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14 Products To Help You Get Rid Of Dark Spots

In beauty, skincare on July 31, 2020 at 10:12 am

I believe it is safe to say that anyone’s skin goal is to have clear, blemish free, glowing skin.  And while many of us may have a good skincare routine in place to support those goals, there are certain times in our lives where annoying discoloration rears its ugly head – better known as hyperpigmentation.

What exactly is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the general term for the types of discoloration that show up on the skin and is caused (in simple terms) by the overproduction of or excess melanin production.  It can appear as pink or red spots/scarring in fair skin tones and as brown/black spots/scarring in deeper skin tones.  There are various causes (or results) of hyperpigmentation, the most common being melasma, sun exposure and post inflammatory.  Melasma is thought to be caused by (but not limited to) hormonal fluctuations, particularly from pregnancy or oral contraception use.  Sun exposure can cause discoloration from overexposure to tanning beds or lack of using a sunscreen.  Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is very common and can come from various skin trauma such as acne, eczema and other skin rashes.  Whatever the case, this type of persistent discoloration can cause a lot of frustration and your self confidence can suffer.

There are many solutions to treating hyperpigmentation.  One of many is in the doctor’s office with the use of lasers, peels, microdermabrasion or other procedures.  These can have various recovery times and result rates as well as the occasional higher price tag that may not fit in one’s budget.  Depending on the severity and depth of discoloration however, a trip to the doctor’s office may be the better option.

For cases that are mild to moderate,  there are many over the counter (OTC) solutions that can yield the results you may be looking for.  These solutions include serums, creams, toners, gels, peels and moisturizers.  When shopping for products, these are some key ingredients to look for:

  • Kojic Acid.  Derived from mushrooms.  Inhibits pigment production.
  • Arbutin.  Derived from bearberry.  It is a natural derivative of hydroquinone which is considered to be the gold standard in skin lightening.  Arbutin, aka alpha arbutin, is a pigment inhibitor and permits the slow release of actives, making it great for sensitive skin.
  • Glycolic Acid.  A well known AHA, glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and provides chemical exfoliation of the uppermost layers of dead skin cells which helps to fade discoloration.  Glycolic acid helps with smoother skin texture as well as helps to promote even skin tone and clarity as well as helps with signs of aging.
  • Lactic Acid.  An AHA derived from milk, lactic acid works in a way similar to glycolic acid.  It is thought to be more gentle and helps to exfoliate and brighten dark spots.
  • Retinol.  A derivative of vitamin A, retinol helps skin cells to regenerate more quickly, revealing smoother, brighter, more clear skin and addresses the signs of aging (fine lines, wrinkles, collagen production, elasticity, dullness).  It is also an anti-inflammatory and can help clear skin and prevent acne.
  • Niacinamide.  A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide, which is easily absorbed into the skin, is also an anti-inflammatory.  It helps to unclog pores, reducing the blemishes which can eventually lead to dark spots.  Niacinamide also helps with oil production and helps to treat redness.
  • Vitamin C.  Derived from citrus fruit, vitamin C inhibits melanin production which can help keep new dark spots from occurring.  It is also a chemical exfoliant so it sloughs off dead skin cells.
  • Willowbark.  This ingredient can come from either the white or black willow bark tree.  It is a natural form of salicylic acid, a BHA that is used to treat acne and remove dead skin cells which leads to the eventual fading of dark spots.
  • Licorice Root.  Beyond the candy that you may have loved or hated as a child, licorice root hinders free radical production and excessive melanin production, both of which can lead to hyperpigmentation.
  • Hydroquinone.  Hydroquinone is a popular skin lightening agent found in many products that are created to address concerns of  discoloration.  It is a compound that works to block/hinder an enzyme in melanin production.

Before you head to the doctor’s office for a procedure, consider trying one of the following products first.  If you don’t see the results you are looking for then make an appointment at your doctor’s office:

