Great Products to Prepare Your Skin for Summer

With spring (and therefore summer) right around the corner, it’s time to get serious about preparing your skin for the warmer months so you can step out from under all the layers into your fresh summer wardrobe with confidence.

Winter, even here in Durban, can be a harsh time for your skin. My skin tends to be a little on the dry side so I need to pay attention to moisture during the winter months however, keeping one’s skin in great shape is more than just applying moisturiser. Exfoliation plays an important role in maintaining skin health and in achieving the maximum benefit from the moisture we apply (or should be applying) on a regular basis.

If you are putting a plan together for your wedding day, you can use these tips and products to ensure that you look and feel like a princess on your special day.

Let’s Start With Exfoliation

Starting with a good exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells is one of the quickest ways to see tangible results quickly and it’s not about using the most expensive products either. I have a a couple of products that I have on rotation, one of which is homemade, to ensure that I cover all my bases.

For my face and certain parts of my body I use Lamelle’s Cathepzyme. The enzymatic action of Cathepzyme is key to ensuring that any hyper-keratinazation doesn’t cause any blockages in the hair follicles. I also use a Lamelle enzymatic alpha hydroxy peel on my face regularly for a deeper exfoliation and to ensure that skin texture remains in tip top shape.

Lamelle-Cathepzyme-home-exfoliation-1-and-2

Lamelle Cathepzyme 1 & 2, the best facial exfoliator I have come across to date.

 

Even though I use an enzymatic exfoliator, I will never be able to say no to a good old salt scrub and on days when I feel like I need a little extra skin smoothing, I have in the past turned to Ocean Salt Scrub from Lush which contains limes steeped in vodka, grapefruit and lashings of salt.
This scrub is great for the body and smells really good too. I recommend jumping into the shower, wetting the skin and then turning the water off, before gently scrubbing small handfuls of salt scrub onto the skin and always in the direction of the heart, which helps with lymph and blood flow. If you have a problem area like the back of the arms, elbows or knees, then you can use the scrub on dry skin. Remember that gently does it!

Lush Ocean Salt Scrub - great for body, but not advocated for use on the face.

Lush Ocean Salt Scrub – great for body, but not advocated for use on the face.

My only complaint, and it’s not really a complaint, is that Lush is not a cheap product–it is hand crafted after all–so to use this scrub regularly is not particularly cost effective.
If you’re after a more natural type of scrub, you can make your own with coconut oil, kosher salt and a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Coconut oil is a moisturiser which makes a great base for a salt scrub.The benefits of coconut oil are well documented. You can do heaps of research online or strike up a conversation with an informed health store owner.

Elim's soap free shimmer body polish - great, except for the micro-plastics contained therein

Elim’s soap free shimmer body polish – great, except for the micro-plastics contained therein

Another great product I came across is Elim Exfoliating Body Polish, a soap free nutrient-rich exfoliating polish infused with sparkle dust. The sparkle dust is a novelty, yes but it imparts a very subtle shimmer to the skin which is quite stunning, especially in summer. After the very first use the difference on my skin was significant, baby soft and incredibly smooth and hydrated. I was wowed right from the beginning.
My only criticism of this product is that one of the ingredients are poly-propylene wax beads, great for minimising damage to the epidermis because there are no sharp edges but, if you don’t already know, are causing significant and alarming damage to our marine ecology at plankton level.
I spoke to Elim’s CEO, Shantelle Booysen about these concerns and received a refreshingly honest and open email in return, where she stated that they are currently looking into a replacement for the plastic due to all micro plastics being banned in California–with more states in the U.S. sure to follow suit–and they would like to get back into that market and provide an eco-friendly solution that is marine conscious. I applaud this and would love to check out their new products when they become available.

Some facial scrub advice: I strongly recommend that one does not use an abrasive scrub of any kind on the delicate skin of the face. Arms legs and the skin of the knees and elbows can take a good scrubbing but in general, people scrub too vigorously to use an abrasive on the face and risk micro-lesions in the epidermis which can open up channels for bacteria. This was one of the principle reasons micro plastics were introduced into face washes and exfoliators, which has become a marine pollution nightmare. I would recommend using an enzymatic exfoliator instead.

