Category Archives: skin care

Post-apocalyptic Skin Woes. DIY Beauty In Case of Survival

Post Apocalypse Glamour

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After a brief scan of my Facebook feed it seems I somehow missed that the end of the world is happening on 12/21/12. China apparently has shown great interest in preparing for the apocalyptic doomsday by stockpiling candles. At least I won’t have to worry about sun exposure since there will be no light. We all know that vanity is my forte, so it should come as no great surprise that my first thought was holy smokes, who is going to do my microdermabrasion? If I survive the apocalypse, how on earth will I combat the steady and dreadful cadence of time as it swallows my face whole leaving sagging jowls and neck wrinkles in its wake? Naturally, I thought about stockpiling facial scrubs and Botox much like the Chinese and their candles. Think of how rich I will be when the House Wives of Atlanta are scrambling to trade me 10 bags of coffee, a goose, and their last bit of vicodan for a bottle of Botox and a clean needle! I think I am on to something. It can’t be that I am the only femme fatale that is lying in the bathtub with a glass of wine thinking about post-apocalyptic skin care and so I carefully constructed a survival list for you:

1. Folks will be trading food and what not instead of currency so stock up on sugar. Sugar makes for a great exfoliator. You can take a little ash from your fire and some fat from the goose you were traded and mix it all up with the sugar to create an exfoliating soap. I swear this is how Cleopatra did it between milk baths. Or if you are very rich and smart, like I will be, you could just mix a little sugar in with a gentle cleanser.

2. In an addition to sugar, be sure to hoard honey. A cleanser, anti-bacterial, and moisturizer all in one, honey will be pure gold. Especially when everyone notices your pretty and plump skin while they are sitting by candle light playing rummy. That’s right no IPhones after the apocalypse.

3. Oils will make for good currency. They will of course be needed for cooking and providing nutrition, but more importantly they will condition your hair and treat acne. Argan oil, coconut oil, and olive oils will be the most prized. I, myself, think I will go on a whim this week and buy up all of the unrefined coconut oil at whole foods to put on the shelf with my Botox and fancy face exfoliants.

I hope this little list jumpstarts your preparations for skin survival after this Fridays “end of the world as we know it party.” What beauty product or procedure will you have a hard time going without after the apocalypse?

Should you jump on the wagon with microdermabrasion or a chemical peel?

Every single human on the planet will need to speed up skin cell turnover with exfoliation after the age of about 28. Done. It is a fact. If you are not exfoliating then you are probably wondering where your luster went, why you are broken out, and why your skin tone is so darn patchy. It’s ok. Never too late to start. There are many many ways to exfoliate and demolish that dead flaky skin that is hindering your god given glow. Let us delve a little deeper into the utterly fascinating world of skin cell turnover:

Skin cell turnover is the sad little march of new skin cells to the top of the epidermis where they ultimately meet their demise and slough off. This march of doom can take anywhere from 14 days (in our infancy) to months and months (in old age). The typical span being about 30-40 days for us 30-50 something’s. The trick to luminous, tight and youthful looking skin is to decrease the time that new skin cells spend marching to their death and hanging out on our faces.

microdermabrasion_1

Microdermabrasion is great little way to get the blood flowing to the surface of the skin and get some fairly hard core exfoliation going for you. Ease your feet into the deep pool of anti-aging addictions by trying this little gem of a treatment first. I love microdermabrasion for any one that has healthy but dull skin or very light and superficial acne scarring. If you have redness, irritation, rosacea, broken capillaries, or a great disdain for following a treatment protocol of every 3-4 weeks for at least six treatments, then this is not a good option for you. Retin A users beware, while I don’t recommend microdermabrasion for you (remember that whole lipid barrier discussion on the sonic cleansing post), you must at least go off of your Retin A 3-4 days before a treatment.

Chemical peels are for folks that want to amp up their beauty routine. Chemical peels, unlike microdermabrasion, can really be customized as far as the depth of the peel and ingredients used to address the concern (wrinkling, irregular color etc.). Superficial, medium depth and deep chemical peels are available with a variety of additives that sucker punch anything from melasma (pregnancy mask) to acne and those, near to the heart, fine lines and wrinkles. Please see this post on glycolic acid peels if you want a little more information on peeling.

