Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Acne Checklist

Lately (in my free time) I've been playing connect the dots....  with my face.

Breakouts suck for everyone, obviously. But as an Esthetician I feel like having bad skin is suchhh a faux pas! It's as though you've got "I don't know what I'm talking about!" plastered across your face. 
But the truth of the matter is that we're human too! We too drink too much caffeine, forget to clean our cellphones, accidentally fall asleep in our makeup, etc. 

There's such a difference between knowing and actually doing

So as I stood in front of my mirror yesterday in (not so) quiet agony, I decided it was time to go through my "Acne Checklist". This is my own personal mental checklist of known causes of breakouts, and I go through it every time my skin takes a drastic turn for the worse. 

The Acne Checklist
  • Are you slacking on your water intake? (Refer to my "You Are What You Drink" post)
  • Are you eating poorly? (This refers to vitamin/mineral intake, not calories.)
  • Have you been sleeping in your makeup?
  • Are you using a new powder/foundation? (Always look for the phrase "Noncomedogenic" if you're acne-prone. This means it won't clog your pores, preventing your skin from breathing.)
  • Has it been more than a week since you washed your foundation/powder brushes?
  • Have you been using a new skincare regimen? (Our faces take time to adjust, and will go through a not-so-pretty purging process before clearing up.)
  • Have you been touching your face more than usual? (I notice I do this when stressed.)
  • Have you forgotten to clean your phones regularly? (Would you rub the inside of your purse against your cheek? Me neither.)
  • Have you been sleeping on a (secretly) dirty pillowcase? (It's best to change your pillowcase every 2 days if you're especially acne-prone. That way you can flip it over fresh each night to ensure you're not sleeping on yesterday's oils.)
  • Have you recently changed your laundry detergent? (The chemicals in laundry detergent are pretty insane and can easily cause skin irritation if they don't vibe well with you. I always opt for the most gentle, natural option.)
  • Have you recently changed your toothpaste? (Same reasoning as the laundry detergent, but only really applicable if the breakouts are along your mouth area.)
  • Are your hormones fluctuating? (We all know to expect breakouts around our period, but the same can apply to any changes in your birth control. Hormonal breakouts tend to be all along the chin area and can be pretty intense.)

I'm embarrassed to say that I had to say yes to most of the above list. But you know what? Sometimes shit gets crazy and life gets away from us for a little while, and that's ok. What matters is that you remember to take a minute from time to time to check in with yourself. 

We only get this one body for our whole lives, let's try to remember to be nice to it. <3

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You are what you drink...

As I walked into my office this morning I couldn't help but notice the big, sad office plant that I've been tasked with keeping alive. 
Every Monday I come in to find this poor plant withered and drooping so low its leaves almost touch the table, all because I wasn't there to water the big guy. I then water it within an inch of its life and come back Tuesday mornings to find it looking extremely perky.

This got me thinking...

What if dehydration were that obvious in humans? If our skin yellowed and hung to the floor, our bodies withered into raisins? Would you rush to guzzle water if you knew just how badly your body needed it? 

As an Esthetician and coffee addict, I've been known to spout the whole "do as I say, not as I do" spiel, but seeing my plant looking so damn perky this morning was a wake up call. No longer!

Ladies, check this out.
  • Lose Weight: Drinking water helps you lose weight because it improves your metabolism and flushes down the by-products of fat breakdown. Drinking water also reduces hunger and is an effective appetite suppressant. According to weight loss expert Dr. Mark Lawrence, if you drink just three glasses of cold water throughout the day, hypothetically, you could lose two or three pounds in a year.   
  • Reduce the Risk of Cancer: Related to the digestive system, some studies show that drinking a healthy amount of water may reduce the risks of bladder cancer and colon cancer. Water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the time in which they are in contact with bladder lining.
  • Love Your Heart: A study done in the Loma Linda university in California, involving 20k healthy men and woman in the age range of 38 to 100 years, came up with the results that those who drank enough water throughout the day had 41% in women and 54% in men, were less likely to have a heart attack.
  • De-Puff: Skin looking a tad puffy lately? Water retention is a large contributor to cellulite and puffiness under the eyes. If you’re not drinking enough water it triggers a response in your cells to hold on to as much water as they can, in case they don’t get more later. Enter puffy, unhealthy looking skin. Our skin is comprised of roughly 90% water but we have to give it the water it needs! If your cells are regularly hydrated, they’ll have no reason to hold on to excessive water, giving you smoother, more even skin.
  • Blemish Be-Gone: Our skin is actually the largest elimination organ in the body, with some doctors even referring to it as our "Third Kidney". So as the excessive amount of toxins leave our bodies through our skin, the normal pH of our skin changes. If our bodies become even slightly dehydrated and our pores become clogged, the imbalanced pH of our skin will allow all that nasty bacteria to partaaaay. Water flushes these toxins from our bodies. Catch my drift?
  • Know Your Intake: The general rule is 8x8, 8 glasses containing 8 ounces of water. A more personalized method is to take your current weight, divide by 2, and then divide that number by 8. Remember to keep your exercise level in mind, and always add an additional glass or two for each cup of caffeine/alcohol you drink.