Moving On To Moisture

After a good exfoliation, it is vital to ensure you moisturise well. Here are some of my absolute favourites.

Dermalogica Body Hydrating cream is light yet nourishing and suitable for all skin types

Dermalogica Body Hydrating cream is light yet nourishing and suitable for all skin types

Dermalogica’s Body Hydrating cream has Lactic Acids and natural hydroxy acid extracts from sugar cane (glycolic acid) and apples (mandelic acid) to relieve skin dryness and smooth the skin, bolstering the effects of your recent exfoliation treatment. Lavender, Patchouli and Orange essential oils combine with Green Tea to soften and soothe, it smells great–in a non-perfumed kind of way–and is non-greasy which I really appreciate.

Lush gets it right with their gorgeous hand and body lotion

Lush gets it right with their gorgeous hand and body lotion

One of my all time favourite body lotions has to be Lush’s Sympathy for the Skin. With banana, vanilla, lemon and sandalwood this lotion is spectacular for hydrating and nourishing the skin, plus it’s vegan. This body lotion is not heavily scented so won’t clash violently with your perfume but does impart the most delicious scent and leave the skin feeling pampered.

Great, easily absorbed, light moisturising body oil.

Great, easily absorbed, light moisturising body oil.

If you are looking for an oil, Palmer’s Moisturising Body Oil is light, very easily absorbed into the skin and does not feel greasy. This oil seals moisture into the skin and I use this directly after I step out of the shower, after drying excess water from the skin surface.

If you have skin preparations that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments section so I can give them a try!

 

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#YouLookDisgusting

This is something that hits home for me because I suffered with acne in my early 20’s. Some of the comments that people made were ill-informed and downright cruel. Of course, makeup became my self-defence weapon and it wasn’t long before I wouldn’t leave the house without it.

This was a large part of the reason I qualified as a therapist and makeup artist, so I could learn to manage my skin, get to the root of the problem and begin the healing process armed with the right tools and information. I am now free from acne but it did leave its mark oh my psyche. If you would like some advice or help from someone who knows what that struggle feels like, please leave a comment or send me a message via the contact form on this site.

In response to bullying and shaming, I have this to say: Be kind to unkind people, for they are the ones who need it most.

 

The Collagen Question

collagen diagram

One of the things I am often asked is if collagen can do anything when applied to the skin.
The short answer is: No.

The most you can hope for is a temporary improvement in the appearance and texture of your skin. The collagen molecule is too big to penetrate the epidermis so using collagen creams and lotions will provide a temporary and superficial effect only, which halts the moment you stop using the product. For lasting results one needs to stimulate collagen production in one’s own skin and therein lies the key.

To understand what collagen is, we also need to look at elastin, where they come from, how they differ, look at how they work in unison in the skin and why they are so vital in the fight against premature ageing.

Collagen and elastin are both manufactured by cells in our dermis called fibroblasts and they work in synergy to provide support and elasticity to our skins. They are types of connective tissue though they are different types of proteins. Collagen provides a more supportive and connective function and is found in structures like tendons, bones, the eye and the skin.  Elastin gives elasticity to structures like arterial walls, intestines and of course, the skin and enables those structures to ‘bounce back’ after being stretched or contracted. So while collagen provides strength and support to the skin, elastin provides the movement network around the collagen and gives skin it’s supple nature.

As we age collagen and elastin production decreases. How quickly depends on a number of intrinsic (internal or genetic) and extrinsic (external or environmental) factors.
The slowing down of the fibroblast cells means that less new collagen and elastin is manufactured to keep the skin firm and supple. If you cannot push the collagen molecule into the skin, we need to provide the tools with which our skin can manufacture it’s own collagen and elastin and keep our skins firm, supple and youthful.young-skin-old-skin

Among those ingredients are things like L-Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Hyaluronic acid, peptides, Vitamin A and alpha hydroxy acids.

