Category Archives: Retail Products

Natural Charcoal Water Filter

A natural charcoal water filter in a glass carafe is my new favorite way to purify my drinking water. Always on the lookout for ways to reduce the amount of plastic I use in daily life, natural charcoal is the perfect solution.

Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Sticks are made from 100% Ubame Oak branches burned in a specialized kiln at extremely high temperatures. The process is called “nerashi”; it carbonizes the structure of the wood and leaves behind countless porous cavities for water to fill.

When new, the charcoal sticks are so smooth they feel almost like glass. Each stick must be prepped with boiling water then rinsed with clean water before added to your water carafe. This activates the charcoal and removes any remaining ash or loose bits.

The charcoal should be boiled every 3-4 weeks to release the buildup of impurities it has absorbed from the water. Replace the charcoal after 3 months of use.

When your charcoal is no longer effective for water filtration, it can be recycled. Break the used sticks into smaller pieces and add to your garden or houseplant soil. The recycled charcoal will aerate your soil and increase microbial activity.

No waste + clean water!

Spring Cleaning Your Skin Care Closet!

Is it time to spring clean your skin care closet? Once a year, take the time to clean out your collection of skin care products.

Divide your skin care products into three groups:

  1. Skin care products you use regularly and work well for your skin type, your “core routine”.
  2. Skin care products you stopped using because your skin changed and they no longer work for your skin type.
  3. Skin care products that were gifts or impulse purchases, some of these items may even be unopened or you only used them once before deciding they were wrong for your skin type.
Many skin care products have a symbol of a jar with the number of months the product is considered fresh after opening.
Many products have a symbol with the number of months the product is good after opening.

First, discard any items that have been open for more than one year or are past the expiration date printed on the bottle. The active ingredients will no longer be effective. Also, discard any unopened items you have had for longer than three years. Preservatives start to fail around this point so there is no guarantee the product will be safe for use.

Skin care products with active ingredients will also have an expiration date.
Skin care products with active ingredients will also have an expiration date.

Next, re-evaluate the products in group two. Are these items you might use when on vacation in a warmer or colder climate? Can you re-purpose any of these items? For instance, can you use a granular scrub that’s too harsh for your face on your heels or elbows? If not, toss them.

The items in group three can be difficult to part with because the packaging is so pretty or they cost so much! That’s why you were moved to buy them impulsively. Host a swap party for your friends; have everyone bring several new or barely used skin care products that don’t suit them and trade for items better suited for their skin type. Everyone wins!

Skin Inflammation

Skin inflammation is a positive skin reaction, it shows your skin bringing more blood cells to an infected area to fight bacteria. However the end result causes considerable damage to texture and appearance of the skin.

How can we calm inflammation, fight bacteria, and prevent damage in the skin?

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Historically, topical steroids are the first line of defense to fight skin inflammation. Studies show long term use of topical steroids can have negative effects, which include suppressed immune function and thinning the skin.

Certain compounds that occur in nature have anti-inflammatory benefits and can be used topically without the negative side effects of prescription steroids.

Botanically-derived antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties include L-Ascorbic Acid (found in citrus), Quercetin (found in apples), Resveratrol (found in wine), Epigallocatechin Gallate (found in green tea), and Bisabolol (found in Chamomile).

Everyone should use an daily antioxidant regardless of skin type. Two of my favorites are antioxidant therapy and IS Clincal Pro Heal Serum.

Daily antioxidant use protects your skin from environmental damage and controls inflammation.

Layer an antioxidant serum under your SPF during the day. Antioxidant ingredients boost the effectiveness of your SPF and help prevent free radical damage from pollution.

Why not make January #maskmonth?

January is the perfect time for new beginnings, why not make it #maskmonth?

I encourage my clients to use a mask once a week in their home care routine, with so many options to choose from this shouldn’t be a problem.

Awhile back, I realized I was getting lazy about my masking routine. I stocked up on my favorite sheet mask, clay mask and charcoal mask and committed to following my own advice for a month.

I’m loathe to admit it but goofy photos for social media is a great motivator for #maskmonth!

It didn’t take the whole month to see the difference in my skin. After two weeks of consistent masking my face was glowing.

My tips for #maskmonth:

1. Custom blend your masks! When I have a client with combination skin in the studio I add a pump of antioxidant serum to a balancing clay mask for added nourishment. Experiment at home.

2. Five minutes is all you need. 10-15 minutes is great if you have the time but put on a mask and brush your teeth/wash your hair/trim your toenails then rinse.

