Monday, February 28, 2011

Skin Care 101: What is combination skin?

The food a person eats, what the person drinks, their stress level, lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol/drug use, the amount of sleep they get a night and genetics are all factors that help determine a person’s skin type. What’s really going to determine whether a person has oily, dry or combination skin is the amount of oil the person’s skin produces. The younger you are, the more oil your sebaceous (oil) glands will produce, the oilier the skin. The older you are, the less oil your sebaceous (oil) glands will produce, the drier the skin. Most people aren’t on either extreme side of the skin type spectrum with having just dry or oily skin. Most people tend to be right in the middle with a combination skin type. Some even dare to label this skin type as “normal” because it is so common.

Combination skin is both oily and dry at the same time. The skin is generally oilier in the t-zone area of the face, such as the forehead, nose and chin while the outer parts of the face like the cheeks are dry. A combination skin type will tend to have medium-sized pores.

A skin type that has both oily and dry areas can be tricky to treat. You want to help control the amount of oil that is being produced in the t-zone area, yet you want to make sure that the drier areas are getting moisturized. Treatment for a combination skin type requires the use of water-based products, daily deep cleansing (preferably with a foaming facial cleanser and a Clarisonic Brush) and regular exfoliation.  With a proper, regular skin care regime, a person can prevent breakouts while successfully addressing both the oily and dry areas on the face.

(Previously published on SF Skin Care Examiner)

Skin Care 101: What is oily skin?

Photo: EPA/ Larry W. Smith

Every skin care regime is determined by a person’s skin type. People are born with their skin type. Skin type is determined by a person’s genetics and their ethnicity. A skin type is distinguished by how much oil is produced in the follicle from the sebaceous glands and the amount of lipids found between the cells. In other words, this means that a person’s skin type is distinguished by the size of their pores.

Having shiny skin and large pores are characteristics of having an oily skin type. Oily skin produces extra sebum (oil) and therefore requires more cleansing and exfoliation than any other skin type. Oily skin may appear to be thicker than other skin types because of the excess oil and build-up of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. The benefit to having oily skin is that the oil produced in the skin act as a protectant against fine lines and wrinkles.

The key to keeping oily skin free and clear of blemishes, excess oil and dead skin cell build-up is to balance the skin’s oil production through treatments and products.  Oily skin types require more professional treatments than any other skin type. Overcleansing the skin can make matters worse by stripping away the body’s built-in protection mechanism, which produces additional oil in order to compensate for the dryness on the surface of the skin.

Oily skin types can achieve clean and balanced skin with routine monthly deep cleansing facials from their estheticians. Proper home skin care for an oily skin type includes using a foaming facial cleanser on a daily basis. A foaming facial cleanser is even more effective when used with a Clarisonic brush  Oily skin types also require regular exfoliation and the use of a water-based moisturizer.

(Previously published on SF Skin Care Examiner)

Skin Care 101: What is dry skin?

Skin care regimes are prescribed according to a person’s skin type. Genetics determine a person’s skin type. A skin type is distinguished by how much oil is being produced in the follicles from the sebaceous glands in the T-zone area and by the amount of lipids found between the cells. In other words, a person’s skin type is determined by how much oil their sebaceous glands produce and by the size of their pores.

When a person has dry skin, it means that their sebaceous (oil) glands aren’t producing enough oil. The skin naturally produces oil secretions from the pores, which help protect the skin from environmental damage and aging. Dry skin needs extra protection because it lacks this normal protection.

In the skin’s fight against dryness, dry skin requires the use of products that will not only encourage oil production, but will also help to lock in moisture while protecting the top layer of skin from environmental damage. This is why dry skin products are described as being rich, creamy and heavyweight. It’s the thick consistency of these products that help the skin to lock in moisture and fight against dryness.

The older we get, the slower our cellular metabolism and oil production become. This is why aging skin becomes drier over time. The less oil the skin has, the drier the skin will be.

Dry skin care regimes should include products that will provide the skin with a gentle cleanse, deep condition and extra hydration. These products come in the form of non-foaming cleansers, nourishing moisturizers, heavyweight night creams and eye treatments and extra emollient sunscreens.

(Previously published on SF Skin Care Examiner)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Aquaphor Healing Ointment to the Rescue!

