Category Archives: Hannah Sowd Skin Care

Sadly, Drinking Alcohol Does Accelerate Skin Aging

I’m a proponent of a balanced lifestyle. I want to believe I can treat and hydrate my way out the negative effects of occasional alcohol consumption.

Am I fooling myself? Probably.

We know drinking alcohol dehydrates our body and makes the skin less elastic. Alcohol also increases blood vessel dilation which leads to redness, puffy eyes, and inflammation.

The older I get, the longer these after effects (and the pounding headache…) seem to hang around.

Sadly, there’s evidence to show the impact doesn’t stop there. Alcohol consumption accelerates the aging process of the skin and there’s no way around it.

Effect of alcohol use. Regression analyses suggested a relationship between alcohol use and aging severity that was statistically significant for under-eye puffiness, mid-face volume loss, and blood vessels on the cheeks.”

Under-eye puffiness, mid-face volume loss, and blood vessels on the cheeks? Ugh. Regular alcohol consumption affects much more than just the hydration levels of our skin.

Corrective treatments for volume loss of the face and broken blood vessels require expensive, invasive procedures like dermal fillers and lasers.

It’s time to rethink my alcohol consumption!

“I tried a sample of a skincare product, it didn’t “work”.”

Skincare samples are cute and fun, everyone loves getting free samples.

Skincare samples generally hold 2-5 applications of a product. If your skin needs exfoliation sometimes a product can deliver “wow” results from a single application but using most products a handful of times will not determine the longterm results.

The best way to determine if a product will work for your skin is using it on a regular basis for 30-60 days or two full skin cell cycles.

So what is the point of skincare samples?

Samples are a great way to experience the texture and scent of a product. They are wonderful if you have allergies or if you prefer a certain sensation in your skincare routine.

When a moisturizer feels too heavy or light, a cleanser too rich or foamy, we may form a mental block when it comes to our skincare routine.

Your skincare routine should make you happy!

Don’t force yourself to use a product because you think it’s “good for you” if you don’t like the way it feels. The skincare market is saturated with options and sample sizes are a good way to find what will please your senses.

Want a 3 Day Turnaround Kit of product samples created just for you? Have an Online Skin Care Consult with Hannah!

The Virtual Skin Care Consult

This year hasn’t gone as planned (and I don’t think I’m alone!). I’ve had to pivot my business plan so many times I’ve lost count.

One thing is certain, I miss seeing clients.

Since the future of face to face services is uncertain, I created a Virtual Skin Care Consult.

A Virtual Skin Care Consult gives us an opportunity to discuss your skin care needs “live”, I can see what is going on with your skin at the moment and give you real time feedback.

Every consult begins with an online intake form. If you are a brand new client you will complete a new set of of forms, if we have worked together in the past you will provide an update for me.

When I receive your intake information, I do a careful assessment before we schedule time to meet. The virtual meeting takes place via FaceTime, Google Meet, or Skype. The consult takes about 45 minutes, depending on what we need to discuss.

Each consult is different, we talk about what you need right now. We can discuss a specific issue or work on an entirely new skincare routine. It’s your time so we can work on whatever you need.

I enjoy the virtual consults so much! I’ve established relationships with new clients thousands of miles away and gotten a peek into the lives of local clients quarantined at home.

To schedule a Virtual Skin Care Consultant click here or shoot me an email with any questions.

Wash Your Face

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.

Hannah Sowd Skin Care COVID-19 Studio Procedures

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.

As of November 29, 2020 I made the difficult decision to suspend in-person appointments until San Francisco is no longer in the Purple Tier.

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 appointment.

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.

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 lost you sense of taste or smell, 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 working fewer days and 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!

A Month With No Touch

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.

Is Your Pillowcase Affecting Your Skin?

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.

The Environmental Impact of Skin Care

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.

RUHAKU Organic Japanese Skin Care

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?”

“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.

How To Be A Good Client

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!

The Wedding Countdown

Looking your best for your wedding (or any big event) is important but how do you fit all your appointments in the week before? And in what order?

I get this question a lot from my bridal clients so I’m putting it in a blog!

Six months to a year out from your date: start your skin care routine. This gives you plenty of time to customize your plan with a professional. More aggressive treatments like chemical peels require downtime and planning.

Six months before your big day: have a trial run with your hair and makeup artist as well as other professionals. This includes nails, spray tan, waxing, lash extensions etc. Find the business where you will have these services performed AND the technician who will perform them. Leave as little to chance as possible!

