ABCs of Skin Care ~ G is for Gullible

Ok, I admit this probably sounds like it has nothing to do with skin care, but hear me out.

Gullible: a person who is easily deceived, tricked, cheated or fooled. I might also add that a fool and his money are soon parted.

When it comes to skin care there are billions of dollars to be made preying on innocent and gullible people. Open up any fashion magazine or type #skincare in any search bar and thousands of hits will pop up. Much of the information you mine will be helpful and accurate, but just as much will be full of inaccuracies, fearmongering, or blatant BS.

I despise BS.

I don’t mean Back Stabbing or Blue Screen By Standers either. I am referring to male cow excrement, AKA flat out LIES.

Oh the lies…sometimes I feel the need to put on my wellies before I wade into the depths of sh** I read when it comes to skin care promises:

“You need a peel!”

“Eliminates wrinkles and dark spots”

“Cure your acne in just 3 days!”

“Banish pores forever!”

“This is the only product you will ever need!”

“All preservatives in skin care are toxic!”

UGH!!

Lets start with “You need a peel.” Umm, no you don’t. Don’t get me wrong, peels can be helpful for reducing lines and discoloration, and may give you an overall fresher appearance, but you don’t NEED a peel. In fact, if your skin is irritated, red or sensitive, a peel is probably the LAST thing you need. By nature, any kind of peel will exfoliate and increase water loss temporarily. We call this TEWL or trans epidermal water loss. TEWL is a big reason why people with sensitive reactive skin feel uncomfortable to begin with. Their skin literally can’t hold on to water. Peeling it make this WORSE not better.

“Eliminates wrinkles and dark spots” Well, you can reduce lines and wrinkles, or temporarily plump them and improve the appearance of wrinkles, but typically you can’t eliminate them. To be fair, there are more aggressive treatments that have a visible effect on lines such as nano-needling, micro needling and some forms of laser, but you still won’t eliminate them permanently. Just keep living and they WILL come back. I like to think of lines as battle scars for a life well lived ๐Ÿ™‚

“Cure your acne in just 3 days” Oh hell no. You may be able to reduce the visible redness in 3 days, but you are NOT curing anything. Acne takes 3 months to develop, and I guarantee you won’t even be touching the 4 main causes of acne in just 3 days. This also apples to the practices that promise that one $500 “acne peel” is all you will need for perfectly clear skin. This is an egregious LIE. By the way, if you are struggling with acne, please give us a call at 401-632-4444.

“Banish pores forever!” Oh dear… look I understand that we live in the age of Photoshop and are surrounded by impeccable images of porcelain clear skin, but none of that is real or realistic. Pore sizes are genetic, and they may appear larger or smaller based on whether or not they are clean, your sun exposure, your age, your hormones and even if you are using comedogenic ingredients. Pores play a vital role in maintaining a healthy skin microbiome and keeping your skin lightly lubricated. Let me point out here that almost NO ONE is looking at your skin that closely anyway.

“This is the only product you will ever need!” Seriously? I don’t know about you, but my skin is completely different than it was when I was 16. I had ACNE, and I was obsessed with keeping my face from getting shiny. Now that I’m 52, I’m looking to add back that glow! The Oxy10 and Sea Breeze I used to use would be a nightmare for me now. Statements like these are designed to make you a customer for life, not to actually take care of your skin.

“All preservatives in skin care are toxic!” This one is also a good example of fear mongering. Let me just say that you are much better off having skin care with a tiny amount of preservative than smearing a mold and bacteria ridden cream all over your face. Preservatives are designed to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. That’s exactly how and why they work. If a product says preservative free, you really want to check the expiration date. I have seen skin care that is literally only good for 7 days after opening. To be fair, some preservatives are safer than others. That’s a whole other blog post.

