Wednesday, 9 December 2015

It's all in the layers

This is it, you have taken the plunge, you purchased a new skin care line.  You are committing to take better care of your skin!  Good for you! So, you arrive home with bottles and tubes of products and you can’t remember what the esthetician/sales person told you about what goes on first or third or last.  You don’t want to mix this up, your dream of softer glowing skin depends on getting this right!  They aren’t open now so you can’t even call them.   

Don’t worry, there’s lots of advice out there so I perused a few sites and compiled some of their tips along with my best practices and came up with a generic troubleshooting guide made just for you. 

The answer is generally in the layering. Get the products on your skin in the right order and they will work more effectively. Now, I can’t look into your bag to see what line you purchased but here are some clues to follow.

Whether it’s morning or night, step one is to cleanse. So find the cleanser and try it out.  Massage it in using a circular pattern and rinse it off with luke warm water.

Next look for your exfoliator – don’t use this every day, 2-3 times a week is all you need.

Time for toner – this is actually a final step in the cleansing process and it helps to get rid of all the dirt and oils left behind.  It may also be called an astringent.

Now let’s look for your treatment products.  Generally, work in order of the product’s consistency from thinnest to thickest.  You might have one or two serums to massage in, if one contains Vitamin C, anti-oxidants or stem cells, start with that one.  Follow this with a serum containing peptides or hyaluronic acid.

Next, look for any products for spot treatments, this could include something for blemishes or something for skin lightening.

Hopefully you also have an eye cream in the mix, it is way better for the delicate skin around your eyes to use a special formula here instead of your normal face cream.  Remember, less is more, too much product can leave you looking puffy.

Now, lock in all your treatment products with an all over moisturizer, or a night cream if it’s night time. 

Finally, if it’s morning, finish with your sunscreen and allow it to set, then proceed to make-up.

Don’t worry if your products don’t include all the above steps, remember, this is a general guide. Work with the products to have and put them in order!

Now to deal with a few common mistakes:

  1. Skipping the cleansing - all I can say is Noooooo, don't skip it and don't substitute with soap!
  2. Exfoliating everyday - this is generally not necessary and can be too harsh for your skin. On the other hand, don't skip it altogether either.  
  3. If your products are balling up when you apply them, the textures aren't compatible so give them a chance to dry in between.
  4. Touching your face…avoid this as it introduces bacteria to your skin, eeewww.  
  5. Picking at blemishes – this is a no no unless of course you want to end up with scars. 
I hope this offers some practical advice to get you off on your skin care journey!  Here’s to beautiful skin!


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Spot the spots

With the snow upon us and winter on it's way, it's important not to forget to protect your skin.  The sun's rays can be damaging at any time of year and that is why most dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen on exposed skin daily, even in winter.  But keeping your skin healthy is not only about protection, it's also about getting to know what's normal for you. Once you know what's normal, you can spot the spots that may have changed.  If you do notice any changes, this may indicate a trip to the doctor is in order.

A monthly self-examination of your skin is a good place to start getting to know what is normal for your skin.  Do your check in a well-lit room using a mirror so you can look closely at your entire body: 

  • Lift your arms and look at the both sides of your body in the mirror. Check your underarms and all around both arms. Examine your hands, each finger, between your fingers and your fingernails.
  • Next, check the back, front and sides of each leg. Look at the tops and soles of your feet, your toenails and the spaces between your toes. 
  • Examine your face, neck, back of your neck and your scalp. You may find it helpful to use a hand mirror and full-length mirror, along with a comb, to check your scalp.
  • Have someone you trust help you check hard-to-see areas.

SO what exactly are you supposed to be looking for?  Not everyone knows so here is a simple way to remember - A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I:

A - assymetry - check for spots where one half is different from the other
B - border - check for spots that have uneven or blurred borders
C - colour - check for spots that are blue, black or red
D - diameter - check for spots that have a diameter greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser)
E - evolving - check for spots that have changed in shape or colour (this will be easier to notice if you are examining your skin regularly)
F - feel - check for spots with a crusty texture or that feel raised or with an uneven surface
G - growing - check for spots that are getting bigger
H - hurt - check for spots that hurt
I - itch or inflamation - check for spots that itch or are inflamed

While it is important to request that your doctor also checks your skin at your annual physical, Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is fast moving so you should be aware of what to look for on a regular basis.  If you spot something unusual, make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist! 

Sources: The Esthetic Institute, Betty-Ann Newton; Web MD; Canadian Cancer Society (

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Inspired by Real Life, Real Women, Real Results

Feeling inspired this week!  I love helping all my clients to feel great about the skin they're in.  You are all beautiful. Three women this week in particular have made me so glad to be doing what I do!

