Hormones & Your Skin.

Hormones are responsible for a great many things in our bodies. I do not envy them even one little bit. They are a contributing factor to many processes in our bodies & can visibly impact our skin, hair & even our waistlines fairly significantly.

Nothing can make you feel quite so young, or awkward, as a nice, inflamed blind pimple on your chin. Even in my 40’s I find myself {finally!} resisting the urge to try to extract these dreaded beasts. Weren’t we supposed be done with zits as we left our teens? Sadly, no. Our hormones continue to fluctuate throughout our cycles & the aftermath is as unpredictable as our monthly mood swings. What’s a girl to do?

W H A T ‘ S T H E D E A L W I T H H O R M O N E S ? |So we all, men & women, have male & female hormones. For men there is a higher concentration of male hormones {androgens}, like testosterone, while women have more of the female hormones of which estrogen & progesterone are the main two. Sometimes through different causes these hormones can become out of whack. Higher levels of testosterone in women can result in those irritating breakouts on our chins & jawlines & in male-pattern hair growth ~ those dark hairs that show up on our upper lips and chins virtually overnight. Hormonal Acne may also appear on your scalp, back or chest. Hormonal acne tends to be deeper cystic type acne that does not usually ‘come to a head’. They become quite inflamed, prominent & painful, & appear most often on the outer sides of the chin & along the jawline. They can take a number of weeks to heal, & often leave behind some post-inflammatory pigmentation, which can be rectified using the same techniques as when treating Chloasma. {See below.}

Hormones can also cause pigment changes in the skin. Chloasma, sometimes called the ‘Pregnancy Mask’, is an overproduction of pigment usually found in certain areas of the face. The upper lip or even all the way around the mouth, &/or across the nose & cheeks. Pregnancy hormones are the usual trigger, or the use of contraceptive medications. Pigmentation outside of this pattern is usually related to sun exposure & is called Melasma. Although, sun exposure will darken Chloasma.

W H A T C A U S E S T H E S E F L U C T U A T I O N S ? | Although our hormone levels naturally rise & drop for the duration of our monthly cycle, diet can also play a huge part. Some foods contain artificial hormones or hormones from other animals that can affect our own levels. I’ve also recently learned, while researching PCOS {Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome}, that elevated insulin levels can incite a spike in testosterone levels. As was discussed in the last blog post, a diet that is mostly fresh, Whole Foods {that are low GI} is best & we should look for hormone free proteins.

Medications & certain conditions, including stress, can also affect our hormone levels. There are too many conditions of the reproductive system to list here that may contribute & because our thyroid gland is where a lot of our hormones are produced any kind of thyroid imbalance could also play a part.

H O W C A N W E T R E A T T H I S ? |From a SkinCare perspective there is really nothing we can do to stop the breakouts {or those pesky, little hairs}. Even those who {like me} are skincare-obsessed are blesssed with their presence regularly. Maintaining appropriate cleansing & moisturizing, exfoliating regularly & using a salicylic acid spot treatment will help to heal them more quickly. Visit your esthetician for a treatment that includes some High Frequency ‘Zapping’ or blue LED Light Therapy can help to speed the healing process also. For scalp, back & chest acne be sure that you are washing well after excessive sweating, but also bear in mind cleansing too much can strip the skin of natural oils which triggers the skin to produce larger amounts of oil, which may then get trapped in the pore & become a breakout. Washing your hair too often may increase the oiliness of your scalp. {This can be corrected by temporarily enduring some slightly oilier days to spread your washes out some. After about two weeks your scalp will know it doesn’t have to produce the extra oil.} Another possibility may be over-use of Dry Shampoos. Although super handy on what should have been wash day {Hey, sometimes washing & styling my hair seems like a chore I’m just not prepared for} they may cause blocking of the follicles, which could lead to a breakout.

