Sunday, March 29, 2009

Break outs on Mature Skin

Today's question is from Tracy who asks - 
I am 46 and always had problem skin except when I was on birth control. Can you give a good cleaning regiment for gettin old skin that has a tendency to break out when ever it feels like it.

Thank you for your question Tracy.

The skin care regimen for older skin is basically the same regimen that everyone should be following - Cleanse, Tone, and Moisturize in the morning and before bed.  The two things I recommend for my clients over 30 is the addition of an eye cream twice a day, apply after toning and before moisturizing, and using a glycolic acid peel at home twice a week.

I recommend a glycolic acid peel because skin becomes less able to shed dead skin cells as we age.  A light home glycolic acid peel is a very safe and effective exfoliator that will leave your skin looking brighter after just a few uses.  A 10-20% peel would be ideal for home use.  The extra exfoliation can also help prevent some breakouts because it will get rid of the dead skin cells that hang around and clog up your pores.  Please note that people with rosacea should not use an acid peel and people with sensitive skin should test a 10% peel on a small patch of skin before trying it on their entire face.

If you are following the twice daily Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize regime and using a peel but still getting breakouts then you should try changing your skin care products.  Many factors in your daily life can cause your skin to change how dry or oily it is and how it reacts to the products you are using such as medications, hormone levels (which is why BC pills often correct skin problems), diet, and environment.  Not every product line is going to be good for every situation so do not be surprised if you find yourself having to change product lines every few months.  I find that I need to use products for oily skin in Summer but need products for dry skin in the Fall, Winter, and Spring.  This is common and while annoying, is nothing to worry about.

So Tracy, my advice to you is - try a glycolic acid peel.  If this doesn't solve your problem then try a new product line for your skin.  If a new line doesn't help then I would suggest getting a professional facial with a licensed esthetician.  Tell your esthetician what your issues with your skin are and have her do a detailed skin analysis.  She can recommend a skin care line suitable for your skin and give you a good, deep cleaning while you are there.

As for the occasional breakout we all get, I suggest a nice clay mask.  Whether you apply a clay mask to your entire face or just dab it onto the blemishes a clay mask is great for absorbing extra oils and drawing impurities out of your skin.  A clay mask on a blemish can help it heal up much faster than it would if it were left alone.

Tracy, I hope this answers your question.  Thank you for asking.

If you have a question you would like answered please leave it as a comment on the blog or email me at

For  more information on why toners are important and how to chose a glycolic acid peel please see my blog post on Pore Problems dated March 10, 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mineral Makeup

Todays question is - Q. I love the light feel of mineral makeup, but not the way it accents the wrinkles. Can you recommend a light makeup?

Mineral makeup is the hot new trend in makeup, unfortunately, not all mineral makeups are created equally.  Different ingrediants, size of the mineral particles, and the condition of the wearer's skin need to be taken into consideration when choosing a brand to use.  

The only mineral makeup I wear is Glo minerals.  I wear Glo because the company uses pharmaceutical grade components that have been triple milled.  They currently have the smallest particle size available in their makeups.  This means that the particles are going to have less surface area and be less reflective.  The small size also means that the particles can slide into wrinkles instead of gathering on either side of the wrinkle.  It is often this is 'gathering' that makes wrinkles more noticeable when wearing mineral makeup.   The lower reflectivity of the particles is also important.  If you have ever worn mineral makeup and looked great but then noticed in photographs that you look washed out it is because the particle size is to big and is reflecting the light back at the camera.  With Glo you don't have this problem so don't look washed out in photos.

Skin condition is also another point to consider when choosing a mineral makeup.  If you have dry skin you may find pressed or powdered mineral makeup can accent the dry patches.  If you have oily skin you may find the pressed or powdered makeup can pool in oily areas.  The pressed and powdered makeup works best on normal to slightly oily skin.  If you have dry skin or oily skin you should look into a mineral makeup that comes in a liquid form.  The liquid forms will give you coverage without accenting the dry or oily parts of your skin.  They also often feel lighter than the standard liquid foundations.  Glo minerals has both the pressed and liquid foundations which is another reason I like this line.

