Month: February 2014

2 Minutes A Day To Beautiful Skin

natural beauty

The first question I always ask new guest is, “What do you do on a daily basis to take care of your skin?” The responses I get vary from routines with long lists of complicated lotions and potions that take up to half an hour twice a day to, “I wash my hair with shampoo and I figure it hits my face when I rinse it out.” So what should you be doing? Is less more? Or do you only get out what you put in?

“Give me 2 minutes a day and I’ll give you a lifetime of beautiful skin,” is my motto for skin care.  That’s it, just 2 minutes.  One in the morning and one at night.  Less time consuming than brushing your teeth, and certainly easier than flossing (My dentist brother is probably rolling his eyes), but it’s true!

So here is a break down of what a good at home skin care routine looks like for everyone.  Products will vary, but the steps are the same no matter your skin type!

Your skin care routine should come down to these steps:

1. Cleanse

2. Tone

3. Serum (just once a day)

4. Eye Cream/Moisturizer

Completing these steps should take about 1 minute on average each morning and night.

Step 1: Cleanse/Exfoliate: The first part of a good skin care routine starts with cleansing.  It is far more important that you cleanse at night than it is in the morning.  You are an object on Planet Earth, and you collect daily dirt and grime just like cars, buildings, and park benches.  I’d also be willing to bet you’re a normal person who doesn’t wash your pillowcase every day.  So when you forget to wash your face before bed you deposit all the daily environmental damagers you collected that day to your pillowcase.  You continue to expose yourself to them not just that night, but each subsequent night until you change your pillowcase, as well. Every day this happens, you’re effectively doubling your environmental damage—and that leads to rapid aging! So, always always cleanse at night, even if it was just a lazy day at home.  In the morning you can get away with splashing water on your skin, especially if you are not very oily.

Exfoliating goes along with cleansing.  You should be doing this about once or twice a week.  Types of exfoliation include: facial scrubs; exfoliating masks; sonic exfoliating brushes; or can even be as simple as using a wash cloth during cleansing (However, I do not suggest using a wash cloth on your face, ever…but that’s for another time!) Do not use an exfoliating cleanser daily, or do any combination of exfoliation more than two times per week.  This will lead to problems that feel like combination skin.

Special tips: Avoid hot water, pat your skin dry with a clean dry cloth, and make sure your skin never feels tight, dry, or squeaky clean after.  If your skin does have those feelings after cleansing, you should look into changing your cleanser.  Click here for a guide to help you.

Step 2: Toning: Everyone should be using a hydrating toner.  It helps cut back on blackheads, combination skin issues, and helps your other products work better!  The more hydrated your cells, the healthier your skin.  To ensure that you’re using a hydrating toner and not an astringent there are two good things to look for.  First, if the product comes in a spray bottle, it’s a hydrating toner.  Second, check the ingredients list.  If you see alcohol or salicylic acid, it’s an astringent.

Step 3: Treat: Serums are often confused with moisturizers, but they provide a different service to your skin.  They are highly concentrated active ingredients that penetrate deeply into the skin to provide some sort of treatment.  I think of serums as being very similar to medicines.  They can do all sorts of things, you just have to pick the right one for your needs.  After all, you wouldn’t put Neosporin on your forehead for a headache, or tape Advil to a cut. With serums, the categories for treatments are indicative of the ultimate skin care goal.  They do things like reduce breakouts and the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, or uneven skin tone.  Common active ingredients are salicylic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and Kombucha for breakouts, retinol for fine lines and wrinkles, and Vitamin C or hydroquinone for uneven skin tone.

Special Tip: If you are being treated with topical medications like Retin A or Tazorac by a doctor, this is your treatment step.  Don’t use additional treatment serums.  If you find that these medications irritate your skin, you can try applying them on top of your moisturizer, instead.

Step 4: Moisturize and Protect: Finish up your one-minute of dedicated skin time each morning and night with eye cream and moisturizer. You want to apply eye cream before your facial moisturizer. The molecules of your facial moisturizer may be to big to be absorbed around your eye, so by applying your eye cream first you ensure getting maximum benefit of your eye product. If you don’t use an eye cream, your facial moisturizer isn’t hurting your eye area, but it is most likely just sitting there doing nothing, so pick up an eye cream!