Chloasma or Melasma are treated by introducing ingredients into your skincare that inhibit melanin production {or, more specifically, who inhibit the production of the hormone that tells the melanocytes to produce melanin}. I prefer to steer clear of Hydroquinone & Kojic Acid as prolonged use of Hydroquinone has been linked with cancer & Kojic Acid has been seen to cause irritation or sensitivity in the skin & results are not lasting if you discontinue use. Increased exfoliation in the way of professional peels or microdermabrasion will bring the pigmented cells to the surface more quickly. I am excited to say that Circadia’s SWiCH Dermal Rejuvenation Treatment is successfully treating pigmentation for a number of my clients, myself included. As is the Oxygen Rx. The ultimate Pigmentation Treatment Protocol alternates these two at two week intervals. The results are remarkable within a 2-3 months, along with appropriate home care that targets pigmentation. The SWiCH Treatment optimizes new cell production in the lowest parts of the epidermis, driving those pigmented cells to the surface where they slough away. Fresh, unpigmented cells move in to replace them. Often times, pigmentation will appear to be darker as we treat it. This is a great sign! It means those dead cells at the surface that were softening the look of the pigmentation have been removed & that those deeper pigmented cells are arriving at the surface to be whisked away.

E S T H E T I C I A N ‘ S A D V I C E| My advice would be to to have a conversation with your doctor. Request to have your hormone &/or thyroid levels checked. Discuss how your medications could be affecting your hormones. Talk to a Nutritionist or Dietician & perhaps consider making changes to your diet. Look for ways to reduce your stress levels ~ introduce some exercise, try a facial treatment or massage to unwind, or just do your most favorite thing.

In the case of Chloasma, I find it is best to treat after pregnancy, when breastfeeding is complete, to ensure that the hormones are not still affecting melanin production. Otherwise, as quickly as we are treating at the surface {& spending time & money on treatments & products} the pigmentation is being produced in the lower levels of the skin. I would continue using SPF diligently so that sun exposure doesn’t exacerbate the darkness of the pigment & use a Vitamin C Serum to help brighten. {The Circadia Vitamin C Reversal Serum also contains Hyaluronic Acid to maintain amazing hydration & Vitamin B5 to strengthen the immune function of the skin.} In the case of contraceptive meds being the possible cause I would discuss options with your doctor.

So did I answer all of your questions about Hormones & your skin? If not, comment your question below & I’ll do my best to answer it. Also, be sure to let me know if there are any other skincare or beauty related subjects you’d like me to cover!

Committing to Healthy, Glowing Skin.

G r e a t s k i n does not come from o n e f a c i a l. Just like a g r e a t b o d y does not come from o n e g y m s e s s i o n.

We all want great skin. We want that dewy, fresh, smooth, bright, even toned skin that that we see in print ads and on our favorite icons. Reese Witherspoon is perfect, right? Miranda Kerr is #skingoals.

Well, besides the fact that it is their actual job to be that intimidatingly, & seemingly effortlessly, beautiful, & that usually what we see is a touched up version of the actual situation {They both have young children. Let’s be real ~ they are not getting full, uninterrupted nights’ sleep}, that dream skin takes fierce commitment & I’m not just talking about drinking water & being sure to remove your make up every night.

Your plan to achieve your ultimate skin takes into account your diet, exercise, sleep schedule, professionally recommended {& monitored} at~home Skin Care Regimen & regular treatments with your trusted esthetician. To achieve the skin we’re talking about all of these factors need to be addressed.

My friend has recently started working out again. He knows that to achieve his goals it takes more than sporadically hitting the gym, it takes commitment to a more healthy diet & lifestyle, & he’ll have to slow his roll on Beer Friday. He’ll need more sleep each night so his body can work, & recover, at it’s optimum & he’ll need to drink significantly more water. It’s a lifestyle change, &, honestly, healthy, glowing skin is a direct reflection of virtually the same healthy choices.

Let’s have a closer look at how these healthy habits impact our skin…

E X E R C I S E | Moving our bodies is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it help us maintain healthy weight, improve heart health & increase our strength & stamina, regular exercise helps our bodies to eliminate toxins. Most obviously through sweat, but also by boosting the process of our Lymphatic Systems.

