Why You Should Wash Your Face with a Cleanser Instead of Soap

 

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We have all, at some point, felt frustrated with the condition of our skin. Dry, flaky, sensitive, too oily, prone to breakouts. Sound familiar?

The interesting fact is that your skin’s health is directly linked to the balance between acidity and alkalinity, which is measured by the pH scale.1

All soaps, lotions, cleansers, and other skin care products have an effect on the pH level of your skin.

How Does pH work?

The pH level of a substance is measured on a scale of 0 to 14: 0 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline, and 7 is neutral, which is the pH of pure water.

The surface of normal adult skin is coated with a combination of sebum, skin’s natural oil, and perspiration. This coating is referred to as the acid mantle, which protects the skin and locks in moisture.2 Normal adult skin is slightly acidic with a pH level in the range of 5.4 – 5.9.1

There is a delicate balance with skin’s pH – when the pH is too alkaline, the skin becomes dry and very sensitive, which may lead to signs of skin aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.3

What is the pH Level of my Skin?

Normally you can quite easily determine the pH level of your skin, by taking a look at the behavior of your skin. For instance, if your skin is oily and acne-prone it may be overly acidic. If it tends to be dry, sensitive and flaky, it may be too alkaline.

You can buy pH testing strips at your favorite drugstore to test in the comfort of your home. An alternative would be to consult your skin care physician to get a more accurate reading.

So Why Cleanser Instead of Soap?

Soap has a general pH level of between 9 and 10, which can make your skin feel very clean, but is just way too harsh. It removes all natural oils from your skin making the pH level too alkaline.1 This can cause a host of new problems – the skin becomes dry, flaky, and prone to inflammation. This can cause the sebaceous glands to overproduce oil to compensate for the dryness causing clogged pores and breakouts.3 When skin is overly dry and flaky, it can also lead to premature fine lines and wrinkles.

Cleansers are generally at a much lower pH level than soaps and are gentler on your skin

Bottom Line

Avoid harsh soaps on your face, such as bar soaps, which have an alkalinity level between 9 and 10. Use facial cleansers, which have a lower pH level and are specifically designed to cleanse the face.

And on a separate (but important) note: eat a healthy, balanced diet to regulate the pH level of your body.4 Avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fruits and veggies, which will help keep your skin glowing and radiant!

Does Sunscreen Really Protect You?

Getting a little sunshine is important for helping our bodies generate Vitamin D, an important supplement for strong bones, and for regulating our levels of serotonin and tryptamine, neurotransmitters that keep our moods and sleep/wake cycles in order. Like anything, though, too much sun can cause health issues, from sunburns to skin cancer. For those of us who spend more time in the sun than doctors recommend—they suggest staying indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on sunny days to be safe—sunscreens can be lifesavers.

Good Sunscreens Can Help Prevent Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Getting too much sun is bad because of ultraviolet radiation, 90 percent of which comes in the form of Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that are not absorbed by the ozone layerand penetrate deep into our skin. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays make up the rest. UVB rays are partially absorbed by the ozone layer, which makes preserving the ozone layer crucial for our health. And because UVB rays don’t penetrate our skin as deeply, they can cause those sunburns. Both types of UV rays are thought to cause skin cancer.

Yet while most sunscreens block out at least some UVB radiation, many don’t screen UVA rays at all, making their use risky. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), by far most of the commercially available sunscreens do not provide adequate protection against the sun’s harmful UV radiation and may also contain chemicals with questionable safety records.

 

Many Popular Sunscreens Contain Harmful Chemicals

In all, 84 percent of the 831 sunscreens EWG tested were flagged. Many contained potentially harmful chemicals such as benzophenone, homosalate and octyl methoxycinnamate (also called octinoxate), which are known to mimic naturally occurring hormones and can throw the body’s systems out of whack. Some also contained Padimate-0 and parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone), which are suspected of causing DNA damage when exposed to sunlight. It is important to understand that these chemicals may be harmful at high concentration or when ingested, but may be safe when used the way sunscreen should. Perhaps EWG’s most important finding is that more than half the sunscreens on the market make questionable product claims about longevity, water resistance and UV protection.

EWG has called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to establish standards for labeling so consumers have a better idea of what they may be buying. In the meantime, consumers looking to find out how their preferred brand stacks up can check out EWG’s online Skin Deep database, which compares thousands of health and beauty products against environmental and human health standards.

Safer Sunscreens are Now Available

The good news is that many companies are now introducing safer sunscreens crafted from plant- and mineral-based ingredients and without chemical additives. Some of the best, according to Skin Deep, are:

  • Alba Botanica Sun’s Fragrance-Free Mineral Sunscreen
  • Avalon Baby’s Sunscreen
  • Badger’s SPF 30 Sunscreen
  • Burt’s Bees’ Chemical-Free Sunscreen
  • California Baby’s
  • Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Moisturizer
  • Kabana’s Green Screen.

