Category Archives: Skin Care

The Top 5 New Years Resolutions for Your Skin

With less than a month left the year, now is a good time to start thinking about New Years Resolutions. Does your skin play a part in yours?

Here are my suggestions for the Top 5 Skin Care Resolutions:

1. Love your skin!

First, (and this is super important!) pick one thing about your skin that you absolutely love. I battled acne in my teens and my 20’s which means that in my 40’s I get to enjoy the benefits of all that extra oil production. It’s important to take a moment and appreciate what we love about ourselves!

2. Wear a product with at least SPF30 every day.

Concerned about controversial sunscreen chemicals? Choose an option with a physical block and pair it with Vitamin D in your multivitamin. This is important year round, no matter wear you live. When the sun is out, you are being exposed to UVA rays which are the rays that damage your collagen and cause premature aging.

3. Get to the dermatologist for a mole check, especially if you’ve never had one.

The frequency of recommended mole checks varies according to your age, history of sun exposure and family history of skin cancer, your dermatologist will tell you what is right for you. Monthly self exams are also recommended.

4. Schedule a consultation with your esthetician.

How long has it been since you’ve reviewed your skin care goals? Sometimes we can go for years using the same skin care products and receiving the same treatments without stopping to check in and see if they are still right for us.

5. Set small skin care goals so you can achieve them.

Overhauling your entire routine is tough, pick one or two things to work on. Washing your face before bed is a great place to start! Got that down? Exfoliating at least once a week is super important too!

Make this the year of great skin!


Skin Care for Cold and Flu Season

With cold and flu season approaching, skin care habits can go out the window when we don’t feel well.

I often get clients returning after a bout with sickness and they don’t understand why their skin is dull and clogged, “I didn’t DO anything, I was in bed all day”. Exactly. You’ve got to DO something, even if it’s the bare minimum, to keep your skin in shape while you’re sick.

* Wash your face twice a day with a gentle, exfoliating cleanser. I know, you are just lolling around in bed, but your skin is still shedding cells and you have germs all over. Wash your face, please.

* Change your pillowcase every day. See above. Not only will it help your skin, it will give you a germ-free place to rest your head.

* Moisturize your face at least twice a day, more if needed. Your skin will be more dry than normal; a fever, cold medicine, blowing your nose, all these aspects of being sick will dry out your skin. Use a calming moisturizer for your entire face and don’t hesitate to do double duty with an unscented lip moisturizer on your dry, chapped nose.

*Lay off the exfoliating products until you are feeling better, they can sensitize your skin even further. And by all means, wait until you are well to get your next treatment, your esthetician will thank you!

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.

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.


Is makeup bad for my skin?

Q: After getting a facial, I never want to “ruin” the results by putting on makeup afterwards. Is this a real concern? Is wearing makeup that bad for my skin?

A: Back in the days of pancake makeup, full coverage products earned a bad reputation. It took loads of cold cream and harsh cleansers to remove them at the end of the day and they were prone to clogging the pores.

Most modern foundation, especially tinted moisturizers and BB creams, are actually fortified with ingredients that are beneficial to your skin like SPF and antioxidants.

When you apply these products over a treatment cream or serum, the foundation will even out your skin tone without interfering with your skin.

There are exceptions to this, foundation that is designed to give a lot of coverage for a photo shoot for example. I don’t recommend using this type of product on a daily basis, a thick foundation can clog pores and cause breakouts, not too mention it is difficult to remove in the evening. Save it for a special occasion.

As far as applying makeup after a facial, it really depends on the treatment you received. Some treatments, like a self neutralizing chemical peel, require that the skin be left untouched for 5 hours post treatment.

If you are going back to work or out to dinner after a basic facial, there is no downside to applying a small amount of tinted moisturizer or powder.

A popular misconception is that the pores are “open” after a treatment. Pores don’t “open” and “close” like little doors all over your face. The do expand and contract with heat and cold but a good facial will include the appropriate mask followed by high frequency current and moisturizer with SPF before sending you out into the world so your skin will be protected from whatever you choose to apply.

The Best Home Facial Routine for Oily and Combination Skin

1. Cleanse your skin using a light gel cleanser. Make sure to remove all traces of eye makeup, dirt and sunscreen during this initial cleanse.