A few other examples include the 20 year old blogger taking about her favorite coconut oil serum and how it makes her skin so beautiful and glowy. She’s glowy because SHE’S 20!!! It doesn’t have diddly squat to do with the serum she uses! Did I mention that she probably is being paid by the company to promote their products? Yea, paid promotion is a thing. Don’t get me started on coconut oil again…

I cringe inside when I see people buying all these “anti-aging” products, and then tanning or sunbathing. Well because the girl at the tanning booth “said” it was safe for their skin. Seriously! I once had a client who JUST had laser surgery to remove precancerous lesions and she came in all red from the tanning booth! The best ‘anti-aging’ product is SUNSCREEN!! Its not the only thing that will help, but it will definitely have the biggest impact overall. Please practice SAFE SUN.

One last one and I will get off my soap box.

People who sell an MLM skin care product telling you what to use on your skin. THESE PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SKIN!!! They are taught how to SELL you STUFF, and thats about it. Well, except how to recruit you to sell their stuff too. Do you have any idea how many clients I have seen over the years who sell those products? They are actually coming to Viriditas for their skin care products and advice, then they go out and claim to be skin care experts. For real.

The bottom line is there is no one cream, no one treatment or single routine that will make your skin “perfect”. There is no “perfect”! Skin is a wonderful record of all the smiles and tears, laughter and love that you have experienced in your life. Its not a sin to have wrinkles. Its also not a sin to be gullible. If you prefer to be told the truth about skin care, please come visit Viriditas Beautiful Skin! Its a no BS zone.

KITTIES!! Just because ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo by Ramiz Dedakoviฤ‡ on Unsplash

ABCs of Skin Care: F is for Fragrance

What is the FIRST thing you do when you open up a bottle of milk?

YOU SMELL IT.

Why? Because our reptilian brain knows that if it smells unpleasant, it will probably make us sick. Our reptilian brain AKA the Ancient Brain is directly connected to our limbic system. That face we make when we smell rotting food is usually followed by an attempt to get it away from us NOW! Self preservation at its finest.

SMELL is vital to our survival. We certainly don’t have the superior sniffers of Mans Best Friend, or the notable nostrils of other big predators, but our basic beaks are still up to snuff (see what I did there?).

Wait…so what does this have to do with skin care? As it turns out, our brains prefer things that smell ~good~ and big business is quite aware of that. We spend more money on things that smell like freshly baked cookies, a field of lavender or a Christmas morning. Most people aren’t going to plunk down their hard earned cash for a body cream that smells like sweaty gym clothes.

Problem is, skin care ingredients in the raw don’t always smell delightful. Many herbal base ingredients smell like, well, dirt. I personally like the smell of dirt, but I AM an herbalist at heart ๐Ÿ™‚ Other raw materials just have weird smells, and some are just blah.

So skin care companies add fragrance. Fragrance makes people whip out their wallets and say “Take My Money!” These profitable nose friendly scents may be in the form of essential oils, but they are usually synthetic.

These synthetic compounds are proprietary, and because we have laws here in the USA that essentially protect profits and not people, companies don’t have to divulge whats IN these proprietary “fragrances”. Shhh, its a secret…

From the National Eczema Association:

Almost 20% of the general population is sensitized to at least one allergen and fragrance is one of the most frequently cited substances causing reactions. Fragrance sensitivity is now seen in 1-4% of the general population, and 8-15% of people with contact dermatitis. According the the Dermatology Times, fragrances are most likely to cause allergic contact dermatitis. They account for 30-45% of reactions in cosmetic products.

OK, so we know that fragrance can be irritating to the skin. The concern really comes when we start exploring what these fragrances are truly made of.

A single fragrance can have thousands of individual chemicals. They may contain a cocktail of irritants, solvents, allergens, carcinogens, plasticizers, fixatives.. heck they could contain UFO goo and we wouldn’t know. They don’t have to disclose that info. Cuz ya know, $$$$.

“Gee, your hair smells terrific”

“OOh Herbal Essences” are an orgasmic I mean organic experience…

“Always feel Just Showered Fresh…”

UGH.