You should have a moisturizer with SPF between 15-30 for everyday use. Make sure the SPF is broad spectrum and protects against both UVA and UVB sun-rays.  Most of us aren’t going to get a sunburn in our daily routines, but using SPF every day is a big step for anti aging.

UVA and UVB have different effects on our skin. An easy way to remember these differences is to remember that A is for aging and B is for burning.  UVB rays cause sun tans and burns, and that almost immediate result of exposure brings it to our attention.  UVA rays, on the other hand, are more subtle; you won’t see an immediate impact, but they are actually the stronger of the two rays. They penetrate all the way down to the dermis, breakdown collagen and elastin, and cause sunspots and age spots.  They are active all year long and unlike UVBs, have no trouble penetrating glass.  So if you’re seeing natural light, you’re getting UVA exposure.

Once the sun goes down and the threat of UV rays is gone I prefer for the nighttime moisturizer to be SPF free. It’s also a good idea to look for ingredients like vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin A derivatives like retinol in your night cream.  You go into a natural resting and restorative phase when you sleep so it’s a good idea to have ingredients that support that process.

Bonus Step:  Get facials! If you get a facial once a month and have a professional guide you to the right products, this is a great way to keep your skin looking healthy for longer.  The massage techniques in a facial are designed to help tone and tighten the muscles of the face, so it’s sort of like hitting the gym for your skin, and you can get great results even going once a month!

If you’re just getting started with having an at-home skin care regimen, challenge yourself to commit to it for 21 days.  That’s how long it takes to form a habit, and before you know it, it will be as natural as brushing your teeth!

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What Your Breakouts Mean

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             Face Map from Dermalogica 

Your skin is a giant tattletale. It is. Every time you look in the mirror it’s talking to you, trying to let you know what’s going on inside.  But, it can’t keep a secret to save its life. Your skin tells the story of your sleeping and eating habits, internal processes, and can be the first sign to figuring out certain health issues or imbalances.  If you seem to constantly break out or have other skin issues in the same areas, your skin is probably trying to tell you something!

Fortunately, these signals are easy for you to interpret. The formal name for this interpretation is Face Mapping.  Dealing with break-outs and blotchiness aren’t very fun, but it’s important for you to have a road map to your own face.  That way, you will be able to decode some persistent problem areas and understand the underlying causes that might be affecting your overall health, as well as your skin health.

Forehead (zone 1, 3)*- Consistent breakouts here are usually related to bladder and digestive functions. If you are constantly breaking out in this area it can be a sign that you need to take a break from junk foods, alcohol, and caffeine.  Try to drink more water and focus on wholesome foods, preferably ones that fall in the cold or cool realms.  Stress can also disrupt the flow of your body and digestion and cause breakouts here.  So, make sure you get plenty of rest and let go of worrying about things you can’t control.

http-::holistichealth-counseling.com

Middle of the Forehead and between eyebrows (zone 2) *– Breakouts here are often related to the liver. Most of us are aware that the liver is responsible for filtering toxins from our bodies, such as alcohol and drugs, but the liver also produces bile to digest fats and proteins. Try to reduce your consumption of alcohol, drugs (including over the counter ones), and heavy fatty foods. Since it’s cold and flu season, you may also experience breakouts in this area if you’ve had a cold or flu recently and have been living on medicine to help you through.  Your liver has to flush those out of your system…but the breakout should go away not long after your cold/flu.

*Your gallbladder can also cause issues in zones 1, 2, and 3. The gallbladder is where your body stores the bile your liver produces. Reducing fatty processed foods from your diet should help.

Ears (zone 4, 10) – If your ears are red or hot it can indicate stress on the adrenal gland or kidneys.  Calm down and drink some cool water to help those kidneys filter!  Stay away from sodas and energy drinks—they dehydrate you and the caffeine in them are stressors on your endocrine system.

Cheeks (zone 5, 9) – Breakouts here can indicate issues with the respiratory system.  If you are a smoker, or have allergies, breakouts here can be very common.  Food allergies can also show up here first.  If you don’t smoke and don’t believe you have any allergies but seem to have redness, it can be a sign of rosacea or a diet too full of warm foods.  Breakouts on the lower cheeks can also indicate dental or gum infections like gingivitis.

