Hannah's Blog

Are you still tanning?

June 2, 2013 / 4:13 pm

A tan, whether you get it on the beach, in a tanning bed, or through incidental exposure, is caused by harmful UV radiation. If you have a tan, you’ve damaged your skin cells, there is no “healthy tan”.

The cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature aging (wrinkles, lax skin, and brown spots), as well as skin cancer. Indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used a tanning bed.

If you rely on sun exposure to increase your vitamin D levels, consider taking a vitamin D supplement instead. You will achieve the same results without the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

If you are going on vacation or want a change of pace for summer, consider a spray tan. Many salons offer custom blended solutions applied by skilled technicians that mimic the appearance of a natural tan without the damage to the skin cells.

Make sure you are wearing an SPF with a high concentration of zinc oxide for the best protection on a daily basis.

What’s wrong with organic skin care?

May 22, 2013 / 3:03 pm

Nothing! I think many organic products are lovely.

However, there are several reasons my products are not certified organic.

Skin care products can be divided into two categories: maintenance and corrective. Maintenance products help to maintain the current condition of your skin while corrective products correct issues like acne, melasma, and the effects of aging.

The majority of my work centers around corrective skin care. My clients want to improve, not just maintain, their skin.

Corrective products need to contain high performance ingredients to be effective. High performance ingredients are dose dependent so they must use chemically standardized plant extracts.

These ingredients do not meet the guidelines set forth by the FDA to be considered “organic” however, they are not “toxic” either.

Vitamin C is a perfect example. It is readily available in citrus fruit yet the potency of juice from an orange can vary greatly. Recreating a the l-ascorbic acid molecule in a lab allows the manufacturer to guarantee the effectiveness of the dose each and every time. This lab created molecule is identical to that found in nature while still being chemically standardized. The color, pH, odor, solid content, viscosity and levels of specific performance related chemicals are consistent. This assures you get results from your skin care products!

That being said, there are some toxic ingredients to look out for when choosing your skin care products. Parabens have been linked to certain types of cancer, sulfates can be drying and harsh to the surface of the skin. Many inexpensive, widely used preservatives contain formaldehyde.

Anti Aging Secrets: proactive versus reactive

May 12, 2013 / 3:28 pm

When it comes to your anti aging strategy, are you proactive or reactive?

serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory: proactive measures against crime.

1.tending to react.
2.pertaining to or characterized by reaction: a reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner.

During my 17 years in the skin care business, I have seen my proactive or preventive maintenance inclined clients fare far better than those that react once problems begin.

The latest high tech ingredients are designed to prevent as well as correct but have a far better chance of working when intervention is premature.

Skin is made up mostly of collagen, the foundation that gives your skin its support and thickness. Collagen is protein made up long chains of amino acids strung together, when it is broken down, short segments of 3-5 amino acids form, called peptides. This is a natural part of the aging process.

Applying peptides directly to your skin is a way to trick your skin into thinking that it has lost collagen recently and needs to make more. The most popular peptide for cosmetic use is palmitoyl pentapeptide (Matrixyl).

The key to getting the best results from a peptide product is to begin using it before the damage is extreme. The long term results from using a peptide based cream at age 30 are going to be better than the results from the same product at age 40.

Proactive prevention is a key component in the anti aging process!

Laser Tattoo Removal

May 1, 2013 / 2:07 pm

Tattoos are often considered permanent, it is possible to remove them, sometimes fully, but often there is a shadow of ink or a scar left behind. Tattoos gained popularity in the 90’s, tattoo removal gained popularity in the 00’s!

Early forms of tattoo removal included the injection or application of wine, lime, garlic or pigeon excrement. Tattoo removal by laser was performed with continuous-wave lasers initially, and later with Q-switch lasers, which became commercially available in the early 1990s. Today, “laser tattoo removal” usually refers to the non-invasive removal of tattoo pigments using Q-switched lasers.

Tattoo removal lasers break down the ink in the tattoo then the broken-down ink is absorbed by the body, mimicking the natural fading that time or sun exposure would create. A tattoo laser must be capable of emitting adequate energy within the given absorption spectrum of the pigment to provide an effective treatment. Certain tattoo pigments, like yellows and greens are more challenging to treat than darker blacks and blues, because they have absorption spectra that fall outside or on the edge of the emission spectra available in the tattoo removal laser.

