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…




Dark under eye circles or raccoon genes?

First, identify the kind of dark circle:

Does it get better, then get worse?

Does it stay the same color all the time?

Does it have a yellowish undertone?

Does it look like you have a black eye? With some purple and blue

Is it accompanied by puffiness?

All of the above???

Does it Get better then get worse?
If the darkness of your dreaded circles fluctuates, you may need to look
seriously at getting more regular sleep. This means shutting off that
iPhone, computer, and TV about an hour before bed. Seriously! Gazing at
electronic screens tires the muscles in your eyes, and can contribute to
dryness, eyestrain, and inhibits melatonin production, which you need for
deep sleep. There is a reason they call it Beauty Sleep.
What to do about it? Add a pinch of sea salt to your water every
day. Real sea salt, NOT table salt! Holistically, the eyes reflect the
health of your kidneys, and adrenals. Not enough sleep = higher cortisol
(adrenals) production. Sea salt or Himalayan salt contain trace minerals
that our bodies use up under stress. And who doesn’t have stress?? Consider
a daily dose of magnesium as well.

Does it stay the same color all the time?
You can probably blame your parents for this one! Genetics determines the
color of your skin, and deeper skin tones have more likelihood of this kind
of circle. Excess sun exposure will make it worse over time.
What to do about it? Topical preparations like retinol and vitamin
C have been shown to reduce this kind of pigmentation. Topical brightening
serums containing arbutin, licorice, and mulberry can be helpful when used
regularly. Lets not forget the SPF shall we?

Does it have a yellowish undertone?
Anytime there is a yellow tone in the skin, holistically this indicates a
sluggish liver. Yellow with brown may reflect a sluggish bowel.
What to do about it? A detox may be in order here! Generally
any “detoxification” really means you need to look at how you are nourishing
yourself, so cut the processed “foods” and load up on the dark green leafies
and healthy fats. Again, a little sea salt every day can help to provide
trace minerals for healthy liver and bowel function. Yellow dock, nettles,
and dandelion can be your best buds for this.

Does it look like you have a black eye?
Um, have you been out brawling? If not, this is what we call an allergic
shiner, and you guessed it, indicates allergies. This could mean
environmental allergies, like hay fever or mold, but it could also mean food
sensitivities. The most likely culprits are wheat, dairy, corn, soy and
Sometimes people tell me that everyone in their family has these, so it
can’t be a food issue. Well, actually, sometimes your whole family is
sensitive. These kinds of food issues have a genetic component. Try
cutting them out completely for a while, and see what happens with your
circles. I often see gluten (wheat) as the culprit in my practice.

Is it accompanied by puffiness?
Have you been out drinking? Not only will alcohol mess with your Beauty
Sleep, it stresses your liver, increases insulin resistance, and slows down
lymphatic flow, often resulting in a lovely pair of marching dark circles.
What to do about it? Keep a couple of teaspoons in your fridge, and
when you wake up with dark puffs, gently rock the chilled spoons over your
eyes. This stimulates lymphatic flow, and constricts swollen tissue. Feels
pretty good too. Follow it up with a dose of niacinamide, dandelion, and
don’t forget that pinch of sea salt in your water! This is where the
classic cucumber slices work as well.

All of the above???
Go take a vacation! Sounds like you may have been abusing yourself for too
long. Adequate sleep, real food, nourishing botanicals like nettles and
dandelion, trace minerals, and a long walk in nature may be just what your
Esthetician ordered.

Thanks for reading! I am a licensed Esthetician (skin care specialist) and
owner of Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies, a holistic skin care practice
and acne clinic in Providence RI. I hope some of this will be of help to


Whole grain goodness? Or massive age accelerator?

I see clients for skin care.  Facials, age-management, acne, and more often than not, clients have concerns about the texture, color and signs of aging.

The root source of all aging is inflammation.

Changes in skin texture, color and other signs of aging are caused by inflammation.  Changes that are visible on the skin often reflect what is going on inside the body.  External inflammation reflects internal inflammation.  In other words, when you see aging on your skin, you are also aging internally.

Research is showing more and more than we really are what we eat.  Eat junk = look like junk.  Eat vibrant whole foods, look vibrant.  Simple.  However, many of us are eating foods that cause inflammation, specifically sugars, starches (grains) and processed fats.

Yep, that brownie may actually cost you a few wrinkles.  Ok, maybe not one brownie, but if you are eating pro-inflammatory foods every day, you can count on a few more lines across your cheeks.  Of course, excess sun exposure, smoking and stress don’t help either, but we need to start somewhere…

Now for the bomb:  grains are pro-inflammatory!  Especially if you have an intolerance to one or more of them, the most common being gluten from wheat, rye and barley.  It is estimated that as many as 1 in 33 people are intolerant to gluten, and 99% of those individuals are undiagnosed!  By some estimates the number is even higher.  For more information check out www.thedr.com

Even if you are not gluten intolerant, grains, even “whole grains”  are converted to sugar in the body.  When you eat sugar, your body produces insulin.  The more insulin your body has produced over a lifetime, the shorter your lifespan.  Why?  Because sugar (grains) is  a massive pro-inflammatory!  AGING!  If you are gluten intolerant(and chances are you don’t know it), you might as well be throwing gasoline on that internal fire.

So what are you going to have for breakfast today?  More wrinkles?

Help! I’ve aged and I can’t grow up!

EEK!  Just when I thought it was safe to look in the mirror again, there they were.  Little crinkly things around my eyes, OMG I think those are ~~WRINKLES! No, no, it must have been a trick of the light, or a smudge of leftover mascara.

I’ll try making the “mirror face,” you know, the one where you purse your lips ever so slightly and gaze into your reflection with come-hither eyes…surrounded by WRINKLES!!!

Oh great, now they are on my cheeks as well, and what is that little dent where my dimple is NOT supposed to be ~ permanently?

Oh well, Mark Twain said, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

Sure, he didn’t live in the age of Photoshop, where all of our imperfections can be erased, or plumped, filled and drilled by the friendly neighborhood dermatologist.

(sigh) What is a girl to do?

Fortunately I am a full-time licensed esthetician ~ a skin care specialist.  That does give me a little edge on the aging thing, but no one is immune to the ravages of time, sun, too many chocolate chip cookies…  yes, SUGAR will AGE you!  I have the opportunity to play with all the newest lotions, potions, and hi-tech skin gadgets and decide if they pass the muster.  Fortunately for my ego, some of them do pass:)

I like to think that I am immune to the social pressures to look younger, show no lines, have baby-butt smooth skin, but lets face it, I am not Deepak Chopra, and I haven’t quite mastered the ability to “think” my aging away.  If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I will take a deep breath, close my eyes, and remember that I earned every one of these lines, they are trophies of a life well played.  I figure as long as I’m still having fun, I’ll keep playing, and stay young at heart.

Have a great day playing!