Eyes (zone 6, 8) – Puffiness and dark circles often indicates poor kidney function.  Much like zone 4, the key here is to drink water and avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol and soda. It may seem obvious but make sure you’ve been getting good sleep as well!  Yes, darkness and puffiness can be hereditary but if you get solid sleep and stay hydrated you can minimize the effects of those pesky genes.

Nose (zone 7) – Issues with your heart or circulation can show up here.  Redness can indicate high blood pressure or the beginnings of rosacea, as well. If you have constant redness in a butterfly shape on your nose and cheeks, that possibly spreads to other parts of the face, it is a good idea to check for lupus as well.

Sides of the chin and jawline (zone 11, 13)** – Breakouts here are often related to changes in stress and hormone levels.  They can often follow the pattern of the female ovulation cycle or show up during times of high stress.  Pregnancy, using hormonal birth control, or even eating foods treated with hormones can also lead to breakouts in this area.  If you are a female who experiences acne in this area and also heavier hair growth around the chin, it’s a good idea to get tested for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  If you have had recent dental work, you may also experience breakouts around the jaw line.

Chin (zone 12)** – Stomach and hormonal imbalances are often the culprit behind congestion and breakouts in this area.   Everything from zones 11 and 13 still applies here, but if you have a poor quality diet, you may have extra congestion on the chin.  Focus on reducing the amount of CRAP (Caffeine, Refined foods, Alcohol and Artificial sweeteners, and Processed foods)

**Another issue I often see around Valentines Day and the entire month of November (Movember) is unexplainable redness, irritation, and breakouts around the chin and mouth.  Just tell your man to shave for goodness sakes. 😉

Neck (zone 14) – breakouts or uneven skin tone on the neck can indicate your body is fighting off a bacterial or viral infection or that you’re putting stress on your adrenal gland.  Get some rest, eat well, read a good book, and relax. Namaste.

As you can see, your facial skin can be an indicator for a lot of internal turmoil.  In fact, it’s literally staring at you in the mirror. If you do suspect an underlying hormonal imbalance or other medical condition, please get to the doctor and have your levels checked.  When it comes to thyroid, adrenal, the rest of your endocrine system and the health of your whole body, it is better to be safe than sorry—a lot of issues can be mitigated if you start treating them sooner rather than later.

Listen to your skin. It really does have your best interests in mind!

As always, keep sending me your beauty-based questions to megjacobsblog@gmail.com or facebook.com/megjacobsbeauty

See you next Sunday!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and when looking into the idea of face mapping keep an open mind.  Just because you have breakouts in a certain area does not mean you absolutely have a  medical condition that needs treatment. Always seek medical help if you suspect a problem. These are simply guidelines to help you on your path to skin you love.

1000 Views!

3 weeks in, and we just hit 1,000 views!  Thank you so much to everyone who checks in, shares, and encourages!  The response has been overwhelming and I’m so grateful! If you haven’t had a chance, check out the Facebook page as well!  Please feel free to send me your questions or ideas about future topics.  THANK YOU!!

Best,

Meg

https://www.facebook.com/megjacobsbeauty

megjacobsblog@gmail.com

What You’re Probably Doing Wrong In The Shower

Shower

Showering.  It seems pretty simple.  Turn on the water, soap up, rinse, dry off. Most of us do it every single day, and most of us are probably doing it wrong.  Here are five of the most common missteps we all take when we step into and out of the shower.

1. You’re doing it too hot!  It’s a cruel truth that sometimes too much of our favorite things can be bad for us. Food, wine, chocolate, and of course long hot showers or baths. We always hear “everything in moderation,” and the same is true for the heat of the water we use to cleanse.  Here’s the thing: the temperature of the water affects the outermost layer of your skin, the epidermis.  Your epidermis is your body’s shield against the outside world. It is composed mostly of keratinocytes, skin cells full of keratin, which provide a tough barrier of defense against the outside world and maintain moisture in your skin. To assist with maintaining that moisture, your body produces a thin layer of oil, and it’s this layer of oil and cells, called the stratum corneaum, that the hot water is damaging.   The heat melts the oil, just like when you use hot water to clean off an oily dish, and can leave your skin red, itchy, and prone to dry patches and flaking. So turn the water down just a smidge, and your skin will thank you!

mordor-hot-cold-arctic-ocean

One does not simply..shower in Mordor.