Our Lymphatic System runs alongside our Circulatory System, but does not have the benefit of a heart to keep the Lymphatic fluid moving. The Lymphatic System relies on our movement to drive toxins to Lymph nodes so they can be moved to the blood stream for elimination. This is why patients in hospitals who are unable to move for long periods are prone to bed sores ~ the lymph pools at the lowest-most areas and the toxins accumulate. Thank goodness for nurses. & hospital staff who turn them regularly! Lymphatic vessels run in one direction, with valves at intervals to prevent Lymphatic fluid from flowing backward. {That’s why Lymphatic Massage is a pulsing motion. It applies pressure to the valves to allow the Lymph to move through the valves.}

Exercise also increases circulation of blood. Blood carries nutrients & oxygen to all cells of the body, including those in our skin. Nourished, oxygenated cells are bright & beautiful & are able to do their specific jobs as they are meant to.

Poor Lymphatic or Circulatory function can result in dull, lackluster skin with possibly a gray undertone. Skin’s with healthy Lymphatic or Circulatory function, glow with health.

D I E T | I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, but there are many irrefutable truths in this world, one of which is: “You are what you eat”. What you choose to put into your body will have a direct impact on how you look & feel. All systems in our bodies rely on us providing the correct nutrients, vitamins & minerals for them to function well. Sadly, much of the food offered these days has had most of it’s goodness processed out. A diet with lots of fresh vegetables & fruits, including leafy greens, citrus & yummy Vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes, healthy protein & fats is vital for skin health.

Foods known to be inflammatory, like sugar, dairy & gluten can contribute to skin conditions like acne or rosacea. Limiting these foods could help to improve inflammation in the skin.

Food intolerances & allergies can also impact the skin. I once had a client with severe, red, inflamed acne that was not improving with home care or treatments or avoiding known inflammatory foods. She eventually had an allergy test completed to discover that she was highly allergic to her favorite food – tomatoes! What she thought was a healthy choice, was actually the cause of her issue. She took them out of her diet & eventually healed to the beautiful, clear, even-toned skin she had dreamed of.

Certain medications & more socially accepted ‘drugs’ like caffeine, tobacco & alcohol can also have a detrimental affect on the skin. They are generally dehydrating & can deplete nutrients that allow the skin to perform well. Thankfully, smoking seems to be less fashionable these days. Smoking, among other things, reduces blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen to the cells. This will result in skin that is dull & gray, & unable to function normally.

Not eating a well balanced diet of more whole foods will also affect our digestion & elimination. Poor digestion means that crucial nutrients are not making their way to our skin’s cells. Poor elimination means that waste from our food remains longer in our bodies which leads to the possibility of toxins building up. Not to mention the fact that we just feel blah.

S L E E P | Who amongst us doesn’t enjoy a goodnight’s sleep? To wake up feeling refreshed & rejuvenated is such an amazing feeling! It’s more than just a recharge for our minds & bodies though. The natural cycle of life, otherwise known as Circadian Rhythms {which is what BLOOM’s preferred skincare line, Circadia by Dr Pugliese is based on}, uses the time that we are sleeping to repair & restore our bodies. Cells are cleaned up, old or damaged cells are replaced, muscles are repaired. Bodies that don’t get enough rest perform more sluggishly, because they haven’t had their ‘Catch Up Time’. Blood & Lymph Circulation is reduced – so less nutrients & oxygen are delivered to the skin, & toxins & cellular debris are left to sit longer. It’s also why we get dark circles under our eyes when we are tired. The skin is thinner in the eye area & blood that is not circulating well pools there. Our metabolism rate is decreased meaning energy for new cell production is at a minimum. So, friends, we can say hello to that gray-caste again…

W A T E R | Oh, the pure essence of life! Water makes up about 60% of our body content. That’s huge! Lack of water in our bodies can present in many ways. High blood pressure, headaches, constipation, brain fog {just to name a few} which can all then lead to other issues. Our blood, & lymph, need high water contents to flow readily so they can deliver, & collect, nutrients & waste as they are meant to. All cells of the body need water to function correctly. Cells that produce collagen, cells that generate new skin cells must be well hydrated to produce quality cells. Our skins are the last place that water makes its way to when we consume it, which is why it is so important to be sure to drink ample water & to be sure our skins have adequate oil flow/ nourishment to ensure we can keep as much moisture as possible in!

