Hannah was featured in an article on HelloGiggles.com. Check it out and learn how to keep your skin soft and smooth!
As I approach my mid-40’s, I see more signs of aging in my eye area so I’ve stepped up my anti-aging eye routine.
The delicate skin in the eye area is 10 times thinner than the skin on the rest of the face. This skin is also in a constant state of movement, so fines lines or “crows feet” are commonly one of the early signs of aging.
I’m not opposed to surgery or injectable solutions but I’d like to save surgical options for my next decade and I have mixed feelings about the results I’ve seen from Botox for “crows feet”.
Eye lifts were in the list of the top five esthetic surgical procedures performed in the United States in 2016 according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
While working to expand my online store last year, I tested many eye creams and ended up with irritated eyes on a few occasions. I learned a lot about what ingredients work and which ones to skip.
The right combination of topical peptides, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and stimulants can give this delicate area the extra boost it needs to get me thru my 40’s without going under the knife.
This is the routine that has made a visible change for me:
Alchemie Forever Rejuvenating Eye Balm
This lightweight eye balm is perfect for daytime. The antioxidant rich formula protects against environmental assaults while the Vitamin K reduces the appearance of dark circles.
sowd therapy for skin: firming peptide eye therapy
The creamy formula uses Matrixyl 3000 to stimulate the cell renewal that slows with age. It also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients so you wake up with less puffiness. When I have an extra few minutes, I use my Jade Roller to massage the eye area before applying.
Patchology Energizing Eye Patches
These are amazing! The patches are embedded with gel-activated galvanic micro current technology, after 20 minutes my eyes look years younger. I use them once a week or before I have an important event.
I eliminated 90% of the added sugar in my diet and reduced my alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per month. Cutting out alcohol isn’t a problem for me, I enjoy drinking less as I get older but I love sugar and seem to crave it at times. I discovered a calcium/magnesium supplement helped curb my sugar cravings so much.
Keep up your water intake and eat a large quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. When you becomes dehydrated, your eyes are the first place it shows!
Need a 15 minute pre-event skin boost?
Follow this quick and easy routine for a GLOW that lasts all night!
1. Remove your makeup, if necessary. Wash your face with warm water and IS Clinical Cleansing Complex, pat dry.
2. Apply one Glycolic Gel Pad all over your face, allow glycolic serum from pad to dry for 5 minutes. If your skin is sensitive, rinse. If you use glycolic acid on a regular basis, move to the next step without rinsing.
4. After 5 minutes, remove the sheet masque and massage any remaining serum into the skin. Apply Suntegrity Moisturizing Sunscreen and Primer and you’re ready for makeup!
When I discovered QC Terme, I thought it was too good to be true!
On a recent trip to Italy, we had a 6am flight out of the Fiumicino airport following a week on the Amalfi Coast. I wanted to find accommodations as close to the airport as possible to ease our transition.
QC Terme is resort hotel with a spa 10 minutes from the airport, the perfect solution.
The QC Terme brand has properties all over Italy, follow their Instagram and you will want to make time to visit them all!
I booked a package including a hotel room, unlimited access to the thermal mineral pools, massages, and breakfast. After traveling for 2 weeks, it seemed like the perfect last day in Italy.
The day we arrived consisted of a ferry from Sorrento to Naples, followed by a 2 hour train ride from Naples to Rome so we were ready to relax.
The hotel is rated 5 stars and was lovely in a typically European way. Service at check in was wonderful but after that, we were left to wander the facility alone which was a little confusing.
We managed to find our way to the “wellness farm” and relaxed in the thermal mineral pools before our massages.
The massage facilities were top notch; heated beds and luxurious rooms. Plus I had one of the best massages I’ve had in my travels to European countries, generally the pressure is too light and they use too much oil but this was perfect.
Sadly, we had to rush out very early in the morning the following day. I would have loved to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the grounds.
Overall we had a relaxing stay at QC Terme Roma, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a spa break before or after a long flight!
The fast pace of modern daily life creates stress and your skin will suffer if you don’t take time to balance your activity with some downtime.
What is your favorite way to take a time out, create balance in your life and help your skin when life gets overwhelming?
When my life is at “peak stress”, time is always scarce. I embrace daily wellness tips I can incorporate into my routine without taking up much time.
When you wake up in the morning, you are dehydrated, no question.
Reach for a large glass of room temperature water before you start on the coffee and keep sipping throughout the day.
This insures you stay hydrated and helps keep your energy levels up, I drink less coffee if I start with water and feel better overall.
Decide on an electronic end time for your day and stick with it.