  • Dr Murad Rapid Age Spot And Pigment Lightening Serum. $72.  Created with 2% hydroquinone (clinically proven to fade dark spots), glycolic (exfoliation) and a hexapeptide (skin brightening), this serum includes the ingredients to get you the results you are looking for.  It is intended to be applied all over but can also be  used as a spot treatment.
  • Ambi Fade Cream For Normal Skin $6.49  This cream also contains hydroquinone,  as well as alpha hydroxy acids and vitamin E to help even and hydrate the skin.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes $85   Good Genes can be used either day or night.  It helps to plump fine lines and wrinkles, boosts radiance and smooths texture.  Good Genes also tackles uneven skin tone with lactic acid and licorice root extract.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector $22   The key ingredients of retinol and vitamin C create a gentle yet effective formula for getting rid of dark spots.
  • Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner $29 –    The high concentration of actives (glycolic and lactic acid as well as witch hazel water) allows you to swipe away dull skin, discoloration and even target fine lines and wrinkles.  Ingredients such as  chamomile helps to sooth the skin, making this toner gentle enough for daily use.
  • Cane + Austin Miracle +30% Glycolic Acid Peel Pad $88   These pre-medicated 30% glycolic acid pads allow you to swipe away dull skin, treat acne (including hormonal) and help target signs of aging.  Continual use can help with dark spots  and can be used daily – even on sensitive skin.
  • Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum $12  For just $12 this lightweight serum that can be used day and night contains tranexamic (specifically targets dark spots) and 4% niacinamide.  This serum also targets age spots and sun damage.
  • Dr Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum $92   This serum contains powerful ingredients to deliver office procedure level results.  Key ingredients of kojic, lactic and L-ascorbic acid as well as arbutin help to resurface the skin and not only targets post acne scarring and sun damage but also the signs of aging in just weeks.
  • Renee Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum $86.50   This retinol cream is actually safe for sensitive skin and those who have not been able to tolerate other retinol  products.  Because it is a retinol, you will get the added benefit of targeting deeper signs of aging such as loss of collagen production and elasticity.
  • Beauty Counter Overnight Resurfacing Peel $63  Contains a mix of powerful AHA/BHA as well as arginine and essential fatty acids to help with smoother texture as well as brighter, more clear skin.
  • Slurp Niacid 50ml $42   Like other effective products, Slurp Niacid contains niacinamide and transexamic.  However, the added benefit is that this particular product also helps to raise indentations (pitting) that can be caused by severe acne.
  • PCA Skin Pigment Gel $64  The key ingredient of this gel is 2% hydroquinone and is effective on all skin types and all types of discoloration including hormonal and  sun damage
  • Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter $52.50    A brightening serum that helps with the discoloration of today with ingredients such as salicylic acid and glucosamine, but also helps to interrupt discoloration of the future with ingredients such as gyokuro and mulberry root.  Patented CL302 Equalizer Technology (damage eraser) penetrates up to 21 layers of  the skin.
  • Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $54   This dark spot solution can be used as a spot treatment or all over the face (am and pm).  It contains 3 potent ingredients: Activated C (vitamin C) for clarity and even skin tone, white birch extract for hydration and nutrients and peony extract for prevention of oxidative damage.

Regardless of whatever skincare products you are using, be sure to use a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF.

Do you struggle with  hyperpigmentation?  If so, what has been your go-to product to help clear up your skin?

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Need one on one consulting, customization or updates for your beauty and fashion questions and concerns, visit khalilahneals.com.

How To Look Better In Your Next Video Call

In beauty, how to, makeup, skincare on May 18, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Image Courtesy of Cottonbro via Pexels

It’s no secret that video has become a valuable tool in our technologically advanced society, especially during these strange times.  From FaceTime and Skype to the ever increasing popularity and use of Zoom, video is a great way to stay connected.

Now, more than ever, video calls are the go to tool for many of the things we do, from work to virtual happy hours and parties.  With that being said, how we look on video is just as important as the information that is being exchanged.  It usually doesn’t matter when we communicate via phone call, text and email but obviously, in video, people see you.  In most cases, when it comes down to work and even things like virtual dating, looks matter.  Think about it – how would you present yourself to your current or potential boss, client or even a romantic prospect?  You wouldn’t show up in pajamas or a dusty t-shirt or a face mask for your zits.  You, instead, would put your best face forward.  Again, looks matter so it’s important to look your personal best.  Also since many of us are currently stuck inside, that’s all the more reason to put on that lipstick, hair or outfit you’ve been wanting to wear.  So go ahead, you can still slay through that screen with these simple tips/reminders:

Lighting.  When you take a selfie, you usually make sure you show up in the best light.  The same goes for when you are doing a video call.  Natural light is the better option as it most flattering.  The key when using natural light is positioning yourself at the correct angle.  To catch the best light, sit facing the window (or other light source for that matter).  If the sun is particularly bright you can close the blinds a little or put up a white curtain to help filter the light.  On cloudy days you can sit more directly in the light source because your features won’t be blown out.  Whatever the case, be sure to not sit with your back to your light source which will cause your figure to be shadowy.

You can always add a light source if necessary.  Ring lights are very popular and can be found on Amazon (or eBay).  I’ve been using the Make Up Light for several years because I like the ability to customize the fixtures and the fact that that it breaks down quickly, making it easier to carry and can fit mostly in a large tote bag.

You can always use a regular lamp if necessary.  Remember to position it in front of you (behind your computer or other video source).

Sound.  Be sure that your sound is working, without feedback/echo.  This is especially important if you are a presenter or leading the meeting.  Usually the sound on your chosen device is sufficient however if you need something that works better, there are microphone options on Amazon (or eBay).

Setting.  Where you take your virtual meeting (or event) is just as important as how you look.  Choose an area free of excessive distractions.  If possible, set up at a desk or table with ample lighting and a comfortable chair.  Make sure that whatever people see behind you is clean, neat, organized and visually appealing.  Add plants or artwork to add dimension to your space.  If you live with other people or other people will be present in your space, make sure they know when you will be participating in your meeting/event and that they are aware that they should keep noise to a minimum or non-existent.

Position.  Make sure your device (laptop, phone, tablet) is positioned at face/eye level.  and make sure you have good posture.  This will help you to not look distorted and again helps to present you in the best “light” possible.

Wardrobe.  Although, for the most part, you will only be seen from mid chest upwards, it’s still important that whatever people see looks nice.  Choose flattering colors that will complement your skin tone and contrast nicely with your background as well as ensure the right fit for your clothing.  Keep prints to a minimum and be sure that what you are wearing is not too revealing.  A blazer and camisole/t-shirt/blouse is a no fail combination, as well as just a blouse or nice sweater.  It all depends on your work environment, dress code and expectations.  Don’t forget accessories like a simple pair of earrings and/or necklace to complete the look.  However, be sure to avoid noisy jewelry as that can be a distraction.

