Author Archives: hannahsowdinc

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.

FIVE Simple Anti-Aging Tips

ONE: Clean your face morning and night. Find a cleansing routine that works for your skin type and do it twice a day. Don’t sleep with a dirty face!

TWO: Wear SPF every day. This is no joke. Use a physical SPF year round, no matter the climate. All the fancy night creams won’t save your skin if you don’t use daily SPF.

THREE: Use an antioxidant during the day. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, boost the effectiveness of your SPF, and fight free radical damage. Use an antioxidant serum or lotion under your SPF every day.

FOUR: Use retinol at night. Retinol comes in many strengths and formulas, find one that works for you. It will keep acne and wrinkles at bay.

FIVE: Drink water. Drink half your body weight in ounces every day, more if you have caffeine or alcohol. No skin care product or makeup can help if your system is dehydrated.

The term “anti-aging” conjures thoughts of expensive creams and invasive procedures. The sum of your daily routine also has a profound affect on how you age. Commit to a consistent, daily routine for your best skin now and in the future.

Will Sleeping In Makeup Ruin My Skin?

Dolly Parton famously admits to sleeping with a full face of makeup just in case of a midnight emergency but it’s generally considered a bad idea.

Most dermatologists agree, sleeping in your makeup is one of the worst things you can do for your skin.

Why is it so bad to sleep with makeup on?

Foundation and concealer are occlusive so they can block pores and lead to acne. These products are designed to be worn for a limited amount of time then removed to give the skin a chance to recover.

Bacteria, dirt, and pollution can get trapped under makeup and do serious damage to skin, including cause a possible infection.

Sleeping in makeup (or with dirty skin in general) can also accelerate the aging process. Clean skin has the opportunity to renew itself while you sleep, dirt and bacteria get in the way of this process.

Take the time to wash your face before bed. It’s a simple way to get healthier skin, fewer breakouts, and more youthful skin in the long run.

Is Your Pillowcase Affecting Your Skin?

One third of our lifetime is spent sleeping so it makes sense to consider the surface where we lie our carefully treated skin!

Nighttime skin care routines involve cleansing then carefully applying skin care products, but what happens for the next 8 hours?

How does your sleeping surface affect your skin?

Skin continues to produce oil while you sleep. Cotton fabric absorbs oil. Whatever is on your hair (hair products, oil, dirt etc.) ends up on you pillowcase and eventually on your face.

Change your pillowcase at least once a week.

Do I need a silk pillowcase?

A small clinical trial showed a reduction in breakouts when participants with acne slept on a silk pillowcase. Silk absorbs less oil and dirt than cotton and also reduces friction on your skin and hair.

If you are acne prone, a silk pillowcase could help. The bottom line is, silk or cotton, make sure your sleeping surface is clean for the healthiest skin possible.

Does Drinking Alcohol Impact Your Skin?

There’s always a reason to celebrate with a festive cocktail or a glass of wine but how does drinking alcohol affect your skin?

First, drinking alcohol is a diuretic so it dehydrates your entire system. Your body pulls moisture from every available source, including your skin. The morning after drinking your pores look larger and your wrinkles are more prominent due to lack of moisture.

In addition to dehydration, drinking alcohol causes inflammation and a histamine reaction in the body. The most obvious sign of this reaction is feeling puffy the morning after drinking. A histamine reaction can also lead to an acne flareup, redness, or rash on various parts of the body depending on a persons sensitivity.

Drinking alcohol more than once or twice a week, doesn’t allow the body time to recover between assaults so the inflammation can lead to weakened skin structure and premature aging.

Can I have an alcoholic beverage and not affect my skin?

Think of alcoholic drinks in the same category as dessert; they are for indulging once in awhile, not on a daily basis.

When you decide to indulge, consider a low alcohol option and stay away from sugary mixers.

Drink an extra glass of water for each alcoholic drink. Not only will the extra water soften the blow to your system, alternating beverages slows your alcohol consumption when you are out with friends.

No matter how many alcoholic drinks you consume, do not skip your nighttime skincare routine! Do what you can to fake a full night of sleep the next day.

The Environmental Impact of Skin Care

You want nice skin but you also care about the planet, how can you balance your concerns?

Several large companies have recently made commitments to cut back on post consumer waste by using recycled plastic, refillable bottles, and less outer packaging. This is a huge step in the right direction!

Some small tips can go a long way when it comes to environmental impact from personal care products:

Looks for items with the least amount of packaging. Excessive wrapping can look pretty and make it feel like you are getting a “gift” but most of it ends up in the landfill.

Shop locally. Not only do you support your neighbors and community, but you lessen the environmental impact of shipping and packing materials.