Your Dangerous Love Affair: The Sonic Cleansing Brush.

How could this miracle cleansing tool that leaves you with baby soft skin be back biting you?! How completely satisfying is it to get in the hot steamy shower with your sonic cleansing brush and step out with the smoothest skin of your life? There is no denying the outright allure of that little device. Some companies recommend using the brush to cleanse your delicate little face two times a day, and many of my clients are at least avid once a day users. But there is an ugly and dark side to the sonic addiction. I have clients that come to me with red irritated skin, acne flair ups and cystic pimples. After investigating for culprits, the one common factor is that they all are having a dangerous love affair with their cleansing brush! Here is why my clients are forbidden from using any cleansing brush more than 1-2 times a week:

You know me; there will be an anatomy lesson to be sure!

The top layer of skin, (aka Stratum Corneum) is made up of fats, cholesterol, water and protein. It retains moisture for you and protects you from bacteria, elements, and shriveling up like a prune. We call it the lipid barrier.

Once that lipid barrier breaks down, you start losing moisture (trans epidermal water loss aka. TEWL), your skin gets inflamed and red, bacteria can fight its way into the skin, and you may develop a rash or acne flair up. This is EXACTLY what happens when many people use their sonic brush every single day.

The beloved sonic brush is day after day breaking down that lipid barrier and causing water loss. While I have noticed that there are some skin types that can tolerate the brush (thick and very oily skin types), most can only afford to use the brush once or twice a week.

So, my friends, I encourage you to break up with your sonic brush. Bring it out only once or twice a week at most, and be sure to replace the lipid barrier with great emollient (replaces lipids) moisturizer.

I've had it with you!

I have had it with you!

So what do I tell my suffering folks that have already messed up their lipid barrier with overzealous sonic cleansing?

1. Stop using the tawdry sonic brush altogether for at least 2 weeks

2. Stop using all actives (retinoids, glycolics etc.)…on a side note if you are using tretinoin (renova, retin a) please throw away the sonic brush it will eat your face off.

2. Use a gentle creamy cleanser that is free of my most hated ingredient SLS (sodium laureth sulfate)

3. For two weeks switch your moisturizer to an emollient cream that will replace the lipid barrier such as Oxygenetix moisturizer (my personal go to) or CeraVe over the counter

4. Lactic acid has been shown to help barrier function and increase fatty acids so use a gentle lactic acid toner or serum like PCA’s Nutrient Toner once daily.

Hollywoods sexiest 40- somethings

These girls show how hot and gorgeous being a 40 something can be with a little prevention (hello sunscreen, vitamin C, and little dab of Botox!)

1. Kristen Davis- Age 47

2.  Carmen Electra- Age 40

3.  Sandra Bullock- age 47

4.  Gwen Stefani- Age 42

5.  Faith Hill- Age 44

6.  Naomi Watts- age 43

7. Nichole Kidman- Age 45

8. Martina McBride- 46

9. Jennifer Aniston- Age 43

10.  Elizabeth Hurley – Age 47

Don’t be silly darling, I was talking to my martini.

Oh the wild excitement of popping the cork on a good wine, or mixing up the perfect martini.  Warm and fuzzy social lubrication may well be the magic sauce that brings people together despite the typical barriers of language, religion, status, and age, but nothing comes without a price.   Just what sort of beauty woes will a night of liquid courage cost you?  Alcohol happens to be responsible for some of the most common beauty complaints that I hear on a daily basis. Alcohol dehydrates your skin and deprives your body of nutrients leading to tell-tale signs.  Signs of frequent indulgence include:

  • Tired red eyes
  • Puffy bloated face and body
  • Dilated blood vessels and a red face
  • Dry lusterless skin

So, what is a girl to do?  Women are encouraged to drink no more than 1 glass of wine or alcohol a day.  Drink 2 glasses of water for every glass of alcohol and slap some chilled cucumbers on those tired eyes first thing in the morning.  The dilated vessels may be permanent and need a quick blast with an IPL treatment to tone down the redness.  My favorite product combination for clear eyes:  drum roll please!….

Visine + Benefit’s Eye Bright= happy, clear, sinless eyes!

Don’t hide behind the mask. Melasma do’s and don’ts.