This is the time your phone gets turned off (use an auto-reply for your email if you need too), stop checking social media and replying to text messages. There is nothing that can’t wait until you “clock in” the following morning.
This gives your brain some much needed downtime and gives your skin a break from screen time.
It’s not the time to throw caution to the wind and run to the nearest department store with your credit card or break your diet with an entire cake but do a little something special for yourself.
I usually default to getting a manicure for a few reasons; I won’t regret it when my credit card bill comes next month, I’m forced to set aside my phone and relax while my polish dries and for the next week my pretty hands make me feel like I’m pulled together when I may be on the brink of disaster internally!
A face mask makes everything better. Throw it on while you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hair, even while you are reading this blog…
Skin care can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to know what products you should use and when you should use them. What should you use every day? Once a week? Monthly?
And what about professional treatments?
Every skin is as unique as the person it belongs too and can react differently in different environments. Here are some basic guidelines to help you determine how often you should be using each product in your routine.
- Eye Cream
- Exfoliate with an enzyme or chemical exfoliating product
- Have a professional facial treatment with your Esthetician
- Perform a self mole check
- Have a mole check with your Dermatologist
- More agressive treatments like laser resurfacing or chemical peels
Have a consult with your Esthetician and Dermatologist to determine the exact routine that is best for your skin type. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below!
A natural charcoal water filter in a glass carafe is my new favorite way to purify my drinking water. Always on the lookout for ways to reduce the amount of plastic I use in daily life, natural charcoal is the perfect solution.
Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Sticks are made from 100% Ubame Oak branches burned in a specialized kiln at extremely high temperatures. The process is called “nerashi”; it carbonizes the structure of the wood and leaves behind countless porous cavities for water to fill.
When new, the charcoal sticks are so smooth they feel almost like glass. Each stick must be prepped with boiling water then rinsed with clean water before added to your water carafe. This activates the charcoal and removes any remaining ash or loose bits.
The charcoal should be boiled every 3-4 weeks to release the buildup of impurities it has absorbed from the water. Replace the charcoal after 3 months of use.
When your charcoal is no longer effective for water filtration, it can be recycled. Break the used sticks into smaller pieces and add to your garden or houseplant soil. The recycled charcoal will aerate your soil and increase microbial activity.
No waste + clean water!
Is the Fusion Peel right for you? Springtime is a popular time of year for chemical peels but make sure you know what to expect before you take the leap.
The Fusion Peel is a blend of acids and fruit enzymes that remove the outermost layers of dead skin with minimal discomfort and irritation while providing maximum results. This peel is suitable for all skin types, including more sensitive skin that is may be less tolerant to chemical peels.
This medium strength chemical peel combines TCA, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Resorcinol, Ascorbic Acid, Papaya Fruit Extract, Pineapple Extract, and Pumpkin Seed Extract. The unique blend of acids makes the Fusion Peel safe for all skin.
The Fusion Peel will produce light peeling, similar to the peeling you would get after a mild sunburn. The peeling will normally start 4 to 5 days after the treatment and last up to 7 days.
Once the peeling has stopped, your skin tone will be more even, sun damage will be lighter and pores will be smoother. A series of treatments will help you tighten your skin as well.
The amount of peeling you experience depends on the amount of dead skin you have. If you exfoliate regularly the peeling may be light, if not it may be more intense.
Wedding preparation can be overwhelming, it’s important not to overlook your bridal skin care routine. Makeup can conceal many flaws but bumpy, clogged pores will show thru any foundation.
Start at least 6 months before your big day.
If you’re having regular skin care treatments, 6 months is enough time to ramp up for a wedding. If you’re starting from scratch, give yourself 8-12 months.
Have a consultation with your esthetician to determine the combination of treatments required to achieve your skin care goals. This may include chemicals peels with several days of downtime after each session so plan accordingly.
Schedule consultations with the people you hire for hair and makeup (of course!) as well as anyone you plan to hire for eyelash extensions, spray tan, nail services etc. The week before your wedding is not the time to experiment with a treatment you’ve never received before.
Make a budget and commit to your routine.
Get a price for your professional treatments up front, many spas offer a discount if you pre-pay for all your services in advance. Factor in the cost of the home care products your will need to boost the results of the professional treatments. Wedding costs add up quickly and you don’t want to be forced to skimp on your skin as a result!
Don’t forget your back and chest.
Consider the cut of your dress and plan to treat any area that will be exposed. Back or chest acne may require several treatments to go away completely. If the skin on your body is generally good, have a body scrub the week before your wedding to remove dead skin.
