Hannah's Blog

Daily Therapy: Vitamin C Complex

July 20, 2014 / 8:45 am

Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for the body both inside and out. It contains antioxidant properties which protect our skin against free radical damage from various environmental sources.

Unfortunately, vitamin C cannot be stored in the body long term so to it must be ingested and applied topically on a daily basis.

Daily Therapy Vitamin C Complex is the backbone of any anti-aging skin care routine. It contains three unique forms of targeted vitamin C in a time released formula for optimal effectiveness.

With daily use, skin tone will become more even and pores will become less clogged. The skin begins to appear more youthful and radiant. Fine lines and wrinkles will become less noticeable and new damage will be discouraged.

It can be incorporated into your morning or evening skin care routine depending on what other products you are using but always apply Daily Therapy on clean skin.

For oily or combination skin, Daily Therapy may be used as a moisturizer but if your skin craves more moisture, follow with Moisture Therapy During the day, always follow with a SPF of at least 15.

Adult Acne

June 29, 2014 / 8:32 am

“Adult acne” or acne, as I call it, is very frustrating!

We grow up thinking  pimples are something that affect us as teenagers and we will eventually grow out of it when we become adults. This is often not the case, especially for women.

Hormone fluctuations brought on by stress or our monthly cycle can bring on a breakout like I’ve illustrated in the “selfie” above! I have access to amazing products and am vigilant about doing everything “right” yet once in awhile, the left side of my chin still gets the best of me.

What can we do about it?

Regular Cleansing Facials are the first step. Schedule them the week before you normally experience a hormonal breakout. The timing different for everyone, sometimes it the week before your cycle, sometimes it’s the week of your cycle. Pay attention and book a preemptive session with your esthetician to get your pores cleaned and possibly a glycolic peel to combat excess bacteria.

Minimize your stress level. Figure out what you need to do to relax on a regular basis: take a yoga class, go for a walk, meditate, sit with a cup of tea and a good book. These activities help to lower your cortisol levels which in turn lower your stress hormones and will decrease you chances of having a stress related break out.

Relax, it’s good for your skin!

Can I use Coconut Oil for Sunscreen?

June 18, 2014 / 8:46 am

Q: I keep seeing posts on social media that say coconut oil is a safe, non-toxic alternative to sunscreen. Is this true?

A: Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF or sun protection factor of between 2-8 depending on the quality of the oil.

A quality version of carrot seed oil can contain up to SPF 40 but the high cost and strong scent of this oil makes it a less popular choice. Not to mention, coconut oil seems to be on trend lately, much like olive oil was in the 90’s- which ironically has a similar SPF of 2-8!

An SPF rating of 8 will protect you for 8 times as long as it takes you to begin to turn pink without protection. For someone like me, that’s about 5-7 minutes in full sunlight on a hot day so I would be reapplying coconut oil every 45 minutes. It takes me about 10 minutes to properly apply sunscreen to my entire body so you get the picture.

Native tribes used natural oils mixed with clays and bark like thanakha in Burma for protection from the sun. The skin builds it’s natural resistance to the elements when exposed to them for long periods of time as well. Our culture spends the majority of our time indoors so our skin can be especially sensitive to overexposure. Experimenting with non-proven sunscreen methods can be dangerous and increase your chances for skin cancer in the future.

Non-nano particle zinc oxide is a proven sunscreen ingredient that will insure you are protected from the cancer causing rays of the sun without exposing your body to possible endocrine disrupting ingredients.  Look for a product containing at least 15%, like Suntegrity.

Pore Therapy Exfolating Toner

June 8, 2014 / 8:30 am

Pore Therapy Exfoliating Toner is the newest addition to the sowd:therapy for skin line of products.

This freshening toner utilizes a unique combination of glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids to minimize pores, smooth texture, reduce oily shine and combat discoloration.

It is a great addition to your daily routine if you have oily or combination skin and can be used as needed if you experience periodic acne like me.

After washing your face, apply Pore Therapy to a cotton pad and smooth over your skin. Do not rinse, follow with your favorite moisturizer. It can be used morning or evening, or both if you have very oily skin

The combination of active ingredients is not recommended for sensitive skin however since it does not contain alcohol, Pore Therapy is less drying than traditional astringents.

Like the rest of the sowd: therapy for skin products, it does not contain parabens, fragrance or artificial color.

Always use a minimum of SPF 15 when using this or any other exfoliating product since you will be more sensitive to sun exposure.


