the last time I washed my face?

Only three days into a weeks long “shelter in place” mandate for San Francisco county and my skin care routine is already suffering.

How should you care for your skin during this uncertain time?

Continue your normal daily routine whether you are working from home or providing an essential service out in the world. Your skin produces sebum, sheds dead cells, and collects dirt either way.

Are you spending more time in front of a computer, tablet, or phone screen? For most of us working from home, screen time has increased so adjust your topical antioxidants accordingly.

When you return home after being outside for any reason, wash your hands then wash your face. A clean face can help keep germs away from your nose and mouth.

Wash your hands before you apply any product to your face, even if you have been at home all day. If your facial skin becomes dry from extra cleansing, switch to a cream cleanser.

Extra washing will dehydrate the skin on your hands so add a rich hand cream to your routine both morning and night. Apply a protective ointment like Aquaphor to your cuticles.

Make sure your water intake is adequate. Changes to our normal routine make it easy to forget to stay hydrated.

Running low on skin care products? The online store is open for business.

Need a new skincare routine? Have an Online Skin Care Consult with Hannah.