Fragrance is fleeting. Or at least it should be. But that doesn’t make money, and it certainly won’t “make your hair smell terrific” so Big Business needs to make the smell last and last… with phthalates.

Phthalates are chemicals used as plasticizers, solvents, fixatives etc. They are found in pretty much everything, including many fragrances. They make the smell LAST.

From the US Library of Medicine:

Phthalates are used in many consumer products, including:

  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Plastic and vinyl toys
  • Shower curtains
  • Miniblinds and wallpaper
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Raincoats
  • Food packaging and wrapsย 
  • Detergents
  • Adhesives
  • Plastic pipes
  • Medical equipment and devices (yes, in IV tubing that administers chemotherapy!!)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)ย plastics

Oh and did I mention phthalates are endocrine disruptors and are carcinogens? Yeah, that. That’s a small problem. We can discuss that in another post.

To be clear, just because a product has “fragrance” or “parfum” doesn’t mean its toxic sludge. Many companies are now making phthalate free fragrance, or using natural fragrances. Its a great improvement!

However, if your skin care product smells like watermelon sangria, or tropical beaches, chances are it has synthetic fragrance. If you apply it in the morning and your significant other can smell it on you during a midnight tryst, it definitely has phthalates. If the smell disappears after an hour or so, its probably safe.

As a side note, if you are using plug ins, or room sprays, or fabric softener with “fresh burst technology”, you are saturating your home with questionable chemistry. Just saying.

Skip the fragrance, have happier skin and happier health.

If you need help finding effective skincare that’s fragrance free and/or phthalate free, come visit us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies in Providence RI. We would love to meet you!

Ooh and here;s a fragrance free kitten! Because CATS โค

ABCs of Skin Care- E is for Extractions

Are you ready to admit your addiction to binging episodes of Dr Pimple Popper?

Do you spend hours in the mirror scouring every pore on your face for blackheads?

Is your favorite part of a professional facial when the esthetician cleans out your pores?

If you answered yes, you may have an extraction addiction.

Not that its the worst addiction to have really, HOWEVER if you are constantly digging deep into your skin looking for small treasures, this could be a problem.

All joking aside, some people actually do pick at their skin excessively and leave physical marks. These fingernail gouges are called excoriae, which can lead to secondary infections including staph, and often leave scars. This behavior is often associated with anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder. If you think this might apply to you, please reach out to your doctor for assistance.

Skin Extraction means the removal of impactions from the pores. This can be done in several ways, usually chemical or manual. This is best done by your well trained, experienced esthetician, or your dermatologist. They will typically use a softening enzyme or peel agent to start the process, and proceed with manual extractions. This usually means fingertips wrapped in cotton, or cotton tipped swabs. In some states or with a medical professional, a lancet may also be used. A professional can also use a galvanic current device with an alkaline solution to literally melt the impactions. Other effective devices include the Vortex Extractions of the Hydrafacial. This is much more effective and gentle than using a knock-off “suction” device.

Not everyone needs extractions. Not everyone needs extractions ~every~ facial.

Lets be clear if you DO need extractions. There is NO WAY that any one can possible clean out EVERY SINGLE PORE on your face at once. You have over 250 pores per square inch, so that would be a superhuman feat.

Often clients will come here to our skin care clinic, expecting to get their whole skin clear in one treatment. Umm, no. That clogging in the pores took time to build up, and it takes time to clear out too. Regular biweekly or monthly treatments will yield the best results.

Extractions cannot be done on skin that is very dehydrated, irritated, sunburned or inflamed. The skin must be hydrated, softened and properly prepared for effective extractions.

Although we don’t recommend at home bathroom “surgery”, we do understand the stress that comes when you wake up one morning with a huge red ZIT on the end of your nose that clearly was not there last night.