S K I N C A R E | In past posts I have touched on the importance of proper skin care. What you do at home on a daily basis has the most impact, the same as brushing your teeth on the daily beats a six monthly cleaning at the dentist on it’s own. Skincare is very personalized, & it’s a delicate science. For example, just because you have breakouts, doesn’t always mean you have excess oil & using product for oily skin or breakouts may only make the breakouts worse. It’s important, especially if you are struggling with a particular issue, to consult a professional. Estheticians are trained to understand the skin so that we can find & treat the cause, rather than just treating the symptoms. Professional skin care treatments help to intensify the results & target specific concerns, by using products that are more concentrated with active ingredients – think peels, enzymes, occlusive masks, intensive treatments like Circadia’s SWiCH Dermal Rejuvenation or the Oxygen Rx & even electrical modalities like LED light, microcurrent or high frequency. Facial massage, that’s included in most skin care treatments at BLOOM, is sooo beneficial. Massage increases circulation of blood & lymph, improves muscle tone, relaxes & helps ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively. Skin care treatments also allow us to evaluate how your home care is working for your skin. We may need to tweak or change certain products as your concerns improve or change.

Sometimes, even when we have all of these factors that we can control in alignment, we still experience issues with our skin. Sometimes our skin feels out of control. Breakouts – sometimes in areas other than our faces, unwanted hair & subsequent ingrown hairs, pigmentation. You know where I’m going – Hormones. What do we do when our hormones are wreaking havoc on our skins? Stay tuned – that’s a whole other post!

{Annoying} Consultation Forms & {Equally Annoying & Brightly Lit} Skin Analyses.

Knowledge is like a garden;if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.

As an esthetician, it is my job to understand & treat skin. Skin is my passion. I have spent many, many years absorbing as much knowledge of skin as I can. I will never stop learning, & I don’t want to. Skin care is such an eternally evolving industry, that to stop learning would mean I would no longer be providing the highest quality service & treatment {another passion of mine} to my beloved clients. At that point, I might as well throw in my deliciously hot towel.

Another important component of my work is to pass on this hard earned knowledge to my clients. Educating clients on how their skin works & what it needs to achieve their skin care goals is the reason they come to me. Knowing about ingredients & their benefits, & side effects, is crucial to our success in achieving their dream skin.

Professional Skin Care Treatments are also vital to our success. Understanding the benefits, & contra-indications {reasons someone may not be able to have a certain treatment}, can make all the difference to a successful skincare plan. A results driven treatment/plan is designed for your skin & no one else’s.

So in order to better understand & treat your skin, the most important step in any skin care treatment is collecting information about your skin. Your skin is precious. It is delicate & complex, & it needs to be understood. Your initial consultation will include you completing a form that presents your full skin history. {At subsequent appointments, you will be asked about any changes that may have eventuated since you last visit}. This form will ask questions pertaining to your health, your lifestyle, known allergies & reactions, your likes & dislikes, & what you would like to achieve from this session & beyond. It will ask you how you are looking after your skin at home. It will ask questions about your skin concerns & any issues or conditions you have noticed in your skin in the past or present. These questions are asked so that a comprehensive & safe plan can be created to achieve your goals. Even if you are only interested in relaxing or soaking in some ‘Me Time’, these questions are important. There is nothing less relaxing than an allergic reaction or massage that is too firm or too light. {I know it can seem like too much hard work before a relaxing treatment, but rest assured ~ if your esthetician requests this information, they have your, & your skin’s, very best interests at heart & are passionate & professional about what they do. [I see an amazing treatment in your future!]}

Now you are tucked up in a cozy bed ready to receive your treatment. Your Esthetician will now assess your skin. There will be a bright light. They will touch your skin. They will ask more questions to better understand what they see or feel, or what they have read on your form. Again, this is a good thing. Knowledge is power. Power to create an unforgettable treatment. The more information you can give them ~ the better.