Bartending takes a nasty toll on my hands. My hands are constantly being washed, submerged in water and covered in citrus juice throughout my 8-hour shift. These conditions leave my hands dry, sensitized and eventually cracked. Some call it Bar Rot. Some call it Eczema. I just call it part of bartending. Bartenders aren't known for their pretty hands.

I've tried prescription strength ointments prescribed to me by dermatologists over the years. Nothing has really worked for me on a long term basis. The only thing that seems to cure the extreme dryness indefinitely is to not bartend at all. With bartending at least two nights a week, eliminating bartending from my schedule is not an option.

The only thing I have found that heals my severely cracked hands in-between bartending shifts has been Eucerin's Aquaphor Healing Ointment, a gentle, over-the-counter moisturizing gel. Aquaphor is fragrance-free, preservative-free and non-irritating. It's gentle enough to use on the most sensitive and sensitized skin and safe enough for Eczema sufferers to use. This greasy formula creates a barrier on the skin that helps direct oxygen and water to the healing area. The barrier helps to keep the skin's own moisture in the infected area which helps speed up the healing time.

Ingredients like petrolatum create a protective coat on the skin, keeping the skin's own moisture from evaporating into thin air. Panthenol is a form of Vitamin B. When the ingredient is added to a product and applied topically, it helps to condition and hydrate the skin. Glycerin is another ingredient that helps to hold moisture in the skin. This ingredient acts as a moisturizing agent in lotions, creams and cosmetics. Bisabolol is a natural ingredient derived from the Chamomile plant that provides soothing effects.

Aquaphor is effective when applied topically to extremely dry areas on hands, fingers, lips and feet, just as one would apply a lotion. If you want to bump up the conditioning and hydrating factor, apply the product liberally to the effected area and cover with either gloves or socks and leave on as an overnight treatment.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Much Water Do We Really Need?

I have always been a firm believer in the more water you drink, the healthier you are. I never had any sort of scientific proof to back up this belief. I just knew that whenever I drank more water, my head and body always felt better. Plus, the more water I drank, the less likely I were to fill my body with food or drinks high in calories.

So just how much water are you suppose to drink for it to be considered healthy? I've read countless articles over the years stating that the average person should aim to drink 64 ounces of water a day. That equals out to be eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But is drinking 64 ounces of water necessary in order to maintain a clean bill of health?

According to the Scientific American, there is no scientific proof that drinking 64 ounces of water a day provides a healthy benefit to the body. Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School says that the only people who truly benefit from drinking large amounts of water a day are people who suffer from kidney stones, urinary tract infections, people who perform strenuous activity, endure long airplane flights or are in a hot weather climate.

The body is 60-70% water. It's true that your body needs water to function properly. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania believes that when it comes to water consumption, more is not necessarily healthier. You can die from consuming too much water. Kidneys filter toxins. Toxins clear through urine. If there is a large quantity of water in the body, it can reduce the kidney's ability to function as a filter therefore leading to "water intoxication."

Some believe that drinking large quantities of water will also help clear out the toxins from your skin, therefore clearing your skin from any blemishes or future breakouts. In Dr. Stanley Goldfarb's full editorial which was published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the only thing drinking water does for the skin is increase capillary blood flow. Drinking water will certainly help to hydrate the inside of the body, but there's no proof that drinking more water hydrates the skin. Even though the skin is the largest organ of the body, its the last place to receive any hydrating benefits from ingesting water. The best way to hydrate the skin is to apply products topically.

There's is also a popular belief that the more water a person drinks, the more weight they will lose. "Water is a great strategy for dieters because it has no calories," says Madeline Fernstrom of the University of Pittsburgh. "So you can keep your mouth busy without food and get the sense of satisfaction." A person can not drink their way to a skinnier self. Drinking water only works, in terms of weight loss, when a person chooses to drink water instead of a caloric beverage.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that really matters is "everything in moderation." Too much of a good thing can be dangerous and even sometimes lethal. Don't drink a ton of water each day just because you want to (1) lose weight, (2) have clear skin, (3) flush the toxins out of your body or because (4) some article you read in the break room told you that you had to drink a certain amount of water each day in order to be healthy. It's really much simpler than that.

Drink water because you're thirsty.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Benefit b.right! Radiant Skincare Event

Tonight was amazing. I was one of the lucky selected San Francisco Bay Area bloggers to attend Benefit's b.right Radiant Skincare special sneak peek preview party at the Benefit Cosmetics Headquarters in downtown San Francisco. The skincare line will be officially launched and available in April 2011. This will be Benefit's very first skincare line. It's complete with 8 different products. You can read all the products and their specific features on my SF Skin Care Examiner page:

Benefit Cosmetics makes skincare fun, easy and affordable.