2. You’re using too much bubbles!  Shower gels, soaps, washes, and general body cleaning products all have a certain level of surfactant. As a rule of thumb, the more a product foams up when you lather, the more oil it strips from your skin—which dries out your skin and can send your facial skin into oil-producing overdrive More bubbles doesn’t mean more clean…it just means drier skin. So, if you’ve turned down the heat and you’re still feeling dry, maybe it’s time to consider a less sudsy soap!

3. You’re not getting it all off.  It can be hard to get all the soap off during a shower.  I know you always try your best, but often when we step out of the shower we leave a little soap behind in the harder to reach areas.  The most common places that product gets left behind are behind the ears, on the nape of the neck, under your breast, and yes…down below in all those places with folds of skin.  Leaving product on your skin can also lead to dryness or irritation, so make sure you get it all off!  Bras are annoying enough, you don’t need underboob soap, too.

4.You’re over-drying while you’re drying.  Ok, so this one isn’t technically IN the shower.  Using a towel to dry off seems simple enough, but believe it or not, you might be doing it wrong.  You step out of the shower, grab the towel, and start rubbing all the excess water off. It’s efficient, but it doesn’t make your skin very happy.  See, your skin actually draws moisture in from your surroundings to lubricate your skin.  Believe it or not, when you apply a moisturizer, the moisturizers mimics this process, as well.  Instead of toweling off after a shower, try patting the skin dry to leave a very light layer of water behind for your skin to use, or to be locked in by using a moisturizer that you apply after showering.

5. Brushing your teeth AFTER you wash your face.  Again, not necessarily in the shower, but still important.  A very common complaint I hear from my clients is that they get breakouts, but just around the mouth. The first question I ask is if they brush their teeth before or after they wash their face.  Almost every time the answer is after.  Toothpaste residue can irritate the very sensitive skin around the mouth and lead to breakouts. So just switching the order of when you brush your teeth and wash your face can help keep unnecessary breakouts away!

Showers should leave your skin feeling refreshed, not stripped out.  Hope this helps your body feel happy and healthy

Also, I have been honored and humbled that the initial reaction from this blog has been so positive.  I already have several hundred weekly readers, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that you all are hopefully learning something valuable!  So, I’d like to open it up—send me your beauty and skincare-related questions at megjacobsblog@gmail.com.  I’ll do my best to answer every question I get, and look forward to tailoring future blog posts to the most common questions!  See you next Sunday!

You can also find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megjacobsbeauty

The Not So Dirty Truth Behind Blackheads

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The Not So Dirty Truth Behind Blackheads

Blackheads…by far and away the number one complaint I see in my guests.  Everyone has tried anything promising the elimination of blackheads, from nose strips to sandpaper (I’m not joking), but there they are, your constant companion, staring back at you from the tip of your nose.  So why do you have them, and why won’t they go away?  Why aren’t the products you’re using working? Here are 10 truths about your blackheads to help you find your way to clearer pores.

1. Blackheads are not dirt.  This is a very common misconception, and the first step to understanding the problem. Blackheads are actually pores clogged with the excess oil from sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are located in hair follicles and release sebum, which consists mostly of fat, keratin, and cellular material.  Your body produces sebum to lubricate the hair and skin, and when it produces too much, this sebum accumulates in your pores.

2. Blackheads are named after worms. The technical term for a blackhead is an “open comedone,” which is the plural form of “comedo,” a latin word formerly given to worms that devour the body, but has since been co-opted by the medical field to describe bodily secretions that resemble the worms.  Neat, right?  Here’s the fun thing– a whitehead is called a “closed comedone,” because the pore is closed off from air, but the stuff inside blackheads and whiteheads are the same material.

3.  So why are blackheads black?  Well, remember, blackheads are open comedones, which means the tips of them are exposed to air.  Oxidation causes the ends of blackheads to become black.  This is why a blackhead appears black, but when you pop them, the inside part is white.

4. Blackheads are not a result of poor hygiene.  Since blackheads are not dirt, the problem isn’t that you’re not washing your face enough. In fact, cleansing the skin too often or with a cleanser with too much surfactant for you, can lead to more clogged pores because it can overstrip the skin of oil.  This causes your body to go into oil production overdrive.