A 19 year old, black tattoo on my ankle after 17 laser treatments.

Tattoo removal sessions vary in intensity, largely depending on the practitioner and the laser device. Laser tattoo removal must be performed by a doctor, or in some states, a registered nurse. It is not uncommon to have some blistering and swelling at the treatment site after a laser treatment. This actually speeds the breakdown of the ink.

On average, it can take 12-15 treatments to completely remove a tattoo. Depending on the size of the tattoo, each session can cost $125-$300 and
even higher.

Tattoo “removal” is a very popular service, however, be aware it may not be as easy as it sounds!

“Do I need to use a toner?”

April 10, 2013 / 2:10 pm

Q: Do I need to use a toner?

A: First, I want to clarify the difference between an astringent and a toner. An astringent contains mild exfoliating ingredients and leaves the skin feeling tingly after its applied. A toner is mild, usually  without alcohol, and designed to balance the PH level or soothe the skin. Excessively oily or acne prone skin can benefit from an astringent with active ingredients designed to remove oil and treat acne like salicylic acid.

Dry or combinations skin types can skip the toner. If your feel your face is still dirty after cleansing, wash it again. Just like shampoo directions: lather, rinse, repeat. We always cleanse the skin twice during professional treatments; the first cleanse removes dirt and makeup, the second cleanse cleans the skin. If you like the feeling a mist on your face or the smell of a particular toner (which can be lovely!) then by all means, use one! However, I don’t think they are necessary
for the health of your skin.

And more importantly, skipping the toner allows you more time to spend applying important products like eye cream!

Antioxidants: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

March 20, 2013 / 7:56 pm

Antioxidants are the trendy skin care ingredient right now. Here’s a simple breakdown to determine if they are something you should be adding to your routine.

Everyone. Especially those over the age of 30, smokers, and sun worshipers.

Superfruits like Goji berries, Acai berries, coffee berries, white and greens teas and COQ10 are examples of ingredients that neutralize free radical damage. Damage from free radicals is the common denominator is most skin issues.

Every day. Use an antioxidant product under your SPF to enhance it’s protective properties and at night under your moisturizer to repair cellular damage while you sleep.

On your face, neck and decollete.

To neutralize environmental damage from free radicals, reduce inflammation,  calm acne, moisturize the skin and prevent wrinkles.

Soothing Menopausal Skin

March 9, 2013 / 3:40 pm

This post is from guest blogger Renee Iverson:

When your skin changes, you must change your skin care!

Just as every woman has a different coming of age story or perhaps a unique birthing tale, so it goes with every woman’s journey through menopause.  One thing is common among almost all women – they experience changes in the skin.

The hormonal shifts experienced during menopause can wreak havoc on the skin.  Where skin was once plump and dewy, often becomes sunken and lackluster. Acne once again rears its ugly head and wrinkles, crinkles and spots seem to appear over night.

In my personal experience, bone dry skin, increased facial hair and deep cystic acne eruptions have become my constant foes.  What I have learned in my journey from your average American Mom to Hot Flash Mama is that when your skin changes, you must change your skin care! Soothing your hot skin and hot body is a must to bring relief and quickly heal hormonal breakouts.

Any time your body is having a hot flash, the inflammation cascade is kicked into high gear. One of my favorite soothing products is  Soothing Gel Mask. This mask brings comforting moisture and repair-support to any skin type in minutes with an instantly cooling high potency blend of hydrating Panthenol, calming Allantoin and ultra-soothing Sea Whip.

To gently exfoliate, clear up cystic acne and cool at the same time try Purifying Comfort Mask. This gel mask purifies skin’s surface, dissolves dead cells, cools heat and redness and encourages skin to repair itself. It contains a form of Chinese licorice that interrupts the biochemical cascade that leads to redness and other discomfort. This gel also decreases lipase, an enzyme that increases inflammation and irritation in the skin.