Ingredients is the third thing to consider when choosing a mineral makeup.  Many mineral makeups advertise that they are Talc free.  Don't let the presence of talc scare you away from a brand of makeup unless  you are allergic to it.  Talc is a natural earth mineral and while dismissed by many companies as a cheap 'filler' ingredient the higher grades of talc are commonly found in some of the most popular makeup brands and give their powders a silky feel that many mineral makeups only wish they could provide.  Bismuth oxychloride is also a commonly used ingredient in mineral makeups.  In makeups that use larger particle sizes bismuth oxychloride can cause the product to look cakey on the skin.  Glo minerals uses bismuth oxychloride but being triple milled I have never had a caking issue with it.  However, some people are sensitive to bismuth oxychloride so be sure to keep an eye out for it if you do have that sensitivity.

Paula's Choice is a great website for information on the various brands of makeup.  A link to her article on mineral makeups can be found here.

For the woman who asked the question, if you try other mineral makeups in both powder and liquid form and find they don't perform as you would like or don't feel light enough, you may want to try a silicone based foundation.  These foundations are both lightweight and do a great job of hiding flaws.

I hope I have answered your question.  

Readers - if you have any skin care questions you would like answered here please don't hesitate to leave your question as a comment or email me at  Thank you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pore Problems

Deb writes - I'm 56 and still having pore issues; black and white heads, the occasional small pimple. I've been using a Clarisonic with their mild cleaner for over a year but I don't see any real change.

Unfortunately Deb, its a myth that skin gets better after your teens.  Many adults of all ages find themselves with the exact same problem you are facing right now and don't know what to do about it either.

The most important thing you can do to help prevent break outs is to cleanse, tone, and moisturize your face every morning and evening.  You say you've been using a cleanser for over a year with no results.  I would like you to change your product line.  If its not helping then it is obviously not right for you.  You said you are using a mild cleanser, if your skin is sensitive, that is great, find a cleanser for sensitive skin.  However, if your skin is not sensitive then get a regular cleanser meant for your skin type (oily, normal, or dry).  Sensitive skin cleansers may not be effective for everyone because they are so gentle they just may not clean well enough.

You also don't mention if you use a toner every day.  Toners are very important and highly underused.  When you cleanse your face you change the pH of your skin.  Your skin wants to go back to its normal pH so will respond by making itself more dry or oily.  If your skin becomes more oily then your moisturizer just sits on that layer of excess oil and doesn't penetrate.  This can cause you to break out more frequently.    If your skin becomes more dry it will actually need more moisture and your daily moisturizer won't be enough.  This can cause dry skin and more blackheads because dry skin doesn't slough off like its supposed to so the dead skin cells hang around blocking pores, causing blackhead outbreaks.

When you choose a new skin care line I highly recommend using the cleanser, toner, and moisturizer from the same brand.  Companies design their products to work together and you will typically be happier with the results if you use coordinating products.

To jump start your new skin care regimen I would recommend a facial with extractions.  Your Aesthetician can remove the blackheads and whiteheads and give your skin a nice deep cleaning.  She/he can also recommend a skin care line for your skin type if you aren't sure what you should be using.

If you can't afford a facial at this time, or if you need more exfoliation than just one facial can provide you may want to look into a glycolic acid peel.  I recommend going to a place like Sally's Beauty Supply to get this.  The people there should be more knowledgeable about their products than the average person working at a drugstore makeup counter.  Typically the peels are available in 10%, 20%, and 30% formulas.  If your skin is sensitive try the 10% peel first, if not try the 20%.  I don't recommend trying the 30% until you've used the 20% and know how your skin reacts.  When choosing a peel read the directions carefully.  Many peels only get left on for a few minutes and then you remove them with cool water.  Once you have chosen your peel and get it home, follow the directions regarding application and removal carefully.  Leaving the peel on for to long can damage your skin badly.    And do not use the peel more often than recommended.  The peel I personally use says to use every day for 3 weeks and then use every other day.  

The bottom line with skin care, you can greatly reduce the number of outbreaks you get by using the proper products for your skin but you can never totally eliminate them.  Even I, the professional still get the occasional pimple.  It stinks, but that is life, warts, pimples, and all :)

My last tip for when you do get your skin under control but end up with the occasional pimple in a very visible location.  Wear a fabulous piece of jewelry.  When I go out in one of my necklaces no one even notices the pimple smack in the middle of my forehead.  :)

Deb, I hope I have answered your question.

