Dry Winter Skin? 13 Ways to Beat the Dry without Breaking the Bank

Snowflakes, skiing, hot chocolate, Netflix marathons…what’s not to like about winter? Well, maybe the dry, flaky, itchy skin…

Dry Skin doesn’t have enough oil. Oily skin has plenty of oil. Dehydrated skin however, doesn’t have enough water. This is why you can have very oily skin, but still feel quite dry in the winter: its dehydration.

Whatever skin you have, keeping it soft and hydrated in the cold weather months doesn’t need to come with a big price tag. Here are some basic skin treats you can do yourself at home:

Externally:
1) Indulge yourself in a lush bath of warm water and a can of full-fat coconut milk! The natural fat helps to gently soften and hydrate dry itchy winter skin. Keep it to about 20 minutes though, more than that and your warm soak may have a reverse effect. Caution! The tub will be slippery!
2) Any bath or shower ritual will be enhanced with a little dry brushing beforehand. Simply take a stiff bristled body brush, and brush your skin in upward motions toward your heart. Not only is this a great way to exfoliate dead, dry skin, it also moves lymph, which reduces swelling, puffiness, and supports overall health. Start on your feet and move upward, continuing until the skin is slightly pink.
3) Follow up that dry brushing with a little self-massage! Raid your kitchen for some sesame or sunflower oil. Let it all soak in before ( yes, before) you hop in the shower. Use a gentle cleanser, and try washing just the “stinky parts”. (Applying oil to the skin after a shower is lovely, however the oils will soak into the fibers of your clothing and towels, turning rancid over time.) Follow up with your favorite lotion. Try to avoid lotion with fragrance, as it’s a common irritant, frequently causing dryness and itching. Dry winter skin doesn’t need more of that!
4) For your face, indulge in a weekly mask of full fat yogurt, mashed banana, avocado or honey. A classic “honey pat” helps to gently exfoliate and hydrate. Simply take 1-2 teaspoons of liquid honey, and with your fingers, “pat” it all over your face. After a few minutes of patting it will become runny, then you can leave it to continue working for 10-15 minutes if desired. Rinse well and follow-up with your favorite moisturizer.
5) Be sure to moisturize BOTH your face and body! If the body skin is dry, your face definitely will be too. Don’t skip one or the other, they are all part of the same organ. Treat your skin well❤️
6) A few items I would NOT recommend: olive oil. As delicious and healthy as it is to eat, studies have shown that it damages the barrier of the skin over time: makes the skin dry and chapped.
7) Also, contrary to popular media, coconut oil is NOT the best choice for people with acne-prone skin.  I know, I specialize in Acne…sunflower oil is a much better choice, it contains a high proportion of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which studies have shown is deficient in acne and eczema prone skin. Coconut oil is fine for non-acne prone skin, but it doesn’t contain enough fatty acids for winter weather. It will absorb and disappear. Dry skin needs more. Shea, mango or cocoa butter is thicker and heavier, and rather inexpensive to obtain. Just warm it a little in your hands and apply. Again, not for acne!
8) Invest in a small bottle of organic pomegranate oil. A drop or two added to your regular moisturizer can give you the winterizing boost your skin needs. Again, sunflower or jojoba oils are good choices for acne -prone skin.

Internally:
9) Increase your intake of healthy fats: avocado, walnuts, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, olive oil. These foods are required for healthy cellular membranes, and no matter how much lotion you put on the outside, if the inside is oil dry, you just can’t moisturize enough.
10) Drink enough water!! Healthy skin has a balance of oil and water, so someone who is very oily can often feel very dry in the winter: they are dehydrated! Drink up! A cup of hot tea both hydrates, and takes out the chill.

Environmental:
11) Use a humidifier. Dry, hot air from heating units will pull moisture right out of your skin by osmosis, so boost the relative humidity, and don’t blast the heat.
12) Wear a scarf and gloves! Keep your skin protected from the elements and reduce moisture loss by keeping it covered when you go outside.
13) Wear natural fibers like cotton, wool, bamboo and silk. These fabrics help prevent moisture loss, and preserve heat.

What are your go-to tips for keeping dry winter skin happy? Please share in the comments!

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10 Tips to Help You Stop Wasting Your Skin Care Products!