The Pros and Cons of HydraFacial: Does It Really Beat the Competition?

Find out how HydraFacial stacks up to other non-invasive facial treatments, including microdermabrasion, chemical peels, photofacials, and more.

There’s no denying that medical spa treatments can go a long way in beautifying your skin, from reducing fine lines and wrinkles to improving acne and rosacea.

One of the latest non-invasive facials on the market is HydraFacial — a treatment that claims to be “the most effective type of facial you can get.” How does HydraFacial stack up to other tried-and-true facial treatments? Let’s take a look.

What is the HydraFacial?

To perform a HydraFacial, estheticians use a proprietary machine — the HydraFacial MD by Edge Systems — to perform four distinctive facial rejuvenation procedures in one single treatment.

This multi-step treatment cleanses, exfoliates, and extracts dead cells. It then rejuvenates the skin by applying a serum infused with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid.

It’s mainly used to address the following concerns:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Dark spots
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Clogged pores
  • Enlarged pores
  • Mild acne
  • Oily skin

How does the device work? HydraFacial employs a unique, spiral suction tip that dislodges impurities and delivers the serum deep into the pores by opening them up during the treatment.

This painless in-office procedure promises to deliver immediate, long-term results for people of all skin types, with absolutely no downtime.

Although some people experience slight tightness and redness for about an hour or so following the treatment, the side effects and risks of HydraFacial are minimal across the board.

HydraFacial vs. microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an abrasive instrument to gently sand the skin in order to remove the thick, outer layer. The most common microdermabrasion devices — such as DermaSweep — seal in the treatment with serum infusions that leave skin feeling softer, smoother, and more radiant.

HydraFacial is sometimes referred to as “hydradermabrasion” as it is quite similar to the microdermabrasion treatments performed by your dermatologist.

However, unlike the manual extractions performed through sanding in microdermabrasion, HydraFacial uses a vacuum tip to deeply cleanse and remove impurities. As such the HydraFacial method is considered to be gentler and more effective.

Deciding to go with HydraFacial or microdermabrasion comes down to your own particular skin concerns.

One benefit of microdermabrasion over hydradermabrasion is that it has been proven to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. If that’s one of your main concerns when shopping around for a non-invasive skin treatment, you’ll want to give microdermabrasion a few extra points.

With that being said, microdermabrasion is known for tampering with the skin’s color balance, and may leave behind lighter or darker spots. At the same time, HydraFacial promises to leave behind smooth, even skin immediately.

Best for: Microdermabrasion is recommended for those with stretch marks who are not overly concerned with treating dark spots and color imbalances in the skin. It may not be a good choice for those with active rosacea, fragile capillaries, warts, open sores, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

HydraFacial vs. microneedling

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is one of the most popular non-invasive skin rejuvenation treatments. The process helps rejuvenate the skin using many tiny needles that pierce the outermost layer, which forces the skin to produce more collagen. The result is smoother, plumper skin.

The primary drawback of microneedling is that it could cause scarring and comes with a higher risk of infection.

Whether performed by a dermatologist or using an at-home treatment, larger needle sizes and bent needles can cause irreparable scarring and present a low, albeit present, risk of infection.

With that being said, microneedling is certainly a good option for people with certain skin issues, namely scarring. According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, nearly all microneedling subjects reported a “marked improvement” in the appearance of scars, with no permanent or adverse side effects.

If your primary concern is the reduction of acne scars and loose skin, then microneedling is an excellent option.

While microneedling shouldn’t be too painful, many patients do report some discomfort during and after treatment. If you have a low tolerance for pain, then HydraFacial is definitely the way to go.

Best for: Microneedling is a good option over HydraFacial for those who have deep, permanent acne scars and other facial scarring, and is recommended for all skin tones. It is not a good choice for those who are at a higher risk of infection or have a low tolerance for pain or needles.

HydraFacial vs. chemical peels

Both HydraFacial and chemical peels work by removing dead skin cells. Chemical peels come in varying levels, ranging from superficial peels to deep peels, all of which are designed to cause the skin to exfoliate and peel away.

These treatments employ acids — salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, and others — to correct fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, freckles, and shallow scars.

Chemical peels can be super-effective, but they’re not for everyone. Due to the acids used, they are not recommended for those with certain skin disorders.

Furthermore, chemical peels have been shown to be more effective in those with lighter skin tones, whereas HydraFacial is recommended for people of any skin tone.

You’ll need to avoid chemical peels if you are nursing, pregnant, or have eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, or psoriasis. On the other hand, HydraFacial can be used by people with hyper-sensitive skin, and is actually recommended for treating rosacea and dry, peeling skin.

Best for: Chemical peels are good for patients with wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and other skin concerns who do not have sensitive skin, a darker skin tone, or skin disorders. Those with sensitive skin, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, and other disorders should not undergo chemical peels.