If you have any skin care questions please be sure to leave them in a comment on this blog or email them to me at

Thank you

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hydration Issues

Today's question is from Nagi -

After I get a facial, my skin is hydrated and my wrinkles are not too noticeable, but a few days later they come back. My aesthetician said there are 2 levels of hydration and I am only treating the top layer--I need to also treat the lower layer. (There is a bit of a language barrier too, so when she explains it I think I am only getting half of the info....). I think she means that the skin can still feel soft to the touch but be dry under it. 
Can you explain this for me?
thank you!!

Your Aesthetician is absolutely right, there are two layers of hydration.  The top layer is the epidermis which is treated with the standard moisturizers and gets a nice deep treatment when you get a facial.  The lower layer is not treated during a facial because skin care products are not meant to penetrate that deeply. 

In order to hydrate the lower level you need to take a very simple and low tech approach to skin care.  Drink water.  The average person running around now suffers from chronic dehydration.  In fact many people actually mistake their body's signal that they are thirsty for the signal that they are hungry.  Due to this mistake people are not getting the water they need.  The human body is more than 75% water and water is the fluid that helps the body transport nutrients and flush away toxins.  Therefore, if you are not getting enough water your body will start taking water from areas where it is less vital, such as the skin.

To rectify this situation I suggest following a very simple formula.  Take your weight and divide it by 2.  That is the number of ounces of water you should drink a day.  If you take that number and divide it by 8 that is the number of 8oz glasses of water you should drink in a day.  For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume you should drink an extra glass of water because caffeine and alcohol can both cause dehydration.

Try drinking water according to the above formula for three weeks.  Then, look in a mirror, and with your fingers  in the center of your cheek, gently push up on your cheek towards your eye.  Ignore the lines that form around the eye and check for very fine lines on the cheek itself.  If you see any, your skin is still dehydrated and you need to increase your water intake further.  

If you do see these lines, don't despair.  If you are drinking water according the the formula I gave you and are consistently using your moisturizer your problem may be caused by some other factor.  High levels of physical activity, some medications, and environment may all be partially to blame for your dehydration.  All you need to do is increase your water intake until you are no longer seeing those lines form.  Yes, you may be running to the bathroom every hour but proper hydration now will improve your skins appearance when you are older, so isn't that worth it?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Enlarged Pores - Why and what to do about them.

I got a question from Debbie regarding enlarged pores.  It seems that as she's gotten older the pores on her nose have gotten larger and she wants to know why and what can she do about them.  Enlarged pores are something that happens to everyone to a certain extant as they age.  They become enlarged because they get stretched out due to any number of issues such as; weight gain which can stretch the skin of your face; years being overly aggressive when putting on makeup, lotions, etc, remember, pat don't rub product into the delicate areas of your face such as the eyes and nose area; sun and wind damage can cause enlarged pores; poor skin cleaning habits and bad acne outbreaks can also cause pores to become enlarged.

What can you do about enlarged pores?  Unfortunately, you cannot shrink a pore, once it is stretched its stretched and that is that.  You can however minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.  Pore minimizers promise to reduce pore size and they do but only on a temporary basis.  They do this by causing the skin to swell slightly so that the pore size is less noticeable.  The effect is only temporary though and your pores will be back to normal by the next morning.

The next thing you can do about enlarged pores is to camouflage them with makeup.  There are many brands of makeup out there that have an 'Age Defying' formula in their line.  The way that most of them work is to include reflective particles in the formula so that the makeup reflects light away from imperfections in the face.  This works for wrinkles as well as enlarged pores.

The last thing you can do to improve the appearance of your pores should be paired with the first two methods I mentioned.  That is exfoliation.  A good exfoliation will improve the surface appearance of your skin by removing the excess dead cells from your skin.  This gives your skin a fresher, brighter appearance no matter what your age is and also gives makeup and pore minimizers a better surface to work with.

Now that I've mentioned exfoliation, I better tell you what to use.  I am personally not a fan of the gritty scrubs you can get at the grocery or discount store.  They are great for arms and legs but much to harsh for the delicate skin on your face.  If you want a gritty scrub go to your favorite spa and get what they recommend.  A spa product is going to have a much finer grit that will be suitable for the face and won't damage the skin.  The other type of exfoliation I recommend and what I use is a glycolic acid peel.  A nice 10 or 20% acid peel is a gentle, fast acting exfoliant that shows results very quickly.  If you go for the acid peel though be sure you follow the directions carefully.  Do not use the peel for a longer time or more frequently than the bottle recommends or you can injure your skin badly.

I hope this answers your question Debbie.

If you would like to get your skin care questions answered here either leave a comment on the blog or email me at  Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you soon!