The average woman spends $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime according to In Style. Some sources peg that number at $2000 per year.

Maybe those numbers aren’t in your budget, but chances are, you have put a few dollars here and there toward your looks. Make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck by following these product usage guidelines.

As a licensed Esthetician, my general mantra to clients is “move the product, not your face!”  In other words, you should be applying enough product, whether its cleanser, serum, moisturizer or sunscreen, so that it can be spread across the desired surface without pulling or tugging on the skin.

How much product exactly, well that depends on the product, your skin, and the purpose.

Prepping your skin properly has a huge effect as well. Trying to apply moisturizer to skin that still has leftover makeup on it (and lots of ladies do this!) won’t cut it. Literally: makeup is designed to sit on the surface, by nature it is a little bit occlusive. Think BB cream. Cleanse your skin well! Moisturizer, no matter how much you apply, won’t fully penetrate dirty skin. WASTE!

Soap, when mixed with water is usually quite alkaline, and alkalinity disrupts the barrier function of skin. Your skins’ job is to keep bad stuff (think bacteria and environmental toxins) out, and moisture in. An alkaline skin will desperately absorb more product to repair that barrier! WASTE! Use a gentle cleanser instead of soap. Over cleansing and over exfoliating will do that too. Cleanse no more than 2x day, and reach for a gentle scrub no more than 2-3x per week. Using a scrub 1x per week in the winter months is plenty. Your esthetician can help you choose the perfect cleanser or exfoliant.
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How much skin care product to use? Keep in mind that when applying product to your face, you should include the face, front and back of the neck, and décolleté all the way to the bra line. These areas will age!  Most women (and men!) forget to address these spots, and wind up wearing high cut shirts and scarves as they get older. Now that’s a waste. Why spend money on good skin care, and not put it on all of your skin? WASTE!

How you apply product can make or break your beauty budget. Pumping a dollop of moisturizer on your fingertips, and trying to spread that over your target area will result in a lot of unnecessary pulling, tugging, and uneven application, not to mention more product. Skin care should be applied directly to clean damp hands, spread briefly over the palms, and press, press, press!  Press on the forehead, cheeks, chin, neck, décolleté, THEN spread. This ensures even distribution, and less waste. Start with damp hands please, or your hands will absorb it before your face. WASTE!

Cleanser: depending on how concentrated it is, usually a quarter sized amount will do. Spend some time actually cleansing the skin; give the product time to work. 1-2 minutes is good to shoot for.

Toner / hydrating mist: Today’s “toners” are not the alcohol laden dry-bombs of the 1980s and 90s. But you might want to check your product labels! Lots of popular brands are still using way too much drying alcohol. Its a cheap ingredient. Not all alcohol is bad, its used to keep ingredients dissolved and sometimes preserved. Cetearyl alcohol is actually moisturizing, but SD or “denatured” alcohol, especially if its one of the first 3 ingredients, not so much…

Many excellent product lines today have taken advantage of the “toning” step to incorporate serious hydrating ingredients like sodium lactate and hyaluronic acid to pre-saturate the skin.Think of the skin like a sponge: a wet sponge picks up more moisture faster than a dry sponge. Translation: you can use less product, and it will spread more easily. Use your hydrating mist / toner, and use less product! No WASTE!

Serum: is it a gel based serum, or a lipid (oil) base? A dime sized amount of a gel serum should do the trick. A lipid based serum however, usually only requires a few drops, spread quickly over the palms, and pressed gently onto the skin. Lipid serums are usually not intended to be “massaged”.

Eye cream: aim for a pea sized amount, applied only to the middle fingertips. Again, press between the fingertips first, then press around the eye area, then gently spread. Eye creams are super concentrated and often spendy, so don’t WASTE it! But do use enough to see the benefits. (Pun intended)

Moisturizer: generally go for a quarter sized amount, now applied to freshly cleansed, pre-hydrated skin, and press press press! Follow up with gently spreading all over the face, front and back of neck, and décolleté.

Sunscreen: usually the same as moisturizer, and apply to all the same areas. Some formulations differ based on the micron size of the active ingredients (I prefer zinc and titanium dioxide) so check the label for specific instructions.