2. Cleanse your skin a second time to clean the skin. You can use the same gel cleanser or a more nourishing cleanser if you have combination skin.

3. While the skin is still damp, apply a thin layer of an enzyme exfoliating mask. Relax for 3-5 minutes, take this time to chill out and make yourself a cup of tea. Take the leftover hot water and dampen a washcloth for your face. Place the warm washcloth over your face (with the mask still on) for a few minutes and let the heat expand the pores and help the enzyme work. Remove the enzyme mask with the washcloth, then rinse with clean water. If your skin is oily, apply an exfoliating toner with a cotton pad.

photo 1

4. Apply a thin layer of a white clay balancing mask on clean, dry skin. You can use a facial brush if you like the feeling (and the look of an evenly applied mask). Allow the mask to sit for 8-10 minutes. Take this time to relax, lie on the floor in Savasana (like the Panda) take some deep breaths, have another cup of tea or soak your feet in a mineral salt bath.

5. Using the washcloth if necessary, remove the clay mask then rinse the skin well. Apply an eye cream around the delicate eye area then a  treatment moisturizer or SPF moisturizer depending on the time of day.

6. Enjoy your fresh, clean complexion! This home facial routine should be done once a week for best results.

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!

Adult Acne

“Adult acne” or acne, as I call it, is very frustrating!

We grow up thinking  pimples are something that affect us as teenagers and we will eventually grow out of it when we become adults. This is often not the case, especially for women.

Hormone fluctuations brought on by stress or our monthly cycle can bring on a breakout like I’ve illustrated in the “selfie” above! I have access to amazing products and am vigilant about doing everything “right” yet once in awhile, the left side of my chin still gets the best of me.

What can we do about it?

Regular Cleansing Facials are the first step. Schedule them the week before you normally experience a hormonal breakout. The timing different for everyone, sometimes it the week before your cycle, sometimes it’s the week of your cycle. Pay attention and book a preemptive session with your esthetician to get your pores cleaned and possibly a glycolic peel to combat excess bacteria.

Minimize your stress level. Figure out what you need to do to relax on a regular basis: take a yoga class, go for a walk, meditate, sit with a cup of tea and a good book. These activities help to lower your cortisol levels which in turn lower your stress hormones and will decrease you chances of having a stress related break out.

Relax, it’s good for your skin!

Can I use Coconut Oil for Sunscreen?

Q: I keep seeing posts on social media that say coconut oil is a safe, non-toxic alternative to sunscreen. Is this true?

A: Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF or sun protection factor of between 2-8 depending on the quality of the oil.

A quality version of carrot seed oil can contain up to SPF 40 but the high cost and strong scent of this oil makes it a less popular choice. Not to mention, coconut oil seems to be on trend lately, much like olive oil was in the 90’s- which ironically has a similar SPF of 2-8!

An SPF rating of 8 will protect you for 8 times as long as it takes you to begin to turn pink without protection. For someone like me, that’s about 5-7 minutes in full sunlight on a hot day so I would be reapplying coconut oil every 45 minutes. It takes me about 10 minutes to properly apply sunscreen to my entire body so you get the picture.

Native tribes used natural oils mixed with clays and bark like thanakha in Burma for protection from the sun. The skin builds it’s natural resistance to the elements when exposed to them for long periods of time as well. Our culture spends the majority of our time indoors so our skin can be especially sensitive to overexposure. Experimenting with non-proven sunscreen methods can be dangerous and increase your chances for skin cancer in the future.

Non-nano particle zinc oxide is a proven sunscreen ingredient that will insure you are protected from the cancer causing rays of the sun without exposing your body to possible endocrine disrupting ingredients.  Look for a product containing at least 15%, like Suntegrity.

Hannah’s Top 6 Skin Care Tips

6. Exercise

Exercising 3-4 times per week is good for your skin. A recent study shows frequent exercise helps contribute to preserving youthful skin and reversing the“skin age” even if you began exercising later in life.


5. Sleep

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night allows your skin time to renew itself, the new skin cells grow and replace older cells. Lack of sleep will make you look tired and can enhance dark circles around the eyes. This time is also a great opportunity to allow your anti-aging products a chance to work their magic without being interrupted.


4. Diet

Just like the rest of your organs, your skin needs nutrients to be healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants are the best way to get the nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy and youthful (and combat the effects of the not so healthy choices we all make once in awhile!)