5. You cannot scrub blackheads away. Many people think they can scrub the blackheads away, but since it’s not surface dirt, you can’t scrub it away. So why is it that your skin looks and feels so fresh and clean when you scrub?  Well, when you scrub, you’re scrubbing off the oxidized tip of a blackhead, which removes the visible dark portion and uppermost layer of skin.  However, the pore remains clogged and will darken again.  What’s more, over-scrubbing can actually lead to more blackheads and clogged pores because it stimulates oil production to replace the oil you strip away.

6. It’s probably not an oil problem. Yes, the pore is clogged with oil, but the important question is why the oil is there.  Dehydration is by far the most common cause than innate oil overproduction.  When the skin gets dehydrated, it makes extra oil to make up for the lack of water, and that extra oil leads to blackheads, particularly in the nose.  As I said above, excess cleansing and scrubbing, and using too harsh a cleanser, can also lead to a lack of oil in your skin and stimulate oil production.

7. Nose strips are not your friends.  Yes I know it’s satisfying to pull that sucker off and see the gunk you just eliminated from your nose, but if you look again you’ll also notice along with the oil plugs you also pulled out all the fine hairs.  Each of those hairs left behind an open pore, which can now get filled up with oil.  Usually, use of these products end up leaving the user with more blackheads over time.

8. Back away from the magnification mirror and don’t use extraction tools. These tools are designed to be used by someone who has been trained in their use. No one but your doctor or esthetician needs to see your pores magnified by 1000x.  It just leads you to think your blackheads are 1000 times worse than they are and then you’ll just freak out and want to extract them yourself. However, using an extraction tool on yourself often leads to bleeding, bruising, and broken capillaries because you probably don’t know how to use the tool without applying excess, damaging pressure.

9. Do use a hydrating toner, not an astringent. No matter what your skin type is, it can use more water.  Stripping the skin of its natural moisture and hydration can lead to extra oil production and more blackheads, but adding water can help diminish oil production and lead to fewer blackheads.

10. Do schedule a facial.  A professionally trained esthetician is your best resource to remove blackheads without damaging your skin or making your problems worse.  They have been trained to get those wriggly little comedones out of your skin safely.  However, if you absolutely, positively, 100% MUST remove the blackheads on your own, here is my suggestion: 1. Wash your face with your normal cleanser and make sure your hands are clean; 2.  Wrap your index fingers with some sort of soft, clean paper or cotton product (toilet paper a cotton 4”x4” pad work best); 3. Place your fingers wide around the affected pore and squeeze gently together, in an upwards motion; 4. If it doesn’t come out easily, rotate your fingers around the pore and repeat step 3 from a different angle; 5. Once the blackhead is extracted, wipe the pore down with your toner; 6. Enjoy your date, because if you’re not going on a date that night then you have no excuse not to wait to have the blackhead extracted by a professional!

Blackheads are a normal part of life.  No one will remain blackhead free forever, regardless of what you do.  But, you can manage them.  The best way to keep blackheads at bay between facials is to make sure your skin is as hydrated as possible– don’t over-wash or over-scrub, avoid drying products such as astringents, drink plenty of water, and try to keep your stress levels as managed as possible!

And don’t pour Tussin on it. 😀

Surfactant

Surfactant levels in cleansers

All cleansers have surfactants to differing degrees. Surfactants are a substance that tends to reduce the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved. In other words, it breaks down the oil sort of like those old Dawn commercials where the drop of Dawn sent the oil scattering on the glass pan. The degree of a surfactant in a cleanser doesn’t imply a cleanser is more or less gentle or harsh.  Rather, the level of surfactant refers to how strongly it removes the natural oils from the skin.

It is important to use a cleanser with the right level of surfactant for your skin type or else you run the risk of overdrying your skin, which will lead to oil overproduction.  A good rule of thumb to figure out if you are using a cleanser with an appropriate level of surfactant is how your skin feels after you use the cleanser.  If your skin feels tight, dry, or squeaky clean, then your cleanser has too much surfactant in it, and I would recommend finding one with a lower level.

These are the types of cleansers available from heaviest surfactant levels to least. In general, the more suds a cleanser produces, the heavier the surfactant level:

Foaming Cleanser – Liquid in the bottle but comes out as fluffy foam.

Gel Cleanser – Clear viscous liquid that will turn into suds when agitated.

Light Cream Cleanser – Similar to a gel, only you can’t see through it.

Heavy Cream Cleanser – These cleansers have a lotion consistency and are unlikely to form suds when agitated.