First, DON’T put a hot pack on it! Heat will just make it more red and inflamed. Don’t put toothpaste on it either, as that may temporarily “dry” it out, but will often make it worse in the long run. Besides, most commercial toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which is highly comedogenic. Hellooo more pimples…

What you SHOULD NOT DO, is pick at your own (or someone else’s!) skin with your dirty fingernails or a safety pin. You should NOT squeeze , pinch or scratch a pimple till it “pops” and then wonder why its all bloody and scabbed the next day.

We DO recommend you apply ice for 1-2 minutes directly on the inflamed area. Keep moving the ice, this is vital! Holding ice directly to the skin in one place may result in permanent damage to the tissues AKA Frostbite.

You can then apply a topical spot treatment directly to the blemish, and then LEAVE IT ALONE. Trust me on this one. It’s extremely rare that clients do their own extractions and don’t make a mess of their skin.

Its best to make a call to your skin care professional to remove pimples or other impactions.

If you are in Rhode Island or Southeastern MA, you can call Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies 401-632-4444 for that exact kind of help.

Questions? Post them in the comments! We love to hear your thoughts.

And we really, really like cats.



Photo by Destiny Wiens on Unsplash


ABCs of Skin Care ~ D is for Digestion

You might be thinking I made a mistake writing about digestion and the skin, but its no mistake. Digestion, or how we intake, process, absorb and excrete food, plays an enormous role in healthy skin.

We quite literally ARE what we eat, and the result of what we eat shows up on our skin. The digestive process is a very complicated discussion, one that I am no expert on, so we won’t go there. The skin however, is another story.

Here’s the thing. You need to eat nutrients to build a healthy skin and body. Nutrients like essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins are abundant in a whole foods diet. Notice that sugar, carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors are not on that essential list.
START WITH REAL FOOD. Nuff said.

Once you have eaten something yummy like dark green leafies, salmon, blueberries, or pastured butter, your body needs to digest and absorb that nutrition. If you don’t digest well, you can’t access those nutrients. If you have increased intestinal permeability AKA Leaky Gut, you can’t absorb those nutrients either.

Several skin issues are associated with poor digestion:

  • Acne~ leaky gut, constipation
  • Rosacea~ SIBO, H. pylori infection
  • Psoriasis~ autoimmune, leaky gut
  • Eczema~ food sensitivities especially dairy, gluten

Unless you live off the grid or under a rock, you’ve probably heard the term “microbiome”. It refers to the collective population of microbes living in and on our body, skin included.

Basically, our bodies serve as mobile farms for 3-5 POUNDS of microbes. When this microbiome is normal and healthy, the rest of our body is normal and healthy. This includes our mood and our skin. (Yep, gut health appears to affect depression and anxiety too.)

It appears that certain gut flora play a BIG role in inflammation, which is known to be a major player in skin issues. Curiously, there is some recent research that indicates systemic inflammation may actually be COMING FROM the skin! In other words, taking good care of your skin will keep you from aging.


There is a ton of research underway on the microbiome now, so hopefully we will learn more in the next few years.

A few things you can do now to support your digestion AND your skin include:

Taking bitters like dandelion, yellow dock, or artichoke before meals. Among other things, bitters stimulate bile production, helping fat digestion. Dandelion IS A SUPERFOOD!!

Eat in a relaxed environment. Seriously! You’ve heard the phrase Fight or Flight? The opposite is Rest and Digest. You don’t actually digest your food unless you are in a relaxed state. Slow down and chew your food for Pete’s sake!

Drink bone broth. For real. Its way more than just chock full of collagen, which happens to be super trendy in skin care right now. Its also filled with easily digested amino acids that may help to repair a leaky gut. Clients have asked me for years what is the best food to eat for healthy skin. BONE BROTH. There, I said it again.

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Google it.

Eat healthy fats like avocado, fresh flax seeds, walnuts, coconut oil (eat it, don’t wear it), pastured butter and pastured meats. Just eat real food #jerf.

If you need help with your digestion, see your doctor. If you need help with your skin, see us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies in Providence, RI.

