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Top Three Skincare Mistakes and SPF info

Renee Rouleau is an amazing skincare guru whose words of wisdom have helped me in many situations.  Here are some of her top tips:

Mistake #1 - Caring for your blemishes – the wrong way
Most people will experience blemishes at certain periods in their life, and some will get them more severe than others. Where most people go wrong is in how they treat the blemish once it appears – picking at it (or what I like to refer to as “performing minor surgery in the mirror,” applyingspot treatments at the wrong phase of the breakout, and using the wrong breakout treatments on the wrong kinds of blemishes. All of these will result in a blemish lasting longer and leaving a post-breakout red or dark scar than can linger for months.  So whatdo you do?

When you get a blemish, one of two things will generally occur.
1. If you never touch it, and you let Mother Nature run her course, the infection will stay under the skin and the body will eventually reabsorb it (particularly with acne cysts).
2. Within one to three days the infection will work its way to the surface resulting in a whitehead filled with puss, which is your body’s natural way of ridding itself of bacteria.

So knowing these two things, it is really important that before you jump and immediately start treating it that you determine what type of blemish it is.
If it is a hard bump under the skin: the blemish is what is known as an acne cyst. Mostly occurring in the chin and jaw areas, it is important to remember that cysts are like submarines; they are meant to stay under the skin. No matter what method you employ, it will never rise to the surface (this means no picking! ).
If it is a blemish were the infection will surface with a yellowish whitehead: it is the more traditional zit or blemish. The best course of action is to not act the minute you feel it coming on, instead wait a day or two for the infection to appear on the surface. Waiting will allow you to effectively control the blemish without damaging the skin. Once the whitehead is truly visible, gently squeeze out the infection with your fingers, then apply a spot-drying treatment as it will work its way into the skin and eradicate any infection. If you apply a drying treatment before the whitehead is on the surface, it will simply dry out the surface of the skin keeping the infection trapped underneath for longer.

Mistake #2 - Using too many exfoliating products too often
These days, I’ve noticed the trend when using skin care products, “If it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working.” In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, people are doing too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. Too much exfoliation can cause a damaged moisture barrier resulting in flaking, dehydration and inflammation, possible destruction of healthy cells, and a stimulation of melanin activity causing increased hyperpigmentation...

Benefits of exfoliation include:
-skin appears smoother—practically overnight
-reduction in clogged pores and breakouts
-increased collagen production
-a more even-toned complexion
-reduction in brown spots…
-reduction in post-breakout acne scars
-fine lines are softened and appear less noticeable
-dryness and flakiness are greatly reduced
-serums and moisturizers will work better when dry cells on skin’s surface are removed

-Use only at night. It has been shown that using exfoliants regularly increases sun sensitivity by 45 percent. Acids that are left on the skin for extended periods of time (i.e. Moisturizers, serums) should only be used during the evening–cleansers that are rinsed right off are not considered in this category. Acids get better results at night because your skin is in repair mode and acidic ingredients encourage and aid in skin repair. 
-Use acids formulated for your skin type.  While people will gravitate to the stronger percentage of Glycolic Acids thinking it will give them better and faster results, it’s definitely possible to overdo it and cause oversensitivity.
-Do not use acids or exfoliate daily. Acids that are left on the skin, such as acid-based serums or moisturizers, should not be used on a daily basis. Research continues to show that when the skin is exfoliated daily, the inflammation created (even if not visible) will accelerate the aging process .
-Use as directed. Of all the skin care categories, exfoliating acids are the one type of product where it is absolutely crucial to follow the instructions. It is far too easy to overdo it if you use the product more often than directed or apply it in the wrong way. I have had an abundance of clients through the years who have told me that they can’t use acids because they cause irritation or breakouts. However, after instructing these individuals on how to properly apply these skin care products, they now use them just fine. Go easy and use as directed.
-If experiencing discomfort, discontinue use. It is so important to listen to your skin. While it can be a bit tricky to discern discomfort from diligence with acids, a tingling sensation is normal but a prolonged burning sensation is not.
-Be sure to use calming antioxidants in your other skin care products. Inflammation (even if your skin never shows redness) is known to be the underlying cause of aging and can work against your intention to achieve more youthful-looking skin, especially if you are using many exfoliating products in your routine.

Mistake #3 - Not wearing sunscreen daily and not applying it generously enough
For starters, the number one reason why your skin will get premature aging is from sunlight, daylight and UV rays – period. And 78% of those rays come from incidental exposure. These are all the times when you don’t think you’re getting the damaging rays – like driving in the car, sitting in your home or office near windows or walking outside on a cloudy winter day when people don’t feel like they need sun protection. If you want to prevent wrinkles, wearing sunscreen 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out, is a must.
But in order for the SPF to truly protect the skin and prevent the harmful UV rays from damaging the skin, the formula has to be applied generously or it will not provide adequate protection. If you have a sunscreen that feels too heavy on your skin, you’ll probably only apply a small amount and you’re not doing your skin any good. Find one you love and load it on every day.