Use up all the products you have. If a cream is too rich for your face, use it on your body. Don’t throw away perfectly good products!

Streamline your routine to 2-3 products per season. Rotate your products as necessary when a bottle is empty. 5-6 open products run the risk of expiring before you can use them all.

Recycle your empty packages! This may seem obvious but if there’s no recycling bin in the bathroom it’s an easy one to miss.

Donate unused items. Skin care can be an impulse buy and return policies can be strict. Check with your local homeless shelter, many of them welcome donations of unused (or gently used) personal care products.

When Should I Start Using Anti-Aging Skin Care?

“When should I start using anti-aging skin care? I want to prevent aging before it happens!”

I hear this from my clients often and the answer is simple, you probably ARE using anti-aging skincare.

Sunscreen is the most important step to maintaining youthful skin and this is a product we should use every day at every age.

Most exfoliants and antioxidants (like retinol and vitamin C) may have been recommended to help with issues like acne and pigmentation but in the long run, also help with signs of aging.

If you are seeing fewer breakouts and more fine lines, check your routine for drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These are both great to use as spot treatment for the occasional pimple but not in a cleanser or cream since their job is to absorb oil.

Check your moisturizer, do you need a heavier product? You may want to consider layering a serum and a mid-weight lotion to get the power of anti-aging actives without clogging your pores.

Ingredients like hyaluronic acid provide intense moisture without being heavy.

Leave the super heavy creams for your grandma (or your ski vacation). Your face doesn’t need to feel like an oil slick to keep wrinkles at bay.

RUHAKU Organic Japanese Skin Care

RUHAKU is the first organic anti-aging skincare brand from Okinawa, using the unique anti-oxidant powers of the Gettou leaves.

“Gettou is a herb classified in zingiberaceae that grows up to 2-3 meters height even in a harsh soil with strong UV radiation.

Large and lush green leaves of Gettou have antiseptic and antibacterial effects. In Okinawa, they have been used for wrapping foods and insect repellent.

The Gettou that grows in the strong sunlight and sea breeze has a strong antioxidant effect.”

RUHAKU is the latest addition to the offerings at Hannah Sowd Skin Care, for more information visit our online shop.

“I have an office job, do I need to use SPF every day?”

“I work inside all day in front of a computer, do I really need to an SPF in my daily skin care routine?”

One word answer: YES.

Do you commute to and from work when the sun is shining? Do you leave your office for lunch or to grab coffee? Do you have a window in your office?

You are exposed to UVA and UVB rays even when you aren’t actively in the sun.

Here in San Francisco weather can be unpredictable. I once got a mild sunburn on the back of my neck while eating lunch in Union Square.

Additionally, when you use a physical SPF (like you know you should) you protect your skin from HEV light emitting from the technology around you.

Find a sunscreen product you like, layer it over an antioxidant serum for maximum protection, and make it part of your daily routine.

Pre-Holiday Skin Care

Summer is over and your natural glow is starting to fade, what’s the best way to prepare for the holidays?

First and foremost, it’s time to exfoliate. Chances are, you spent time outside and out of your normal environment in the past three months. Plus, (hopefully) you used more SPF!

Now is a great time to schedule a chemical peel or a Microdermabrasion Facial. Slough off the top layer of dead skin, clean out your pores, and start new for fall.

Take some time to revisit your home care routine, maybe add a brightening product to the mix. Botanical brightening products help bring back your natural glow without using of harsh bleaching ingredients.

Lastly, the temperature outside is cooling and days are getting shorter but daily physical SPF is still as important as ever.

How To Be A Good Client

We all want a great skin care treatment but what can you do to enhance your session?

Let’s assume you have the basics covered: show up to your appointment a few minutes early, cancel or reschedule at least 24 hours in advance etc.

Here are a few tips to help you have the best treatment possible:

  1. Bring your current skin care regime (or photos of the products) to your first session. Knowledge of the ingredients you are currently using might influence the treatment you receive.
  2. Have an open mind and communicate your concerns. You scheduled a treatment with a professional so trust their opinion. However, feel free to ask questions and inquire about the process along the way.
  3. If you want to see a change in your skin, commit to the suggested treatment plan and provide feedback as necessary. If you are in love with a certain product and don’t want to switch, be honest! If you need a skin care regime at a lower price point, be honest! If you don’t communicate your needs, you will not see the results you want.
  4. Be honest about how much time and money you want to commit to your skin care routine. Skin is a living organ that requires maintenance. For best results, establish a plan that fits your lifestyle!

How To Apply Physical SPF

There’s no question, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide the best protection for your skin and are healthiest for the environment.

