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 🙂

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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 🙂

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 🙂



Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash


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.
soap
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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#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.