With so many companies launching high SPF number sunscreens, it creates a lot of confusion as to which number is the best in protecting the skin.
FACT: SPF 30 offers only 4% more sun protection than an SPF 15. And an SPF 45 offers only 2% more than an SPF 30. The higher up you go, that percentage lessens. The real secret to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is to reapply often and generously—it’s really not the SPF number that matters.
FACT: Your skin needs both UVA and UVB protection. The SPF number only applies to UVB—the sunburn causing rays. The other rays—UVA rays— are the aging rays which breakdown collagen and elastin that cause wrinkles. Zinc Oxide is an excellent UVA and UVB sunscreen.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory so it’s excellent for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
FACT: SPF 30 is plenty. High SPF numbers like SPF 100 can give a false sense of protection and consumers may not apply it generously enough. Plus, if you’re someone with sensitive skin, the higher SPF number may contain more chemical additives, resulting in skin reactions and irritations. There’s a reason why you don’t find higher than an SPF 50 in baby sunscreen products!
FACT: Most sun protection products for babies don’t go over SPF 50 and there’s a reason—more irritating chemicals!
Bottom line: An SPF 30 with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protecting Zinc Oxide will keep your skin safe and protected.  By the way, the FDA is proposing to limit the maximum SPF on labels to 50.

She's smart, right?!


What's in Your Shower?

Whenever we have house guests they know the drill - pack your clothes, pack your ipod but leave your toiletries at home.  There are about eight different shampoo and conditioner options as well as shower gels gallore and all kinds of goodies.  Here are my current favorites:

If you love gardenias you will FALL HARD for this shampoo and conditioner - Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner.  It smells amazing, strengthens your hair (92% less breakage!), is sulfate-free and just feels really good.  And, to clear up a common misconception, Carol's Daughter is not just for African-American girls - white girls can get in on this amazing line too so hie the hence to Sephora and pick it up. 

Now, I know this is not unique, but I love Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castille Liquid Soaps - especially Lavender or Peppermint.  They are great in a pinch for shampoo, washing out delicates and washing your dog.  Chock-full of awesome ingredients, they smell yummy, give you serious reading material with their labels and clean even the toughest dirt of your flip-flopped feet.

Some scrubs are oily and funky and get all over your tub and leave gunk.  Not so with Caudalie's Crushed Cabernet Scrub - it is loaded with crushed grape seeds, brown sugar and grapeseed oil.  It exfoliates and supposedly slims/drains your bod - who knows if that's true, but it feels good and leaves you silky smooth.

Thank you fellow beauty-blogger, Alli McGinnis, for this next one - I am currently in love with a new shaving cream from Avalon Organics - their Moisturizing Shave Cream in Peppermint (it's at Whole Foods).  I was visiting Alli and hopped into her shower and got to use her fun stuff and fell in love with this little guy.  It is totally ideal for legs and underarms and smells so good - can you tell yet I like things that smell good?
My favorite for the bikini line is still from King of Shaves, which is a men's line.  I really like the Sensitive Skin Antibacterial one but any of them would be good.  You won't get as irritated or get as many in-grown hairs - it's kind of awesome.

I LOVE the smell of Frangipani flowers and this body oil from Elemis in Frangipani Monoi smells amazing!  I know all these tropical flowers are not seasonally appropriate, but whiffs of island fleurs makes me happy in colder weather.  The cap on this guy is kind of annoying - you have to shake it with vigor to get it out - but it's totally worth it once it's in your hot little hands.  You can use it out of the shower on your body as a treatment, in your hair or on your nails.

So grab a towel and come on over :)!


My Time at QVC

in front of the entrance to the studios at QVC

I just spent one of my more fun weekends at QVC with Mally Roncal and her Mally Beauty team - and let me tell you, they work hard!  Here's how it went down:

We got picked up at 6:30am on Saturday in Manhattan by a van who took us to the Sheraton hotel outside of Philly where everyone who is ever on QVC stays - there are signed headshots all over the lobby from people like Kathie Lee Gifford and Laura Geller who all have been on QVC.  We went up to our rooms and were still for an hour and then headed over to QVC at 10am.

Our first show was from 2-4pm, but they give you four hours of prep time to make up the models.  This first show entailed doing "before" shots and, contrary to what you may think, they are totally legit.  We even moisturized the girls faces so they wouldn't look all cracked and dry.  Those pictures are later run next to their beautifully made up faces during the show so you can see the "before and after" effects of the makeup.

Albee & Mally at the second show

Teenie at another show but looking lovely all the same :)

There was a team of five makeup artists - Mally's right and left hands, Teenie and Albee, as well as Masako, Jorge and myself.  I was the total newbie!  And everyone was super nice and patient with me and explained everything and showed me how to set everything up - I was really grateful!  There is a hallway full of lockers for different vendors - everything from clothing to steak companies and, of course, makeup.  Mally gets a double locker :).  So we unpacked six suitcases FULL of makeup to use on our models.

The thing that's interesting about doing QVC is that it is totally live - which of course you know, but there is NO room for error timing wise.  Those girls have got to be ready to hit it when the next "sell" (or item up for sale) comes up.  And sometimes you have to totally change their makeup because in their first sell they're showing you one look and in their next sell it's a super smoky eye - it's kind of nuts.  The closest thing pressure-wise I've ever done is Fashion Week and that stuff can roll in late, QVC cannot. 

view from the makeup chairs - sorry for the thumb in the lower left!