3. Skin Care Treatments

Professional skin care treatments are an important part of any skin care routine. Find an esthetician you trust and have a consultation to determine the best course of treatments for your skin type and your goals, both long term and short term.


2. Home Care Products

While professional treatments are very important, what you put on your skin every day is making just as much of an impact, if not more. Once again, consult a professional esthetician or a dermatologist for home care recommendations based on your skin type, your budget and your lifestyle. Be realistic about how much effort you are willing to put into your routine but also realize, in many cases, less effort can equal less results.

1. Water

If you are dehydrated, your skin will look like crap, have a glass of water.  Drink half your body weight in ounces every day. Your skin will thank you!


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!

How do I care for my skin after a chemical peel?

Professional Chemical Peels are a great way to improve many skin issues with very little downtime.

When having a medium depth, self neutralizing chemical peel (like a Jessners Peel or a light TCA peel) the skin barrier is compromised. How you care for your skin during the week after the treatment can greatly affect the results.

Immediately after the treatment, your skin may be red and feel tight. Make sure your skin care therapist applies sunscreen before you leave the studio and reapply sunscreen as necessary throughout the day. Most peels need to be left on the skin for 5 hours or longer after the application so don’t wash your face or do any activity that makes you sweat.

The flaking generally begins 36-48 hours after the application of the peel. Be very gentle with you skin during this time. Use a gentle cleanser followed by a rich moisturizer and lots of sunscreen.

The flaking generally lasts 3-5 days depending on the depth of the peel and the condition of your skin. Most importantly, DO NOT pick at the flaking skin! When washing your face, use a gentle circular motion with your hands (no washcloth or face brush) to help the dead skin slough.

If you have a lot of clogged pores, you may experience a breakout during the flaking process. Do not use any products designed to dry the skin: salicylic acid, glycolic acid etc. Treat your skin very gently, the breakouts should clear up quickly as the skin cells turn over.

Do not use any products containing Retin A, retinol, AHA, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or any other acid during the healing phase. Reintroduce these products when you feel your skin has fully healed, everyone is different but two weeks post-peel is a good guideline.

Plan to have your chemical peel 2-4 weeks prior to a major event to allow your skin to fully heal. I recommend medium depth chemical peels 2-4 times a year for most of my clients concerned with acne and anti-aging.

Skin Care Advice for Sun Junkies!

Summer will be here before we know it and I have a few clients that can’t get enough of the sun’s warm rays. Whether it’s regular vacations to Hawaii or outdoor sports, the end result from sun exposure is the same.

Most importantly, be honest with yourself and your skin care therapist about your sun habits. This empowers you to make a plan together that will allow for your skin to be at it’s best without creating further damage.

Use an antioxidant serum every day. Layer it under your sunscreen for increased protection and to combat the free radicals associated with sun exposure.

Moisturize your entire body every day; use a rich cocoa butter, skin oil or antioxidant vitamin C body lotion.

I’ve seen articles recommending coconut oil as a “natural sunscreen”. Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF of 7 so it will protect you for 7 times longer than the amount of time it takes your skin begin to burn in the sun; about 45 minutes to an hour.

I recommend using a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, like Suntegrity, while in the sun, save the coconut oil to moisturize afterwards!

Minimize your exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the peak hours of 10am-2pm. Wear a hat with a large brim to shade your face and thin layers to give your body a break from the sun when on the beach.

If you can’t get enough of the golden glow, opt for a sunless spray tan. Companies like SunFX have perfected their products so no one will be the wiser!

Beauty Product Buyers Remorse!

It happens to the best of us; in the relaxed haze of an island vacation (or the sleepy haze of a late night infomercial) we purchase a slew of skin care products that are all wrong for our skin.

The first step is always check the return policy, many companies will allow returns or exchanges of the unused portion within 30 days of purchase.

If your stuck with the product, don’t fret. There are creative ways to make use of items not suited for our complexion!

Creams that are too heavy for the face are wonderful to use on the body. The night cream that clogged the pores on you face will do wonders for your dry cuticles and hands. Same goes for oil based serums.

Retinol, AHA, and glycolic products that prove too strong for your face will smooth your rough elbows and heels in no time. Same goes for harsh facial scrubs.