Four weeks before your big day: have your last corrective facial treatment with microdermabrasion or a peel, hair cut/color, Botox and fillers.

Five-seven days before your big day: have a massage, a body wrap, body scrub, or any other body treatments.

Three-five days before your big day: schedule lash extensions, waxing, LED facial.

The day before your big day: schedule manicure and pedicure then spray tan.

A few general items to remember:

Book as early as possible! Talented technicians in all trades get busy so the earlier you plan, the better for both of you. I have brides that book 6 months of treatments up front and it works great for both of us.

Certain treatments take time to work. Botox takes two weeks to see full results. A chemical peel can take about a month to see the best results. Have consultations with professionals so you know what to expect on what timeline. This is not a time to experiment with something new!


Should I Buy Skin Care Products From A Discount Website?

We’ve all been there, shopping online we find a serum our esthetician sells but for a fraction of the price.

What’s the deal with these products? Why is a serum $148 at most locations but $99 on a discount site? Is it too good to be true?

Every company sets an MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) for their products, whether it’s skin care, clothing, or other items. Most companies even go so far as to monitor when their products can go on sale and how deep of a discount can be offered.

All accounts have agreed to sell products for the MSRP whether in person or online. Reputable companies want control over the pricing of their goods and will shut down accounts that don’t comply.

So how are certain sites selling the same product for less?

A large amount of these sales are expired product sold by a third party. Most retailers won’t risk losing their account just to offer an unapproved discount.

Or like I discovered recently, it could fake product.

I finished a favorite eye shadow palette only to discover it had been discontinued. A quick Google search led me to a few for sale on a discount site. Against my better judgement, I purchased it (they has great reviews!) only to discover it was a knock off. The packaging was identical; it was brand new and sealed but full of cheap eye shadow with no pigment.

Thankfully I spent less than $20 to learn that lesson.

A sales rep from a company I work with told me this story years ago. A customer returned a serum she purchased online because it just wasn’t the same as previous bottles. Their lab tested the contents of the returned bottle and it was apple cider vinegar not the $100 serum the customer thought she was purchasing.

If you can’t purchase your products directly from a professional, find a reputable website. Trying to save a few dollars on a discount site could be a disaster in the end.

The Top Five Oil Based Serums for Dry Skin

A well formulated oil-based serum should be easily absorbed and nourish the skin, it can be a life saver for dry skin!

Suntergity Rebound: Organic Antioxidant Renewal and Boosting Serum $78

This USDA organic power-packed serum blends 20 carefully selected organic oils and botanicals known for their ability to help combat UV induced damage and restore skin’s natural radiance. This concentrated antioxidant serum is also a delicious defense against future damage so we suggest you use it pre- and post- sun exposure together with your favorite mineral sunscreen. The heavenly scent of hibiscus and sweet orange will have you falling back in love with something good for you.

Dermaquest Radiant Skin Facial Oil $65

Radiant Skin Facial Oil is a blend of 9 essential oils that soothe irritated, chapped skin. This fast acting, leave on oil provides healing and anti-inflammatory qualities as it deeply nourishes dry, dehydrated and compromised skin. Use Radiant Skin Facial Oil to protect skin restoring suppleness and balance!

OSEA Essential Hydrating Oil $68

This ultra hydrating botanical oil restores a dewy luster to your skin. Naturally rich Jojoba and Sesame seed oils deliver advanced hydration, visibly reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A blend of pure Lavender, Rosewood and Geranium essential oils provide a dewy, illuminated complexion and create a gorgeous aromatic allure. The perfect instant surge of hydration for a beautiful, radiant glow.

Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil $82

Nine natural oils multitask to help protect from free radical damage and to refresh skin’s appearance. Evening primrose, argan and jojoba oils help to boost hydration, reinforce skin’s moisture barrier, and soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Grapeseed and rosehip oils deliver vitamins c + e to improve tone and restore a healthy-looking complexion. Geranium and borage oils help balance skin. This quick-absorbing treatment provides instant hydration to help skin look and feel softer, smoother and brighter.

Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant +Superfood Face Oil $72

 A botanically active blend of a cold-pressed powerhouse of superfood seed oils, this formula nourishes the skin with antioxidants, vitamins, essential amino acids, omegas 3, 6, and 9, and naturally soothing agents for a luminous, radiant complexion. Vitamins A and C help to brighten the skin’s appearance for healthy-looking vibrancy, while they fortify the skin with antioxidants to support anti-aging. Sinks in, leaving skin hydrated, protected, and velvety soft for an obsession worthy glow.

