Hannah's Blog

The Eye Kit

September 13, 2020 / 8:03 am

2020 is taking a toll on all of us in different ways yet one complaint I hear across the board is “How can I improve the skin around my eyes?”.

More stress and screen time takes a toll. Proper hydration and sleep are important but topical products will also help.

I created The Eye Kit with multiple tools to improve the eye area. Each kit contains one Mesolyft Eye Roller, a box of five Patchology Illumuating Eye Gels and one full size Firming Peptide Eye Therapy

How to use The Eye Kit:

With your evening skincare routine:

After cleansing use the MesoLyft Eye Roller on clean skin as directed.

With your morning skincare routine:

After cleansing, apply Firming Peptide Eye Therapy to the eye area using a gentle tapping motion.

Once a week:

Apply one set of Patchology Illuminating Eye Gels on clean skin for 15 minutes. Remove the gels and apply Firming Peptide Eye Therapy.

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

Self Care When You Can’t Get A Massage

August 30, 2020 / 6:11 am

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

August 16, 2020 / 4:35 pm

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

July 22, 2020 / 8:15 am

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-19 Studio Procedures

/ 3:35 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic affects how we interact for the foreseeable future and 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 or call to insure the space is free for your arrival.

Please come alone to your appointment. 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 99.5 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.

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 on a commercial airline flight 14 days prior to 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.

My Services have been updated in accordance with the latest information available. Certain treatments have been removed because they cannot be performed safely. Other treatments will be modified for increased safety of both client and therapist.

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.

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