Many women experience increased facial hair during menopause.  One thing I find, is that most women with unwanted hair are master pluckers! Acne is often the result of plucked hair because it inflames the dermal tissue around the hair follicle causing it to close down and create a pimple.  Again the Soothing Gel Mask and the Purifying Comfort Mask are must-have products to soothe the area around the follicle.  Pore Purifying Astringent is a wonderful product for cleaning the skin before and after you pluck.  Follow that with either of the masks and you will rarely get pimples.

Exfoliating menopausal skin is a must, but many of the methods used in the past can be too harsh and cause unwanted inflammation – the number one cause of aging in the skin. If you find that your skin is not happy with your current routine, it is time for a change! Perhaps you should try Radiance Boost Exfoliating Toner for any skin type needing light exfoliation.  This mild exfoliating freshener can be used once or twice daily to brighten, revive radiance and minimize pores.

There are so many variables that go into creating healthy vibrant skin. It is so important to be educated about what is happening with your skin so you can make informed choices about its care. A facial with a licensed aesthetician and skin care expert – someone who knows skin care ingredient chemistry and skin physiology is an essential step on your journey to beautiful skin for the rest of your life!

Renee Iverson  is the resident Aesthetician at Mountain Sun in Kirkland, WA.  She is all about focusing on techniques to improve the look, feel and function of the skin with an emphasis on long-term healing and rejuvenation modalities.  She has earned continuing education credits from UCLA Extension studying ingredient chemistry, skin physiology, and advanced skin care ingredients for specific skin conditions. You can follow her on Twitter.

“I’m 28 years old, do I need to use an eye cream?”

February 27, 2013 / 12:51 pm

Q: I recently turned 28 and notice fine lines forming around my eyes. I have a very expressive smile and don’t want to end up with “crows feet”! Is is too early to start using eye cream?

A: No. A high quality eye cream will do a lot more to prevent the signs of aging than to correct damage once it’s occurred.

There are many products to choose from, the two most common are creams and gels. Gels are lighter in weight and great to use during the day since they have a temporary smoothing and tightening effect. Creams are more moisturizing which makes them good for nighttime or both day and night if you have very dry skin.

Read the ingredients before you purchase a product. Peptides are very important, they encourage the skin to produce more collagen which will have a lasting effect on the eye area. Ingredients like Vitamin C and AHA’s are great to lighten hyper-pigmented areas under the eyes.

Choose a product that fits into your budget, you will see improvement after a time but you need to keep using it for the benefits to last.

Can going off “the pill” cause acne?

February 17, 2013 / 5:38 pm

Many of my clients have transitioned off oral contraceptives over the years and the majority of them have some level of skin reaction. This article does a great job of explaining the possible physiological reasons for the skin reaction. Keep in mind, the acne created from the shift in hormone levels is temporary and can be keep under control with some simple changes to your routine. Consult your favorite skin care specialist for recommendations!

Will drinking water hydrate your skin?

January 6, 2013 / 2:12 pm

Adequate water intake helps your brain function, maintains energy levels, regulates body temperature, aids in digestion, and ultimately keeps your body healthy but does it hydrate your skin?

“Humans aren’t like plants. Our skin doesn’t perk up when we consume water,” says Katie Rodan, a dermatologist in the San Francisco Bay area and a coauthor of Write Your Skin a Prescription for Change. When you drink water, It goes through the intestines, gets absorbed into your bloodstream, and is filtered by kidneys then finally, it hydrates the cells (including the skin cells).

Your skin type is largely determined by your genes, natural moisture levels fluctuate depending on to what your skin’s protective lipid barrier is exposed. This lipid layer helps keep moisture in while keeping germs and irritants out. When this lipid layer is compromised, skin can become dry, red and itchy.
Minimizing your exposure to depleting elements like harsh winds, dry heat, high altitude, sun, alcohol, long baths and soaps containing sulfates can prevent the loss of natural oils.

“Diet can play a role in strengthening your skin’s ability to maintain moisture,” says Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, in Florida. Foods rich in the essential fatty acids found in walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can help skin cells stay hydrated. A study by the Institute of Experimental Dermatology, in Germany, also revealed that women who took flaxseed- or borage-oil supplements (2.2 grams a day) for 12 weeks experienced a significant increase in skin moisture and a reduction in roughness. A healthy diet with three to five servings a week of fatty acids will suffice for the average person.

