The Right Way To Pick A Zit

Given that you’ve heard all your life, “Don’t pick at your face.  Leave your pimples alone!”, you may be surprised that I am encouraging you to pick.  Don’t get me wrong, your health and beauty are of my deepest interest here but there is a time and place and I want to discuss that.

Let’s back up a bit, before we get to the extraction…

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Jessica Wu‘s book, “Feed Your Face“, and in that book she shares a story about a patient who came to see her after an overzealous esthetician attempted to extract a pimple.  Nothing came out of the pimple but the esthetician did not give up.  She continued to squeeze and milk the blemish until the client was in tears.  The only result, unfortunately, was to drive the infection deeper.  The poor patient now suffered from a huge “underground boil.”  The entire side of her face was swollen and her eye was even swollen shut!  A trip to ER and one IV full of antibiotics later and the swelling finally went down.  Dr. Wu spent months treating the scarring caused by this painful action.  Which is why we are told, don’t pick your pimples!  Infection and scarring are simply not worth it.

Don’t touch your face. Avoid all mirrors. Count backwards from ten. Keep your hands busy. Hands off! Unless…

With that gruesome story behind us (lesson learned, right?), I’ll admit I pick.  I mean, don’t we all (please say yes)?  I know it’s bad but sometimes it’s necessary when you have a white head ready to pop.  So on with the gross details.

  • When you absolutely must take care of the nasty uninvited guest, do it at night so that your skin can begin healing while you sleep.
  • Wash your face and hands.
  • Clean the zit with rubbing alcohol.  Use some of the alcohol to sterilize a needle as well.
  • Pierce the surface of your whitehead.  Gently squeeze with two Q-tips, not your fingers (remember, we are keeping it clean- the less germs spread, the quicker the recovery).
  • Dr. Wu advises that you should just squeeze enough to get the blockage, not to draw blood.  Blood means you’ll have a scab and the sore will be harder to cover.  Also, STOP if you nothing comes out so you don’t drive the infection deeper like the poor girl in the story above!
  • IMPORTANT and likely not known by many, don’t squeeze the zone between the tip of your nose and the inside edge of your eyebrows as this is a “Danger Zone.”  Dr. Wu says this, “The skin in this area sits about 1/8 inch above your sinuses, which are connected to your gray matter.  Squeeze too hard, and instead of winding up with just a skin infection, you could spread infection to your sinus cavities or even your brain.”  Yikes!
  • Allow your zit extraction to heal overnight without any acne treatment or drying cream.  Cover with a band-aid and go to sleep.  Wounds heal better when they are moist and covered.  I actually have used antiseptic first-aid creams myself.

Don’t even think about trying to extract ones without a head because you will only make it grow bigger and cause other pimples to pop up around the surrounding area.  If you have a deep cyst, apply acne cream hourly or use a warm compress throughout the day to help it head more quickly.

Don’t make picking a habit, use it only when absolutely necessary and it’s clearly a whitehead needing some pressure relief.  Keep your procedure sterile and don’t force anything.  Following these tips can help your pimple to improve rather than get worse.

Your turn to share (if you dare)…do you pick?

Your Dairy-Rich Diet May Be Causing Your Acne

I know, I know. People- ahem, experts- say that diet has nothing to do with causing acne. And we believed them, for a long time. Now, I think we are starting to understand nutrition better and our eyes have been opened. At least, I know mine have.

Last spring my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac, both auto-immune diseases. In an effort to heal her body from the inside out, we worked with a holistic doctor that uses food as the “medicine”. This experience really opened our eyes to how food impacts our health. During our intense dietary adjustment, my daughter had to remove dairy completely from her diet, as well as eggs, almonds and of course, gluten. We were forced to get creative, shop our local health food store and try a variety of new foods and supplements.

The main reason the doctor requested removal of dairy is because it is hard on the digestive system. Since Celiac disease attacks the intestines, it was only appropriate to give her system a break from hard-to-digest foods. We found there was dairy hidden in many, many foods (geesh, casin, which makes up 80% of the proteins in cows milk, is even in soy cheese!). We found many alternative products like rice cheese, rice milk and coconut yogurt (with flavored stevia drops…yum!). Eventually, we allowed her diet to be less rigorous. Having both diabetes and celiac already limited what she could eat and when. Forcing supplements and odd tasting foods down her was not fun for any of us. The one thing we still limit- dairy.