3. Create a mini-facial at home. Exfoliate then mask, your skin will look amazing! Add eye patches to target the under eye area.

4. Take a goofy photo for social media, get your friends to join the fun of #maskmonth!

What is an Online Skin Care Consult?

Do you need a skin care consult?

Do you purchase skin care products based on a recommendation from a friend or a blog post only to be disappointed by the results?

The product may not be to blame, it may just not be right for your skin type.

When you don’t have a local skin care specialist, you may turn to the Internet to research product and find recommendations. There are also online skin care consults popping up on some websites.

Most online skin care consults fall into one of two categories:

  1. A free computerized quiz from a large skin care company to categorize you into one broad type and offering their matching skin care range, usually “dry”, “oily” “sensitive” etc.
  2. An appointment for a one on one Skype consult with a specialist for $100+.

Being a busy business owner, I recently discovered the online shopping service for clothing, Bungalow. They match me with a stylist who sends me a box of clothing based on my likes and dislikes. I thought “What if there was a service like this for skincare?”. My online skin care consult and 3 Day Turnaround Kit was born!

The Hannah Sowd Skin Care Online Skin Care Consult begins with an in-depth questionnaire to determine your skin care needs, you can also upload photos of your skin to receive a more accurate assessment. Once I receive your completed questionnaire and photos, I determine your custom skin care routine.

Your routine will be comprised of skin care products from different product lines, including my own. Since I don’t work for any particular brand, I’m free to pick and choose the best items for your skin. All of the skin care brands I offer are products I’ve been working with for years in my studio so they are proven to be effective.

Once I have determined your best skin care routine, I create your 3 Day Turnaround Kit of product samples. This includes samples of all the products in your routine so you can try it for three days.

After you have a chance to try the 3 Day Turnaround Kit, you will receive a an offer for 20% your first purchase of all the full size products in your kit. What more could you want?

Get started now.

 Online Skincare Consult, $20 + tax and shipping

Glossier Boy Brow Review

I have light blonde eyebrows so when the trend swings back to full, dark defined brows, I get sad. I don’t like spending too much time on my daily makeup routine so I tint my brows once a month which helps a lot.

Recently, I discovered Boy Brow by Glossier and it makes me so happy!

It’s advertised as “a creamy wax formula inspired by traditional hair pomade” and that’s pretty accurate. It adds color and depth while helping the hair stay in place.

left brow has Boy Brow and right brow is naked!
one brow with Boy Brow and one is naked!

The product is thick but the applicator brush is a tiny mascara-like wand so it’s easy to apply where you want it and not get where you don’t.

My brows are “done” in about 90 seconds!

Age Therapy: Refining Complex

The latest addition to the sowd:therapy for skin product line, Age Therapy Refining Complex is a treatment moisturizer suitable for all skin types. The medium weight complex can be used alone or layered over a serum for drier skin types.

The unique blend of active ingredients including muti-action niacinamide, will visibly firm, smooth and re-energize the skin while protecting it against daily environmental assaults.

Regular use will soften the skin while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

After two weeks of use smoothness was improved by 33% and sagging reduced by 16%.

After four weeks of use wrinkles diminished by 33%, hydration increased by 44% and firmness improved by 25%.

After 12 weeks of use firmness increase by 55%, skin clarity by 35%, fine lines and wrinkles reduces by 55%.

Is your bathroom a skin care graveyard?

Do you open you medicine cabinet and get overwhelmed by the sight of all the bottles and tubes of skin care products you’ve collected over the years?

Good products are pricey and they aren’t doing your skin any good sitting on a shelf so take some time to get organized!

First, check expiration dates and throw out anything that is clearly expired. Many items aren’t marked with an exact expiration date, toss it if it the package has been open for two years or longer.

Second, make a pile of items you tried but don’t like for some reason. It could be texture or smell but if you don’t like them, you are less inclined to use them. Gift this pile to some lucky friends.

Third, establish what products you DO like and work well for your skin.

Set up your bathroom accordingly. I keep my morning cleanser and my enzyme exfoliant in the shower since that’s where I use them. The cleanser I use in the evening goes near the bathroom sink etc.

Once you’ve cleared through the clutter, you can figure out if there are any holes in your routine and you might actually have an excuse to go shopping!

24 Hour Skin Care Diary

Curious about what I use on my skin?

Here is my 24 Hour Skin Care Diary: a typical day in the life of my skin.

day copyMy morning face routine is simple: vitamin therapy fortifying cleanser, Youth Serum and Suntegrity.