Makeup.  Whether you know very little about makeup or don’t care for it, the fact  remains that a polished look makes for a good impression.  Again, looks matter.  And not in a “I look like a supermodel” but more of a way in which you don’t look like you just rolled out of bed and was dragged behind a dump truck.  You don’t have to do the most, just follow the basics of giving good face – “flawless” complexion, soft yet well defined brows, lash lift, lip tint/color, sculpting and definition.

  • Flawless Complexion.  Since makeup is never a substitute for good skin, start with a basic skincare routine for your skin type (if you don’t already have a 50 step process in place) – cleanse, tone, moisturize.  Once you have those basics in place,  a primer is your next step.  A primer will keep your makeup up on longer and can help your makeup look better on your skin.  Next apply a lightweight tinted moisturizer or foundation with a beauty blender or foundation brush.  If you need more coverage you can  definitely choose a medium/full coverage foundation.  Dark under eye circles/hyper-pigmentation (acne scars, etc) is a common concern for many so don’t forget a concealer.  Follow up with a setting powder to lock everything in place and to cut down on shine.
  • Brows.  I cannot stress the importance of having good brows.  Brows are the architecture of your face and can make or break your look.  If  you have full brows already, all you may need to do is use a brow gel to tame and shape them.  If you have brows that are more sparse, there are a multitude of products that you can use from brow powder to pencil to fill in/create the perfect brow.
  • Eyes.  You don’t have to do a full smoky eye.  In most cases, eye liner and mascara will suffice.  If you want to give a little more,  you can always choose a color slightly deeper than your complexion in your crease to give a little more depth and structure to the eye by applying/blending with a crease brush.  Finish off with 2-3 coats of your preferred mascara.  For eyeliner, choose an off black or black/brown to define the eye shape and use a smudge brush to soften the lines.  These two color choices will define without looking too dramatic or harsh.
  • Lips.  First off, exfoliation and moisture is so important – whether you choose to wear lip color or not.  Speaking of color, you don’t have to do full on color – a lip tint can suffice if you don’t want to do the most.  But for everyone else, go ahead and  put on that bold bright beautiful color to liven things up.  Mattes are good choice because in many cases, depending on formulation/brand, there is minimal transfer.
  • Sculpting with blush.  Add a little blush to add warmth to the complexion and  to sculpt and define those cheekbones.

Hair.  Brush it.  Comb it.  Shave it.  Cut it.  Do whatever you have to do to make sure it looks nice and presentable.  Styling products are your friend.  Add accessories if you need to like a headband or a nice hair clip.  Chances are you have many of these things in your arsenal.  You just need to use them.

 

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Need one on one consulting, customization or updates for your beauty and fashion questions and concerns, visit khalilahneals.com.

Skincare And Wellness Ingredient Trends Worth Knowing

In skincare on February 2, 2020 at 11:29 pm


Just when we thought we’ve gained a thorough understanding of all the ingredients in our favorite skincare, a new or alternative ingredient makes it’s way onto the scene.  These new/alternative ingredients, which show up in entirely new products or as new iterations of the products  we’ve been using might make you wonder if what you are currently using is “the one”.  But, if you are anything like me and other beauty enthusiasts and experts out there, you are definitely one to do some research, shopping and testing.  With piqued interest, we do whatever is necessary to get our hands, faces, lips and hair acquainted with these new products on the market.  Contained in these products are breakthrough ingredients that promise to be better than their predecessor and revolutionize how we do skincare and beauty.  Are these ingredients here to stay or will they eventually fade into oblivion?  Only time will tell.  Below are 8 ingredients/concepts that are making a mark in the skincare, beauty and wellness industries and taking up space on our vanities and bathroom sinks.  

Cica.  Around the later half of 2018 I started noticing products with the ingredient cica. Cica, also known as centella asiatica, is a well known herb in Asia and very popular in Chinese medicine. A more familiar name is tiger balm and is associated with the tigers who supposedly roll around in the herb to help regenerate their skin from battle wounds.  For humans, cica, which has antibacterial properties, is great for sensitized skin and aids in repairing the skin barrier.  It is also great for caring for the skin after procedures like chemical peels and laser treatments. Dr Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream

Polyhydroxy Acids aka PHA’s.  Just when we got a handle on understanding what AHA’s did for our skin, another acid makes it’s way into the spotlight. Unlike AHA’s which can cause irritation to the skin and make it more sensitive to the sun, PHA’s have larger molecules which don’t penetrate as quickly and deeply, causing less irritation thus making PHA’s a possibly better alternative for sensitive skin.  The end goal of a PHA is the same as AH  (chemical exfoliation for brighter, smoother skin) but less aggressive.  Ole Henriksen Phat Glow Facial

Retinols/Retinol Alternatives.  Although this ingredient is the holy grail of skincare ingredients, nothing raises eyebrows more than the word retinol.  As a vitamin A derivative, retinol is responsible for making skin cells act younger. Today’s versions of this old school ingredient originally prescribed for acne, now shows up in serums, moisturizer and various other treatments with buffers such as manuka honey to counteract the sometimes aggressive effects of retinol.  Now there  are retinol alternatives such as bakuchiol which promise to deliver similar line reducing, collagen producing results as traditional retinols but that are less irritating and invasive.  Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum

Overnight Eye Sleeping Masks.   We all know the importance of using eye creams for the delicate eye area EVERY SINGLE DAY AND NIGHT. There are many formulations to address various concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, brightening, puffiness and refreshing – you name it, there is a a potion for it.   Recently, I have seen an uptick in overnight eye sleeping masks and like overnight sleeping masks for the face, these particular masks provide the same benefits to the eye area while you sleep.  Laneige Eye Sleeping Mask

Liquid Exfoliators.  Back in the day, one of the skincare steps that was included in a solid skincare routine was the use of a physical exfoliator. These physical exfoliators helped to refine and brighten the texture of the skin and are still a product of choice for many.  The newer kid on the block, liquid exfoliators, which are acids that exfoliate (AHA, BHA, PHA) provide a form of chemical exfoliation without the abrasiveness and helps to unclog pores, brighten, smooth and get rid of dark spots. Please note if you are using retinols and liquid exfoliators ask part of your skincare routine, alternate your days between the two products until you build up tolerance and to prevent excess drying and irritation.  Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix Liquid Glow Daily 2%

CBD.  It’s no secret that many of today’s beauty products – from mascara, serums, body and intimate care – seem to be infused with CBD.  But what exactly is CBD and will you start tripping off of it?   Well, CBD, also known as a cannabinoid, comes from the canibus sativa plant and because it doesn’t contain THC, a known psychoaticive, you will not get high or start tripping.  So then why would you want a product that contains CBD?   CBD has antioxidants and can treat inflammation, anxiety and pain.  It can also help with skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.  Hora Skincare Super Serum + CBD

Adaptogens.  Although not a new concept as adaptogens have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayuvedic healing/medicine, the conversation around adaptogens has ramped up in recent years.  Adaptogens are a category of non-toxic plants (and some mushrooms) that help the body resist stressors.  We all know the long term effects that stress can have on the immune, neurological and physical aspects of our being and it is though that the use adaptogens in addition to a balanced diet and lifestyle can lead to better health.   Adaptogens can be found in various forms including teas, pre-mixed powders as well as pills and capsules and includes rhodiola, ashwagandha, reishi, maca root, turmeric and ginseng.  Moonjuice Super You Dietary Supplement

Sustainability.  So we know about the impact our lifestyle is having on the environment in the way of global warming. It’s not a new thing for brands to pay attention to the ingredients they are putting in the products we use on our bodies but more and more beauty companies and brands are putting more effort into recycled packaging – even down to the ink that is used in printing on the packaging. Companies even have goals on being completely sustainable within a particular timeframe. Wildcrafting is a term (as it relates to skincare ingredients) that I have been hearing more of recently and refers to the sustainable practice of harvesting a plant as it grows naturally in its environment.

The Rise Of Single Ingredient Skin Care: Does your skin care have to be complex to be effective?

In skincare on December 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Simple, effective, and customizable describes the new trend disrupting the skin care industry.

As more people begin to understand the importance of taking care of their skin, many are starting to invest more time and money in pursuit of products to support their skincare goals.  For some that may mean actually putting a routine in place where there was none.  For others, that may mean an upgrade to a moisturizer they’ve used for years or adding a sunscreen or eye cream.  If you are a more advanced skincare user, you might also be one to use an essence, serum, peel, mask and an oil.  And, if you are really fancy pants, you might be a jade rolling, micro needling aficionado who has monthly appointments with your facialist.  All in the pursuit of beautiful skin.

That might seem like a of products (or steps) for someone to use on their face.  In some instances it is which is why it’s important to assess what your skin really needs.  Within the various product categories, most, if not all of the skin care products one uses on their skin has multiple benefits because of the many ingredients they are created with.  Nothing is wrong with that if you are getting the results you desire. Many of our favorite skincare brands spend years in research and development to create products that deliver first in class, highly efficacious products.

But then attached to this multi-step, muti-product routine is the all too familiar hefty price tag.  And the fact that you can still be confused about what may or not work best for your particular skin concerns – even after going to a skincare expert, reading multiple articles and reviews or watching YouTube videos.  To ease the pain of the sometimes exorbitant price tag, there is always the option of going to the local drug store to purchase your skin care.  But have you noticed that even drugstore brands are becoming more advanced, complex and expensive?

With that being said, many people are not opposed to using a $200 serum if it really works.  But what if there is a single ingredient product that gets right down to the heart of your skincare needs?  And what if that single (or fewer) ingredient item costs significantly less than its counterpart where a particular hero ingredient shares space with other active ingredients that your skin may not need at the moment?

Welcome to the trend of what has been considered fast skincare.  Fast skincare usually features a single or hero ingredient and a focus on customization without the hefty price tag.  With customization as one of the key components of this newer trend in skincare, customers know what they are purchasing, are able to target a specific concern and can use in addition to the products they are already using – thus allowing one to address their skin’s ever changing needs without the high price.  Why is this trend considered fast skincare?  Because there are shorter R & D times.  With shorter R & D times, the average product turnaround, from concept to production to market is about 18 weeks vs 18 months – a concept similar to fast fashion.  That, in addition to leveraging the power of social media and using simplistic packaging that’s still Instagram worthy allows brands to come to market faster and get in the hands of consumers ASAP.  Below are 4 brands that fall into the category of fast or less expensive targeted skincare with a single/hero ingredient.