Given that humans are the only animals on this planet that drink the milk of another animal, doesn’t it make sense that our bodies would have a hard time digesting the proteins? Plus, the milk is full of cow hormones! This is why it can cause humans prone to acne to suffer more severe acne and has been blamed for the early development of our children!

Every time you drink milk or eat dairy, the cow hormones are absorbed into your body and can affect your skin in the same way that human hormones can.  “Most milk is very high in IGF-1. IGF-1 is a growth factor that peaks in the human body during adolescence, when acne is usually at it’s worst. It is believed that IGF-1, along with testosterone and DHT, trigger acne breakouts.” (source)

While I’d say the majority of the doctors and dermatologists are still not on board with the theory that what you eat can cause breakouts, I am a firm believer. With an improved diet of lean meats, fruits and veggies with brown rice as a “healthy carb”, my family has learned a lot about how what we consume impacts us in many ways.  I say to you, if you suspect dairy may be the cause of your breakouts, cut it out for 2 weeks then slowly add it back into your diet.  If you break out, have tummy pains or other symptoms, check out the rice or almond milk at the store.  It’s easy to get used to, especially if it’s vanilla flavored!

Do you have any foods that trigger your acne?

Got Acne? Indulge in Omega-3s

Salmon is high in omega-3

Have acne?  Fight back by indulging in omega-3s!  Why?  Omega-3s are a natural anti-inflammatory, so they help calm your breakouts!  They also lower IGF-1 to help prevent clogged pores as well as reverse the effects of snacking on sugary, fatty foods!

To get your daily dose of omega-3s, eat fish (salmon, sardines and anchovies are best), tofu, soybeans, broccoli  flaxseed, mustard seeds, walnuts and almonds.

Or, simply take omega-3 supplements!  (Need a vegan option?  Try organic flaxseed oil, also rich in omega-3.) It is important to use only a high quality product. Do not take more than 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules without the supervision of a health care provider, due to an increased risk of bleeding.

Not only will your skin benefit from the essential fatty acids, many other benefits come from including omega-3s into your diet! Omega-3s can help with depression, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more!

Looking good on the outside and feeling good on the inside? That’s what we love!

Fighting the Battle Called Rosacea

I had a friend ask me the other day if I had done any research on Rosacea (pronounced roh-ZAY-sha).  She is in her early thirties, a mom of 4, a business owner and she suspects she has Rosacea.  No one wants to develop skin problems at any age but when you are in the busiest season of your life, a skin issue is the last thing you want to deal with!

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a kind of skin chronic inflammation in the skin (face). It occurs when the vessels swell and cause a flushed appearance. The more blood that flows through the vessels, the larger they grow in size. The become visible (broken capillaries and general redness). The more a person flushes (due to various reasons as described below), the more the veins stretch out. Eventually, they become permanently enlarged and won’t go away. (source)

Sadly, if she has indeed developed rosacea, it can not be cured (it is a chronic disorder) but it can be treated.  Going to her doctor will be the best way to determine if she does have rosacea and how to properly treat it. (Communicating with a specialist is important as rosacea is often mistaken for acne. It is estimated to affect well over 16 million Americans, and most of them don’t know it!) Consult a dermatologist if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead.
  • Small visible blood vessels on the face.
  • Bumps or pimples on the face.
  • Watery or irritated eyes.
  • Facial burning, stinging and itching

Unfortunately for many rosacea sufferers, “it can cause significant psychological, social and occupational problems if left untreated. More than 76 percent of rosacea patients said their condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 41 percent reported that it had caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.” (source)

What triggers rosacea?

Many things can irritate rosacea! Some of the most common rosacea triggers include sun exposure, emotional stress, hot or cold weather, wind, alcohol, spicy foods, heavy exercise, hot baths, heated beverages and certain skin-care products.

How is rosacea treated?

It depends largely on what your symptoms and triggers are but here are some possible treatments:

  • Exercise in early morning or evening when the temperature is cooler.
  • Taking oral antibiotics may help due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
  • When appropriate, laser treatment or other surgical procedures may be used to remove visible blood vessels or reduce extensive redness.
  • For a more holistic approach, try Chrysanthellum Indicum Cream (to to strengthen capillaries), Green Tea Cream (to significantly reduce the number of red bumps and pustules), Digestive Enzymes (to aid in digestion of fatty acids) and Azelaic Acid Cream (to reduce the symptoms of dryness, burning, telangiectasia and itching). Other natural treatments have been found to work as well, depending on the symptoms.
  • Work with a dermatologist to best determine which skin care products to use and which to avoid. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any products that burn, sting or irritate skin. Find gentle, natural products without unnecessary ingredients. Health food stores are great places to find natural, gentle and organic skin care.
  • Finally, avoid trigger foods that can cause rosacea flare-ups!  According to Dr. Jessica Wu, author of Feed Your Face (my new favorite book!), modifying your eating habits will reduce flare-ups and generally improve skin.  Carefully read the list below to determine if something you are eating is triggering flare-ups in your skin!

