Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sparse Eyebrows

SPARSE BROWS affect the majority of women. Even those with fuller, thicker brows have to contend with sparse areas. The fix is easy and there are several options: the quickest fix is to shade those sparse areas in with pigment. Whether using an eyebrow shadow, a brow pencil,  a tinted wax or a mousse, you have plenty of options. 

Brow-growth serums like "Revitabrow" work well, but need to be used consistently. What serum do I personally use? I condition my brows daily with my own natural, non-chemical cocktail of various oils, including Castor (yes, it works). Another option which works amazingly well is "Latisse", available by prescription. 

Lastly, for those with little to no brows, you may want to consider Permanent Make-up to render your brows permanently shaded. Message me with questions regarding your sparse brows. There's a fix, I promise you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

RETINOIDS & RETINOLS: the only youth cream you'll ever need


Without fail, the question that women want answers to the most pertains to the elusive youth serum. Does it exist? Is there a magic potion that can reverse the signs of aging? Is the term "anti aging" an urban myth?  

Of all the skin care products on the market, and trust me there are thousands, RETINOIDS are, by far, the Big Kahuna in the fountain-of-youth arena.  


I can always tell when a woman over 40 is using a Retinoid. Her skin possesses a distinctive luminosity and smooth-as-silk texture that resembles dewy porcelain. You just can't get that texture with OTC creams. 

WHAT ARE THEY?
Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin-A (Retinoic Acid in it's pure form). It's a rock-star for skin, stimulating collagen production to plump-up the skin, heal the skin of fine lines, fade acne scars as well as reduce hyper-pigmentation. Retinoids help with clogged pores (by assisting the follicle in extracting oil) and assists in eradicating acne, not to mention creating an impossibly smooth skin-texture. But the reason I bow-down to the skin-Gods everyday is because of Retinoid's ability to RESTORE. Retinoic Acid penetrates deep within the Mitochondria of the skin cell, causing it to CHANGE and RENEW. Amazing? Indeed. Revolutionary? Not at all. Retinoids have been around for decades, yet women (and men alike) still search for the latest-and-greatest products that will work miracles in renewing their skin; searching and searching, like Dorothy, for something that has actually been under their noses all along.


STAY AWAY FROM THE SUN?
Retinoids not only boost collagen production, but they have the potential to stop photo-aging BEFORE it even begins. They also prevent the rise of Collagenase which is the enzyme that breaks down Collagen after UV exposure. So staying out of the sun is a misconception. The skin REQUIRES protection from the sun's UV exposure, regardless of Retinoid use, therefore, as long as you protect it with a Paraben-free high-quality "broad spectrum" SPF (preferably 50), feel free to go out and enjoy the sunshine (in moderation).

RETINOIDS ARE ROCK STARS FOR SKIN!
I believe that Retinoids aren't mainstream due to their reputation: "Upon use, the skin perpetually peels like an onion, glows red like a tomato, dries-up like a raisin and is forbidden from sun exposure....not to mention, they're expensive!" Is that true? Well, it's partially true. Yes, the skin will go through a transitional period called "Retinoid dermatitis". This will last until the skin acclimates itself to the cellular changes whilst using vitamin-A derivatives. This change, however, (which includes peeling, redness, dryness and sensitivity), should only last for the first few weeks until the skin adapts. Have you ever worked your muscles to the sore-point, at the gym, only to find out that after subsequent work-outs, your muscles are no longer sore? The same theory applies to the skin's reaction to Retinoids....it adapts.

So what's my recommendation? PUSH THROUGH the dry, flaky stage and envision the luminous new-skin that is yet to come. 

NOT ALL RETINOIDS ARE THE SAME
There are three different types of Retinoids on the market: 1. Tretinoin (brands include Atralin, Avita, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova), 
2. Tazarotene (brands include Avage & Tazorac), and 3. Adapalene (known as Differin). Tazarotene is the stronger of the three (and potentially more irritating). Tretinoin is the second strongest and the more popular of the three, in my opinion. Adapalene is the gentlest of them all.  


WHAT EXACTLY DO THEY DO?
Based on their level of concentration, as well as your skin's specific needs, your doctor can prescribe the best version for you, whether it's an OTC Rx Skincare line like Dr Brandt or Obagi, or a prescription cream; Retin-A and Renova (Tretonin) are probably the most well known. Retinoids --and their cousin RETINOLS-- are the quintessential youth cream with the ability to actually CHANGE your skin, significantly improving its texture, tone and appearance. Retinoic acid is the magic ingredient that fights visible aging, nothing else can transform skin like it...NOTHING. They actually improve the cellular function of aged, damaged skin, and it does so at the MOLECULAR level; you can't get that with 
non-vitamin A serums and moisturizers alone. The super ingredient in Retinoids is RETINOIC ACID, which actually changes the DNA of skin cells.....AMEN to that!

RETINOIDS VS. RETINOLS
So what's the difference between RETINOIDS & RETINOLS?  Retinols are purchased over the counter, OTC, (as seen in drugstore brands such as Olay, Roc and La Roche-Posay), and are a good gateway Retinoid. 


