Author Archives: hannahsowdinc

How can I fix my broken capillaries?

Q: How can I fix my broken capillaries?

A: Broken capillaries are a very common side effect of sun damage and aging. People with thin skin are more prone to getting them.

The only true method for getting rid of broken capillaries is laser treatments. There are many creams on the market that claim to remove them but nothing has been proven.

Laser treatments for broken capillaries are relatively quick and not very painful. They may leave a bruise for a few days after so plan accordingly. Consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine how many sessions will be necessary to get the results you desire.

Like most skin issues, broken capillaries are easier to prevent than they are to correct.

Use a sunblock with a high percentage of physical block all year and avoiding extreme temperatures. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum since this also dilates the capillaries which will weaken them over time.

Spa Treatments and Cancer

Back in the 90’s when I first began my career in the spa and wellness industry, the rule of thumb was no spa treatments for clients with active cancer. Some people even recommended waiting as long as 5 years after being cleared of cancer to receive massage.

Massage stimulates the lymphatic system and was thought to have a hand in potentially spreading the cancer. Skin care treatments could damage tissue made fragile by harsh chemotherapy treatments and active ingredients could react in unknown ways.

This mindset began to change as some doctors realized modalities like reflexology and acupuncture can help ease the pain and nausea associated with cancer fighting treatments like chemotherapy.

Additionally, skin care companies began manufacturing products not only safe to use during chemotherapy but beneficial.

The relaxation aspect of a day at the spa is also very important when going thru such a difficult illness.

Before going to a spa, have a conversation with your doctor about your current condition and get recommendations about treatments to have and what to avoid.

When scheduling appointments, be up front with the spa and your therapists. Many spas have therapists training in oncology massage and esthetics.

While researching this post, I came across a message board where women with breast cancer were discussing being turned away from a spa when trying to get a massage and one women said she had simply stopped telling her massage therapists. This is never a good option! You deserve to work with a therapist who is trained an comfortable with what is going on in your body.

24 Hour Skin Care Diary

Curious about what I use on my skin?

Here is my 24 Hour Skin Care Diary: a typical day in the life of my skin.

day copyMy morning face routine is simple: vitamin therapy fortifying cleanser, Youth Serum and Suntegrity.

I love all three of these multi-functional products, products that have more than one function means fewer steps in the morning!

Vitamin therapy fortifying cleanser gets rid of any traces of eye makeup I may have missed the night before and it cleanses without over drying my combination skin. I can actually wash my eyes with it to remove makeup, it’s that gentle.

Youth Serum provides both immediate smoothing and long term anti-aging benefits which makes it the perfect choice under makeup.

Suntegrity is a 3-in-1 SPF/moisturizer/makeup primer so after I layer this on my skin look smooth and luminous. I almost feel like I don’t need makeup…almost.

I’ve been adding a bit of firming peptide eye therapy because my eye area has been extra dry with the crazy weather we are having in San Francisco.

body copyFor my body I use Malin + Goetz Lime Body Wash in the shower, it’s gentle and I love the lime scent (plus it makes an excellent bubble bath when you have time to indulge!), followed by body therapy antioxidant lotion. To prevent dry heels and elbows this stuff is magic, I apply it 3-4 times a week.

On work days I keep my makeup simple. Suntegrity 5-in-1 tinted SPF provides just enough coverage and color (and additional SPF protection). Mascara is my thing and right now I’m obsessed with Full, Fat Lashes by Charlotte Tilbury. I add a little eyeliner, blush and lip gloss from NARS and I’m good for the day.

I do my evening skin care routine as soon as I know I am in for the night.

If I get home from work and start hanging out, watching TV or reading a book…I end up too tired to do my full routine so I’ll skimp on something. I’ve been much better about my evening skin care routine since I started doing it as soon as I get home.

night copyI love IS Clinical Cleansing Complex in the evening. It removes my makeup as well as the dirt from the day, I always cleanse twice: once to remove the dirt and makeup, once to cleanse the skin.

Right now I’m using Malin and Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads to exfoliate most nights. The 10% glycolic acid keep my combination skin free from acne and blackheads.