Foods To Avoid When You Have Rosacea:

  • Spicy foods- the number one food-related trigger of rosacea!  Dr. Wu recommends if you love salsa, try a fruit based one instead!  If you love chili powder in your food, substitute two parts cumin and one part oregano for a kick of flavor!
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)- an addictive found in everything from potato chips to Chinese food to condiments like BBQ sauce and salad dressing. When label reading, watch out for “natural flavors” in the ingredients as there is a good chance MSG is hidden in there.
  • Vinegar- found in many foods like potato chips, pickles, sushi rice and salad dressing.  Substitute herb-infused olive oil for the traditional oil and vinegar combo!
  • Cinnamon Oil- found in cinnamon gum, breath mints, toothpaste, mouthwash and even lip-plumping products!
  • Large doses of B6 and B12 (20-40 times the recommended daily allowance).  Check your multivitamin label but don’t eliminate them from your diet completely as they are needed for healthy brain function!

While rosacea is not fun to deal with, you can take steps to control it and minimize it.  Knowledge is power so get busy researching, speaking with doctors, changing your diet and your habits (like taking hot showers!).  Good luck!

Treating Beauty Burns

Use Aloe Vera as a burn remedy

In an unfocused moment, I burned my index finger pretty badly while flat ironing my hair.  Apparently, I clamped too soon and my finger was not clear.  Immediately running cold water over the wound, I thought I had done my best to treat it.  Guess not, it looks gross and feels worse- especially when I do the dishes with warm water!

The incident got me wondering what I should have done to treat the burn because if it had been on my face, like most hairstyling burns are, I would be a hot mess.  At least my hands are not as easily observed.  My focus turned to find out the right way to treat a burn in case it happens again- and it will- either to me or to my daughter, who is rapidly approaching the age of wanting to style her own hair.  (I remember the early days of heat styling and the pain that often came with it!)

Ways to Treat Minor Burns:

The goal is to relieve the pain, speed the process of healing and reduce the risk of scarring.

  • The first thing you should do if you are burned is cool it down. Your skin will continue to burn even after the heat source has been removed.  Apply an ice pack (a bag of frozen veggies works too) or immerse the burn in cold water.  Keep the ice pack or cold water on the burn for several minutes.
  • For a topical remedy, nothing works better than aloe vera.  It has been used for centuries to treat burns. It can be used for accidental sunburns (we do not sunburn to tan anymore, right ladies??) and for other types of burns.  If you don’t have a plant at home to use, you can purchase Aloe Vera gel at most drugstore.  Buy some and keep it in stock!
  • Make a super concoction: mix your aloe vera with 1/8 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil and 5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil. Lavender essential oil is an excellent burn remedy, offering pain relief.  Vitamin E oil speeds skin regeneration and prevents scarring.
  • Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for the pain of a mild burn (typically redness only). If stronger pain relief is needed, contact a physician or go to the emergency room.
  • If the area blisters and breaks open, wash with antibacterial soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and bandage.
  • Once area is initially treated, keep it moisturized so it doesn’t scab and scar.  Keep the Vitamin E or Lavender oil flowing!  Use SPF and cover-up when in the sun.

I’m hoping your beauty (or other) burns will be non-existent but if they do happen, treat them as described to help reduce inflammation and scaring.  Please, please, please do not pick!  When you have a burn on the face, it’s tempting to “help it along” but all you are doing is increasing your chances of scaring!

How Is Your Laundry Treating Your Skin?

Skin care isn’t all about topical products! It’s about anything that you ingest or allow to touch your skin.  That includes your laundry!

The kind of detergent you use on your laundry needs to be gentle on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you have dry, sensitive skin or eczema rashes, you’ll want to avoid harsh detergents as they will aggravate your skin! If you are a mom, you probably bought special detergent for your baby’s clothes and blankets but you reserved it for baby. Now it’s time to baby yourself!

Look for laundry detergents that are dye-free, scent-free and hypoallergenic. Yes, the special baby detergents will work too but are likely more expensive! You can also make your own laundry detergent so you know exactly what’s going onto your clothes!