Plan your treatments the week-of in the correct order.
- 4-5 days before: Massage, body wrap, hair color, eyelash extensions
- 3 days before: body scrub, manicure + pedicure, facial
- 2 days before: spray tan
Relax and enjoy your big day!
The most important step of all.
Is it time to spring clean your skin care closet? Once a year, take the time to clean out your collection of skin care products.
Divide your skin care products into three groups:
- Skin care products you use regularly and work well for your skin type, your “core routine”.
- Skin care products you stopped using because your skin changed and they no longer work for your skin type.
- Skin care products that were gifts or impulse purchases, some of these items may even be unopened or you only used them once before deciding they were wrong for your skin type.
First, discard any items that have been open for more than one year or are past the expiration date printed on the bottle. The active ingredients will no longer be effective. Also, discard any unopened items you have had for longer than three years. Preservatives start to fail around this point so there is no guarantee the product will be safe for use.
Next, re-evaluate the products in group two. Are these items you might use when on vacation in a warmer or colder climate? Can you re-purpose any of these items? For instance, can you use a granular scrub that’s too harsh for your face on your heels or elbows? If not, toss them.
The items in group three can be difficult to part with because the packaging is so pretty or they cost so much! That’s why you were moved to buy them impulsively. Host a swap party for your friends; have everyone bring several new or barely used skin care products that don’t suit them and trade for items better suited for their skin type. Everyone wins!
Skin inflammation is a positive skin reaction, it shows your skin bringing more blood cells to an infected area to fight bacteria. However the end result causes considerable damage to texture and appearance of the skin.
How can we calm inflammation, fight bacteria, and prevent damage in the skin?
Historically, topical steroids are the first line of defense to fight skin inflammation. Studies show long term use of topical steroids can have negative effects, which include suppressed immune function and thinning the skin.
Certain compounds that occur in nature have anti-inflammatory benefits and can be used topically without the negative side effects of prescription steroids.
Botanically-derived antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties include L-Ascorbic Acid (found in citrus), Quercetin (found in apples), Resveratrol (found in wine), Epigallocatechin Gallate (found in green tea), and Bisabolol (found in Chamomile).
Daily antioxidant use protects your skin from environmental damage and controls inflammation.
Layer an antioxidant serum under your SPF during the day. Antioxidant ingredients boost the effectiveness of your SPF and help prevent free radical damage from pollution.
January is the perfect time for new beginnings, why not make it #maskmonth?
I encourage my clients to use a mask once a week in their home care routine, with so many options to choose from this shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m loathe to admit it but goofy photos for social media is a great motivator for #maskmonth!
It didn’t take the whole month to see the difference in my skin. After two weeks of consistent masking my face was glowing.
My tips for #maskmonth:
2. Five minutes is all you need. 10-15 minutes is great if you have the time but put on a mask and brush your teeth/wash your hair/trim your toenails then rinse.
4. Take a goofy photo for social media, get your friends to join the fun of #maskmonth!
Do you need a skin care consult?
Do you purchase skin care products based on a recommendation from a friend or a blog post only to be disappointed by the results?
The product may not be to blame, it may just not be right for your skin type.
When you don’t have a local skin care specialist, you may turn to the Internet to research product and find recommendations. There are also online skin care consults popping up on some websites.
Most online skin care consults fall into one of two categories:
- A free computerized quiz from a large skin care company to categorize you into one broad type and offering their matching skin care range, usually “dry”, “oily” “sensitive” etc.
- An appointment for a one on one Skype consult with a specialist for $100+.
Being a busy business owner, I recently discovered the online shopping service for clothing, Bungalow. They match me with a stylist who sends me a box of clothing based on my likes and dislikes. I thought “What if there was a service like this for skincare?”. My online skin care consult and 3 Day Turnaround Kit was born!
The Hannah Sowd Skin Care Online Skin Care Consult begins with an in-depth questionnaire to determine your skin care needs, you can also upload photos of your skin to receive a more accurate assessment. Once I receive your completed questionnaire and photos, I determine your custom skin care routine.
Your routine will be comprised of skin care products from different product lines, including my own. Since I don’t work for any particular brand, I’m free to pick and choose the best items for your skin. All of the skin care brands I offer are products I’ve been working with for years in my studio so they are proven to be effective.
Once I have determined your best skin care routine, I create your 3 Day Turnaround Kit of product samples. This includes samples of all the products in your routine so you can try it for three days.
After you have a chance to try the 3 Day Turnaround Kit, you will receive a an offer for 20% your first purchase of all the full size products in your kit. What more could you want?