Retinol slowly converts to Retinoic acid OVER TIME, which is the active ingredient in prescription Retinoid creams.This process of conversion takes much longer than if using a prescription right off the bat, however, for those with sensitive skin or for those leaning into Retinoids for the first time, an OTC Retinol is a good starting point. They have a much lower concentration of active ingredients, which will limit the amount of irritation to the skin. An OTC Retinol will smooth wrinkles and fade blotches over a period of 12 months or so. After a year of Retinol use, your skin may be ready for a stronger prescription Retinoid. 

The skin converts OTC Retinols into Retinoic acid at the cellular level; this conversion process takes time, however biochemically it does exactly the same thing as a prescription Retinoid, it just takes much longer to see results.

Regardless of sensitivity however, if your skin has never been exposed to Retinoic Acid, start with an OTC Retinol; I recommend starting with one labeled "sensitive skin" OR, use a Pro-Retinol which has the weakest ingredients of them all. Pro-Retinols include Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, and Retinyl Linoleate, and is a great starting point or gateway Retinol, so look for OTC products with these ingredients listed.

Retinoids are the most potent, and are by prescription only. They reduce the appearance of large pores and they aggressively pull away dead skin from the surface to reveal renewed skin that is smooth and luminous. A little goes a long way, so a pea size amount spread out in a thin layer is ALL you need. More is NOT more effective when it comes to Retinoic acid, more is simply more IRRITATING.

To re-cap, the order of Retinoid use for virgin skin should begin with Pro-Retinols first, Retinols second, then finally prescription Retinoids (which come in varying levels of strength) last. I recommend transitioning over to the stronger concentration, of each category, every 12 weeks or so, to give the skin time to adjust.

DOES WET SKIN ABSORB THE PRODUCT BETTER?
I have clients that use Retinoids on wet skin, as recommended by their doctor. However, applying a Retinoid to damp skin does not maximize its potency. The application process does not dictate how much of the Retinol gets converted into Retinoic acid, it has to do with your body chemistry's Retinoid receptors. Applying the product on damp (or dry) skin is fine, just be aware that it will have no bearing on the depth of absorption.

SKIN NEEDS TIME
Skin cells need time to acclimate themselves to change, so using a low-level Retinol 2-3 times per week affords the skin time to get acclimated to the Retinoic acid. Build up your use every few weeks until your skin can tolerate the product everyday. Consistency is key, so once you commit to a Pro-Retinol, Retinol or Retinoid, stick with it. Work your way up, every 12 weeks, to a stronger version until you have graduated to a full-on prescription Retinoid (which come in varying levels of strength as well). 

BUT I CAN'T AFFORD IT!
If you think you can't afford prescription Retinoids, think again. Insurance coverage of a prescription Retinoid, like Retin-A, varies by plan. A 20-gram tube will cost about $75. However, generic Tretinoin costs about $40, definitely doable for a product guaranteed to work. For now, only Tretinoin is available in a generic version. Drugstore Retinol products are obviously even less expensive. Look for ones with 0.1 percent Retinol packaged in aluminum tubes (aluminum protects  the product from air and light and will maintain its potency).

Once you graduate to a Retinoid, I recommend switching to the next, more concentrated level, every 12 MONTHS. After a year, the percentage of Retinoic acid you are using will hit its limit of repair and cannot move beyond a certain repair point, unless you move to a higher concentration. 
Retinoic acid manipulates and changes the skin cells and it stimulates collagen production, ultimately improving the texture and tone of the skin. The longer you use it, the better your skin will look, so be patient. 

DOES RETINOIC ACID EXFOLIATE MY SKIN?
Although there is typically peeling, dryness and redness associated wth the initial use of Retinols and Retinoids, that is merely a side effect of the irritation. Skin cells turn over at an excellerated and aggressive pace whilst using a Retinoic acid product, therefore, there is no need to exfoliate your face with chemical or mechanical exfoliants. Retinoic acid does NOT exfoliate like a Glycolic acid, it penetrates the dermis much more profoundly. The peeling you get with Retinoid use occurs upon initial use; it's a side affect associated with the sudden change in cellular manipulation. This peeling-stage is certainly not why the skin starts to look better, but rather, it's why most people give up Retinoid use in the first place. Therefore, as I mentioned earlier, give your skin time to get acclimated; only use a pea-sized amount on the skin, spread it out in a thin layer and do not forget about the area under the eyes. Retinoids repair the under-eye skin beautifully, just keep the product away from the eyes. The redness and peeling will subside eventually, I promise. The reason why the irritation occurs to begin with, is because Retinoids work at an incredibly profound level, much more so than any other skin care product you will ever use. The advantage is that they manipulate gene expression and cause enhanced collagen production, which results in ├╝ber-smooth skin and an impossibly even skin tone. It's truly remarkable

Retinols and Retinoids are truly a wonder in the advancement of skin care. Over 40 years of research has proven that Retinoic acid works, so what are you waiting for? Stop searching for the fountain of youth and start researching what derivative of vitamin-A will work best for your skin. Consult with your skin-care professional to determine your skin's specific needs. Or contact me, I'll be happy to steer you in the right direction. 

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--CIAO FOR NOW xoxo