A good moisturizer can instantly improve the look and feel of dry skin, apply it twice a day to help heal serious dehydration. The two key ingredients to look for are stearic acid (a fatty acid), and emollient ceramides. A quarter-size dollop of lotion will do much more for your skin than drinking a quart of water.

Bridal Skin Care

December 9, 2012 / 1:16 pm

Why am I writing about Bridal Skin Care in December when wedding season isn’t until June?

Pre-wedding skin care prep can take 3-4 months and the goal is to be ready at least a month before the big day. You want to look your best for all the events!

If you aren’t getting professional treatments regularly, schedule a consult with several skin care specialists in your area. Ask around for recommendations or consult review sites like Yelp or Genbook. Be upfront with your concerns about your skin, your time and your finances. Make sure to ask about home care products you will be expected to purchase for optimal results.

When you decide on a specialist, consider booking all your appointments up front. Your schedule will get busy and skin care treatments work best when you stick to regime. Ask about a discount if you pay for all the treatments in advance.

I usually recommend a series of 6 sessions of microdermabrasion spaced 2-3 weeks apart and a home care routine using retinol, vitamin C and a lightening product if pigmentation is a concern. One or two chemical peels may be added if the goal is to get rid of dark pigment patches. These peels can have 4-6 days of downtime so they need to be scheduled accordingly.

Pre-wedding nerves can bring on a breakout even if you aren’t prone to them. Now is a good time to build a relationship with a dermatologist. A week of preventative antibiotics and a just-in-case appointment for a last minute cortisone injection can save you from waking up with a giant pimple on your big day. You also may be able to get a prescription for Retin A or other topical creams that will help get your skin under control. Be sure to let your esthetician know about any prescription skin care creams you are using.

If you are considering injectables, give them a trial run 6 months before your big day and get a touch up at least 4 weeks before. Botox takes 2 weeks to set and fillers can cause bruising or swelling (even if you haven’t had these reactions in the past).

And above all, relax and have fun on your big day; happiness brings it’s own natural glow!

The Epigenome

November 28, 2012 / 2:21 pm

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking a class from one of my favorite teachers, Rebecca James Gadberry. The class, titled “The Epigenome: Where the Environment and Genes Meet”, turned me on to one of the most potentially exciting discoveries in the future of anti-aging.

I remember hearing about the Human Genome Project back in the early ’00’s and reading articles like this one but it took awhile to sink in: this science has the potential to extend our lives and the lives of our children while allowing us to look better, feel better and function at a higher level than before.

Here is a video that puts the concept of Epigenetics in simple terms (side note: the scientists in the video support intelligent design versus evolution, I don’t think that’s relevant to the concept).

Simply put, the genome cells are identical and require an epigenome to direct their activity. The epigenome places tags on the DNA structure to allow or prevent certain aspects to express themselves. These tags control how one cell multiplies, when cells make or don’t make protein and the quality of this protein, when and how well the DNA damage is repaired, how quickly or slowly you age and how disease forms in the body.

Studies have shown these tags respond to positive stimulation (exercise, healthy food, meditation, massage) as well as negative stimulation (processed foods, smoking, prolonged sun exposure). Essentially, we have the power to overcome at least a portion of the map that our DNA has determined for us.

One study showed people with long term meditation practices to have 1000 inactive stress related receptors which was 50% more than the control group. After just 8 weeks of daily meditation, the control group showed an improvement of over 400 additional inactive stress receptors.

This is such a broad and fascinating topic. For years I have been telling people that good skin requires more that topical products, lifestyle plays an integral part. Now I have the science to back it up!

What’s in your skin care products?

November 18, 2012 / 1:49 pm

Many people are concerned about what they put in as well as on their bodies. I often hear clients say “I want to skin care products with ingredients I recognize.”

Reading skin care product labels is like deciphering a secret code. Ingredients are required to be listed according to the official dictionary for cosmetic ingredients known as the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), which was established bythe Personal Care Products Council in the 1970s.