L-Ascorbic acid, which must be in a stable long release form, has been shown to stimulate collagen in adults to the levels of that of a new born child.
Hyaluronic acid is an exceptionally powerful water holding molecule and is essential to skin functioning, cell proliferation and overall systemic health in humans. Exposure to UVB rays significantly disrupts hyaluron production in the skin. Hyaluronic acid provides moisture to the skin at cellular level and hydrated skin is skin that works efficiently.
Peptides have been shown to be instrumental in the body’s response to wound healing and increasing the skin’s ability to produce collagen.
Retinoic acid is the most stable form of vitamin A. Vitamin A has a long and well documented history in skin care and has been shown to significantly stimulate cell proliferation (cell turnover). Isotretinoin, vitamin A in oral form, is still the best treatment for acne. Vitamin A in it’s many forms remains a powerful ally in the fight against ageing.
*Lamelle’s RA cream has been shown to lift elastosis (broken elastin fibres which look like white bumps under the epidermis) out of the skin and repair YEARS of damage and prepares the skin to be ‘fixed’.
Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs have a profound effect on epidermal cells and keratinisation, whereby they dissolve the bonds between corneocytes and speed up cell turnover, which means that dead cells are shed more speedily revealing a healthier and more youthful skin.
The work of AHAs is not confined to the epidermis however, biopsies show increased amounts of collagen production without inflammation. It is worth noting that inflammation is a key factor in the development of acne and hyper pigmentation.
AHAs are a key ingredient in chemical peels and these should NEVER be undertaken by anyone other than a trained professional or you run the risk of causing irreversible damage to your skin.

So with all of this in mind, choose your skin care products wisely. Using products off the shelf is money down the toilet as only 0.08% of the product is being used by your skin. Professional products increase penetration exponentially which translates to visible and lasting results that you can see.

For more information or to share your views, please comment or get in touch with us via our contact form.

Keratosis Pilaris – What Is It and How to Treat It Effectively

Greetings makeup and skin lovers!

It’s been entirely too long since I posted anything meaningful on this blog and for that I apologise, things have been incredibly busy! I have opened my own beauty and makeup studio and it has been a little crazy prior to and since!

As we head into summer in the southern hemisphere, we are all looking for the products that are going to keep us body beautiful with the minimum fuss.

In this post I am going to address Keratosis Pilaris which affects 40% – 50% of adults and up to 80% of adolescents.
Keratosis Pilaris refers to the little bumps which occur predominantly on the backs of the upper arms and can also occur on the legs, face and back. Keratosis Pilaris is caused by a build up of keratin around the hair follicle which then becomes trapped and forms plugs which present as the bumps we feel on the skin’s surface. They do not itch or cause irritation but sufferers have been known to pick at them which causes scabbing and inflammation which can be unsightly and which can have significant psychological effects as suffers attempt to treat, hide and mask the affected areas.

Treatment often includes alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, granular exfoliants and creams/lotions that contain AHAs and humectants (ingredients which draw and keep water in the epidermis) which can be costly and time consuming and yield moderate to good results.

The bad news is that Keratosis pilaris is incurable, that is just how your skin behaves, however the exceedingly good news is there is a product out there that is yielding outstanding results!

Lamelle-Cathepzyme-home-exfoliation-1-and-2

Lamelle Research Laboratories have developed corrective serums called Cathepzyme 1 and 2. Cathepzyme is a product scientifically developed and so advanced that it has the ability to restore  Cathepsin D activity and the skins normal cell shedding process, the same process which has become disrupted and which causes keratosis pilaris. Studies show that Cathepsin D production falls by as much as 40% after we turn 20 which results in dry, flaky and thickened epidermal skin.

By working to restore the skin’s shedding process, the texture and health of skin can be vastly improved, revealing fresh, smooth and younger looking skin. Cathepzyme is recognised by the skin and is therefore accepted by the skin into the epidermis – where it is needed – to restore skin health and functioning.

Cathepzyme can also be used on the face to help our skin shed old skin cells which will transform skin from dull, tired and lifeless to youthful, healthy and radiant skin! Who doesn’t want that?

Lamelle is a medical line and is available exclusively through professionally trained and accredited skin therapists and practitioners. For more information and pricing, feel free to get in touch with us through our contact form.

Thou Shalt Not Forget…

applying_moisturiser

…to tone and moisturise.

There is some debate as to the necessity of toning your skin but the vast majority of skin care houses advocate this.