The Ordinary.  Just a few years old, The Ordinary, which falls under the Deciem umbrella, focuses on “clinical formulations with integrity”.   This results driven skin care line is very affordable with prices starting at $6 and is free of parabens, sulfates and mineral oils.  It is still important to know your ingredients – the varying percentages and various ingredients can leave one confused.  It’s almost like staring at a chemistry exam.

Versed Skincare.  Versed Skincare is Who What Wear‘s sister brand and has 19 essential products under $20 that cleanse, seal, boost or treat.  There is a line up of serums, oils, cleansers and peels, all of which are vegan and cruelty free – products are only tested on humans.  The simplistic packaging features pastel colors with symbols that speak to the function or focus of the product:  hourglass – aging, bulls eye – target, sun-dullness and is definitely Instagram worthy.

Good Molecules.  Good Molecules is created by Beautylish as a budget friendly brand.  Products are fuss free and start at $6.  Rest assured that the ingredients are up to standard as this product line was created by beauty industry veterans.  They have worked directly with top labs to create products that address texture, acne, dryness and hyperpigmentation with easy to understand terms.

The Inkey List.  UK based brand The Inkey List focuses on 15 hero ingredients – all $15 and under.  Created by former Boots branding and product development team Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, their focus is on simplifying popular skin care terms.  The Inkey List includes skincare heavy hitters such as retinol, salicylic acid and vitamin C and is cruelty free.  They do not work with suppliers who animal test and they do not enter into any test market where there is no alternative to animal testing.  They also have an environmental and sustainability policy  and are making an effort to source ingredients from sustainable sources.

Elevate Your Skincare Game With The Power Of Retinoids

In beauty, skincare on May 30, 2019 at 11:15 pm

Retinols, which are a form of retinoids, have long been the go to when it comes to skincare multi-tasking and anti-aging.  Considered to be the gold standard in skincare, retinoids are like your big sister who can do it all.  Retinoids have been around since the 70’s and were originally prescribed for acne concerns because they help to slough off dead skin and clear pores. Dermatologists and patients began to see that with regular use skin was more clear and smooth, with fewer pimples and less discoloration.  Skin looked better overall.

What Is A Retinoid And Where Does It Come From?
To first understand what a retinoid is and what it does, it is important to understand where retinoids come from.  Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A which occurs naturally in the body and can also be found in animal or plant sources.  Vitamin A is important because it is responsible for things like good vision and healthy bones as well as healthy cell turnover and collagen production.  

The term retinoid is the category name or umbrella under which the terms retin-a and retinol fall under.  Retin-A (aka tretinoin) is available with a prescription.  Retinol, the more common form of retinoid, is known by more familiar terms such as retinol palmitate, retinol acetate and retinol linoleate.  These forms tend to be more gentle and are a perfect introduction into the world of retinoids.   Retinols don’t need a prescription and can be found over the counter – in your favorite beauty stores.

How Do Retinoids Work And How Are They Different Than AHA’s And BHA’s? 

Retinoids, which work in the deeper layers of the skin, help to reduce the appearance of fine line, wrinkles, discoloration and enlarged pores.  They also help with cell renewal and collagen production.  The later two functions are important to note as they relate to anti-aging concerns because when you reach the age of 30, cell renewal begins to slow down, occurring evey 60 days or so as opposed to every 28-30 days when in your twenties. Slower cell turnover leads to dull, lackluster, congested skin.   In addition, collagen production, which is responsible for giving our skin, bones and connective tissues the structure they need, also begins to decline as well when we age.  This reduction in collagen production is responsible for fine lines, deep wrinkles and sagging, less plump skin. Retinoids work to increase skin thickness and elasticity in the deeper layers where wrinkles begin.  They also slow down the breakdown of collagen and curb the production of melanin (brown spots).

So what is the difference between retinoids, AHA’s and BHA’s?  AHA’s work on the surface of the skin to improve what we see while BHA’s work just below the skin’s surface.  Retinoids affect the deeper layers of the skin to push out permanently better skin and are more effective in the long run. 

How Does One Incorporate Retinoids Into Their Skincare Routine?

Start slowly and follow the directions of the brand you choose.  Directions usually instruct to use every other evening or 1-2x weekly, eventually working your way up to every evening.  Always use a sunscreen and keep in mind that results can take anywhere from 3-6 months of regular use to really see results.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Retinol Use?  What Precautions Should One Take When First Using Retinol?

Possible drying, peeling, or redness.  However, the new generation of retinoids deliver the same results with less irritation because these formulations include ingredients such as honey and jojoba to help soothe and calm irritation.   If you do experience any side effects, you can reduce dosage/usage but don’t stop completely because you won’t see the benefits.  Make sure you are using a moisturizer/oil to keep the skin hydrated and to counteract any possible irritation associated with retinol use.  Don’t use if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. 

Differin Gel.  Once available only with a prescription, Differin gel is the first FDA approved retinoid gel approved for over the counter use for the treatment of acne.  Differin gel contains adapalene, a form of retinoid that treats/clears acne.  Available in a 30 day and 90 day supply and has an accompanying cleanser and moisturizer. The highest dose still requires a prescription (.3% adapalene)

Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength 3% Retinoid Plus.  Perfect for normal, oily, combination and dry skin, this lightweight serum helps to get rid of the signs of aging.  A key ingredients include caffeine which helps with penetration and the buffering complex of symitive 1609 and symcalmin to calm irritation.

