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. 

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  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.

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Hello divine eyelashes!

Younique Moodstruck 3D fiber lashes mascara! 

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The name says it all! A couple of weeks ago one of my patients brought me this mascara to try. Since I am always looking to enhance the look of my lashes, which with age are just becoming shorter and less dense, I’ve decided to give it a try. A little mascara never hurt anyone. Plus I’ve probably tried every mascara brand out there so what’s one more…I’ve been using it ever since and I am addicted to it. I am happy to report that it is the best mascara out there by far!

mascara3

This proprietary formula has two international patents pending and it is also hypoallergenic which I love, because my eyes tend to get red and irritated during the day because of the dry environment I live in at the moment. It comes only in one shade which saves us time and the decision is simple! If you have short, thin, or even normal eyelashes and you are looking to enhance the look of your eyes with incredibly long and beautiful lashes, I think this product will not disappoint.mascara face

 

mascara ed3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The application is very simple too! The only thing I do extra I use an eyelash curler before I apply the product, because my eyelashes are naturally straight. I know, lucky me!

mascara ed2It comes with a very easy to follow instructions booklet. I normally do 3 steps of the mascara and 2 steps of the fiber, alternating, starting with a thin layer of the mascara so the fiber can adhere to the lashes.

My personal tip: Try to move fast, as you don’t want the product to get dry, before you’re finished with the application. And you can always apply just one coat and see if you are happy with the results. 

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1,2,3, beautiful skin for the holidays!

I’ve recently perfected an old recipe for a facial exfoliator using simple ingredients all of us have in our kitchen. It’s very easy to make and extremely effective for any skin type, but will provide the most benefits to congested, acneic, pigmented and dull skin types.

Here there are the ingredients you’ll need:

1 lemon or lime, 1 teaspoon honey,  2 teaspoons sugar (any kind),  2 teaspoons baking soda

exfo colage

Preparation:

  1. Squeeze the juice of one lemon/lime
  2. Add the honey
  3. Add the sugar
  4. Add the baking soda and mix.

exfo8

Apply the mixture to the cleaned face, using a bit of friction in the problematic areas (nose, chin, jawline, etc.). Leave on skin for a maximum of 10 minutes and wash off with cold water. Your skin will start glowing instantly!  The acne and hyperpigmentation will start fading from the second use!

Follow with your favorite hydrator and repeat next week.

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Me, immediately after using this exfoliator on my face. Completely makeup free!

 

Enjoy! signature pic monkey ed 1

I’m all about healthy skin…

One of my go to looks I’ve created with the makeup products I wrote about in my previous post. Easy! In 20 minutes I was ready to go! I love makeup and I love it even more when it’s easy to use and it is skin and environmental friendly.

Here are my favorite brands I wrote about, which are not going to damage your skin if you love wearing makeup.

1. Colorscience  2. Physician’s Formula 3. GS/Gerda Spillmann

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My latest makeup favorites

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Heart collage1. Colorscience Bronzing Primer. You’ll never find a better one! It comes in a few shades for different skin types, such as rosacea skin, oily or sensitive skin. My absolute favorite is the Bronzing one because my skin is naturally very pale, so I start building up my sun kissed glow even from the first step in my makeup application. Plus it has an SPF 20!

2. MAC Spice Lip Liner. This is such a creamy easy to use lip liner, true to color (a soft brown) and it lasts pretty much all day. I can combine it with natural, nude lipstick shades or sometimes I even mix in a pale pink lipstick. I don’t think I can use any other lip liners after using this one!

PicMonkey Collage 4.3. L’Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara. Over time I probably have tried 50% of the mascara brands out there. I always seem to come back to L’Oreal though. Easy to use, very accessible price wise, it builds up my lashes’ length, without leaving them looking heavy and clumpy. I also love the Waterproof one, but it’s a bit hard to remove at the end of the day, so I use that one only when needed 😉

4. Lancome L’Absolu Rouge. The most creamy, moisturizing and hydrating lipstick. Besides the fact that it feels really good on the lips and the color is amazing, the ingredients in it are some of the best, likePro-Xylane to enhance and lock in moisture and Vitamin E (one of my favorite most potent anti-oxidants out there), to protect against environmental aggressors.  PicMonkey Collage 2

5 and 6. ColorsciencePressed Mineral Eye Colore. I keep recommending Colorscience to everyone I meet. It’s a very environmental friendly and “healthy” makeup line out there…if there is such thing. These two palettes are all you need if you are like me and like more natural looks.

7. L’Oreal Lineur Intense. I believe that a good eye liner can change your life. There are days, (well majority of my week days) when all I wear is some concealer under my eyes, eyeliner, blush and a lipgloss. Easy! If you want one which gives you a lot of control and an intense black color, you might love this one as much as I do!

8. Benefit Speed BrowI love the easiness of this product. As soon as I apply, it dries out in seconds, giving my eyebrows a bit more of an organized look, since they are a bit unruly naturally 😉

9. Gabriel Concealer. Everyone who knows me, knows that I love Whole Foods. There was a time in Miami where I would eat every lunch there. So pretty much every day I was visiting a store, and pretty much every time I’d discover amazingly healthy options to not only regular food, but sometimes, makeup, house stuff or health supplements. This is how I discovered this super amazing, gluten free concealer that now is my go to concealer every morning.

10. Colorscience Pressed Mineral FoundationLet me tell you. If you don’t like to use powder foundation because it feels heavy and it makes you look older, I am exactly the same. But this powder is completely different. I love applying it with my Kabuky brush in big circles, very gently, so I obtain a natural flawless look in seconds. Again the ingredients in this powder are the best ingredients for your skin you’ll find in any other powder foundation!

11. L’Oreal Brow Stylist SculptorThis is what I sometimes use to shape my eyebrows for a more dramatic look, right before applying the Benefit Speed Brow Gel. Easy Peasy!

12. Physicians Formula Argan Wear BronzerI’ll be honest. Lately I’ve been traveling a lot and on one of my trips to Miami, my old bronzer broke. Went to Walgreens  and purchased pretty much the first one that looked better and to my surprise this is becoming my new favorite bronzer of all times, by far. Smooth, easy to apply, paraben free, gluten free, hypoallergenic, it even feels moisturizing, and the fragrance does not bother me at all. It has a light scent to it, but I love it and it makes my skin look sun kissed with just a few brush strokes.

13. Bio Fond Highlighter Whenever I need more coverage under eyes (because of my genetically inherited dark circles), this is my go to product. It’s more of a professional product I discovered in a skin care/makeup trade show and ever since I’ve been ordering it all the time. It covers all imperfections, while it has this silky/creamy consistency and it allows your skin to breathe. And of course, the ingredient list which obsesses me on every product I buy, is beautiful. Love this concealer/highlighter!

O.K. That’s all for now. Enjoy!

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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                                    

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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!

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