Comprehensive guide on how to use your skin care products

products-2-editedBeauty is a billion dollar industry; therefore, we have a very large palette of cosmetic, skin care, and medical products to choose from. This can be overwhelming for many of us most of the time.

First of all, it is hard to choose the products that are the most appropriate for our skin type and condition. Second of all, it is both time consuming and difficult to figure out the order in which we should use these products.

So I’ve decided to elucidate this mystery. Every day, I write comprehensive skin care regimens for my patients, so I will put these in writing here for everybody who is interested in learning how to layer correctly.

MORNING

  1. Mild Cleanser. Generally it is recommended that you don’t strip your skin off of all the “good” oils that it naturally produces overnight. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use a very gentle milky cleanser to wash the face; my personal preference is to use room temperature water to wash my face. Hot water is dehydrating and drying for the skin. Skin Ceuticals Gentle Cleanser or Avene Clean AC are perfect for the morning wash. 
  2. Toner. It’s not a must. However, if you love that squeaky clean feeling, after you wash your face you can use a toner or astringent. You have to make sure that your toner does not contain alcohol, as that would dry out the skin, and in time damage it, just like hot water. I personally don’t like to use toners too much, but it’s just my preference. 
  3. Serum. This is one of the most important steps in skin care. It is as important as using a Retinoic acid at night, and using sunscreen during the day. I recommend a concentrated antioxidant serum every morning, in the form of a dropper or lotion. The reason we need to use an antioxidant serum every morning is because antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that damage our skin throughout the day. Think of free radicals for the skin and body in general, like cavities are for the teeth. They damage from the inside by breaking down the collagen and the elasticity inside the skin. My personal all-time favorite antioxidant serums are Phloretin CF and CE Ferulic from Skin Ceuticals. 
  4. Moisturizer. The reason we apply moisturizer after the serum is because moisturizers have a different chemical formulation which does not allow them to penetrate into the skin too much. They create an occlusive layer which locks in the previous products and the naturally occurring moisture. Now in order to avoid too many steps in the morning, I generally prefer to use a moisturizer with an SPF 20 or 30 already included, like Avene Hydrance Optimale SPF25.  But if you prefer a separate sunscreen, this would be your next step.
  5. Sunscreen. I am a big believer in physical/mineral sunscreen. I personally don’t like the idea of a chemical sunscreen, simply because physical sunscreen creates a protective “shield” which reflects away damaging sun rays, while the chemical ones neutralize the damaging sun rays once they have already entered the skin. Therefore, some of my favorite physical sunscreens are MD Solar Science Tinted Cream , Physical Matte UV Defense SPF50 from Skin Ceuticals, and Color Science Sunforgettable SPF 50 in case you have oily/acne prone skin and prefer a powder sunscreen. 

products4-editedEVENING

  1. Cleanser. In the evening, it is important that we cleanse the skin very well, and wash off all the dirt, pollution, and residual products. If you use makeup, make sure you remove all makeup first, with a makeup remover like Micellar water. After removing all your makeup, you’ll want to wash the face with a foamy, possibly medicated cleanser.
  2. Exfoliation. I strongly recommend that you exfoliate your skin at home. If you have a Clarisonic Brush, you can use it every day (only once) because it provides just the right amount of exfoliation on a daily basis, without being too abrasive. If you like to exfoliate with other products, such as mild facial scrubs or exfoliating serums (like Blemish and Age Defense from Skin Ceuticals), this would be the time to do so.
  3. Treatment product. After exfoliation, I recommend that you use any medicated products you might have, such as Salicylic Acid, Retinoic Acid, or Hydroquinone, for acne, anti-aging, or brightening purposes. Generally if you have a good Retinol or RetinA product, I recommend that you use only a pea size amount at a time. Take one pea size amount of that product and spread it evenly all over the face, avoiding the area around the eyes and the mouth. Using it this way, you’ll avoid the unpleasant irritation and peeling that occurs almost every time a retinoic acid product is used incorrectly. One of my favorite Retinol products lately is the PCA Retinol.
  4.  Serum. Now, you’ll want to apply a hydrating/anti-aging and replenishing serum to face, neck, chest, and hands. Or, you can also use the anti-oxidant serum from the morning. A little extra Vitamin C never harmed anyone! My favorite serum I like to use at night though is Metacell Renewal B3.
  5. Night moisturizer OR facial oil. In order to lock everything in and help with the repairing process over night, I recommend a good peptide cream or a replenishing oil like Jojoba oil, for the face, neck, and chest. I really like this Perricone MD Neuropeptide Firming Cream, but it is on the pricey side. 
  6. Eye treatment. Last but not least, a good eye cream, eye serum, or even pure Vitamin E will help the sensitive skin around your eyes while you sleep. I usually apply the same treatment around my lips, to avoid those vertical fine lines. You’ll really like this Neocutis Lumiere eye treatment