Toning is the final stage of your cleansing routine. Cleansing and toning should be thought of as one step yet never combined into one product.  It is simply not effective to do two things at once, despite what we think about our multitasking abilities, when you give focus to one task at a time, you do it properly, the same is said of two in one products.

We are often in a rush these days and to think that you get everything off of your face in one cleanse is not realistic. Your cleanser will ensure all traces of make up remover are gone and your toner does the same for any traces of cleanser. Whilst also introducing soothing and nourishing ingredients to your skin, it soothes and prepares it for your moisturiser. In the days of old there were three main categories of toner, namely fresheners, tonics and astringents. Research has made these three types virtually redundant, especially the astringent variety which, traditionally was high in alcohol. We know now that stripping the skin of oil is the surest way of sending oil production into hyper drive and exacerbating the problem while simultaneously dehydrating the skin.
For this same reason you find more gel cleansers that are free of soap, because we now know that soap strips and dehydrates the skin, much like alcohol does. Modern toners are predominantly free of alcohol and rich in botanicals and vitamins. Look out for vitamins in the form of esters as they are the purest form of the vitamin and are fat soluble, which is important for penetration and efficacy as water-soluble vitamins need transportation mechanisms–like nanotechnology  for example–to penetrate the epidermis.

Some of my favourite toners are Africology’s Rose Absolute tonic, Dermalogica’s Multi-Active toner and Nimue’s Skin Conditioner. I particularly like the Nimue Skin conditioner because you spray it onto gauze first and then wipe the gauze over your skin. Gauze gives back–where cotton soaks up a lot of product–but it also provides a light manual exfoliation which compliments the enzymatic exfoliation that Nimue provides throughout the vast majority of their range.
These toners are all quite different and best used in conjunction with the correct cleanser and within a prescribed regime. Again, when in doubt, consult a skin care professional! She will assist you in finding the correct products and saving you time and money in the long run.

Once you have correctly cleansed and prepped your skin the fourth and final step is moisturising. I spoke last time on the important functions the skin provides as the body’s largest organ, one of the main functions being; protection. The skin can only protect us properly if it is in good working order and moisturisers play a crucial role in maintaining skin health.

One of the most obvious reasons to use a moisturiser is to keep skin hydrated and prevent trans-epidermal water loss. Dry skin has a lower pH, due to low levels of sebum which is what helps to maintain the pH of our skin, so for dry skins it is critical that this very important step is given the proper attention.
Skins that produce high amounts of oil need to be moisturised to balance out oil production and regulate it. It is a fallacy that if you have oily skin you don’t have to moisturise. You will get away with it for longer in terms of aging but you will regret it soon after you turn forty, especially in areas like your neck, décolleté and the backs of your hands.

Not only must you moisturise regularly but you must use an effective product that suits your skin type, addresses your skin condition(s) and delivers the right ingredients into your dermis and in the correct manner.

You want a derma-cosmeceutical. You want ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ascorbic acid, peptides and key amino acids – usually a combination of all of them. These ingredients are more expensive but will guarantee the results you are looking for. Off the shelf products may tell you they have these ingredients in them but they are often in quantities too small to be effective.
A prime example of this is Q10. There are many cosmetic companies who claim Q10 in their products however Q10 is an expensive ingredient, so to make the off the shelf product affordable they use miniscule amounts. You will get a superficial effect at best.

Some of my favourite moisturisers are Nimue’s Day Fader, Guinot’s Créme Nutrition Confort, Dermalogica’s Active Moist which is great for oily skins, as well as Environ’s Ionzyme C-Quence 3.

Skin care is not a luxury. Skin care is a necessity

If you have any questions regarding your current skin care regime, please feel free to either leave a comment or pop me a message using the form on my contact page and I will be happy to help you.

The Importance of Cleansing

facemoisture-2

The importance of a good cleansing routine can never be over estimated. In my line of work,  however, I come across many women who simply do not pay enough attention to this simple, yet vital, part of their beauty regimen.

Before we get into the art of developing a good cleansing routine, let’s talk about what your skin does for you, each day.

The skin is your largest organ, responsible for a multitude of functions including protection and temperature regulation. The skin also acts as a sophisticated warning system for your body.
Your skin is your first defence against external stimuli, including pollution in the atmosphere. It is therefore vital that you provide your skin with the tools to function at optimum levels to perform said functions.