Hannah’s Top 6 Skin Care Tips

May 21, 2014 / 4:17 pm

6. Exercise

Exercising 3-4 times per week is good for your skin. A recent study shows frequent exercise helps contribute to preserving youthful skin and reversing the“skin age” even if you began exercising later in life.


5. Sleep

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night allows your skin time to renew itself, the new skin cells grow and replace older cells. Lack of sleep will make you look tired and can enhance dark circles around the eyes. This time is also a great opportunity to allow your anti-aging products a chance to work their magic without being interrupted.


4. Diet

Just like the rest of your organs, your skin needs nutrients to be healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants are the best way to get the nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy and youthful (and combat the effects of the not so healthy choices we all make once in awhile!)

3. Skin Care Treatments

Professional skin care treatments are an important part of any skin care routine. Find an esthetician you trust and have a consultation to determine the best course of treatments for your skin type and your goals, both long term and short term.


2. Home Care Products

While professional treatments are very important, what you put on your skin every day is making just as much of an impact, if not more. Once again, consult a professional esthetician or a dermatologist for home care recommendations based on your skin type, your budget and your lifestyle. Be realistic about how much effort you are willing to put into your routine but also realize, in many cases, less effort can equal less results.

1. Water

If you are dehydrated, your skin will look like crap, have a glass of water.  Drink half your body weight in ounces every day. Your skin will thank you!


What’s NOT in sōwd:therapy for skin

May 11, 2014 / 4:46 pm

If you’ve tried my brand, sōwd:therapy for skin, you’ve seen a lot of information about the ingredients you won’t find in the bottles.

Some items on the list are popular buzzwords in the skin care industry and things like not testing on animals need no explanation, but have you ever wondered why we are all really avoiding parabens?

Parabens: Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. This ingredient, often found in cosmetics, enters the bloodstream and mimics estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Formaldehyde is considered a known human carcinogen by many organizations, including the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Ingredients tested on animals: There’s no need for animals to suffer when formulating safe skin care products.

Bovine sourced ingredients: Ingredients like collagen, elastin, gelatin, colostrum and placenta extract are often sourced from cows. Effective, humane alternatives are available.

Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates: These lathering agents were initially sold as industrial strength detergents primarily used for heavy duty cleaners and degreasers. They strip the skin of the acid mantle leaving it vulnerable to damage. The rich bubbles they create are attractive to the consumer and the low cost is attractive to the manufacturer.

Phthalates: Two decades of research suggest that phthalates disrupt hormonal systems, which can cause harm during critical periods of fetus development.

Thankfully, with the right combination of nature and modern science, we CAN have effective, non-toxic products that improve our skin!

How do I care for my skin after a chemical peel?

April 20, 2014 / 3:53 pm

Professional Chemical Peels are a great way to improve many skin issues with very little downtime.

When having a medium depth, self neutralizing chemical peel (like a Jessners Peel or a light TCA peel) the skin barrier is compromised. How you care for your skin during the week after the treatment can greatly affect the results.

Immediately after the treatment, your skin may be red and feel tight. Make sure your skin care therapist applies sunscreen before you leave the studio and reapply sunscreen as necessary throughout the day. Most peels need to be left on the skin for 5 hours or longer after the application so don’t wash your face or do any activity that makes you sweat.

The flaking generally begins 36-48 hours after the application of the peel. Be very gentle with you skin during this time. Use a gentle cleanser followed by a rich moisturizer and lots of sunscreen.

The flaking generally lasts 3-5 days depending on the depth of the peel and the condition of your skin. Most importantly, DO NOT pick at the flaking skin! When washing your face, use a gentle circular motion with your hands (no washcloth or face brush) to help the dead skin slough.

If you have a lot of clogged pores, you may experience a breakout during the flaking process. Do not use any products designed to dry the skin: salicylic acid, glycolic acid etc. Treat your skin very gently, the breakouts should clear up quickly as the skin cells turn over.

Do not use any products containing Retin A, retinol, AHA, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or any other acid during the healing phase. Reintroduce these products when you feel your skin has fully healed, everyone is different but two weeks post-peel is a good guideline.

Plan to have your chemical peel 2-4 weeks prior to a major event to allow your skin to fully heal. I recommend medium depth chemical peels 2-4 times a year for most of my clients concerned with acne and anti-aging.

Update 6/29/2020:

I do not recommend purchasing a chemical peel on your own and attempting to treat yourself.

A chemical peel is an aggressive skin care treatment and should be performed under the guidance of a skin care professional who will give your specific follow up care for the blend of chemicals they use during your treatment.