HydraFacial vs. IPL photofacial

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a photo-rejuvenation cosmetic skin procedure that employs laser-like pulses of non-coherent light to fix sun spots, age spots, blotches, large pores, and many other common skin conditions.

These lights penetrate deep into the skin and cause the collagen and blood vessels to constrict, which helps to reduce the appearance of redness and age lines.

Although considered effective, IPL treatments do have some drawbacks. For one, they don’t work on all discolorations. Deeper discolorations — such as deep freckles and age spots — are often better treated with microdermabrasion and other skin lightening techniques.

The IPL photofacial is often recommended for people with delicate skin disorders or issues such as rosacea, and is considered to be a relatively gentle treatment.

It’s also popular for its quick, minimally invasive appeal. Patients can receive a photofacial treatment in 30 minutes or less, and can resume their regular activities immediately following the procedure — including driving themselves home from the treatment.

However, those who have had IPL facials do report that the side effects — especially redness, enlarged pores, and the appearance of aged skin — can linger for several weeks following treatment. Some people also report that the treatment affected their teeth that had fillings, causing discomfort similar to chewing on tinfoil.

Best for: The IPL photofacial is a good choice for those with surface discolorations, rosacea, and other skin issues. It is not recommended for those who have darker skin tones, those with deeper wrinkles and scarring, or those who are taking Accutane. IPL treatments are also not a good choice for people with severe cases of acne or rosacea, or women who are pregnant.

How much does HydraFacial cost?

As with any cosmetic procedure, costs can widely vary depending on where you live, the experience of the person performing the procedure, and the extent to which you need treatment.

As a general rule of thumb, HydraFacials cost anywhere between $150 and $300 per treatment.

To compare, microdermabrasion usually ring up for a bit less, at approximately $75 to $200 per session. These two options are considered some of the more affordable minimally invasive skin treatments on the market.

Microneedling is one of the more expensive non-invasive skincare treatments available, with treatments costing upwards of $500 per treatment.

Although chemical peels can be affordable, their cost depends on many different factors. Surface treatments can go for as little as $150 per peel, while deep and extensive options can cost you as much as $6,000. You’ll find that the IPL photofacial comes with a mid-range cost of approximately $400 per treatment.

While cost is undeniably a factor for most, it is important to choose a treatment that will provide you with the results that you are looking for. Understanding the options available, and how each one will impact your problem areas, is crucial when it comes to reaching you aesthetic goals.

5 Reasons to Trade in Your Favorite Cleanser for Micellar Water

Just call it the minimalist’s skin cure-all.

 

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STEPHANIA STANLEY

 

While the latest it beauty regimens will leave you lasered, covered in honey, and literally freezing in a negative 264-degree chamber, the next big thing in beauty is decidedly much more low-key—as in cleansing your face with nothing but water-type low-key.

These days, skincare is stripping down to the basics with micellar water—a non-rinse, soap-free cleanser that originated in France before gaining momentum around the globe. Pronounced me-sell-air, this water contains microscopic micelle molecules that lift waterproof makeup, oil, and other impurities from the skin with the swipe of a cotton pad, making it a powerful yet gentle cleansing alternative to harsh face wipes or alcohol-based toners and astringents. Here, meet Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, and learn the five beauty benefits of this one-step wonder.

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STEPHANIA STANLEY

1. Removes Makeup Effectively

Micelle molecules are fatty, and following the oil-attracts-oil principle, micellar water acts a magnet in picking up stubborn sebum and dissolving away dirt and long-wear makeup. There’s no oily, tingly, or tightening effect—just a fresh, clean feeling.

2. Hydrates and Nourishes Skin

Without soap, alcohol, or other harsh chemicals and detergents to dry out the skin, micellar water conveniently leaves your face feeling hydrated with a glowy, dewy finish.

3. Benefits All Skin Types

Formulated originally for Parisian women as an alternative to cleansing with the region’s harsh water, micellar water is mild, non-irritating, and perfectly suitable for use on even the most sensitive skin. So go ahead and splash away from forehead to chin.

4. Helps Keep Skin Clear

Though there are formulas for blemish-prone skin, the cleansing agents in all micellar waters naturally clear skin of sebum and wax-based substances, which cause breakouts. And because you don’t need to use a wash cloth, there’s no rubbing to cause redness or irritation.

5. Travels Well

Because micellar water nixes the need for makeup remover, cleansers, and toners, its practicality is never more appreciated than when you’re in a rush or on the go. No running water readily available on a photo shoot, flight, or camping ground? No problem.

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STEPHANIA STANLEY

PROPER SKIN CARE FOR THE CHANGING WEATHER

The change in seasons can be stressful on your skin, especially when warm, humid months turn into cold and windy weather. Once the temperature starts to get cold, you should also start changing your skin care routine.

