Exfoliation

Are you really washing your whole face?

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!

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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:

 

  1. 25% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their face ever.
  2. Only 12% of people surveyed exfoliated their eyelids, and under their eyes.
  3. 57.5% of people surveyed have never exfoliated their lips.
  4. 87.5% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their ear lobes or behind their ears.
  5. 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.
  6. 47.5% of people surveyed had never heard of milia.
  7. 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!

 

    1. 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. 🙂
    2. 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. 
    3. 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. 

 

In health,

 

Brandi

 

Lactic Acid! My favorite Alpha Hydroxy Acid for my face!

Lactic Acid, and what you need to know.

Lactic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It is a unique AHA as it exfoliates the skin but also hydrates the skin. Perhaps this is why Cleopatra was well known for taking milk baths, while she likely did not know why it made her skin soft, or made her appear more youthful, she must have noticed the beneficial effects to continue to do so.

Lactic Acid is usually derived from sour milk, however can sometimes be found in vegetable sources, such as fermented pumpkin. Fun Fact: Pumpkin skin care products are super popular, because in using them you get the benefits of one of the top three strongest natural enzymes (the other 2 being pineapple and papaya), in addition to the benefits of naturally occurring lactic acid. Although you probably never even thought about why it worked while you were using that pumpkin mask you love, now you know why it makes you glow! 

Lactic Acid is the must have ingredient in treating hormonal acne, ageing skin, and post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Ageing skin with hormonal acne is a bit more complicated than treating acne or ageing one at a time because unlike teenage acne once we are over 30 our skin is typically drier, so our previous go to’s such as salicylic, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur are too drying and can make hormonal acne worse because the overly dry surface skin can clog the pores more. 

 

Lactic Acid Specifically benefits the skin by:

  1. Exfoliating while hydrating
  2. Stimulating collagen production
  3. Brightens complexion, without causing redness
  4. Lactic Acid peels are mild enough there is typically no down time, however you will instantly see a more glowy appearance
  5. Fades Sun Spots
  6. Decreases fine lines and wrinkles
  7. Being the only AHA gentle enough for use on skin with rosacea or eczema

 

 While exfoliation is important for preventing acne, and premature signs of ageing, we also have to hydrate the skin and increase barrier function. That sounds crazy and complicated right? Yes it is, how do we increase barrier function while removing dead skin cells? Well, it is a complicated answer:

  1. Use a cleanser that contains lactic acid as an active ingredient.
  2. Use an excellent moisturizer that contains small amounts of glycolic acid in addition to lactic acid.
  3. If a Glycolic Moisturizer is too harsh for you (it sure is for me), consider an antioxidant moisturizer to fight free radical damage and prevent inflammation.
  4. Consider enzyme treatments over chemical peels first as enzymes only digest dead cells, and do not go after live cells, while peels have no distinction.
  5. Don’t buy a drug store serum, your serum is the single most important step in your daily skincare regimen, get a good one! A few of my favorites are A vitamin C serum, an AHA serum, or an antioxidant serum.
  6. Exfoliate once every 2 weeks or up to 3 times a week, depending on your skin, while my sensitive skin can only handle gritty exfoliation every 2 weeks or so some of my clients with more durable skin need to exfoliate a few times each week. Remember just because something worked great on your sisters skin, your skin is unique to you, and you might require something completely different. And remember your skin might need a very gentle exfoliant, while someone else might need a medium strength, and someone else might need something more heavy duty,.  Don’t know what’s best for you? Just email me, we will get you set up with a correct routine!  OldMechanicsvilleHealthSpa@gmail.com
  7. Mask at least once per month. I like a good resurfacing lactic acid mask, but my sensitive skin can only handle something like this every once in a while because it can be drying, but it sure does give me a complete resurfacing at home. For a gentler enzyme exfoliating mask at home a papaya/ pumpkin can be used 2 times per month.
  8. Always wear an SPF daily, for the rest of your life. Active ingredients can make you more sensitive to sun exposure, and sun exposure is the #1 cause of premature ageing.

Keep in mind Lactic Acid containing products should be avoided if you are on certain medications such as Accutane or Retin- A, as too much exfoliation can strip your acid mantle (your skin barrier), and cause your skin to be over processed (just like your hair, this is not a good thing!)

 

Ultimately talk to your skin therapist, or dermatologist to determine what is best for you and your skin. Keep glowing, friend!