The skin requires a healthy dose of antioxidants every day to prevent new damage and reverse prior skin damage. Layer your antioxidant serum under your SPF for added sun protection.
Retinol helps increase skin cell turnover which in turn encourages collagen production. The end result is smoother, brighter skin with less breakouts and clogged pores.
Everyone needs sun protection, end of story. If you don’t spend much time in the sun, an SPF 15 in your daily lotion is fine, if you get more exposure bump it up to SPF 30.
During the winter in San Francisco, the weather is very unpredictable. It can be cold and wet one day then in the 70’s and dry the next. For me, this means the skin around my eyes gets very dry and sometimes even flaky.
I’m always on the hunt for something to keep my eye area smooth and hydrated so when I found Patchology Energizing Eye Patches I decided to give them a test run.
The kit includes 1 set of patches, an activating gel, and cleansing wipes (each set of patches can be used 4 times). The gel is applied to the patch to activate the internal galvanic current. The patches must be left on for at least 20 minutes to see results (but they can be left on for as long as 45 minutes).
I made the most of my 20 minutes and applied Malin + Goetz Detox Face Mask to the rest of my face while the patches worked their magic!
The end result was a smoother, firmer, more hydrated under eye area. I’ve continued to use the patches once a week and noticed a profound difference after a month. I’m hooked!
Have you ever wondered how skin type is determined?
The amount of oil you produce is one of the major factors.
Dry skin types will benefit from washing with cool or warm (not hot) water using a cream based cleanser and treating with a serum followed by a creamy moisturizer. Serums have a thinner consistency and are more readily absorbed into the skin to deliver moisture to the lower layers, the moisturizer is designed to lock hydration in place.
PRO TIP: A common mistake is to assume dry skin does not need to be exfoliated. Exfoliating with an enzyme mask 1-2 times per week helps remove dead skin build up and allow products to penetrate better.
If you are lucky enough to fall into the normal category, chances are it won’t last forever! A gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice a day as well as an SPF during the day will keep your skin in great shape. As you age or experience hormonal changes, you can add to this routine to deal with the changes more easily since you have already established a routine.
PRO TIP: Do you fall asleep without washing your face? Get in the habit of washing your face right when you get home from work/gym/happy hour, BEFORE you sit down on the sofa to watch TV. Your skin will thank you!
Combination skin is a very common, oil in the T-zone yet dry on the cheeks. Use a gentle, foaming cleanser to get rid of the oil build up in the T-zone without over drying the cheeks. A treatment moisturizer with vitamin C will help prevent the excess oil from oxidizing in the pores and causing blackheads while keeping the cheeks from getting flaky.
PRO TIP: Use a white clay mask once a week to balance the skin, it will absorb excess oil from the oily areas and gently exfoliate dead skin from the dry patches.
Oily skin may be the most frustrating of all the skin types but the excess oil keep skin from getting wrinkles for much longer. Activated charcoal face wash helps absorb excess oil without over drying the skin, you can leave the cleanser on like a mask for 1-2 minutes for extra oil fighting power. Follow with a light antioxidant serum plus SPF during the day.
PRO TIP: Use blotting papers throughout the day to absorb excess oil without disturbing your makeup and SPF.
I have light blonde eyebrows so when the trend swings back to full, dark defined brows, I get sad. I don’t like spending too much time on my daily makeup routine so I tint my brows once a month which helps a lot.
Recently, I discovered Boy Brow by Glossier and it makes me so happy!
It’s advertised as “a creamy wax formula inspired by traditional hair pomade” and that’s pretty accurate. It adds color and depth while helping the hair stay in place.
The product is thick but the applicator brush is a tiny mascara-like wand so it’s easy to apply where you want it and not get where you don’t.
My brows are “done” in about 90 seconds!
I’ve heard so much about the benefits of full body cryotherapy treatments, I had to give it a try for myself!
There aren’t any cryotherapy salons in the city yet so I checked out Renew Cryotherapy in Walnut Creek (edit: since I wrote this, CryoSF has opened on Union Street). I was able to walk in without an appointment in the early afternoon on a week day, probably not a good idea on a weekend or evening.
The staff is super friendly and explained the entire sequence before the session which I find helpful. I don’t like being cold but I do have chronic knee pain and was experiencing some muscle soreness from a ballet class so I was hopeful I would feel better after the treatment.
They are prepared to deal with newbies and were more than happy to answer all my questions (and snap my photo in the machine, the things I do for this blog!).
First you enter a dressing room and strip down to your underwear. They provide clean socks and booties plus fleece gloves with disposable liners to protect your hands and feet. Wearing a robe, you meet the technician by the machine.