The dry, cold air can affect your skin, making it dry and blotchy. This transition commonly makes your skin look dull, and for some, it can even cause skin irritation and blemishes in different areas of their body.

To change your skin care routine in time for the cold weather, read this detailed guide below:

1. Use a hydrating facial moisturizer every night.

The cold breeze can make skin dry and prone to irritation. To replenish your skin’s lost moisture, apply a hydrating facial moisturizer before you go to sleep. This helps your skin repair itself overnight, preventing premature skin aging. Use moisturizers with ingredients like vitamin E and alpha hydroxy acid that can help heal and relieve dry skin.

2. Switch to a mild, moisturizing body soap.

Antibacterial body soaps are especially harsh on your skin, stripping it of natural moisture. Your skin can get a lot drier if you keep using antibacterial soap during the cold and windy weather. Choose a mild, fragrance-free moisturizing soap instead.

3. Avoid long, hot baths.

Take shorter showers with lukewarm water instead of very hot water. A long, hot bath may be relaxing, but it also washes away your skin’s natural oils. And after bathing, remember to apply lotion all over your body, especially on the driest parts. This helps lock in your skin’s moisture throughout the day.

4. Choose soft clothing over thick synthetic garments.

Avoid wearing fabrics like spandex or polyester directly against your skin, especially around your neck. Cold weather can make your skin dry and itchy, and the friction from these types of fabric can aggravate skin irritation. So it’s best to wear soft cotton shirts, blouses, and sweaters instead.

5. Don’t forget to moisturize your hands and feet.

Skin on your hands and feet are very vulnerable to the cold weather, so don’t forget to apply moisturizing lotion on them too. Dry skin on hands and feet can get itchy, and at worst, can be painful if your skin starts to crack. To help seal in moisture, apply lotion after taking a bath. The skin absorbs nourishing ingredients faster when it’s still damp and soft.

Practice proper skin care to prevent skin irritation! Now that you know these useful tips, you can change up your skin care routine to adapt to the cold weather.

6 Amazing Reasons to Sleep for Skin Health.

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Get your beauty sleep! The ZZZs you catch every night can have a profound impact on your skin health. Here’s how.

 

A good night’s sleep can mean good skin health because when you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased stress and inflammation in the body, hurting your skin’s quality.

But the relationship between skin health and lack of quality sleep can be a vicious cycle, especially with conditions like atopic dermatitis or eczema, which can lead to scratching even through the night, recent research published in the journal Clinics in Dermatology showed.

“Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis,” explains Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York. This can result in increased itching, which can disrupt sleep. As the vicious cycle continues, skin conditions and sleep quality can increasingly worsen together. In contrast, skin conditions and sleep quality can also improve together. Getting a good night’s sleep will help to clear up skin, which allows sleep to improve and, in turn, will improve skin health.”

Need more convincing? Here are six reasons why not getting enough sleep detracts from skin health and your health in general:

  1. Not enough sleep worsens existing skin conditions. Increased inflammatory response shows up as increased acne breakouts, increased skin sensitivity, increased allergic contact dermatitis reactions, and increased irritant dermatitis — and more severe conditions mean more treatment and skin care.
  2. Not enough sleep detracts from your skin’s natural beauty. Increased inflammatory cells in the body lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, the molecules that give the skin its glow, bounce, and translucency.
  3. Not enough sleep makes immune-related skin problems worse. Increased inflammation in the body throws off the body’s ability to regulate the immune system, which leads not only to getting sick more often, but also to flares of immune-related skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. Psoriasis is not just a skin disease; it’s also an indicator of body inflammation. “Many people with severe psoriasis actually have an increased risk for heart attacks, which is even more reason to keep stress low and get good quality sleep,” Dr. Krant says.
  4. Not enough sleep results in less beauty. While you’re sleeping, the body’s hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles.
  5. Not enough sleep accelerates the aging process. During deep sleep, the rise in growth hormones allows damaged cells to become repaired. Without the deeper phases of sleep, this won’t occur, allowing daily small breakdowns to accumulate instead of being reversed overnight. This results in more noticeable signs of aging.
  6. Not enough sleep contributes to weight gain. Sleep also helps with weight management, which is good for your skin. Sleep makes you feel less hungry, Krant explains — recent studies have linked sleep deprivation to excess snacking and calorie consumption.

Getting a Good Night’s Rest

Here are tips from Krant for getting good sleep and better skin health:

  • Don’t eat a big meal too late in the day.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but not late at night.
  • Sleep under a warm blanket in a cool, dark, quiet room.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Use breathable cotton sheets and wash them regularly, so they don’t collect dust mites and bacteria.
  • Use laundry detergents that don’t have strong fragrances, which can be irritating to skin.

Getting your beauty sleep isn’t an old cliché — it’s a must for having skin that glows.