I love all three of these multi-functional products, products that have more than one function means fewer steps in the morning!

Vitamin therapy fortifying cleanser gets rid of any traces of eye makeup I may have missed the night before and it cleanses without over drying my combination skin. I can actually wash my eyes with it to remove makeup, it’s that gentle.

Youth Serum provides both immediate smoothing and long term anti-aging benefits which makes it the perfect choice under makeup.

Suntegrity is a 3-in-1 SPF/moisturizer/makeup primer so after I layer this on my skin look smooth and luminous. I almost feel like I don’t need makeup…almost.

I’ve been adding a bit of firming peptide eye therapy because my eye area has been extra dry with the crazy weather we are having in San Francisco.

body copyFor my body I use Malin + Goetz Lime Body Wash in the shower, it’s gentle and I love the lime scent (plus it makes an excellent bubble bath when you have time to indulge!), followed by body therapy antioxidant lotion. To prevent dry heels and elbows this stuff is magic, I apply it 3-4 times a week.

On work days I keep my makeup simple. Suntegrity 5-in-1 tinted SPF provides just enough coverage and color (and additional SPF protection). Mascara is my thing and right now I’m obsessed with Full, Fat Lashes by Charlotte Tilbury. I add a little eyeliner, blush and lip gloss from NARS and I’m good for the day.

I do my evening skin care routine as soon as I know I am in for the night.

If I get home from work and start hanging out, watching TV or reading a book…I end up too tired to do my full routine so I’ll skimp on something. I’ve been much better about my evening skin care routine since I started doing it as soon as I get home.

night copyI love IS Clinical Cleansing Complex in the evening. It removes my makeup as well as the dirt from the day, I always cleanse twice: once to remove the dirt and makeup, once to cleanse the skin.

Right now I’m using Malin and Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads to exfoliate most nights. The 10% glycolic acid keep my combination skin free from acne and blackheads.

If I’m feeling dry, I’ll add moisture therapy on top of the glycolic acid once it’s dry.

I got some IS Clinical Youth Eye Complex as a gift so I’ve been using that at night, it’s rich and hydrating but doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes.

I like IS Clinical Youth Complex on nights I don’t use the glycolic pads.

That’s an typical day in the life of my skin as I approach my 42nd birthday, what are you using on your skin?

What’s the difference between BB Cream and CC Cream?

And now there’s DD Cream!

BB = Beauty Balm

CC = Color Corrector

DD = Daily Defense

The bottom line is, these products are new versions of good old fashioned tinted moisturizer.

They can have the added benefits of anti-aging ingredients, anti-acne ingredients, makeup primer and antioxidants but the categories themselves don’t mean that much.

Try a few different products to find one that provides the makeup coverage you prefer but don’t rely on one of these creams for sun protection, layer it over a lightweight SPF to make sure you face is protected.

 

Inflammation and Aging

Inflammation is one of the key factors that leads to aging skin, hyper-pigmentation and a variety of other skin issues.

The study of epigenetics shows how lifestyle choices can drastically affect our gene reactions when it comes to the aging of the skin. Inflammation is one of the key factors in this aging process. It plays a large part in the break down of the protective barrier of the skin, DNA damage and hyper-pigmentation.

On a daily basis, we are exposed to stimulus like sun light, HEV light from electronic screens, pollution and cigarette smoke.

Many skin care products currently on the market designed to target hyper-pigmentation don’t take this into account. If we don’t address the root cause of inflammation, we can’t repair the compromised skin barrier and ultimately, control the hyper-pigmentation.

All the new information we have about aging, inflammation and hyper-pigmentation leads us back to antioxidants. They should be incorporated into your day time and night time routine for total protection.

A moisturizer designed to repair the skins barrier is also important for overall skin function.

Chemical peels and microdermabrasion can do wonders to lighten existing hyper-pigmentation but it’s important to incorporate anti-inflammatory skin care products for long term results.

Firming Peptide Eye Therapy

Firming Peptide Eye Therapy is a gentle, anti-aging eye cream that employs plant extracts and peptides to firm and protect the delicate eye area.

The delicate skin in the eye area does not contain as many oil glands as other areas of the face so a cream designed especially for the area is necessary to hydrate the skin and prevent the breakdown of collagen.

The area inside the eye socket also lacks the structural support provided to the rest of the face which is one of the main reasons the signs of aging are first visible around the eyes.

Peptides are the building blocks of collagen so when applied topically, the skins own collagen is motivated to produce. Daily use of Firming Peptide Eye Therapy will render both short and long term results.