Your skin has a slightly acidic pH and it is very important that you find the product that keeps the pH balance of your skin at optimum levels, which is between 4.5 & 5.5. The reason for this, is that a slightly acidic pH level helps to keep bacteria at manageable levels and prevent this bacteria from causing harm to your body. With all the make up we put on our skins, the pollution and UV exposure that we subject our skin–and especially our faces–to means that we have to correctly cleanse and moisturise our skins on a daily basis to maintain skin health.

Using a product that does not help to maintain an acid pH means that your skin will have to work that much harder to do so and can often result in dehydration and trans-epidermal water loss. This can have significant effects on the way your make up looks on your face and how well it lasts. Dehydrated skin means less suppleness and as a result your make up can be prone to caking and creasing, highlighting wrinkles and imperfections instead of masking them.
If you have an oily complexion, using a poorly suited cleanser can stimulate further oil production which means that your make up does not have longevity and will dictate that you spend more time than you should touching up your face as the day wears on. Excess oil on the skin will cause your make up to “slide” off your face in places, making it look streaky.

There are many great cleansers on the market to suit all budgets and needs. The key is finding the right one. To do this I would advise consulting a professional skin care therapist and having your face mapped, so that you can make an informed choice regarding your cleanser. Skin professionals are trained to look at the skin and interpret what they see on the surface so that they can treat the condition in the dermis. This is the key to great skin health. It is simply not sufficient to treat the symptom, or what you seen on the surface of your skin. You need a product that acts in the living tissue of the skin, the dermis, to correct what manifests on the skin surface. The first step in doing this is cleansing.

A good cleanser will be powerful enough to get rid of make up and all grime and environmental pollutants that accumulate on your skin throughout the course of the day, yet gentle enough that it does not strip your skin of it’s natural oils.
This is a fundamental step because you need your skin clean and correctly prepped to accept whatever products you put on your skin that need to penetrate the epidermis, which is not a simple task! Your skin is made to keep harmful bacteria out, so getting product into your skin is not as simple as rubbing things onto it. Moisturisers and serums must be in the correct formulation to penetrate the epidermis before they can get to the dermis to do what they are meant to.

The first step in your cleansing routine must be to remove any waterproof eye makeup. An inexpensive pharmacy or supermarket eye make up remover will do the trick. If you have budget constraints, spend your money on a good cleanser.
Next, you must cleanse your skin, twice. This is why a gentle yet effective cleanser is important, one that will not strip your skin of it’s natural oils and one that will reinforce you’re skin’s acid mantle.
The first wash will get rid grime and the majority of make up, as well as your eye make up remover. The second wash will ensure all traces of make up and environmental pollution and bacteria have been removed and your skin will be well prepped for the necessary moisturisers and serums.

Washing at night cannot be over emphasised as this is the time of day when your skin undertakes one of it’s most important functions: repair. Help your skin to do this by providing it with a clean and pH regulated environment.

Some of my favourite cleansers are: Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel, Nimue’s Cleansing Gel, Neostrata’s Facial Cleanser and Environ’s Original Gentle Cream Cleanser. These skin companies have a variety of cleansers to suit all skin types and are available through trained skin professionals only. The benefit of speaking to a skin health professional is that you will eliminate the guess work and therefore wasting money on products that are not suited to your particular skin.
Skin professionals are trained to diagnose what skin type you have as well as any skin conditions and they are therefore more suited to prescribing a treatment plan that will yield tangible results.
Never be afraid to ask a skin professional for her certificate of product training or to see her credentials. If in doubt, ask for references or make an appointment to see someone else.

Furthermore, because of the levels of active ingredients in salon products, they must be prescribed. Off the shelf products simply do not have sufficient levels of active ingredients in them to be effective at dermal level. This means that you are only treating the surface of your skin, which is simply not sufficient if you have concerns–like dehydration, pigmentation or acne–that need fixing.
Results driven long term skin health treatment starts in the living tissue. Don’t waste your time with anything less.

Your skin is your largest organ and in my opinion, skin care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

In our next instalment, we will talk about toning your skin and choosing the right moisturiser and why these two things are so important.

Thank you for stopping by!