If I’m feeling dry, I’ll add moisture therapy on top of the glycolic acid once it’s dry.

I got some IS Clinical Youth Eye Complex as a gift so I’ve been using that at night, it’s rich and hydrating but doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes.

I like IS Clinical Youth Complex on nights I don’t use the glycolic pads.

That’s an typical day in the life of my skin as I approach my 42nd birthday, what are you using on your skin?

Do I need to clean my makeup brushes?

YES.

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This poll is shocking! Makeup brushes can harbor bacteria and dirt which are transferred onto the skin and eyes when you use them.

Makeup brushes that you use everyday should be cleaned every 3-4 weeks.

Rinse your brushes in lukewarm water to remove residual makeup. Focus on the actual bristles and avoid the base of the brush as much as possible since this can weaken the glue over time.

Squirt a small amount of your facial cleanser in the palm of your hand and gently swirl the brush tip in the cleanser to work up a lather.

Rinse the brush tip under running water.

Lay your brushes flat on a cloth to dry, reshape the bristles as necessary.

I wash my brushes in the morning after I’ve used them so they will be dry by the following morning. If they are still damp, a quick pass with the hair dryer does the trick!

 

Can I use Coconut Oil After a Chemical Peel?

This question comes up often in the search topics that lead people to my blog so I thought I would address it directly.

The short answer is no, coconut oil is one of the most comedogenic oils which means it is very likely to clog the pores on your face.

While healing from a chemical peel, the skin is very sensitive. It is important to use a gentle cleanser and high quality moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated without clogging the pores.

Using a comedogenic product to heal the skin after a chemical peel can clog the pores and cause an acne breakout which is often the cycle we are trying to end by doing the peel in the first place.

Sun Protection 101

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here are some of the most common questions I receive in my practice regarding sunscreen and sun exposure:

“I work in an office, do I need to wear sunscreen everyday?”

The sun emits two types of rays, UVA and UVB.

UVA rays are present from sunup to sundown and cause the skin to age, UVB rays are strongest from 10am-2pm and cause the skin to burn.

Incidental sun exposure accounts for a large percentage of the damage that shows up in the skin at advanced ages. Daily moisturizer with at least SPF15 is the easiest way to prevent this damage.

Additionally, how many times do you take your lunch to the rooftop deck to enjoy the beautiful view and catch a few rays of sun? It’s better to be protected!

“My makeup has SPF in it so I don’t use a sunscreen.”

How much makeup do you wear??? Do you cover your entire face, neck and ears?

I didn’t think so.

Layering products with SPF for extra protection is great, but start with a base of proper sunscreen for the best protection.

“Sunscreen is TOXIC, I only use all natural products.”

There are two types of sunscreens on the market, chemical and physical.

Several studies argue that chemical sunscreens may disrupt hormones. If this is a concern for you, use a physical sunscreen like zinc oxide.

Thankfully, there are many physical sunscreens on the market today that feel light and leave no white residue.

What’s your excuse for not wearing sunscreen every day?

How do I get rid of acne scars?

Having acne is bad enough but the scars it leaves behind can linger for much longer than the breakouts themselves.

Acne scars fall into two major categories:

1. Discoloration; usually red spots or hyperpigmentation. Both red spots and hyperpigmetation are the skins response to inflammation from the acne lesion.

2. Uneven texture of varying degrees; this can be a combination of raised areas and indentations, severe indentations are often called “ice pick scars”.

In this post, I will focus on treatment options for the second category of acne scars, the uneven texture left behind from severe breakouts.

First and foremost, establish a skincare routine to keep new breakouts under control before you spend time and money to treat acne scars.

For most scars, crystal microdermabrasion is a very effective treatment. The minimal downtime and affordable cost make it accessible however it is important to remember a series a treatments will be required.

Depending on the depth of the scars 6-12 sessions may be necessary to achieve the desired results. These treatments are be done weekly or bi-weekly.

Chemical peels, like Jessners Peel or  TCA peel are also very effective for smoothing texture and lightening hyperpigmentation.