The Top Five Sunscreens for All Skin Types

I’m a fan of a physical sunscreen. It works to prevent melasma and is better for the environment.

Here are my top five favorite sunscreens for all skin types.

iS Clinical Eclipse SPF50+ $44

Eclipse SPF 50+ is an ultra-sheer, lightweight formula that absorbs quickly for a non-greasy matte finish. Formulated specifically for daily use and extended outdoor activities. 
Eclipse SPF 50+ is a unique fusion of scientifically advanced physical sunscreens, transparent Titanium Dioxide and micronized Zinc Oxide, coupled with pure Vitamin E. This antioxidant-rich blend provides superior water-resistant broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer $45

A rich, non-greasy, “chem-free” face sunscreen that offers Broad Spectrum Protection against damaging UVA & UVB rays. Infused with youth promoting antioxidants, this 3 in 1 product functions as a face moisturizer, sunscreen and make-up primer. Red algae, aloe vera, jojoba, sunflower, pomegranate, cucumber, and green tea provide the face with additional sun defense and hydration. Large doses of uncoated, non-nano zinc-oxide protect the skin while providing anti-inflammatory properties that help with rosacea, acne, and melasma.

Super Goop Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen $38

A 100% mineral primer in one translucent formula that blurs pores and mattifies skin. Wear underneath makeup for more coverage during the week, or on its own for less coverage during the weekend – and either way, you can rest assured that you’re getting SPF 40 protection. Major bonus points for the fact that butterfly bush extract helps guard your skin from blue light too.

Cerave Face Sunscreen $11

CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50 provides broad spectrum, lightweight sun protection plus 3 essential ceramides to help restore skin’s protective barrier. Water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Dermaquest Youth Protection $50

DermaQuest Youth Protection SPF 30 blocks the sun’s harmful UV rays while simultaneously combatting signs of aging for a protected, more youthful complexion. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide deflect and shield skin from UVA/UVB rays while shea butter and jojoba moisturize. Lines and wrinkles lighten as antioxidants absorb to nourish your facial features.

DIY Coconut Sugar Body Scrub

Two close girlfriends had baby showers this summer and I set up a DIY body scrub station as a party favor at both parties.

This gave me the opportunity to play around with a lot of fun ingredients and make new combinations for yummy DIY body scrubs!

I’ve always favored sugar over salt as an exfoliating agent and found that adding finely shredded coconut is effective and aromatic.

Here is one of my new favorite combinations:

Makes about 4oz.

5 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons rose petals (I buy dried rose petals and run them through a food processor)
4 Tablespoons avocado oil
5-6 drops geranium essential oil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Can be kept in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on using it up within 4-6 months. Not recommended for use on the face.

What I learned from my “Botox Vacation”

Full disclosure, I’m a fan of injectable neurotoxins. In the hands of the right doctor, they are a great tool to for people who want to look youthful.

I had my first Botox treatment at 35 years old. The vertical line on my forehead had been there long as I could remember, getting more pronounced with each passing year. The prospect of softening it was intriguing.

The procedure itself didn’t feel as invasive as I expected. It took about 10 minutes and the result was subtle. I was so happy with the results, I continued to have injections every 5-6 months.

I’ve paired Botox with other anti-aging treatments (chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and LED treatments) and I’m generally happy with my face a decade later.

Then I had two Botox treatments in a row where the results changed dramatically. My eyes looked heavier and my forehead too frozen. I discussed it with my dermatologist but the corrections he made didn’t really help.

Unsure of what to do, I took a “Botox vacation” and let my face go back to its natural state.

I was curious; had a decade of paralyzing my forehead muscles affected their movement? Was Botox really “preventative” like some doctors said? Would my forehead be smoother than it was before?

My “Botox vacation” lasted a nine months. During that time, all the movement returned to my forehead; I’m happy to know my muscles still work! The heaviness left my eyelids as the Botox wore off but the vertical line on my forehead also returned.

Does my forehead look better now than it would have if I didn’t get all the injections over the past decade? Not necessarily.

I decided to see a new dermatologist and he used a different injection pattern to lift my brow while still softening the vertical line. I’m happy with the results and will probably get back on my regular injection schedule but it’s also nice to know what my face looks like without a little help!