Enjoy your beautiful skin! signature pic monkey ed 1

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Oils for your forever beautiful skin (Part 1)

Bianca-1smallAre you one of the people who’s suffered with acne all your teenage years and then some… and who has always tried to find the latest best thing in skin care which could help you get rid of that unwanted acne? Of course in your tireless searches you’d buy anything with the condition to be OIL FREE! Because in your mind your skin was already very oily naturally, so it didn’t make any sense to apply more oil on it…

Or maybe you are someone who has rosacea and sensitive skin and you’re always on the look for the best thing out there to hide and possibly treat that redness…

Or maybe you are like me, someone who has never dealt with the terrible acne or rosacea, but always conscious of the aging signs; always wanting to look good and for the skin to not look prematurely dry and wrinkled and stained…

Well, today I will tell you my secret about the oil cocktails I’ve been using on my skin, which work wonders, even on acneic or rosacea skin. Especially after I turned 30 my skin started looking less plump, more fatigued, dryer, my pores started looking enlarged…So I started reading about the use of oils in skin care and because I found them very accessible wherever I am, I said why not! Anything is worth trying when it comes to aging! Well, almost anything. So far I have been so happy with my results and I think when used correctly, they beat any moisturizer out there! Oils are lipophilic, which means that they love or are attracted to fat, so they are able to penetrate through the skin’s lipid layer faster and more effectively, providing the skin with moisture and preventing the water loss much better than other regular skin care products.

So here we go!

coconut oil

Coconut oil

It has a very light molecular formulation, which is why it is able to penetrate through the skin layers deeper than your regular skin care products, to hydrate and maintain that hydration in your skin, as it bonds really well with our skin proteins. I use it to massage my face lightly once or twice a week, to remove my makeup, I make my own body scrub with it (you can find my recipe here), I apply it on my cuticles and I also apply it in my hair (as you can see here), alone or in combination with a couple of other ingredients.

 

rosehip oil

Rosehip Oil

It’s an intensely hydrating, brightening and healing oil, rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, which has the ability to penetrate deeply into the skin as well, and it is perfect for applying on the skin at night for an instantly hydrated and plump skin in the morning. Before I massage the Rosehip oil into my skin though, I apply about 10 drops of pure Vitamin A oil on clean skin…and these nights I skip other brands of Retinol/RetinA, because this oil is a pure retinol acetate itself. So you wouldn’t want to use too much of it, because it can dry out and irritate the skin.

vitamina A

 

 

Vitamin A oil 

It’s a natural anti-aging, which stimulates your skin’s cell turnover, without the sting that some RetinA products can give you sometimes. It is also a very affordable product and it really delivers great radiant clear skin. Great for aging, acneic and dull skin. I usually like to apply it underneath Rosehip Oil or an anti-aging night moisturizer. And it’s also great for the eye area. I buy mine in Romania, but I am sure that with a little research you can find one in your area.

 

 

avocado oilAvocado Oil (cold pressed)

Very rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, similar with the ones contained in the olive oil, it’s a natural hydrator for the skin. It’s molecular formulation is very similar with the molecules that compose our natural oil (sebum) produced by our own skin. That’s why, when massaged into the skin, it’s able to penetrate, retain the moisture and give your skin this velvety smooth sensation. Being very rich as well in vitamin E, C and K, makes it also a great antioxidant. I like to apply it on damp skin. Just 4-5 drops, then follow with a mineral sunscreen and makeup and you’re good to go.