Ok, I'm officially vowing to guzzle H2O until it's side by side with the air I breathe!   

How bout you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

DIY: All Natural Green Tea Acne Toner

Well, fall is officially here and with that comes the task of updating our beauty routines. I don’t know about you ladies, but this summer turned into one big excuse to slack off on mine.
But hey, better late than never… right?
So for my first real post I’m gonna share my recipe for an All Natural Green Tea Acne Toner.  When I was in beauty school we were suddenly bombarded with all this information about the carcinogenic chemicals in our daily products. Before long we were on an “all natural” kick, reading every label we could get our hands on and swearing off half our favorite products.
Now that was probably a tad bit extreme, but it prompted me to create my own toner that would still address my skin’s issues without making me think of the big C word every time I used it.
It’s not rocket science, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

All you’ll need is a Lemon Juice, Green Tea, Pure Tea Tree Oil and a Spray Bottle.

But first, some deets on the benefits!

Green Tea – the holy grail of antioxidants.
By now it’s no secret that Green Tea is oh-so-beneficial, whether taken internally or externally. It keeps our skin looking youthful by nipping those nasty free radicals in the bud, fights inflammation, reduces redness and even soothes acne with its anti-bacterial properties. Pretty wicked, no?
Lemon Juice – Lemon juice? On my face? Say waah?

That’s right, lemon juice. Lemon juice is a citric acid rich in vitamin C. In addition to all the lovely benefits that Vitamin C provides, lemon juice is also an astringent that exfoliates and whitens, leaving you with a more even skin tone. Now, lemon juice can be a tad harsh/drying on those with sensitive skin, so less may be more for some of you ladies.
Tea Tree Oil – I could honestly go on about this baby for ages. I’ll try to restrain myself and keep it relevant to the post, though.
Tea Tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and germicidal properties. It is considered as effective as Benzoyl peroxide (though, slower) at killing P. Acnes (Propionibacterium, the bacterium responsible for inflamed acne breakouts) and slowing down their growth, but without the redness/irritation/inflammation commonly associated with Benzoyl peroxide. It can also help to regulate the Sebaceous (oil) glands.
I love it as an both an acne and post-waxing treatment.

Now let’s get brewing!
·      First things first, brew yourself some fresh (preferably organic) green tea. You can use either loose leaf or bagged tea, but if you use loose leaf be sure to strain it really well – you wouldn’t want it to clog up your nozzle. I also recommend using filtered water & doubling the recommended brew strength.
How much you make will depend on how big your spray bottle is and whether you’re in the mood to have a cup of tea ;).
·      Once you’ve brewed your green tea go ahead and stick it in the fridge to cool down.

·      While your tea is cooling go ahead and grab that lemon. You’re going to want to squeeze the crap out of that sucker and then strain it really well to remove any pulp or seeds that got past ya. It’s important to use fresh lemon juice as the bottled variety is generally diluted and not nearly as effective. Plus, now you’ve got an excuse to make something using lemon zest!

·      Grab your cold green tea, lemon juice, and bottle of pure tea tree oil.

·      I’m more of a “pinch of this, pinch of that” type than a strict recipe follower. The idea here is to have at least ¾’s of your spray bottle filled with green tea and the remaining space split roughly between the lemon juice and tea tree oil.
Now this recipe is very loose – if you find that you have sensitive skin or your acne is very mild, simply lessen the amount of lemon juice/tea tree oil and increase the amount of green tea.
Play with it a bit until you feel it is catered to your personal skin type, everyone is different.
Simply mist on a cotton ball and gently swipe across the desired area (face, D├ęcolletage, etc.), being sure to avoid your eye area and any open wounds.
Be sure to store it in the fridge – applying it cold will help to close your pores!

Friday, September 30, 2011