So now your esthetician knows all the intimate details of your skin. They know what they can & cannot use or do during your treatment. They know what your concerns are & where you would like them to focus. They understand your reason for scheduling your treatment. They have a plan of action.

From here I always let my clients know that I will tell them what I am doing & what I am using, & how it will feel if needed, but that they do not need to respond to me. They can just relax, but if they have any questions, or if something doesn’t feel great, to let me know immediately. My client’s comfort is my top priority.

The Difference Between a Skin Type & a Skin Condition

Understanding your skin is the vital first step to treating it correctly

You know what’s the best thing about having your own, personal esthetician? They know your skin. They look at your skin, they analyze it & make a point of understanding it before performing any treatments or recommending any product. They have studied &  have passed exams to prove that they can see & feel the difference between a dry & an oily skin, & even recognize a skin that is dry, but used to be oily. They can recognize & assess evidence of the many & varied skin conditions that can & may be present in or on your skin. The best part of all ~ they know how to assist you in treating those conditions & they LOVE doing it.

I hear myself saying a lot to my clients, “You have to choose products that are suited to you skin type.” When I say this I am referring to their basic products that will maintain the general health of their skin {Cleanser, toner, masks, moisturizer}. By ‘Skin Type’, I am referring to the nature of their skin, dependent on their natural oil flow. Skin Type is predisposed by your genes. You cannot change the nature of your skin type, only work on balancing it. Skin Types are categorized as: Dry Skin, Oily Skin, Combination Skin & Normal Skin.

Dry Skin is Oil dry. It lacks oil & as a result will exhibit an inability to retain hydration {moisture/ water}. Dry Skins often feel tight, a little rough, may have some flaking & irritation or inflammation. The lack of oil can, & often does, lead to a breakdown in the Acid Mantle {the protective function of the skin}, which then leads to their skin feeling sensitized. Their pores are generally small &, overall, their skin has a fine, delicate look to it. These skins require products that will boost their oil. Creamy or oil based cleansers, hydrating, soothing toners & rich, nourishing moisturizers. Appropriate exfoliation is also important.

Oily Skin is overabundant with oil. Oily skins generally retain moisture more efficiently, but depending on how they a treated, can become dehydrated, too. Oily skins age more slowly, because of their ability to hold in moisture, so it important to maintain a healthy amount of oil.  All too often, clients with oily skins feel that the oil is what causes breakouts, & while oil being trapped in the pore is a cause for concern, removing all the oil is not the answer. Removing all oil can lead to dehydration & more oil being produced which is then is more easily trapped. Oily skins know how valuable their oil is & if you take it all away, it’ll just make even more to compensate. Stripping the oil also leads to dehydration, then breakdowns in the Acid Mantle & again, becoming sensitized & possibly experiencing more breakouts! Oily skins have larger pores, are generally thicker & more robust in texture.Oily skins need products that will balance their oil flow without excessively stripping the skin of oil. Gel Cleansers, balancing/ purifying toners and light, possibly oil free, moisturizers to maintain hydration.

Combination skins generally have an oily T zone { an Uppercase T ~ forehead, nose & chin}, with the characteristics of an oily skin in that area. The rest of the face can be normal or even dry.

Normal skins have an even, balanced oil flow all over, with even pore size and texture.

Many assess sensitive skin as a skin type. At this point, we need to understand the difference between sensitive {or what I refer to as Reactive} & sensitized skin. We touched on this briefly in a previous blog post. Sensitized skins have broken down Acid Mantles and will experience burning, itching, redness, inflammation because active ingredients are able to penetrate the skin too deeply. Reactive skins may react by flushing when touched or when using more active products. They may react with Hives or allergic reactions easily. I consider this to be a condition, with the treatment merely being consideration & omission of those things that cause the reaction. I consider skin type to be determined by oil flow. Oily, Combination, Normal & Dry skins all have the possibility of being sensitive.