It’s known as the “mask of pregnancy”,  but it very well could be called the “mask of contraception” or the “mask of hormonal outrage”.  Melasma is dark pigmented patches of skin that plague the faces of a good quarter or more of my clients.  It’s a rare day that passes when I don’t have a gal in my chair lamenting her lost even skin tone. Melasma is one of the medical community’s annoying oddities that no one can quite figure out.   This small detail makes it a bit of a challenge to wipe off the face of the planet…..or at least off of your face. We do know that it is hormone related and that sun exposure makes it much worse.  Dark pigment in the skin is produced by overactive melanocytes (small cells that create pigment in our skin).   One of the first things my clients want to do is laser their faces off in hopes of destroying the malicious pigment.  Lasers may not always be the best option.  The trick to lifting the mask is removing the top layers of pigmented skin (microdermabrasion, retinoids, and/ or chemical peels) and suppressing the melanocyte that is producing the brown spots with tyrosinase inhibitors (hydroquinone, kojic acid).  Here are my top do’s and don’ts when fighting melasma:

  1. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on skin care and treatments and then slather on sub par sunscreen, or worse forget it entirely.
  2. Do think of sunscreen as your first line of defense.  Sunscreen keeps the skin from sustaining as much “injury” from the sun.  (Melasma is made worse by stimulation of melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment!) follow me?  Apply your sunscreen every 2 hours when out in the sun.  I’m obsessed with Colorscience’s powdered sunscreen.
  3. Don’t hang out in the sauna or hot tub.  Studies show that heat can cause the melanocytes to rear their ugly heads and start to pump out extra pigment.
  4. Do get religious about your skin care routine.  Consistency is key when applying skin lightening products so don’t go to bed without dousing yourself in the creams your skin care professional recommends.
  5. Do add in the gold standards for treating pigment: tretinoin + hydroquinone + vitamin c.  You can alternatively look for non prescription products that have retinols, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acids.  It’s going to take 3-6 months to see a big change either way.
  6. Don’t jump right in to photofacials or IPL.  Studies show that melasma can be made worse following these treatments.  In my personal practice, photofacials tend to offer minimal benefits and carry too much risk for melasma.
  7. Do  try the safer medium depth chemical peels that are on the market today.  My personal favorite is the VI Peel.  It will make you peel like a snake and even out your skin by lifting off surface pigment.  You’ll still need your skin care products but peeling makes the process move along much faster.

    before/after Vi Peel

 

Age Sexy Inspiration

I started the company dermaDARLING and coined the phrase “Age Sexy” because I am obsessed with health and aging, and I believe that aging is to be embraced and enhanced,  not something to campaign against.  I am tired of media instilling the notion that only youth has sex appeal.  Photoshop has it’s place, and I appreciate a high gloss magazine as much as the next girl, but leave me some naso-labial folds and expression lines please.  I am all for enhancing beauty at every age while not trying to erase every single sign of experience. Women are beautiful.  Aging skin is beautiful, we just have to take care of it.  Every gorgeous gal has the ability to Age Sexy when armed with the right tips, tricks, and tools.  These lovely women have done it very well:

Helen Mirren

Susan Sarandon

Julie Christie

Madonna

Lauren Hutton

Jane Fonda

Intrinsic Aging Vs Extrinsic Aging. Why you should listen to your nurse!

Don’t forget sunscreen, don’t smoke, don’t poke at your face, don’t drink too much alcohol, don’t forget to wear sunglasses!  Bossy pants experts spout out orders all over the place.  Have you ever thought, I look hot now so what harm will a little sun and little social smoking do?  Let me explain the difference between Intrinsic Aging and Extrinsic Aging.

Intrinsic Aging is the natural occuring process by which our youth crumbles.  Thank your mother, because her genes were gifted to you as well as her sagging jaw line and under eye bags.  Intrinsic aging can be done beautifully by eating a very healthy diet full of greens and healthy fats, drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day, and exercising.

Extrinsic Aging is the low down and ugly youth crushing effects of your own lifestyle indulgences.  Extrinsic aging is brought down on you in the form of sun spots, wrinkles, and thickened skin.  Think of this the next time you forget to put on sunscreen or think that just one night of debauchery won’t cause any ill effects!  Fight extrinsic aging by avoiding the sun, cigarettes, marijuana, and making fun of overweight cheerleaders at your 20th high school reunion.