That’s all for today, but next timeI’ll write more about this topic, as I find oils so highly effective, and I have an entire collection in my bathroom. Thanks for reading!

Please share with me which are your favorite oils to use topically on your skin.

signature pic monkey ed 1

The skin is your best accessory

Woman massaging legs sitting on white backgroundAs a professional in the health and beauty industry, I have developed a bad habit!  When I meet someone for the first time, I always check out their skin. I look at the face initially, then neck, chest, hands, knees (if I have visual access to them) and last, but not least, I look at their heels and toes. Nothing speaks more about someone than the appearance of their skin, hair and nails. I would say that having beautiful, flawless skin is just as important as having a good, fresh manicure and pedicure. Ladies trust me, all of the above speak volumes about you! And also trust me when I say that if you achieve beautiful, flawless skin on your face and body, everyone you’ll meet will notice!

I have a body routine I do once a week, that I wanted to share with you that will help with that dead scaly skin on different areas of your body, with blood circulation and the lymph flow.

Here are some simple steps for you to follow at least once a week, before and during your shower, in order to achieve flawless, young looking and vibrant skin!

1. Before you get in the shower take a dry body brush (natural bristle brush) and brush your whole body, starting at the soles of your feet, your back, arms and upper body.

drybrush

Use long, upward, gentle strokes towards your heart and get your partner to help with your back, if necessary. Your skin is the biggest organ on your body and you need to keep it exfoliated in order to make sure that the pores are not clogged and that its ability to excrete toxins and sweat is not impaired. If the natural detoxification ability of your skin is impaired, then your other body organs will have to take on the extra work, and it’s going to be harder on them and on your body in general.
P.S. Dry body brushing can be done every day if you have time and you are passionate about the health of your skin.

2. After your dry brushing, get in the shower and you use this body scrub I have perfected over time. Please note that it is a bit of a messy procedure, so there is a bit of clean up to do afterwards.


NATURAL BODY SCRUB                                    

PicMonkey Collagescrubw

1)  3 spoons olive oil 

2) 5 spoons coconut oil

3) 2 tea spoons honey

4) juice from 1/2 lemon (or orange)

5) 2 spoons sugar 

6) 3-4 spoons coffee grounds 

7) 1 spoon corn flower 

8) 4 tbsp cinnamon

9) 2 spoons greek yogurt (or milk)

Mix them all together in a bowl and apply. Focus on rougher areas of your body like the heels and elbows. Rinse off with tepid water and maybe a little shower gel. But, I don’t like to use shower gel after this exfoliation, because all the oils feed the skin essential nutrients, so I don’t want to remove that nutritive film from the surface of my skin.

This body scrub is loaded with vitamins, essential nutrient oils, anti-oxidants and recently some studies showed that coffee not only helps exfoliate your skin, but it stimulates the blood flow and it helps reduce sun damage.

You’ll achieve soft, velvety skin even from the first procedure and your skin will thank you!

Enjoy!

signature pic monkey 1

5 Best Natural Cold Remedies

After being sick as a dog and in bed for about 5 days straight, and had the time and the necessity to read about different cold/flu remedies, I have decided to write down for you 5 of the most effective ones.

They might come in handy when you least expect it. I haven’t gotten my flu vaccine in about 4 years and I haven’t gotten sick ever since. At least not this sick. A little head ache or some sneezing happen once in a while, but nothing as severe as now. Here it is what I have tried and loved.

5 AMAZING EASY TIPS YOU SHOULD TRY WHEN YOU GET A COLD:

propolis-tincture-65-extract-30ml-1. Propolis Tincture. Propolis is being used as a remedy for various types of health conditions, and it is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It is considered a good preventative treatment for upcoming colds and flues, as an immune system booster, relief for inflamed tonsils and sore throats. For other amazing benefits of the Propolis Tincture you can read here.

One way to administer it is a couple of times a day on a sugar cube or a tea spoon of honey.