How to find the laundry detergent that’s right for your skin:

  • Sample products when available.  Sometimes larger companies will offer samples, so check their websites or Facebook pages.  The Sunday newspaper also occasionally has samples.
  • Read reviews online.
  • Ask your child’s pediatrician or your own dermatologist to recommend a brand of laundry detergent for sensitive skin.
  • Ask the lady at the store whom you saw remove a detergent from the shelf.  People love to share their experiences so don’t be shy about asking!
  • If a detergent leaves you itchy, write it down or keep a list on your phone so you can refer to it 6 months later when you are in a rush and can’t remember which detergent not to buy.
  • Remember that dryer sheets and fabric softeners can cause your skin to stress as well.  Switch those out if you need to!
  • Go Green, not only is it better for your skin, it’s better for the environment.  Be warned, laundry make take longer as green detergents don’t always clean as well as those loaded with harsh chemicals.  Presoaking and pretreating your laundry is worth the time and effort if you can have happy skin! (just be glad you don’t have to hand wring like in the picture above!)

Good luck!

Six Great Websites For Beauty Product Reviews

When you are looking to buy a new beauty or skin care product, it’s nice to do some research first to be sure your money will be will spent.  Even a $3 product is a waste of money if it doesn’t work for you.  In this economy who has money to throw away on ineffective beauty products?

Knowing the web can be overwhelming, I’ve made a list of a few of my favorite websites that help take the confusion out of beauty buying.  If a product works, they’ll tell you.  If not, they’ll tell you!  They’ve tested and slathered so you don’t have to!  You can be confident you are getting honest reviews with this group of beauty product experts!

  1. 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic- a doctor, a new brand new mom and a successful beauty blogger, Christine shares her insight and knowledge with every product she tests.
  2. Product Girl- a single gal who ADORES makeup and spends a good portion of her paycheck to invest in the latest and greatest, Carla is obsessed with all things beauty.
  3. Total Beauty-  A corporate biggie but it’s full of real beauty-lover reviews.  They have good beauty tips too.
  4. Makeup and Beauty Blog- Karen and her cat, Tabs, are funny and and lively.  You’ll love the personal touch on this beauty blog and the many great photos of makeup!
  5. Beauty Reporter- the beauty blog at Allure is the best print magazine beauty blog, in my opinion.  Modern, fun and on top of the industries latest.
  6. Connect (with Therapon)- Top bloggers share their personal skin care treasures and tips.  What could be better?  Visit daily for updates!

Your Eyes Share The Secrets

I have a neighbor that says to me every time I see her, “You look tired today.” And I think, “Yes, you can stop telling me that,” but I just smile and say, “I am.” I am. I am a mom, business women, home school teacher, wife, cook, housekeeper and more. All the things that you are. You know how it is.

What can be done to prevent this comment from coming so frequently? Well, plenty, including saying no more often and going to bed earlier. But since I’m not ready to slow down just yet, I’ll have to find a better way. I’m thinking Botox, Restylane…oh, what the heck, how about a face lift? Just kidding (kind of).

The area to start when wanting to improve your looks, including looking more rested, is the eyes. The eyes tell it all. When you don’t take care of yourself, the eyes are puffy with dark circles. They are showing those dreaded fine lines, or maybe even crows feet. Worse, the eye itself is red and dry. The windows of your souls are dull. No more fun and games, it’s time to get serious and get your eyes in tip-top shape!

Here are a few tips to help reduce puffiness and dark circles:

  • Drink more water.  Fluids help flush out toxins that build up.
  • Exercise to help flush out toxins as well.
  • Cover the puffy area with frozen tea bags, cucumber slices, or the back of an ice-cold spoon to provide some temporary relief.  Elevate your feet slightly above your head while you relax for 5-10 minutes.
  • The skin around the eyes is very thin and is full of blood vessels which make it very sensitive.  Make sure you are using a product specific for the eye area.  Other products may irritate the eye.
  • Are you smoking or drinking? If so, cut back…way back…or better yet, stop all together.
  • If you have sinus pressure, check with your doctor.  Chronic sinus condition or a nasal allergy can result in under-eye puffiness.
  • Reduce sodium in your diet.
  • Get happy!  Crying causes puffiness, rubbing causes irritation.
  • Ok, I have to say it, and maybe even listen to my own advice…get more rest!