You enter the machine wearing your robe and the technician checks the height to make sure your head will stay out of the tank the entire treatment time, inhaling the gas caused the fatal accident that got so much press a few months ago.
The entire treatment lasts three minutes, the technician instructs you to turn every 15 seconds to cool your body evenly and stay mentally aware/checked in which made me feel safe. My treatment was a level one, I think it gets colder with each level? I forgot to ask!
Honestly the first two minutes were not bad. Half way thru the third minute I started to wonder why the hell I was paying money to stand in a freezing cold chamber with a person telling me to turn in circles. When the count down to the last ten seconds started, I was ready to get out!
Afterwards, I felt great! The soreness in my back and shoulder was gone my knee was less stiff. I slept very soundly that night and continued to feel great the next day.
With any treatment the sessions need to be done on a regular basis to see lasting results. I’m not sure it will replace my regular massage and acupuncture routine for overall wellness but I will end up in the tank again!
I love Korean spa day (in San Francisco we only have one, Imperial) so I jump at the chance to explore the variety Koreatown in Los Angeles has to offer.
On recent visits to Koreatown, I’ve noticed a trend toward the traditional jjimjilbangs; giant complexes that are open 24 hours, have a restaurant, are family friendly and include a fitness center in addition to many spa amenities (a large section of which are co-ed).
In Korea, families go to the spa together and some people actually stay over night sleeping on the heated floor in the communal area.
On the recommendation of a friend, I tried Spa Palace, one of the newest in the area. I visited on a Monday during the day and the large facility was quite empty.
I booked a traditional body scrub/oil massage combo when I checked in ($80 for 70 minute treatment, includes use of the entire facility).
The Korean Body Scrub isn’t for the faint of heart, it can be described as invigorating or painful depending on your preference! I have one 5-6 times a year to get rid of dead skin build up, I’m a fan of intense exfoliation.
You are issued one large towel, one small towel and a “uniform”(shorts and tee shirt) to wear in the co-ed areas. Since I was traveling, I didn’t have my own robe or flip flops but I would recommend them to anyone planning a visit.
The women’s facility was very large, I was given a locker in the “VIP Area” which had its own sink and amenities. The women’s spa area was thru a door at one end while a hallway at the opposite other end led to the co-ed “jjimjilbang”.
The layout is a little confusing so I didn’t hesitate to flag down a spa attendant and ask questions. The facility is large and it wasn’t crowded so it wasn’t abundantly clear what was women only and what was co-ed.
The women’s spa area is equipped with the basic steam, dry sauna, 2 hot tubs and cold plunge in addition to “western” and Korean showers. The room is BIG! One of the biggest I’ve seen.
The co-ed area has a Himalayan Salt Room, a warm (not hot) sauna with salt bricks lining the walls and salt rocks on floor. I like to use pink Himalayan salt in my bath so I guess this may have a similar effect on the body.
Next door is the Ice Room which I would describe as cool, it isn’t as jarring to the body as the cold plunge in the spa area. It’s a nice break between the other warm rooms!
The Gold Sauna was quite warm, almost as hot as a traditional sauna. I have no idea if sitting in a warm room lined with gold does anything but it was pretty!
The Loess Forest Sauna was comfortable and smelled nice, the floor was covered with clay “marbles” (presumably made from loess soil) so you can lie down and they conform to the shape of your body.
The center of the communal area has a giant heated marble floor for napping, a large screen TV and a cafe.
I had a lovely afternoon checking out all the different amenities Spa Palace has to offer. I will be back on my next visit to Los Angeles!
What’s the best routine for your skin while in an airplane?
The night before
Wash with your normal cleanser and exfoliate with an enzyme mask. Apply a balancing clay mask or a hydrating gel mask depending on your skin type.
Drink a lot of water.
The day of
Layer a hydrating serum under your moisturizer on clean skin before the flight. Skip the foundation and concealer, apply a light layer of tinted moisturizer if you need some coverage.
Drink a lot of water.
During the flight
For flights 5 hours or under, reapply your moisturizer at least once (wash your hands first!). Continue to drink water and skip the alcohol.
For flights over 5 hours, clean your skin with a cotton ball and toner mid-flight then reapply your hydrating serum and moisturizer. Drink more water.
After the flight
Repeat the enzyme mask + hydrating or balancing mask routine and continuing using the hydrating serum under your moisturizer.
Always pack travel sizes of your regular products when traveling. A foreign climate is not the time to introduce a new product to your routine.
And have a glass of water!