What ever product you may have left on your palms, apply to the back of your hands! This area (along with eyes and neck) is one of the first to show age. It only takes a few moments, and you don’t want to WASTE the opportunity to protect your skin…

The most important thing you can do to avoid WASTE, is to see your friendly neighborhood esthetician, who is a licensed skin care professional! S/he can analyze your skin and condition, and make product recommendations that are best suited to your skin. There is no need to WASTE good money on bad or unsuitable skin care products.  What are you going to do with all that $$$$ you’ll save?

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Let us know what you think in the comments 🙂

#smartskinrules'Move the product, not

8 Reasons Why You Need to Start Dry Brushing Your Skin Right Now

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One of the best things you can incorporate into your health and beauty routine is dry brushing. Not only will the brushing gently exfoliate dull dry skin, allowing better penetration of moisturizer, it can also give your immune system a big boost.

When done properly (gentle upward strokes, towards the heart, focusing on inner parts of joints: where lymph glands are most concentrated) dry brushing goes way beyond beauty. The upward movement (always toward the heart) stimulates the flow of lymph. Our lymphatic system is like the body’s garbage removal highway, and is a major part of the immune system. Lymph carries away metabolic waste, bacteria, viruses, excess fluid and all kinds of other gunk the body doesn’t need anymore. Unlike the blood (heart), the lymph has no pump, and relies on muscle movement, gravity, and osmotic pressure (via deep breathing) to flow. Dry brushing can boost that flow!

Dry brushing also stimulates peripheral circulation (surface blood flow). Not only can this help speed healing of damaged tissue and improve scars, but it brings oxygen and nutrients resulting in glowing skin.

Feeling crappy and under the weather? Dry brush.

Do you have swollen ankles? Dry brush.

Heavy, tired feeling legs? Dry brush.

Over indulged at that party last night? Dry brush.

Dry itchy winter skin? Dry brush.

Puffy eyes? VERY GENTLY brush the sides of the neck and under the chin, all the way down to the collarbone.

Headache? Drink plenty of lemon water, have some magnesium and dry brush!

Have you ever tried dry brushing? Let us know in the comments. Sign up for our newsletter here, and follow us on Facebook for lots more helpful skin care tips.

8 Ways We Keep You Safe at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Care Clinic During Flu Season

Whether its a sniffle, head cold, or full-on influenza, there are simple everyday things we do for our clients to prevent the spread of germs here at Viriditas.

Here in our skin care clinic, the primary thing is to WASH YOUR HANDS. Frequently! Studies show this is  the most efficient means of preventing the spread of germs. We wash our hands between every single client, and use a disposable paper towel to dry. Reusable towels are clearly better for the environment, but they spread germs! We compromise by using towels made from recycled paper. Did I mention that we also recycle?

Don’t touch door handles! Door handles are the crossroads for who knows how many nasty virulent buggies! Remember that recycled paper towel? We wash just before we enter the treatment room, then use the towel to open the door, then discard. That’s also the best way to open doors in public restrooms. Just sayin…

We use Essential Oils. A Lot! We keep a small aromatherapy warmer in the reception area, and we cycle different antimicrobial oils including ravensara, eucalyptus, thyme, lemon, lavender, rosemary and pine. Did you know it only takes 7 molecules of an essential oil to have a physiologic effect (like destroying germs!), but it takes 40 molecules for your nose to detect it? A few drops goes a long way! The next time you visit, take a deep breath, and see if you can pick out which oil is in the warmer today. Either way, they will help keep you healthy., and boy do they smell good…

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We use fresh clean sheets, towels and wraps for every client. EVERY CLIENT. We have our sheets and towels professionally laundered, so they are washed and bleached in hot water, preventing the spread of germs. You can be confident that we never, ever reuse. That would be just nasty!

In between clients, all work surfaces are wiped down with hospital grade disinfectant wipes, and sprayed with environmentally safe sanitizing solution. Again, we choose environmentally friendly products like Seventh Generation, Cleanwell and Puregreen 24.

All tools we use on our clients including bowls, brushes and tweezers are hand washed in hot soapy water, wiped clean, then sprayed with disinfectant. Tweezers and metal implements are further sanitized in a steam cabinet. We store all clean towels, sheets and wipes in closed cabinets with dry sanitizers. Brushes are soaked in a hospital grade disinfectant solution, and frequently replaced. Our hot towel cabinets use ultraviolet light to minimize bacterial growth. We clean our steamer units and HydraFacial device regularly as well.

