Category Archives: Retail Products

“I have red bumps on my upper arms, help!”

Q: I have red bumps on my upper arms. They get worse during the winter and got really bad when I was pregnant. It’s embarrassing to wear sleeveless tops! What can I do to treat them? Help!

A: Red bumps that appear on the upper arms are known in the medical community as keratosis pilaris. It is a very common problem, often due to genetic factors and can be easily kept under control. The bumps arise from excess keratin production which can clog the hair follicle. Use a gentle cleanser and a glycolic body lotion on the affected area to keep the skin smooth and clear.

If the problem persists or worsens, make an appointment to see your dermatologist.

Skin care for the great outdoors

Does your idea of a fun weekend include a Saturday morning ocean swim followed by a short hike and mountain biking on Sunday?

Outdoor activities require specific skin care considerations.

I cannot stress sun protection enough. And I mean thick, white, water-resistant sunscreen that you would never wear on a day to day basis. Yes, it may clog your pores but it will also help prevent a myriad of skin conditions ranging from unsightly Melasma to serious skin cancers. I like the Suntegrity Face Sunscreen for the face and Neutrogena SPF 70 for the body.

Both of these products utilize a physical sunscreen ingredient. A physical block (like titanium dioxide) contains particles that do exactly that, physically block the sun light. This also helps protect your skin from other elements like wind and cold.

Before you get dressed in the morning, apply SPF lotion to your face and entire body. This will ensure you don’t miss crucial areas on the edges of your active wear. Use a full 2 ounces to cover your body and a blob the size if a quarter for your face, neck and ears.

Re-apply often; immediately after an water-based activity or every 1-2 hours. I like spray sunscreens for re-applying on the body, it’s easier if you are wearing cycling gloves, have dirty hands etc. SPF sticks are helpful to for re-application to the face.

Wear a hat with sun protection, sun glasses with adequate coverage, long sleeves, and a high neckline when you can. If you have short hair, thin hair (or no hair!) don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp.

After you activity, your first order of business is to clean your face. Keep facial cleansing cloths in your bag for a quick wipe before you head home.

Once you are able to give your face a good washing, use a gentle cleanser to cleanse twice. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will ensure your skin is clean without over drying.

Exfoliate on a regular basis. Use an enzyme peel 2-3 times a week and a gentle toner daily to keep dead skin to a minimum and pores clean.

Do skin care products really expire?

The simple answer is yes.

However, there are many factors that can extend the shelf life of the fabulous products you work hard to be able to purchase!

Most skin care products have a symbol on the label that lets you know how long the product is good once it’s been opened: the most widely used icon is a jar with and open cap and a number on it. The number denotes how many months the product is guaranteed from the day you open it.

Most products are good for 6-24 months once they have been opened. Packaging plays a large roll in how this number is determined. An airless pump keeps a product fresh for much longer than a wide mouth jar. The less contamination (for the air or your fingers), the longer your product with stay fresh and stable.

If a product changes color or separates, chances are good that is has expired.

Vitamin C is difficult to keep stable and has a short shelf life. It oxidizes (turns brown) when it is no longer effective.

Most skin care products are sold in containers determined to be the amount an average person would consume, with regular use, in a 3-4 month period.

If you are worried about your products expiring before you use them up, stick with items sold in pumps and tubes instead of jars and store them in a dark, cool environment.

Is there a downside to using expired products?

Again, the simple answer is yes.

When a product is past the expiration date it is no longer effective. For something like a basic moisturizer, this isn’t a concern but for a product containing sunscreen or retinol it’s important to make sure the active ingredients aren’t past their prime.

Skin care from the neck down

I share a lot of information about skin care for the face but what about the rest of your body? Here are few tips just in time for winter!

Use warm water when you bathe or shower. Hot water will dry your skin which causes flaking and itchiness. Skin on the body doesn’t have as many oil glands as the face so it becomes dry more easily.

Use soap or body wash only on the important areas, using too much of these products will dry you skin. If you have chronically dry skin, try a body wash that contains colloidal oatmeal which soothes the skin.

Use an unscented body lotion or cream every day. I like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream when my skin is dry. I specify unscented because most commercial scents contain alcohol which is drying. If you like a scented cream, add a few drops of an organic essential oil. Use a moisturizer with SPF on any areas that will be exposed to the sun during the day like arms, hand and chest.

For rough heels, knees and elbows, I alternate between Glycolix Elite 15 Percent Body Lotion to exfoliate the skin and a rich cream (like RAW Cocoa Butter) to moisturize. Glycolic lotion is also helpful when treating rough, bumpy patches on the upper arms (usually a result of dry skin).

Make sure you are drinking enough water during the winter months. Moisturizers work to seal in moisture so you need to hydrate from the inside out for the best results. And remember, any non-caffeinated beverage, fruit juice or soup counts towards your daily water intake!

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!