Ok. So what is a skin condition? A skin condition is a problem or issue associated with the normal function of the skin. They occur in ranges of severity, with different levels of treatment and curability. There are innumerable skin conditions.  They can be chronic or mild, they can be curable or incurable, they can be benign or malignant, they can be treated easily & successfully or they can require intensive treatment programs over long periods of time.

Examples of skin conditions include: dehydration, reactive skin, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, acne, congestion, milla, blackheads, sebaceous filament, couperose, pigmentation, sebaceous hyperplasia, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, fine lines, inflammation, puffiness, carcinoma, melanoma, boils, cystic acne, adult acne, solar keratosis, dermatitis, sensitized skin {compromised Acid Mantle}, telangcitases. The list goes on.

Skin conditions are treated more specifically with targeted treatment products, in-spa treatments, with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, or with medications. The type of exfoliation you incorporate into your routine may also be determined by a skin condition. The treatment course is determined by the actual condition. Some conditions merely require changes in your daily skincare routine in order to be resolved. Some require careful consideration, medical diagnosis & possibly biopsies or surgery.

If you notice something questionable or suspicious ~ if a mark or area of your skin changes if any way {shape, color, depth, texture, sensation} consult your dermatologist immediately. If your esthetician observes something they feel requires more specialized or medical attention they will advise you to consult your dermatologist. Please heed their advice. It is certainly better to be safe, than sorry.


The Magic of Regular Exfoliation


Exfoliation has long been a favorite step of mine in my routine. It instantly smoothes & brightens my skin & I do love to see instant results. So gratifying.

Aside from the very obvious, instant result though there are many other benefits to exfoliating regularly. Every skin type, & most skin conditions, benefit from some level of exfoliation.

So what does exfoliation do? The primary action is to remove the build up of dry, dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Different forms of exfoliation will remove to different depths of the build up. {This layer of dead cells is called the Stratum Corneum, & can be between 15 ~ 20 layers deep}.

As well as improving the vibrancy & smoothness of your skin, exfoliation also inspires the following benefits:

1/ By sloughing cells at the surface we inspire your skin to produce new cells in the lowest levels of the epidermis & keep them speeding toward the surface. This process of cell renewal naturally slows {significantly!} as we age, so keeping it moving is key to maintaining healthy, youthful skin.

2/ By removing cells at the surface which are pigmented, & encouraging new un~pigmented cells to move up we can diminish pigmentation. {Using SPF daily & introducing Vitamin C to your routine are also crucial components when treating pigmentation & this is quite a lengthy process. Whether the pigmentation is caused by sun exposure or hormonal activity also impacts the success of treatment}.

3/ Congestion, breakouts and blackheads are reduced when you introduce regular exfoliation. By removing the dead skin cells that trap oil in the pore {which can lead to infections that create pimples & breakouts}, we can limit the occurrence of breakouts, congestion & blackheads, & also speed the healing process when they do occur. Did you know that the ‘black’ of a black head is actually from the dead skin cells trapped in the oil in the pore? The melanin {pigment} in the skin cells is concentrated through the layers of build up. Not dirt after all…

4/ Do you like wasting precious serums, masks & creams? Me neither! By exfoliating we expose the fresh, healthy cells that we want to nourish & support with our skincare. Not exfoliating regularly means that your skincare is fighting through & being readily absorbed by those dry, dead cells. Not cool. This also means that when you exfoliate you will see much better results at a faster rate & feel the need to use less product. {I don’t know about you, but that sounds like saving $$$ to me!}

5/ This is superficial, but it’s definitely a thing ~ your make up will apply more smoothly & look seamless! {Your skin may even start to look & feel so amazing that you stop using foundation altogether!}

So let me ask you ~ would you like brighter, clearer, smoother, healthier, more even toned skin that accepts active ingredients more efficiently & shows the benefits of those ingredients more quickly?

Thought so. Me, too.

Next I’d like to explain the difference between a skin type & a skin condition.