At the front desk, you may notice a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Feel free to indulge! We recommend using a little after using pens. Office tools like pens, phones, computer mice, and keyboards harbor lots of unfriendlies, so take a moment to keep yourself safe.

We also ask clients and staff to STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK!!! Nobody actually enjoys being ill, so as much as we love to see our clients and visit, please don’t share your germs! Just give us a call and let us know, and we will be happy to reschedule.

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Beautiful Skin = Healthy Function

Its all about Function

Healthy Skin functions well. Looking good is a side effect.

Our precious skin has a lot of responsibilities: barrier, temperature control, immune defense, sensation, keeping us from dissolving into a wet blob of mush…

The function of our skin is affected by our environment and our lifestyle choices. Specifically: diet, exercise, sun exposure, how we care for ourselves…

These things also affect our overall wellness. Conveniently, our skin can actually reflect our overall wellness too.

Poorly functioning skin looks:

Dull

Dry

Sallow

Blah

Well functioning skin looks:

Glowing!

Hydrated!

Bright!

Vibrant!

I don’t know about you, but I prefer glowing and vibrant over dull and blah any day.

So how do we get that glowy thing, and make it last?

Diet and healthy lifestyle choices are the most important, but we have a secret weapon…

ascpfacial

(photo courtesy of ASCP)

Something that brightens the dull!

Juices up the dry!

Enlightens the sallow!

Banishes the blah!

Its called professional skin care, and you should try it. A qualified skin care professional can assess your skin, make recommendations and perform treatments that will support healthy function.  As a side benefit, you just might look a bit younger and healthier 🙂

Understanding Freckles and Age Spots: Mr Fitzpatrick and the Umbrella Factories

In my skin care practice, one of the most common concerns clients have is hyperpigmentation, or spots. We aren’t talking about those cute little spots on puppies, kittens and baby deer.

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Nope, this is about those spots otherwise known as liver spots, age spots, old lady dots, leopard spots or just plain old freckles.

In order to manage these discolorations, its helpful to understand how and why they appear.

Those spots are made in your skin from a pigment called melanin, in our clinic we refer to it as an “umbrella.” They are made in specialized skin cells called melanocytes, or “umbrella factories.”3

Everyone’s skin has these little umbrella factories in their skin, but some of them are way more efficient than others.

In 1976, a Harvard dermatologist named Thomas B Fitzpatrick developed a scale to identify skin color, now know as the Fitzpatrick Scale. To find your “Fitz type”, check this out.

  • Type I (scores 0–6) Pale white; blond or red hair; blue eyes; freckles — Always burns, never tans
  • Type II (scores 7–13) White; fair; blond or red hair; blue, green or hazel eyes — Usually burns, tans minimally
  • Type III (scores 14–20) Cream white; fair with any hair or eye color; quite common — Sometimes mild burn, tans uniformly
  • Type IV (scores 21–27) Moderate brown; typical Mediterranean skin tone — Rarely burns, always tans well
  • Type V (scores 28–34) Dark brown; Middle Eastern skin types — Very rarely burns, tans very easily
  • Type VI (scores 35+) Deeply pigmented dark brown to black — Never burns, tans very easily

Unfortunately, if you happen to be albino, this scale won’t apply to you, and you should probably invest in some serious SPF my friend…

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If you are blessed with Fitz 1 or 2, you can pretty much kiss any dreams of a Coppertone tan right out the window. No matter how much you try to bake your skin to a deep golden hue, you will only get freckles. Lots and lots of freckles. Maybe enough to look like a tan, but you are way better off going the spray tan route.

Fitz 3 and 4 are currently the fashion industry faves, they can tan evenly and are generally resilient to sun, unless they overdo it, and then they look old elephant butt. No offense to elephants…

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Fitz 5 and 6 are the bronze Gods and Goddesses of skin tone, their tone even and deep, resistant to wrinkles and solar radiation damage. However…

Let’s go back to those factories. Everyone has the same number of factories (melanocytes) in their skin. It just a matter of whose factories are most efficient and long lasting.