2. Bee polen. It is a holistic remedy with numerous health benefits which comes from the pollen that collects on the bees’ bodies. It contains vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids and protein. Generally herbalists would recommend bee pollen  to reduce side effects of chemotherapy, to improve allergies, to alleviate asthma and stomach problems. BeePollen_665

While feeling extremely weak, I tried this as well. And I will continue using it. You can take one tea spoon of bee pollen every morning for general health, or you can try it mixed with honey every few hours while sick.

cinnamon

3. Cinnamon. Besides being an amazing flavorful spice, it is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. When you have a common or severe cold, mix a couple of spoons of honey with 1 tea spoon of cinnamon. Some say to take this mixture one time/day for 3 days, some say take it 2-3 times per day for 3 days. I took it 2-3 times/day and I felt good. This mixture will cure most chronic coughs, colds and it will also clear the sinuses. To read more about cinnamon’s health benefits go here.

4. Lemons! Lemons have a very rich vitamin C content which is essential for bone health and also for the skin and blood vessels health. Of course Vitamin C is one of the power house antioxidants which helps to eliminate free radicals. Lemon

The beneficial properties of the lemon: cleanses, nourishes,  and refreshes the entire body. Also exfoliates and softens the skin.

Mix 5-6 spoons of honey with one thinly sliced lemon and eat every day while sick or when you feel coming up with a cold.

lemons and honeylemons and honey 1

Attention!

If you happen to touch lemon and go out in the sun, the skin can get discolored where it previously got in contact with the lemon juice.

Also, you should not abuse lemon consumption because it can cause heartburn or slight tiredness, considering their cleansing properties.

5. Last but not least, drink lots of hot liquids! They will relieve congestion, will help soothe inflamed membranes that line your throat and nose, and they’ll prevent you from getting dehydrated. Here I am referring generally to teas. My favorite ones for colds are: Chamomile Tea and Ginger Lemon Honey Tea.

Here is the recipe for this all mighty Ginger Lemon Honey Tea:

Hot ginger tea– Boil water

– Shred 1/2 or 1 ginger root and pour into a bigger cup or thermos

– Squize one lemon in the same cup/thermos.

-Add 1-2 tea spoon of honey.

-Pour the boiled water over these ingredients, cover it up and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Use a strainer to pour the liquid in a tea cup.

Enjoy! And get better sooner than you normally would 😉

signature pic monkey ed 1

New Year without Dark Circles

Hi ladies and this time gentlemen as well,

eyes

I know how annoying dark circles and bags under the eyes can be. I am one who always had to deal with one or another or both at the same time.

Unfortunately these are problems that we inherit genetically most of the time. And there is not much that can be done about them. Attention, I did not say that there nothing you can do…

You have to know that if you have sinus problems, allergies, thyroid or kidney problems, the under eye bags and circles can be more pronounced.

Also, the skin around the eyes is the most sensitive and thin skin on the face. This could as well be an inherited trait, or it could be dehydration. If the skin is dehydrated, it loses the elasticity and it gets that crappy look, which will allow more transparency unfortunately. If you have naturally very skin transparent skin under the eyes, the body fluids but mainly the blood circulating through that area, are going to be more visible and you’ll get that dark, shadow effect under your eyes.

Other common reasons could be a sodium rich diet, not enough water intake, too much alcohol intake and not enough rest. Recently I have found out that sleeping on your stomach does not help, on the contrary.

Here are a few remedies I happened to try and I loved.

  • First of all if you have allergies or hay fever, some over the counter or prescribed medications might help.
  • Sleeping faced up and placing an extra pillow under your head, so that you allow some fluid drainage during sleep will also help. Plus 8 hours of sleep every night will feel devine on your body and your tired puffy eyes.
  • Avoid sodium rich foods (even if the sodium comes from soy sauce) and alcohol before bed.
  • Try frozen cucumber slices placed over the eyes for 30 minutes in the morning and also green tea (rich in anti-inflammatory flavonoids) cold compresses over the eyes.
  • In terms of products, I rarely ran into an eye cream/serum that actually works for these two common issues. I’ll tell you though that you have to look for some specific ingredients known to stimulate the blood circulation under the eye area when you purchase your eye cream, and for some with brightening properties: These ingredients would be caffeine, ginseng, licorice, green tea, nitroffeine, centella asiatica, peptides, anti-oxidants and flavonoids.
  • Using a good eye concealer will also help. Mainly to cover up as opposed to fix, but hey, as long as it has good ingredients, gives you that flawless look and covers imperfections, why not!

Personal tip: When you apply your eye products, use the ring finger and try to apply as less pressure possible, in order to not stretch the skin around the eyes, over time.

Some of my favorite eye products: 

 

               

          

     

                      

 

And my favorite two concealers of all times are:  Dior Nude Hydrating Concealer and Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer. I find this one less hydrating but it provides great coverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

signature pic monkey ed 1

 

Antioxidants in Skin Care

SKCCFR-2SKCPhloretinGel-2   SKCCER-2

Dear friends who are avid in your pursuit to keep your skin in check, I am addressing this article to YOU.

You know that behind all the makeup and nice clothes you need to have a perfect working body and a healthy skin. Or at least strive for that, as nothing in this world is perfect.

So let’s make it simple for you to get on the road of achieving a “perfect canvas”. We know that the skin is one of the fewest organs in our bodies which has the ability to regenerate. That means that it goes through a continuous shedding process and new baby skin cells grow all the time.  

But that’s not the only function of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in our bodies. It protects the inside organs from pathogens, it regulates the temperature of the body, it also controls the evaporation of the fluids. And these are just a few of the important roles the skin plays for us.

Antioxidants are some of the most important ingredients in skin care. They are nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes and minerals, which help our bodies to break down the free radicals and to slow down the oxidation process. We know that the darkest colored fruits and veggies are the richest in antioxidants. And it is great to eat as many of those as we can on a daily basis. Also it is recommended to take an antioxidant complex orally, each day.

But how do we know which ones to choose to use topically on our skin? Because there are so many brands out there, it can be really difficult and confusing to make a good choice.

Antioxidants in skin care are substances extracted from different fruits and vegetables, which have the role of neutralizing free radicals which our bodies produce constantly. There are two reasons for which the body produces free radicals. And these reasons sometimes are hard to control. There are extrinsic factors like smoking, sun exposure, polution, and alcohol just to name a few and intrinsic factors which in a word, if you want, make us “oxidate” from inside out. Those are aging and stress unfortunately.

So in order to protect the skin, and the main ingredients in our skin, the collagen and elastin (responsible for keeping our skin looking young, plumped up and elastic), we need some very good quality antioxidants in our skin care.

The most important ones are Vitamins A, C, E, Beta Carotene, Idebenone, Coenzyme Q10, Zinc and Copper.

Now how do we choose them, in order to make sure these vitamins will penetrate, stay and do the work for us, as opposed to us just applying them and then washing them off and throwing money on the window.

First we need to make sure that those antioxidants are in a stable form, they are in an ideal concentration and that they penetrate into the Stratum Corneum of our skin, where the oxidation begins.

So reputable companies and universities have studied all these things for us, to make it easier and also to help us rest assured that our antioxidants, when used in the correct form and chosen carefully will work.

Here I am gathering a few criteria you should look for:

FACTS for MAX efficacy:

  • You need to make sure that your serum comes in a dark or opaque bottle. As light speeds up the oxidation process of your Vit C.
  • When Vit C is accompanied by Vit E and/or Ferulic Acid (powerful antioxidant as well), will be stable for longer and also absorbed better.
  • Jar packaging is not the best for an antioxidant product, as it exposes the product to air and fingertips, which will make the antioxidants waste faster.
  • Use an antioxidant complex serum as opposed to a powder which could be mixed in your skin care products. The powder generally is less absorbed into the skin, especially when it is mixed with a moisturizer, which is viscous.

REMEMBER!

Vit C can be irritating for the skin if used in high concentrations. You need to find the right product with the right formulation, which works for you and will not give you irritation or erithema.

My personal favorites:

CE Ferulic from Skin Ceuticals for a dry, aging, sensitive and even combination skin.

Phloretin CF from Skin Ceuticals for a more oily, acne prone skin, or for someone who tends to get oily in the T Zone in the first part of the day. 

XOXO,

Bianca