Category Archives: Hannah Sowd Skin Care

Skin Care for Men

Men need skin care too!

40% of my clients are male; they have thicker, oilier skin however many experience sensitivity, especially in the lower face and neck from shaving.

Here are some basic skin tips for men:

Shave as little as possible (many men can get away with shaving every other day, especially in San Francisco where “business casual” is the norm) or alternate your razor with an electric shaver. An electric shaver doesn’t give as close of a shave but is more gentle on the skin.

Shave after you shower. The steam from the shower relaxes the pores and the hair follicles making them more receptive to shaving.

Use a gentle shaving cream (Aveeno is good) or a face wash that doubles as a shaving lubricant (like IS Clinical Cleansing Complex).

Exfoliate your face 1-2 times a week. Use a gentle face scrub or an enzyme exfoliator. Exfoliation ensures dead skin cells are swept away before they have a chance to clog the pores which causes blackheads and exacerbates in-grown hairs.

Use a gentle lotion with SPF every day. No questions. Preventing sun damage is so much easier that reversing sun damage.

The same goes for eye cream; start using it before you think you need it, both morning and night.

Professional treatments help the texture and overall health of your skin. Cleansing Facials 4 times a year is a good place to start. Microdermabrasion is an option for men that want a more corrective treatment with little to no downtime.

Consistency is key: find a routine that fits your schedule and stick with it!

Why do I break out after I get a facial?

One of the most common excuses for NOT getting regular facials is breaking out a few days after the treatment.
There are a few reasons why a facial can bring on an eruption of pimples.

Human skin is made up of 3 primary layers, sebum (oil) production occurs in the middle layer (the dermis) so the eruptions that surface after a facial originated long before the treatment occurred. Unfortunately, this is often part of the purging process associated with starting a new skin care regime.

That being said, there are many ways for an esthetician to minimize this risk.

Using a product or device to minimize bacteria during or after the extraction process is helpful. I incorporate the high frequency current into all of my treatments which treats existing breakouts and minimizes the chance of future eruptions.

If your skin is very “bumpy”, that indicates the presence of comedones or clogged pores. Smoothing out the texture of the skin is a process that includes regular professional treatments and consistent home care. You may have to deal with a few eruptions along the way, but the end result is worth it!

How often do I need a facial?

Do you wait until you get a gift certificate to think about skin care? If so, chances are you need facials more often!

Consistency is key. For general maintenance of healthy skin, I recommend a Cleansing Facial every 4-6 weeks. Having your pores cleaned on a regular basis allows them to shrink and become less noticeable.

New skin cells replace the old ones every 28-32 days, when treating a condition like acne scars, it is beneficial to have a professional treatment twice during this cycle. I recommend a series of 6 sessions of Microdermabrasion spaced 2 weeks apart for maximum results, then follow up treatments ever 3 months.

This same model works well with glycolic peels for acne prone skin.

If money or time is an issue, figure out a frequency that fits your budget and stick with it; even if it’s 2-4 times a year. Quarterly facials are more beneficial than four monthly sessions in a row then a large gap until your next treatment.

Find an esthetician that you like and stick with him or her! There is an added benefit to visits with someone who knows the history of your skin especially through hormonal changes like pregnancy and menopause. And it’s nice to have someone you know pamper you after a rough day!

Professional Hair Removal Treatments

Unwanted hair can be frustrating! As we age, hormones fluctuate and women often have stray hairs popping up where they least expect. There are many options for hair removal, here is some basic information about the most popular methods.

Waxing:

Waxing is the most popular method of hair removal. Wax is heated until it melts then a thin layer is applied to the skin and quickly removed to pull out the hair.
Soft wax is most commonly used, a strip of muslin is applied on top of the hot wax to facilitate easy removal. Hard wax is less popular but better for more sensitive skin because it has a lower melting point. Hard wax it applied in the same fashion but no muslin is used, the wax hardens and is pulled off in one strip.

*Waxing is NOT recommended for anyone using any type of tretinoin (Retin A, Renova, Tazarac, Retin A Micro, Differin etc.) or Accutane. You should discontinue tretinion products for 3 weeks prior to waxing any area on your face.

Sugaring:

Sugaring is similar to waxing but uses melted sugar instead of wax. Distributors claim it decreases the amount of hair growth over time but I am skeptical of these claims.

Threading:

Threading is growing in popularity for facial hair removal. This method originated in India and uses special thread twisted in such a way that it grasps the hair and pulls it out at the root. It is recommended for anyone using topical tretinoin. The results last longer than waxing and it is more gentle on the skin.

Tweezing:

Tweezing is second to waxing in terms of popularity. It is the easiest method to remove stray facial hairs and maintain eyebrows in between appointments with your esthetician. The quality of tweezer makes a big difference in the result. Tweezerman are the best, you can even send them back to the company for sharpening when they become dull.

Laser Hair Removal:

Laser hair removal works best on brown or black hair, especially those with dark hair and pale skin. It removes about 80% of the hair in 6-8 treatments. Yearly touch-ups can be necessary, this method of hair removal can only be done by a doctor or a nurse working in a doctors office.

Questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments section below!

The I Derm Deep Skin Ionization Treatment

The I Derm Deep Skin Ionization Facial, also known as the Iderm® Treatment, uses a direct galvanic current to introduce water soluble solutions into the skin, kill bacteria associated with acne and firm the skin. Dermaculture has utilized Ionization techniques for the treatment of skin for over 70 years. The Iderm® Treatment (a proprietary treatment technology owned by Dermaculture) introduced the concept of Ionization to the entire skin care industry. The photo above displays the galvanic mask (with the electrodes on the outside; the opposite of how it is used during treatment) for a feature in German Vogue.

What is an Iderm® Treatment?

The Iderm® treatment is the most comprehensive approach to treating the skin. This treatment uses a direct galvanic current which effectively introduces water soluble solutions into the skin by a process called iontophoresis. Skin naturally rejects whatever we put on it, so the only way we can truly affect the lower layers of the skin, is to draw vitamin rich solutions into the dermal tissue by means of electricity.

Is the Iderm® Treatment Safe?

The Iderm® treatment process uses a very low intensity current, a milliamper (1/1000th of an ampere) which is both safe and effective for application to the skin.

What Results Can I Expect?

You will notice how exceptionally clean and rejuvenated your skin looks and feels after the first treatment. A combination of treatments and proper use of skin care products will give your skin the appearance of a smoother, more youthful tone and texture.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can book your Iderm® Treatment with me; in Seattle, book with my good friend Jody at Dermaspace; and in Los Angeles or New York check out The Face Place.

Microdermabrasion

In the 1950’s a treatment call dermabrasion used a wire brush to remove scars and wrinkles on the face. It was very invasive, required anesthesia and recovery took up to 2 weeks. Fast forward to 1985 and an Italian company introduced the first “micro” dermabrasion machine. By the mid-nineties our current style of microdermabrasion machine was imported to America and today most spas and skin care studios offer the treatment.

Microdermabrasion is a professional exfoliating treatment using crystals and suction to remove the top layer of dead skin which minimizes uneven texture, acne scars, large pores and fine lines. The treatment can be done alone or incorporated as the exfoliating step of a basic facial.

A single session will leave your skin looking smoother and refreshed, while a series of treatments will provide visible results for more stubborn concerns. A “series” is one treatment every 2 weeks for 12 weeks: a total of 6 treatments. Microdermabrasion is NOT recommended for clients with active acne: once the breakouts are under control, the treatment is effective to clear up any pigment or scarring.

There are a wide array of microdermabrasion machines on the market ranging from $200 home-use models to $14,000 machines made for use under a medical doctors supervision. The machine plays a significant part in the outcome of the treatment, the larger the motor, the more aggressive the treatment can be.

Technique does vary so you may see better results with one esthetician over another.

Microdermabrasion is an effective, affordable treatment that can help you achieve your skin care goals!

The Appeal of the Sun

Last week I found myself in a yoga class of 40+ people and I was one of the handful of students without a tan…and yes, I mean intentional tans: dark, even, no tan lines. Living in San Francisco I can only surmise the majority of this color did not come from the sun.

Why are so many people still tanning with everything we know about sun exposure? And even worse, why are people using tanning beds???

Tanning beds are calibrated to emit mostly UVA radiation, the deep penetrating rays that are responsible for golden-brown skin color, not UVB radiation, which affect the surface layers of the skin and cause it to burn. In addition to premature aging, UVA rays are the cause of Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Regular use of these beds can triple your risk of developing Melanoma.

The health benefits of sunshine, the role it plays in vitamin D synthesis, has been in the news a lot in recent years. UVB rays are responsible for this synthesis so spending time in a tanning bed will not help your vitamin D deficiency. Exposing your face and arms to 20 minutes of sunlight per day meets the requirements for most people to synthesize vitamin D.

The world of SPF can be confusing. I’m glad the FDA has decided to step in and simplify the labels as well as regulate protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Confused by SPF? Take a number.

The bottom line: intentional tanning is never good, you are only damaging your skin. Find a sunscreen lotion that protects from both UVA and UVB rays: try several, the more you like the texture and smell, the more you will use it. When you know you will be in the sun for an extended period of time, wear a hat and long sleeved shirt in addition to SPF. And lastly, make sure you are using enough SPF lotion: a 4oz tube should only last 3 months if you are applying it to your face daily.

The Eyes are the Window to the Soul…

And how are you caring for your “window frames”?

The tissue around the eye area is delicate and has fewer oil glands than the rest of your face. A cream specifically formulated for the eye area is an important part of any skin care routine. And remember; eye cream does more to prevent than to correct the signs of aging!

I suggest my clients use an eye cream as part of their routine, both morning and evening, beginning as young as their mid twenties.