For some ingredients it is easy to figure out what the common name is and in other cases it is downright impossible. This website provides a handy breakdown of the current INCI categories so you can look up ingredients you may not recognize.

There are over 17,000 names in the current dictionary. Here are some examples, along with their INCI names, as well as clues to figuring out what the ingredient is:

Licorice root extract = Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract

Grapefruit oil = Citrus Grandis  Peel Oil: think of “Grand Citrus” or “Large Citrus.

Rose hip seed oil = Rosa Canina Fruit Oil: rose hip seed oil  is extracted from the seeds of the fruit of the Dog Rose shrub. Dog Rose-Canine-Canina.

Oat bran = Avena Sativa Kernel Extract: where the brand name “Aveeno®” comes from!

Bearberry = Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract

Once you start to recognize some of the common ingredients,  shopping for skin care products will become easier.

Makeup Tips

November 7, 2012 / 3:52 pm

For an esthetician, I am NOT a naturally inclined makeup person!

Over the yeaphoto 2 copyrs I have picked up a few useful makeup tips that I often share with my clients so I thought I’d share them with you.

Healthy skin has it’s own glow that shouldn’t be covered up but I love the idea of a tinted moisturizer to even things out. I haven’t found one that makes me feel like I am getting enough sun protection so I make my own. I take a good sized dollop of my favorite sunscreen and mix it with a small amount of foundation.

I apply the mixture like lotion, all over my face then follow with a light dusting of mineral powder to reduce the shine. It evens out my skin tone while providing adequate sun protection for a day in the city and not making me look overly “made-up”.

I admit to having a bit of an eyelash fetish so mascara is an important part of my daily routine. Clinque High Impact Mascara is my current fav, in black of course (I don’t understand the point of brown photo 1mascara!).

I apply mascara to the top side of my top lashes, then the underside of my top lashes and touch up and areas I’ve missed. Coating both sides gives a much bolder look than just coating the under side.

What are your favorite makeup tips? Please share them in the comments below!

Halloween Makeup (REMOVAL) Techniques!

October 26, 2012 / 3:50 pm

You spent hours on your Halloween makeup, had a great night trick or treating (or drinking) and by the time you get home you just want to fall into bed (or pass out).

Take an extra few minutes to remove your makeup and you will thank me in the morning!

First, hold a warm wash cloth over your entire face for a few minutes. This will remove excess surface debris and allow you to see where you need to focus your efforts.

Second, cold cream is your friend! So is pure jojoba oil. Both will remove most oil based makeup easily. Allow the product to sit on your skin for a few minutes to break down the makeup instead of rubbing which will just cause excess irritation.

Use an eye makeup remover or more jojoba oil on a cotton pad to remove eye makeup. Hold the cotton pad over your eye for a few minutes to emulsify eye lash adhesive before pulling your lashes off.

Wash your face twice with your favorite facial cleanser and apply a heavy night cream. Pass out.

The next morning (after your head clears from the fog; either sugar or alcohol induced), wash your face again, use a Clarisonic brush if you have one, and remove any traces of eye makeup. Apply a gentle clay mask and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse and hydrate well.

You will probably need a heavier moisturizer for the next few days, costume makeup can dehydrate the skin.

Use the mask every other day for the next week if you are breaking out or have more blackheads than usual.

Now is a great time for professional facial.

Happy Halloween!

Skin Care For The Body

September 12, 2012 / 3:35 pm

A few months ago, I wrote about red bumps on the upper arms which spurred more questions about skin care for the body.

Skin on the body has fewer oil glands than skin on the face so it requires different care.

Some general rules when it comes to skin care for the body:

* use warm water, not hot, when you shower or bathe

* use an unscented, moisturizing body wash or gentle bar soap

* apply unscented moisturizing cream to the skin while still damp for maximum effectiveness

* use a body lotion with SPF 15 or higher on any areas that will be exposed during the day

A prominent concern among my clients is acne on the chest and the back. Often, these breakouts are deep cysts that require systemic treatment like antibiotics.