Can I use body lotion on my face?

Q: Can I use body lotion on my face?

A. Body lotion and face cream are formulated differently.

Body lotion contains occlusive ingredients which seal in moisture, helpful for the skin on the body since it doesn’t have as many oil glands as the skin on the face.

The occlusive properties of these ingredients can lead to clogged pores on the face, even for people with dry skin. Face cream is designed with the specific balance of the skin on the face in mind so it is less likely to clog the pores.

It is better for most skin types to use two separate products.

Is too much “screen time” affecting my skin?

Smart phone, tablet, laptop, TV: does all this technology affect your skin? We interact with these gadgets for hours every day, often at very close proximity to the delicate skin on our face.

We know about the dangerous effects of UVA and UVB light from the sun, but what about the HEV rays from our electronics?

Recent scientific evidence suggests that High Energy Visible (HEV) light at the wavelengths that the eye perceives as blue to violet is harmful to skin when exposed for long periods of time. The result is what is becoming known as an “HEV burn” and can accelerate the signs of aging.

HEV light has been shown to generate the same amount of free radicals in the skin as those produced by UVA and UVB combined. Like UVA, HEV light does not generate the immediate visible “burn” triggered by UVB, but it may accelerate photoaging. While the effect of UVB radiation is associated with direct damage to the DNA, the cellular damage caused by HEV radiation is less direct and is associated with the generation of free radicals and the induction of oxidative stress.

How do I protect my skin fro HEV damage? The good news is, you probably already are!

Antioxidants designed to prevent UVA damage do double duty to prevent HEV damage so products like Antioxidant Therapy and Daily Therapy have you covered. The big shift in the industry is to start recommending these products be used more often and at a younger age than we previously thought.

Nightly Therapy: Retinol Complex

Nightly Therapy is a retinol serum designed to be used every night for to exfoliate the skin, help delay the aging process and prevent acne from forming.

Derived from Vitamin A, retinol is an integral part of any skin care routine. Nightly Therapy uses the purest form of Vitamin A to smooth wrinkles, even skin tone and restore youthful radiance.

This powerful skin care product employs a time-released retinol to gently smooth the appearance of lines and Matrixyl peptides to restore the look of skin’s youthful tone and texture while minimizing the chance of irritation.

The light formula can double as a moisturizer for oily and combination skin types or be layered under a heavier moisturizer for drier skin types. It is ophthalmologist-approved for use around eyes, on the “crows feet” area.

What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen?

There are two categories of sunscreen ingredients, physical and chemical.

Physical sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect the skin by reflecting the light rays.

Figure-1-Diagram-showing-how-physical-and-chemical-sunscreens-actChemical sunscreen ingredients like avebenzone and oxybenzone absorb the light rays to protect the skin from damage.

Physical sunscreens do a better job of protecting the skin from sun damage and chemical sunscreens allow products to have a lighter feel and be water resistant. Many popular brands use a combination of physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients to produce the most user friendly product.

As an esthetician who works with a lot of clients suffering from hyper-pigmentation or melasma (often called “sun spots”), I am a fan of physical sunscreens. There is less opportunity for allergic reactions and they are safer for acne prone/sensitive skin as well.

 

Plant Stem Cells and Anti-aging Skin Care Products

You may have seen skin care products on the market that contain stem cells derived from either plant or animal sources. While stem cells derived from animal or human sources remain controversial, plant stem cells are proven as a safe and effective way to energize skin cells and reverse many signs of aging.

Plant stem cells are undifferentiated cells which carry the entire DNA gene expression of the plant and can morph, or differentiate, into any cell type to help the plant regenerate. This ability makes them invaluable for cosmetic applications since they can address multiple concerns.

These cells can be cultured in a laboratory setting where the concentration of phenylpropanoids—active substances created in response to injury or trauma—is multiplied in these cells by 1,000 times or more. As the stem cells are cultured in this manner, their chemical purity is also enhanced allowing for more influence in safety, control and standardization. When the finished product is applied topically, it works to trigger self-renewal in human skin.

The Mung Bean sprout, or Vigna Radiata, contains all the important substances for regeneration and protection of stressed skin making it’s stem cells particularly effective for skin care applications. The next generation of products from sōwd:therapy for skin will contain this potent extract, coming soon!

Daily Therapy: Vitamin C Complex

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.

Pore Therapy Exfolating Toner

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.

 

What’s NOT in sōwd:therapy for skin

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!