Are you really washing your whole face?
Hey there! Odd question, are you remembering to wash behind your ears? How about your eyelids? We should talk!
Recently in working with clients, I have noticed more and more middle aged men and women complaining about “tiny white bumps” around their eye area. Upon getting their beautiful faces underneath my magnifying lamp and doing a thorough inspection, I see it is milia that they are finding bothersome. milia are actually small cysts, and not to be confused with acne even though they are often caused by not enough exfoliation just like acne is often caused by. milia are usually harmless, and simply keratin trapped under the surface of the skin. milia are typically white and hard, and upon extracting pop out like a very tiny white pearl, although they can become yellow or green if bacteria is also trapped with the keratin. Although acne develops when a pore becomes clogged, milia develops under the epidermis when the epidermis does not shed itself quickly enough trapping dried keratin cells. Our skin sheds less frequently as we age, making exfoliation imperative for ageing gracefully. I’m also treating many blackheads in and around the ears, lately. Additionally being in the armpit of winter, I am treating lots of chapped, cracked lips, which is to be expected, but my thought was with a little education on homecare, we can nip this in the bud!
When I asked my clients “Are you exfoliating your eyelids, and under your eyes when you exfoliate your face?” The most common answer I got was “Well no, I do not exfoliate near my eyes”, while staring at me perplexed like I had 3 heads and my pants were on fire. The concept of exfoliating around the eyes was absurd to most people. The responses were similar when I asked my clients about ear and lip exfoliation.
I decided to do a survey after this being a regular conversation piece on my treatment table. I created a survey using Survey Monkey, titled “Are you washing your whole face?”. My survey went over common areas of cleansing and exfoliation that I suspected folks may be missing in the shower, based on trends I was seeing on my treatment table. I asked about how people were washing/ exfoliating their earlobes and behind their ears. I mean didn’t everybody’s Grandma always say, “Don’t forget to wash behind your ears!”? Mine did! I further asked about lip scrubs. My survey also questioned peoples habits for exfoliating their eyelids and under their eyes. At this point you may be asking what these areas all have in common besides being attached to your head. Well the biggest common denominator I was beginning to see was that people truly did not know how or why they should exfoliate these areas, and these issues I was treating in office were easily (and very affordably) preventable and/ or treated in the shower at home. After I created my survey I copied the link to facebook, and overnight I had over 65 responses. The responses confirmed my suspicions.
Below are some statistics from my survey:
- 25% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their face ever.
- Only 12% of people surveyed exfoliated their eyelids, and under their eyes.
- 57.5% of people surveyed have never exfoliated their lips.
- 87.5% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their ear lobes or behind their ears.
- 33.33% of people surveyed do not wash their ears in the shower, instead simply let the run off from washing their hair rinse them.
- 47.5% of people surveyed had never heard of milia.
- 17.5% of people surveyed have been diagnosed with milia and/ or had them removed.
Additionally, in the area of my survey where people could type in “other”, 3 people commented that “I do not need to do this, as this is not a problem for me” in regards to milia. My first thought to this was, this sounds silly to me as this is like saying, “My breath doesn’t stink, so I do not brush my teeth”. You brush your teeth to prevent issues, not to correct issues, and you should think about your ears, eyelids, and lips the same way. Ever heard the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?
Well the good news is, this is for sure “job security” for me, however part of my job is properly educating my clients on proper homecare. So let’s start that ounce of prevention!
- Lips- Let’s start with the easiest one! A DIY lip scrub. In your kitchen grab ¼ cup of plain white sugar, place inside a small container that you have a lid for, add 1 tablespoon of honey, then add a carrier oil (I like olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil) 1 tablespoon at a time while stirring gently until your desired consistency is reached. You want it to be thick enough that you can scoop it out with your fingers without it immediately falling apart. Think playdough. Put the lid on the container and store in your shower. Every time you shower (using clean hands) scoop out a dime sized amount of your concoction and scrub your lips with it. If you accidentally get in your mouth no worries, totally edible ingredients. Rinse clean. Use a good, hydrating lip balm after you get out the shower, and your lips will stay kissably soft all winter. 🙂
- Ears- Most of the time simply washing them with the same cleanser you use on your face when you wash your face will keep them bacteria and blackhead free. However since ears lobes and behind the ears are typically more oily than the rest of your scalp and face, if you usually use a cream or lotion cleanser on your face, you likely need something more foamy for your ears. Keep in mind, I am not at all suggesting putting a cleanser inside your ear canal, however the lobes and behind the ear need some love. Trust me, I’ve seen it all 18 years in this industry! Try a few different cleansers, see what works best for you. My favorites are our dermaclenz cleanser or skin script glycolic cleanser for daily cleaning in the shower then I just save some suds for my ears after I wash my face! I use our microdermabrasion cream or AHA/ BHA exfoliating cleanser on the days i exfoliate (usually once a week for me), however if you exfoliate your face more often than that, just exfoliate your ears whenever you are exfoliating your face.
- Eyelids and directly below the eyes- Since around the eyes are the most common place for milia to develop, exfoliating these areas gently is key to preventing these from ever becoming an issue for you. If your regular facial cleanser already contains exfoliating ingredients such as; malic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid or retinol using your regular cleanser very gently in these areas, while being careful not to get in the eyes will likely do the trick and keep the milia away. However if you are already having issues with milia, or have been diagnosed with milia previously, you may need something a bit more abrasive. I like to use my regular script glycolic cleanser daily in the shower, them microdermabrasion cream on the days i exfoliate (usually once a week for me), however if you exfoliate your face more often than that, just exfoliate around your eye area whenever you are exfoliating your face. In the office when clients come in with existing milia, I like to use diamond tip microdermabrasion over the affected area to resurface. Then once the skin is prepped, I extract them.
I hope you found this article insightful. Please remember if you are past the point of homecare, and need professional help with any of the issues above, I am here for you.