The most effective results I’ve had treating acne scars used a combination of crystal microdermabrasion and chemical peels done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis combined with the proper home care routine.

It’s important to be patient, clearing acne scars can take 6 months or longer, but the end result is worth it!

What’s the difference between BB Cream and CC Cream?

And now there’s DD Cream!

BB = Beauty Balm

CC = Color Corrector

DD = Daily Defense

The bottom line is, these products are new versions of good old fashioned tinted moisturizer.

They can have the added benefits of anti-aging ingredients, anti-acne ingredients, makeup primer and antioxidants but the categories themselves don’t mean that much.

Try a few different products to find one that provides the makeup coverage you prefer but don’t rely on one of these creams for sun protection, layer it over a lightweight SPF to make sure you face is protected.

 

How to Prepare for a Chemical Peel

1. Schedule a consultation with your skin care professional to determine the best chemical peel for your skin type and the results you want to achieve.

2.Schedule the peel when you have enough downtime to allow for any flaking and peeling that may occur in the days following the treatment.

2. Follow the pre-peel skin care routine prescribed to you. This usually includes retinol creams, Retin A or Hydroquinone products to start the renewal process and increase the benefits of the chemical peel.

3. Stay out of the sun! Wear at least an SPF 30 every day.

4. Stop all exfoliating products 3 days prior to your chemical peel appointment.

Do I need a chemical peel?

Most people can benefit from some type of chemical peel.

Chemical peels are the preferred treatment to address many skin conditions like acne, fine lines, wrinkles, scars, hyperpigmentation and melasma.

There are many types of chemicals peels to choose from, the trick is finding the right one for your skin and your concerns.

When it comes to chemical peels the more results you want to see, the more downtime you will have after the treatment! There is no magic solution that will erase years of damage without a period of redness and flaking after the application. Sometimes a series of lighter chemical peels will achieve similar results to one more aggressive peel, this may be a better option for sensitive skin types.

Schedule a consultation with your skin care professional to determine what is the best option for you.

Anti Acne Tip

Are your hands clean when you apply your skin care products?

Applying face cream (and even acne medication!) while you still have residue from hair products or body lotion on your hands can create a pore clogging environment on your face.

Wash your hand thoroughly before you apply your face products, or apply them before you apply your hair and body products.

Clean hands = clean skin = clean pores!

Inflammation and Aging

Inflammation is one of the key factors that leads to aging skin, hyper-pigmentation and a variety of other skin issues.

The study of epigenetics shows how lifestyle choices can drastically affect our gene reactions when it comes to the aging of the skin. Inflammation is one of the key factors in this aging process. It plays a large part in the break down of the protective barrier of the skin, DNA damage and hyper-pigmentation.

On a daily basis, we are exposed to stimulus like sun light, HEV light from electronic screens, pollution and cigarette smoke.

Many skin care products currently on the market designed to target hyper-pigmentation don’t take this into account. If we don’t address the root cause of inflammation, we can’t repair the compromised skin barrier and ultimately, control the hyper-pigmentation.

All the new information we have about aging, inflammation and hyper-pigmentation leads us back to antioxidants. They should be incorporated into your day time and night time routine for total protection.

A moisturizer designed to repair the skins barrier is also important for overall skin function.

Chemical peels and microdermabrasion can do wonders to lighten existing hyper-pigmentation but it’s important to incorporate anti-inflammatory skin care products for long term results.

Firming Peptide Eye Therapy

Firming Peptide Eye Therapy is a gentle, anti-aging eye cream that employs plant extracts and peptides to firm and protect the delicate eye area.

The delicate skin in the eye area does not contain as many oil glands as other areas of the face so a cream designed especially for the area is necessary to hydrate the skin and prevent the breakdown of collagen.

The area inside the eye socket also lacks the structural support provided to the rest of the face which is one of the main reasons the signs of aging are first visible around the eyes.

Peptides are the building blocks of collagen so when applied topically, the skins own collagen is motivated to produce. Daily use of Firming Peptide Eye Therapy will render both short and long term results.