Fitz 1 and 2 could use better general managers working for them. Umbrella production can be slow to start, and uneven, resulting in burns and freckling.

Because they tan so easily, Fitz 3 and 4 have a tendency to overdo the sun, which can make the factories burn out, resulting in hypo-pigmentation (lack of color, white spots) and a leathery look.

Fitz 5 and 6 have the super-duper high efficiency models that work overtime, even when not needed. In fact, anytime their skin gets irritated, even a little, they get boatloads of umbrellas delivered to that spot. Think about the spots that show up after a blemish, a cut or an insect bite. For you, this translates to NO SCRUBS! And I don’t care what you read on the internet, microdermabrasion is a big honking NO-NO for you.

In a nutshell, the skin cells get exposed to sun (or other threat), send out a distress call to the factories, and the factories respond with a quick delivery of umbrellas for protection.

Of course, other factors will rev up production as well, think hormones, inflammation, illness…(that’s a whole other post!)

Got it?

So if you want to avoid spots, you need to protect your skin. Avoid prolonged exposure, cover up with protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and wear SPF.

No distress call, no umbrellas. Mr. Fitzpatrick can take the day off.

Out damn spot, out I say! Clearing acne on the back…or should we say BACNE

Often referred to as “bacne” (!), acne affecting the back and chest respond to the same products used for the face. Because the skin on the body is thicker, it can tolerate stronger concentrations.

Remember Pimples = Oil + Dead Skin + Bacteria + inflammation.

To effectively banish blemishes, you need to address all four.

The big player ingredients include:

Salicylic acid: a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that has the very cool ability to penetrate oil, meaning all those little blackheads made up of oil, dead skin and bacteria! A cleanser with salicylic acid or mandelic acid can be a big help in keeping blackheads at bay.

Mandelic acid is the latest skin care darling when it comes to acne! Derived from almonds, it can effectively exfoliate, kill bacteria AND reduce the dark spots left from blemishes gone bad, otherwise known as hyperpigmentation. See below for an example.

The Holy Grail for acne clearance is without question benzoyl peroxide (BPO). It penetrates and opens clogged pores, kills bacteria and is the bomb at keeping new blemishes at bay. It is best as a leave on treatment, but can also be helpful in a wash for preventative care.

Just be careful that the formula you choose is not loaded with additional pore cloggers! Nasty business, that. Lots of companies that make OTC acne products are filled with ingredients that actually make acne worse. Gotta wonder if they are trying to clear your acne, or guarantee a future customer…

A note about BPO however, skin will typically develop a resistance to it’s pimple busting powers, so you may need to gradually increase the strength and frequency of application to get full clearance. It can cause dryness as well, and good BPO may bleach your sheets, so wear a white t-shirt while using it.

Some bacne can be really resistant, so a few helpful “heavies” include sulfur and retinol. Sulfur can be immensely drying, but sometimes is THE game changer for really inflamed bacne. Be aware that sulfur and sulfa (drugs) are two totally different things. Many people are allergic to sulfa drugs, but sulfur is a naturally occurring element, found in many foods (garlic, onions, cabbage).

Retinol is amazing for helping to clear acne, smooth and refine skin texture, banish signs of aging, etc. However, I feel retinol is most effective AFTER most of the inflammation is down. Retinol works by speeding up cell turnover, so it can literally bring up or “purge” blemishes. If there is rampant inflammation, acne can look way worse before it gets better. If a client is ok with that, then we go for it!

Just a side note: any acne products will work best when used consistently. No skipping days, or going to bed with makeup on…
Blemishes (oil + dead skin + bacteria + inflammation) typically take about 3 months to develop. Research has shown that the inflammation is often present way before a blemish even appears. This would indicate systemic or chronic localized irritation. Think DIET!! Watch out for dairy( yogurt, ice cream), high-glycemic foods (sugar, grains, empty carbs) and high iodide content (mmm tortilla chips, salt licks lol). The big painful, red inflammation part can happen overnight. If you ice the inflamed area for a minute or two before you put your treatments on, you will hasten the clearing.

When you are ready to FINALLY get clear, look me up! Don’t live near Providence? I got connections baby…hit me up and I can put you in touch with an acne specialist closer to you!

Three months to breakouts, three months to clear skin…

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