Creamy cleanser too creamy for your oily skin? Most cream cleansers can do double duty as an eye makeup remover.

Foaming cleanser drying out your combination skin? Use it as a body wash, especially good for areas like the chest and back which might be prone to break outs.

Resist the urge to stow these items away in your beauty closet, they will just sit there until they expire and you’ll waste them entirely. Get creative!

Delicious DIY Body Scrub

This is a post from guest blogger Jacquelyn Omotalade, lifestyle blogger and founder of Ruth Omosunbo.

The weather outside is frightening!

I have a tough time keeping my skin moisturized.  The changing weather temperatures are brutal on my skin.  I pine for the skin of a newborn baby – soft and delicate.  I have found a DIY body scrub that helps me get it.

I am very wary of a lot of over the counter lotions and creams.  If I can’t understand or pronounce the words on the back of the container, how do I know the products are safe for my body?

My concerns lead me to develop my own products for my skin at home and the results have been fabulous.

One of my favorite products is my brown sugar and Coffee scrub.  It has worked miracles on my skin.  I use it 2-3 times a week and find that it helps my skin stay soft and moisturized.


2 cups of coffee grinds

1.5  cups of dark muscovado sugar

2 cups of coconut oil (liquid form)

2 cups of olive oil

2 tablespoons of ginger powder

2 tablespoons of cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon of tee tree oil

½ cup of vegetable glycerin

2 12-16 oz air tight containers

I first add the coffee grinds and sugar into a clean bowl.  Add the coconut oil and stir the mixture together.  Next add the ginger and cinnamon powders and tea tree oil.

Mix the ingredients together. They should begin to form a paste.

Mix in the olive oil and glycerin. Make sure the paste is completely mixed together.

Coat the inside of the air tight container with coconut oil.  Pour the paste into the container.

To use, take a shower as you normally do, then turn off the water and scrub your whole body with the exception of your face with the body scrub. Rub as much of the body scrub as you can off your body, then rinse your body off with luke warm water.  Pat your skin dry and go about your day.

Jacquelyn Omotalade is a socially conscious lifestyle blogger, founder of Ruth Omosunbo, a batik and textile boutique founded to enrich the lives of artisans around the world and one of my favorite all around divas! She currently resides in San Francisco.

Makeup for men?

Recently, I realized half of my tinted moisturizer sales were to my male clients.

Men want to put their best face forward even if it means having some help. More companies are actually creating makeup lines for men but venturing into this realm can be daunting.

As with anything new, start simple. The new breed of tinted moisturizers are great (often called BB cream or CC cream), they provide light coverage to even skin tone and decrease shine while providing all the benefits of an SPF and moisturizer. My personal favorite is Suntegrity.

If you have a pimple or any area where you need more coverage, use a concealer. This is a product with more pigment designed to camouflage imperfections. It is not meant to be used in large areas.

A light application of tinted face powder will provide some coverage and reduce shine. Be careful not to get heavy handed since excess powder can cake in the creases of your face during the day.

Consult a professional if you have a difficult time finding a color that matches your skin tone.

When applying any tinted product, avoid the beard area if you have stubble. The product will get caught in the hairs.

Avoid wearing any tinted product when you are working out, it will run and discolor your shirt collar and towels.

Wash your face with a product designed to dissolve makeup in the evening.

Makeup can be fun, embrace it!

Are you addicted to product samples?

Q: “I go crazy collecting skin care product samples in department stores, I LOVE samples! Is it bad for my skin to be using so many different products?

A: Yes! Trying new products all the time can confuse your skin and lead to irritation. The amount of product in most sample packs lasts for 2-4 days so you may be using multiple products for each step inside of one week.

Another major downside: when you skin is looking fab, you won’t know which product made the difference!

I recommend testing one sample product at a time while keeping the rest of your routine consistent. Unfortunately, the amount of product in one sample pack won’t really tell you if it’s going to produce major results in the long run but it will tell you if you like the texture and scent.

It’s tempting to load your suitcase with product samples for travel but this isn’t the best idea either. Dry airplane air and a new climate alters your skin. The face wash that leaves your skin glowing in the humidity of Hawaii might leave you dry and flaky during the windy winter in San Francisco! Invest in refillable bottles and keep your vacation routine consistent.

Got a skin care question? Email