P.S. I know we could all benefit from an immune system, wellness or mood boost during these crazy times. That’s why for a limited time I’m offering 15% off of ALL of the Old Mechanicsville Health Spa online products. You can click here to shop, and use code VIP15 at checkout. 

Is Chemical Exfoliation Right for you?

Exfoliation is important for everyone. Shedding our skin (cell renewal) to reveal new skin is a natural part of growth for all living things. After personally struggling with acne most of my life, I learned a lot about what did not work for me, and found a few things that did. For people like me with acneic skin that is also hyper sensitive, chemical exfoliation can work wonders. Don’t let the commonly used term “Chemical Peel” scare you, I know the idea of your face peeling off sounds gross and scary. That is not what I am talking about. Sometimes chemical exfoliation means a peel, but it can also refer to an enzyme treatment, and many cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers contain chemical exfoliants.  Most chemical peels and enzymes cause an internal sloughing off of skin, which means you don’t even see the skin falling off or notice anything during the process other then dry skin for a few days. You skin is always shedding on its own every day, the rate at which it renews is known as cell renewal factor. Just like you breathe without even thinking about it, your skin is constantly renewing itself. Chemical Exfoliation simply speeds up this process, and usually without pain or discomfort. As we age our skin naturally renews less frequently, that is why as we age we notice more fine lines, or dull looking skin, and sometimes hormonal acne that may just be starting in our 30’s. 

The below chart shows the frequency of the skins cell renewal factor based on age:

Age Cell Renewal Factor
Babies Every 14 days
Teens 21 to 28 days
Middle Age 28 to 42 days
50 and older 42 to 84 days

Because our skin renews less frequently on its own as we age it’s extremely important for us to help it along by manually exfoliating our skin, and I do not mean with those harsh drug store scrubs with walnuts and apricots (I ain’t saying no names, but you know who you are and what im talking about, run don’t walk away from those products!)

Although the term “Chemical Peel” makes it sound a bit harsh, chemical forms of exfoliation are actually way more gentler than their “scrub” or “mechanical” exfoliation counterparts. Chemical Peels actually contain very little to no chemicals, and are mostly made up of natural enzymes and acids derived from fruits and vegetables. Many are Gluten free and vegan (but not all). 

Some commonly used chemical peeling ingredients are outlined on the below chart:

Type Where does it come
from?
Enzyme or Acid? Whats it
best for?
How does it work?
Glycolic Sugar Cane Acid Aging Skin
Hyper-
pigmentation
Breaks down intercellular cement to cause sloughing off of skin
Tartaric Grapes Acid Acne
Sensitive skin
Anti oxidant Balancing PH
Breaks
down inter-
cellular cement to cause sloughing off of skin
Lactic Sour Milk Acid Acne
Dry skin
Breaks down intercellular cement to cause sloughing off of skin, hydrates skin
Papain Papaya Enzyme Hyper-
Pigmentation
Dull skin
Fine lines
Digests dead skin cells
Bromelain Pineapple Enzyme Reduce Blackheads
Brightening dull skin
Anti oxidant
Digests dead skin cells
Salicylic Acid Willow Bark Acid Acne
Acne Scarring
Oily Skin
Breaks down intercellular cement to cause sloughing off of skin, hydrates skin

Is peeling right for you? If you have any of the following skin concerns, chemical peeling might be worth exploring:

  • Acne
  • Acne Scarring
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Fine Lines and wrinkles
  • Dry Skin
  • Dull Skin
  • Blackheads
  • Oily Skin
  • Sun Damage
  • Scars

However, chemical exfoliation is contraindicated for some people. If you are experiencing any of the following, you will not be able to chemical peel:

  • Pregnancy
  • Use of certain medications
  • Sunburn
  • History of cold sores
  • Rosacea (although you cannot do a peel, some enzymes are safe for persons with rosacea)
  • Keloid Scarring

The process of a chemical peeling treatment at Old Mechanicsville Health Spa includes, a cleansing of the face, followed by peel prep, then peel, application of rescue mask to soothe, followed by aloe toner to restore skin’s PH, calming serum, moisturizer application, sunscreen protection.

An Enzyme treatment can be added to any facial for only $10, and a chemical peel is performed as a stand alone service or as a series of 6 staring at $200.

I personally usually do a series of 6 chemical peels, 2 weeks apart once per year to keep my skin youthful and glowy. Email me if your ready to come up with a long term plan for living in and loving your best skin. affordable2012@gmail.com