The other thing that I found fascinating was watching Mally do her thing.  If you're watching her on your TV I feel like you're giving her energy as you watch her be fun and silly but it's crazy because, unless there's a phone call from a customer on-air, she's not getting any of that.  She's having to be full of energy to a camera in a huge room with no feedback whatsoever.  AND, about 20 feet behind the cameras, right in her sightline, is the zoo that is where all the makeup artists are making up the models - so she can't get distracted by that either.  Again, nuts.

Here are a few pictures of some of the girls I got to do makeup on:

Brooke in the Fantasy Look Color Collection - and yes, those lashes are hers
(benefited by Mally's Volumzing Mascara)

Miss Amy who was the "Fair" model - such beautiful skin!

Brooke in a softer shadow

And some more lovely ladies ~

Casey, Booke, Sayra (Mally's amazing assistant) and Alli

So, back to work - we finished up the show and headed back to the hotel, ate some dinner, slept a couple of hours and then went back at 9pm for a 1-3am show.  During that show Mally did her own before-and-after pic for the first time in her time with QVC which made the models really happy ~

We headed back to the hotel around 3:30am and conked out til it was time to get up, grab some breakfast (in bed no less!) and rode over at noon to do a 4-6pm show.  We finished that up, hopped in the van and drove back to NYC. 

Albee and I ready to get in the van after the last show

All in all, every single person on Mally's team (from the top down) works really hard to give you a great show, do amazing makeup and truly values their customers - it was super special and I hope I get to go back!


The Beauty-Food Connection

In case we don't know one another well you should know that I am not a vegetarian.  Or a vegan.  I am from Texas and I enjoy a good steak now and again and eat chicken a lot.  And I can devour an entire bowl of Velveeta mixed with Rotel all by myself.  However, I read an article in the magazine Beauty From the Inside Out called "The Beauty-Food Connection" by Navin Geria and I thought it was full of really good info.  Here are some excerpts:

"Today's beauty food formulas generally address four areas:  skin, hair, nails and general well-being.  In skin care, specific benefits include repair, rebuild, prevention, sun protection, firmness and pigmentation.  For hair, the benefits include manage-ability, growth, restoration, nourishment and volumizing.  For nails, the key benefit is strengthening.

Ginger Root

You can fight inflammation with melatonin, which is found in cherries, bananas, tomatoes, rice bran and ginger.  Antioxidants help to scavenge damaging free radicals and fight skin inflammation that is visible as acne, redness and irritation.  Nails and hair can be strengthened with biotin found in eggs, peanut butter, oats and liver.  A biotin deficiency causes hair to become dry and brittle, which could contribute to hair loss or thinning hair.

Sun damage may be prevented, in part, with resveratrol, which is found in grapes, blueberries and red wine.  Resveratrol slows the breakdown of collagen.  Damaged skin may be repaired with vitamins C and E, which are found in kiwi, citrus fruits, wheat germ oil, nuts, leafy greens and broccoli.  Vitamins C and E are powerful together.  Vitamin E helps hydrate skin and also protect against free radical damage, while vitamin C stimulates collagen production.  Both vitamins repair damaged skin cells.

Flax Seeds

Dry skin relief is possible by consuming foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds and salmon.  All add hydration and moisture to skin cells from within.  Skin redness may be reduced by eating cucumbers, which are high in silica and zinc - which can also be found in almonds, chickpeas and shellfish.  Zinc is essential for skin injury repair.  Consumers with oily skin or acne should eat foods high in vitamin A and zinc, which help reduce oil production and the swelling associated with blemishes.  Less oil production contributes to less pore clogging.  Furthermore, a probiotic diet helps fight inflammation and reduce acne.

Goji Berries

Fine wrinkles may be reduced by eating cucumbers and other high water-content foods.  These foods penetrate cells better than water alone by helping strengthen the cell membrane, which plumps skin cells and helps reduce fine wrinkles.  Tone and texture may be improved by consuming fruits like apple, goji berry, grape seed extract and vitamin C-rich foods.  All of them prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin.  Nourishing ingredients like lutein and CoQ10 help boost levels of skin lipids that keep the skin hydrated.  Lycopene, vitamin E and selenium work synergistically to combat rough, dry skin and even-out skin tone."

Other foods Mr. Geria rec's:

Black Currants - helps with skin elastin
Grapes - antioxidants
Broccoli/Dark Green Veggies - slows skin wrinkling
Coffee Berry - prevents and repairs free radical damage as well as combats the signs of photoaging
Kiwi - total anti-ager
Lucama (South American fruit) - superior healing and skin repairing benefits
Mangosteen - gives a healthy complexion
Soy - promotes collagen production and elastin repair, decreases hyperpigmentation and inhibits hair growth
Green tea - helps with sunburns

So I guess we can put aside the Nachos Supreme for a night - I don't think that they help repair your skin or slow any wrinkling :).