This blog is intended for general informational purposes only. Please consult the professional who performed your treatment for specific guidelines.

How to get adequate Vitamin D

March 30, 2014 / 3:23 pm

There is a lot of information floating around about Vitamin D, it can get very confusing!

As of November 2010, the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults is a minimum of 600 IU  and a maximum of 4,000 IU.

The three vitamin D “super foods” are:
•    Salmon

•    Mackerel

•    Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D

4 ounces of Wild Salmon contains 511 IU so it can be difficult get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from food alone.  I prefer a supplement like  Emergen-C which contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D and 500 MG of Vitamin C along with Calcium and other goodies.

Other food sources of vitamin D include:

•    Cod liver oil
•    Tuna canned in water
•    Sardines canned in oil
•    Milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D
•    Beef or calf liver
•    Egg yolks
•    Cheese

Exposing your skin to UVB rays is an easy way to absorb Vitamin D as long as you are careful. For most people 10 minutes of direct sunlight per day is enough. This is not an excuse to skip the sunscreen on your face!

Tanning beds offer only UVA rays, not UVB rays so they will not affect your Vitamin D levels.

Fun fact:

Redheads burn more easily when exposed to UV rays, but their paleness can serve as an advantage. Their lower melanin-concentration actually allows them to produce their own Vitamin D within their
body when exposed to low light conditions.

Skin Care Advice for Sun Junkies!

March 19, 2014 / 3:25 pm

Summer will be here before we know it and I have a few clients that can’t get enough of the sun’s warm rays. Whether it’s regular vacations to Hawaii or outdoor sports, the end result from sun exposure is the same.

Most importantly, be honest with yourself and your skin care therapist about your sun habits. This empowers you to make a plan together that will allow for your skin to be at it’s best without creating further damage.

Use an antioxidant serum every day. Layer it under your sunscreen for increased protection and to combat the free radicals associated with sun exposure.

Moisturize your entire body every day; use a rich cocoa butter, skin oil or antioxidant vitamin C body lotion.

I’ve seen articles recommending coconut oil as a “natural sunscreen”. Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF of 7 so it will protect you for 7 times longer than the amount of time it takes your skin begin to burn in the sun; about 45 minutes to an hour.

I recommend using a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, like Suntegrity, while in the sun, save the coconut oil to moisturize afterwards!

Minimize your exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the peak hours of 10am-2pm. Wear a hat with a large brim to shade your face and thin layers to give your body a break from the sun when on the beach.

If you can’t get enough of the golden glow, opt for a sunless spray tan. Companies like SunFX have perfected their products so no one will be the wiser!

Beauty Product Buyers Remorse!

March 9, 2014 / 3:16 pm

It happens to the best of us; in the relaxed haze of an island vacation (or the sleepy haze of a late night infomercial) we purchase a slew of skin care products that are all wrong for our skin.

The first step is always check the return policy, many companies will allow returns or exchanges of the unused portion within 30 days of purchase.

If your stuck with the product, don’t fret. There are creative ways to make use of items not suited for our complexion!

Creams that are too heavy for the face are wonderful to use on the body. The night cream that clogged the pores on you face will do wonders for your dry cuticles and hands. Same goes for oil based serums.

Retinol, AHA, and glycolic products that prove too strong for your face will smooth your rough elbows and heels in no time. Same goes for harsh facial scrubs.

Creamy cleanser too creamy for your oily skin? Most cream cleansers can do double duty as an eye makeup remover.

Foaming cleanser drying out your combination skin? Use it as a body wash, especially good for areas like the chest and back which might be prone to break outs.

Resist the urge to stow these items away in your beauty closet, they will just sit there until they expire and you’ll waste them entirely. Get creative!

Eye Lash Growth Serum

February 16, 2014 / 3:40 pm

Q: Do eyelash growth serums work? What is the difference between prescription and over the counter products?

A: These serums contain ingredients which extend the anagen or growth period of the natural cycle of eye lash growth as well as conditioners to improve the look of the lashes. They have been proven to be very effective when used consistently.

Bimatoprost is the only ingredient proven effective by lab studies and currently, Allergan (the makes of Latisse) has exclusive rights to its use. It was originally used in glaucoma medication to relieve pressure in the eyes and a side effect was longer, thicker eye lashes. It has been proven safe to use for everyone except those with a history of glaucoma.

Latisse claims to make the eye lashes darker over time but I have not personally seen this result nor have any of my clients. Some people do experience irritation or a darkening of the skin along the lash line.

Consistency is key, you must use the serum daily for 90 days to achieve the maximum results then a few times a week for maintenance.