Darkness under the eyes is a common concern, lack of sleep and lack of hydration are the most widespread culprits. The structure of the eye socket makes the under eye area ideal for lymphatic fluid buildup, which causes darkness and puffiness under the eye. Drinking enough water (half your body weight in ounces every day) and using an eye cream with caffeine are the best ways to conquer this lymphatic fluid buildup.

Some dark circles are not caused by fluid buildup but by excess pigment (often called “hyper-pigmentation”), this is very common in darker skin tones. An eye cream with a lightening agent, like vitamin C or hydroquinone, will gradually brighten the eye area. Pair it with an exfoliating agent like retinol in the evening for better results. Make sure these ingredients are in a cream approved for use around the delicate eye area!

Fat loss in the face is common as we age and can lead to hollow looking eyes. A hyaluronic acid based filler like Juvaderm or Restylane will fill in the area. Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the skin so these fillers are safe and have no risk of allergic reaction. Injectable fillers are very effective in the eye area and the results can last up to a year.
Fine lines, wrinkles and sagging all have the same root cause: break down of collagen in the tissue. This breakdown is caused by the aging process, sun exposure and dehydration (including dehydration caused by cigarette smoke and alcohol consumption).

The sooner the skin receives support from topical serums and creams, the better chance you have to delay this breakdown. Peptides mimic broken collagen molecules; when applied topically, your skin generates new collagen cells to repair itself. Choose an eye cream that contains peptides for firming and fighting wrinkles.

Deep wrinkles in the eye area, often called “crows feet” can be treated in several ways. Professional exfoliation using chemical peels or microdermbrasion will soften them and Botox or Dysport can be injected in the area to temporarily limit the muscle reaction. This process needs to be repeated every 3-4 months.

Neck Creams are the new black.

Have you noticed many skin care brands have introduced a “neck cream” ?

Skin care trends come and go. After many years in the industry, I see cycles similar to those in fashion: to quote Heidi Klum “One day your in, the next day you are out”. Neck creams seem to be the trend of 2011.

Are they necessary?

Well, yes and no.

As clients approach their late 20’s, I encourage them to add at least one anti-aging product to their routine. Vitamin C serum is my favorite since it works beautifully on combination skin, helping to combat blackheads while providing antioxidant protection and boosting collagen production. This type of serum is suitable for the neck and decollete as well, so there is no need for a separate “neck cream”.

As we age, oil production decreases and a heavier cream may be necessary. Most of the neck creams I have seen on the market claim to be “firming”: I don’t buy it. In order to noticeably firm the skin, the collagen must be activated with a heat source, like a laser, and the results are gradual. I have yet to see anything, applied topically, that actually firms the skin.

That being said, I love to see people paying attention to the neck and decollete area! Too often, our routine stops at the jawline. Use your night cream on your face, neck and decollete (it’s never to early to start: topical products do an amazing job at preventing aging but are far less effective at reversing it). Also, incorporate these areas into your daily sunscreen application.

The only products designed for the face I don’t recommend for the neck are retinoids and AHAs. The neck has fewer oil glands than the face and can be more easily irritated. Embrace this trend and start taking better care of your neck and decollete area!

All About Acne

Zits, pimples, spots, blemishes- call them what you want but we’ve all had to deal with them at one time or another!

There are many creams, lotions, and gels-both prescription and non- that claim to cure, prevent and treat acne but what really works and why?

Genetics, hormones, stress, and lifestyle all play a part in the condition of our skin. The two most common types of blemishes are cystic acne and comedones. Comedones can be open (commonly called blackheads) or closed ( commonly called whiteheads) but come from the same source, a build up of debris in the skin’s pores. Cystic acne blemishes are large, often painful bumps that start deep under the top layers of the skin.

Comedones are fairly easy to control while cystic blemishes are more severe and often need to be treated with prescription medication. Your esthetician can assess your skin and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary.

Comedones are a result of excess oil from overactive oil glands, dead skin, and external debris clogging the skin’s pores. During a deep cleansing facial the skin is exfoliated (often with a light glycolic peel), then steam is used to dilate the pores before the comedones are gently extracted. Once the skin is deep cleaned, the first step in preventing the build of of the comedones is to clean the face regularly

Begin by washing your face morning and night with a gentle cleanser. Often, it is necessary to wash the face a second time in the evening to ensure removal of makeup, sunscreen and surface debris. A toner is not necessary but an astringent can help control oil in extremely oily skin types.

Exfoliate your skin 2-3 times per week using an enzyme exfoliant. This will remove dead skin and surface debris before it has a chance to clog the pores. Additionally, if your skin produces excess oil, a clay mask can be helpful in absorbing the oil and keeping your skin clear. Apply the mask once a week and allow it to dry before removing it with a warm washcloth.

When dealing with acne, it is important to keep in mind the goal is to balance, not dry, the skin. Wash your face with  warm water and use a light moisturizer even if you are prone to breakouts.

Spot treatments are good for drying up existing breakouts and preventing new ones in acne prone areas. The two most effective ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide; try both and see what your skin responds to best.

Regular cleansing facials, light glycolic acid peels and proper home care will help most skin get clear and stay clear!