If they are more surface breakouts, try the following tips:

* shower after working out, sitting around in sweaty workout clothes will aggravate the acne

* wash your body AFTER rinsing conditioner from you hair, heavy conditioners can clog pores

* use a 10% benzoyl peroxide body wash in the shower once a day to kill bacteria and lessen break outs

Do you have concerns about the skin on your body? Post your questions in the comments section and I will answer them!

Fabulous Lashes

August 26, 2012 / 2:58 pm

Eye lashes are a major focus in the cosmetic industry and this trend shows no sign of  going away. There are many ways to enhance the lash line, following are some of the popular options.

Eyelash Enhancing Serums:
The active ingredient in most of these products is prostaglandin which extends the growth phase of the eye lash resulting in longer, thicker lashes. Latisse uses a higher concentration which is why it is classified as a prescription, many over the counter products (like my current fav LiLash) use the same ingredient in non-prescription strength doses. These products require daily use for the first 3-4 months to see maximum results, then you can taper off to 3-4 times per week to keep your fabulous lashes. Latisse claims to darken lashes as well but I used it for over a year and noticed no darkening. These products can also be used to enhance eye brow growth.

Semi-permanent mascara:
Semi-permanent mascara is a professionally applied mascara designed to last 10-14 days. The application process takes about 30 minutes and can be tailored to your specifications regarding length, thickness etc. The mascara is waterproof which makes it an excellent choice for vacations and special events.

Eyelash tinting:
Tinting or dying the eyelashes is a great option for people with light colored eyelashes. The process takes about 20 minutes and lasts for 2-3 weeks. Tinting enhances the color of the lashes but doesn’t affect length or thickness.

Eye lash extensions:
(pictured above, compliments of my fabulous friend Akiko)
Lash extensions are semi-permanent false eyelashes. An extension is added to each individual lash to create a customized look. The process can take up to 2 hours for a full set, less for touch-ups or partial sets. With proper care, they can last up to 3 weeks before a touch up session is needed.

Is coffee really bad for your skin?

August 5, 2012 / 2:06 pm

First off, I should admit, I am a coffee junkie. Not only do I love it; the taste, the smell, the ritual; most days I can’t function without it. I start the day with 1-2 cups of French Press then continue with an afternoon latte.

I know skin care professionals that force their clients to cut back or eliminate coffee from their diet for the sake of their skin but I am not one of them! A few weeks ago, I started to wonder, is coffee really bad for your skin? I know caffeine causes dehydration, I try to work an additional 8 ounces of water into my day for each cup of coffee I consume to balance this effect. When applied topically, coffee berries are a potent antioxidant and beneficial for healthy skin. Caffeine dehydrates skin cells by energizing them, causing them to release sodium, potassium and water, which makes skin appear smoother so it is often use in cellulite treatments and eye creams.

Ground coffee beans can be added to an oil base to make a natural body scrub that also reduces the appearance of cellulite. Try this simple scrub at home with your leftover coffee grounds:

Coffee Body Scrub

  • 2 cups leftover coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Jojoba Oil

Mix all items together in a bowl.
Apply liberally to your body while bathing or showering concentrating on rough patches and bumpy skin. Rinse well.

Recent research has shown coffee might have skin cancer-preventing properties; an experiment performed on mice showed that, when combined with exercise, caffeine boosted the mice’s natural defenses against UV rays by an unbelievable 400%. The evidence examined in this particular experiment is a process called apoptosis, by which the body gets rid of damaged and cancerous cells by killing them off. Researchers in Seattle performed a similar experiment, on cultured human skin cells; after placing the cells in a caffeine bath and exposing them to UV rays, they found that the caffeine killed the cells that had been damaged. There’s a very real possibility that caffeine in coffee might prevent the spread of skin cancer by killing damaged cells before they have a chance to become cancerous.

Caffeine does have a negative effect on severe acne, increasing the swelling and severity of cysts. The physiological reaction is described in detail here but even this article goes on to say that moderate coffee consumption as part of a balanced diet is not going to cause acne.

Here’s what Dr Weil recently said on the subject of coffee consumption.

All things considered, I refuse to give up my coffee habit, it isn’t harming my skin and may, in fact, be keeping me healthier in the long run.

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