Aaaand here are more adorable kittens. Just because ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


ABCs of Skin Care ~ C is for Coconut Oil

Oh dear, don’t get me started. A little up front warning, there may be a bit of a rant coming…

Coconut oil is one of the darlings of the skin care world. If you believe everything you read on the internet, you would think the following is true:

Coconut oil cures acne!

It cured my dry skin!

It made me lose 20 pounds!

It cured my cancer!

Coconut oil brought my dog back from the dead! Here’s how I did it…

BULLSH*T

Now don’t get me wrong, I love coconut oil, for cooking. Its a healthy saturated fat, has a nice mild flavor, and I adore putting a dab in my roasted carrots, and its not bad in a bulletproof coffee either.

But it is NOT, I repeat NOT the most wonderful substance since sliced bread for your skin. Especially if you are acne prone.

See, all oils are made up of fatty acids. There are lots of different kinds of fatty acids like linoleic acid, alpha linoleic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), oleic, myristic, lauric etc.

To maintain a healthy barrier, which is job #1 for the skin, it must have a balance of 3 things:

  • Cholesterol
  • Ceramides
  • Fatty Acids

Its complicated, but suffice it to say that if you have too much of one, or not enough of the others, the barrier breaks down and the skin can’t do its job. Chaos ensues in the form of redness, itching, irritation, stinging, dermatitis… you get the point.

Here’s the problem: Coconut oil is made up of ALL FATTY ACIDS. All vegetable oils are made of fatty acids.

Used alone, coconut oil can damage the skin barrier over time.

Pro tip: mature skin needs more cholesterol, but there isn’t any in coconut oil!

It gets worse.

Coconut oil is made up of 46-50% Lauric acid, and 17-19% Myristic acid.

Lauric acid is HUGELY comedogenic. It also has some pretty strong antimicrobial properties, which is why people use it for acne. Myristic acid is comedogenic as well. The catch is, it takes 3-6 months for a comedone (blackhead) to form. So sure, your red pimples may look better, but they will come back with a vengeance in 3-6 months. Trust me on this, as an Acne Specialist I’ve seen it happen soooo many times.

When people say that coconut oil “cleared” their acne, its possible that they didn’t actually have ACNE, they may have had a look alike such as rosacea or folliculitis. The lauric acid in coconut oil may have been helpful for them, because there is a strong microbial component to these issues.

It blows my mind that bloggers, Health Coaches, skin care professionals, and even doctors are still saying that coconut oil is great for the skin. It’s just not true. Its what I call Blogger BS.

Bottom line is don’t use coconut oil by itself to moisturize your skin, and most definitely DO NOT USE IT IF YOU ARE ACNE PRONE.

For more info or to get your very own skin care specialist, visit us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies in Providence RI or give us a call 401-632-4444.

Oh look! Another cute kitty ๐Ÿ™‚

ABCs of Skin Care ~ B is for Blackheads

Did you just cringe when you read that? Or did you imagine Anthony Hopkins saying it in his most fiendish voice….”blackheads”…

Those annoying little dark specks that seem to fill our pores and drive us to distraction when we look in those big magnifying mirrors are technically known as comedones.


Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

So are they really a problem? They can be. They can stay relatively small, or they can grow to unsightly size. Most of the time they are just a cosmetic inconvenience, but they can stretch the follicle, creating a permanent scar. They can also become a comfy home for the bacteria responsible for acne.

It takes 3-6 MONTHS for a comedone to form. You may notice a whole new crop sprout up seemingly overnight, but they’ve been brewing for months.

Comedones are primarily formed from:

  • Skin Cells
  • Oil
  • Debris

Skin cells shed at a rate of 1-2 cell layers daily. If you have acne prone skin you may shed 5-7 layers daily. That’s a lot of skin cells collecting in those tiny pores.

Oil refers to the rich lipid complex that makes up sebum, your skin’s natural lubricant. It can also refer to the oils, butters and waxes that are found in your skin and hair care products.