Everyone at Benefit was so welcoming and nice. We even got a chance to meet Benefit's Global Beauty Authorities Annie and Maggie Ford-Danielson. They were both at the event to help introduce the skincare line and demonstrate the hands-on product demonstration portion of the evening.

I couldn't get enough of the Benefit's corporate office. It didn't look like anything like a typical corporate office. In true Benefit form, the entire office was decorated in bright pink and makeup testers of all of their various products were easily accessible. Even the employee break room and kitchen were adorable.

I had a chance to mingle with a number of different local beauty bloggers such as Nancy from Ms Nancy's Fancies, Christina from beautylish, Karen from Makeup and Beauty Blog, Mira from SF Beauty and Accessories Examiner and Kaitlyn. Apparently, I am not the only one to proudly sport a Hello Kitty tote bag out there. Nancy and I discovered that we were long-lost Hello Kitty tote twins.

And if the event wasn't fun enough with the b.right Radiant Skincare and the meet and greet with other fellow bloggers, we all got to take home full-sized products that are being featured in the new skincare line. I can't wait to incorporate the new products into my home skincare routine. They felt amazing on my hand while I was testing them out at the event. They also smell so refreshing, clean and pretty. My face is in some serious need of hydration, smoothing, brightening and a little fun. Bring on the fun Benefit!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be Nice (Or Else!)

As a Beauty Product Specialist, I work with clients firsthand, on a daily basis. When clients call wanting advice on which beauty products to try or need advice on how to use products, they talk to me. When clients call and want to place an order over the phone, they talk to me. When clients are upset with the products they ordered, the state their order arrived in or if their order didn't arrive at all, I am the person they vent to. The way I look at it, each call is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

I just started reading "Be Nice (Or Else!)" by Winn Claybaugh a couple of weeks ago. I received this book as one of my kit items while I was attending school at SFIEC last year. My life has been crazy busy with graduating from school and now working two jobs. I am just now getting around to making the time to read the book. It's a lighthearted book written with the sole purpose to inspire its readers on how to start their own "Be Nice" revolution with themselves, at home, in the world, at work and with total strangers. It's pretty basic stuff. In the end, it just takes practice on being nice to everyone that you encounter in your life (including yourself) on a daily basis. I thought it couldn't hurt to read the book, especially since in my line of work, I deal with a number of people everyday.

I thought it was kind of ironic (or was it?) that I had this book sitting beside me on my desk at work last week during probably one of the roughest calls I've had to date. The call started off with the client strongly expressing to me how upset she was and that she demanded me to personally fix the problem she was having.

Once I figured out what exactly was causing her trouble, I quickly got to work with being part of her solution. Being part of the solution meant having to be on hold with her financial institution for a half hour. During the time I was dealing with her financial institution, I kept checking back in with the upset client to update her with information on the progress I had been making.

During one of those times that I was checking in on the client, the client lost it. I mean full on, profanity, yelling at the top of her lungs, letting out all of her frustration-type of lost it. Instead of hitting the "Release" button on the phone, I glanced over at my "Be Nice (Or Else!)" book cover and smiled. Once the client had stopped to catch her breath, I calmly reminded her that I was here to help her. I reassured her that I wasn't going to disconnect the call until I had completely solved her problem. Then I put her back on hold again and finished my work with the financial institution.

Once I got back on the line with the client, I explained to her why she was having the problem in the first place and let her know that I had resolved the issue with her bank. She thanked me for my patience and apologized for her outburst. Apparently it was her birthday and she had spent two hours on the phone, on hold with her financial institution, then with me and then with me AND her financial institution. Not exactly how anyone would want to spend the first few hours of their birthday.

Even though I work in the beauty industry, I know that beauty doesn't come in the form of a cream, gel, powder or a spray. True beauty comes from within. Being nice is truly beautiful. Being nice doesn't always come naturally. It takes a lot of practice to be nice on a daily basis, especially when there is a complete stranger on the other end of the line yelling at you.

This is a situation where being nice really paid off for me. I was happy to have resolved the call with the client peacefully and positively. Sure the call was rough and left me completely drained,  but I know that I gave it my all. In the end, I walked away from this situation feeling better just because I made a point to be nice.