It is so rewarding to help someone feel like herself again. An IPL skin firming treatment can make a subtle change with big benefits.  I've been treating a working mom who felt like she always looked angry at her kids because of some forehead creases. I was happy to see her again this week and tighten up those creases a bit.  This subtle change helped soften the frown lines and bring back the normally happy and easy going visage of this talented, youthful mom. 

It is an honour to be trusted by women to help with what can be an embarrassing situation.  Age, hormones, and certain medications may lead to unwanted facial hair in women.  For one lovely client this week, it is a daily burden to deal with.  Shaving can be tiresome and doesn't always lead to smooth skin.  Sugaring and threading are options but are not permanent either.  Laser hair removal is a great option for the face.  Though it takes several sessions, the end result can be amazing.  I love helping my clients realize the freedom of not having to worry about facial hair.   

It warms my heart to see a bride the day before her wedding for her final treatment in preparation for the big day.  Today's bride was simply glowing when she arrived and was delighted to leave with even softer, smoother skin.  She was determind from the first time I spoke with her two months ago, and had worked out a plan, in conjunction with her dermatologist, to have the most beautiful skin possible by the time she said I Do.  I love that she looks gorgeous and feels great about herself!

So, to these three inspirational women this week, and to all of you, remember you are beautiful! And if there is something you aren't happy about when it comes to your skin, let me know, prehaps I can help you to feel great about the skin you're in!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Making Sense of Skin Care Ingredients - Part 2 - Vitamins

With so many skin care systems and different ingredients on the market today, it can be hard to decide where to invest your skincare dollars to achieve the maximum desired results.  This will depend on your age and skin care goals.  To help wade through the waters of acids, vitamins, and other ingredients, I wanted to try to put it all in one place to give you a basic overview in terms easy to understand.  This is Part 2, for information on Acids, take a look back at Part 1.

Your skin is constantly battling the effects of the environment; you can help by carefully choosing the right products for your skin.  Some vitamins have antioxidant properties and offer other benefits in the skin renewal process.  Antioxidants help to prevent and repair skin damage caused by free radicals - alcohol, sun, smoke, and stress.

Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate)
Encourages increased collagen production which leads to increased dermal thickness and contributes to reduced water loss.  Has also been found to reduce hyperpigmentation, the sun damage or brown spots we often see on the skin as we age.

Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Stimulates collagen production and increases fatty acid levels which helps reduce water loss.  It has also been found to be effective at reducing hyperpigmentation.  Vitamin B3 also inhibits sebum production in the skin which can help to reduce pore size. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin B5 (Panthenol)
Helps to increase moisture content in the skin and can reduce the irritation caused by UV exposure.  Vitamin B5 is beneficial in scar treatment and in recovery from burn injuries.

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid – Sodium Ascorbly Phosphate)
An antioxidant used to fight free radical damage and combat the effects of premature aging. Vitamin C also enhances collagen and elastin formation and contains skin lightening properties.

Vitamin E
Has many of the same benefits as Vitamin C and is also known to aid in wound healing by enhancing collagen and elastin production.

Vitamin K (Phytonadione)
Helps to improve appearance of the skin, acts as an anti-inflammatory and reduces redness and bruising.

We can’t always avoid the damage caused by free radicals - alcohol, sun, smoke, and stress, but we can help our skin to prevent and repair the damage.  Consider how your skin can benefit from a good skincare regimen with products containing vitamins and antioxidants.

Sources: Skin Care Science, Marty Glenn; The Esthetic Institute, Betty-Ann Newton

Sources: Skin Care Science, Marty Glenn; The Esthetic Institute, Betty-Ann Newton

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Making Sense of Skin Care Ingredients - Part 1 - Acids

With so many skin care systems and different ingredients on the market today, it can be challenging to decide where to invest your skincare dollars to achieve the maximum desired results.  Much will depend on your age and skin care goals.  To help wade through the waters of acids, vitamins, and other ingredients, my next few blog posts will give you a basic overview in terms easy to understand.

Your skin is constantly in a process of renewal.  While new cells are created in lower layers, dead skin cells emerge at the surface and need to be sloughed off.  These cells will slough off slowly, on their own, or we can aid the process using mechanical or chemical exfoliators.  Mechanical exfoliators can come in the form of granules or micro beads in your skin care products or by way of microdermabrasion - but that's a whole other topic.  Chemical exfoliators can come in the form of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids used in skin care products.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)

Glycolic Acid - an exfoliator used to speed up skin cell renewal.  By increasing collagen formation and epidermal thickness, it helps to improve the appearance of fine wrinkles and rough skin texture.

Lactic Acid - an exfoliator that has been found to increase ceramide levels.  This is a benefit because ceramides compose the bulk of the lipid layer of the skin and help hold the skin cells together in a smooth firm structure.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)

Salicylic Acid - an exfoliator often used in acne treatments and oily skin products because it penetrates deep into the hair follicles to clear compacted or un-sloughed skin cells that clog follicles and cause blemishes and breakouts.

Cell renewal is important to the overall health of your skin so it just makes sense to aid in the process by sloughing off dead skin cells.  Make exfoliating a part of your regular skin care routine!!

Next time, in Part 2, I will review the vitamins often found in skin care products.

Sources: Skin Care Science, Marty Glenn; The Esthetic Institute, Betty-Ann Newton

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tick Removal was Not Supposed to be on My Service Menu

As part of my goal of helping to educate people about skin care, I want to share a personal story to help raise awareness about ticks, their bites, and the diseases they carry.  I feel it is important to share this now, as we approach the summer season.

Growing up in Alberta, I heard about ticks and how you should wear a hat when walking in the woods so if they dropped out of tree, they would bounce right off and not attach to your skin.  OK, well sometimes I wore a hat and sometimes I didn't but I never had a tick bite and neither did anyone else I knew.

Fast forward to parenthood and I now see stories warning about ticks almost every year, complete with pictures of these crawly creatures (creepy, ugly, and scary looking, especially when magnified...but that's just the opinion of a self-proclaimed bug and arachnid hater).  I still had not heard of anyone I know actually getting a tick bite.

So imagine my surprise (shock, disgust, horror, ugh) when my daughter asked me what was on the back of her neck.  She lifted her long gorgeous hair to reveal a tick, with it's jaws clamped onto her baby soft skin.  Try to remain calm, I told myself while inside I was screaming nooooooooo!  I knew it was a tick, I had seen pictures recently and we had just returned from a trip to BC where we were outside a lot.  Don't panic....I know there is a special way to remove them, we can do this.

Thanks to a quick-thinking music teacher and a smart phone, we found the instructions for tick removal.  We were so fortunate that same lovely teacher also had tweezers handy! This is a job for a steady hand and let me tell you, it would help if your "patient" is also calm and remaining still!  So, with much convincing, I finally had our "patient" as still as possible and removed the offending creature with more force than I had hoped (and much screaming - think broken leg kind of screaming). Dropping it onto a tissue, we then quickly flushed away the ugly beast with a piece of my darling's tender skin still in it's grasp!

After that episode, what does any parent do?  Well, go home and google everything possible about tick bites of course.  Yes, I spent hours learning about what I did right (removing it a soon as possible) and wrong (not saving for testing).  I learned about the diseases carried by ticks (Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc.) and the symptoms to watch for (infection, fever, rash, flu-like symptoms, etc.).  I learned that they don't necessarily fall from trees, they often cling to grass, just waiting to hitch a ride when you pass by.  I learned how to prevent a tick bite in the first place (hint: stop thinking it won't happen to you).  And I made a doctor's appointment, just to be sure (the result - so far, so good)!

I am proud of how brave my daughter was through this struggle with a bad bug!  She has even turned it into a mini research project so she can teach her grade 2 class all about ticks and tick removal!

With this trauma over for now, I wanted to pass along my story in the hopes that you and your family stay safe from ticks.  Check out this link for more information on ticks:

Friday, 10 April 2015

That UP-lifting Feel of Spring is in the Air

I just love the feel of Spring!  It's so UP-lifting. That smell you notice on the prairie as the frozen manure thaws and the scent wafts UP in the air - OK well maybe I don't love this so much but it is a sure sign of spring on the prairies and does remind me of my youth and the carefree feel of spring! So much to look forward too!

The weather is warming UP.
Flowers are starting to pop UP.
Buds on trees are poking UP.
Spring clothing colours are showing UP.
Green grass is bursting UP.
The sun is now rising as I wake UP.

It's like a new beginning as we emerge from our winter hibernation! Many people feel a new energy in the Spring and get ready to tackle some fresh projects. It's also a great time to re-focus on taking care of you.  Make the best of Spring, get UP and get going!

If you are doing some Spring Clean-UP, don't forget your skin care products.  Check your bottles, tubes and containers - most recommend tossing them once they have been open for 12 months though some are six months and some may be as long as 24 months.  After this time, they may start to break down and the texture may not remain the same. They may also lose some of their effectiveness. While you're at it, check the expiry date on your sunscreen and toss it if it's time is done!

Spring is also a great time to consider switching things UP with your skin care routine.  It may just be time to invest in a good quaility line that works with your skin type.  I'd love to help you find what's right for you!  Since my goal is to help you feel great about the skin you're in, I'd also be happy to discuss with you how microdermabrasion or a laser facial can take things to a new level and really brighten UP your complexion!

Finally, as you start to spend more time outdoors, remember that while a small dose of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, can be a good thing, you should always protect your skin with sunscreen if you'll be out for too long. I recommend Serene UVA/UVB Sheild in an SPF 30.  A good way to make sure you are protected is to include a facial sunscreen with your morning skin care routine - that way you are ready to step UP and get outside.

Cheers to Spring! Now turn off your computer or device and get UP and get going!