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex.   This vegan, gluten-free eye cream is microencapsulated, ensuring potency of the retinol as well as better absorption into the skin.  Niacinimide, vitamin C and peptides help to ensure hydration, reduction of dark circles and plumping of fine lines.

Darphin Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Concentrate.  Infused with nourishing botanicals, this retinol encourages cell turnover, moisturizes and is perfect for face and eye.  To preserve potency and protect from light damage, this retinol concentrate is housed in individual opaque capsules.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.  This cream has the highest strength of retinol available without a prescription and works overnight to help reduce the signs of aging with pure RoC Retinol and an essential mineral complex.

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster. This lightweight fluid is a slow release retinol that actually boosts the efficacy of your other skincare products such as serums and moisturizers.  It also helps to even skin tone and improve radiance.  Can also be used alone.

Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum.   This serum which is perfect for normal, dry, combination and oily skin contains a 6.5% blend of retinoid ingredients to fight the signs of aging as well as Hawaiian white honey, bisabolol and ginger to help balance and soothe the skin.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream.  The key ingredients of Vitamin F, triple peptide blend and Retinol 1% work together to help target UV damage and other signs of aging while helping to firm and smooth the skin.

Are you a retinol user or is it something you have considered adding to your skin care routine but haven’t done so yet? Leave your comments below.

8 Eye Creams To Help You Look Brighter, Smoother, and More Awake

In skincare on August 22, 2018 at 11:00 am

It’s no secret that everyone wants to look younger and more awake, especially when it comes to the under eye area.  Lots of time and money is spent looking for makeup, concealer in particular, to hide a multitude of concerns such as lack of sleep, puffiness, fine lines, wrinkles, and darkness.  The secret is not always in the makeup but in your skin care routine in the form of an eye cream.

If you use some form of moisturizer for your face, you might be the type to use that same product under your eye, if you even pay attention to that area.  The truth is, the skin around your eyes is the most delicate and sensitive of all the areas of your face (think tissue paper vs construction paper) so what you use should be specifically formulated for that area.  The under eye is also thinner and has no oil glands to replenish the delicate under eye skin so it is prone to show the first signs of aging.  Other contributing factors to under eye aging include improper removal of eye make up, rubbing, squinting and other environmental aggressors.  A good eye cream and healthy life style choices can help.

When shopping for an eye cream, look for those formulas that contain peptides, hyaluronic acid, retinoids, anti oxidants and optical diffusers.  Your eye cream should have a consistency you like, preferably be fragrance free (avoids invitation) and have good absorption.  Formulas that come in pumps are best as there is less exposure to air and light which degrades the product.  If the product does come in a jar, be sure to use clean hands or spatula to apply product.

SkinCeuticals Eye Balm With Triple Age Defense $82.  This rich emollient cream is great for those with mature or aging skin around the eyes.  Contains vitamin A & E and helps with collagen production, lipid replacement, and hydration.  Dimethicone helps to smooths under eye skin and makes for smoother concealer application.

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy AM. Gel Cream $36.  This cooling eye cream is perfect for revitalizing eyes first thing in the morning.  It addresses the concerns of firming and hydration and also targets the upper eyelid.  Key ingredients include red algae for hydration and anti-aging as well as peptides for plumping.

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum $60.  This powerhouse eye serum addresses multiple concerns of the eye area.  Powerhouse ingredients of copper and black tea ferment create a smoother, radiant appearance under the eye while the Shaba Complex of niacinamide and edelweiss stem cells diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  COQ10 provides anti-oxidant protection.

PCA Skin Ideal Complex Restorative Eye Cream $87.  Target multiple signs of eye aging with this scientifically backed eye cream.  Optical diffusers instantly brighten while peptides help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and niacinamide helps with tone and strength of the skin.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum $88.  This fast absorbing formula contains 3 forms of retinol which helps to stimulate collagen production and strengthens the eye area, creating a firmer, more toned look to the eye area.  Marine kelp extract brightens the eye area.

Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream $18.  Lightweight and fast absorbing, this eye cream contains the key ingredient of hyaluronic acid which is highly effective at moisturizing and smoothing.  Aloe vera helps to calm and sooth the delicate eye area, making this eye cream perfect for daily use and prep for concealer application.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream $19.99.  A gel-cream hybrid, this eye cream is cooling, hydrating and fragrance free.  Key ingredient hyaluronic acid boosts moisture and locks it in all day.  It also smooths the skin under the eye without leaving an oily residue behind.

Dr Brandt No More Baggage Eye De-puffing Gel $42.  Banish the look of puffy, tired, aging looking eyes with this advanced de-puffing eye gel.  Quick acting, apply this in the morning to smooth and depuff.  The apricot color provides brightening to help you look well rested, caffeine helps to tighten and the peptides will plump and hydrate.

These Peels, Scrubs, And Exfoliators Will Keep Your Skin Glowing All Year Long.

In skincare on August 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

Caution:  Increased use will make your skincare absorb better into your skin, making you even more amazing….

We are constantly bombarded with images of our favorite celebrities and their beautiful, glowing skin.  Sure, this look is achieved with the help of their go-to makeup artist and their arsenal of glow inducing products.  But before the makeup is applied, much attention is given to a celebrity’s skincare routine, whether it is in the form of trips to their favorite skincare professional with state of the art tools or the use of at home treatments.

Then there is you.  Wondering if your skin can be that amazing- especially if you have some skin care concerns.  The truth is yes your skin can be that amazing and there is easy access to great products.  When you feel like your skin needs a daily glow, the enviable radiance before a big event, or you just need to banish uneven texture, dark marks, red spots and hormonal breakouts, you can still head over to your dermatologist’s office for treatments which may include post procedure down time. The other option is reaching for at home solutions in the form of peels, scrubs, and exfoliators  to deliver amazing results.  Whatever you choose, be sure to be consistent, follow the directions and use your sunscreen.

Cane & Austin 30% Miracle Pads $88.  These peel pads are ideal for turning up the cell renewal process.  Key ingredients include glycolic acid (resurfacing), vitamins A, C, E, (lighten, brighten, tightening) and salicylic acid (clears pores) which work together to banish breakouts, reduce the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation and refine the look of pores.  COQ10 provides powerful anti aging protection.

Algenist Multi-Perfecting Detoxifying Exfoliator $38.  This oil free, clay based exfoliator will help improve texture, tone and clarity, making your skin soft and luminous with salicylic acid and oligosaccharides (moisturize, resurface).

Philosophy The Microdelivery Exfoliating Facial Wash $8-$60. More like a mini peel, this facial wash is perfect if you want to cleanse and treat in one step.  Gentle enough for daily use.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive Exfoliating Mask $42. Great for all skin types except sensitive, the organic fruit hydroxy acids and raw cane sugar will help to get rid of discoloration and makes the skin smoother and brighter.

Mario Badescu Almond And Honey Non Abrasive Face Scrub $15.  This super gentle facial scrub contains finely ground almonds and honey and sweet almond oil to gently buff away dead skin cells and nourish and hydrate your skin.

Tatcha Polished Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder $65.  This water activated enzyme powder turns into a creamy foam, gently buffing away dull, pore clogging dirt to reveal smooth glowing skin.  Key ingredients include Tatcha’s proprietary Hadesi 3 complex of antioxidant green tea which aids in skin detox, red algae which plumps and moisturizes and rice which exfoliates.

Don’t Forget These 7 Places When Applying Your Sunscreen

In beauty, lifestyle, skincare on August 13, 2018 at 11:00 am

Remember back in the day when wearing sunscreen on a regular basis wasn’t really part of your skin care routine?  No one concerned themselves with the dangers of bathing in the sun for hours, and slathered in baby oil at that.  And if you had a deeper complexion, you thought you were immune to the effects of sun damage because of the depth of your built in melanin.

Fast forward to today where people are more educated about the dangers of UVA and UVB rays.  There is now a lot more information available about the various forms of skin cancer, how they develop, as well as the steps you can take to protect you and your loved ones.  Startling statistics show that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (1).  In addition, skin cancer in people of color is usually detected in later stages when it is more difficult to treat (2).  The key is understanding that absolutely no one is immune to this disease, which, in most cases, if detected early can be cured.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that because your makeup has SPF or because you don’t spend your days outside in the sun, that all is well.  Not so fast.  SPF in makeup is insufficient because it (SPF) should be reapplied every 2 hours and most people don’t even apply enough of said makeup to get enough protection in the first place. Furthermore, ultraviolet light penetrates windows and clothes so you still need a sunscreen.

With that said, although people are actually taking the time to apply sunscreen before leaving home, there are still sensitive areas of the body that are often overlooked and are some of the places people wouldn’t necessarily consider developing skin cancer:

Lips. Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30.  This targeted, nourishing formula is water resistant and perfect for the lip, eye and face area.

Ears/NoseAlgenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50.  This lightweight, oil free sunscreen is fast absorbing and contains anti-oxidants that help delay the aging process.  Sublime Defense does not leave a gray cast on deep skin tones.

Eyelids.  Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 34.  Gentle and non-irritating is the way to go when it comes to applying anything to the eye area.  Anything you apply in that area should also treat.  This sunscreen eye cream is fast absorbing, lightweight, hydrating and makes the eye area appear brighter.

Scalp.  Coola Organic Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30.  Even though your hair may be covering your scalp, both are at risk for sun damage.  Good for all hair types including tightly coiled, Coola Organic Scalp & Hair Mist keeps hair moisturized, manageable, protects color.  Contains monoi oil and panthenol and is vegan, cruelty free, and non-gmo.

Feet/HandsMD Solar Sciences 40 SPF Quick Dry Body Spray.  Oil free and water resistant, this sunscreen is great for those who live an active lifestyle and is safe enough to use on children 6 months and older.

The great thing about these sunscreens and many others is that they come in various forms like finishing sprays, primers and balms, making it easier to choose a formulation that fits your preference and lifestyle.  And remember, sunscreen (between 30 and 50 SPF) isn’t just for the bright sunny days of summer.  It is to be used every day of the year.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm

(2) https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer

UVA rays are associated with aging the skin.

UVB rays are responsible for burning the skin which can lead to cancer.

Find out more about blue light skin aging (HEV) here.

Winter Skincare Tips

In beauty, skincare on February 24, 2018 at 7:16 am

Protect your skin from the harsh, cold, disrespectful weather with these helpful tips.

There is always something about the freezing cold winter weather that sends emotional and literal chills up one’s spine.  You know – the thought of walking from the house to the train station.  Walking your pet in the dark, cold early hours of the morning.  Warming up your car while scraping off thick, heavy, icy snow.  Add to that the fact that you have to spend the extra time layering on pounds of clothing so you don’t freeze to death and you’ve created a whole new way of living.  With all the adjustments you make to your wardrobe (and life in general) to survive the cold weather, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate the effectiveness of and make adjustments to your winter skincare routine.

We all know the cold winter months are particularly harsh on the skin.  There is less humidity in the air so between the cold air outdoors, dry heat from indoor/car heat and super hot showers which deplete moisture, skin can become more sensitive, dry, and flaky.  Your skin is also more likely to show fine lines and wrinkles when it usually doesn’t.  So, since your regular skincare routine wont suffice…

Consider Your Cleanser

This time of year, you may actually need to use a different cleanser to help break down makeup and dirt.  An oil cleanser such as Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Oil Face & Eyes or balm cleanser like Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm tends to be gentle yet highly effective on the skin.  Even more oily skin types can experience dryness and dehydration during the winter months and could benefit from a more gentle cleanser that lathers such as Fresh Soy Face Cleanser or Tatcha The Deep Cleanse.  If you are sensitive or extremely dry, consider a milk cleanser like Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk.

For the body, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash which includes soothing emollients and colloidal oatmeal can do wonders for dry itchy skin.  To seal in moisture, when drying off, be sure to pat your skin dry with your towel and follow up with a rich moisturizer like Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion with Almond Oil.

Amp Up Your Moisturizer

Adding oils to your moisturizer and using overnight sleeping masks can be the key to added moisture, keeping skin soft and supple during cold weather months.  While face oils alone may not hydrate, they are great for adding to moisturizers and foundations for an added boost in efficacy and skincare benefits.  The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil and Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil are great because they help restore the skin’s moisture barrier and give skin radiance and luminosity, both of which tend to fade away during the cold months.  Sleeping masks like Laneige Water Sleeping Mask work overnight to recharge and deeply hydrate the skin.  This is a great time for skincare products because they do the work while your skin is in repair mode.

During this time of year, you may also need to switch your eye cream.  It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye not only adds moisture to the under eye area but it also brightens and depuffs, helping the under eye area look smooth, making it a great prep for under eye concealer.  Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Eye Cream helps to illuminate the under eye while delivering intense hydration.  If you need a quick boost, apply eye patches like Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches.  Used in addition to your eye cream, these patches will give additional vitality and boost of hydration to the under eye area.

Lips also suffer tremendously during this time of the year.  From eating and drinking (which can remove lip product you apply), to using products like matte liquid lip stains, lips will get dry and flaky.  Using products that are rich in emollient butters will help to repair and protect the lips.  Bite Beauty Agave Lip Balm restores lips with shea butter and jojoba oil.  If you need a product that does deeper repair, Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is an overnight treatment that heals with vitamin C and antioxidants, leaving your lips nice and soft in the morning.

Remember not to neglect the skin on the rest of the body and pay particular attention to feet, knees and elbows with a moisturizer that will replenish oils and nutrients to the skin.  Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion with Almond Oil  not only relieves dry, itchy skin but also gives skin a glow.  Hands and cuticles also suffer because of activities like extra hand washing to help prevent winter sickness.  deborah lippman rich girl handcream (SPF 25) and Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream both contain avocado and shea butter to heal and replenish dry, cracked hands and cuticles.

Exfoliate

Gently exfoliating 1-2 times a week does wonders for the skin but don’t overdo it.  Over-exfoliation does more harm than good by disrupting the moister barrier, leaving it prone to irritation and even breakouts.  Other than that, by removing dead, flaky skin, all other skin products will absorb and work better.  For face, Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask Seaweed Radiance Facial is a two in one facial, great for all skin types, that smooths and restores radiance.  If you are a Clarisonic lover, although you can use it twice a day, consider using it only in the evening or every other day if you find that your skin feels drier and tighter after you have made other adjustments in your skin care routine.  For the rest of your body, SW Basics Cream Scrub, a moisturizer and gentle scrub in one, will make skin soft and smooth in one step.  And for those who are minimalists when it comes to ingredients, this one is for you as it is made in small batches with only four organic ingredients:  sugar, shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil.

Monitor your heat sources

Yes, you are cold to your core and yes, all you want to do is thaw out but putting your central heating and your bath/shower water on hell will make matters worse.  Home heaters, whether they are space heaters or central heating is dry air and will dehydrate your skin.  When heating your home, have the heat come up intermittently and consider getting a humidifier to add moisture into the air.  When showering or bathing, keep both activities short and the water tepid.

You Are What You Eat

Sounds so cliche but making sure you have balanced eating habits is always a good idea.  Things like added sugars, caffeine and other processed foods can exacerbate dry skin concerns.  Refined sugars lead to inflammation which robs skin of nutrients making it dry, flaky, irritated and can even aggravate acne problems.  You don’t have to vilify and completely stop consuming these foods however moderation is always a good practice.  Also, it goes without saying to increase your water intake.  In addition, make sure your eating plan includes foods that are nutrient dense as well as with fatty acids and have a higher water content.

When changing your skincare routine, remember that consistency is key.  You can always seek advice from a quality beauty professional and if serious concerns/issues arise with your skin, seek a health professional.

What are your favorite winter skincare tips?