The over the counter products you see on the market are “lash conditioners” or “lash enhancers” and because of Allergan’s patent, they cannot contain bimatoprost. They might make your lashes healthier but not necessarily longer. Many popular companies have been forced to reformulate their products over the past few years, make sure to check the ingredients and read the label so you know what your are purchasing!

Delicious DIY Body Scrub

February 4, 2014 / 8:44 pm

This is a post from guest blogger Jacquelyn Omotalade, lifestyle blogger and founder of Ruth Omosunbo.

The weather outside is frightening!

I have a tough time keeping my skin moisturized.  The changing weather temperatures are brutal on my skin.  I pine for the skin of a newborn baby – soft and delicate.  I have found a DIY body scrub that helps me get it.

I am very wary of a lot of over the counter lotions and creams.  If I can’t understand or pronounce the words on the back of the container, how do I know the products are safe for my body?

My concerns lead me to develop my own products for my skin at home and the results have been fabulous.

One of my favorite products is my brown sugar and Coffee scrub.  It has worked miracles on my skin.  I use it 2-3 times a week and find that it helps my skin stay soft and moisturized.


2 cups of coffee grinds

1.5  cups of dark muscovado sugar

2 cups of coconut oil (liquid form)

2 cups of olive oil

2 tablespoons of ginger powder

2 tablespoons of cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon of tee tree oil

½ cup of vegetable glycerin

2 12-16 oz air tight containers

I first add the coffee grinds and sugar into a clean bowl.  Add the coconut oil and stir the mixture together.  Next add the ginger and cinnamon powders and tea tree oil.

Mix the ingredients together. They should begin to form a paste.

Mix in the olive oil and glycerin. Make sure the paste is completely mixed together.

Coat the inside of the air tight container with coconut oil.  Pour the paste into the container.

To use, take a shower as you normally do, then turn off the water and scrub your whole body with the exception of your face with the body scrub. Rub as much of the body scrub as you can off your body, then rinse your body off with luke warm water.  Pat your skin dry and go about your day.

Jacquelyn Omotalade is a socially conscious lifestyle blogger, founder of Ruth Omosunbo, a batik and textile boutique founded to enrich the lives of artisans around the world and one of my favorite all around divas! She currently resides in San Francisco.

How can I fix my rough, dry heels?

January 26, 2014 / 3:46 pm

Q: My heels are dry and rough from the winter weather, what can I do to fix this?

A: You can have smooth the feet, the key is consistent care.

1. Purchase a basic pumice stone and use it daily in the shower. The goal is to remove the dead skin cells so the moisturizer can penetrate.

2. After you shower, apply a glycolic acid cream to the area continue the exfoliation process and add moisture.

3. Before you go to bed, apply a thick layer of a rich cream like shea butter or cocoa butter all over your feet and put on socks. You don’t need the fancy socks designed to smooth your feet, just an old pair you don’t mind getting dirty.

Continue this routine daily until your feet are soft and smooth then at least once a week for maintenance.

Many nail salons offer fancy pedicure that include shaving off callouses with a blade. If your feet are heavily calloused, check with a podiatirst before having any invasive treatment. Done incorrectly, it can lead to infection and long term foot pain.

Enzyme Therapy: Exfoliating Mask

January 15, 2014 / 2:55 pm

Exfoliation is such an important part of any skin care routine and there are many options on the market. Most products fall into one of three categories: physical, chemical or enzyme.

I prefer an enzyme because they are gentle yet very effective when used correctly.

Enzyme Therapy: Exfoliating Mask employs beta-hydroxy acids as well as fruit enzymes from pumpkin and pomegranate to lift dead skin cells and release oxidized sebum from the pores. This gel mask is designed to be used 1-3 times per week, depending on your skin.

Apply a thin layer to clean, damp skin and spread evenly over the face. Allow the product to sit for 3-5 minutes: this is when the magic happens! Rinse clean with cool water and apply a serum or moisturizer.

Enzyme masks can be a little more time consuming than a scrub or an acid but the results are worth it.

Makeup for men?

January 5, 2014 / 4:17 pm

Recently, I realized half of my tinted moisturizer sales were to my male clients.

Men want to put their best face forward even if it means having some help. More companies are actually creating makeup lines for men but venturing into this realm can be daunting.

As with anything new, start simple. The new breed of tinted moisturizers are great (often called BB cream or CC cream), they provide light coverage to even skin tone and decrease shine while providing all the benefits of an SPF and moisturizer. My personal favorite is Suntegrity.