Debris is the collective term for other “stuff” like bacteria, environmental pollutants, dirt, makeup and general yuck that lives on your skin.

When the debris and skin cells get stuck in the oil, they form a thick paste that can eventually harden. If the opening of the follicle (pore) is wide enough, the surface of this plug may oxidize or turn a dark color. Its a lot like how the cut surface of an apple turns brown.

If the opening of the follicle is very small or tight, this plug forms a closed comedone, AKA a “whitehead“. Many people refer to a papule or a pustule (actual pimples) as a whitehead, but now that you have read this blog, you are among the chosen few educated skin care connoisseurs that know the correct name. That’s because YOU are AWESOME.

There are a few lookalikes that may be mistaken for comedones. Most common are sebaceous filaments. These are often sprinkled liberally across the nose and forehead. Annoying as they are, they are NOT blackheads. They are actually like tiny wicks in the pore, and serve to help bring sebum to the surface.

Typically when you use a “pore strip” and peel it off to see all those “blackheads”, you’re really just seeing lots of sebaceous filaments. Those strips can be strangely satisfying, but they aren’t really removing blackheads. Sometimes moles and skin tags can be mistaken for comedones too.

If you really want to remove blackheads / comedones, see a professional esthetician. That’s something we specialize in. If you are in the Rhode Island area, come see us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies or call 401-632-4444 and get rid of those pesky blackheads today.

Oh, and here’s another cute cat pic. We just like cats ๐Ÿ™‚

The ABCs of Skin Care ~ A is for Acne


Acne….dun dun dunnnnn (cue the scary music)… No one wants to wake up with a giant honking red ZIT on the end of their nose, but some of us are just blessed that way.

Oxford Dictionaries.com defines acne as
“the occurrence of inflamed or infected sebaceous glands in the skin; in particular, a condition characterized by red pimples on the face, prevalent chiefly among teenagers”

Unfortunately, acne can occur at any time of life. In fact, a large number of clients we see for acne are menopausal women, and young men in their 30s.

Acne is technically an inflammatory skin disease, and can be painful, itchy, swollen, and maddeningly difficult to heal. It tends to reoccur with some regularity, like an unwelcome house guest.

True acne will have comedones AKA blackheads, which may or not be visible. The classic pimple may be tiny or large and cystic. They may have a pustule or they may simply be a painful nodule.

Lets be clear though, just because you have a “pimple” doesn’t mean you have acne. There are several acne imposters, or look alike conditions including:

Rosacea

Folliculitis or Pseudofolliculitis

Staphylococcus infection / Boils

Keratosis Pilaris

Its important to rule out other conditions, so that your treatment protocols are the most effective.

Acne is driven by four main imbalances:

Inflammation – triggered by stress, diet, lifestyle, environmental aggressors,

Retention Hyperkeratosis– AKA “sticky skin” a condition where the skin cells don’t shed properly: they shed too fast, in large sheets.

Excess Oil – both the quantity and consistency of natural sebum will affect this, in addition to comedogenic ingredients found in skin care, hair care, makeup and other personal care products. Many comedogenic ingredients ALSO contribute to Retention Kyperkeratosis.

Bacteria– the C. acnes bacterium actually contributes to the oil production and the inflammation.

Each one of these is related and overlaps with the other, making for a challenging puzzle.

Acne CAN be controlled, but it does involve a commitment to yourself. Our skin is a reflection of our bodies health, and our health starts with our gut. the connection between the skin and gut is becoming clearer every day. So much research is being conducted on the gut microbiome, and its association with the skin microbiome. After all, its really the same surface, one is outside, one is inside.

If you have been struggling with your skin, there is hope! A Certified Acne Specialist can help you determine a home care routine that will address your specific challenges. If you are in Rhode Island, give us a call at 401-632-4444 or visit us at https://viriditas.skincaretherapy.net/home

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How icing your skin can help with ACNE

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Here’s a cute cat picture too. Just because ๐Ÿ™‚



Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash