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

Myth vs. Reality (essential Collagen)

I hear all the time how my patients use collagen skin care products, erroneously thinking or hoping that they will improve the quality of their skin. Unfortunately as good as this sounds it’s not exactly true. Imagine how easy it would be for everyone to look young and for the skin to look plump just like baby skin, if collagen infused products would actually work.collagen2

While those products might have some collagen in them, they simply will not do anything good for the skin, besides at the most provide it with some hydration. It’s as simple as that. Imagine that you’d take a broken bone and on top of it you’d set another bone. Would the initial bone become stronger and it would get fixed only because it touched the new bone we set on top? No. The new bone would fall off eventually and it would be somewhere next to the broken bone.

The same way it works with collagen. Collagen is a large molecule, which does not have the ability to penetrate into the skin or stick to the already existing collagen, so eventually it would be washed off and your skin would not be or feel any better.

In order to look younger and for the skin to look more plump and elastic, collagen (essential binding protein in your skin, joints, muscles and bones) growth has to be stimulated. The cells responsible for collagen growth and synthesis are called  fibroblast cells and they are found deep in the dermis (layer of the skin), which is impossible to reach with any creams ever invented.collagen

Some key ingredients and procedures that will help stimulate and synthesize your natural collagen are: Retinol and RetinA, Vitamin C, Growth Factors which have to be in a very concentrated number in your skin care product in order to work, Red Light Therapy, Chemical peels indirectly to some degree, Microneedling, ultrasound devices such as Ultherapy and Thermage and last but not least Radio Frequency also called RF. While some of these procedures are resurfacing for the skin, they also help stimulate indirectly our collagen and elastin by stimulating the skin’s cell turnover and also by forcing the skin to heal, after creating some intentional micro wounds.

I hope this helps you understand a little better the collagen myth and will help you make better decisions when it comes to choosing your skin care products and in office procedures.collagen3

signature pic monkey ed 1

 

By popular demand…Let’s talk about ENLARGED PORES

Myth or not? YES, unfortunately it is a myth that you can shrink enlarged pores forever. BUT, what you can do, is to keep your pores clean and they will appear smaller.

Pores appear larger when they are clogged with oils, makeup and bacteria. So keeping your skin clean and exfoliated. Using non comedogenic products, will give you better chances to help the pores shrink…..a little bit.

Large pores

Large pores1

Not once have I been asked about oily skin, enlarged pores, clogged pores, black heads and breakouts. Unfortunately having oily skin, is not an easy thing to deal with. Many times we can’t even wear makeup or sunscreen, because it all becomes greasy after a short period of time. Also sometimes we end up striping off the skin of all the oil and that is not ideal because we depleat the skin of it’s natural protection and we dehydrate and irritate it.

My best skin care advice is that you need to keep your skin balanced. Even oily/acneic skin needs hydration. Which is why in your skin care regimen you should have also light hydrating serums and oil free moisturizers.

Having worked with a lot of patients with this skin type, I have developed a couple of regimens which usually work pretty well, to keep such skin in check and in best shape.

This is one of them:

1. Cleanser and Clarisonic brush. Wash face twice/day, preferably with a foamy,  exfoliating cleanser and a Clarisonic brush. Use the brush only in the evening. This is going to help give you the right ammount of exfoliation your skin needs on a daily basis. The Clarisonic is also going to clean your skin much better than what your hands can do, removing makeup and impurities thoroughly.

2. Microbead scrub. Once a week exfoliate with a microbead scrub, a softer system developed in order for you to not stretch and irritate the skin in the exfoliation process.

3. Serum.  Use a serum with Salicylic, Glycolic and Dioic acids to help control the oil production and keep the bacteria at bay.

4. SPF. Definitely use a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 30. Preferably a parabens, silicone and artificial fragrance free one.

5. Retinoids. In the evening, I recommend a medical grade or prescription  Retinol or a RetinA. Both these are derivative of Vitamin A and they prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and promote the cellular turnover. Some side effects can occur, such as dryness, redness, irritation, and skin peeling as well as making the skin more sensitive to sun. This is when you need to back up and you use it every other night,  in conjunction with a hydrating serum.

6. Chemical peels. And last but not least, you need to get regular chemical peels, in order to kill bacteria, reduce inflamation, resurface and regenerate the skin. The old skin “sheds” off in a few days after the procedure and new skin is being revealed, less wrinkly, less pigmented, pore size appears smaller and makeup will go on more smoothly.

So generally, your skin does have a chance to look better and you can achieve the smaller pore appearance. As long as you are able to keep the skin clean and exfoliated, the pores will appear smaller.

P.S. Key ingredients you should look for in your chemical peels for this skin type:

  •    Salicylic Acid
  •    Mandelic Acid
  •    Glycolic Acid
  •    Lactic Acid (Alpha Hydroxy Acid which is part of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF) and       moisturizes the skin)
  •    RetinA or Retinol.
  •    And now the all mighty TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid). Because lately there has been some controversy around this ingredient, I will not promote it. Please read here about it.

Here are my favorite products for this skin type:

SPF SCSPF AveneRetinol

Clarisonic

B and AgeClean ACTazorac-product-shotNutritictoleriane u