Sunscreen products that contain these ingredients are usually labeled “mineral” or “physical”. Check the active ingredient list on the back of the label, it will contain zinc or titanium (or both).

Here are a few tips for applying physical SPF:

Apply physical SPF on clean skin or over a serum only. Layering too many products can feel uncomfortable. If you need extra moisture, consider an SPF with moisturizer.

Use a nickel sized dollop of SPF to cover your entire face. The length of the top portion of your pinky finger is about the correct amount.

Apply the product to your hands, rub them together to warm the product then spread it all over your face, neck and ears. Use outward feathering strokes to blend it in. Do not dab the product on the face like concealer then attempt to blend it in.

Wait 2-3 minutes after applying. Brush your teeth. Do your hair. Some physical SPF products appear a little white initially but then it disappears.

What Is The Skin Barrier?

And why is the skin barrier important?

The skin barrier is the outermost layer of our skin and has two main functions.

First, it keeps out harmful substances and second, it keeps in necessary elements like water and electrolytes. This layer of skin also produces antimicrobial proteins, lipids, and peptides to create an invisible protective shield.

The skin barrier is largely responsible for the general health of our skin. When the skin barrier is compromised, you may experience inflammation, redness, breakouts, rashes, dryness, tightness, and generally sensitive skin.

How do you fix a compromised skin barrier?

Look at the exfoliating products in your skin care routine. Any product that contains a physical scrub, a chemical exfoliant (retinol, glycolic, AHA, BHA, salicylic acid) or an enzyme exfoliant can compromise your skin barrier.

How often are you exfoliating? Over exfoliation is the number one cause of a compromised skin barrier

Is your cleanser a cream or a gel? Gel cleansers can be more drying, especially if they contain exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid or AHA’s. If your skin barrier is compromised, use a cream cleanser.

Are you nourishing your skin with antioxidants? Use a serum or cream with calming, nourishing ingredients twice a day to help your skin rebuild the lipid barrier.

A compromised skin barrier is often a temporary condition but you need to identify the cause and change your habits. The right skin care products and treatments will heal the skin barrier and eliminate sensitivity.

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy is commonly referred to as LED which stands for Light Emitting Diode. The three most common types of LED therapy are blue, red, and near-infared.

Blue LED’s are designed to kill acne bacteria and clear existing breakouts at the surface level of the skin.

Red LED‘s will penetrate deeper to increase collagen and elastin production in the dermis.

Near-infared LED‘s penetrate the deepest and focus on increasing circulation while reducing inflammation in the tissue.

There is an LED for every skin condition which makes it the perfect addition to your next treatment!

How to Care For Your Neck and Decolletage

The skin from your jawline to your collarbone is exposed to the elements for hours every day. Do you include it in your skin care routine?

What is the best way to care for this delicate area?

The skin on the neck and chest has fewer oil glands than the skin on the face which makes it more sensitive. When considering products for this area, focus on hydration and protection.

Cleanse the area with a nourishing cream cleanser. Follow with a hydrating cream with calming ingredients. Focus on anti-aging formulas with ingredients like peptides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.

Do a patch test before using products that contain retinol or glycolic acid on your neck. If your skin responds well, use them 1-2 times per week but follow with a hydrating cream.

Use a physical SPF every day regardless of exposure and time of year. I apply my SPF to my face, neck, and chest before getting dressed ensure maximum coverage.

Professional treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion are a great way to treat fine lines and pigmentation on the chest and neck. More intense treatments like Ultherapy are required to treat skin laxity in this area.

How To Get The Most From Your Skin Care Products

You’ve found skin care products that work for your skin but are you using them correctly?

Consider the following for each product in your skin care routine:

  1. Time of day: Should I use this product in the morning or at night? Products that contain ingredients like Retinol should only be used at night whereas antioxidants like vitamin c are most effective during the day under your SPF.
  2. Frequency of use: Is this product meant to be used daily? Weekly? Skin care products need a schedule to be effective. Figure out a streamlined morning routine, a slightly more complicated evening routine, and a weekly “skin care hour” (I like Sunday evenings) so you make sure to use all your products on a regular basis.
  3. Order of application: Where does this product fit with the others in my routine? Apply products from lightest in texture to heaviest, always end with SPF or night cream.
  4. Amount of product: Am I using too much/too little product to achieve the desired results? Active ingredients are dose dependent, make sure you are using the recommended amount of product with each application. Most skin care products are sold in packages designed to last 2-4 months of daily use. If you have an open bottle of serum for over year are you really using it correctly?