Should I use more moisturizer when my skin is extra dry?

Q: During the winter months, my skin gets very dry. If I use an extra layer of moisturizer, will it help?

A: Most moisturizer is full of ingredients designed to repair the skin barrier and seal in moisture, the molecules are too large to be absorbed into the lower layers of the skin.

Serums are lighter in consistency and designed to be more readily absorbed by the skin so adding one underneath your moisturizer will do a better job of getting the hydration where you need it.

Pro Heal Serum Advance + by IS Clinical is one of my favorite serums for most skin types. It adds extra moisture and vitamins, reduces inflammation and redness.

For dry skin on the body, adding an oil like jojoba or grapeseed oil to your regular body moisturizer can give you the extra boost you need during the winter months. I like these two oils because they are lighter and mix well with lotion.

Of course, making sure to drink enough water during the cold winter months is also an important part of keeping skin hydrated. Focus on getting half your body weight in non-caffeinated, non-carbonated, (non-alcoholic!) ounces of liquid per day.

Can I use body lotion on my face?

Q: Can I use body lotion on my face?

A. Body lotion and face cream are formulated differently.

Body lotion contains occlusive ingredients which seal in moisture, helpful for the skin on the body since it doesn’t have as many oil glands as the skin on the face.

The occlusive properties of these ingredients can lead to clogged pores on the face, even for people with dry skin. Face cream is designed with the specific balance of the skin on the face in mind so it is less likely to clog the pores.

It is better for most skin types to use two separate products.

The Top 5 New Years Resolutions for Your Skin

With less than a month left the year, now is a good time to start thinking about New Years Resolutions. Does your skin play a part in yours?

Here are my suggestions for the Top 5 Skin Care Resolutions:

1. Love your skin!

First, (and this is super important!) pick one thing about your skin that you absolutely love. I battled acne in my teens and my 20’s which means that in my 40’s I get to enjoy the benefits of all that extra oil production. It’s important to take a moment and appreciate what we love about ourselves!

2. Wear a product with at least SPF30 every day.

Concerned about controversial sunscreen chemicals? Choose an option with a physical block and pair it with Vitamin D in your multivitamin. This is important year round, no matter wear you live. When the sun is out, you are being exposed to UVA rays which are the rays that damage your collagen and cause premature aging.

3. Get to the dermatologist for a mole check, especially if you’ve never had one.

The frequency of recommended mole checks varies according to your age, history of sun exposure and family history of skin cancer, your dermatologist will tell you what is right for you. Monthly self exams are also recommended.

4. Schedule a consultation with your esthetician.

How long has it been since you’ve reviewed your skin care goals? Sometimes we can go for years using the same skin care products and receiving the same treatments without stopping to check in and see if they are still right for us.

5. Set small skin care goals so you can achieve them.

Overhauling your entire routine is tough, pick one or two things to work on. Washing your face before bed is a great place to start! Got that down? Exfoliating at least once a week is super important too!

Make this the year of great skin!

 

What’s the difference between crystal and diamond Microdermabrasion?

Traditional Crystal Microdermabrasion uses a wand to spray crystals and gently sand the skin to eliminate imperfections. Since the early 2000’s the Diamond Tip method of Microdermabrasion has been gaining popularity. What is the difference?

Diamond Tip Microdermabrasion uses a hand piece with rough tip that gently resurfaces the skin. The different tips have different levels of grit, like sandpaper, to be used on different areas of the face. The treatment is often paired with a light chemical peel during the same session to achieve better results.

Crystal Microdermabrasion uses a disposable tip but the level of suction and amount of crystals used can be adjusted. The treatment is generally done alone or paired with a soothing mask since is it more aggressive than the diamond tip version.  Crystal Microdermbrasion is more effective at elimination acne scars and fine lines. It does leave behind crystals, (or “sparkles” as one of my clients calls them!) so it requires a bit more clean up.

The two types of machines vary greatly in price, Diamond Tip machines are less than half as expensive as their Crystal cousins which may explain their growing popularity. Don’t hesitate to ask what machine an esthetician or spa uses for their treatment before you book a session!