Now for the twin studies!

Non smoking twin/ smoking twin
Intrinsic aging vs extrinsic aging

Intrinsic aging vs Extrinsic Aging
sun avoidance vs sun worship

Perfect Foundation for Sensitive, Acne Prone, and Post Procedure Skin!

I was astounded when I found a website that promotes slathering on liquid foundation post laser skin peel (fractional ablative resurfacing).  I would never dream of putting makeup on freshly lasered skin, but the concept was very appealing.  I imagined the swarms of beautiful girls leaving my treatment room with gorgeous glowing skin instead of flaming red and goopy with Aquaphore.  I promptly called the company and began trials with my post peel clients.  They were completely astounded by how the foundation cooled their skin down and covered every trace that they had just gone under the laser!  The foundation is called Oxygenetix and is an aloe vera based liquid foundation that covers like a breathable second skin. Sensitive skin loves this light weight calming product and it is perfectly safe and even healing after procedures such as resurfacing, microdermabrasion, and FotoFacials.  Most of my clients become addicted to this foundation and continue to use it after they have healed from their procedures.  It gives the prettiest soft glow you can get from a bottle, and despite being used as a camouflage makeup, is very light weight and virtually flawless.

Immediately post Pixel skin resurfacing.

Don’t let the fear of down time and having to hide after your laser treatment keep you from aging sexy!  Get your gorgeous paws on Oxygenetix before going under the beam.

We carry this at Chastain Wellness Studio in Atlanta, Ga.  404-252-6662

Age Sexy! Top Ten Commandments.

Helen Mirren rocks the sexy at 60 vibe!

I have so many clients in their 50s and 60s that are truly sexy and inspiring.  Working with them has taken my fear of aging and shook it out like a dirty rug.  I have interviewed many of these little foxes about how they have aged so sexy, and there are common denominators!  We must listen to our bodies and learn to play them like the fine instruments they are.

We now know that inflammation wreaks havoc on our poor little bodies.  Inflammation is a cellular response caused by the body’s defense mechanism that also speeds up aging!  Aging can be a beautiful and sexy maturation if you take control of your habbits and live with awareness.

The Age Sexy Top Ten Commandments:

I.   Stop smoking– this includes tobacco and various weed varietals.  If you have smoked in your youth, load up on antioxidants to assist your body in it’s recovery.  None of my foxy 60 year old clients are smokers.

II.  Exercise–  The gals that I work on that make me excited to turn 50 are all heavy exercisers.  Some are champion ice skaters, alot of pilates junkies, and they sure don’t back down from the 60 minutes a day rule.

III.  Take time for yourself–  Make time to exercise, eat well, take a bath, travel, get a massage.  Know when to call the calendar full.

IV.  Maintenance and shameless self preservation–  These gorgeous gals are in to see me often for skin resurfacing, cellulite smoothing, photo rejuvenation and medical grade skin care.  They don’t think of it as anything more than maintenance.  Make a budget and alow yourself a little Botox a few times a year and a resurfacing treatment once or twice a year.

V.  Diet–  A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low on inflammatory foods such as dairy, meat, and gluten will keep you glowing and your skin smooth well into the golden years.  Drink no less than 9 glasses a day of water.

VI.  Manage Stress–  Take yoga, indulge in a therapist (your hair stylist doesn’t count), take lots of time to be with your friends and family, leave work at work, and cut out caffeine.

VII.  Give Freely &  share your blessings– Don’t just count your blessings but share them.  The women I interviewed were all altruistic in one form or another.  Some run charity organizations, while others leave amazing tips to their service providers (thank you very much!)

VIII.  Skin Care–  Tretinoin, Vitamin C, Sunscreen, Moisturizer, Obagi’s Elastiderm Eye Treatment + monthly rendevous with your esthetician =  Perfectly ageless skin.

IX.  Sun Protection–  If there was one piece of advice my sassy age-less clients would give you it is to stay out of the sun so that you don’t have to spend all the money they have had to spend to clean up the resulting mess!  Sunspots age you quicker than any thing.

X.  Alcohol– Practice moderation.  My gals aren’t afraid to knock back a glass of bubbly every now and then, but you won’t find them nursing a hang-over.