The Top Five Eye Creams

It’s never to early to start taking care of your eye area. Here are my top picks for eye products:

DermaQuest EyeBrite $64

DermaQuest EyeBrite awakens tired eyes for a refreshed appearance. Vitamin C lightens dark under eye circles while peptides banish puffiness and Madonna lily stem cells firm and tone to soften lines. Antioxidants and amino acids nourish, hydrate and protect the delicate area from environmental stresses.

iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex $98

Peptides and antioxidants prevent signs of aging while keeping skin moist, smooth, and protected all day long. Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (including crow’s feet). Visibly diminishes dark under-eye circles while delivering immediate and long-term improvements.

sowd therapy for skin firming peptide eye therapy $41

Eye Therapy combines plant extracts and peptides in a nourishing formula to firm and protect the delicate eye area.

Alchimie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm $45

This lightweight anti-aging eye cream instantly penetrates to restore youthful vitality to this delicate area while protecting it against the effects of environmental stress. Jojoba and cocoa butter add a boost of much–needed moisture, increasing firmness and elasticity. European blueberries and the vitamin K in alfalfa act synergistically to reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles, while natural antioxidants derived from grape seeds combat the effects of free radicals.

iS Clinical C Eye Serum Advance + $58

C EYE SERUM ADVANCE+ is a cutting-edge formulation that effectively combines our scientifically-advanced L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) with copper tripeptide growth factor for enhanced age-defying properties. This powerful yet gentle formula is designed to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and under-eye puffiness and dark circles.

The Wedding Countdown

Looking your best for your wedding (or any big event) is important but how do you fit all your appointments in the week before? And in what order?

I get this question a lot from my bridal clients so I’m putting it in a blog!

Six months to a year out from your date: start your skin care routine. This gives you plenty of time to customize your plan with a professional. More aggressive treatments like chemical peels require downtime and planning.

Six months before your big day: have a trial run with your hair and makeup artist as well as other professionals. This includes nails, spray tan, waxing, lash extensions etc. Find the business where you will have these services performed AND the technician who will perform them. Leave as little to chance as possible!

Four weeks before your big day: have your last corrective facial treatment with microdermabrasion or a peel, hair cut/color, Botox and fillers.

Five-seven days before your big day: have a massage, a body wrap, body scrub, or any other body treatments.

Three-five days before your big day: schedule lash extensions, waxing, LED facial.

The day before your big day: schedule manicure and pedicure then spray tan.

A few general items to remember:

Book as early as possible! Talented technicians in all trades get busy so the earlier you plan, the better for both of you. I have brides that book 6 months of treatments up front and it works great for both of us.

Certain treatments take time to work. Botox takes two weeks to see full results. A chemical peel can take about a month to see the best results. Have consultations with professionals so you know what to expect on what timeline. This is not a time to experiment with something new!


Can You Exercise Your Way To Younger Skin?

The basics of anti-aging skin care have been proven: retinol, vitamin c and sunscreen every day. But what about exercise?

The New York Times examines a Canadian study that shows regular exercise changes the actual structure of the skin, not just the appearance.

“They found that after age 40, the men and women who exercised frequently had markedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers in their skin. Their skin was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age, even if they were past age 65.”

Sounds amazing, let’s all get to the gym!

Here are a few tips to get the most skin benefits from your workout:

  1. Drink an extra 8oz. of water for every hour of exercise.
  2. Remove your makeup before you workout.
  3. If you are prone to acne on your chest and back, wear sweat wicking fabrics and shower as soon as possible after your workout.
  4. Wear water resistant SPF AND a hat if you workout outdoors. UVA rays are present whenever there is sunlight.

Pick an exercise you enjoy. There are so many options when it comes to moving your body; if it makes you happy your stress level will decrease and your complexion will benefit!

Are You Protecting Your Most Sensitive Skin?

Your most sensitive skin, the lips and eyes, are often missed during the sunscreen application process.

When using a physical sunscreen (like you know you should!) the product can feel heavy on delicate areas of the face. If you are still using a chemical sunscreen, it can sting when too close to the eye area.

Sunscreen products made specifically to protect and treat the eyes and lips are worth the extra effort.

Look for high percentages of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it can be one active ingredient or a combination of the two. Physical sunscreen ingredients don’t have the “sunscreen” odor and won’t sting if you get them in your eyes on accident.

For lips I love Suntegrity Lip CPR when I want some color and Tizo lip balm for every day use.

Colorscience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy is a great eye product with physical SPF and a little color. Skinceuticals Physical Eye UV Defense is also good. Both are designed to treat the delicate skin around the eye while protecting it from the sun.

Products that contain SPF generally aren’t as moisturizing as those without. If you find the SPF eye cream isn’t giving you enough moisture, consider layering an eye serum underneath.

Take advantage of your evening routine as a time to get some extra moisture and use an eye cream without SPF.