Hannah's Blog

Hannah Sowd Skin Care COVID-19 Studio Procedures

/ 3:35 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic affects how we interact for the foreseeable future so my goal is to create a safe environment for everyone at Hannah Sowd Skin Care.

The following guidelines are in place until otherwise noted:

Every client MUST complete the COVID-19 Treatment Consent Form before EACH appointment. This form is linked in your Genbook confirmation email as well as on the Services page of www.hannahsowd.com.

The reception area at 1640 Bush is closed in accordance with CA State Department of Public Health recommendations. If you are more than 5 minutes early for your appointment, please text to insure the space is free for your arrival.

We can no longer accommodate guests at the studio during your appointments.

Your temperature will be checked with a contactless forehead thermometer upon arrival. A temperature of 100.4 or greater is considered a fever and your appointment will be rescheduled.

You must arrive at the studio wearing a face mask and keep it on for the entirety of your visit. If your treatment requires removal of your mask, you will be requested to remove your mask at the appropriate time and provided a receptacle for proper storage. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR MASK UNLESS YOU ARE ASKED!

If you are receiving a skin care treatment on your face, consider bringing a clean face mask to wear after your session.

Please wash your hands before we begin your appointment.

Do not come to your appointment if you have 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-19.

Reschedule your appointment if you have been or will be on a commercial airline flight within 14 days of your treatment time.

Contact me ASAP if you are not feeling well and cannot make your appointment, I am seeing fewer clients each day so every time slot is valuable.

A HEPA air filter with UVC sterilization has been added to the treatment room as a safety precaution. Increased sanitation measures have been implemented throughout the studio to help keep everyone safe.

Working my PPE and new safety guidelines is learning process, some aspects of your treatment may be altered based on the most current information available.

Thank you for being patient and supportive!

Is Your Face Mask Causing Acne?

May 3, 2020 / 6:19 pm

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?

A Month With No Touch

April 12, 2020 / 8:17 pm

I touch people for a living. Literally. Connecting with humanity on a physical level has been a part of my life for 22 years.

Working in my industry can prove exhausting for some, but when you find a home here it’s because you thrive off the exchange of energy that happens in the treatment room.

I’ve grown accustomed to hearing “Isn’t your job exhausting?”. You know what exhausts me? Staring at this computer screen for the past few hours.

The last time I gave a treatment to someone other than myself, my husband, or our dog was 29 days ago. My hands feel weird.

I’ve worked thru collective tragedy before.

On September 11, I worked at a high end hotel spa in Los Angeles. Our property was filled with trapped New Yorkers waiting for news from home. Clients came to the spa for comfort and distraction, some cried in my treatment room. I learned a lot about humanity, I learned a lot about myself.

I moved to San Francisco in 2008 and started my business just as the economy collapsed. Collectively, the city was devastated but the humanity and connection I experienced in my work buoyed me along.

Huge shout out to clients that have been with me since day one!

This past month confirmed how much I rely on my work and interaction with my clients to process tragedy in the world. The random tidbits of information, the comforting exchanges; it helps me to feel more connected to humanity.

I am fortunate. My business structure allows me to receive unemployment benefits and my online store is doing well (have a look since you’re here). I connect with clients virtually to care for their skin while we are safe at home. We speak excitedly about when we can reconnect in person. My business will see the other side of this pandemic.

My tech friends encourage me to pivot, reinvent myself, offer more online services. I’ve embraced online booking from the start, social media is wonderful for engagement and education. But is that the future of skin care? Not for me. A Zoom call and and a box of products delivered to your door will get us thru this tough time but it will never replicate the way you feel when you leave my studio.

I love this industry, educating people about their skin and teaching them how to navigate marketing hype is my passion. I worry about how things will look a year from now. One thing is certain, my business and my clients are a part of who I am, we will figure out the future together.

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

March 18, 2020 / 5:45 pm

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

January 12, 2020 / 8:22 am

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?

December 29, 2019 / 7:40 am

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?

December 15, 2019 / 8:43 am

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?

December 1, 2019 / 6:48 am

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

November 17, 2019 / 8:03 am

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?

November 3, 2019 / 9:30 am

“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

October 20, 2019 / 8:08 am

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?”

October 6, 2019 / 8:16 am

“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

September 22, 2019 / 8:58 am

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

September 8, 2019 / 8:28 am

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

August 25, 2019 / 8:13 am

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?

August 11, 2019 / 8:20 am

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?

July 28, 2019 / 8:24 am

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

July 14, 2019 / 8:06 am

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

June 30, 2019 / 8:22 am

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?

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