If you have a pimple or any area where you need more coverage, use a concealer. This is a product with more pigment designed to camouflage imperfections. It is not meant to be used in large areas.

A light application of tinted face powder will provide some coverage and reduce shine. Be careful not to get heavy handed since excess powder can cake in the creases of your face during the day.

Consult a professional if you have a difficult time finding a color that matches your skin tone.

When applying any tinted product, avoid the beard area if you have stubble. The product will get caught in the hairs.

Avoid wearing any tinted product when you are working out, it will run and discolor your shirt collar and towels.

Wash your face with a product designed to dissolve makeup in the evening.

Makeup can be fun, embrace it!

All About Brows

December 15, 2013 / 3:18 pm

The eyes are the window to the soul…and the eyebrows are the window dressing!

A well groomed eyebrow can make all the difference in your appearance but can be difficult to achieve.

Q: I plucked my eyebrows too thin when I was younger and they haven’t grown back. Help!

A: This is a common problem. The hair follicles of the eyebrows are easily damaged and aggressive plucking can cause growth to slow or even stop.

The first order of business is to STOP plucking! Let your brows grow for 2-3 weeks (longer if you can stand it), then go for a professional shaping. During this time, use a product like Latisse or Rogaine to encourage lazy follicles.

Have your brows professionally tinted with a vegetable based dye to cover any grey or white hairs and create a bolder look.

In between appointments with your brow professional, put away your magnifying mirror and lay off the tweezers. It’s OK to grab a stray hair now and again but daily obsessing will only get you in trouble.

If your brows don’t respond, you may have caused too much damage for them to recover. If this is the case, you can have them filled in with tattoo ink. Do your research when choosing a tattoo artist, ask for references and before/after photos. Brows tattooed by hand (versus a machine) look more natural but need to be touched up more often.

Are you addicted to product samples?

November 13, 2013 / 3:38 pm

Q: “I go crazy collecting skin care product samples in department stores, I LOVE samples! Is it bad for my skin to be using so many different products?

A: Yes! Trying new products all the time can confuse your skin and lead to irritation. The amount of product in most sample packs lasts for 2-4 days so you may be using multiple products for each step inside of one week.

Another major downside: when you skin is looking fab, you won’t know which product made the difference!

I recommend testing one sample product at a time while keeping the rest of your routine consistent. Unfortunately, the amount of product in one sample pack won’t really tell you if it’s going to produce major results in the long run but it will tell you if you like the texture and scent.

It’s tempting to load your suitcase with product samples for travel but this isn’t the best idea either. Dry airplane air and a new climate alters your skin. The face wash that leaves your skin glowing in the humidity of Hawaii might leave you dry and flaky during the windy winter in San Francisco! Invest in refillable bottles and keep your vacation routine consistent.

Got a skin care question? Email hannahsowd@hannahsowd.com


October 23, 2013 / 3:59 pm

Take a stroll down the skin care aisle at any major retailer and you will get a sense that exfoliating your skin is important.

Why has exfoliation become such an important part of our skin care routine? And what is the best method for your skin type?

The skin is comprised of four layers, the top layer includes dead and dying skin cells. In young, healthy skin, these dead cells flake off in a normal cycle of about 28 days.

As we age, or our skin becomes damaged by exposure to the elements, this normal cycle begins to slow. If these dead skin cells are allowed to remain on the face for a longer period of time, the skin begins to appear rough and dull. This excess skin can also clog pores and cause blackheads.

There are many exfoliation products on the market, most fall into one of these categories:

Physical: Anything that uses particles to removes dead skin cells. Scrubs, face brushes and microdermabrasion treatments are all physical exfoliators.

Enzyme: These products use an enzyme, usually derived from fruit, to dissolve the bonds that trap dead skin cells and slow the natural skin cell turn over. An enzyme exfoliator, usually in the form of a gel or cream, is left on the skin for a short period of time to allow it to penetrate.

Chemical: Anything that uses an acid to remove dead skin cells is a chemical exfoliator. Glycolic and salicylic are two of the most popular acids used in this manner. Professional chemical peels also fall into this category.

My favorite method of exfoliating at home on a regular basis (1-2 times per week) is an enzyme mask. Enzymes are more effective and predictable than scrubs and carry less of a chance of reaction than chemicals.

For best results, professional exfoliating treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion should be incorporated into your routine.

Consult a professional to determine the best course of treatment for your skin type. Many of my clients with combination skin and fear of aging have a session of microdermabrasion every 4-6 weeks and a light chemical peel 3-4 times a year.

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