Taking care of your health is always key to improving the look of your skin but on some days you just need to know how to fake it till you make it.  For those of you needing those tips today, here are some ways to camouflage the problems:

  • Learn how expert makeup artist apply concealer and follow their lead.  Concealer is a girl’s best friend!
  • Use a white, silver or nave eyeliner pencil on the lower water line of your eyes.  They all help your eyes look brighter!
  • Curl your eye lashes.  This will literally make your eyes look more open!
  • Avoid shimmer shadows.  The shimmer will fall into your fine lines and instantly age you.
  • Wear a bronzer on your cheeks.  Tanned skin always looks less tired!
  • Wear a beautiful lip color-and a smile- to attract attention to your lips rather than your eyes!
  • Use Visine to combat dry eyes or to knock out the redness.

In the end, be proud of who you are.  You feel, and look, less tired if your optimistic and kind.

Pigs Take Skin Care Seriously!

Piggy shares her skin care secrets!

I had a nice chat with Piggy today.  We discussed skin care, how she does it and tips for how you can too!  Here is how the conversation went:

Me: Hello Piggy!  Come over here and share what you’ve learned about skin care!  You must have secrets, your skin is so soft!

Piggy: It’s easy!  Oink!  I roll in the mud!

Pigs love the healing properties of mud!

Me: It’s the mud you say? Tell us why!

Piggy: Mud can help improve your overall complexion! Mud is used to clarify the skin by absorbing toxins, shrinking the appearance of pores, tightening, smoothing, cleansing and softening the skin!  These benefits result in a brighter and healthier complexion.

Can we use any type of mud? I mean, can I go out to my garden and gather mud to slather on?

Piggy: No, that’s how I do it but you should purchase a mud mask (budget and luxury lines available!) or visit a spa to receive a mud treatment! Some spas even offer mud pools to submerge yourself in! “Clean” mud is safer!

Me: Can I use it all over my body?

Piggy: Yes! Mud is an excellent detox for the whole body!

Me: How often should I do a mud mask? Certainly not daily like you!

Piggy: Once a week is great! Try applying before you meditate or sit down to read. I like to get covered in mud and take a 10 minute power nap. Then you can take a warm shower to rinse it away.

Me: Are there any other benefits to our health that we can expect?

Piggy: Yes! Mud has anti-inflammatory properties that help in relieving body aches. This is why I love to cover my whole body with it!

I ended my conversation with Piggy as others were waiting to get a photo with her and it’s no doubt why, she was simply glowing from head to hooves…must be the mud. Now, I’m off to get a mud facial! You should do the same!

Secrets To Preventing Hairline Breakouts

Have oily skin?  No problem!  You can still wear face-framing hairstyles and use styling products!  Jordana Lorraine from Lorraine’s Colour Bar in Santa Monica, CA shares with us her secrets for keeping your hair pretty and your skin protected from hairline breakouts.

Q: Are there any particular ingredients in hair care that women with oily skin should avoid?

A: Products containing silicone can clog pores and make oil lay more visibly on the surface of the skin.  This doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but you should avoid using them near the scalp and face.

Q: Do you ever encourage clients with acne to avoid styles that touch their face (i.e. bangs)?

A: This is a tough one, because sometimes bangs can help hide blemishes, which is nice.  But they can also get very oily and stick to the forehead, which is decidedly not nice.  If someone with oily skin wants to wear bangs, the best thing to do is make sure you never put styling products in them; this can clog your pores more, and will make bangs appear greasy more quickly.  One exception: dry shampoo!  You can actually carry this in your purse to freshen up bangs if they get greasy throughout the day.  Try Dust It by OSIS, which comes in a small, purse-friendly bottle  or Dirty Little Secret from TiGi.

Q: How often do you recommend clients wash their hair? Is it different for women with oily skin or hair?

A: It is generally best to wash 2-3 times per week, but the best guideline is “when it needs it.”  The shampoo industry has ‘conditioned’ us (hahaha) to lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam, but the truth is that over-shampooing can fade your color, dry out your hair, and even cause some delicate hair to fall out prematurely.  If your hair looks greasy, wash it, but don’t do daily it just out of habit.  Try dry shampoo for those ‘maybe’ days.

Q: Do you find that women with oily hair have oily skin?

A: Yes!  The scalp is also skin, though it has some different properties (like a lot more hair–hopefully!)  If someone has overactive sebaceous glands, that is likely to affect both skin and scalp

Q: Any other tidbits that would be helpful?

A: If you accidentally get product on your forehead or face while styling your hair, it’s not the end of the world. Just use some toner to remove it, and touch-up make-up if necessary.

If you have oily skin, we encourage you to try these secrets to preventing hairline breakouts!